Leave Him to Me

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Once you have him helpless, leave him for me! The Masked Marauder must have the honor of actually finishing him!"
The Masked Marauder, Daredevil #19

The villain is furious. The Hero and his allies have defeated his elite force and stolen his MacGuffin. In grand Evil Overlord fashion, he stands up and orders every man he has to attack the hero's entourage. But as for The Hero himself: "Leave him to me!"/"He's mine!" This is never a good idea.

The tendency of villains to order the hero captured alive or ignored on the battlefield so that they can have the satisfaction of killing him themselves, the result of It's Personal, and the evil version of This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself, almost always backfires. Considering that the villain's form of killing the hero is to put him in an easily escapable Death Trap, maybe the Mooks should disregard the order...

Contrast The Rest Shall Pass which is the heroic version of this trope. If the hero and villain are on speaking terms, this can manifest itself as The Only One Allowed to Defeat You.

Saying this is forbidden by rule 117 on the Evil Overlord List, and performing the action commonly associated with it is prohibited by rule 39. Villains who wish their Evil Plan to succeed are well advised to follow both rules.

More formally, you have Combat by Champion.

Examples of Leave Him to Me include:

Anime and Manga

  • Uttered by Haruhi Suzumiya in the episode "Day of Sagittarius". Involves Leeroy Jenkins, by the way.
  • Raid and Nike in Mahoujin Guru Guru insist on this in episode 44. Raid because he thinks beating Nike will win Kukuri to his side. Nike because Raid did it.
  • Luke Valentine in Hellsing. He wants to fight Alucard himself while his brother takes care of the rest of the good guys. Unfortunately for both of them, they both severely underestimate their adversaries.

Comic Books


  • Highlander: The Kurgan, the immortal leading the enemy in Connor's first battle, orders him to be left alone, so that he can claim Connor's head and Quickening himself. Rather sensible, considering that there was something in it for himself besides mere satisfaction. How the Kurgan knew Connor was an immortal who hadn't faced his first death yet is left unexplained though.
  • Darth Vader loves handling things personally. Justified somewhat in Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope, in which Darth Vader is the only man on the Death Star with a hope of taking out Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also one of the few successful instances of this trope (albeit with Obi-Wan's cooperation).
    • Darth Vader's also an ace pilot and personally kills many more of the invading Rebel ships than the barrage of gun turrets on the Death Star, so of course he'd want to tell his wingmen to back off and let him handle it. And he says "Leave them to me" again in Return of the Jedi, but that was more a case of "don't screw up our sting operation just yet."
    • Used again in Revenge of the Sith by General Grievous, also against Obi-Wan, although he wasn't so successful. Again, Grievous was the only person who had even a prayer of taking Obi-Wan down in single combat, but even he was outclassed. It still doesn't quite make sense for everyone else to just sit and watch instead of at least trying to help.
      • It just never occurred to him that a Jedi would use any weapon besides a lightsaber.
  • The parody Hot Shots: Part Deux mocks this trope. One of the mooks tells Saddam "I've got them in my sights!" and Saddam responses, "No, this is personal!", only to get crushed by a falling piano.
  • Twice in the first Mortal Kombat film: Cage and Goro, and Shang Tsung and Liu Kang (arguably necessary to avoid screwing up the bigger plan on a technicality).
  • Twice in Die Hard.
    • John McClane is on the roof, and Karl is going after him, so he tells the other henchmen, "No one kills him but me."
    • Hans disarms John, and one of his henchmen is about to shoot John, when Hans says, "Nein! He's mine!"
  • In The Secret of NIMH, Big Bad Jenner uses the phrase word for word. However, the context is unusual for this trope; Jenner is busy plotting against Justin and the other good rats, not engaged in battle.
  • In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Gaston sees the Beast possibly as competition for Belle.

Gaston: Take whatever booty you can find, but remember, the Beast is mine!

    • Plus he's a big game hunter, and what bigger game is there than a seven-foot-tall bison-man-thingy?
  • In The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride Zira snarls near the end of the battle "Simba! You're mine!" and all Outlanders back away from him, to allow the two of them to prepare for their death duel.
  • In Hook, a rarer case of a Hero doing this to a Villian happens, as Peter Pan/Banning tells the Lost Boys to let him duel Hook one on one. Turns out to be completely justified when one of them let's Hook goad him into fighting anyway and ends up dying in Peter's arms as a result.
  • The final battle of The Matrix series, despite being watched by millions of Smith clones, is strictly one-on-one.
    • Of course, Smith had already tried the "bury Neo in clones" approach, so perhaps he just learned his lesson and was going for a different strategy.
    • And he had already foreseen that he was going to win. He could have more fun and enjoy it better, knowing the outcome wasn't in doubt.
  • In the Loop has Malcolm Tucker instructing Simon to leave Linton Barwick, the world's most boring psychopath, to him. Obviously a dramatic duel is not what he had in mind since the film is a political satire, but it ends up subverted anyway when Malcolm's superiors at Number Ten order him to essentially be Linton Barwick's bitch.


  • Voldemort's Death Eaters are repeatedly instructed to capture Harry Potter but not kill him, even if this means endangering themselves to protect him. Possibly this is because of the prophecy of their fates is vague enough he's worried about someone screwing it up.
    • It turns out that Voldemort can't kill Harry, because using Harry's blood to resurrect himself made Voldemort a keeper of Harry's mother's sacrifice.
    • Unlike most versions of this trope, the mooks see no reason to endanger themselves. While they won't kill Harry, Voldemort didn't say anything about putting into a permanent coma by feeding him to a dementor.
    • It's stated several times in the series that Voldy's minions have begun to doubt him, because he lost his power trying to kill a baby, and the fact that every time he fights Harry, he comes off second-best. Facing Harry and winning would prove that to be a fluke.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Jr. evidently didn't get the memo. When Harry returns to Hogwarts, Crouch Jr. is convinced that killing Harry will put him in some sort of exalted position with Voldemort.
      • Of course, the whole point of the villains' Xanatos Roulette in that book was to use Harry's blood to resurrect Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry himself immediately afterward. It's fairly safe to assume that he didn't think he could possibly fail in this, so there would have been no need for such instructions at that time. Barty Jr. must have assumed (somewhat reasonably) that once the plan was carried out, Harry was fair game.
        • It doesn't hurt that Crouch was mind-bogglingly insane and in the middle of a demented Motive Rant at the time.
    • A rare heroic version occurs in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Molly Weasley goes Mama Bear on Bellatrix Lestrange. A couple people come forward to help, but Mrs. Weasley sends them back screaming "She is mine!" Unlike most versions of this trope, she actually succeeds.
    • Also in Deathly Hallows, Harry tells everyone not to interfere in his last duel with Voldemort.
  • Occurs in Macbeth, during the climactic scene. MacDuff orders his men to leave Macbeth alone so that he may be the one to get revenge on Macbeth for having his family murdered.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, when Strybjorn has Ragnar down and another Grimskull goes to kill him, Strybjorn bellows, "No, leave him! He is mine!" And then he does strike a mortal blow.
  • In the Belgariad when Taur Urgas, King of the Murgos faces off against his long hated foe, Cho-Hag of the Algars, he says that Cho-Hag is his and tells his troops to get out of the way. Cho-Hag takes him up on the challenge, and kills him easily. Although we never really see him before the last fight, it's mentioned that he's completely lost his mind by this point, to the degree that he can't even fight properly anymore. Cho-Hag expresses regret that their battle couldn't have come when he was still competent.
  • In the third book of The Hunger Games, Katniss demands to be the one who kills President Snow.
  • A heroic version is in Belisarius Series where Rana Sanga by chance runs into Valentinian and realizes that this is a true Worthy Opponent. He waves off help from all the other Rajputs. His army in turn, not having seen a match like this in ages crowds around to watch and shoves away anyone who might get in the way of the fun.

Live Action TV

  • Subverted in Firefly. Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the unstoppable henchman are grappling over a perilous pit of doom. The crew arrives, lead by second-in-command Zoe, takes a look, readies their weapons.

Zoe: Hold fire! This is something the captain has to do for himself.
Mal: NO! No it's not!
Zoe: Oh.
(they open fire, and bad guys go down in a hail of bullets)


  • In one story in the Ramayana, "Rama and Ravanna in Battle," Ravanna (the villain) tells the giant Mahodara that Rama is his "sole concern," and that if he wants to engage in battle, to take on Rama's brother. Mahodara disobeys, much to his peril.

Video Games

  • Suikoden V has a bit of fun with this: by the time you get a chance to face Childerich, several of your allies have personal reasons to take him down. If you bring all of them along, once you catch up with Childrich they all declare this, then get into an argument over which of them should be the one to take him on.
  • Kirby Super Star - in the Sub-Game "Revenge of Meta-Knight," Meta Knight tells his subordinates to abandon ship, so that he could take on Kirby alone.
  • Rare heroic example: during the campaign of Age of Mythology, just before the mission to storm Kemsyt's fortress, Amanra tells her soldiers "If Kemsyt is there, no one is to touch him but me."
  • In Paper Mario, the Goomba King, the main boss of the prologue, says this verbatim.

Goomba King: Ready to meet my wrath, Mario? You better be!
Blue Goomba: We've got your back!
Goomba King: Leave Him to Me!

  • In The Godfather 2, you can have enemy Made Men Marked for Death. This causes your allies to leave the target alone so you can have him Killed Off for Real by using the correct method. Unlike most examples, this is actually a good idea; you want your allies to Stop Helping Me!, because their default method, filling people with lead, won't actually kill any Made Man for good.

Web Comics

  • Dellyn Goblinslayer from Goblins is the only one allowed to defeat Thaco, something that his guards recognize as a Fatal Flaw.
  • Girl Genius recently pulled this one out during a short: See it here.
  • Subverted/averted in Erfworld. Prince Sammy, on Charlie's orders, cuts through the lines of Gobwin Knob forces in an attempt to kill Ansom. After sighting Ansom, Sammy challenges him to one on one, man to man combat. Ansom simply responds by ordering his spearmen to skewer Sammy multiple times, then cuts off Sammy's head.

Western Animation

Azula: You two head in this direction and keep your eye out for the bison. I'll follow this trail.

    • This blows up in her face, and she's definitely learned her lesson by the season finale, given that her plan for taking on the Avatar involved tag-teaming him with her brother Zuko and at least a platoon of Earthbending minions.
    • Though it didn't work out so well for Azula, it was still the right move under the circumstances. She needed her Quirky Miniboss Squad to keep Aang's friends from interfering, and she was the only Fire Nation warrior within a hundred miles of the battle that would stand any sort of chance against the Avatar.
    • Toph gives us an heroic example in The Blind Bandit, when she declares that the seven professional Earthbenders keeping Aang prisoner are hers. The professional Earthbenders are then victims of the Worf Effect.
  • In an Aladdin episode, when Mozenrath is tricked into believing Aladdin is dead, he's disappointed and says "I wanted to finish Aladdin!" He then responds to the titular hero's actual entrance with "Aladdin! I'm so glad to see you're alive! For the moment."
  • In the second season of Exo Squad, Phaeton has standing orders that Marsh and Marsala are to be captured so he can kill them personally. Interestingly, his minions tend to ignore this where Marsala is concerned.
  • The Herculoids episode "The Mole Men".
  • In G.I. Joe: Renegades Storm Shadow has made a vow to kill Snake Eyes himself.

Real Life

  • The Castilian civil war of 1366-1369 ended with this. After the would be Henry II rooted out Peter the Cruel's last army at the Battle of Montiel, the two claimants to the throne met in Henry's tent and fought in single combat under the close attention of three supporters of each. According to some, Peter was about to win when French mercenary and Henry supporter Bertrand du Guesclin tripped him, enabling Henry to slay and decapitate his half brother. Du Guesclin commented then that he wasn't deciding who was king, just serving his lord. Peter's "supporters" were surprisingly OK with this.