[Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist] – Reason #14: Pulling The Trigger

The Terrible Protagonist series explores reasons why regular humans (aka myself) would not fair well in the world of fiction.


Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist:
Pulling The Trigger


If you slightly turn your gun, it shifts from regular shot to a kill shot. But could you do it?


Could you do it?

Could you pull the trigger that sets off (or ends) a revolution?

Could you sacrifice your friends and comrades for the greater good?

Could you twist the knife into someone’s heart and watch the light in their eyes dim?

I talk a lot of shit that I want to be involved in the Hunger Games just to “see how well I’d fare” in the fight-to-the-death competition. And it’s true, I do want to have first hand experience because if playing video games has taught me anything, it’s that I’m average. Decent.

But real life is not a video game. To maim someone in a game only to have them respawn seconds later does not hold the same mentally taxing implication as an individual who dies before you. Or by your action. That’s the interesting thing about the human condition: many of us [generally] like to think we’re much more badass than we actually are. And maybe some of us are. The majority of us though? We’re surely squeamish to watching an insect being squished (not to mention its existence) or even blood splattering in a gore-filled horror film.

But perhaps the question isn’t “could you pull the trigger” but “to whom who could you pull the trigger against?”. A friend? Stranger? A known villain in society? The gradient of willingness teeter totters between the moral and utilitarian outcome implicit to the decision and it certainly would be easier to digest a death by a third party not affiliated with our selves, family, or friends.

So could you pull the trigger?

To extend this thought further, is the method of killing blow a large determinant on the success of the action being followed through? I mean…between an up-close-and-personal knife combat to a gun fight, you’d still generally have a line of vision to the victim and would likely endure some form of tangible guilt knowing they’d have died by your hands. So imagine a scenario where you arrange a series of traps that become the pitfall for your target. If you don’t see the death, is the thought less immediate? Because the rule ultimately becomes “if you don’t see it happen…did it actually happen?”

The important distinction to keep in the back of your head though, I’d imagine, is the unapologetic selfishness and self-preservation in living — the me versus you need to survive that just…happens — and I don’t really have an argument for that. I think I’m too kind (see: too “Canadian”) to even follow through…but I also kind of enjoy breathing, you know? So pulling the trigger, at least for me, might very well come as an automatic response in the heat of the moment…

…but could you do it?

Afterthought Prompts:

Please note that I do not have murderous tendencies to hurt anyone or anything. This discussion is rooted in comparing the ease of accepting violence in multimedia and video games.

Let me know your thoughts!

1) What would be your propensity to killing someone if they were a stranger versus a villain.

2) If you were under duress, how do you think your gut instinct would react?

3) What video games have you played (if any, in the past or recent) that involves a lot of dying (and respawning)? I’m curious!

As always, think aloud. 


afterthoughtAn // twitter
anotherafterthought // goodreads
picturevomit // instagram


Post Inspiration:

I play a lot of video games, basically. 

24 thoughts on “[Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist] – Reason #14: Pulling The Trigger”

  1. This is why I specialize in monster killing. It’s less of an ethical quandary.
    I’ve battled some some humanoid/reptilian critters, but I wouldn’t want to demise any people folks.
    Miss Plumtartt, on the other hand, has dealt harshly with obstreperous villains on many occasions.
    Maybe I’m not a protagonist after all. Oh my Goodness, I think I’m the side-kick! :-/
    Happy Reading, Joey!
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “This is why I specialize in monster killing. It’s less of an ethical quandary.” WHY DID I JUST IMAGINE YOU KICKING A PUPPY, OH MY LANTA, MY HEART CANNOT DEAL.

      But to tangent on that idea, where do you not draw the parallelism between the monsters in humans though? Surely you’d have to give it some thought to point the barrel of a gun at a serial killer at the expense of becoming a murderer yourself!

      And to be fair, we’re probably all supporting characters…ALL OF US!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Popping a cap on a person, regardless of their villainy, is not a pleasant thought.
        No, I don’t think I could.
        Hooray for fiction! 🙂

        That is one reason I like superhero movies. Heroes do not kill! {Not in my little world.}

        Happy Reading!
        ~Icky. 🙂


  2. I was thinking, well sure. I could kill someone if they’re a part of the zombie apocalypse. But if I once loved this person, then I am off to board the cuckoo train. Because I will probably do it, and then get mentally scarred for life. When I was in high school, my destressing method consisted of going to the arcade to play House of the Dead. (Yep, zombie killing game.)

    Yeah, I don’t really know, Joey. Maybe… maybe not. But don’t worry, I don’t have murderous tendencies as well haha.


    1. My personal favourite is Time Crisis re: Arcade.

      But anyways, that is quite the fickle thing to have to pull the trigger on your family (or friend) who is now a zombie. Perhaps you can plead euthanasia on them. Are they still real? Are they still human? Do you want to live? — you’ve got a good 3.4 seconds to decide this before they eat your face…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, yeah I always think that I want to go into The Hunger Games, just to see how well I’d do sometimes, but I reckon I wouldn’t do so well after thinking about it for a while! Because for me, it would be easier to kill a villain than a stranger – and in The Hunger Games, everyone would be strangers. I’d probably Foxface my way through the games.

    Under stress I reckon I’d probably do anything to survive though…so there’s that to consider!

    I haven’t really played many games that involve multiple deaths…any recs?


    1. I’m on the team that in THG, it’s more about you not seeing anyone than you actually doing the killing. Let other people face the moral dilemmas, yeah? You’re right: surviving is kind of…I don’t know, fun?

      All games I play feature death in some way. If it’s a MOBA game like League of Legends/DOTA/SMITE or FPS like Overwatch etc. Though I mainly play Computer games sooo. HOWEVER, I DO WANT FINAL FANTASY 15 IASDHAHDAIUDAUHSD.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I think I’m too kind (see: too “Canadian”) to even follow through…”

    Okay, I loled. (In an appreciative way. Canadians and Huffpuffs are the best, as we’ve already established.)

    I’m with you, I think; my first reaction would probably be to freeze, then run, and if I’m cornered I don’t know how much of a fight I’d be able to put up unless it’s clear my life’s on the line. But if I’m with, say, my husband, I firmly believe I’d do anything to protect him. (But if that “anything” involves seriously injuring or killing someone else, especially in close range, I’d be well and thoroughly traumatized. We’d spend a fortune on my future therapy bills, for sure.)

    Let’s all try not to put our theories to the test, though, how about?


    1. Your first reaction is to do the mannequin challenge when you’re getting chased etc.? Liam, we have to have a talk about self preservation…

      I apologize for having put you in the position of thinking about situations like this (a lot of these come from my random dinner conversations with friends haha) but at least these are things to think about now rather than the [exactly] 4.2 seconds it’ll take from you being mauled by said assailant and you taking that next breath. There is no “I let out a breath I didn’t know i was holding” in this context. Maybe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know about being CHASED, but hey, it’s entirely possible that potential attackers can only see movement and that I’m best off impersonating a wide-eyed rock until they’re gone. It hasn’t been ruled out yet, is all I’m saying.

        Hey, no apologies! You’re right–it is good to be as mentally prepared for awful events as you reasonably can be. This is probably morbid, but after one of those movie theater mass-shootings a few years ago, I informed my husband that if something like that happens to us, I’m shoving him down and covering him with my body, and he’s not allowed to put up a fight about it. Because, at the very least, I handle pain significantly better than he does, and have quicker reflexes, and have more experience in handling emergency situations–and he’s my precious delicate flower (who, for an added bonus, wouldn’t mind intimate contact with disgusting floors. Floors in public spaces kind of gross me out).

        It’s good to have a plan. 👍


        1. To be fair, your logic is sound re: pretending to be stoic so they can’t see. Unless they have some human detecting technology like heat detectors…them, yeah you’re doomed.

          It’s quite numbing for me to think that a lot of those scary events are just a fictional thing that could -never- happen. Until it does.

          I don’t know if you have told me too much about your personal life re: your husband enjoying intimate contact with floors but I’m glad that you have thought through your plan if any incident (like the above) does happen.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Little-known fact: Doomed is my middle name.

            “Numbing” is an excellent way to phrase it, actually.

            Ha! I actually rewrote that sentence a couple times, because my first attempt referenced his position as on bottom. I feared scandalizing you. Some things just can’t be phrased politely, eh?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “eh” like Canadian “eh”?

              Who is this Liam and why is he not only doing memes and being blatantly positive but also incredibly Canadian now?! (I joke, and am probably a bad representative of encouraging all the bad stereotypes).

              Things must be said and done to protect the delicate flowers, I guess. No harm done what-so-ever in your comments. This blog is pretty much 18+ anyways in rhetoric and bitching…

              Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a volatile and capricious person so I would be prepared to pull a trigger to save myself or someone I love… GIVEN the fact that I’d have sufficient training to get well-acquainted with a gun first. And none of that training montage crap too; it has to be a legitimate step-by-step learning experience and simulations of different possible situations. Aka training sessions that are lacking in YA books. Plus video games (or the few MMO’s I’ve played) don’t prepare a person for real life imo.

    Also then you have to think about the spectrum of “to kill” you have for each person. Like okay, your arch-enemy might be the total right of that spectrum but your best friend may be on the total left, until s/he betrays you and then they go a littleeeeee bit to the right. It’s all so subjective, I guess I’d go by the situation, and even then I’d probably get too scared and trigger-happy and accidentally kill the wrong people. Ugh 10/10 not a good protagonist.


    1. MMOs might prepare you for the preparation that goes into planning out a potential firefight. Or something to that extreme. That, and television/film. I mean…I can’t be the only one who thought “oh yeah, that’s a good idea to inventory if I ever–” now I’m divulging too many of my secrets. I shall refrain.

      I’m very Slytherin in that I’d totally wave that “my life is all important tralalala” banner all day for most people. Perhaps even you included, Aila, under the right circumstances. And I would never be against you raising that gun to me either. It’s only fair. Man, this post/comment has made me look like a real shitty person LOL. But definitely for baddies it’s a no brainer.

      I speak fictionally for the most part, of course. Although what I will say is that I might be leaning on team Maim-and-Severely-Hurt-But-Not-Kill.

      Basically Dobby @ Bellatrix.


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