Created By: Delphi on July 18, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on January 5, 2015

Spare The Villainess

Female villains tend to not get killed, at least not by the hero

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Page Type:
Trope
Up for Grabs, Needs a Better Description

When a cast of villains includes a woman, chances are The Hero is not going to kill or capture her, even if they did so to all the male villains. She'll either survive, be let go, or die another way. This comes in two types.

  • Die Another Way: The villainess is not directly killed by the hero, even though all/most of the male villains are. Instead, she either turns good, gets killed by one of the other villains or gets a Karmic Death.
  • Easier Death: The villainess does get killed by the hero, but much less violently than the other villains.

Note that this only applies for when male villains are killed by the hero but the female villain is not; if none of the villains die, the other villains die by other means, or the female is the only villain, it doesn't count.

See also Men Are the Expendable Gender, High-Heel–Face Turn, Wouldn't Hit a Girl and Double Standard. Aversions tend to be rare, because Gorn or any female character getting seriously hurt tends to bother audiences more than men. But as seen below, they do happen, although they may depend on Designated Girl Fight.

Death Trope, unmarked spoilers. I'll categorize them when I get some more examples.

Examples of Die Another Way

Anime and Manga
  • In Ninja Scroll, Snake Girl gets killed by Wire Guy for failing too many times. Jubei kills everyone else (except ironically Wire Guy).
  • Dragon Ball Z. In the Bojack movie, the henchwoman Zangya is the only one who's not killed by one of the good guys, but by the Big Bad himself.

Literature
  • In Belisarius Series Link used autistic girls as avatars and destroyed their personality. The first of these was destroyed by Belisarius' wife, the second by herself (because Link was stranded inside) and the third was executed by Belisarius' bodyguard.

Live-Action TV
  • In Kamen Rider Black, Bishium dies in a failed Taking You with Me attempt, and in Kamen Rider Black RX, Maribaron gets vaporized by the Bigger Bad for questioning his orders. Every other bad guy gets kasploded by Kotaro.
  • In Highlander: The Series, there was Kristen, a female Immortal who was pretty much irredeemable. She had already committed a murder or two at least, and attempted another over the course of the episode to let us know that she had not changed her ways over the last hundred years. Despite this, Duncan MacLeod is ready to spare her life after defeating her because his code of honor prevents him from doing so. In steps Methos, an Immortal who's survived for 5000 years and is one of Duncan's harshest critics. He proclaims that he comes from a time long before chivalry, and takes Kristen's head.

Video Games
  • Pronyma from Tales of Symphonia gets killed by the Big Bad for calling him by the wrong name, although the heroes did defeat her first and she may have already been dying from that. All the other Grand Cardinals are killed by the party in battle.
  • After Shannon is defeated in God Hand, Gene lets her tortured prisoners finish her off. Every other baddie gets punched to death.
  • Asura's Wrath. The only villain who does not end up on the receiving end of Asura's wrath is Olga, who gets sliced up by the Golden Spider instead.
  • Justine from Shadows of the Damned is spared by Garcia after he defeats her. While technically Garcia doesn’t technically kill any of the previous bosses (they get executed by a Sister Grimm, presumably on Fleming’s orders, and Justine only escapes this fate because Garcia has killed all three Sisters by that point) it is odd that he spares her when he was swearing to kill her just a few minutes earlier.
  • Jihl Nabaat from Final Fantasy XIII is set up as the Big Bad throughout most of the game but when it's time to fight her, she is nonchalantly killed by Dysley, her boss and the actual Big Bad, becoming The Unfought.
  • Dark Forces Saga. In Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, Kyle Katarn spares Tavion, Desann's female apprentice, but kills Desann. Played with, in that Kyle actually seemed more willing to kill Tavion (sparing her out of frustration and disgust), but genuinely offered clemency to Desann before Desann made it clear he was not going to surrender. This bites him in the ass in Jedi Academy when Tavion becomes the leader of a new Dark Jedi cult.

Examples of Easier Death

Film
  • In V for Vendetta, V kills the last of the doctors who altered him with a painless poison, since she was the only one who treated him halfway decently.
  • Ninja Scroll. Jubei does kill Bomb Girl but does it with her own explosives rather than taking his sword to her like he does to the rest of the Eight Devils.
  • In Sin City, Ava Lord is killed with a single gunshot. Compared to how violently most Sin City villains go down, she got off pretty easy.

Video Games
  • Hera in God Of War 3' gets a simple Neck Snap. None of the other villains get off that easily.
  • Mariska, The Dark Chick from Lollipop Chainsaw, gets a quick beheading instead of getting slowly sliced to pieces like the other Dark Purveyors.
  • In the Dead Rising series, the only female psychopaths (Jo and the Twins) are some of the few psychopaths who simply die when defeated, as opposed to the Bloody Hilarious deaths most of them get.
  • In the Konami beat-em-up Metamorphic Force enemies swell up and explode into goo when defeated...except for the one female boss, who is the only foe in the game to die in the standard beat-em-up "flicker and disappear" method.

Aversions (I think these are rare enough to be notable)

  • Jeane and Cloe in No More Heroes get the most thorough slaughterings in the series.
  • James Bond never has a problem with killing women.
  • John McClain kills the Dark Action Girl in the fourth (?) Die Hard movie by hitting her with a car and knocking her down an elevator shaft.
  • Completely inverted in Sailor Moon; in most seasons the female Big Bad is the only major villain to get directly killed off by the Senshi. The others mostly turn good or kill each other off.
  • In Samurai Champloo, one of the only female antagonists (and the only one that actually fights) is killed in combat by Mugen, though he does regret it afterwards. He spares another female antagonist earlier, but that's more Cruel Mercy.
  • Commonly averted in Fire Emblem, due its aversions of The Battle Didn't Count.

Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • July 18, 2012
    captainpat
    A lot of Type a seems like it's covered by High Heel Face Turn, Heel Face Door Slam, and Redemption Equals Death. Also you need a proper name for you categories. See Type Labels Are Not Examples.
  • July 18, 2012
    jatay3
    In Belisarius Series Link used Autistic girls as avatars and destroyed their personality. The first of these was destroyed by Belisarius' wife, the second by herself(because Link was stranded inside) and the third was executed by Belisarius' bodyguard.
  • July 18, 2012
    darkclaw
    About the Samurai Champloo example, Mugen regrets it because Sara (I think that was her name) was holding back due to being a Death Seeker and Mugen is a Blood Knight with no problems dying in combat if someone can actually beat him.

    Also, this relates to Men Are The Expendable Gender and Wouldnt Hit A Girl.

    Aversions tend to be rare, because Gorn or any female character getting seriously hurt tends to bother audiences more than men. But they do happen as you mentioned.
  • July 19, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Type B: In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Malicifent is only slain after turning into dragon form.
  • July 19, 2012
    Generality
    Some aversions (like Sailor Moon) rely on the principle of Designated Girl Fight: it's okay for women to kill each other.
  • July 19, 2012
    Koveras
  • July 19, 2012
    Delphi
    ^^^^^^ True, but this trope does tie them together. As for the categories, like I said I'm going to split them by media later.

    ^^^ Not sure if Malificent should count since she's the only villain, and this trope is for when the villainess is spared despite the male villains getting killed (Sorry if my original description didn't make that clear). For example, Belleza from Skies of Arcadia isn't an example because you don't kill hardly any of the villains in that game; out of something like eight villains, only De Loco and Ramirez are directly slain by the party.

    Also, I wonder if there should be a type C for when the villainess is only killed after becoming a monster?
  • July 19, 2012
    RossN
    • In The Dark Knight most of the minor male villains are killed in quite brutal ways but the only villainess (corrupt cop Anna Ramirez) seemingly gets away scot free because the hero is unaware of her existence and a more important villain spares her life.
  • July 19, 2012
    Generality
    ^ Ramirez is also played more sympathetically, with some excuses for her actions.
  • July 19, 2012
    captainpat
    ^^^ What I mean is you can't launch this page with "Type A, type B, type C etc...". We're cracking down on stuff like that.
  • July 19, 2012
    Delphi
    ^ Why?
  • July 19, 2012
    captainpat
    ^ because it leads to zero context examples on the wiki.
  • July 19, 2012
    KZN02
  • July 20, 2012
    Koveras
    @OP: Your glaring disregard of other tropers' efforts to format their examples is jarring. FYI if you click on the pen button next to a comment, you can copy its original markup to your examples list verbatim. Clicking on the pen again will close the edit form without saving any changes.

    This is particularly relevant in cases where you blatantly ignore spoiler tags.
  • July 20, 2012
    Arivne
    ^^^^ @Delphi: The policy is explained on the page Type Labels Are Not Examples.
  • July 20, 2012
    MorganWick
    Why is Type B (villainess is killed, but "less violently") separate from type A but type A encompasses death by other means?

    This may be a result of the Unfortunate Implications of a male hero killing a woman, even an evil one, especially if the work tries to "justify" her villainy (which should be a trope in itself).
  • July 20, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Dragon Ball Z: Type A. In the Bojack movie, the henchwoman Zangya is the only one who's not killed by one of the good guys, but by the Big Bad himself.
  • July 20, 2012
    Antigone3
    Possible example in The Elenium, but it doesn't fit in either of your categories. During the final battle in Azash's temple, Martel is killed by Sparhawk, and Annias and Otha are killed slowly by Azash. Arissa takes poison and is left to die.
  • July 20, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^That sounds like Type A, just because Type A seems to be phrased too narrowly. (Honestly, I think counting Type B as examples at all is kind of iffy.)
  • July 20, 2012
    ChrisLang
    There was this female Immortal villain, I think her name was Kristen, in Highlander The Series, who was pretty much irredeemable. She had already committed a murder or two at least, and attempted another over the course of the episode to let us know that she had not changed her ways over the last hundred years. Despite this, Duncan Mac Leod is ready to spare her life after defeating her because his code of honor prevents him from doing so. In steps Methos, an Immortal who's survived for 5000 years and is one of Duncan's harshest critics. He proclaims that he comes from a time long before chivalry, and takes Kristen's head.
  • July 20, 2012
    TheFarnell
    In Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, Kyle Katarn spares Tavion, Desann's female apprentice, but kills Desann. Played with, in that Kyle actually seemed more willing to kill Tavion (sparing her out of frustration and disgust), but genuinely offered clemency to Desann before Desann made it clear he was not going to surrender.
  • July 20, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Bites the Jedi in the ass in Jedi Academy, by the way, when Tavion becomes the leader of a new Dark Jedi cult.
  • July 20, 2012
    Delphi
    ^^^^^^^^^ I did not know that.

    ^^^^^^^^ So I need to name the categories something besides just a letter or number? Hmm...anyone have any suggestions?

    ^^^^^^^ Because it still stands out when the Big Bad, The Dragon, The Evil Genius and The Brute get ripped limb from limb and The Dark Chick just gets a quick stab in the heart.

  • July 20, 2012
    Waterlily
    The Sleeping Beauty example does make me wonder. Maybe Maleficant was turned into a dragon not just because it looks cool but because it would be more acceptable for Prince Phillip to kill her in that form.
  • July 21, 2012
    RossN
    In The Dark Knight Rises the female Big Bad dies from internal injuries sustained in a car crash only sonewhat indirectly caused by the heroes - they were trying to stop the van she was driving rather than kill her. Her male Dragon on the other hannd is brutally beaten in a fight with the hero and then shot with heavy arms fire. Meanwhile the other female villain, Catwoman, is an Anti Villian from the start, does a full on Heel Face Turn during the movie and survives.
  • July 29, 2012
    Delphi
    So I've been looking around the wiki and there are quite a few tropes with Type A and B (and beyond) so I'm just going to launch this the way it is.

    Also, the Batman examples don't really count since while the male villains die, Batman doesn't generally kill them himself except 89 Joker and a couple of clowns.
  • July 29, 2012
    TBeholder
    if it is going to include every case of "a villainess gets killed by someone other than the hero" or "a villainess is put on a bus", it's going to be absurdly inclusive.
  • July 29, 2012
    Delphi
    See, this is why it Need A Better Description. :P

    This is for when the male villains get killed by the heroes as in, directly killed in combat, not a Karmic Death, but the female villain does not. That's why it doesn't count if the female is the only villain, or if none of the villains die that way. It's a Double Standard trope.
  • August 9, 2012
    beamerpook
    Literature - Kushiel's Legacy series. Melissandre is a Magnificent Bastard, and while many people want her dead, the different protagonists do not have the heart to kill her, each for a different reason. She survives the entire series, despite the many atrocities she committed.
  • August 9, 2012
    TheWanderer
    Duncan from the Highlander tv series often lets female immortals live in situations where he would fight a male immortal in a heartbeat. In one case from the first season he takes in what believes is a young girl brand new to being immortal and begins training her. Later another immortal shows up chasing her for the murder of his mortal wife and step son back in the 1800s, and she uses Duncan's training to defeat him. Duncan would take down any guy for this, but lets her go because he Would Not Hit A Girl.
  • August 9, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Type Labels Are Not Examples says we need actual descriptive names for the types.
  • August 30, 2012
    shastab24
    Aversion: in the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie, the big bad is a female Yakuza head--and she dies when Frank Castle throws a knife into her forehead, which is no better a fate than those killed throughout the movie.

    Actually, another aversion: Lady D Deathstrike in X2 is killed by Wolverine when he pumps her full of adamantium and she sinks to the bottom of a tank of liquid. It can be argued whether she actually dies (due to her having a healing factor, too), but this fate is far worse than death, then, as she will never be able to move while constantly drowning. All this and she may not know why this is happenning, as her mind control wore off as the adamantium was being pumped into her.
  • April 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Type Labels Are Not Examples. Your trope can have types, but don't suiimply write "Type A" or the like.

    Maybe in this case, the first type is "Spared Vilainness" and the second is "Villainness Dies Clean"?

  • April 2, 2014
    Chabal2
    The World Is Not Enough: The villainess tries to invoke this to the effect of "James! You wouldn't shoot me! Not a woman you've loved!" -bang-
  • April 3, 2014
    Arivne
  • April 3, 2014
    Koveras
    • Zig Zagged real good in the Multiple Endings of Nox: in the Warrior ending, Jack offs Hecuba with little fanfare. In the Conjurer ending, he kills her, too, but indirectly, by letting her ogre former servants execute her. Lastly, in the Wizard ending, he discovers that the Evil!Hecuba is an alternate personality of a seemingly innocent Hecuba, whom he spares.
  • April 3, 2014
    KingZeal
    • Bleach:
      • In the Hueco Mundo arc, the Amazon Brigade quartet of female villains all survived. Their leader, Halibel, was defeated by the Big Bad during a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment, and not the heroes.
      • In the Lost Shinigami arc, the female members of X-Cution (Jackie Tristan and Riruka Dokugamine), are one of only three to survive, along with another member that's a small child.
    • In Naruto, Konan, the only female member of the villains group Akatsuki, survives their long series of battles with the heroes. Only to be killed by the leader of the group, Tobi.
  • January 5, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=x3tv8xv230hqgaph3227p148