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Whatever happens, we have got

the Maxim gun and they have not.
Hilaire Belloc
  • Malcolm X was murdered in 1965 in New York by a Sawed-Off Shotgun blast to the chest, and then was shot 16 times by handguns. Someone wanted to get the job done...
  • This is reputedly how the murder of the Russian monk Grigori Rasputin took place in 1916. It's said that he was given four poisoned cup cakes and a bottle of poisoned wine (which had no effect), then shot in the chest six times, castrated, wrapped up in a blanket and thrown into the deathly cold Neva river, and pushed under the ice, which he tried to claw himself out of. His cause of death was then reported as asphyxiation by drowning and hypothermia. As noted on Rasputinian Death however, these are myths instigated by his political enemies to make him seem like a semi-invincible force of evil. In reality, he was shot in the head and died instantly.
  • As noted above, the real life Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow were both shot 25 times by a posse of Texas Rangers, Dallas PD, and Louisiana lawmen. With nine police offers around the country dead, one can't be too careful.
    • They didn't even try to arrest them. Instead they hid at the side of a road they knew the pair would be driving down in their car and just opened fire from their automatic rifles and shotguns, and then kept firing with their handguns when the other weapons were out of ammo. After the shooting ended, the officer suffered from temporary deafness. Barrow seems to have been a believer of the rule himself, as reportedly the car was filled with weapons and ammunition that would equip a small army.
  • The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, where the victims were obliterated by two men with machine guns
  • This was the case with several other gangsters in the great crime wave of 1933-1934:
    • Homer Van Meter, long-running associate of John Dillinger, was ambushed in St. Paul in August 1934. Detectives chased him into an alleyway, and one of them shot him in the chest with a shotgun. As Van Meter struggled to stand, the police shot him fifty times with their pistols.
    • Baby Face Nelson, who died after his fatal shootout with Agents Herman Hollis and Samuel P. Cowley in Barrington. For the record, before Nelson was able to down Cowley and Hollis, Cowley fired a burst with a Thompson submachine gun that hit Nelson seven times, and Nelson was also shot five times in both legs (for a total of ten pellets in all) with Hollis's shotgun. Adrenaline accounts for his ability to live despite this, although he died about three to four hours after the shootout.
  • Drug lord Pablo Escobar was taken down by an alliance of US Delta Force, US Navy SEAL Team 6, and the Colombian National Police, none of whom have a reputation for ending things peacefully. They shot him many, many times.
  • In Okinawan kama (sickle) fighting, one form involves you decapitating your foe and removing both arms before kicking him away, another form has you make multiple, disemboweling, bisections on the imagined foe. All in all, this is tame compared to Filipino knife fighting where it is part of the fighting style itself to keep slashing a foe until even if they are alive they won't be able to move.
    • "Even if a man were to have his head cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty." In the passage from the Hagakure from which this quote comes, Yamamoto Tsunetomo lists several examples of warriors who did just that before closing with the incredibly badass quote of: "With martial valor, if one becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die."
      • This is poetry meant to explain an ideal, not meant to be taken as literal truth.
        • To put this stuff to rest... The point of being taught to keep fighting past the point of theoretically winning is two-fold. Firstly, just because you do a beheading strike, doesn't mean that you cut a guys head off. Maybe he dodges or blocks or has something protecting his neck. So you keep moving through the sequence and hit him someplace else immediately afterwards. That's why they teach katas and not just decapitation. Secondly, while it is certain that cutting a guys head off will make him die immediately, if he was in the middle of a strike when you do it (which is pretty likely since people open themselves up during an attack) he maybe has enough momentum to stick a sword or a spear through some squishy part of your body. It's pretty unlikely but it genuinely can happen. If you keep your form and keep hitting him you are alert to any possible pointy things and are likely to push him backwards instead.
        • More concisely, they teach you never to assume you have won just because it looks like it. If the guys dead, then hitting him more doesn't hurt. If he's not then you probably saved your life. Its the same reason why cops kick weapons away from people they've shot.
  • The final fate of the German battleship Bismarck in WW2. During its final battle nearly every single piece of the vessel's superstructure was destroyed and at least one torpedo slammed into it. This was in revenge for the sinking of the British battlecruiser HMS Hood. Of course, if the Royal Navy had been a little more rational about it, she probably would have been sunk a lot sooner: closing to point-blank range meant that virtually none of their fire hit the Bismarck's hull. There is still some debate over whether or not the British actually sank the Bismarck, or if it sank due to German efforts to scuttle the ship.
    • It was between three and five torpedoes. And approximately 3,000 shells ranging from 4 inch to 16 inch guns. And arguably they only caught her because one torpedo hit jammed her rudder. That torpedo came from a Fairey Swordfish that had tracked the Bismark via the oil trail it was leaving. The trail itself being the result of a hit by the newly commissioned battleship 'Prince Of Wales'. Also, those numbers are excessive in that fewer than 3,000 shells of all calibres were fired, and only 300-400 actually hit, with just about 80 being of a calibre capable of inflicting real damage.
    • Another bunch of battleship examples: Almost every Japanese battleship in World War II (especially the Yamato and Musashi)
    • It was also a big threat to the convoys supplying Britain with essential materials, so revenge wasn't the only motive.
    • In the same vein: German Battleship Scharnhorst, actually a battlecruiser, was a much larger threat to British shipping than the Bismark ever was. After an extensive and bloody career alongside her sister ship Gneisenau, Scharnhorst was eventually singled out and sunk. It took the Duke of York (a main line battleship), four cruisers, and something like 18 destroyers 12 hours of constant shelling before Scharnhorst finally went down by the bow - all serviceable guns still firing and screws still turning.
      • A total of 55 torpedoes and 2,195 shells had been fired since first contact with Duke of York and her battlegroup. Fewer shells, but many more torpedoes than Bismark soaked - And in less time.
      • "Gentlemen, the battle against Scharnhorst has ended in victory for us. I hope that if any of you are ever called upon to lead a ship into action against an opponent many times superior, you will command your ship as gallantly as Scharnhorst was commanded today."
      • It must also be noted though, that Scharnhorst, Like Bismark, was seriously hurt in the opening phases of the battle when a lucky shot from a cruiser took out her radar, leaving her virtually blind.
  • A British tourist vacationing in Greece had a violent reaction to a mixed drink that put her in a hospital. The drink? A mixture of Baileys, chilli, tequila, absinthe, ouzo, vodka, cider, and gin.
  • The Tsar Bomba H-bomb, designed to level cities from 10 kilometres away, with a design payload of 100 megatonnes. Tested at half yield (50 Mt) 4 kilometres over Novaya Zemlya island, it registered as roughly a Richter 5 on seismographs, broke windows in Finland, and could have caused third degree burns from 100 kilometres distance.
    • They removed the third fission stage (after the initial fission and the secondary fusion stage) by replacing the uranium 238 tamper with a lead tamper was that they wanted to minimize the fallout, which would have been just as massive as the bomb itself, and on their own territory. If they had let it off at full yield, the Tu-95 that dropped it (on a parachute, from 6.5 km above its detonation altitude) wouldn't have survived...
    • In Car Wars, nuclear weapons were described as something along the lines of 'set even a small one off and the game is over'. The maps were poster-sized, two feet by three feet or so, and usually represented about eight city blocks or so. The smallest available nuke would utterly destroy at least six of those maps in every direction.
    • As conventionals go, the Grand Slam is pretty impressive. Oh, sure, it's got nothing on the power of nukes, but then, it was never meant to compete with nukes.
  • During Operation Praying Mantis in the 1980's, an Iranian frigate decided to challenge an American surface action group. Three American ships opened fire with guns and missiles. After multiple gun rounds and six Standard Missiles from the first two ships had impacted, the captain of the third ship decided that he would make sure and fired a Harpoon anti-ship missile. By the time it arrived at the frigate's location, there was not a part of the frigate left floating large enough for the missile to lock onto.
  • Operation Paul Bunyan: the US military (in cooperation with the South Korean military) used 813 men, armed with everything from ax stocks to M-16s and grenade launchers, seven Cobra attack helicopters, multiple F-4s and F-5s, a B-52 (along with F-111s and an aircraft carrier on standby)...to chop down a tree.
    • The above is a case of It Makes Sense in Context since said tree's unique geographic position could've sparked a border conflict with North Korea. So, the possibility would've demanded some military readiness. That said, the whole thing was definitely an overreaction as well as overkill.
    • It's also worth pointing out the first attempt at tree chopping ended with two American officers being hacked to death by North Korean troops. The operation was both an intentional show of force and a deterrent against any other such incident.
  • Antimatter is often used in theoretical bombs. The moment antimatter touches matter it reacts with it. To give you an idea of the power this would give, an Atomic bomb gives a little under 1% of every atom's potential power. The Antimatter/Matter reaction releases one hundred percent of the energy! (Granted, it's under 50% if you ignore the part that comes out as harmless neutrinos, but it's still one hell of a boom.) More evocatively, a single gram of antimatter annihilating with a single gram of matter will release twice as much energy as the 4,360 kg Fat Man atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
    • Also, there's no theoretical limit on the size of an antimatter bomb. A regular nuke can only get so big before it will partly scatter its core and prematurely halt the chain reaction. This doesn't happen with antimatter, because even when the particles get blown apart, they will react just as explosively when they touch the surrounding air.
  • Relativistic weapons, full stop. Traveling at 85% light speed, any object will hit a target and explode with the power of an equivalent amount of antimatter, with none of that neutrino waste either. However, they're horrendously inefficient due to the energy needed to accelerate to such a speed. At even greater velocities, 99.999% light speed, the explosive force that would be added by any payload (even antimatter or a hypothetic "total conversion bomb") is meaningless.
  • In 2006, after killing a police officer, a Jamaican criminal named Angilo Freeland was shot sixty-eight times (out of a hundred ten rounds). When asked why he was shot so many times, an officer responded, "That's all the bullets we had."
  • Hackmaster is basically built on this concept.
  • A group of scientists recently performed some research involving shooting mosquitoes with lasers. They had a Schlock Mercenary poster up on the door: "There is no overkill. Only 'Open fire!' and 'I need to reload'." Appropriately, said poster has a huge musclebound soldier pointing a prodigious quantity of firepower at an insect.
  • The book Great Mambo Chicken & the Transhuman Condition describes some explosives enthusiasts designing a mock A-bomb to win a contest:

 "They came back the next week with a device that would not only look like an A-bomb explosion, it would actually work like one... he took a two-hundred-pound lard can and put three pieces of primacord inside, looping them around so they completely covered the bottom. Then he poured the ammonium nitrate into the can, inserted sticks of dynamite all around the perimeter, and ran the primacord fuse up to a blasting cap on top of it all. The cap would fire the primacord, which in turn would set off the dynamite, which would crush the mass of ammonium nitrate until the necessary pressure was reached -- a true implosion device, just like the atom bomb."

  • The XM1028 tank round
    • It's the pure embodiment of this trope given the fact that it's practically a shotgun shell for tanks (120mm) loaded with approximately 1,150 tungsten balls each 10mm in diameter. Of course the video shows the result most clearly at the end. Admittedly it could be argued that the Bofors 40mm 3P round is good contender given the fact that each round explodes into 2500 fragments and pellets and that a standard burst consists of 5 rounds but a shotgun shell for tanks is still slightly more ludicrous.
    • Cross into fiction: in World War Z, infantryman Todd Wainio recounts the disastrous Battle of Yonkers and opines that against a horde of zombies (which are effectively mindless, shambling, but completely fearless infantry), these would have been far more appropriate than the armor-piercing rounds the officers had supplied the tanks.
    • 3rd ACR had to dip into the strategic reserve of M1028 canister rounds during their recent deployment to Mosul. The M1028 canister round; awesome? Yes. Overkill? Not quite.
    • Canister shot very definite useful applications. Artillery crews can use it to prevent enemy infantry from overrunning them should they get so close, tank crews even have a strategy where if enemy infantry is swarming one tank, attempting to attach an anti-tank charge perhaps, then the other tank can use its main gun with canister to give the other tank a "back scratch". The tungsten shot can't harm the armor of the tank, but it WILL harm the not-armor of the bad guys all around it.
    • Not even a new concept - this was used in muzzleloader warfare back in the days of Tall Ships. Look up "grapeshot" (small iron balls about the size of a golf or tennis ball packed into a muzzleloader cannon as anti-ship's crew), "case-shot" (leather canisters filled with pistol balls, good against crew on-deck) and "chain shot" (two cannonballs connected by a chain, designed to topple masts).
  • When the SAS shot dead three IRA members in Gibraltar, one was asked at the subsequent inquest, "Why did you shoot him sixteen times?" His response? "The magazine only holds 16 rounds sir."
    • A little background on this one (known to the IRA as 'The Murders on the Rock' or to the British as Operation Flavius). It was believed that the people in question had multiple remote detonators for the same bomb, and as the troopers decided that they would be better served being 'very sure' rather than 'pretty sure' that the people were dead. Yes, it transpired that they had no such thing, but that was the intel the guys on the ground were given, and they acted accordingly. The screw up was by someone at a way higher pay grade.
      • For those who don't know, its REALLY hard to hit someone with a bullet in such a way as to be certain that they won't be able to move a few inches so as to say, press a single button on a detonator, and its even harder if they already have their finger on the button. You'd be amazed how many ways there are to shoot someone in the head and not actually immediately kill them. There's about a four inch zone that you can hit from in front or behind that will drop a guy like cutting his head off, but it gets a whole lot smaller at any angle and even the best shot in the world wouldn't be able to say for sure that they could make the shot under combat conditions.
  • Some probably saw the preparations for the first Desert Storm campaign this way, but Colin Powell's philosophy is basically this trope: either go in thoroughly prepared to win, or don't go.
    • The US Army is not in the business of fighting fair.
  • Often more justifiable in real life than you might imagine. A gunshot wound, unless it strikes the central nervous system, won't guarantee an instant stop. A shot through a major artery or even the heart will take several seconds to physically incapacitate somebody. Police are generally trained to shoot until the threat ceases, not to fire some small number of rounds and wait for blood loss to take over. This, for example, is what Magnums were designed for: stopping power, and also why hollow points exist. They spread the force over a larger area, increasing the chance of hitting something vital. Also they tear a more ragged wound channel (including cutting with the sharp edges produced by the deforming bullet), increasing your chances of ripping up a major blood vessel and thus speeding shock and blood loss along. It also increases the chances of the bullet staying within the target body instead of penetrating out the other side, as jacketed bullets are known to do.
  • The shooting of Amadou Diallo. 41 bullets fired, 19 hitting. The shooting started when Diallo reached for his wallet (he didn't speak English, and the officers reportedly believed he was reaching for a gun). The shooting continued because the force of the bullets propped Diallo up against the door, so he didn't fall until they stopped.
  • Rods from God:
    • It would have an explosive yield roughly 100 times larger than a modern nuclear missile.
    • The plot of the final Global Frequency episode centres around devices like these, which have been left unattended in space until their countdown is inadvertently started. Because they were America's last resort in case the nuclear deterrent failed, their control centre is fanatically defended, and capture of the centre destroys the ability to switch the rods off. Salvation of humanity depends on launching a man with a bomb at short notice to destroy the launch platform. Cue the ultimate choice - me or everyone else when the remote detonator fails.
    • There are smaller, conventional versions. In the 1960s and somewhat thereafter, when the British were looking into hypersonic combat aircraft, it was realised that kinetic heating makes it almost impossible to build a missile whose warhead and guidance electronics won't be cooked off by the heat. Fortunately, at those speeds the kinetic and thermal energy communicated to the target mean you don't need a warhead. By the 1980s it was realised that a GPS type system in the tail, where it's cooler, can be used to steer the weapon in a mach 5+ glide to its target.
    • This was used in the RPG Shadowrun, where they were called 'Thor Shots'. Essentially massive rods of metal fitted with engines and pointed downward from orbit to create explosions roughly equivalent to nuclear weapons but without the EMP effects.
    • This was quite real in the 1960s, and was called Project Thor. Nowadays these are called "kinetic kill" weapons, and include railguns.
    • Also used in Syndicate Wars, where the rods melted in mid-flight, causing a plasma rain.
    • It was also used in End War as the JSF superweapon, and we get to see it fired in the trailer. Now imagine if all those rods were fired all at once.
  • The Cobalt Bomb. Roughly 510 tonnes of cobalt would be needed, and due to wind and other factors, it probably wouldn't succeed in wiping out all life on Earth, but it'd come damn close. The only problem is how much it would cost... and possibly others not being entirely willing to just die.
  • The North Hollywood Shootout, justified in the police's case because the suspects were wearing body armour.
  • The use of the M1 Abrams for urban warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan is seen as this, since the tank was designed to take on Soviet tanks en masse on open terrain, which they did easily on the beginning of both wars. Never mind a tank is much more vulnerable in a city than on open terrain.
  • Speaking of Rasputin, how about the family who took him in? After the Bolsheviks herded them all in a room, they read something to the Tsar about his crimes against the Russian people and what not, then opened fire. While the Tsar and Tsarina died near instantly, his children weren't exactly as lucky. Due to the fact that the children had hidden a huge amount of jewels in their clothing, which acted as armor. Cue the 20 minute long repeated stabbings and shootings of the children. Alexei was particularly hard to kill, despite his hemophilia; he was stabbed numerous times in the chest before being shot in the few times in the head. The girls suffered a similar fate, though it wasn't nearly as prolonged. One of the girls did have the wonderful pleasure of having Olga's brain matter splatter in her face before being knifed to death herself. Unfortunately, when they were hauling all 11 bodies (this includes a maid, their doctor, and such along with the family), one of the girls (either Anastasia or Maria) were still alive. She proceeded to sit up, cover her ears and scream wildly until several Bolshevik henchmen came over to finally shoot her dead. Then they drove the bodies to a mine shaft, stripped them, and then threw them all into the mine shaft. Unfortunately, the next day, word had gotten out that something had happened near the mine shaft, so later that night the Bolsheviks went back, got the bodies, and drove them to a more remote area where they proceeded to bash the Romanov corpse's skulls in so their faces wouldn't be recognizeable, then tossed the bodies onto a burning pyre and doused them with acid.
  • To go along with Romanovs, Alexandra's sister Elizabeth was killed the next day. How so? Well, first they gathered her along with several prisoners and took them to another abandoned mineshaft, then proceeded to beat her and the prisoners. Then, they took everyone and pushed them down the mineshaft, throwing a grenade down there for good measure. Unfortunately, the grenade blast only killed one person. The reason they found out this only killed one person was because Elizabeth and the others began to sing a Russian Orthodox Hymn. Another grenade was thrown down, but the singing continued. Finally, the Bolsheviks decided to throw a bunch of brushwood into the shaft and set it alight. One guard was to stand by and watch this to make sure they were all dead. In early October, White Soldiers discovered the Bodies, and found that Elizabeth had managed to bandage one of those injured during the fall prior to her death. These were the bodies that were found (NSFW). The Bolsheviks seem rather fond of overkill, now don't they?
  • The local police killed Charles Whitman, after he put up a fight with them.
  • Headshot. With a .50 caliber sniper rifle. (google image it but, needless to say, not for the squeamish and somewhat NSFW).
  • Quoted from a report on Urban Warfare, discussing the Battle of Aachen. The situation: American forces are under sniper fire from a fortified church steeple. "This position proved to be impervious to both small arms and 75mm tank destroyer fire, whereupon Daniel again called upon his 155mm artillery piece. One shot from the 155 brought the entire structure crashing to the ground. This use of a 155mm gun as an anti-sniper weapon is perhaps the epitome of 'Knock 'em all down.'"
    • An even better example occurred during the Battle of Normandy. When one American unit was pinned down by several German snipers, they called on the battleship USS Texas to give them a bit of 'suppressing fire'.
  • Sport example, Australia vs American Samoa in FIFA World Cup 2002 Qualification stage Oceania Zone in April 2001. Australia 'killed' American Samoa 31 - 0.
  • In rugby: By most points scored, New Zealand vs Japan at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, by 145 points to 17. Or by total shutout, Australia vs Namibia in 2003, 142-0.
  • Another sports example, the 1940 NFL Championship game featuring the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins. The teams had met earlier in the season, with the Redskins winning 7 - 3. After the game the Redskins owner called the Bears players "crybabies" and "quitters." So how did the rematch go? Chicago wins 73 - 0.
  • In a similar vein, a 1996 high school football match between the De La Salle Spartans and the Hayward Farmers in California ended with DLS blowing Hayward out of the water 66-0. Not terribly surprising, since DLS holds the national record for most consecutive wins: 151 from 1992 to 2004.
  • Several of the weapons on this list seem to have been designed with this concept in mind. Some notable entries: Tyrannosaurus Rex Rounds (the name should say it all), Varmint Grenades (note: using these against humans has been declared a war crime), and the punt gun (a 6 ft to 10 ft long shotgun firing one pound of shot that would likely give Wrex or Grunt wet dreams)
  • After the Sepoy rebellion, the British executed some of the captured rebels with cannons [1]. For another execution method that is really overdoing it see [2]
  • One of the plans for eliminating Osama Bin Laden very likely came close to defining this: The airstrike would have involved 32 bunker-busting bombs to take out a single building (just in case there were any underground bunkers in the neighborhood). According to military estimates, the effect of the raid would have been similar to an earthquake on the surrounding city...something that made the US government a bit squeamish. (Source: The New Yorker)
  • The standard reaction of an untrained person armed with a gun is to completely empty a clip/magazine into an attacker and keep pulling the trigger. Similarly, the reaction with any other weapon is to keep hitting/stabbing/whatevering the other person. We're hardwired to want to make sure that that which is on the business end of our weapons is thourougly dead. Our ancestors who didn't have that habit were killed by the big cat or bear or whatever it was that they figured was dead enough.
  • When Modern Warfare 3 came out, Activision threatened cheaters with severe consequences. Seems like they weren't kidding...
  • During World War II, the British came up with the idea that to destroy hardened targets, they needed a really REALLY big bomb. What they got was the Tallboy, a bomb so big that during its design phase no existing bomber at the time could carry it. Even when the Tallboy was scaled down for production, bombers needed special modifications to carry them. However, the Tallboy was hideously successful since it destroyed its targets by creating man-made earthquakes. The Tallboy was so successful that once they had the capability to carry it, the British designed an even bigger bomb. Even better, the Tallboy was officially known as the Bomb, Medium Capacity, 12,000 lb.
  • Retired nurse crushed to death after being run over by 3 vehicles
  • If the good old fly-swatter is not enough for you anymore, electrified ones are on sale.Not only they swat bugs and jolt them to death, but if you charge them enough they literally make them explode into dust.
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