Live To Suffer YKTTW Discussion

Live To Suffer
when a villain doesn't kill the hero right away for the specific purpose of tormenting them further
(permanent link) added: 2012-02-12 16:53:59 sponsor: DrakeClawfang (last reply: 2012-02-29 08:57:35)

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"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.



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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...


  • 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.
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