Created By: DrakeClawfang on February 12, 2012 Last Edited By: DrakeClawfang on July 9, 2016
Nuked

Live To Suffer

when a villain doesn\'t kill the hero right away for the specific purpose of tormenting them further

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Trope

Needs Launching Votes, Needs a Better Name

"I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet... buried alive!"

The villain could kill the hero at his whim, but he doesn't. He chooses to let the hero live, escape, so the villain can beat him again. The villain doesn't target the hero, he forces the hero to endure the deaths of his closest friends and family. He traps the hero in his lair and puts him in a torture device, delighting in his agony. The villain's final goal may not even include finally finishing the hero off, it may just be to break his spirit and leave him an emotionally shattered wreck.

For this villain usually, It's Personal. The hero has sleighted them in such a manner it isn't enough to just kill them, their death has to be delayed so the villain can torment them, infuriate them, and when the time comes to kill them it will be slow and painful. There's no practical purpose to letting the hero live, and it isn't that the villain is too stupid to finish them off. They're doing it on purpose just to cause them more pain.

Often the trait of Bond Villain Stupidity or Stupid Evil. Contrast with No Nonsense Villain who is usually smart enough to get things over with as quick as possible. Compare To the Pain, Forced to Watch, Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?. See also Trauma Conga Line, Humiliation Conga, and Cruel Mercy.

Examples

Anime

  • Yugioh, Yami Marik relies on a Burn strategy with machines based on torture devices because he likes watching his opponents squirm, and is implied to draw out his duels to prolong their suffering.
  • A good guy example is in Dragon Ball Z. An angry, prideful Gohan lets Perfect Cell regenerate with his head and half his body vaporized, to "have him suffer" - to the frustration of his comrades, who really want Cell dead so he doesn't kill the whole damn planet.

Comics

  • Venom had this mentality when he was a villain in the pages of Spider-Man. He hated Spidey enough that he mostly wanted to torture Peter physically and mentaly in most battles. Naturally, this often proved to be his undoing.

Film

  • The page quote is provided by Khan in Wrath of Khan, who after being marooned on a barren planet and forced to endure the deaths of his wife and followers, wants to inflict the same turmoil on Kirk.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, when Walker tells Lord Norinaga that once he's done interrogating April (who they believe to be a witch who killed Norinaga's son) they can kill her, Norinaga mutters "No. I want her to suffer."
  • Elle Driver's order to Budd in dealing with the Bride in Kill Bill Volume 2: "She must suffer to her last breath."
  • In Star Trek, Nero lets Spock live instead of killing him (both versions of him) so he can destroy Vulcan and make Spock experience the same despair Nero feels.
    Nero: Kill him? I'm not going to kill him. I'm going to make him watch...

Literature:

  • Charissa in Deryni Rising explicitly says she wants Morgan to witness the deaths of those he holds dear (and thereby suffer greatly); her minion Lord Ian Howell covets Morgan's duchy, so he would like to see her simply dispose of Morgan immediately. Charissa is so set on this course that she's actually a bit peeved when Kelson calls on Morgan to fight as his Champion; she was hoping to have Morgan watch Kelson's death, and the Champions' combat raises the possibility that Morgan might be killed first.
  • In The Silmarillion, Morgoth chose to imprison Maedhros on top of Thangorodrim for him to witness Morgoth's conquest of Beleriand.

Live Action TV

  • A reversed example of this happens in the end of the third season of Lost, when protagonist Jack has over-powered bad guy Ben and has the opportunity to kill him. However, he chooses not to, saying that he'd rather let Ben suffer through seeing them all leaving the Island - and after that, he plans to kill Ben.
  • Walternate shows incredible malice toward Peter Bishop in the Bad Future third season finale of Fringe but doesn't kill him, instead electing to kill Peter's wife, Olivia.

Video Games

  • Modus operandi of Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII. After his first and only defeat by Cloud, a rookie Shinra grunt at the time, much of Sephiroth's actions are motivated by his desire to Mind Rape Cloud in revenge for his perceived humiliation.
  • GLaDOS in Portal 2. She sends Chell through chamber after chamber of testing, informing Chell that she will make her run these tests for the rest of her life. The entire time, she teases and insults her. She's not above trying to kill her if needed, though - when Wheatley comes to the rescue, trying to get out of the facility with Chell, GLaDOS has a couple traps she attempts to kill Chell with. Also, after Wheatley gains control of the facility, GLaDOS claims that instead of just crushing him, she'll make him spend one year in the incinerator, one year in cryogenic refrigeration, ten years in the room where all the robots scream, and then she'll kill him.

Western Animation

  • In The Return of Jafar, Jafar rejects Abys Maal's proposal of killing Aladdin, sneering "there are things so much worse than death". He proceeds to frame him for the murder of the Sultan, and disguises himself as Jasmine to sentence him to death, finally revealing himself to Aladdin when he's on the chopping block to deliver a gloating goodbye.
  • Robotnik enflicts this in Sonic Sat Am episode "Game Guy", after Sonic is finally captured, Snively enquires why they don't just exterminate him. A gleeful Robotnik points out he wants this to last.
  • Eggman does this a few times in the comics as well, despite having Sonic subued several times, he leaves him broken so he can watch him tear his world apart (naturally it doesn't quite work out that way).
  • Aku several times over in Samurai Jack. In fact Jack's very birth is owed to him doing this to his father.
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • February 12, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    I'm aware we have Fate Worse Than Death, but I feel that would better serve as a trope for well, the fate of a character. When a villain conducts a series of on-going torment of a hero because they consider it worse than just killing them, I think that should be its owhn trope.
  • February 12, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    Also compare Cruel Mercy
  • February 12, 2012
    Psi001
    • Robotnik enflicts this in Sonic Sat Am episode "Game Guy", after Sonic is finally captured, Snively enquires why they don't just exterminate him. A gleeful Robotnik points out he wants this to last.
    • Eggman does this a few times in the comics as well, despite having Sonic subued several times, he leaves him broken so he can watch him tear his world apart (naturally it doesn't quite work out that way).
    • Aku several times over in Samurai Jack. In fact Jack's very birth is owed to him doing this to his father.

    Often the trait of Bond Villain Stupidity or Stupid Evil. Contrast with No Nonsense Villain who is usually smart enough to get things over with as quick as possible.
  • February 13, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Elle Driver's order to Budd in dealing with the Bride in Kill Bill Volume 2: "She must suffer to her last breath."
  • February 13, 2012
    Arivne
    I know everyone is tired of hearing this, but:

    A new policy has been added to Naming A Trope: no titles that sound like a line of dialogue (e.g. I Want Him To Suffer). If any trope is launched with such a title, site owner Fast Eddie will impale it with extreme prejudice.
  • February 13, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Well then, anyone have suggestions for a better name?
  • February 13, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Literature:
    • Charissa in Deryni Rising explicitly says she wants Morgan to witness the deaths of those he holds dear (and thereby suffer greatly); her minion Lord Ian Howell covets Morgan's duchy, so he would like to see her simply dispose of Morgan immediately. Charissa is so set on this course that she's actually a bit peeved when Kelson calls on Morgan to fight as his Champion; she was hoping to have Morgan watch Kelson's death, and the Champions' combat raises the possibility that Morgan might be killed first.
  • February 13, 2012
    Damr1990
    To The Pain, anyone?
  • February 13, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Does putting them in a deathtrap that they aren't supposed to escape count? cause you could just shoot him, which would be quicker, easier, (probably) cheaper. i mean the villain is just doing this so the hero can be afraid and squirm in what is supposed to be his final moments. the weird thing is despite this the villain doesn't even stay to watch most the time?
  • February 13, 2012
    AP
    • Venom had this mentality when he was a villain in the pages of Spider Man. He hated Spidey enough that he mostly wanted to torture Peter physically and mentaly in most battles. Naturally, this often proved to be his undoing.
  • February 14, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • GLaDOS in Portal 2. She sends Chell through chamber after chamber of testing, informing Chell that she will make her run these tests for the rest of her life. The entire time, she teases and insults her. She's not above trying to kill her if needed, though - when Wheatley comes to the rescue, trying to get out of the facility with Chell, GLaDOS has a couple traps she attempts to kill Chell with. Also, after Wheatley gains control of the facility, GLaDOS claims that instead of just crushing him, she'll make him spend one year in the incinerator, one year in cryogenic refrigeration, ten years in the room where all the robots scream, and then she'll kill him.
  • February 15, 2012
    TrustBen
    Walternate shows incredible malice toward Peter Bishop in the Bad Future third season finale of Fringe but doesn't kill him, instead electing to kill Peter's wife, Olivia.
  • February 15, 2012
    Premonition45
    In Star Trek, when Nero finds Prime Spock's ship, he's asked if he'll kill him:
    Nero: Kill him? I'm not going to kill him. I'm going to make him watch...
  • February 16, 2012
    hevendor717
    A good guy example is in Dragonball Z. An angry, prideful Gohan lets Perfect Cell regenerate with his head and half his body vaporized, to "have him suffer" - to the frustration of his comrades, who really want Cell dead so he doesn't kill the whole damn planet.
  • February 16, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    If this is its own trope, this name needs to be changed. It will get nuked for looking like a stock phrase (and that HAS happened).

    Let Him Live To Suffer?
  • February 16, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Changing name and adding provided examples.
  • February 17, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    So does anyone have any further feedback?
  • February 17, 2012
    KamenZero
    No feedback, but I do have an example.

    In Delocated, Jon is not killed in many situations because Sergei wishes to make him suffer first.
  • February 17, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Make Him Suffer has the same problem as before: it'll "sound like dialog" from an admin's POV and will be cut upon launch. If you're lucky they'll de-launch it and send it back here for a rename, but it might just be vapored.
  • February 18, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Well I'm very open to suggestions.
  • February 18, 2012
    Dcoetzee
    Admins are not dumb enough to cutlist an article without even reading the description to see if it's a stock phrase, especially with a name that is ambiguous. Let's not be paranoid.
  • February 18, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ @Dcoetzee: A trope doesn't have to be a Stock Phrase to be Cut Listed. randomsurfer is correct: all it has to do is have a name that sounds like a line of dialog and it will be sent to the guillotine. Fast Eddie has said (and done) this repeatedly.
  • February 19, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Bump, still need a better title.
  • February 19, 2012
    pawsplay
  • February 20, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    That sounds too similar to Fate Worse Than Death though, and will cause confusion.
  • February 20, 2012
    WillBGood
    That Star Trek reboot movie example is really Forced To Watch and is in fact listed under Forced To Watch.
  • February 20, 2012
    GoldenDarkness
  • February 20, 2012
    pawsplay
  • February 20, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    "Live to Suffer" sounds good. Thanks.
  • February 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Doesn't to me. I thought it meant a masochist.
  • February 20, 2012
    pawsplay
    Suffer To Live sounds better to me because suffer means to allow or endure, so that it means "to allow to live." Then you have the word suffer in it, and ka-pow. It's all right there. Live To Suffer does, indeed, sound like a masochist, or someone who's perhaps irrationally determined to survive in impossible circumstances.
  • February 21, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    To me it sounds like someone who has to endure suffering to live. But alright, I'll try to think of another one.
  • February 22, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    If the name is acceptable, anything else?
  • February 22, 2012
    Koveras
    In The Silmarillion, Morgoth chose to imprison Maedhros on top of Thangorodrim for him to witness Morgoth's conquest of Beleriand.
  • February 23, 2012
    pawsplay
    Survive To Suffer sounds like it could relate to tragic accidents, though.
  • February 24, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Well you're the only person who seems to have an issue with the name, still open to further suggestions to rename it, otherwise this has enough examples to launch I believe. "Suffer to Live" just sounds like someone who has to endure pain in order to survive, like say, Saw. How about the current one?
  • February 24, 2012
    pawsplay
    I don't love Survive To Torment. I wouldn't say this is ready to launch if no one is rallying around a name. You don't have any hats.
  • February 24, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    I have one. And again, you're the only one who seems to have a problem with it, no one else has offered any comments on it one way or the other. If you have no more alternative names to suggest then to be blunt you have no further input of value.
  • February 25, 2012
    Dawnwing
    I think Live To Suffer is probably the best title so far, or Kept Alive To Torment (actually, that one's a bit clearer on what the trope is). The current one, Torment Over Killing, makes me think that it's about someone tormented over having killed, having a My God What Have I Done moment - I had to check what it was because I couldn't recall posting in a YKTTW about that.
  • February 29, 2012
    Arivne
  • February 29, 2012
    undefined
    I'd give this a hat, but there's no button to do so.
  • February 29, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Why don't we do a crowner on the name to see what everyone likes best? I don't want to give it a hat quite yet because we aren't 100% sure on the best name, but if someone sets up a crowner and runs it a little bit, then we can find what everyone likes best. (I've never done it myself, only voted on them, so I'm not quite sure how.)
  • July 8, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Cruel Mercy can apply to both heroes and villains, so how is this distinct?
  • July 8, 2016
    acrobox
    This also still sounds like Fate Worse Than Death

  • July 9, 2016
    DAN004
    Agree, this trope is covered by two tropes. (And perhaps Trauma Conga Line)
  • July 9, 2016
    Koveras
    Would this count?

    • In Demon The Fallen, after Lucifer's rebellion, God let him not only live but walk free among the mortals, while the entire rest of his Fallen army (ones who weren't unmade) were confined to the Abyss. While God's motivations for this are never explained, it is believed that Lucifer was thus basically Forced To Watch what would become of his beloved Creation and humanity as a result of his betrayal.
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