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[[quoteright:350:[[Webcomic/CyanideAndHappiness http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lastmeal.png]]]]

->''"Well, up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong;\\
'You'll never take me alive,' said he."''
-->-- '''[[Creator/BanjoPaterson Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson]]''', "Waltzing Matilda"

A situation where a character commits suicide rather than face capture, imminent death, [[MadeASlave enslavement]], [[ComeToGawk public humiliation]] followed by (possibly [[CruelAndUnusualDeath grisly]]) execution, or [[FateWorseThanDeath something even worse]]. If there is no way to avoid death, characters will often prefer to go on their own terms rather than let their enemy decide their fate. Sometimes it's just to deny the enemy the ''right'' to kill them.

The most common places that Better To Die Than Be Killed shows up are stories where people face a FateWorseThanDeath in either the classical sense or in a BodyHorror / TheVirus sense, such as in a zombie movie where being taken by the zombies means being eaten alive or joining their number. In the older stories, such as westerns, samurai, and kung fu stories, a woman faced with rape and death at the hands of her enemies would often choose to die by her own hand rather than suffer this fate.

A variation of this also appears in the classic scene where [[LeaveBehindAPistol a disgraced army officer finds a loaded gun on his bed]] as the obvious hint to kill themselves in order to spare the regiment the embarrassment.

Another variation happens quite a lot, where a mook kills themself rather than let the heroes find out any information. This also shows up in espionage where a captured spy takes a CyanidePill, or in MilitaryFiction where a ship or base engages its SelfDestructMechanism, to deny captors any information they might gain from them under [[ColdBloodedTorture torture]].

This trope may derive from Real Life. Many cultures that are primarily based around personal glory and honour ("shame societies"), including that of AncientRome, held that suicide was an acceptable form of death: to a Roman, suicide was not just a way to avoid experiencing perpetual dishonour or humiliating punishments such as Crucifixion, but a noble deed meant to demonstrate one's own stoicism and honour in the face of adversity. Emperor Otho was considered a weak, luxury-loving sybarite until he committed suicide shortly before a plot to assassinate him could be put into effect; his self-inflicted death changed Romans' minds, leading them to see Otho as a greater man than he perhaps really was. Feudal Japan had many similarities with the Romans in their opinion about "honourable suicides": see also {{Seppuku}} and [[SuicideAttack Kamikaze]]. For other comparable examples, see MartyrdomCulture. The Christians were seen as depraved and disgusting by Romans such as Tacitus in part because they would rather accept fates worse than death instead of committing suicide, which the Romans interpreted as almost obscene (as was the Christian willingness to be crucified or dismembered by wild animals, literally the two most dishonourable methods of death a Roman could conceive of).

A small number of actual criminals would rather die than be taken to prison ("You'll never take me alive, copper!") -- for the most part, people tend to treat these cases a lot less sympathetically than other examples of this trope, as it's seen as a cowardly way to escape justice. The criminal may even make one last shot at a BlastOut, meaning either a bloody escape, or more likely, SuicideByCop. If there's a ledge nearby, you can bank on a HighDiveEscape.

Compare IDieFree. Contrast FaceDeathWithDignity, MercyKill, ICannotSelfTerminate. In video games and some other media, this could be considered a case of [[KillSteal self-kill-stealing]], especially [[DefiantToTheEnd to stop]] experience or a reward being gained by the kill. Has nothing to do with [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight the fact that]] "[[MemeticMutation People die if they are killed]]".

!!'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''


* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/AnimeAndManga
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/ComicBooks
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/FanWorks
* [[BetterToDieThanBeKilled/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/{{Literature}}
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/LiveActionTV
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/VideoGames
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/WebOriginal
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/WesternAnimation
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled/RealLife


[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** Suicide is an acceptable end for disgraced officers of the Imperial Guard, as well as an acceptable option for individuals who are [[TouchedByVorlons touched by the Warp]].
** Defied by Space Marines, who live to fight and are only content dying on the field of battle. The only time they'll consider playing this trope straight is if it involves [[TakingYouWithMe strapping grenades to themselves and charging forward]].
** In an amusing subversion, the Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer expressly orders Guardsmen to ''not'' commit suicide, at least without authorization and ''certainly'' not wasting valuable ammunition to do so without authorization. The penalty for ''attempting'' to commit suicide is death. The penalty of committing suicide without authorization is having your body incinerated and the ashes shot into space, and then sending the bill to your next of kin.
** The IG also have a "For Their Own Good" rule that basically means that if a sanctioned psyker suffers a Perils of the Warp attack within range of a Commissar, they are immediately shot and killed.
** It's also a much-preferred alternative to being [[FateWorseThanDeath taken alive by the Dark Eldar or the Emperor's Children]].
** Arguably the rationale behind Exterminatus -- basically assisted suicide on a planetary scale. It is typically performed on worlds that have been, or are in danger of being, overwhelmed by Chaos, Tyranids, or Necrons; through this, the resources (human and otherwise) are kept from the enemy, and the people are spared further suffering.
* One High Elf King in ''TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasy'' jumped overboard and drowned himself rather than be taken by Dark Elves when his ship was captured. Considering that Dark Elves make Chaos Warriors look benevolent this was probably justified.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', there is a spell called Unconquerable Self - it burns the person casting it, their possessions, and any artifacts attuned to them to ash. It requires no words, gestures or components to cast, making it useful if one were taken prisoner, for example. It also directly sends your soul to Heaven, preventing any form of [[SoulJar soul trapping]] or other mystical enslavement.
* Every single Infernoid in the ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh TCG'' share an effect that allows you to Tribute an Infernoid during either player's turn to some effect, mainly disrupting the Graveyard. This includes the effect's user himself, which means they can suicide at any time, dodging many nasty effects from your opponent.

* Several variations in the plays of Creator/WilliamShakespeare:
** Discussed, but averted in ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' - "Why should I play the Roman fool, and die on mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes do better upon them."
** Played straight in ''Theatre/AntonyAndCleopatra'', where both title characters commit suicide to avoid humiliation and death after their armies are defeated.
** ''Four times'' in ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar''. The last one was done by Brutus, who ran himself upon a sword held by his comrade because Brutus' Stoic philosophy expressly forbade him to commit suicide but he could see no other way out.
** Invoked by Gratiano in ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'', when Portia tells Shylock to "beg mercy of the Duke": "Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself!"
* Puccini's ''Theatre/{{Tosca}}''. After killing the villain, the heroine is cornered by the villain's lackeys; she jumps off a high balcony to her death, rather than let the lackeys execute her.
* Another Puccini example: Liu's death in ''Theatre/{{Turandot}}''. Rather than be tortured and possibly killed by Turandot's guards, she grabs one of their daggers and does herself in.
* In ''Freud's Last Session'' UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud tells Creator/CSLewis that he plans to kill himself because he has a horrific case of oral cancer, forcing him to wear an ill-fitting prosthesis; the disease is causing him great pain and is slowly killing him.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* One ''Webcomic/CyanideAndHappiness'' [[http://i.imgur.com/z9JR7Tm.png comic]] has a prisoner about to be executed. He gets out of it by requesting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as his last meal due to his peanut allergies.
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', destroying the Gates - dimensional barriers keeping [[EldritchAbomination the Snarl]] from destroying all that exists - is actually regarded as a superior alternative to allowing them to fall into the hands of Xykon, but is only halfway this trope: the reasoning behind that if the gate is destroyed, the Snarl will not come out immediately and in full force and said gate can be rebuilt later. While if it is knowingly summoned through one of them, the end of the world will be imminent.
* Averted in [[http://danielscreations.com/ola/comics/ep0215.html this comic]] of ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure''.
* In issue 10 of ''Webcomic/{{Sonichu}}'', AuthorAvatar Chris and his "band" the Hedgehog Boys (which are pretty much some of the various Sonichus around in his series) use a song to destroy the 4-cent Garbage building, two villains who are left behind, Clyde Cash and Jack Thaddeus, opt to leap down an elevator shaft holding hands (they were apparently lovers) than let Chris kill them. [[HeartwarmingMoment It was actually pretty touching]].
* ''Webcomic/StandStillStaySilent'':
** One of the book salvaging spots, which is a barricaded room, contains a corpse in a HazmatSuit holding a gun, with a small hole its visor.
** Tuuri commits suicide when she finds out she has come down with [[ThePlague the Rash]].