Suicide by Cop

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

I'm a bookkeeper's son
I don't wanna shoot no one
Well, I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive!
Got a case of dynamite
I could hold out here all night
Yes, I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive!

Steely Dan, "Don't Take Me Alive"

A depressed or desperate individual wants to end their own life, but, for various reasons (cowardice, a desire to make a point, insurance, moral aversion to suicide), is not willing to do it themselves.

Instead, they engineer a situation in which someone else will be forced to do it for them. The "classic" scenario involves a criminal indiscriminately attacking Innocent Bystanders or police so that they will be forced to shoot. More sympathetic characters, however, will simply pull an unloaded gun or realistic toy gun on a police officer and hope they respond with lethal force.

Could be broadly applied to any situation where a character attacks specifically because the expected reaction from the relevant authorities will cause the desired outcome, such as a Cold War scenario in which a megalomaniac United States general attacks the Soviet Union because the Soviet counterstrike would kill him (and a few million others, but who's counting?).

Unfortunately, there are documented cases of this happening in the real world. Police are trained to disable if at all possible because of this trope, so don't count on it working just as planned.

The Up to Eleven variant of this trope is Suicide by State, in which the person commits a crime which bears the death penalty and gets executed. This has really happened in Real Life - it was a popular method used by really desperate Scandinavians in a time when suicide was considered an unforgivable sin. By killing an innocent child, it was figured, both win; the child is innocent and goes to Heaven, you get to repent and prepare for death, and in the end the state lops your head off and it's Goodbye, Cruel World. Fair dinkum. It's also happened more recently: John David Duty is widely suspected of having committed the murder that got him executed (when he was already in prison, for kidnapping) as a form of suicide.

Compare My Death Is Just the Beginning, where the death is part of an ongoing plan; if it's not that, it tends to be a Thanatos Gambit. See also Death Seeker for a character built around this. When you send someone else to get killed (by the police or any other armed force), it's The Uriah Gambit. This is related to I Cannot Self-Terminate.

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

Examples of Suicide by Cop include:

Anime and Manga

  • In The Mermaid Princess's Guilty Meal, After Seigo got caught by humans, Fukko deliberate met the same fate. Perhaps it was just the most convient way to die given her location when she found out Seigo died, or maybe she thought the best (or only) way to be Together in Death was to die the same way Seigo did.
  • Eden: It's an Endless World! has a Tear Jerker example. A girl in a skyscraper full of people holding a bomb about to explode tries to throw it through a window. However, the window does not open, and she is out of bullets. She then threatens the police with her empty gun, so that they will shoot her, destroy the window, and send her falling outside with the bomb.
  • Naruto's Itachi Uchiha had an extreme subversion of Suicide By Cop well, brother, anyway. He came up with a plan and waited SEVEN years before having his brother kill him in a blaze of glory. In those seven years he did everything possible to drive the boy insane just to make sure he would kill him. The subversion is that he's ostensibly doing this for Sasuke's benefit and for other noble reasons, but his plan backfires spectacularly with nearly all of his goals save Sasuke's strength in ashes at this point.
    • Then there's Haku, who plays this straight at first.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors: Arguably, Count D's father did this, initially intending the FBI Agent to do it, yet having Leon Orcot put the bullet through his head in the end.
  • Code Geass has Lelouch and Suzaku playing this, with Lelouch as the victim and Suzaku as the cop. This is the last part of Lelouch's own last Gambit Roulette, actually. What's more, Suzaku becomes Zero (Lelouch's alternate persona) from that moment, so effectively, Lelouch does kill himself. And he also uses one legend he created (Lelouch the tyrannical Emperor) to reinforce the other one (the freedom fighter Zero), pushing the entire world in the direction he wanted. At the same time, this is a suicide played straight, as Lelouch crafted it after falling out of hope following Nunnally's apparent demise and the Black Knights' betrayal.
    • Suzaku's general attitude is this.
    • Another example is when the Black Knights betray Lelouch. Lelouch, still grieving over Nunnally's apparent death and now cornered by Schneizel, pretends to be a Manipulative Bastard and fakes a Kick the Dog moment with Kallen in order to get them to kill him and spare her. Then Rolo shows up.
  • Madlax has a war-tired general who realizes that the war plaguing his country is orchestrated by The Syndicate (and he is but their pawn, too) and hires the eponymous Action Girl to assassinate him in broad daylight as his final act of defiance. The episode also serves to introduce The Rival to the girl, Dark Action Girl Limelda, who was assigned to protect the general.
  • Cowboy Bebop has a variation in Black Dog Serenade which is suicide by ex-cop. Jet's old partner threatens to shoot him: the gun is empty and he just wants Jet to kill him.
  • Carris tries this in Gundam X after a bit of a Freak-Out, pointing at Garrod with an empty gun to trick the other into shooting him dead. He gets better, however.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth, which turns out to be from the POV of the "cops". The girls have been summoned to "save" Princess Emeraude by killing her, so she can be released from her duty as Pillar of Cephiro, in which role she has been gravely compromised since she fell for her Guardian, Zagato, and Cephiro itself started to die since she couldn't fully dedicate herself to it.
  • Johan loves this trope. He tells both Dr. Tenma and Anna to shoot him in the head pretty much whenever they meet. He wants Tenma to kill him because it would mean making him admit that all life is not equal, and the implication is that he's so far gone into Complete Monsterdom that the only way he feels he can die is by making another person have to do it.
  • Michio can provoke anyone to kill him, including Garai.
  • An extremely convoluted plot in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle involves Ashura-ou setting things up to force Fai (or is it Yuui?) to kill him. This makes Fai even more suicidal, too, just for good measure.
  • Failure Knight Zest Grangaitz, or more accurately, the degenerated clone of his in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS after learning that all of his remaining duties have been dealt with. His cop was Signum.
  • Rukia from Bleach viewed the possibility of being executed as this, since she was a Failure Knight who had to kill her Big Brother Mentor and first love when he was taken over by a Hollow.
  • Judai from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, after his whole takeover of the Dark World thing. Though he was trying to commit suicide by former underling, technically. He did believe that was the only way to make up for his sins at the time. He learned differently, but he still tried.
  • One episode of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou (and the manga story it was based on) involved Yorihisa's childhood friend/rival, a Nue, kidnapping Akane to force Yorihisa to go after him—it is made clear that he has no interest in Akane herself as he promises to set her free once Yorihisa arrives. The Nue is eventually revealed to have been poisoned by a member of the Oni clan, with the poison gradually driving him mad and causing him to turn into an uncontrollable monster. He guessed (correctly) that Yorihisa will choose his current duty over his past connections and save Akane at all costs even if it means killing his friend. Tear Jerker ensues.
  • This is more or less what Soichiro Yagami ultimately does in Death Note. After his daughter is abducted and used to blackmail him, after he's forced to choose between surrendering the Artifact of Doom to the Mafia or sacrificing his life and hers, he chooses to take the shinigami eyes and halve his life. Turns out he didn't have that long to live, regardless.
  • Done in Gantz by Izumi, who guns down hundreds of civilians in a crowded Tokyo train station so that he'll be killed and sent to the Gantz.
  • Pretty much the MO of the person who brings Layton into the case in Professor Layton and The Eternal Diva.
  • Death Seeker Grisel Gegenhuber (aka Hube) got a Yojimbo gig for a total asshole in hopes of this, after being sequentially 1) exiled in disgrace on a Snipe Hunt for being a reckless commander, although the person who started the war for dumb reasons got off scot-free; 2) almost died a lot and suffered from racism; and 3) met his true love (in what was destined to be a Mayfly-December Romance) and was separated from her for what he believed to be forever.
    • Unfortunately, as soon as he saw Conrad in town his goal became to get his homeland's famous swordsman to kill him, and to that end he attacked the guy The Ace was protecting...then found out that that was the new king of his country, and he was now a traitor as well as an exile.
  • In the anime version of Trigun, this is an interpretation for Vash's complete failure to say a word or make a move in his own defense while being lynched by the town that recognizes him as the Stampede, in the episode after he shoots Legato in the head. He wasn't actually catatonic, but he kept acting as though he was while they tied him to the back of a truck and dragged him around on his face.
    • Of course, Vash "disapproves of suicide more than anything," so if he is doing this it's probably subconscious.
  • Greed in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, who intentionally picks a fight with and enrages Ed on false pretenses so the latter will kill him, as it is preferable to waiting around for Dante to re-seal him.

Comic Books

  • Subverted in a Judge Dredd strip in which a man hires a hitman to kill him, then changes his mind and goes to the Judges for help. Dredd stops the assassin, and also arrests the man himself for hiring a hitman...
    • Sounds like this plot was "borrowed" from The Odd Job, originally a half-hour comedy playlet starring Ronnie Barker and later remade as a movie starring Graham Chapman. In both versions the man changes his mind and tries to persuade the hitman not to kill him. The man eventually succeeds, but then falls victim to one of the hitman's death traps anyway.
    • Sound like that Plot was "borrowed" from the Jules Verne book Tribulations of a Chinaman y China where an aristocrat who loses his fortunes buys a life insurance and asks his butler to kill him, but then recovers it and changes his mind. In his story, however, in the end everything is well and the character learns a valuable lesson. Can we say "Older Than They Think"?
  • In the newest X-Factor series, a dupe of Jamie Madrox does this by shooting a corrupt police chief in broad daylight with a horde of other cops standing around him.
    • Similarly, previously suicidal Rictor goes up against a horde of cops, armed with only a paintball gun. Later, Guido calls him on it.
  • In Y: The Last Man, Alter does something similar, murdering Agent 355 in order to bait Yorick into avenging her. Yorick sees through her and leaves her alive. The twist is Alter insists her death be at a man's hands - a good deal of the conflict in the series wouldn't have happened if she'd just been alright letting another woman kill her.
  • In an issue of Spider-Man serial killer The Sin-Eater a.k.a. Stanley Carter holds a boy hostage pointing a shotgun at his head prompting the police to shoot him, as it turns out he had done this intentionally as he was depressed and before he dies he reveals the gun was empty.
    • Tarantula tried to duplicate Spider-man's powers through genetic engineering but instead became a giant spider. Saddened, he jumped in front of a volley of police bullets to kill himself.
    • In a Spider-Man VS Wolverine one-shot, Spider-Man gets embroiled in a case in East Berlin when Charlie, a female ex-KGB agent and longtime friend of Wolverine's, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against her KGB superiors. Not wanting to be tortured by the KGB, she wants Wolverine to kill her. Spider-Man intervenes (he thinks that either Charlie or the KGB had killed Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds) and he and Wolverine fight each other furiously. Dazed after the fight, Spider-Man feels a hand on his shoulder. Thinking it's Wolverine, he turns and hits the person, hard. Turns out to be Charlie and the blow is lethal, which is what she wanted. Suicide by superhero.
    • Spider-Man accuses Green Goblin of trying this during the "A Death in the Family" storyline, when Green Goblin puts Flash Thompson in a coma and then goes public with claims that Gwen Stacy died due to Spider-Man failing to safely catching her body when it fell off the bridge, and making claims of having sex with Gwen. We never find out from Norman if Spider-Man was right or not, though the ending implies that Norman could have murdered Spider-Man with a gun in his desk drawer during his Hannibal Lecture leaves it vague.
  • In The Ultimates volume 3, Hawkeye nearly goads Wolverine into killing him by shooting him from a short distance.
  • There is a strong case to be made for Rorschach trying this in Watchmen. Alan Moore himself has stated that Rorschach had a king sized death wish, and he knew that Dr. Manhattan would try to stop Rorschach from revealing the truth. Rorschach may not have engineered the scenario, but he willingly embraced death.
  • Subverted in an issue of The Punisher, as after chasing the Big Bad all over the city, Frank finally cornered him, only to have probably the only thing close to an honest cop catch up and point a gun to HIS head. Frank ends the Mexican standoff by tossing Big Bad his own gun. Big Bad makes to shoot Frank, causing the cop to kill him instead.
  • The Cavalier (Hudson Pyle) does this in the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight arc "Blades", purposely charging the cops and getting gunned down.
  • In V for Vendetta, V corners Finch in a subway but allows the cop to shoot him a few times. But they both knew that if both sides actually tried to kill the other, V would have won with his throwing knives.
  • Karolina attepted this in an early issue of Runaways, but it backfired. It turns out that Majesdanian blood is poisonous to vampires.
  • The Joker attempts this in "The Last Laugh". However, he called it "Suicide by Super-Hero" since it was Nightwing.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man Norman Osbourne begs S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to kill him after he unthinkingly beats his own son to death as the Green Goblin.
  • In the first Sin City story, it's implied that Marv tries this after his Roaring Rampage of Revenge is over, figuring that the Roarke family will kill him anyway. Cops do come and shoot him but he lives, only to face a Kangaroo Court.


  • The main character in Falling Down draws a water pistol during a stand off, and is shot by a cop because other methods of suicide would result in loss of his life insurance policy. While falling backwards, he notes that he would have won - he squirted the cop before getting shot.
  • An example of the aforementioned "megalomaniacal general" is given in Terminator 2, in the form of an artificial intelligence. The T-800, describing Judgement Day to John Connor, mentions that Skynet attacked Russia because it knew that the Russian counter-strike would eliminate its enemies in the United States.
  • In The Chase the main character, after having run from the police for most of the movie, finally realizes it's not going to work, and that he's putting his hostage-turned-love-interest through a lot of danger. Consequently, he releases the (reluctant) girl and gets out of the car. A deep, slow-motion, underwater-sound scene follows, in which he looks around at the massive police force surrounding him and smokes a last cigarette. Then, suddenly, he makes a gun shape with his hands and rapidly points it at the cops. He is shot countless times and falls down, dead... and then he blinks and shakes his head: it was just an Indulgent Fantasy Segue, and he's still in the car.
  • In Dogma, the rogue angels Bartleby and Loki planned to become human, then absolve their sins through plenary indulgence, and die, thus getting back into heaven. Suicide would be a strict no-no, so Bartleby killed a bunch of people, planning to be cut down by the police as he exited the church (the murder coming before the absolution of their sins). On a larger scale, the villain Azrael plotted to trick God into being forced to destroy the entire universe, just so that he would no longer suffer in Hell.
  • In Minority Report, Anderton is trying to prevent a future in which he kills a man, and nearly succeeds... only for the man to commit Suicide By Pre-Cop.
  • The otherwise rubbish movie Jimmy Hollywood has a good subversion of this trope at the end - surrounded by cops after his vigilante spree and with things looking bleak, Jimmy - determined to make a big exit - decides to go out fighting; loading his guns with blanks, he aims to pull a Suicide by Cop. So he bursts out of the building, guns blazing... and nothing happens. Turns out his girlfriend told the cops his guns weren't loaded.
  • In Se7en, the killer murders the wife of one of his investigators, angering him into shooting the killer, which completes the set of seven sins (wrath).
  • In Bulworth, the title character purchases a 10 million dollar life insurance policy, then places a hit on himself to be performed within the next two days. He then tries to ruin his image by being completely unrestrained in his political opinions to give plausibility to his assassination. Ironically enough, this ends up working in his favor and when he tries to call off the hit, he finds that his contact to the mafia suffered a heart attack.
  • In Soylent Green, member of the board of directors of the Soylent Corporation William R. Simonson hires someone to kill him after he learns the secret of Soylent Green and no longer wishes to live.
  • The police in Phone Booth suspect the main character of attempting this, and actively seek to defy it. Of course they're Wrong Genre Savvy as Stu doesn't want to commit suicide, he's being held hostage by a man with a sniper rifle aimed at the booth.
  • At the end of Odd Man Out, Cathleen kills both herself and her lover this way. Although, to be fair, he was already bleeding to death and wanted by the police, so it's really an act of mercy.
  • In Fallen, the hero John Hobbes (a cop) is forced to shoot someone who he thinks is attempting Suicide by Cop. However, it turns out the demon he's hunting possessed the victim, and then possesses the witnesses in order to frame Hobbes for murder.
  • In the movie Reign Over Me, Charlie Fineman attempts suicide through this method. However instead of being shot by the cops, he is instead tackled and arrested.
  • Bruce Lee in Fist Of Fury.
  • Walt's plan of getting rid of a well-armed street gang in Gran Torino is to psych them into gunning him down in full view of the neighborhood. Presumably, the neighbors would be inspired by his courage and come forward as witnesses instead of being scared into keeping their mouths shut, like they did with the gang's other crimes. To do so, Walt makes a racket calling them out, including mentioning one of them raped his own cousin to prove a point, stuff no one can ignore.
  • In The Constant Gardener, we gradually realize that the hero is doing this. In investigating his wife's murder by a conspiracy, he eventually learns enough to force the conspiracy to kill him in the same way and the same place as his wife.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker wants Batman to kill him, and thus prove that there is no difference between the two of them.
  • The French noir classic The Samurai, starring Alain Delon, is a textbook example.
  • S.O.B., :Felix, the director kidnaps a security guard using a water pistol and forces a movie film he wants to take to be brought out of storage. Confronted by the police, he points the pistol at them, and he is shot and killed.
  • Takers had an inversion and then played it straight in another case. When one of the bank robbers is cornered by a detective he aims his gun at the cop but the cop just lets the robber shoot him. The cop has been caught taking a bribe and if he dies in the line of duty now his family will get his pension and life insurance money rather than see him go to jail. Later on two of the robbers decide to walk straight at the SWAT team guns blazing rather than try to escape. They do not want to run and can't live with the deaths they caused.
  • Textbook case at the end of Violent City: After having killed the woman he loved and who betrayed him, Charles Bronson's character just...waits for the cops to get there. Once they do, he tells them to go ahead and shoot him. They naturally hesitate. He picks up his (unloaded) gun and points it at them. They promptly fill him full of holes.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford implies that Jesse James is so burdened by his criminal acts and lifestyle that he deliberately allows the Ford brothers to kill him.
  • Suicide by COPS.
  • In the remake of The Crazies, Deputy Russell faces the army soldiers with an unloaded gun so he wouldn't have to succumb to the infection and to provide a distraction for the other survivors.
  • Near the end of The Town, James, the main character's right hand man and adopted brother, does this when he's wounded after a botched robbery rather than go back to jail.
  • In The Recruit, Al Pacino's character does this after his true motivations are revealed.


  • When he thinks Bella has died, Edward goes to Italy to die by sparkling at the Insane Ruling Triumvirate in Twilight's sequel, New Moon.
  • The Outsiders: a result of (and contrasted with) a previous "hero's" death, where the "hero" was the only person who respected the suicidal one.
  • Near the end of Stephen King's now out-of-print novel Rage, the school-shooter protagonist grabs for a non-existent gun, prompting a policeman to shoot him several times. He survives and is committed to an insane asylum.
  • At the end of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Lemas commits suicide by East German Border Guard when his girlfriend is shot by a treacherous East German.
  • Inverted in A Touch of Frost when a drunk and depressed DI Frost tackles an armed criminal. He fails to get himself killed but does get the George Cross.
  • Subverted in The Silent Blade: after losing the fight with Drizzt, Artemis Entreri shouts and charges him in order to be killed. Drizzt does reflexively counterattack—at which point Entreri's allies grant him the ability to absorb and return Drizzt's blow, to the very unpleasant surprise of both.
  • In Rebecca, it is eventually revealed that the title character goaded her husband into killing her, so that she wouldn't have to face a lingering death by cancer.
  • In Green Rider, Jendara, knowing that her Heel Face Turn was not going to redeem her in the eyes of her former colleagues for having turned traitor in the first place, and that the traditional punishment for a member of her order who commits treason is to be slowly tortured for weeks and then get staked out for the vultures - while still alive, deliberately attacks the Weapons who try to take her prisoner, forcing them to kill her quickly.
  • The fourth book of the Safehold series, A Mighty Fortress, features this with a senior vicar the Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn intends to have arrested for treason. Said vicar was once head of the Temple Guard and, when some of those very Guardsmen come to arrest him, picks a fight with them and manages to kills four of the armed and armored men before being brought down.
  • Lumiya recieves this via Luke in the novel Sacrifice. An interesting subersion in that she didn't really seem to have any wish to die and simply felt she'd played her part. Jacen Solo even refers to it as 'Suicide By Skywalker.'
    • Tal'dira in Solo Command was brainwashed into attempting to shoot down Wedge Antilles while on a mission. Unable to let go of his conditioning, he instead lowers his own starfighter's shields during the attempt, enabling one of his squadmates to kill him before he can complete his mission. Bonus points in that said squadmate used to be a cop before becoming a pilot.
  • Just one of the varied and sundry ways to commit suicide in Ankh-Morpork. Rarely on purpose, though; in Ankh-Morpork, committing suicide is so easy that most conventional forms of accidental death take weeks of planning by comparison. Some people do it just by going out for a drink, since some neighborhoods or bars in Ankh-Morpork are so dangerous that any death in them is ruled a suicide by the authorities.
  • In On Stranger Tides, Stede Bonnet falls under Blackbeard's power via vodun and extortion, but eventually opts to escape being a sorcerous puppet by invoking this trope ... with the Royal Navy as the cops. His desire to be killed in battle rather than hanged leads him to escape from jail when captured, then provoke the pursuing soldiers into firing on his own party of fugitives.
  • The Zoo Story, Jerry, who is a homeless very lonely man meets another man named Peter and forces him to kill him. Although he doesn't tell him to kill him, Jerry tries to get Peter mad enough to do it.
  • In Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, Amanda Pym -- feeling that she has nothing to live for -- attempts Suicide by Hijacker when terrorists take over her flight, only to accidentally become a hero instead, leading to the rescue of over two hundred hostages.

Live-Action TV

  • The White House is shot at in an episode of The West Wing by a "disturbed individual" trying to be shot by the secret service.
  • CSI: Miami: Horatio's nemesis Clavo Cruise, having had all his plans foiled, shows up at the crime lab and, waiting until Horatio and other police officers have their weapons trained on him, tries to take a shot at Horatio.
  • Zander Smith was killed in this way on General Hospital
  • A role-reversal of this occurred in an episode of The Shield, where a cop, unable to cope with his own sexuality, attempts to goad a cornered criminal into shooting him.
  • A suicidal cop in Third Watch takes main character Bosco hostage, holds Bosco's own gun on him, then walks into broad daylight and deliberately opens himself up to a clear shot from a SWAT sniper.
  • There are at least three instances of this occurring in The Bill.
  • Referred to by name in NCIS, after Kate shoots a despairing man who was waving an (unloaded) handgun in a threatening manner.
    • And averted spectacularly in another episode, "Murder 2.0", where the protagonists run into a hostage situation that looks to be the hostage-taker trying to commit suicide by cop... until Gibbs realizes that she's being forced by the "hostage" to "threaten" him with an unloaded weapon, and what's really going on is that the "hostage-taker" was being set up for a Homicide By Cop. Fortunately, it didn't work.
    • Subverted in another episode, where a drugged up guy pulls a gun on the team after being chased, only for Gibbs to come up behind him and pin him to a railing. From the other side.
  • Blue Heelers did this when Constable Susie Rayner is introduced with her husband Brad, an ex cop who was injured and wheelchair bound on the job. As he spirals further into depression he lashes out at Susie, and Ben when he tries to help. Convinced they are having an affair Brad steal's Ben's service revolver and makes as if he's going to kill Susie, forcing Ben to shoot him in self defense. The subsequent court case looked into the possibility of Brad being suicidal and he wanted to be killed, and this was eventually ruled as the official cause.
  • Spotlighted in an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit.
    • Done by a hostage-taker as a Mind Screw revenge on Detective Benson. His last words were "There are no bullets in my gun."
    • In another episode, a junkie robs his father's bank, and accidentally shoots his father in the process. As he heads out to commit Suicide By Cop, Dr. Warner shoots him in the leg with Stabler's backup weapon, allowing the SWAT team to restrain him.
  • Faith attempts Suicide By Vampire Detective in the Angel episode "Five By Five".
  • Anya attempts Suicide By Slayer in the Buffy episode "Selfless."
  • In the Series/Torchwood episode "Sleeper", knowing that when the aliens eventually activate her, her human personality will be permanently replaced by that of an alien killing machine, the sleeper agent Beth decides she'd rather die as a human and atone for the death of her husband, so she pretends she's about to slash Gwen's throat, forcing the other Torchwood members to shoot her.
  • Sanctuary: John Druitt, overwhelmed by the guilt that goes with being Jack the Ripper attempts to goad Magnus into killing him by beating the crap out of her. It almost works—she stops his heart with two stun blasts to the chest, but then revives him.
  • In Airwolf, the Evil Dr. Moffett may have committed suicide by attack helicopter. He had pointed out the one place that the helicopter was vulnerable to a Golden BB, and in another scene they had shown that he had the necessary skill with a pistol to make the shot.
  • An episode of Millennium features a woman doing this at the end of an episode by pulling not a gun out of her pocket, but a tiny piece of metal that has a shape resembling the Virgin Mary's face on it. The fact that the woman who does this is a stereotypically butch lesbian (flannel and all) makes it a bit awkward to think about.
  • In Kamen Rider Ryuki, Asakura Takeshi (Kamen Rider Ouja) is outraged after failing to kill his long-time rival, so he charges a bunch of armed policemen without using his powers in what proves to be the last of his several fits of suicidal behaviour.
  • In the Colombian TV adaptation of the novel Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso, Catalina, the main character and]] a trafficker's girlfriend, convinced a former lover to hire a hitman to kill the friend who helped her to enter into that Crapsack World. And then she takes her friend's place and gets the bullets.
  • Hill Street Blues: A man is holding someone hostage with a gun on them, and informs the cop that he is going to kill them unless the cop kills him first. He announces he's going to pull the trigger on one, and starts counting down. The cop tries to talk him out of it, but has no alternative but to shoot him at 'two'.
  • Cold Case had an episode in which a compulsive gambler pays off his life insurance and asks his gambling "coach" to kill him as a last favor to him and to his family.
  • Done on The X-Files where a man with manipulative powers and life threatening (but treatable) brain tumour makes Fox play a game of Russian Roulette with him.
  • Jared attempts this in the season four finale episode "The End in the Beginning" of Bones, but is talked out of it by Brennan.
  • This Is Wonderland: A Filipino man was arrested as a suspected terrorist, but cop-turned-lawyer Anthony Davis figured out that he was trying to get himself killed so that his adulterous wife would have to live with her guilt.
  • In Andromeda, the characters encounter a ship which murdered her crew along with an entire planet, and spent three centuries mad. She ends up shooting at them, and then shutting her defenses so that the retaliation kills instead of disables her.
  • Various episodes of Criminal Minds feature this trope, and several protagonists refer to it by name.
  • Urza Jaddo challenged Londo Mollari to a Duel to the Death in one episode of Babylon 5 to save his family from a charge of treason levied against him.
    • On Capt. Sherdian's first day on the job, the whole crew of a rogue Minbari ship tries to do this to spark a new Earth-Minbari war. Fortunately, Sheridan figures out what they are attempting and refuses to cooperate. Ultimately, they all commit suicide when they are cornered by a Minbari ship sent to capture them.
  • Dexter, at the end of the third season, makes it look like this is how the Skinner dies.
  • Interesting example from Heroes when Matt Parkman engineers his own unsuccessful Psychic Assisted Suicide by Cop as a last-ditch effort by to stop Sylar who had gained control of his body. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Given the subject matter, it was almost inevitable this would occur on Flashpoint. A couple attempt it "Last Dance", and it finally happens in "Behind The Blue Line".
  • Subverted in at least one episode of Diagnosis: Murder: the bad guy has a degenerative disease not covered by insurance (pre-existing condition), and spends the entire episode goading Steve into killing him. It is implied that part of Steve's refusal to do so is because the villain went a bit too far. Good Is Not Always Nice, perhaps?
  • In Rome a defeated and despaired Brutus chooses not to flee a lost battle and instead marches unarmored against approaching enemy cohorts of heavy infantry, he is rapidly surrounded and killed in a fashion resembling the killing of Julius Caesar, a deed he committed with other senators.
  • Subverted in the opening scene of Breaking Bad pilot; what do you do when you, the protagonist, until that moment a law abiding citizen, a trusted and respected member of your community, a loving husband and father, end up in underwear in the middle of the desert, driving a mobile meth-lab chased by police cars that get closer and closer? You leave a videotaped farewell message to the loved ones then proceed to confront the police with a gun in your hand ready to shoot.
  • In Without a Trace, this happened in the 17th episode of the 2nd season; an Iraqi war veteran accidentally kills a woman in a bank heist he pulled to get enough money to keep his house from being repossessed and his girlfriend from leaving him. In the end, after taking the girlfriend and an FBI agent hostage in his home, he agrees to come out. He unloads the gun he's holding (out of view of the SWAT officers that surrounded his house) and walks right out the front door, pointing the gun at the officers, who open fire. The final scene is the FBI agent holding the hysterical, sobbing girlfriend back from running after him and into the line of fire, as the agent sheds a few tears himself.
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (of all places): The Magna Defender, who is wounded, weak, and nearly powerless, tries this, telling Leo that he can gain Mike back via his death. He then draws his sword so that Leo can "call it self-defense". However, Leo refuses, and later MD is able to do it via Heroic Sacrifice and save Terra Venture.


  • Seems to be what Steely Dan's song "Don't Take Me Alive" from their album The Royal Scam is about. See page quote.
  • In P.O.S.' song "That One", the rapper mentions that he's "in the mood for suicide by cop" in the wake of a bad ending to a relationship.

Video Games

  • All of the events of Soul Calibur 3 are orchestrated by Zasalamel in an attempt to kill himself using the two MacGuffins as fuel for a ritual to cease his endless cycle of reincarnation.
  • Squall can attempt this in the D-District Prison segment of Final Fantasy VIII by insulting the prison warden during his Electric Torture. He doesn't succeed, but choosing the option nets the player a reward a little later on.
  • Angeal from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII does this - by turning into a One-Winged Angel and attacking Zack.
    • This Suicide By Student allows him to become The Obi-Wan; he did it because he was convinced (despite Zach's But Your Wings Are Beautiful moment) that his messed-up genetic disorder was going to eventually make him go as Nietzsche Wannabe as his best friend Genesis.
    • Before resorting to turning into a spectacularly ugly chimaera he tried to get Zach to kill him as part of their oath to "destroy anything that threatens the world." Zach had attacked him a while back when he believed he'd murdered his own mother, but since that and his going AWOL were really the only things to make Zach think he'd gotten himself an Evil Mentor and he'd just been disabused of the mistake, it didn't go well. Afterward they have a heartfelt Take Up My Sword—the iconic buster blade Zach passes on to Cloud at the end of the game.
  • Asgard in Wild ARMs 3. Unable to overcome his self-preservation programming, he provokes the heroes to one last battle so he can follow his dead masters to hell.
  • The entire plot of the .hack//G.U. games basically revolves around this. The Chessmaster Ovan effectively manipulates Haseo into killing him, because only if Ovan's (extremely high-level) PC is killed by Haseo's special PC, his special ability will be activated, resetting the entire internet and cleansing it of the corruption that has been sending gamers (including Ovan's own sister) into coma.
  • Andrew Ryan in BioShock (series) pulls a Suicide By Cop, by manipulating Jack into bludgeoning him to death with a trigger phrase.
  • In Suikoden 2, there is a difficult-to-do subplot involving a couple of gunners from Harmonia. If you are able to follow it all the way through to the end, it ends in a quick-draw duel between the two. As the loser lies on the ground dying, she laughingly reveals her gun wasn't loaded...
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Emil Castagnier (that is, Ratatosk), plans to fake possession by his Super-Powered Evil Side and get the party to kill him so that he can become a Core to seal the Ginnungagap. It's half wanting to save the world and half guilt from learning that he killed Aster. It's up to the player to decide if he succeeds.
  • It's not explicitly stated, but it's fairly clear this is what Caster did in Heavens Feel route of Fate/stay night. Her Master and reason for living has just been killed and she's standing over his body, covered in blood and horrified when Saber and Shirou show up. When she finally notices them, she doesn't explain and, most tellingly, puts away her contract nullifying dagger and simply attacks. Normally she'd teleport out or something. But why bother?
    • Her master pulls the same trick in the Unlimited Blade Works route when Caster is killed. Even though the heroes are willing to let him go (he's completely harmless to them), he still picks a fight he cannot win with Archer to "finish what he started", and is killed instantly.
  • In, Devil Survivor one of the multiple ways, Haru can die if the player doesn't intervene. If you do talk to her, your party discovers that she feels responsible for the demons plaguing Tokyo although you convince her that this isn't true.
  • Sol in Final Fantasy Legend 3, who was merged with Xagor and said, "I'll hold Xagor's soul for you, kill me!" to the party. Knowing that Xagor attempted to conquer Sol so the entity flooding the world would never stop, Sol also knew that he could get himself killed, and take Xagor down with him and stop the entity in its last stage.
  • In Mass Effect Matriarch Benezia chooses this path (by Protagonist, who is sort of a cop) after briefly breaking Sovereign's indoctrination. She knew Sovereign's indoctrination was permanent and her respite would only be temporary and chose death over continuing its evil.
  • Kingdom Hearts does this at the climax of Days: Xion goes One-Winged Angel on Roxas, forcing him to kill her so that the memories she's composed of will return to their rightful place.
  • Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid really just waits for a soldier who is able to kill her. But as a world class sniper who doesn't hold back with her skills in combat, she's not making it particularly easy for her enemies.
  • One sidequest in the Morrowind expansion Bloodmoon involves an old man who feels like he has nothing left to contribute, and is only a burden on his family, so he tries to do this. The player character can either kill him, or endure his attacks and talk some sense into him when he wears himself out.
  • In Dawn of War 2: Retribution it is implied by The Ancient also known as Tarkus that Avitus does this in Chaos Rising.
  • The Arishok in Dragon Age II pulls this off by staging an all-out attack with the Qunari on Kirkwall. The demands of the Qun mean he can cannot return to Par Vollen without the Tome of Koslun and the thief who stole it, but he's become so disgusted with Kirkwall society that he can't make himself stay there any longer. He sees his death as the only way out of fulfilling his obligations.
  • In Vampire Bloodlines a particularly cruel Malkavian player can make an unfortunate Muggle do this to himself to uphold the Masquerade by forcing him to go to the nearest police station and draw a gun.
  • Done in Skyrim during the Dark Brotherhood questline. After selling the player out to Commander Maro and being literally burned for it, Astrid uses her own body as a Black Sacrament and put a contract on herself.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Ezekiel Sandoval attempts this at a mall. As a veteran Marine, he couldn't bring himself to shoot any civilians. Before the police could show up, however, Humanity Front leader William Taggart talks him out of it.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "The Cheese Chasers", two mice, having eating so much cheese they feel they can't eat any again, decide that there's nothing left to live for and try to get a cat to eat them. The cat, suspicious that it's all a trick, grows paranoid and eventually decides to end it all as well. So he goes to a dog and asks him to kill him. The dog, in trying to figure out the whole situation, goes mad as well, and chases down the dog catcher.
  • Tom and Jerry had a duckling repeatedly try to get Tom to eat him; he had read The Ugly Duckling and thought the book was about him. (Seems it made him too depressed to finish it.) This story has a happy ending though - he got over it after a girl-duckling said he was cute.
  • There was some evidence in Beast Wars that Rampage's Complete Monster behavior and focus on Depth Charge was, in part, an attempt to commit Suicide By Depth Charge to atone for that horrific behavior and all the lives he took when activated.

Blackarachnia: You'll regret this!
Rampage, softly: I regret everything, my dear.

  • During the two part premier of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, resident Anti-Villain Red Lantern Razer attempts this by first provoking and then outright begging Hal Jordan to kill him for pushing a detonator that blew an entire planet to smithereens. Hal gives him a sound thrashing but refuses to comply, telling Razer that he should live and atone for what he'd done instead.
  • Histeria! plays this for laughs in "Tribute to Tyrants". Julius Caesar realizes the senators plan to murder him, and meets with them anyway, simply because being with Cleopatra (portrayed by the World's Oldest Woman) is worse. Later, Marc Anthony considers leading his army to certain doom also, a better fate than being with her.