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Scott Evil: What? Are you feeding him? Why don't you just kill him?
—Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Villains (and occasionally darker Anti-Heroes) frequently find themselves in conundrums that could easily be solved by finding the right person and shooting them. But rare is the villain who actually takes this direct approach.
There may or may not be some in-story justification for this failure to take the direct approach. However, the Doylist explanations generally boils down to the fact, if he did just shoot him, then the story would be much shorter and would end with the bad guys winning.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The villain has the opportunity to kill the good guy, but leaves them alive anyway, sometimes for no adequately explained reason.
- Complexity Addiction: The villain does try to kill the hero, but employs some ridiculously elaborate (and thus easily-foiled) method, rather than just shooting them.
- Evil Gloating: Even when the villain intends to kill the hero in a straightforward fashion, they still feel the need to gloat about it immediately beforehand, thus giving the hero time to escape or fight back.
- Stating the Simple Solution: Someone in the story points out that the above three options are stupid and that a simpler, more direct solution exists (usually by using this line verbatim). The villain may or may not actually take their advice.
If you, the viewer, are wondering why someone won't just shoot someone else, Headscratchers is the place to ask.