I know you wanna leave me But I refuse to let you go If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy I don't mind, 'cause you mean that much to me Ain't too proud to beg, sweet darling Please don't leave me, don't you go
The opposite of Defiant to the End, this is when the hero of his own accord begs for mercy, or bows, kneels, cowers, or does pretty much anything covered under Kneel Before Zod. Technically, this trope isn't morality-sensitive, but heroes tend to be a lot less interested in submission, so it usually is done for the benefit of a villain.
It comes in two main types.
Type 1: Stalling For Time
Maybe they know for a fact that rescue is coming, or maybe they just figure that every moment they're not dead is another chance for a miracle to happen. Either way, they're sacrificing some dignity now for some kind of gain later. (If the gain is immediate, to lead their opponent to believe the fight is over, this is I Surrender, Suckers instead.) This will usually involve Holding the Floor.
In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam one of the conditions Haman Khan gives in exchange for allying with the AEUG is for Char to beg her for assistance. He is very reluctant, but ultimately does so, causing Haman to laugh and say it's a done deal. She winds up betraying the alliance anyway for her own ends.
Die Hard: Hans Gruber pretends to be a typical American when he runs into John McLane on the roof of the building, in an attempt to get back to his gun or find some way to call his troops to kill John.
Dredd has Judge Dredd about to be shot dead by an enemy. He mutters out "Wait"; his enemy, surprised and amused that the mighty and feared Dredd is apparently begging for his life, takes the time to make fun of Dredd. Then Anderson shows up to kill the enemy from behind, after which Dredd amends his request to "Wait for her to shoot you."
A rather delightful one comes from Animorphs, when a captured Marco and Cassie are instructed to "grovel in the fashion of your own people. Grovel as you normally grovel." Marco takes that as an invitation to totally make things up in a long monologue, which is rightfully listed under Crowning Moment of Funny.
Especially with poor Bad Liar Cassie doing her level best to keep up. "We grovel like... um... like people who are really, really grovelling."
In the book Crown Duel, Meliara attempts to plead for the life of her brother despite her obstinate attitude. Just as the villain catches on to her behavior, she reveals she was stalling for time as the Hill Folk arrive and save the day.
In A Brother's Price, Jerin gets abducted by women who wish to marry him to take control of the throne. Cira is seized when she tries to help him, and the Porters would be quite happy to kill her. So Jerin tells them that if she dies, they will have to rape him to get with child, he'll have to be always tied up to keep him from escaping, he will not raise their children, he will tell everyone, ever, always, what they did. If she lives, he'll be loyal, please them in bed, cook for them, tend their kids, be a good husband. He's lying, hoping to wait for them to let their guard down so he and Cira can escape.
The Season 2 Finale has Giles pretending to break down in the face of torture at the hands of Angelus. Triple plays as a CMoA and CMoF.
Giles: In order... to be worthy...
Giles: You must perform the ritual... in a tutu. Pillock!
Angelus: All right. Someone get the chainsaw.
During his death scene, Warren begins desperately trying to reason with Willow when it finally hits him that she really does intend to kill him. It doesn't work.
The narrator of the song "Silent Running" suggests this as a survival technique: "Swear allegiance to the flag/Whatever flag they offer"
In the video game Radiata Stories, during the Non-Human campaign, Jack beats up a few commanding officers of the human side. Afterwards, just to rub it in, he tells them to beg. They do, but it's to stall for time until reinforcements arrive to greatly outnumber him.
In the prologue to Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas kneels to beg forgiveness from rival gang leader Seifer... only to use that as a distractions so he can quickly grab a Struggle bat to fight him with.
This happens in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door during the Boss Battle with Hooktail. After you deplete her health to zero, she seems to be defeated, and offers Mario some bribes in exchange for being spared, first 1,000 Coins and then a "Really Ultra Rare Badge". If both are refused, she disgustingly asks Mario if he would like to smell her feet, claiming that people pay good money to do this. It's up to the player whether Mario accepts or refuses any of these bribes, but if he does, they turn out to be lies; she's trying to lure him close for a powerful attack. (If the player doesn't fall for it, she devours half the audience to regain some of her health, then the battle begins again.)
Features in Mighty Max season 2 episode 3, "Blood Of The Dragon." Max and his friends are trying to escape a moving island when they're cornered by Skullmaster. Knowing that in just a few moments the island will drift into range of a portal which he can use to escape, Max pretends to surrender, offering to hand over the Cosmic Cap in exchange for his life. Skullmaster accepts his offer which distracts the villain just long enough for the island to arrive at the portal and for all of the heroes to escape safely.
Type 2: They Mean It
Usually very much the darker variety. A Type 2's resistance has been successfully broken, whether through Breaking Speeches or Cold-Blooded Torture or some other means, and their submission is a sign of that. They'll probably recover, unless we're going for a massive Downer Ending, but for now, the villain has what he wants. Tears of Fear and Please, I Will Do Anything! can be involved.
Alternatively, a Pragmatic Hero may beg for mercy or aid to avoid an unnecessary fight, even if it hurts their pride. A more positive use, and more likely to actually work.
Anime and Manga
Spice and Wolf has Holo negotiate with a group of other wolf gods to save Lawrence's life. We don't see the event itself, but mud on her knees implies that she begged them.
Coast Guard boss Kaizai in Wa Ga Na Wa Umishi is not too proud to beg ordinary fisherman to stop interrupting a rescue, much to the surprise of the fisherman who had demanded that he go on his knees.
In Digimon Adventure 02, as part of an elaborate ruse by the Digimon Emperor, team leader Davis is convinced that all of his friends have been captured and will be mauled by a rampaging Digimon unless he gets down on his knees and begs for mercy. Oddly for a kids show, Davis complies immediately and without embarrassment and is never judged for it - on the contrary, it is Davis's immunity to pandering or attacks on his personal pride when more important things are at stake that allows him to save everyone in the final battle of the series.
In Trigun Vash first kneels and bows his head to the ground to keep some thugs (including one pretending to be him) from killing his friend. The thugs tell him they'll go away if he strips naked and barks like a dog. He does. They keep their word and leave him and the girl be. But then shoot Vash as they're driving away. They then go back on it and kidnap the friend. However this turns out to be a bad idea on the thugs part.
In One Piece, this is the lesson that Luffy learns in the Drum Island arc: A leader should NEVER be too proud to beg for the lives of his followers. Vivi teaches him this when she gets shot and then yells at him for wanting to attack the guy who shot her, because it would only make the situation worse. She then proceeds to go into a Pose of Supplication, which he imitates, and both of them beg for a doctor to help Nami, who was deathly ill at the time.
Zoro later proves that he's not to proud to beg either when he asks Mihawk to train him. And Zoro manages to beg manly.
Usopp has to do this before he is allowed to rejoin the Straw Hats after quitting. Zoro reasons that since he quit in defiance it has to be this way if the crew were to have true meaning.
When the final confrontation in the manga version of Death Note reaches its conclusion, Ryuk refuses to help out the defeated Light (exactly as he promised in the very first chapter) and writes Light's name down right in front of his nose. This gives the "God of the new world" exactly forty seconds to desperately beg for his life.
Saito in Zero no Tsukaima, to stop the inquisition, but only once Louise is threatened.
A non-heroic version would be Masao from the anime version of Shiki. In fear for his life he goes to his sister-in-law's house and begs her to offer him shelter. In the end she invites him inside... right before beating him with a pole and staking him to death.
Played with in Ravages Of Time where during the battle of Puyang, Lu Bu taunts Cao Cao about the foolishness of trying to be Defiant to the End when cornered; this gets Cao Cao to vocally wonder, "Does that mean if you get captured one day, you will shamelessly beg for your life?" Years later, when Lu Bu is captured in the fall of Xiapi that's ''exactly'' what he does. Unfortunately for him, Cao Cao publicly "praises" Lu Bu for abandoning useless pride to save his own hide, since "[a] true hero understands that one can accomplish much more by staying alive"... which is exactly why Cao Cao won't let him livenote plus having been previously been egged on by Liu Bei, whose position in Xu province had been usurped by Lu Bu not too long ago.
Italy: Please don't shoot me, I'm too young to die! And what if I don't die, but I'm just mortally wounded and just forced to lie there miserably in a pool of my own blood? Please, I'll do anything! (Beat) Well, I mean, within reason.
A variation of this (it doesn't involve the character's own life) plays an important part of the backstory of Amon Garcia, a secondary antagonist in the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. As a child, he was torn between jealousy towards his younger brother (the biological son of his adoptive father, and thus the heir to the family's oil empire) and loyalty to his family. When his brother grew gravely ill, he considered doing nothing and letting him die. Loyalty won out; he found the only merchant who sold the medicine that could save his brother and shamelessly begged for it. (Apparently, the merchant gave in.)
Deadly Class: The main character is shown as a homeless beggar at the beginning of the series. Another, older beggar tries to steal his shoes, and begs for mercy after being caught.
I Am War: Celestia begs to Excolotis, the god of war, for help because as a peaceful goddess she doesn't know how to lead an army let alone train one.
As Tom Reagan is about to put down Bernie Bernbaum in Millers Crossing at Miller's Crossing, Bernie breaks down into primal sobs and pleads for his life. It's harrowingly pathetic, but it only works once for Bernie.
The ending of Oldboy. After a particularly nasty revelation, Oh Dae-su forgets all about getting his revenge and begs the antagonist not to let Mido know the secret that would ruin her life.
In Mystery Men Captain Amazing, who has the best reputation of all heroes, actively bargains to be the villain's assistant upon capture.
An example comes from Babe where Fly, a sheepdog, swallows her pride to politely ask the sheep (who she saw as stupid and nothing but inferior to her) just what happened the morning that Maa was killed, so she could prove her adopted son Babe's innocence.
In the movie Bent, Max is willing to do whatever the guards ask of him if it means he'll have a chance of getting out of the Nazi concentration camp sooner.
Death Proof. When Stuntman Mike has kidnapped Pam and trapped her in his car, she reacts angrily at first and threatens to kill him. When she realizes she can't escape, she tearfully begs Mike to let her go and that she won't tell anyone. He mocks her situation before giving the death blow.
Lampwick from Pinocchio does this as he's turning into a donkey while begging for Pinoke to help him.
In the 6th Gor novel Tarl does this, bringing on a Heroic BSOD since he never thought he'd be the type to do that. Type 1s occur throughout the series as well.
In Stephen King's Under the Dome the surviving residents of Chester's Mill decide to go to the generator and beg for their lives when literally everything else fails.
In The Queen of Attolia, Eugenides' desperate begging to be spared having his hand cut off doesn't help at all. Yet, it turns out to have haunted the queen ever since.
Later in the book, this exchange occurs, referencing the above example (paraphrased)
Euginides: I'll grovel.
Attolia: I've seen you do that.
Euginides: No, that was begging, I assure you, I'm quite good at groveling.
Straight from The Iliad, after Achilles has killed Hector and then... not paid Due to the Dead, Hector's father goes to Achilles and gives a speech, culminating in:
Priam: Think my more pitiful by far, since I have brought myself to do what no man else has done before—to lift to my lips the hand of the one who killed my son.
In "Dark Whispers", Ian, while trapped in the Rainbow Prison, asks Felicity for directions to his wife. She demands that he beg, which he does, because he knows that unless she helps him, he will die, his friends will die, and Martha will never see her daughter again. Felicity takes great joy in this, forcing Ian to crawl, and kiss her feet.
Aral Vorkosigan, who in past sentenced Count Vorhalas's son to death, begs Count Vorhalas not to lay charge of treason against his son.
Vorhalas: Say, 'I beg of you'
Vorkosigan: I beg of you[...]
Vorhalas: Shove it, Vorkosigan
In the (really rather anticlimactic) climax of D.J. Machale's Pendragon series, the terrifying, superhuman Big Bad Saint Dane, when finally defeated by the Travelers, is reduced to a sobbing, groveling wretch begging to have his life spared.
Matilda in The Full Matilda does this so that the senator will not move back to the South, crushing her father's dreams of owning a nice house. She ends up sleeping with the senator.
Winds of Fate: When Starblade k'Sheyna relives his torture in his nightmares, one scene he and we both see is Starblade kissing Mornelithe's feet in adoration.
In an episode of Buffy, Wesley's craven pleading is directly contrasted with Giles's snarky defiance in the face of a hideous demon and his vampire minions.
In the Farscape Grand Finale, Crichton is about to unleash the wormhole weapon that Scorpius has been dogging him for years over. He asks if Scorpius really wants to see the weapon. Scorpius, for his part, is more than happy to get begging if it means the culmination of his life's goal.
Scorpius: [instantly] I beg you.
Crichton: That's not good enough. Say please.
Crichton: Pretty please.
Scorpius: Pretty please.
Crichton: With a cherry on top.
Scorpius: [only one word behind] With a cherry on top.
Crichton: [Beat] Happy Birthday. Now, get out of my sight.
Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead TV series initially bawls and begs to Jesus to save him. Then he gets defiant. "I ain't never begged ya before an' I ain't gonna beg ya now!".
Agent June Stahl in Sons of Anarchy. The Season 3 finale ends with her in the driver seat of a car and Opie in the back with a gun to her head, while she cries and begs him to not kill her, right up until he pulls the trigger.
Hal in series 4 of Being Human voluntarily kneels while begging Cutler not to destroy humanity. It doesn't really have the desired affect.
Cutler: I think I'm going to hurl.
A less dark example from Kingdom Hearts II: when Sora tries to get Saïx to take him to see Kairi, Saïx demands that Sora show him how important Kairi is to him. Sora responds by getting down on his hands and knees and saying "please." Saïx still says no.
In the bad ending of Wing Commander III you're given the option to beg for mercy. The Big Bad kills you anyway.
Edward Diego from the first System Shock begs SHODAN to spare him in exchange of information on the hideout of La Résistance. This is roughly two weeks after he boasted that he completely controlled SHODAN.
In Dragon Quest VIII, Yangus proves he ain't too proud to beg after his old friend Red steals the party's horse, kneeling before her and pleading that she return the poor mare. Of course, Red doesn't realize why he's so determined to get the horse back, being blissfully unaware that the mare is actually the cursed princess Medea.
In the ending to Abe's Oddysee, Mullock has Abe captured, bound and dangled over a meat-grinder in the floor. Abe reacts to this predicament by thrashing his legs around and tearfully pleading for his life. To be fair on him, he's a Non-Action Guy, and... Well, it's a meat-grinder.
Ja Wangnan from Tower of God falls on all fours in front of Viole when he realizes that he can take him to the next floor and starts begging. Hon Arkraptor and Kang Horyang follow suit.
The first chapter of morphE has 8 characters wake up in a mansion and forced to pair off and fight to the death. Billy is thrown into the ring and is recognized as a TV celebrity by the host. He begs for his life and is given support in the fight which helps him survive. In recent chapters he has been shown playing along with his captor in order to gain leverage. When it comes to survival, Billy has no shame.
Zim himself on Invader Zim—somewhat surprisingly, given how much of a Narcissist he is. He has had to ask Dib for help a few times ("Planet Jackers," "Bolognius Maximus") and literally begged GIR to obey him in "Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain."
In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "Raffle Ruckus," Hair Bear is so weary from being the zoo owner (which he won through a raffle he staged) that Bubi suggests he beg Mr. Peevly (the zoo's actual keeper) to take it back. "No one makes Hair Bear beg!" he states firmly. But when the phone rings with another possible complaint from the animals, Hair starts crawling out the cave on his knees to Peevly's office.
In the French-Belgian comics Les Petits HommesLes Prisonniers du temps, the hero begs the villain not harming him, telling that the villain can kill all the others if he wants. Just kidding. Actually, they were now ghosts for each other, so the villain had no way to harm anyone, and the hero was just having fun.
In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", Holmes pleaded for help from someone he suspected of having infected his nephew with a deadly disease that he (Holmes) had apparently contracted, even offering to abandon the investigation. Holmes was feigning illness, as a ruse to get the suspect to admit both the original crime and the subsequent attempt to infect Holmes, with Watson hidden in the room to serve as witness.
In Mister B. Gone, Jakabok alternates his narration with either dire threats or pitiful groveling to get the reader to release him from the book. At the end he reveals that if he had been released, the reader probably would have been a bloody smear immediately after... if they were lucky.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore begs for his life when he's unarmed and being approached by Snape with wand in hand, pointing at him. This fact scares Harry, which makes him believe the situation is hopeless, which seems to be confirmed when the plead for mercy goes unheard. It's only in the next and last book when it's revealed that Dumbledore was actually begging for Snape to fulfill his promise to kill him, as he was dying of a painful curse anyway and this act would make the villains believe Snape was on their side.
Manga and Anime
Done in Bleach fanfic Protector's Pride, by Ichigo, to get help from Yamamoto, after plan A (Ask Nicely) didn't work. Notably, plan B (Beg for help) also yields no results, and Ichigo is forced to seek help elsewhere. While it turns out Yamamoto had a valid reason for denying said request (he was trying to avoid a catastrophe, which happened still after Ichigo got his help from Urahara), helping would have been much better both in long and short run, as it would have preserved friendly relationship AND Yamamoto would have been in position to warn Ichigo aganist doing the exact wrong thing that led to said catastrophe.
In the Punk Hazard arc of One Piece, Tashigi begs Law to release her and Smoker when she gets her original body back. Smoker is disgusted at the very idea, but Tashigi remarks that it's not just their lives at stake, but also their men's lives, as well as the children experimented on by Caesar Clown. She's not begging out of fear, but because they need to stay alive to save them.
Among the Invictus in Vampire: The Requiem begging is used as an occasional gambit when a lower-ranking Vampire fails at some task. If you can't assign blame or weasel your way out, then you can always prostrate yourself (publicly) in front of the Elder, wail about your worthlessness, beg for mercy, tear your clothes, demand some horrible punishment, etc. This might (emphasis on might) fluster the Elder enough to say that the failure wasn't that bad, and avoid losing face by actually punishing you. Or he could just tell you to stop being a drama queen and show some dignity.
Suikoden V straddles the line at one point during a Side Quest to capture and recruit the cocky thief Raven. The Oboro Detective Agency, having dealt with him before, helps to easily ensnare the thief. When approached about joining the rebellion, Raven pretends to be bargaining from a position of power, demanding that Oboro bow and beg him to join. Without missing a beat, Oboro gets on his knees and calmly requests he join, pissing Raven off because he can't believe his 'rival' capitulated so easily, but can't tell whether or not he's mocking him or being completely serious about it.
Under somewhat similar circumstances, this is also done in Suikoden II when Apple gets on her knees and begs Shu to join your cause when realises that she alone cannot act as the army strategist. If I remember correctly, you have the option of telling her not to, or joining her in a Pose of Supplication. Whichever option you choose, it really pisses Shu off, and he kicks you out of his house.
Early in Tales of the Abyss, Colonel Badass Jade kneels down to humbly beg Luke for his assistance in reaching the Kimlascan king with their peace treaty. Luke is actually the hero, although at that point in the game he was still a Jerkass, and Jade manages it without losing a great deal of dignity, despite very nearly sounding humble until after Luke tells him to knock it off (which is impressive for the game's foremost Deadpan Snarker). Mostly, the scene serves to underscore the seriousness of their mission.
At the climax of Story Mode of Mortal Kombat 9 there is an interesting example that is kind of both A and B. When Shao Kahn arrives to merge his realm with Earth, out of the surviving four heroes, only Raiden remains. Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade are too beaten to stand up to Shao Kahn and are easily dashed aside, and Liu Kang has died trying to kill Raiden. As the triumphant Emperor steps forward, Raiden falls to one knee and consigns the Earth to him. It's kind of like A, since the elder gods have decreed that merging the realms without victory in a Mortal Kombat tournament is forbidden, so Raiden could be seen as supplicating the Emperor's ego and drawing him into a trap. However, it could also be considered B, as at this point Raiden's faith that the elder gods will do anything to help the Earth is more or less gone, and he could be simply trying to hand over the Earth to Shao Kahn without the need for any more killing. Either way, the elder gods finally do intervene at the last possible second, but the victory is a bittersweet one indeed.
The ability to grovel/supplicate/GENUFLECT (otherwise known as "Dogeza" in Japan) is a funny and welcome addition to the third entry of Way of the Samurai. Not only it is useful for ending most fights prematurely, it is also required to recruit one particular follower.
Because bad movies are apparently Serious Business, The Nostalgia Critic will go into begging and/or crying mode when he really doesn't want to review something. Case in point? He'd have rather whored himself out than listen to another song from the Tom and Jerry movie.