Can something be considered a trope if you have only seen it used once? Probably not, but I am going to do it anyway. Years ago, I was lying on the couch watching a movie on SyFy, too hung over to handle much else.
It was about giant Komodo dragons on what I believe was Fantasy Island, because they used the same house as the one on the TV series. The good guy, who looked a bit like Viggo Mortensen, was pitted against the bad guy, who looked like Eric Roberts. There was the obligatory hot blonde and the venom of the outsized monitor lizards could turn you into a zombie.
There was a big government conspiracy behind it all of course. When good triumphed, a disk with damning details about the project was released to the media and promptly aired with nary a thought about fact checking. The evil general behind it all reached for the handgun he kept in his desk drawer for just such an occasion and promptly blew his brains out.
Now then suicide as the only way out is nothing new in either fact or fiction. When World War II ended and top-ranking Nazis realized how badly they screwed up, they started hitting the floor either with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head or their face scrunched up in a Sid Vicious sneer, courtesy of a cyanide capsule. In movies, the one taking the fall is often handed a gun with a single bullet and an implied “You know what to do.”
It may be a mental block on my part, but what I haven’t seen much of is the pistol-equipped desk for megalomaniacs at the highest level of government. It seems like the kind of thing that would come standard with the job offer.
I suppose I could follow the advice that Google is my friend and start researching the matter. The problem with this is that Google is not my friend. Google lives to remind me that I am incapable of original thought. Years ago, I found out that “Fatah + Hamas = Fatass” had already been done. More recently, I learned that I could not claim “VietNAMbLA” as my own.
To put it simply, the truth hurts so I shall have no part of it. I am going to believe that this sort of weapon at the ready is an embryonic trope is yet to be fully exploited, though more deserving of life than any buyer’s-remorse human fetus. It will be popular because it requires no Chekhovian foreshadowing. It will simply appear when contrivance dictates that its moment has come.