Have you got a particular cliche that sets your teeth on edge more than any other?
I do. Here it is:
“If you kill me, you’re no better than I am!”
Or anything remotely similar to the above, such as:
“We can’t kill him! We’d be no better than he is!”
“Yes, of course he’s our deadly enemy and has sworn to destroy everyone we love, but we can’t strike the first blow!”
You know what? You can totally strike the first blow. That will not make you as bad as he is. HE is the guy who bites the heads of kittens for fun (or whatever). YOU are the one who protects the kittens. There is not the remotest comparison and never could be, and your insanely stupid decision right at this moment is going to let the bad guy tear the entire world apart or plunge the entire country into a civil war. But hey! At least you will hopefully find it comforting that you didn’t strike the first blow!
As you might possibly guess, I hit a plot point like this a little while ago in a book I’m reading, and OH MY GOD but I detest it.
And that is why the first twelve seconds of this clip constitute possibly my very favorite moment in all of SFF:
I swear to God, if any villain EVER says anything remotely like “You can’t shoot me, you’re the good guy!” to my protagonist, that villain will get shot in the next half-minute of action. And no protagonist of mine will EVER say, “Oh, we can’t kill him, that would make us no better than he is!”
MY protagonist will nuke the bad guy from orbit, if it’s the only way to be sure.
Okay, that’s my rant. If you’ve got a particularly hated cliche in mind, drop it in the comments!