Ain't Too Proud to Beg

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"I know you wanna leave me
But I refuse to let you go
If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy
I don't mind, 'cause you mean that much to me
Ain't too proud to beg, sweet darling

Please don't leave me, don't you go"
Ain't Too Proud To Beg, The Temptations, The Rolling Stones... also Rick Astley.

The opposite of Defiant to the End, this is when the hero actually willingly (in the sense that he must not be Brainwashed, physically controlled, or just plain manhandled, that is- threats can be, and almost always are, involved) begs for mercy, or bows, kneels, cowers, or does pretty much anything covered under Kneel Before Zod. Technically, this trope isn't morality-sensitive, but heroes tend to be a lot less interested in submission, so it usually is done for the benefit of a villain.

It comes in two main types (and a few other forms, mentioned later in the Examples):

Type 1: Stalling For Time
Maybe they know for a fact that rescue is coming, or maybe they just figure that every moment they're not dead is another chance for a miracle to happen. Either way, they're sacrificing some dignity now for some kind of gain later. (If the gain is immediate, to lead their opponent to believe the fight is over, this is I Surrender, Suckers instead.) This will usually involve Holding the Floor.
Type 2: They Mean It
Usually very much the darker variety. A Type 2's resistance has been successfully broken, whether through Hannibal Lecture or Cold-Blooded Torture or some other means, and their submission is a sign of that. They'll probably recover, unless we're going for a massive Downer Ending, but for now, the villain has what he wants. Tears of Fear and Please, I Will Do Anything! can be involved.
Examples of Ain't Too Proud to Beg include:

Type 1[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Ling: (after Envy walks up to the two) So it is Envy.
Edward: Please tell us where the exit is!
Ling: Humble already?
Edward: Of course! If it's for the sake of survival, I'll bow down to my opponent.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • A rather delightful one comes from Animorphs, when a captured Marco and Cassie are instructed to "grovel in the fashion of your own people. Grovel as you normally grovel." Marco takes that as an invitation to totally make things up in a long monologue, which is rightfully listed under Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • Especially with poor Bad Liar Cassie doing her level best to keep up. "We grovel like... um... like people who are really, really grovelling."
  • In the book Crown Duel, Meliara attempts to plead for the life of her brother despite her obstinate attitude. Just as the villain catches on to her behavior, she reveals she was stalling for time as the Hill Folk arrive and save the day.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Leonidas in the finale of 300.
  • John Belushi pulls this off successfully in the Blues Brothers

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Season 2 Finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Giles pretending to break down in the face of torture at the hands of Angelus. Triple plays as a CMoA and CMoF.

Giles: In order... to be worthy...
Angelus: Yeah?
Giles: You must perform the ritual... in a tutu. Pillock!
Angelus: All right. Someone get the chainsaw.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The narrator of the song "Silent Running" suggests this as a survival technique: "Swear allegiance to the flag/Whatever flag they offer"

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In the prologue to Kingdom Hearts 2, Roxas kneels to beg forgiveness from rival gang leader Seifer... only to use that as a distractions so he can quickly grab a Struggle bat to fight him with.
  • In the video games Radiata Stories, during the Non-Human campaign, Jack beats up a few commanding officers of the human side. Afterwards, just to rub it in, he tells them to beg. They do, but it's to stall for time until reinforcements arrive to greatly outnumber him.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Type 2[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • When the final confrontation in the manga version of Death Note reaches its conclusion, Ryuk refuses to help out the defeated Light (exactly as he promised in the very first chapter) and writes Light's name down right in front of his nose. This gives the "God of the new world" exactly forty seconds to desperately beg for his life.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, when Davis sees his friend captured and about to be killed by the Digimon Emperor, he is forced to get on his hands and knees and beg for them to be spared.
  • In One Piece, this is the lesson that Luffy learns in the Drum Island arc: A leader should NEVER be too proud to beg for the lives of his followers. Vivi teaches him this when she gets shot and then yells at him for wanting to attack the guy who shot her, because it would only make the situation worse. She then proceeds to go into a Pose of Supplication, which he imitates, and both of them beg for a doctor to help Nami, who was deathly ill at the time.
    • Zoro later proves that he's not to proud to beg either when he asks Mihawk to train him. And Zoro manages to beg manly.
  • Spice and Wolf has Horo negotiate with a group of other wolf gods to save Lawrence's life. We don't see the event itself, but mud on her knees implies that she begged them.
  • In Trigun Vash first kneels and bows his head to the ground to keep some thugs (including one pretending to be him) from killing his friend. The thugs tell him they'll go away if he strips naked and barks like a dog. He does. They keep their word and leave him and the girl be. But then shoot Vash as they're driving away. They then go back on it and kidnap the friend. However this turns out to be a bad idea on the thugs part.
  • Coast Guard boss Kaizai in Wa Ga Na Wa Umishi is not too proud to beg ordinary fisherman to stop interrupting a rescue, much to the surprise of the fisherman who had demanded that he go on his knees.

Film[edit | hide]

  • An example comes from Babe where Fly, a sheepdog, swallows her pride to politely ask the sheep (who she saw as stupid and nothing but inferior to her) just what happened the morning that Maa was killed, so she could prove her adopted son Babe's innocence.
  • In the movie Bent, Max is willing to do whatever the guards ask of him if it means he'll have a chance of getting out of the Nazi concentration camp sooner.
  • As Tom Reagan is about to put down Bernie Bernbaum in Miller's Crossing at Miller's Crossing, Bernie breaks down into primal sobs and pleads for his life. It's harrowingly pathetic, but it only works once for Bernie.
  • In Mystery Men Captain Amazing, who has the best reputation of all heroes, actively bargains to be the villain's assistant upon capture.
  • The ending of Oldboy. After a particularly nasty revelation, Oh Dae-su forgets all about getting his revenge and begs the antagonist not to let Mido know the secret that would ruin her life.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Matilda in The Full Matilda does this so that the senator will not move back to the South, crushing her father's dreams of owning a nice house. She ends up sleeping with the senator.
  • In the 6th Gor novel Tarl does this, bringing on a Heroic BSOD since he never thought he'd be the type to do that. Type 1s occur throughout the series as well.
  • Straight from The Iliad, after Achilles has killed Hector and then... not paid Due to the Dead, Hector's father goes to Achilles and gives a speech, culminating in:

Priam: Think my more pitiful by far, since I
have brought myself to do what no man else
has done before—to lift to my lips the hand
of the one who killed my son.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, for the Downer Ending to end all Downer Endings.
  • In the (really rather anticlimactic) climax of D.J. Machale's Pendragon series, the terrifying, superhuman Big Bad Saint Dane, when finally defeated by the Travelers, is reduced to a sobbing, groveling wretch begging to have his life spared.
  • In The Queen of Attolia, Eugenides' desperate begging to be spared having his hand cut off doesn't help at all. Yet, it turns out to have haunted the queen ever since.
    • Later in the book, this exchange occurs, referencing the above example (paraphrased)

Euginides: I'll grovel.
Attolia: I've seen you do that.
Euginides: No, that was begging, I assure you, I'm quite good at groveling.

  • In Stephen King's Under the Dome the surviving residents of Chester's Mill decide to go to the generator and beg for their lives when literally everything else fails.
  • In "Dark Whispers", Ian, while trapped in the Rainbow Prison, asks Felicity for directions to his wife. She demands that he beg, which he does, because he knows that unless she helps him, he will die, his friends will die, and Martha will never see her daughter again. Felicity takes great joy in this, forcing Ian to crawl, and kiss her feet.
  • Aral Vorkosigan, who in past sentenced Count Vorhalas's son to death, begs Count Vorhalas not to lay charge of treason against his son.

Vorhalas: Say, 'I beg of you'
Vorkosigan: I beg of you[...]
Vorhalas: Shove it, Vorkosigan

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In an episode of Buffy, Wesley's craven pleading is directly contrasted with Giles's snarky defiance in the face of a hideous demon and his vampire minions.
  • In the Farscape Grand Finale, Crichton is about to unleash Wormhole weapon, and asks Scorpius, who has been dogging him for years for, to come over, and ask if he really wants to see the weapon. Scorpius, for his part, is more than happy to get to begging if it means the culmination of his life's goal.

Crichton: Beg.
Scorpius: [instantly] I beg you.
Crichton: That's not good enough. Say please.
Scorpius: Please.
Crichton: Pretty please.
Scorpius: Pretty please.
Crichton: With a cherry on top.
Scorpius: [only one word behind] With a cherry on top.
Crichton: [[[Beat]]] Happy Birthday. Now, get out of my sight.

"You wanted to frighten us. We're frightened. You wanted to show us we were inadequate. For the moment, I grant that. You wanted me to say I need you. I NEED YOU!"

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Dragon Quest VIII, Yangus proves he ain't too proud to beg after his old friend Red steals the party's horse, kneeling before her and pleading that she return the poor mare. Of course, Red doesn't realize why he's so determined to get the horse back, being blissfully unaware that the mare is actually the cursed princess Medea.
  • A less dark example from Kingdom Hearts II: when Sora tries to get Saix to take him to see Kairi, Saix demands that Sora show him how important Kairi is to him. Sora responds by getting down on his hands and knees and saying "please."
  • Star Wars games:
  • Edward Diego from the first System Shock begs SHODAN to spare him in exchange of information on the hideout of La Résistance. This is roughly two weeks after he boasted that he completely controlled SHODAN.
  • In the bad ending of Wing Commander III you're given the option to beg for mercy. The Big Bad kills you anyway.
  • A rare case of this type being played for laughs occurs in Guilty Gear Xrd, where several fighters who are hit by May's OTK move (where she and April launch the defeated foe out of the Mayflower's cannon) try to plead or bargain with her. Although, some players have alternate quotes that sound more like threats.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Other Forms[edit | hide]

Comics[edit | hide]

  • In the French-Belgian comics Les Petits Hommes Les Prisonniers du temps, the hero begs the villain not harming him, telling that the villain can kill all the others if he wants. Just kidding. Actually, they were now ghosts for each other, so the villain had no way to harm anyone, and the hero was just having fun.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", Holmes pleaded for help from someone he suspected of having infected his nephew with a deadly disease that he (Holmes) had apparently contracted, even offering to abandon the investigation. Holmes was feigning illness, as a ruse to get the suspect to admit both the original crime and the subsequent attempt to infect Holmes, with Watson hidden in the room to serve as witness.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Among the Invictus in Vampire: The Requiem begging is used as an occasional gambit when a lower-ranking Vampire fails at some task. If you can't assign blame or weasel your way out, then you can always prostrate yourself (publicly) in front of the Elder, wail about your worthlessness, beg for mercy, tear your clothes, demand some horrible punishment, etc. This might (emphasis on might) fluster the Elder enough to say that the failure wasn't that bad, and avoid losing face by actually punishing you. Or he could just tell you to stop being a drama queen and show some dignity.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • "Grovel" is a God Reel technique in God Hand. Gene sinks to the Pose of Supplication and begs the enemies not to hurt him. The audience mocks you... and the Dynamic Difficulty sinks to the lowest possible level. (This doesn't work in Hard Mode, because the Dynamic Difficulty is locked on Level Die.)
  • At the climax of Story Mode of Mortal Kombat 9 there is an interesting example that is kind of both A and B. When Shao Kahn arrives to merge his realm with Earth, out of the surviving four heroes, only Raiden remains. Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade are too beaten to stand up to Shao Kahn and are easily dashed aside, and Liu Kang has died trying to kill Raiden. As the triumphant Emperor steps forward, Raiden falls to one knee and consigns the Earth to him. It's kind of like A, since the elder gods have decreed that merging the realms without victory in a Mortal Kombat tournament is forbidden, so Raiden could be seen as supplicating the Emperor's ego and drawing him into a trap. However, it could also be considered B, as at this point Raiden's faith that the elder gods will do anything to help the Earth is more or less gone, and he could be simply trying to hand over the Earth to Shao Kahn without the need for any more killing. Either way, the elder gods finally do intervene at the last possible second, but the victory is a bittersweet one indeed.
  • Suikoden V straddles the line at one point during a Sidequest to capture and recruit the cocky thief Raven. The Oboro Detective Agency, having dealt with him before, helps to easily ensnare the thief. When approached about joining the rebellion, Raven pretends to be bargaining from a position of power, demanding that Oboro bow and beg him to join. Without missing a beat, Oboro gets on his knees and calmly requests he join, pissing Raven off because he can't believe his 'rival' capitulated so easily, but can't tell whether or not he's mocking him or being completely serious about it.
    • Under somewhat similar circumstances, this is also done in Suikoden II when Apple gets on her knees and begs Shu to join your cause when realises that she alone cannot act as the army strategist. If I remember correctly, you have the option of telling her not to, or joining her in a Pose of Supplication.
  • Early in Tales of the Abyss, Colonel Badass Jade kneels down to humbly beg Luke for his assistance in reaching the Kimlascan king with their peace treaty. Luke is actually the hero, although at that point in the game he was still a Jerkass, and Jade manages it without losing a great deal of dignity, despite very nearly sounding humble until after Luke tells him to knock it off (which is impressive for the game's foremost Deadpan Snarker). Mostly, the scene serves to underscore the seriousness of their mission.
  • The ability to grovel/supplicate/GENUFLECT (otherwise known as "Dogeza" in Japan) is a funny and welcome addition to the third entry of Way of the Samurai. Not only it is useful for ending most fights prematurely, it is also required to recruit one particular follower.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • David Xanatos in Gargoyles is perfectly willing to ask Goliath politely for help rescuing his fiancee. It's just he'll save it for Plan D, after plans A through C don't pan out. (Plan E, after Goliath turns him down, is even more desperate - "plant a tracker on Goliath and follow him so I'm there if he changes his mind.")
  • Starscream has pulled both varities, and is quite good at it.