Left for Dead

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"You were DEAD!"

"I got better!"
—Captain Sheridan, Babylon 5

For the video game, see Left 4 Dead.

A character is so obviously dead that the attacker just walks away instead of putting one in his brain and making him Deader Than Dead. Inevitably the character is Not Quite Dead and will come back to seek his vengeance on the original attacker, who will say "You're alive!" in shock.

One of the lowest degrees in the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness. However, an en masse version this is sometimes used as a build-up to a Zombie Apocalypse, in which people begin dying due to a strange new disease... But then they come back from the DEAD!

Closely related to Not Quite Dead and No One Could Survive That. See also Unexplained Recovery.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Left for Dead include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens too many times to count - and too many times to tolerate - in Bleach. If any of the villains had ever had the good sense to cut off the loser's head, the series would be over around episode ten. But no, they always just walk away satisfied that the point was proven.
  • Freeza in Dragonball Z survives an exploding planet after being left for dead by Goku, after which it's RetConned that he survives, and comes back to Earth (with a mechanised body) to exact revenge. In the end, however, he is easily killed by a super powerful Kid From the Future.
  • Lampshaded in Fate/stay night with Kotomine. He doesn't come back and finish off Caster himself, but her anxious reaction when Tohsaka flatly disbelieves that she could have killed Kotomine was amusing.
  • Happens TWICE in Gundam Seed Destiny, first when the Archangel is blown up just as it goes underwater and Kira's Freedom is run through by the Impulse and dumped in the ocean, second when the GOUF that Athrun and Meyrin were escaping on is sliced in half by the Destiny and also dumped in the ocean.
    • To be fair, usually when Shinn stabbed someone through the cockpit (and the suit exploded), they don't usually (read: NEVER) live. On top of that, the Freedom had a friggin nuke engine that went critical. The two were not so much left for dead, but rather lived through an extremely lucky scenario. I mean, who lives through a point-blank Nuclear Explosion!?
      • No one. Being that close should vaporize you, and if you were far enough, you'd either be cooked from the heat or have your internals liquefied from the shockwave.
        • And you thought Jesus Yamato was just a nickname.
        • His last action was to shut down the nuclear reactor.
          • Actually, both are inversions of the trope. Shinn assumed Kira, Athrun, and Meyrin were dead; Durandal had the area searched for evidence.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Lust stabs Roy and Havoc through their lungs and leaves them to bleed to death. Roy is able to burn their wounds closed and returns to totally curbstomp Lust. It was awesome.
  • Subverted in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. Metal Robotnik shoots a bridge out from under Sonic and Tails. They grab bridge girders just out of sight, and make gurgling sounds to convince Metal Robotnik that they're drowning. Metal Robotnik isn't fooled, and mocks them for thinking that the ruse would work. And resumes shooting at them.
  • Played two times in One Piece by crocodile:
    • In his first fight with Luffy, he impaled him in the chest with his hook and buried him in quicksand. Luffy survived thanks to the help of Mrs All-Sunday
    • And in the second fight with Luffy, he drained all the moisture of Luffy's body, leaving him as a mummy. He still survived thanks to having shot water to Crocodile before, falling into his dehydrated body and saving him.
  • At the end of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's Watanagashi and Meakashi chapters, Shion stabs Keiichi and runs off laughing, only watching them collapse. They recover, but then...
  • What Gin and Vodka do to Kudou Shinichi in the first chapter/episode of Detective Conan. Not suspecting the seven-year-old is him is one thing, but seriously? Walking away like that just because you'd fed him an 'untraceable poison?' You're supposed to be super-professionals at this game.
    • And that's not even getting into how they clearly just sort of stuck the pill in his mouth and made no effort to actually force-feed him. Seriously, the anime shows the water they pour in to wash it down running straight out the other side again! Except he obviously did swallow it since he shrunk.

Comic Books

  • In Dark Reign: Lethal Legion, Tiger Shark talks about how Norman Osborn had him tossed off a tall building, but didn't even bother to have anyone check to see if he was dead. That, he feels, was uncalled for - adding insult to injury by making it clear that he's not important enough for Osborn to care whether he's alive or dead.
  • At the end of one of the MAX issues of The Punisher, Frank catches up with Nicky Cavella, a mafioso who desecrated his family's graves. Frank shoots him low in the stomach, leaving him in the woods to slowly bleed out or die of infection. In a subversion of the usual course of this trope, Cavella does indeed die.


  • In Revenge of the Sith, Clone troopers shoot at Obi-Wan—who falls into water and is left for dead (despite knowing that Jedi can both fall any distance and breathe underwater (via what Kevin Murphy calls "his trusty 'air-monica'" in Rifftrax). The clones simply remarked (literally): "No One Could Have Survived That." Their Genre Savvy commander told them to continue searching.
    • Had Obi-Wan just force-pushed the limbless Vader into that lava pit, the entire original Star Wars trilogy would never have happened. Of course, that would be worth several Dark Side points for Obi-Wan, so it's somewhat justified that he wouldn't.
      • Though that could've just been seen as putting his padawan out of his misery.
      • Given that the Emperor was alive and well and only died because Vader killed him, the choice to not kill Vader there saved the galaxy. Maybe Obi-Wan got a sense of that.
        • The novelization of the movie says that Obi-Wan sensed Palpatine's arrival and knew that if he and the others didn't leave ASAP they'd all be dead.
  • 006 in the pre-credits sequence of GoldenEye
    • This is a weird example. 006 was shot point blank in the head by Ourimov, so Bond was really only leaving a dead body behind in the explosion. Or so he thought. 006 had Ourimov fake his death, a plan which almost went off the rails when 007 not only escaped, but lowered the timer on the planted explosives, nearly killing them all. In the end, 006 was only Left for Dead by accident and unknowingly on Bond's part.
  • The Dark Knight:

Corrupt Cop: "Dent! I thought you were dead!"
Harvey Dent: "Half."

  • Kill Bill has the Bride being Left for Dead after a truly vicious No-Holds-Barred Beatdown courtesy of her four former partners, followed by a bullet in the head from Bill himself. She survives the entire thing, though it takes her four years of lying in a coma to recover from the ordeal.
    • Kill Bill 2 likewise features the Bride being Left for Dead -- literally, by being Buried Alive in an actual grave and coffin... apparently many, many more than 6 feet underground; but she is somehow able to break out of her coffin and burrow upwards through apparently 20-30 fee of solid earth, to come back and Kill Bill.
  • Inverted in The Matrix. Smith empties more or less an entire magazine from his Desert Eagle into Neo's chest before checking he's dead and leaving. THEN Neo gets back up and hands Smith his ass, marking the point at which he becomes the one.
  • In The Film of the Book of The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn plunges off a cliff during the warg battle in the Two Towers and is left for dead by his companions since No One Could Survive That.


  • Sandor Clegane, of A Song of Ice and Fire, might apply here—it's still not for certain if he's alive or dead, though there is evidence for either.
    • Looking more likely that he's alive, considering that we're told he's dead but shown evidence that he's alive. This is A Song of Ice and Fire, you don't take anyone at their word, even priests. At any rate, just the fact that Arya left him assuming he'd die is enough to qualify for the trope.
  • Managing an intentional version of this is a Crowning Moment of Awesome for (Sir!) Horace Harkness in the Honor Harrington series. As a result of hacking an entire enemy battlecruiser, he sends out a decoy shuttle ahead of their actual escape shuttle, which is destroyed with a nuclear warhead. Between the sensor blindness of the nuke's EMP and the fact that after they leave, Harkness arranges for the Tepes to tear itself apart when he activates a nearby pinnance's gravity wedge inside the boat bay remotely, Haven notably assumes that he, his fellow captives, and most importantly his commanding officer Honor Harrington are all dead.
    • Notably, the Peep tactical officer on the scene, Shannon Foraker, is good enough that even this doesn't fool her entirely. Both she and her commander, Vice-Admiral Tourville, simply fail to voice any suspicions to their superiors, and delete the data in question that might lead to a more in depth investigation.
      • Closer to the trope, Haven's leadership as a whole has a colossal backfire from this when not only does Honor come back, but comes back after they broadcast her faked execution over every major network. It's hard to say whether the people she rescued or her own survival hurt Haven more.
  • In the novel Relentless, Morgan's lover Payton pushed her out of the way of a cave in. Unable to find help or to free him on her own, she held his hand until it went cold, and then left. When he shows up years later as The Thresher, she is understandably astonished, and he, of course, resentful that she didn't try hard enough to save him.
  • This happends quite a bit across the enitre Dune series, though most notable when Paul and Jessica are left for dead after flying right into a storm that was meant to carve the flesh off their bones and then destroy the bones. The Baron assumes they're dead, and pays them no mind. It ends badly for him, his family, his allies, and eventually the entire universe.
  • The Japanese novel Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse follows a Hiroshima family who were victims of the nuclear bomb. At one point they encounter another family who, panicking and unable to free their nine-year-old son from their burning house, flee and leave the boy for dead. Eventually the kid manages to free himself, and, in what must surely be the Understatement of the year, his reunion with his family is described as "rather awkward".

Live Action TV

  • In the Lost season 4 finale, the Others, who really ought to know better, leave Keamy for dead, not taking into account the body armor he's wearing.
  • In Supernatural - Born Under A Bad Sign, if Meg!Sam had actually checked that Dean had actually drowned instead of checking and then leaving, s/he could have enjoyed Sam's body for a hell of a lot longer.
  • In the Heroes season 1 finale, Sylar is Left for Dead after being run through with a samurai sword... and at the very end, no one seems to notice his body has suddenly disappeared, with a trail of blood leading to an open manhole nearby.
    • This happens again in the Volume 3 finale, after he gets stabbed in the back of the head which supposedly nullifies his regeneration powers. Even though there is no sign this time that he escaped, (trapped in an exploding building, after all) No one (in the audience) believed this death would stick. The fact that just seconds before they had just built up a storyline for Sylar to track down his true parents helped reinforce this belief in the audience.
  • Season 1 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Master catches Buffy deep in his subterranean vampire lair, drains her, and dumps her face-first in a pool. What more needs to be done? Besides making sure Xander doesn't man up, go into an underground vamp playpen, and perform CPR on the Buffster, that is. The Master lives to regret it. About half an hour.
    • In fairness to the Master, she was dead, just not brain dead.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor is Left for Dead by an bloodsucking alien after she drained his blood. She was unaware that the Doctor possesses a dual vascular system, so in fact she'd only gotten half his blood, leaving him weakened but ready to pop up and save the day.


  • Rob Dougan's song, Left Me For Dead, is quite naturally an angry ballad from the point of view of a victim of this trope.

Video Games

  • Left 4 Dead was NAMED for this trope. In both games, the setup is while the army was evacuating survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse, and four immune survivors got there late, therefor being Left 4 Dead.
    • While plot-wise it makes sense, leaving someone for dead in gameplay is one of the worst mistakes one can make, since many situations require a helping hand out of (getting pinned by a hunter, strangled by a smoker, hanging off a cliff, etc.).
    • Depending on the situation, sometimes it is better to defy logic and leave incapacitated survivors to die outside the safe room/rescue vehicle since sometimes going back to help can result in you getting in trouble or getting the whole team wiped out, forcing a restart of the map.
  • Amanda Evert in Tomb Raider (Legend). Lara Croft was convinced she was dead... until an antagonist drops her name in conversation.
  • This happens to the main character at the beginning of Fable 2. The rest of the game is, of course, a quest for revenge.
  • Final Fantasy IV places the Not Quite Dead blunder on the heroes' shoulders - when protecting the Dark Crystal in the Dwarven Castle, Cecil and company are taken out one by one from Golbez's Shadow Dragon. Rydia, previously thought dead (not uncommon in this game), appears and takes out the dragon just before it can kill Cecil, allowing them to turn the battle around and fell Golbez. The party is so overjoyed that Rydia is still alive that they start to leave without checking how alive Golbez is - he manages to get up, grab the Crystal, and warp out.
  • In the first Overlord game it is revealed towards the end that the player was left for dead in the Tower by his companions, the fallen heroes you've been killing.
  • Breath of Fire IV possibly takes this trope to its extreme in the Trauma Conga Line of attempts by the Fou Empire to kill its King in the Mountain and literal God-Emperor Fou-lu (who has recently come Back from the Dead, a situation The Empire finds as inconvenient because The Emperor would have to give up his throne). In the most extreme example, Fou-lu is explicitly targeted as Ground Zero of a Fantastic Nuke, operated on the theory that Love Hurts, and literally used Mami as a Fantastic Human Nuclear Warhead after torturing her to the point of suicidal insanity first SPECIFICALLY because of her relationship with Fou-lu. This merely caused Blood From the Mouth and shoves Fou-lu across the Moral Event Horizon to full-blown Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds territory, with the King in the Mountain now wanting to conduct a Roaring Rampage of Revenge because he's finally decided Humans Are the Real Monsters after all. (The Fantastic Nuking is, notably, the only bit in this entire sequence where Fou-lu is literally Left for Dead—because obviously No One Could Survive That...)
  • This trope serves as the set-up for the Courier in Fallout: New Vegas.
    • In the attacker's defense, he did shoot the Courier in the head (it might not have gotten deep into the brain, but still), and then buried him. Just, that wasn't enough to kill the Courier (or even necessarily cause any real permanent brain damage), and someone was on hand to dig the Courier out and bring him to a doctor as soon as the bad guys left.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution manages to subvert the trope, but ultimately play it straight. At the beginning of the game, your attacker gets distracted while attempting to kill you by another character. Rather than leaving you for dead at this point, he subdues the other character, picks up a pistol, and shoots you in the head. It is played straight because you do end up surviving, but at least the attacker makes the effort.
  • From Max Payne:
    • In the first game, Nicole Horne leaves Max to die at the Punchinello Manor after injecting him with an OD of Valkyr.
    • The second game has Vladimir Lem shooting Max in the head with a Desert Eagle (which would be fatal in any other universe) before leaving him.

Web Comics

  • Kusari leaves Oasis for dead after their first battle in Sluggy Freelance. Oasis actually does die from her wounds, but dying has never slowed her down much.
  • Luke from Freak Angels took a shotgun to the chest at point blank range. Averted when Jack followed this up by putting a bullet directly through his brain before dumping him in an alley And then he came back anyway.
    • Mark also comes back after being shot, dumped in a river, and supposed dead.
    • In fact, it turns out ANY Freakangel who ever dies will just come back.

Web Originals

  • Parodied in Homestar Runner. Strong Bad says he glued Marzipan to Homsar and "left them for dead" but gives no reason why he expected them to die from this (the scene also cuts to the pair, glued together, and very much not dead).
  • In the Whateley Universe, evil sorceress Hekate puts an enchanted athame into Generator's chest, and rams it in so hard it goes all the way through her chest and gets stuck in the table underneath. Hekate then has to leave the corpse and her athame, and focus on Fey. Major mistake. Generator has the right powers to recover from this.

Western Animation

  • Disney's The Lion King: Simba is Left For Dead in the middle of a burning desert, only to be later rescued by Timon and Pumbaa.
    • Simba was supposed to have been finished off by the hyenas, but they blundered this (as usual) -- and of course weren't going to tell Scar about their failure.
  • Peter Griffin's fights with the giant chicken in Family Guy end with Peter finally triumphing over the chicken and leaving. Then the camera zooms in and the chicken opens one eye over a Sting.
  • Morto does this after a round with the titular hero in Birdman.
  • A parody of Kill Bill in Drawn Together Season 2, when Wooldor Sockbat is likewise buried in a coffin, and is likewise able to escape ala the video game Dig Dug. One character responds "THAT requires no further explanation!" to underscore how it's never explained how the Bride's feat was possible, since her martial arts training had never involved being a human oil-drill.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the turtles leave Shredder for dead for the good and sensible reason that they had just cut off his head. Unfortunately for them, that still didn't do the job.
  • In Corpse Bride, the title character actually died after being Left for Dead. It's not really an aversion, though, given that she still manages to be a main character and all.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan Modula was genuinely believed dead by the king, but Modula considers it abandonment.