I'm always (and yesterday evening again) ethically confused by movies and series episodes in which the hero(s) kill(s) dozens of little fish gangsters, shooting everyone in her (their) path towards the really bad villain and then, in a dramatic final scene, decide(s) not to kill the really bad villain but arrest him and bring him to trial.

Is there a name for and maybe studies about that weird ethically concept in movies?

It confuses me that quite often it appears to be moral consensus among script writers and directors to kill a lot of small fish that were maybe forced to become gangsters to feed their families and then show the goodness of the hero by not killing but arresting the only person in the movie who would actually deserve to be killed.

1 Answer 1


The disposable part of your question comes under the tvTrope Mook:

A slang term for the hordes of standard-issue, disposable bad guys whom The Hero mows down with impunity. Deadly, competent, loyal, abundant... pick any two

After destroying said mooks, if the (anti-)hero suddenly feels mercy, he goes full Save the Villain

The hero is then motivated (or more cynically, contractually obliged) to attempt to save the villain's life, even putting himself in mortal danger in the attempt. This is presumably done so that the hero can be shown once again to be noble and just.

These should be more along the lines of what you are suggesting...

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