I Cannot Self-Terminate

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"I cannot self-terminate. You must lower me into the steel."

The T-800 cyborgTerminator 2: Judgment Day

Perhaps the Body Horror has almost completely taken over a person and with their last ounce of humanity, they beg to be killed. Perhaps they've just been wounded in a vital area and know they are going to die slowly and in agony, and just want to die with dignity/end the pain quickly. Perhaps they're losing the battle with an Enemy Within and they need the hero or sidekick to throw the airlock switch/fire the Forgotten Superweapon at them/lower them into the steel. Perhaps they are prisoners and being tortured, and the hero cannot break them free but could shoot them. In any case, while they're ready or even eager to die, they cannot do it on their own. This can also count as a Heroic Sacrifice, sometimes.

If, like the page quote, the character is robotic, this may occur due to influence from Asimov's Laws. Specifically, a robot may not harm itself, or through inaction allow itself to be harmed, unless it is in direct opposition with the first two laws. Even when not following the hierarchical laws of robotics, it could still occur if a robot is simply programmed for self-preservation.

In a series set in Jidai Geki, this trope may appear when a Samurai character commits Seppuku—ritual suicide—to redeem himself. Traditionally, a person committing seppuku, after disemboweling himself, was allowed to have a "second" (kaishakunin) behead him before the pain would destroy his composure. (Itto Oogami's original position in Lone Wolf and Cub was as an official "second" for the Shogunate.) Sometimes, the "second" will volunteer for the job, as a token of respect for a friend or Worthy Opponent.

Instant Death Bullet is likely. Then, usually the killer has no difficulty getting to a position and attacking in a manner that would cause quick death. When the character is Fighting From the Inside, but not very effectively, the death can be long and gruesome. (See page quote.)

The victim may plead for death even when it is possible for them to be saved, owing to the pain. The hero is likely to override that, often saying No One Gets Left Behind.

Compare to Mercy Kill, when the target cannot even request death; Death Seeker, where the target can't even find anyone willing (or capable, if the Death Seeker still wants to fight to the best of their ability); and Driven to Suicide, when they can self terminate. Also compare Trial by Friendly Fire.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of I Cannot Self-Terminate include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Original Reinforce in the second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has Nanoha and Fate kill seal her program because if they didn't, her Self-Defense Program that killed would regenerate itself.
  • The half-demon warriors in Claymore eventually reach a state where they can no longer contain their demonic side. At this point they send a "black card" bearing their personal symbol to another Claymore as a personal plea for that particular warrior to kill them while they still have their humanity.
  • Ellis in El Cazador de la Bruja asks Nadie to shoot her so she she can avoid being enslaved by the Big Bad. Nadie does so and dies herself shortly thereafter of undisclosed reasons. Luckily, both characters are resurrected a few minutes later.
  • At the very heart of Magic Knight Rayearth, in which which the Pillar of Cephiro, who supports the stability and peace of her entire world, is no longer able to bear the burden of her responsibility. She must summon the Magic Knights from another world, for nobody in all Cephiro can kill the Pillar. After learning of the true situation, the Knights reluctantly accept what must be done, setting the stage for a truly heart-breaking climax as well as for the second season, where the Knights must defend Cephiro from the foreigners who want to take over and become Pillars.
  • In Ga-Rei Zero Yomi tries to do this to herself after realizing that she's been killing her friends out of hatred. The banestone in her prevents her from getting her own sword anywhere near herself to cause injury.
  • In Yami no Matsuei, Tsubaki Kakyouin begs Hisoka to kill her after Muraki injures her fatally, since she (or better said, her alter-ego Eileen, created by another girl's anger at how she was murdered to give her heart to Tsubaki) is to blame for the murders that had just taken place, and she wants to die in peace. Hisoka tearfully complies to her wish and shoots her to death, then cries in Tsuzuki's arms.
  • In Tekkaman Blade, the main character has a strict 30-minute timer on his battle form before he loses his mind and becomes a savage destruction machine. Early in the series, he asks another member of the team (his Lancer in the group, Noel) to shoot him if he goes over.
  • Very cruel example from Saint Seiya: An Ansgard warrior named Volker abused his adoptive son Mime for years and once taunted him with the fact that he had killed Mime's biological parents, which sent Mime in an Unstoppable Rage and made him his father. What seemed to be a case of revenge is actually one where Volker, haunted for years for accidentally killing Mime's parents during a civil war, wanted Mime to punish him. (Mime's dad was The Rival and refused to be spared because of his family, and when Volker attacked him in self-defense, he hit both him and his wife who was trying to stop them). Volker couldn't be easily killed by anyone in Ansgard since he was the top Retired Badass there, so he played a Thanatos Gambit to have his wish to die honorably at the hands of someone who'd take his place in the top ten of Ansgard's military force, while also atoning for a double kill that he never truly intended to commit.
  • In Dragon Ball, this is the reason Kami trains Goku to kill Piccolo Jr. Since he and Piccolo are two halves of one being, if Piccolo dies, Kami will as well. Kami feels that he deserves to pay for bringing Piccolo into the world in the first place, but as a God, he can't kill himself.
  • In the end of Code Geass, to keep the world form discovering that he is Zero and the Emperor, Lelouch asks his Dragon Suzaku to dress up as Zero and kill him in public. Suzaku tearfully does so, and after Emperor Lelouch is out of the picture in a very dramatic way, he becomes Zero and aids Lelouch's little sister and successor, Empress Nunnally. However... the last scene hints that Lelouch may be still alive and Walking the Earth with C.C.
    • The writer has stated that he's dead, and is listed among the dead in the Death List for R2.
    • And let's not forget that this trope is the particular compulsion that Lelouch puts on Suzaku, sealing his Fate Worse Than Death as well.
      • Poor Suzaku, who wants to die so badly… in Suzaku of the counterattack, at one time the easiest way to save the universe is him absorbing immortality power!
    • C.C., being immortal, fit this trope until near the end of the series. In fact, the "contract" she makes turns out to be "evolve your geass fully so you can kill me and take my code", the same as the witch before her did to her.
  • In the Tournament arc of Yu Yu Hakusho, Yuusuke faces three Brainwashed and Crazy fighters who have beaten up Kuwabara brutally. Upset at Kuwabara being injured for trying to de-brainwash them, he angrily asks them if they're heartless or what... and he sees them crying Tears of Blood, stopping their attacks and begging him to kill them so they're free of their conditioning. Luckily, Genkai manages to bring them fully back to their senses without killing them.
    • Well, to be fair, they weren't actually Brainwashed and Crazy so much as just People Puppets, although given that their bodies only followed orders rather than being controlled directly, that definition is not true either. The end result was that they were almost entirely locked inside their own mind, with their bodies outside of their control, rather than simply being conditioned. Genki just managed to destroy the control devices implanted on them without killing them.
  • Early on in Bleach, Orihime's Hollow-fied older brother Sora has a flash of Heroic Willpower, removes his Hollow mask and asks Rukia to perform konsou on him before he hurts anyone else. (Mild subversion, since technically he's already dead, but the afterlife concept in Bleach is weird as hell anyway.)
    • And later, we learn that this is not the first time Rukia has done that. The guy she had to kill back then was actually her Big Brother Mentor and first love, Kaien Shiba, whose body had been taken over by the same Hollow that had just killed his wife Miyako aka Ruki'as Cool Big Sis. Poor Rukia was so badly traumatised that she saw her upcoming execution in Soul Society as a way to get a Suicide by Cop and atone for her actions.
  • Gungrave: In the anime Harry McDowell begs Brandon/Grave to kill him that because he can't live in disgrace
  • In Gash Bell the demon-bookkeeper pairs cannot burn their own books; therefore there were many cases of demons(or their bookkeepers) asking others to burn their book for them. It could be either because any more damage to the demon could actually kill the demon(their bookkeepers would rather have the demons sent back to the demon world than having them die) or because they do not feel like participating in the battle anymore. Examples include Koruru, Rein, Wonlei, Leira, Bari, and Umagon.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, doctor Marcoh is being held prisoner by the homunculi and made to work for them under threat that if he doesn't cooperate or dares to run away or kill himself they will obliterate the village where he spent the last years in hiding. When Scar sneaks into his cell, he begs him to kill him, thinking the homunculi wouldn't take revenge on the village if he was killed by another, apparently against his will.
  • Kaworu Nagisa of Neon Genesis Evangelion is a blatant example of this.
  • In Baccano!, this is the ostensible reason immortals were given the ability to "devour" others. It took at least a few minutes seconds before they realized they could use it to murder each other, though at least two immortals (Maiza and Sylvie) have considered asking Firo to end their lives this way.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure, when Jupiter is about to blow up the Galactic base and tells Mitsumi to get out with everyone else, Mitsumi says she can no longer live with the memory of what she did as a Team Galactic agent and asks Jupiter to blow her up too. Jupiter is taken aback but is ultimately convinced to do so. Of course, this being Pokemon at heart, it's revealed in the next chapter that Jun saved her.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Done in a weird way in the series finale. Atem, in order to finally Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, MUST be defeated in a duel by Yugi. He cannot just forfeit the duel; he must be defeated honorably by the person who he shares a body with. What results is the most epic duel in the show's history.
  • Zeref from Fairy Tail seems to be counting on Natsu to come and kill him.

Comic Books

  • In part two of the classic Alan Moore "Imaginary Tale" ("...Aren't they all?") Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?? which brought an extra-continuity close to the Silver Age Superman mythos, Lex Luthor's body is essentially possessed by the disembodied head of Brainiac, which he is forced to wear like a rather macabre helmet. When confronted by a temporarily superpowered Lana Lang (who, pre-Crisis, he had some history with), Luthor valiantly struggles against Brainiac's control long enough to beg her: "kill me!", rather than remain the living computer's meat-puppet. Lana complies and snaps Luthor's neck... but (unfortunately for Jimmy Olsen) even the death of his host body wasn't enough to keep Brainiac down, as he manages to continue stimulating the corpse's nerves and muscles for a while longer, Luthor's head grotesquely lolling to one side on its broken spine. Eventually the rigor mortis catches up with him, forcing the malignant robot head to dismount and crawl, Krang-like after Superman with futile murderous intent before finally expiring. Best villain death EVER.
  • In The Sandman, retired DCU hero Rainie Blackwell (AKA Element Girl), who feels alienated from humanity due to her transmutation powers, longs to kill herself but can't because regardless of the method she chose her body would automatically transmute itself into another substance. Death of the Endless, having failed to talk Rainie out of dying before her time, suggests she ask the Egyptian god Ra, the source of her superpower, to handle it. Ra silently tells her to look directly at him, whereupon she disintegrates.
    • At the end of the series' take of the tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, Orpheus is beset upon by the furies and reduced to an Oracular Head. He requests that his father Morpheus kill him, because as a divine being he can't die naturally or be killed by a mortal. Morpheus denies him and leaves him alive as a severed head. The two eventually reconcile some two-and-a-half thousand years later and Morpheus fulfils his request, in the process setting in motion the events of the comic's final arc.
  • In an old Batman comic, Batman is possessed by Manuel, a dead Satanic-worshipping pirate, who's trying to bring himself and those stuck in purgatory back to the real world. Batman pleas with The Flash to kill him before that happens. Luckily, the Flash chooses to Take a Third Option.
  • A similar example to the above occurs in Lucifer. Due to a promise she broke as a temple maiden, a Babylonian woman is punished with immortality; as a particular condition of the immortality, every day for the last four thousand years has featured her miscarrying her fetus. She ends up seeking out a bargaining chip for Lucifer, who revokes the immortality and watches as she blows away to dust.
  • In X-Men, Professor X had been mostly transformed into an alien Brood (the Brood life cycle: an implanted embryo takes over the host's mind and eventually transforms their body) but when the X-Men managed to take him down he had enough control to beg Cyclops to kill him. Cyclops' response was essentially "Screw that, I'm Taking A Third Option."
  • 2000 AD‍'‍s Rogue Trooper encounters a subverted version of this trope. Having thought that he was the last remaining super-soldier, he is amazed to find a much older prototype living as a hermit on the poison-choked planet Rogue roams. The old man says he is waiting to die and that he feels like nature is going to take its course very soon. When enemy troops approach, Rogue's friends - personality-chips of fallen comrades embedded in his helmet and gun—vote to leave the old man to his fate. Rogue declines—the old man wants to die with dignity—and his already impressive abilities are ramped up to eleven in order to massacre the enemy patrol and give the old man something Rogue hopes to have himself one day.
  • A History of Violence.
  • A story arc of Fantastic Four has the Thing, being possessed by Dr. Doom, put the Torch in a death hold. Doom is laughing that the only way to stop him is to kill him—that is to say, kill Ben. Ben manages to wrest just enough control to tearfully tell Reed to do it. For once, Reed gets stuck in a situation where he can't Take a Third Option.
  • In Uncanny X-Men Annual #6, Rachel Van Helsing (from The Tomb of Dracula) is turned into a vampire by Dracula. Throwing off Dracula's mind control long enough to (temporarily) kill him with a spear, she then asks Wolverine to kill her with a wooden stake. He does so.
  • In X-23 #11, X-23 asks Jubilee to kill her if she succumbs to the "trigger scent" to prevent her from killing innocent people. Predictably, Jubilee doesn't follow through and it leads to an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight.
  • Inverted in French comic Les Légendaires. The Big Bad points out that he's a god. In this verse, only gods can kill gods, and other gods have deserted this planet. So, he states that the only hope for the heroes is that he would suicide. The loophole was to kill him with a sword forged with his own blood (actually the blood of the guy he possess the body).

Fan Works


  • Terminator 2, where the quote for this trope comes from, has the title character insisting on this, in order that the technology inside him be destroyed completely.
    • As a nod, in Terminator 3, when Katherine Brewster (whom, unbeknownst to herself and the audience at that point, the T-850 must obey), says "Drop dead, you A**HOLE," the T-850 responds: "I am unable to comply."
  • Starship Troopers, Rasczak, the leader of the Roughnecks, informs all of his new recruits "I've only got one rule: everybody fights, no one quits. You don't do your job, I'll shoot you myself." Later, during a battle he is being consumed from the waist down in a pit he's been sucked into. He tosses his rifle to Rico and screams for him to "Do it!" which prompts Rico to empty the magazine into Rasczak.
    • Not that bad as a rule, considering the alternative to being shot in the head by the teammate is getting slowly devoured and/or brain-sucked by aliens...
  • Dawn of the Dead remake has Tucker, being devoured alive by zombies, pleading CJ to shoot him.
  • In the most tragic scene of John Woo's The Killer (besides the ending), the title character's best friend Sidney, after delivering the money he needs to have Jenny's eyes fixed and being shot by the main bad guy's men, asks for a last bullet from his friend so that he doesn't die like a dog, because he didn't save his own last bullet for himself. The Killer tearfully complies.
  • The Descent. After being accidentally stabbed by Juno, Beth gets Sarah to kill her, rather than die slowly and painfully or be ripped apart by the Crawlers.
  • Another horror film example. In the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Andy was hanging on a hook in the basement, missing a leg and with salt pressed into his wounds. When Erin happened across him, he didn't waste much time in getting her to finish him off.
  • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Jean Grey asks Wolverine twice to kill her as she senses the Phoenix taking over. The second time, the request is fulfilled.
  • The quote above comes from the film Stargate: The Ark of Truth. Merrik, possessed by replicator, is briefly given back his free will after being electrocuted. He begs Mitchell to kill him, as he can't do it. Seeing as Mitchell is unarmed, and Merrik is now (literally) Made of Iron, possessing Super Strength and Immune to Bullets, this proves to be easier said than done.
  • From Dusk till Dawn has Scott do this. Injured, immobilized, and vampires already feeding on him, he asks Kate to kill him.
  • In the end of The Fly, Seth Brundle, now fully transformed into a hideous fly/human hybrid is trying to get out of a telepod after Stathis managed to free Veronica, but he gets teleported along with bits of the broken pod and emerges as a fly/human/metal thing, dying and in agony. He, or rather, it, crawls up to Veronica and gently directs the shotgun she is holding to his head so she could end his suffering.
  • Subverted for the ending in End of Days, wherein Arnold's character is possessed by Satan himself, but before he's forced to rape the girl he tried to protect during the movie, regains control long enough to jump straight on a sword held by a statue, killing himself and banishing Satan just as the year 2000 rolls along.
  • In Serenity, River is in the middle of an emotional breakdown while handcuffed to the floor, and begs for Simon to kill her, interspersed with images of her with a gun to her head. However, he immediately rejects that.

River Tam: Put a bullet to me. Bullet in the brain pan. Squish.

  • Inadvertently applied to David from An American Werewolf in London, because the restless spirits of his victims waste so much time dreaming up ways for him to kill himself that he runs out of time to act on their advice and succumbs to another transformation.
  • The Great Waldo Pepper has the title character's friend trapped in a burning airplane after a crash. When Pepper is unable to free him, he begs, "Don't let me burn!" Pepper then euthanizes him with a blow to the head.
  • The 1990 comedy Short Time stars Dabney Coleman as a police officer who erroneously finds out he has a terminal illness. The problem is, his wife (Marge in Mom and Dad Save The World) only gets his pension pre-retirement if he is killed in the line of duty. Since suicide is also out of the question, he starts taking massive risks on the job in an effort to get a perp to kill him.
  • Debatable in the case of The Hitcher, in which serial killer Ryder keeps asking protagonist Jim to "stop me", and gives him several opportunities to kill him. Questionable as to whether Ryder is simply looking to die, as per this trope, or if he's specifically trying to make Jim into a killer like himself.
  • The protagonist in the 1986 horror/comedy House is troubled by memories of Vietnam, and especially his own failure to carry out a Mercy Kill when a trap-snared friend invoked this trope. Sure enough, the source of the haunting is the ex-friend's ghost, out to for revenge because he'd been captured by the enemy and tortured for weeks.
  • An outtake from the first Alien, cut because it broke the pace of the finale, shows that some of the crew are still alive after being implanted, and they beg Ripley to kill them. She obliges.
  • In Kamen Rider OOO: Nobunaga's Desire, Nobunaga is given three black Core Medals and sent out of control. He manages to hang onto himself long enough to beg Eiji to kill him before he goes out of control. Eiji ultimately defeats him, allowing him to die peacefully.
  • In the 2011 film adaptation of The Whisperer In Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft, Henry Akeley, who has been reduced to a Brain In a Jar by the Mi-Go, begs Professor Wilmarth to kill him after learning that his son has been killed by them. In a subversion, Wilmarth cannot bring himself to do it.


  • In Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Michael Finn was sent by an alien force to determine whether Earth is so dangerous that it needs to be destroyed; however, he's decided (after an evening at Callahan's) that he likes us Puny Earthlings. Should he fail to report in, they will assume we destroyed him and stay well clear of us—but it's impossible for him to intentionally fail to report, as long as he's properly functioning. When he gives his name as Michael Finn, Callahan the bartender takes the hint and slips him a "mickey", which renders him unconscious during the assigned reporting period. (Also of note here is that Michael himself refers to his mission as a "geas.")
  • At the end of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant, Angua's (a werewolf) brother (the main villain of the novel) goes batshit insane after his plans are foiled and goes on a rampage. When he is dead she makes Captain Carrot promise to kill her if she ended up in a similar state.
    • Also, in another Discworld novel A Hat Full of Sky, The Hiver cannot die because it literally does not know how. However, it does know that it wants it, and Tiffany helps it find the gate to Death and the next world.
    • One of the creepier parts of Guards! Guards! is a brief passage from the perspective of the Master of Assassins. He reflects on how Wonse mouthed "Help me" to him, and that as far as he can see, there's only one kind of "help" he's qualified to give...
  • In the short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, the survivors of the apocalypse caused by Master Computer AM eventually realize that while they cannot kill themselves, they can kill each other. Unfortunately, this leaves one of them alive to suffer a Fate Worse Than Death at the hands of AM by being turned into a 'soft jelly thing' that can't harm itself.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Soric is handed over to the Black Ships. Several books later, he communicates with Hark, who finds him, cries (which all the deaths in all the books have not drawn from him), and at his request, kills him. (He makes it look like an execution at Soric's request, to save himself.)
  • In JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion, when Fingon tries to rescue Maedhros from Morgoth after Cold-Blooded Torture, and it looks like he won't succeed. (However, in the end, Fingon frees him by cutting his hand off.)
  • Self-preservation is Isaac Asimov's third law of robotics, making it the third-most-important moral imperative for a robot. Unfortunately for the robot, it's overridden by one and two, so a robot can kill itself if ordered to do so.
    • In Asimov's short story "All the Troubles of the World," the computer Multivac, which manages all of humanity, tries to use a Thanatos Gambit to arrange for itself to be destroyed.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Ragnar's Claw, when they go through the plague-stricken city, they walk through the dead, and the half-dead, many of whom plead for death. Gul kills one, but looks at the number of them and goes on with the rest.
    • In Wolfblade, when they find a mortally wounded but not yet dead Eldar, she asks them to kill her, and they do.
  • A nice spin on this in Gerald Morris' The Squire's Tales. After Sir Gawain accidentally kills a man's wife, the man falls to his knees and begs Gawain to kill him. Gawain doesn't, instead forcing him to go to Arthur's court.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, when Uriel finds a victim of torture still alive, he is capable of mouthing Kill me. . . .
    • In Dead Sky Black Sun, Uriel breaks into the Evil Tower of Ominousness and finds that at least one of the daemonculaba is still aware. He assures her that he will end her sufferings, and though she is incapable of speech, she indicates that she is grateful.
  • In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolf's Honour, on the shadow planet, they find crops that have human faces and beg for release. What is worse, the Space Wolves can not burn them, though they wish to. The Inquisitor explains that they stem from the sacrifices used to make this duplicate planet.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion novel The Hallowed Hunt, Wencel kin Horseriver is perfectly capable of killing his current body—too bad his soul and consciousness will simply jump to the body of his next living heir, devouring that individual's mind in the process. Actually dying requires two other people and a lot of magical oomph. His plan to arrange just that is, it turns out, his primary goal.
  • In New Moon, second in the Twilight series, Edward wants to kill himself because he thinks Bella is dead, but because he's nearly impossible to kill, he has to go to the Volturi to ask them to kill him.
    • Specifically, he was going to reveal his Bishie Sparkles to the city, somehow revealing the existence of vampires and forcing the Volturi to kill him.
    • Which is a bit confusing, since the vampires of that series are described as basically stone statues with lighter fluid for all bodily fluids and immolation as the only surefire way to kill one of them. He should have been able to just set himself on fire to kill himself.
  • Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? ends with Gloria asking Robert to shoot her because she can't bring herself to commit suicide. He complies, and later when the cops ask him why he did it as they're taking him away, he offers the title phrase in reply.
  • An interesting example occurs in the young adult novel The Crossroads where Billy O' Claire is possessed by an evil spirit who is trying to force him to murder his own son. This leads to a half-tragic, half-comical three-way exchange between Billy, the spirit inside of him, and the cop trying to stop them both.

Hargrove: Mr. O'Claire, put down the knife.
Billy: Shoot me! Please? Stop me!
Hargrove: Drop the knife and no one needs to shoot anybody.
Billy: You don't understand. It's the only way.
Clint: (through Billy) Don't listen to this coward!
Billy: I can't take this anymore!
Clint: Shut up!
Billy: Shoot me! Shut up, shut up, shut up!

  • Doran the Dragonlover can't die since he's the Guardian of a Sister, the very thing he goes out to destroy many years ago, therefore asked to be killed to end his suffering. Fortunately, he dies with great relief once he saw that the Diamond Dragon's egg hatch, therefore will continue to live in its mother's place.
  • Early in the Animorphs series, Visser Three's host is briefly freed from the And I Must Scream state of Controllerhood and asks Aximilli to kill him before he can be recaptured. Ax refuses.
    • In one of the special additions, an Andalite gets trapped in Taxxon morph and asks a comrade to take his life. When the aforementioned comrade refuses, the trapped individual tries to trick him into killing him, without success.
  • In the climactic scene of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, when the Big Bad Storm King is in the process of being summoned back into the world, King Elias (who has been an unrepentant Jerkass to this point), has an Oh Crap moment when he realizes that his promised Immortality will come about thanks to Demonic Possession, condemning him to an eternity of And I Must Scream. In his very last moments of sanity prior to being taken over completely, his daughter Miriamele shoots him with the White Arrow, killing him. Later, Miriamele laments to Simon that she saw in his eyes that he wanted her to do it.
  • In Neil Gaiman's short story "Feeders and Eaters", a man crushes a literally half-eaten cat with his boots; he says "It may have been a cat, but I knew what it wanted. It was in it's eyes." and then later on this character seems to imply that he's in the same position.
  • In Larry Niven's novel The Ringworld Engineers, Teela Brown has become a Protector whose descendant-protecting instincts are paradoxically making her try to stop the main characters from saving the Ringworld. She is, however, just rational enough to provoke the main characters into killing her so they can get on with the job.
  • In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, the Bloodtide tells the Raven Guard and White Scar scouts that it can not kill itself, but they can Kill It with Fire.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Devil In Iron" Octavia beg to escape an unspecified Fate Worse Than Death.

"He told me what he was going to do to me!" she panted. "Kill me! Kill me with your sword before he bursts the door!"

  • The fate of Mishra, brother of the planeswalker Urza, for irritating Yawgmoth. Mishra, along with dozens of other beings who have earned that ire, lie strapped to tables in one layer of Phyrexia with dozens of whirring circular blades suspended above them. Every few seconds, the blades descend and slice up the skin of the victims, but never kill them. When Urza is brought to his brother, Mishra pleads for him to end his life. Instead, Urza turns his back on him and walks away, succeeding in his test of devotion to Yawgmoth.
  • Played for extreme horror in the novella With Folded Hands... when the reader realizes that not only have human lives been reduced to complete irrelevance by their robotic "servants", but there's no way to end the despair because they are always right there with you. And the robot guardians have become very good at preventing humans from taking their own lives....
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The People of the Black Circle", the king demands this of his sister before his soul is trapped.

Ali! I feel their pull upon me now! Your cry and the grip of your fingers brought me back, but I am going fast. My soul clings to my body, but its hold weakens. Quick--kill me, before they can trap my soul for ever!

  • In Gone (novel), Hunter, who is being slowly eaten by parasitic wasps, begs Sam to kill him.
  • Denna in Wizard's First Rule states that she tortured the protagonist worse than she did anyone else, suspecting he's the one a prophecy says will kill her, and thus trying to push him to do so. In the end, he kills her out of love.
    • Also applies to the victims of a Mord-Sith. They're held so that they magically cannot kill themselves, even though the Mord-Sith let them keep their weapons.
  • In a possible future shown at the beginning of the Belisarius Series, Belisarius and Justinian want to die to avoid being captured by the Malwa soldiers who are overwhelming the city but don't want to commit the mortal sin of suicide. A Hindu slave, whose religion doesn't have the same prohibition, is given the task of pushing them into a pit of molten metal before killing himself.
  • In the Dresden Files, Lloyd Slate to Harry once Mab begins torturing the former.
  • At the end of Under The Yoke, the heroine is trapped in a nuclear bunker with her ally and a member of the Domination's secret police. As a member of La Résistance, her duty is to detonate the bomb she is carrying, thus destroying the experimental nuclear device and setting the Domination's nuclear arms race back several years. Regrettably, that will kill everyone in the bunker, and as a devout Catholic nun she cannot commit the mortal sin of suicide, nor can she allow her ally to commit it for her. The secret policeman solves the problem for her by remarking that there's no way he's getting out of there alive, and though he has contempt for her religion he respects her faith in it... so he kills her, thus detonating the explosive and in so doing, saving both her and her ally from the sin of suicide.

Live-Action TV

  • The Dalek in the Doctor Who episode "Dalek" was developing more emotions than just hatred - a situation its species could not stand. It had to be ordered to die by someone else, as its training would not let it commit suicide under other circumstances. Rose finally (and reluctantly) gave the order.
  • Beth, in the Torchwood episode "Sleeper" couldn't actually kill herself because of her position as a sleeper, but because of the grief she'd caused herself, she took Gwen hostage to force the team to kill her.
  • The humanoid Cylons on Battlestar Galactica are forbidden from committing suicide by their religion (although at least two have successfully self-terminated by putting themselves in close proximity to explosives); given the overall tone of the series, it is perhaps not surprising that this has led to multiple instances of Cylons begging someone else to pull the trigger on them. This appears to be purely a psychological effect rather than something hardwired into them - Brother Cavil, the one Cylon who doesn't believe in the Cylon god, is shot by the underground resistance on New Caprica in the third season, and, upon coming back sometime later, casually mentions that he had to cut his jugular vein open with a shell casing to kill himself. And he does it again in the final episode as well, shooting himself in the head after Tyrol makes resurrection impossible by killing another one of the Final Five. "Frak!" *bang*
    • Keep in mind that "real death" is clearly regarded differently from being killed and resurrected. Once the resurrection ship is destroyed, Gina hands Baltar a pistol and tells him to shoot her, as suicide is a sin. On the other hand, Doral has no problem carrying out a Suicide Attack as he'll simply be downloaded into another body.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation sees Worf paralyzed from the waist down after an accident, Worf is so depressed by his inability to be a warrior that he asks Riker to kill him using a ritual knife, as dictated by Klingon custom. Riker refuses to kill his friend, and Worf tries to browbeat Riker by calling him a coward, Riker counters with knowledge of the tradition by pointing out that it's the eldest son's duty. Considering that his son is a young child raised by humans, this convinces Worf to try the experimental surgery to fix his back.
  • Subverted in Supernatural. In season two episode "Born Under A Bad Sign" Sam has just killed a hunter and is pleading with Dean (who obviously can't) to kill him before he gets any worse. It turns out that Sam is possessed and the demon inside him just wants to break Dean as much as possible and hopefully get Sam killed in the process. At the end of season four in "When the Levee Breaks", while suffering withdrawal from demon blood, Sam tells Bobby to shoot, moving the gun's muzzle to his own heart, if Bobby wants to help him.
    • Played straight in "Heart." Sam's one night stand was a werewolf, but they cured her... except not. There's no cure and she'd already killed a few people, so she asks Sam to shoot her instead. Ouch.
  • In season 4 of Angel, the titular character asks his son Connor to kill him if his Super-Powered Evil Side gets free. He does this in private though, so when it inevitably does the others think he still just wants to kill Angel.
    • Angel has pretty much asked this of anyone who's ever worked for/with him. Most of them kind of suck following through on it.
  • BRUTAL subversion in Lost. They tried to do this to the marshal, but the one bullet they had left missed the heart, and it would have taken him hours to bleed out, had Jack not euthanized the marshal some other way (offscreen.)
    • Richard enlists Jack's help in committing suicide in "Dr. Linus," since he cannot do it himself. It turns out that Jack can't commit suicide either, so he stays by Richard to stop either from dying.
  • In the fourth episode of Dead Set, Alex is attempting to open a lock gate so that she and Riq can escape further down the river, when she is suddenly attacked by a zombie, and is bitten in the struggle. After she kills it with an axe, and knowing that she will soon turn into a zombie herself, she quietly hands Riq the axe, their only weapon, and he agrees to kill her with it.
  • Power Rangers own iconic Zordon is a rather justified example: he wanted to commit suicide by way of a Heroic Sacrifice in Power Rangers in Space, but needed to convince someone else to help him do it as he lacked, you know, limbs.
  • In the third-season episode of Dexter, "Easy as Pie," Dexter does this for Camilla Figg, who is suffering terribly from lung cancer and has been told by doctors she's going to live at least another month. Because she's Catholic, she can't kill herself, or she'll go to Hell; but Dexter, who isn't religious, can kill her. She begs him to help her, and he injects a lethal poison into a piece of key lime pie and feeds it to her. To cap it off, he tells her just before she dies that he killed Rudy/Brian, and she gives him her blessing for doing so.
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Ourselves Alone," Cameron's continued uncertainty about her own ability to control her actions following the damage to her chip prompts her to build a self-destruct device. She gives this to John, saying that she can't self-terminate, so she'll trust him with the device in case she goes rogue again.
  • The early FOX series Werewolf would have been one episode long if Eric's roommate had committed suicide rather than invoked this trope. Eric's failure to comply fast enough when his friend transformed is how he got bitten himself.
  • Near the end of the second season of Farscape, Crichton incoherently rambles about how he's trying to do something but the mind-control chip in his head won't let him and vaguely gestures at a gun amidst scattered chess pieces. When his best buddy D'Argo presses the matter, ("Do WHAT, John!?") Crichton asks D'Argo to kill him.
  • Over the events of Charmed, Cole managed to escape hell and return to his beloved wife Phoebe. Unfortunately, the the powers he had absorbed to achieve this only caused problems for her and her sisters, so she ended up divorcing him. To his dismay, he found that his powers had also made him Nigh Invulnerable, and, as such, rendered him unable to kill himself from the grief. He even started causing trouble for the girls in a bid to get them to vanquish him for him.
    • Only to subvert this trope when he explains that he just wanted to try whether he really was indestructable and goes Ax Crazy for good after the confirmation.
  • The insurgent prisoner from Over There:

Prisoner: Kill me you savages, you heathens cover are you devils, kill me! NOW!!! Ashadu an l? il?ha illall?h! (beat) Kill me please. I beg of you.

  • In Babylon 5, Londo, under the long-term control of an alien mind-controlling parasite, gets it drunk and asks his old foe to kill him, preventing the alien from forcing him to thwart the heroes' daring escape. "I am as tired of my life as you are."
  • In Kamen Rider Kuuga, Yuusuke requests that if he cannot control the power of Ultimate Kuuga and becomes the 'Ultimate Darkness', his friend Ichijo to shoot him through the Arcle and kill him. Thankfully he doesn't become evil, just Badass.
  • In Maddigan's Quest, Timon begs Garland to shoot him after narrowly avoiding a trip over the Moral Event Horizon, explaining that next time he's asked to kill someone, he won't be able to stop himself. Boomer approves of the idea, but the answer's ultimately a no.
  • Mitchell, in Being Human (UK), begs his best friend George to stake his heart before his Horror Hunger makes him kill anyone else. After they introduce the next season's Big Bad by way of him threatening to kill George if Mitchell doesn't leave with him (and help him commit further horrible crimes), George does it. Of course, he'll probably be back...
  • An episode of the Outer Limits remake featured a scientist who tinkered with nanotechnology, and made himself nearly invincible. Unfortunately, the techniques his body used to protect him gave him a monstrous appearance, and proved potentially harmful to those around him.
  • In Community, Abed is incapable of stopping himself from humiliating others, he has too give out "destruct codes" for himself.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Reckoner," a judge suffering from terminal cancer hires a hitman to carry out a series of Vigilante Executions on people he considered Karma Houdinis (mostly for crimes against children), culminating in the man who killed the judge's wife while driving drunk. After the last criminal is killed, he admits to the BAU that there is still one more name on his hit list...and is promptly shot dead by the hitman.


  • Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" at least sounds like it's describing such a situation.

If I wait, this could die
[If] I wane, this could die
I want you... to take me out!

  • Ice Age's "Dead But Wide Awake" very clearly describes this

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • In Roman mythology, a famous Sybil (please note, that's the title of a seer/oracle, and is not yet used as a name in Rome) from the nearby city of Cumae was turned into a cicada by Apollo when she refused to sleep with him. Cicada!Sybil was ostensibly kept in a cage in the temple of Apollo at Cumae, where people would continue to ask her questions; one day a young child asked what she wanted, and she replied that she wanted to die.


  • The Dalek in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio Jubilee had had its self-destruct system disabled and, more than just ordering it to self-destruct, the Dalek demanded that Evelyn actually shoot it with its own gun.
    • The Eighth Doctor himself in the audio play Zagreus, echoing Charley's request in the previous story.

"Kill me."
"I can't!"
"Kill me."
"I love you!"
"Kill me."

      • She does.

Tabletop Games

  • Dwarfs in Warhammer Fantasy Battle are an interesting example, in that their culture allows for death to atone for a terrible shame or failure, but is strictly opposed to killing oneself- according to some sources, dwarfs are mentally incapable of suicide. Instead, a suicidal Dwarf becomes a Troll Slayer, which mostly entails dyeing their hair and beard, cutting it into a mohawk, and going out to find something really nasty to kill them in battle. And since Dwarfs are similarly opposed to throwing a fight, the more successful (or unsuccessful, depending on how you look at it) Slayers are fearsome warriors indeed.
    • Amusingly enough, the normally-branching "career paths" detailed in the Warhammer RPG handbooks break down slightly for Trollslayers. A Trollslayer's only "exit career" is "Giantslayer," and a Giantslayer's only possible exit career is "Daemonslayer," each one describing a correspondingly higher level of Awesome. And under the listing for "exit careers" for Daemonslayers...? "A glorious death."
  • The Sisters Repentia from Warhammer 40,000 are similar to the Trollslayers. They are made up of Sororitas who have somehow shamed themselves and seek redemption through death in battle. They are essentially naked women toting gigantic chainsaw swords whose only purpose is to charge the nearest enemy and cut it to pieces.
    • Then there's "the Emperor's Peace," which is simply a mercy killing, used In-game by Space Marine medics on other members of their squad; the rest of the squad just forgets about them.
  • Young Erasmus van Richten of Ravenloft invoked this trope, begging his father Rudolph to drive a stake through his heart before vampirism could extinguish his compassion and make him a killer. Justified in that, while Erasmus could theoretically have committed suicide by sunlight, he was only a kid and probably couldn't have endured the 10 rounds of agony then required under D&D rules.


  • In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Brutus asks for one of men to hold his sword so he can run himself on it, as his Stoic philosophy forbids him from directly committing suicide.
    • Either a case of Did Not Do the Research or Science Marches On however, since Stoic philosophy actually prescribes suicide as an honorable death (second only to death in battle) and that allowing someone to commit suicide rather than execute him was oft reserved for the Worthy Opponent as a way of letting him go out on his own terms. The offer was more often taken than rejected.
    • Brutus does a similar thing after the Battle of Phillipi in the series Rome. He dismisses his guards, takes off his armor and marches straight at the advancing enemy soldiers, sword in hand. At first the soldiers just block or dodge his attacks, but when he wounds one, they stab him to death.

Video Games

  • In one quest in Jade Empire, you encounter a man who has been infected by cannibalistic demons and begs to be killed before he becomes a cannibal as well. You'll actually gain a few "Open Palm" points on your Karma Meter if you kill him; if you don't, he succumbs to the infection and you'll have to fight him.
  • Bioware likes this trope. In Dragon Age: Origins, the main character will encounter a Dalish elf who has turned into a werewolf. Her transformation has left her in excrutiating pain and she will beg the character to end her suffering. If you do, she will thank you. If you don't, she will attack and force you to kill her.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II takes the trope further: not only can't an HK-series assassin droid self-terminate, it also can't harm other HK droids because its programming still considers other units to be parts of itself.
    • You wouldn't be able to find that out without restoring some of the cut content, though.
  • The original, Japanese version of this appears in both Tenchu and Sword of the Samurai II, where the player character can end up acting as the 'second', depending on various factors.
    • A notable occurrence in Tenchu involves infiltrating the manner of a corrupt lord. Once you finally reach him, he repents and asks for your help. He then stabs himself in the stomach, and you take off his head.
  • In Half-Life 2, Gordon comes across humans who have been taken over by headcrabs. They beg for death even as the headcrab forces them to attack the player.
  • Shadow's flashback dreams in Final Fantasy VI shows him being asked by his partner Baram to kill him, as he was mortally wounded and couldn't do the deed himself. Shadow freaks out and runs away, leaving Baram to die slowly and painfully.
  • General Pepper in Star FOX Assault. The Aparoids have taken over his ship and threaten to take over himself as well. During the fight, he keeps asking to be killed before that happens. Subverted in that Peppy dives in to soften the ships fall and Pepper survives in the end. Also later in the game, Peppy sacrifices the infested Great Fox to break through a defensive shield.
  • In an astonishing example of loyalty, Asgard battles your party after he saves them from Beatrice, just so he can get around his self-preservation programming and follow his masters to hell in Wild ARMs 3.
  • In the 3D shooter game Duke Nukem, Duke comes across various attractive young women with Body Horror problems who beg you to kill them.
    • Given the nature of Duke to "borrow" lines from other sources this is very likely a "shout out" (cough) to Aliens.
  • In Breath of Fire 2, the main character will discover his long-lost father attached to a machine in the bowels of a dungeon. He asks you to kill him which you can do during the boss fight immediately after his request but the game also subverts this trope by allowing you to solely attack the machine during the battle instead. This will result in the machine destroyed, the father saved, and you on the path towards the best ending.
  • In Killer7, Ulmeyda publically challenges the titular assassins to kill him. When they reach him, he reveals that he's terrified at the thought of becoming a Heaven's Smile and called on them to kill him in case he becomes one. He promptly does when the Army intervenes, and his Heaven's Smile form is the Boss Battle of the chapter.
  • Happens in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance in one of the bad endings. Juste finds Maxim barely holding on to himself, and Maxim begs Juste to kill him before his Enemy Within takes over. Juste refuses, and (predictably) Maxim's evil side does take over, and you have to fight him.
    • In another Castlevania example, Soma made Julius promise to kill him if he ever loses out to his Super-Powered Evil Side. It's unusual in that it's the protagonist that makes the request.
    • Yet another Castlevania example: In Lament of Innocence, the origins of the Belmont family whip are revealed, as Leon finds himself being asked by his fiancée, who has already begun the irreversible process of turning into a vampire, to kill her. He does.
  • In System Shock 2, the annelid hybrids (humans who have been assimilated by The Many) will often beg you to kill them, even as they attack you.
  • In BioShock (series), Andrew Ryan uses the compulsive phrase "Would you kindly..." to force the main character to kill him with a golf club, ending his life on his own terms.
  • In BioShock (series) 2,Gilbert Alexander, a scientist who worked for Andrew Ryan, knowing what he will become, leaves behind pre-mutation audio logs, asking whoever finds them to kill him. When the player finds him, however, "Alex the Great," now mutated and trapped in in a containment tube, begs the player to spare his life. This troper is still not sure which choice is the right one.
    • Nobody is mentioning Agustus Sinclair? Changed into a Delta Big Daddy, and forced to obey her every command. He begs for you to stop him, and apologizes for not being able to help you anymore. This troper shed Manly Tears when he put him down.
  • In Oni, Shinatama, after being put back together as a Deadly Brain after having her Xiox destruct mechanism activated, she repeatedly says things like "I'm so sorry!" and "Konoko, kill me, please!" while trying to shoot you. After breaking free, she walks towards Griffin. He tells her to stop, but, of course, she doesn't due to the fact that Griffin sent the security department way over budget after ordering a lift to be made on his office, so they disabled a few low-level overrides, such as "Griffin Alpha Zero", and Shinatama wants to die. He shoots her, Konoko disarms Griffin, and the player has a choice of whether or not to shoot him.
    • If you choose to walk away and not shoot Griffin, not only does Mai/Konoko make a comment about "being better than that," Griffin will have a Redemption Quest later on by leading reinforcements that cover her ass near the end of the game.
  • Cave Story has Ballos, a magician whose powers, during his punishment torture, went awry and brought about the destruction of his kingdom. When the protagonists find him at the end of the Bonus Level of Hell, he begs, "Kill me! Or I--shall kill YOU!"
  • Happens twice within the Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn continuity of Fire Emblem. The first time is when Bertram, a boss in Path of Radiance, enters battle with incoherent babbling that seems to be a plea for death. They don't comply, and in Radiant Dawn, they are able to free "Bertram" from the influence of the same Psycho Serum that produced the Feral Ones--he's really Elinica's uncle, Duke Renning, who was thought to be dead. The second, more notable one, is Lehran, who set up the entire scenario with Tellius being subjected to Ashera's judgment because he wanted to be destroyed with the rest of the world.
    • Also a third time with Pelleas, who has to be killed by someone else in order to nullify the Blood Pact. Notable in that while at first you're only given the option to have Micaiah kill him herself or make Tauroneo do it, on your second playthrough, you can refuse his offer entirely and have him join your party later.
  • In Thief 2, you encounter a near dead and more then half frozen Pagan. After speaking to the Pagan, he asks you to do one last thing for him: end his pain. In a moment that touched my heart, Garrett called the Pagan his friend just before he killed him.
    • He obviously has a death wish, since he'd prefer freeze to death rather than drink any healing potions dropped into his lap.
  • Deus Ex - A secret room in Morgan Everett's compound reveals his ageing predecessor, Lucius De Beers, sealed in a life-support system and acting as an advisor for the Illuminati. De Beers is under the impression that, when he recovers, Everett would allow him to return to power. The player has the choice to inform him of Everett's true (and rather bastardly) intentions. De Beers promptly pleads Denton to pull the plug as he'd rather die than divulge any more wisdom to his usurper. You don't have to, though.
  • Final Fantasy X : Tidus' father, Jecht aka the monstrous Sin, although it doesn't come as a surprise to Tidus, who spent most of the game coming to terms with the fact that he'll have to kill his father. Still, even though Tidus always claimed his dad was an idiot, it hurts him when Jecht asks him to do it quick, because there's not much of his own mind left.
  • World of Warcraft features a couple of bosses that are under the effects of Mind Control or, in the case of Thaddius, are a horrific patchwork construct, and either before, during, or after the fight, beg you for death or thank you for killing them.
    • A good example is the final boss of the Nexus, Keristrasza. She's a Red Dragon captured by Malygos, the leader of the blue dragon-flight, after she aids the players in a quest chain and is bent to his will and he takes her as an unwilling consort eventually driving her insane. During the fight with her, she'll at one point say "Finish it! Finish it! Kill me, or I swear by the Dragonqueen you'll never see daylight again!"
  • In Prey, Tommy finds his girlfriend Jen but she has been fused onto a monster and he is forced to fight her. In the end, she begs him to kill her.
  • In Gears of War 2, Dom, after spending the better part of fifteen years searching for his wife Maria after losing her during the chaos of Emergence Day, finally finds her to be alive, well and as beautiful as the last time he saw her. Of course, this is either wishful thinking or a hallucination - she then appears to have been tortured to the point she's in a psuedo-catatonic state, looks to have physically aged another forty years, appears to be developing scaly skin like a Locust (depending on how you look at it) and is generally unresponsive to anything he does. "It's me, Dominic! It's Dominic!". Eventually he euthanises her. You can guess what happens next. This scene was particularly impressive in that Gears wasn't the most emotionally deep of games, up until around that point.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle begs Yuri to kill her before she causes anyone anymore pain while she is under Alexei's control. He manages to save her in the end
  • When Chris finds Forest in the (definitely strange but oddly... effective in a certain way) Resident Evil Pachislot game, when he gets up as a zombie, it can be made out in his standard undead moans that he's asking to die - Chris apparently misses it, since his retaliation is regretful, but when he makes it, the zombie also thanks him right before the bullet/round hits. Also, in 3, there is one scene where one of Carlos's fellow U.B.C.S. members is infected and tries to convince him to kill him, which he finally does just as he starts to turn.
  • The video game Dead Rising has a scene to this effect. Brad ends up getting zombified in the most physically graphic way possible in the game (you can see the parasites eating his intestines). When Frank finds him Brad states "It doesn't even hurt.. I'm already dead, and then proceeds to hand Frank a pistol while asking "Don't let Jenny find out, okay?"
  • In Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, Feinne ends up asking the main characters to do this, as the alternative is to be consumed by Drazil, which would not only strengthen your enemies but also deny her the ability to return to the cycle of death and rebirth.
  • Fortune from Metal Gear Solid 2 is unwilling to kill herself, and wants to die in a blaze of glory in a battle against Solid Snake, whom she blames for her father's death. Unfortunately, Fortune has luck an electro-magnetic device on her body without her knowledge that prevents her from ever dying in combat, and every grenade thrown at her is a dud. This is a major motivator behind her constant Wangst. The Boss Battle against Fortune plays on this trope heavily; you spend it dodging her shots and taking cover until the timer runs out.
    • A variation on this trope appears in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, in which The Boss is under orders to sacrifice herself for the sake of a cover-up, allowing herself to be taken out by Naked Snake so that the US and USSR will not engage in nuclear war. She is not allowed to kill herself, and she cannot tell Snake the truth about her mission. It speaks volumes about her strength of character that she does not angst about this in the slightest; in fact, she seems glad that Snake is the one to finally finish her.
    • Vamp starts displaying signs of this trope in the fourth game, but it's not due to any sort of moral dilemma; he is literally unable to kill himself, since he instantly recovers from any wounds, due to nanomachines that enhance his natural Healing Factor. He eventually dies when he injects himself with nanomachine suppressants before the wounds he received from his battle with Raiden can heal.
  • In Star Ocean: The Second Story, Philia's programming makes it impossible for her to commit suicide.
  • Prometheus repeatedly begs Kratos to kill him to end his cycle of torment in God of War II.
  • One theory states that GLaDOS puts Chell though hell because of this trope, in order to give Chell motivation to kill GLaDOS.
  • Miang, the quasi-Big Bad of Xenogears is unable to kill herself (it's never really explained, but it is probably some form of in-bred psychological programming by Deus that leaves her unable to take her own life), despite being virtually immortal thanks to her ability to Body Surf. Instead, she manipulates her former superior and lover, Ramsus, into killing her so she can Body Surf into Elly and complete Deus's 10,000 year old Gambit Roulette.
  • Rita from Galerians is unable to kill herself and begs Rion to do it for her, likely for reasons similar to what a robot's would be, though she's not one.
  • This trope is built into the gameplay mechanics of the 2008 Prince of Persia reboot. The Prince cannot die either in combat or during the acrobatic sections of the game. Even if you intentionally throw yourself of a cliff, Elika will save you and take you back to the last flat ground you stood on. Even when facing off with the dark god Ahriman he cannot die because Elika will save him. It's even used as a story element at one point: in order to beat the Concubine's illusion, he tosses himself off the top of a tower because he knows Elika is compelled to save him.
  • In Deadly Premonition, the shadows will sometimes shout "Please kill me!" or "Make me die!" when attacking.
  • In Planescape: Torment you come across a woman who is dying of a painful illness but whose race has a taboo against suicide, and who requests that Dak'kon (a priest—sort of—of that same race) end her suffering. You can use this as an opportunity to psychologically torture him.
  • In The Suffering, Torque finds a prison guard- or more accurately, the torso and head of a prison guard who has had his limbs and tongue chewed off by rats, locked in a padded room. You can either leave the blood-gurgling man there to suffer, or kill him, whereupon your dead wife will applaud your decision and grant some karma points towards your ending.
  • A variation occurs as part of a minor quest in the Shivering Isles expansion, where an Imperial named Hirrus Clutumnus in Crucible asks you to kill him. He's perfectly capable of doing it himself and would be happy to, but doesn't want to end up on the Hill of Suicides like the others before him. Fortunately, he happens to spend time on the rail-less staircase to the New Sheoth palace grounds...
    • Unfortunately, like many other characters, he responds to being pushed out of his scripted position by trying to return to it, making it more likely that the player character will slip past him and fall off the stairs himself.
  • In the Morrowind expansion Bloodmoon you find a Nord looking for a path into Sovngarde, the Nordic version of Paradise. As it turns out, the only way into Sovngarde is to die in battle.
  • At one point in the Meet the Medic video for Team Fortress 2, the BLU Spy's disembodied head is seen stuffed in the back of a refrigerator. He's on screen just long enough to deadpan "kill me" before the Medic shushes him with an irritated "later!"
  • Shining Force II's Lemon, who goes on a killing spree as the Red Baron, snaps out of his trance and now wishes to atone for his sins. However, since he is no longer human but now a immortal vampire, he finds that he can't kill himself. The first time he attempts suicide, he tries jumping from a cliff, with Astral commenting "That couldn't have felt good".
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior Admrial Constantine (voiced by Brian Blessed!) begs you to shoot him before he turns into a Chaos Sawn. Demon-possessed Brian Blessed just asked you to shoot him.
  • In Quake II, there are levels where you see captured humans being experimented upon. "Make it stop" and "Kill me now" are two rather common sounds.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, the dragon Nolaloth has spent millenia 'living' as a ghost, bound to the Prime Material Plane by an artifact called the crystal heart. He asks you to destroy the heart so he can finally make his way to the afterlife.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, this trope is the driving force behind Barthandelus and Orphan's plan to use Pulse l'Cie to destroy Cocoon. Since fal'Cie in general lack the free will to perform actions outside those predefined for them (hence the reason why l'Cie exist in the first place) and Cocoon fal'Cie cannot assign a Focus that would endanger Cocoon, they needed a Pulse fal'Cie, who could assign such a Focus without issue, to create l'Cie of its own to do the deed.

Visual Novels

  • Saya no Uta, with your former girlfriend whom Saya has... modified.
  • Fate Stay Night has Saber Alter, corrupted and controlled by Dark Sakura, lose in a fight to Shirou. She calmly asks to be finished off, warning that she will likely heal in time to stop him should he not. If you choose to spare her, she does just that.
    • Sakura herself realizes that she needs to be stopped, but will only allow Shirou to do it.

Web Comics

  • The so-called Suicide Fairies from Gunnerkrigg Court. Upon meeting Antimony, they almost immediately ask her squish them flat with a rock. As it turns out, dying is a test they must pass to gain new bodies and enter the Court. Outright killing themselves (or each other, apparently) constitutes cheating.
  • This series of Penny Arcade comics utilizes the trope in a very efficient fashion. The Cardboard Tube Samurai must kill one of his oldest friends when he becomes possessed by an evil sword.
  • Vexxarr: ...and now they cannot.
  • This is why Pices of the webcomic Zodiac joined the team of superheroes. Having been gene-spliced with an alien Eldritch Abomination, he wants to ensure that, should he lose control, there is a team of superheroes ready to take him down.

Web Original

  • In Survival of the Fittest Version Three, this happens with Will Sigurbjornsson and Christian Rydell. Christian is severely wounded by Bobby Jacks, and pleads for death after the wound worsens when another creature rips it apart. Will kills him.
  • In Ruby Quest, Bella requests that Ruby detach her from the life support equipment which has kept her alive in an And I Must Scream situation for over a year, and refuses to allow Ruby to proceed any further until she complies.
  • In the SCP Foundation SCP-735 is unable to move. It torments people, using words, possibly in an attempt to get destroyed. Unfortunately for it, if this is its goal, it probably isn't going to happen. the Foundation likes to horde SCPs that it doesn't consider to dangerous, and it is robust enough to withstand any personal that attempt to destroy it long enough for that personal to be stopped.
  • Micro-fiction from @ctrlcreep:

As of patch 7.822, androids can no longer shut themselves down. Reason: they just kept doing it at the slightest inconvenience

Western Animation

  • In the South Park episode "Fantastic Easter Special," Jesus and Kyle have been imprisoned in the Vatican. Jesus realises that if he dies, he can resurrect himself outside the bars. He's unable to kill himself, as suicide is a sin, so he asks Kyle to do it. After initially refusing ("I'm a Jew. We have a few hang-ups about killing Jesus."), he reluctantly agrees, on the condition that "Eric Cartman can never find out about this."
    • "Oh, and Kyle? Happy Easter." "Happy Easter, Jesus."
  • In Venture Brothers episode "Midlife Chrysalis," when Rusty has been turned into a giant caterpillar due to an injection Dr. Girlfriend has given him, he tries to get Helper to shoot him. Helper refuses.
    • Sergeant Hatred also begs Doctor Venture to kill him after his wife hints at wanting to leave him, and can't do it himself because he is "a warrior, and will die by the hand of [his] archenemy". He eventually pulls himself together and replaces Brock as the Ventures' bodyguard.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Jack And The Lava Monster," the titular "monster" turns out to be a norse warrior who was cursed by Aku; placed in a crystal prison. He eventually gained the power to control the earth around him, and created a Death Course for the purpose of finding the warrior who could defeat him in battle, allowing him to finally pass on to Valhalla with the rest of his comrades. Most telling is his anguished cry of "I must be defeated honorably! I cannot let up!" during his fight with Jack.
  • In the episode "Trouble in Lumpy Space" of Adventure Time, there's a conversation where Finn thinks Jake (in the throes of the Lumps) is about to request this of Finn, should he go completely Lumpy. Yes. They actually got away with referencing this. It's never actually stated, and it turns out that Jake just wanted Finn to still be friends with a Lumpy Jake. "What did you think I was saying?"
  • Gargoyles never directly brings up the issue of suicide, but the reason Macbeth keeps picking fights with Demona is because she's the only one who can cancel out his immortality. The thing is, she's fated to die too if she ever kills him, leading to an awkward situation whenever he forces her into a battle.

Real Life

  • Interestingly, while Seppuku is frowned upon now, there is still a large cultural mindset in Japan towards self-punishment for dishonor. Although it doesn't usually reach I Cannot Self-Terminate levels, it can result in an odd (for Westerners) predeliction towards redemption.
  • The case of Sue Rodriguez, a landmark decision in the Canadian euthanasia debate. Rodriguez suffered from ALS and feared that by the time she reached the point of wishing to die, she would be unable to carry it out herself; she took her case to the Supreme Court twice but was struck down both times. (She eventually died in 1994 with the assistance of an anonymous physician.)
    • Similarly, the case of Ramón Sampedro in Spain. He became paralyzed from the neck down after breaking his neck in an accident as a young man. Unable to commit suicide on his own, he spent years fighting for the right to assisted suicide, and was repeatedly denied by the Spanish government. He eventually died in 1998 with the help of friends, each of whom performed a single act so minor that they could not be charged with a crime.
  • In a weird way, this trope is why people get cancer. Normally, once a cell becomes cancerous (i.e. its DNA has mutated to the point where the cell cannot control its growth), the immune system will recognize that this happens and will essentially force the cancerous cell to self-destruct. The Warburg Hypothesis is based on the observation that most tumor cells have damaged mitochondria, which then disables the cell's ability to destroy itself. As a result, it can continue to grow unabated and cause problems while the body's defenses are unable to stop it.
  • A real life example, one of the theories behind the Malaysian phenomenon of "running amok," was that it was a suicide attempt. Because of the taboo towards suicide, a man would retain his honor by attacking as many people as he could until someone who finally kill him, since he could not kill himself.
  • Truth in Television example: The phenomenon of "police-assisted suicide," in which people who can't bring themselves to end their own lives commit a violent crime, such as taking a hostage, in order to provoke the police into shooting them. Only officially considered "suicide" if the person left a note to that effect.
    • Historically, dueling probably served the same purpose.
      • Actually dueling was never meant to be lethal, men dueled because it was "cool" and because they wanted to have battle scars. (And was we all know Chicks Dig Scars)
      • Perhaps for sword duels in some countries. Pistol duels were rather more dangerous, though.
  • Serial killer James French was sentenced to life in prison. He wanted to die, but was afraid to commit suicide - so he murdered his cellmate, and subsequently, was executed. He also had some hilarious Famous Last Words:

"How's this for tomorrow's headline? French Fries!"

  • Filling out a living will may invoke this trope, depending on what criteria are incorporated into it.
  • The purpose of the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.
  • Botched suicide attempts in general. Enough said.
  • The state of Oregon has the Death With Dignity act, which allows terminally ill people to end their lives by self-administering lethal medications provided by a doctor. The state of Washington has a similar law.
  • Assisted suicide is still officially treated as homicide in Britain, but the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (somewhat similar to a district attourney in the United States, but at what in the US would be considered a federal level) has issued a statement to the effect that if they are satisfied that the perpetrator acted with the informed consent of the deceased, they will not seek to press charges.
  • Good practice in computer systems is a user who has the maximum privilege cannot delete their own account from that account, they must delete it from someone else's account that also has maximum privilege (basically so that an administrator doesn't accidentally delete the last or only account having maximum privilege and thus making it impossible to perform whatever action requires that privilege.)
  • When a cell in the human body is infected by bacteria, the cell will chop the bacteria up and stick the pieces out on its surface, couched inside proteins that basically say "Hey killer T cells, this thing is inside me, please kill me and record who did it".