Alas, Poor Villain

"Nature has a way sometimes of reminding Man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up terrible offsprings of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake, or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of Man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla - that strangely innocent and tragic monster - has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not, or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain..."
Steve Martin, Godzilla 1985

So, there's a villain. Right. Murdering, world-conquering type. The series is ending, so it's time to get rid of him. Slowly and painfully. So he goes out with... a final touching quote and a One-Woman Wail?

As odd as it may seem, if you want the audience to feel sorry for a villain, a good death scene is probably the way to go. This works best if you know their Freudian Excuse; Chaotic Stupid need not apply for this sort of thing. Also works easier if this is a supporting villain. This is easiest to do with a Big Bad's minions: we can identify with The Dragon, and especially the Quirky Miniboss Squad, over time and may be sad to see them go. If a Fallen Hero dies, expect everyone to weep openly. A few well-chosen Last Words may also be used to create this feeling.

Note that if you want the audience to take the scene seriously then you have to add some humanizing elements to your villain beforehand. See Likable Villain for ways in which this can be done. Neglecting to do this may result in Narm or just confuse the audience. A Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and other kinds of Tragic Villain are the best choices, qualifying for Anti-Villain is a necessity. Compare Draco in Leather Pants, Cry for the Devil, What a Senseless Waste of Human Life, Antagonist in Mourning, and Death Equals Redemption. See Monster Sob Story when the villain's death isn't required to garner sympathy. Do not confuse with Alas, Poor Scrappy. Or Alas, Poor Yorick for that matter.

As a Death Trope, several if not all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Comic Books 
  • Lord Zarak (A.K.A. Scorponok)'s death in The Transformers. This could seem to not count, since he was trying to stop Unicron, and therefore not dying in a villainous way, but remember that he was the Decepticon leader at that point.
  • Moloch in Watchmen. It was made more poignant because, on many levels, it had more to do with Rorschach than him. This part:
    Edgar Jacobi: Heh. Well, you know that kind of cancer that you get better from eventually?
    Rorschach: Yes.
    Edgar Jacobi: Well, that ain't the kind of cancer I got.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    • Mr. Hyde singing "You Should See Me Dance the Polka" as he jaunts off toward the tripod is particularly emotional when it hits you that, for all his unbridled depravity, you'll never experience his brilliantly dark humor again. Throw in his unrequited love for Mina, and it gets exponentially more difficult to read.
    • It's also a bit difficult not to feel bad for Moriarty, given the horrifying manner of his death.
  • Asajj Ventress from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She is given sympathetic qualities in the middle of the series, and her journey to sympathetic-ness is completed at the very end when her hero and mentor, Count Dooku, orders her shot to death because he can't be bothered to wait for her. She makes one last pitiful attempt to kill her nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and is cut down by Anakin. As she lies dying, she reaches out for Obi-Wan and tells him to watch the Galactic Core and Coruscant. Her final words finally reach this territory:
    Obi-Wan: I thought you'd use your dying breath to curse us.
    Asajj: Perhaps I have...or perhaps I just...hate Dooku more than I hate you....Or were right about me...all along....
  • When Destro was thought to have died in Marvel's G.I. Joe series, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett laid flowers at the place where he supposedly died.
    Lady Jaye: You fight somebody long enough, you get to know them... and after a while — you start to respect them.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: The Decepticon Snare, The Predators security director, is stuck at G-9 under one of the most sadistic Decepticons ever, Overlord. Despite him, and many other troops, disturbed and uncomfortable with everything note , Snare throws a Spanner in the Works by freeing Impactor, and later leading some of the Autobot rescue team to save the rest of them. In the scuffle, he's shot and lies dying, asking Impactor to kill him before Overlord comes and finds what he's done. Impactor does so after thanking him.
  • Batwoman: Abbot, the werewolf leader of the Religion of Crime Cult. Throughout the series he saves Batwoman at least twice (though is at odds with her because he's a criminal who withheld information about her sister and was part of the cult that tried to kill her) and leads his troops into battle against Medusa's forces. Despite being afraid of Medusa and her power, he still chooses to stand with Batwoman, and tries attacking Medusa from behind. Medusa catches him, petrifies him, and shatters his body. Batwoman looks at his remains sadly, and later uses a piece of mirror to give Medusa the same fate.
  • Daken: The title character has done this twice. The first time, he broke down while dying, asking to see his father and apologising for placing a bomb at the Jean Grey Academy, before immolating himself with a bomb. The second, in which he inexplicably came back from the dead, involved him imagining how life could have been with his father and mother, had she not been murdered by Romulus. Wolverine is then forced to drown him to kill him, as by this point he is little more than a pawn for Sabretooth to use against him. Wolverine himself then breaks down, realising they could have had a happy life too. Considering Daken was The Sociopath most of the time... damn.
  • After gleefully spending The Killing Joke crippling Barbara Gordon and torturing her father James, The Joker starts off the story absolutely evil, but his last few monologues leading up to his defeat transform him into a sympathetic lunatic who truly does believe life is cruel and pointless, and that all of Batman's attempts to redeem him are hopeless. Instead of his typical Batman beatdown, he tearfully shares a joke with the Dark Knight, and the two of them actually laugh together in the rain while the cops arrive.
  • Kick-Ass:
    • John Genovese, sort of. Big Daddy drove him nearly to madness, and all because Big Daddy wanted to live his childhood fantasy and chose him as the villain.
    • Chris Genovese, who dies saving Mindy and asking her to apologize to his mother for ruining her life.
  • Thanos in the 70s crossover between The Avengers and Adam Warlock. He's an Omnicidal Maniac who wanted to destroy the entire galaxy to impress Mistress Death, but is turned to stone by Warlock. The last panel shows a tear rolling down his now-petrified face, mourning for his lost love.
  • Discussed and subverted in Terra Obscura. The Grim Reaper was once a great hero, but turned bad and ultimately died while attempting to assassinate some old friends for the mob. At the end of the first miniseries, he's buried with the other casualties of the story in a hero's graveyard, complete with a marble statue of himself for a tombstone. However, none of the heroes attending the funerals believe he deserves it — it's just a political move to keep his actions from ruining their reputations.
  • In the Sin City album Hell and Back, Wallace feels some pity after he kills Deliah, the contract killer who tried to seduce and kill him, calling her a "strange, sad creature" before silently closing her eyes.
  • The Crime Master in the end of Agent Venom's first volume. Not only does he get shot dead by his own sister but his last words, rather than swearing vengeance or cursing his enemies, are just this:
    • Toxin gets a similar reaction from Venom mainly because he was forced into the role and died before Venom could save him.
  • When the first Porcupine (Alex Gentry) died helping take down the Serpent Society, Captain America was deeply saddened by his old foe's demise and even insisted on giving him a memorial in the Avengers Mansion, a right usually reserved for longtime Avengers and worldchanging heroes. Given that Porcupine was a Friendly Enemy to Cap at best and an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain at worst this isn't terribly surprising.
  • The Pride's demise at the end of the first arc of Runaways. All the evil and bloodshed they did was to build a better world for their children (the heroes), and they're all unceremoniously slaughtered by the Gibborim after their plan fails. Special mention, though, goes to the Minorus, whose last act is to take a final stand against the Gibborim to save the Runaways, and the Yorkes, who sadly watch their daughter escape and reflect on their own descent into villainy.
    "So this is what we're reduced to, eh, mother?"
    "Yes, love. Empty nesters."

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy: The final arc featuring Big Boy Caprice had several of these. There's the explosion that claims the life of bomb-maker Little as his wife looks on in horror, the pathetic exit of a broke convict hoping to get rich by killing Tracy, and the death of the hired killer known as the Iceman, who was just starting to feel something for Sparkle Plenty. Perhaps the most depressing of all may be the death of Big Boy himself, who dies alone, abandoned by his henchmen, and cut off from all the power that once made him feared. Tracy may think Big Boy was a Karma Houdini, but the audience isn't likely to agree.

    Fan Works 
  • Though rare, it is not unheard of for this to happen with Voldemort in Harry Potter fanfic. One such fanfic used a spell to make Voldemort revert back to the boy he was before he became evil (handwaving the fact that in canon, young Mr. Riddle was screwed from the beginning), and then Harry held him and comforted him while the shock of all the terrible things he had done slowly killed him.
  • Pretty thoroughly invoked in Go Not Gently...somehow.
  • Of all the villain deaths in The Immortal Game, the only one that earns any audience sympathy is Empyrean. He's only a villain because Titan forces him to, and isn't even all that good at it. His mini-Villainous Breakdown when the Mane Six break into his throne room and strip him of his power is pathetic, and it's hard not to feel sorry for him when Titan shows up, decides he's useless without his powers, and kills him while he begs his father for mercy.
  • Several griffon soldiers in Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles, but especially Axe and Echo.
  • The Pony POV Series has a couple of examples:
    • Destruction. Despite being literally addicted to destruction, he was also the most sympathetic of all the draconequi, as he hated his addiction and wished he didn't have it at all. His desire in the war with the alicorns was to cause so much destruction he'd finally be rid of it once and for all. Him being killed and eaten by his own brother is extremely tragic.
    • Also kind of hard not to feel sorry for the Master in the Dark World, who the Valeyard subjected to the same thing Discord did to the Doctor (namely, being killed repeatedly with him regenerating each time). What's worse, according to Word of God, the Valeyard's claim to keep killing him until he gets a good personality was just an excuse to kill him over and over again.
    • Despite spending a thousand years massacring entire families with no remorse, following Discord's orders without protest, and generally being the biggest Jerkass in the Dark World, it's pretty hard not to pity Angry Pie when Twilight gives her a HUGE No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in "Cold Hoof Blues". By the end of the chapter, Angry Pie is crying and begging her foals to forgive her for failing to succeed in her task to bring them back to life. Even the other heroes (whom Angry Pie just tried to kill) are shocked and horrified by Twilight's actions. Thankfully, they manage to talk Twilight down and she ultimately redeems Angry Pie with a reverse Memory Spell (showing her Twilight's memories instead of her own).
    • Similarly, it's hard not to feel bad for Dark World Fluttercruel, even after all she's done, when she watches Discord get literally stabbed in the back by Rancor, which she simply cannot comprehend. She ends up crying and pleading with Discord to absorb her to heal himself. It shows that despite all else, she's still a foal who deeply loves her father and doesn't want him to die. What's she like by the end of the final fight with her? A broken little child who by that point knows her actions were wrong but is too driven by her Undying Loyalty to her father to make a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Although the main timeline Master is a total asshole who has committed unbelievable atrocities, his final fate is pitiable. His essence is trapped in a fob watch that Minuette feeds to the Blank Wolf, and he spends his final moments begging for his life. In his desperation, he even swears on Entropy's name that if he is spared, he will never hurt anyone again (a promise that cannot be broken, as Entropy will erase anyone who takes her name in vain). Unfortunately for him, Minuette has no idea who Entropy is and does not understand the significance of the promise, so she kills him anyway. The Doctor senses his demise and mourns him.
    • The Blank Wolf eventually gains emotions and is able to think for himself. He understands that if he kills Shining Armor, he will ruin the timeline, but no matter how hard he tries, he is unable to fight his programming that orders him to destroy Shining Armor. Shining Armor understands, and sadly gives the Wolf a salute when he finally manages to slay him. The Wolf is eventually reborn as a puppy during the Finale Arc.
  • In the Pony POV Series Chaos Verse (a spin-off of the above), the death of Big Bad Nightmare Phobia invokes this. In her final moments, she recovers her lost memories and realizes just how in the wrong she was. Her last act is to reach out to Celestia and Discord longingly before dying. Luna even mourns for her afterwards.
  • Talen is this for Ursula, and easily becomes Head Canon for those wondering how she grew up to become the movie's manipulative, power-hungry witch. (Hint: it involves a Freudian Excuse of Fantastic Racism and an all-too-realistic case of Ain't Too Proud to Beg.)
  • A Growing Affection has a couple of cases.
    • Karin gets just enough time to ask Sasuke for a fake show of affection. Sasuke gives her a real kiss, and she dies in the middle of claiming that he really did love her.
    • After Gouki commits Suicide by Cop, his last words are to hope that his wife will be able to find happiness in the new world. Word of God says he died without knowing she was pregnant.
  • The immortal lion cub Shocker in The Lion King Adventures is a good example of this. Despite being a truly despicable character, his fate is rather harsh. He is buried alive, and, being immortal, is forced to choke on dirt for all eternity.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has Ballade, who makes a not-quite heroic sacrifice in order to save a little girl trapped where he was ordered to detonate explosives.
  • Hivefled: Dualscar was a slave-taking Jerk Ass who tried to have his ex murdered, but it's hard to imagine he did anything that would make him deserve the death he got.
  • Young Justice: Darkness Falls: Volcanna in this fic was a lustful fire wielding fury who caused nothing but trouble for the league and team, and had a rather unsettling obsession with Superboy. However, her dying for her comrade Big Barda when they decide to desert the furies was a surprisingly touching moment, and her death was treated not with contempt but with sympathy.
  • In the My Little Pony/Dresden Files crossover The Dresden Fillies False Masks, the entire Order Triune becomes this. They are sacrificed to a demon by Novel Notion. Considering they spent the whole story trying to kill Harry thinking he was someone who had been dead for 1200 years, endangered many lives, and betrayed the very kingdom they swore to protect, it is karmic. But it becomes tragic when you realize that they had been misled this entire time, they genuinely wanted to protect Equestria, and had been betrayed by one of their own. The way they go is also terrifying: running for their lives as the circle swallows them, with the pegasi who tried to fly away being swat down like flies. Afterwards, all that's left of them is some blood. The horrified reactions of the Mane 6, and even Harry, seal this.
  • In the supercrossover military fanfiction series, The Terminators: Army of Legend, the antagonist of Volume V, Zack Dawson, can be considered this. Even doubly painful considering his relationship with series protagonist Alex Vaughn.
  • In Dreams About Friendship are Magic, fake Celestia was disturbingly clingy to Twilight, and tried to keep her in what was pretty much a coma for the rest of her life, but because she goes out sobbing pitifully, begging Twilight to be with her and telling her how much she loves her, it's easy to feel sorry for her.
  • Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons does this with just about every antagonist, most of whom perform a Heel–Face Turn at some point.
  • In Kill Or Be Killed, Taeyeon's death. She was only turned to darkness because she wanted to avenge Leeteuk's death, but it grew to the point where she had to be killed by one of her own group members to stop her. Right before she dies, the POV switches to her as she reunites with Leeteuk in the afterlife.
  • In The Little Pony Legend, despite all the horrible things done by them, Korra genuinely mourns the deaths of Tarrlok and his brother, saying that losing her bending was now the 2nd worst thing she experienced today.
  • In My Mirror Sword And Shield, Suzaku and his family had suffered in the War of Ascension and he acknowledges that Emperor Lelouch was a horrible oppressive ruler. Despite what Lelouch had done, Suzaku believes Lelouch's death was tragic and horrific: Lelouch dying alone and terrified and his corpse torn apart by an angry mob.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, the titular villain is revealed to be none other than a crestfallen, mentally unstable Jason Todd, the second Robin who Batman initially believed to have died at the hands of The Joker and carried his death upon his shoulders ever since. After uncovering the truth, the previously suave, charismatic Red Hood shows that he's just a broken shell of a man holding a grudge against his former idol for not avenging his death. By the time Batman realizes he can't help Jason anymore, the fallen hero detonates a bomb to kill himself and the Joker while Batman attempts to save Jason in another futile effort.
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Nuka, The Unfavourite, mostly just wants his mother to appreciate him. In the end, he dies trying to get her attention and fails even at that. He spends his last breath apologizing to Zira for failing, his death prompting one of the only displays of love and affection that Zira probably ever showed him.
  • Kadaj from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. His death scene was a surprisingly effective a Tear Jerker for some.
  • The Wolf Boss in Kung Fu Panda 2 carries out Lord Shen's plans without much mercy, but his death (stabbed by Shen himself for refusing to fire on his own men) is really saddening.
  • While Cobra Commander was always an ineffectual coward in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, one can't help but feel for him in G.I. Joe: The Movie where he is lying on the ground, in agonizing pain, having been exposed to virulent spores that are mutating him into a snake, and slowly losing his mind.
  • The Princess and the Frog: Dr. Facilier spent nearly the entire movie trying to kill Big Daddy and enslave the souls of the entire city of New Orleans as a goodwill payment to his "friends", and mode-locked Naveen into a frog, but the manner of his demise is rather tragic and horrifying. He is, rather graphically, dragged into Hell by his shadow, screaming and begging the entire time. It's so bad that Tiana, whom he just put in a Lotus-Eater Machine and is the indirect CAUSE of his death, can only watch in abject horror.
  • In the Fantastic Mr. Fox, all the animals are saddened by the death of Rat, even Fox himself (who dealt the killing blow), despite his being the traitorous head of security for farmer Bean. Rat did manage to come to his senses in his few final moments when he revealed that he had turned traitor because he had become too addicted to the apple cider of Bean.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: King Candy/Turbo's death. Granted he is an evil selfish asshole that only cares about himself but watching him fly into the coke volcano panicking while an epic farewell version of his theme plays in the background might get you to have a little sympathy for this Disney villain.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • King Kong (1933) and all of its adaptations give sympathy to the ape once it's dead with the final line, "Twas beauty that killed the beast."
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Barbossa falls with the final line "I feel... cold..." and mournful violins play as his crew realize they're no longer cursed- but also no longer immortal, and they're immediately taken into Navy custody to be executed by hanging. Koehler gets a final look of shocked, sad confusion as he comes back to life with a sword through his heart.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End gives us one for the Kraken, whose massive corpse stranded on a beach gets Captains Sparrow and Barbossa (both back from the dead) musing sadly about the end of an era it symbolizes, as well as for its master Davy Jones, stabbed through the heart and brokenly whispering the name of his lost love before he falls over the side of his ship and disappears into the maelstrom below.
      Davy Jones: Calypso...
  • The title character of Kill Bill goes out much like this when the Bride finally takes her revenge.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
  • The Proposition: "You got me, Charlie. What are you gonna do now?"
  • Hook gets this in his last moments, before the Lost Children wind up chasing him into the square where the Croc falls on him. Hook kind of spoils it, though.
  • Godzilla:
    • The American dub of The Return Of Godzilla has Raymond Burr reflecting on how this trope applies to Godzilla.
    • In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, it's played again, this time far more successfully, with even several human characters who had dedicated their lives to beating Godzilla openly weeping at his demise. By now, he's a bit of an Anti-Hero, though.
    • The oft-maligned 1998 American version also has a strong influence of this at the end.
    • It goes all the way back to the original 1954 film in which you see that Godzilla is a Tragic Villain, and is as much a victim of the atomic bomb as everyone else. It makes his death at the end all the more heart-wrenching.
    • In the 2014 film, it's hard not to feel a bit sorry for the Mutos when the mother is mourning the death of her babies, especially when we see them meet and the father feeds a nuke to the mother and they nuzzle a bit before making the nest. The mother's anguished vocalizations manage to convey the message perfectly.
  • Kill The Irishman. Real life Irish mobster Danny Greene tries to make peace with the Mafia and get out of the gangster business to retire in Texas. But the Mafia wants his head. The orphan who had a tough life is eventually killed with a car bomb, still Defiant to the End when he sees his killer point a gun finger at him.
  • The Lord of the Rings.
    • The series frequently shows Gollum's sympathetic side. His death is played for tragedy as he finally gets his greatest desire, only to be destroyed by the attempt.
    • Wormtongue finally turns against Saruman and still gets shot by Legolas. This is after a My God, What Have I Done? moment upon seeing the Uruk-hai, and without his involvement in the Scouring of the Shire from the books, which is what actually gets him killed in them.
  • In The Mummy Returns, Imhotep is abandoned by Anck-Su-Namun — for whom he essentially damned himself in the first place — as he is desperately clinging to a ledge. For a moment, he can only stare at the O'Connells — Evie having just rescued her true love, Rick, from the same situation — with a look of absolute, crushing despair. Then, with nothing left to live for, he lets go of the ledge and allows what looks like the souls of the damned to drag him into the precipice. The novelization takes it even further. Rick, despite himself, actually tries to save Imhotep from falling into the abyss. Imhotep still lets go of the ledge, but not without a few parting words acknowledging that Evie and Rick's love for each other was the real deal.
  • Blade Runner: The death of Roy Batty, leader of the rogue replicants. From his Tannhäuser Gate death speech: "All those... moments will be lost in time, like tears... in rain. Time die." And one dove rises.
  • X-Men:
    • Senator Kelly goes through absolute hell in X-Men and renounces his anti-mutant beliefs before dying.
    • In X2: X-Men United, halfway through her death scene, the mind-control serum wears off and Deathstrike is allowed a few tragic seconds of clarity to realize where she is and what's happened to her; the look on her face says it all.
  • Khan, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It is absolutely tragic - a man who could've achieved so much, reduced to being so blinded by hate that he's willing to die just to see Kirk die with him, largely because of the death of his wife between his last appearance in Space Seed and this movie.
  • Shinzon from Star Trek: Nemesis. While not the best Trek villain, there's no denying that Shinzon's life sucked. He was created solely to be a tool of war, and through no fault of his own, he was eventually condemned to a lifetime of back-breaking labor in a hellish mine (while a child, no less). And even though he managed to overthrow his captors and the entire Romulan leadership a decade later, his engineered lifespan ensured that he had a very short time to live. In short, he lived a short, violent, brutal life, and never really had any chance to know love or happiness.
  • The Penguin in Batman Returns. Even though he was a hideous psychotic sewer-dwelling monster, in his last few moments, he comes off as quite pitiable, and his burial at sea by his own beloved penguins actually comes across as rather moving. It should've been Narm, but it somehow worked. It all has to do with his poignant backstory and wretched very life so much that he is perhaps one of the evilest examples who is a Tragic Villain and makes this work.
  • Ironically subverted in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. Magnificent Bastard Bruno is dying, and for a second it seems like he is going to admit his guilt; instead, he uses his last breath to further accuse the protagonist in front of the cops.
  • The eponymous character of Blacula. After watching his beloved Tina - the reincarnation of a woman he's waited centuries to see again - get staked through the heart, he deliberately walks out into the sunshine, killing himself.
  • Dr. Frank N. Furter's last song, I'm Going Home, and subsequent death is an example of this in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • Robert Webber manages to turn his last scene in The Silencers into one of these.
  • Hilariously subverted in Motel Hell.
  • William Foster in Falling Down. "I'm the bad guy?"
  • Little Bill in Unforgiven.
    "I don't deserve this. To die like this. I was building a house."
    "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."
  • Calvera in The Magnificent Seven goes out trying desperately to understand why. Much of the pathos comes from Eli Wallach being just that good.
    "You came back. A man like you? Why?"
  • The death of Riley Biers in Eclipse. In his final moments, he calls out for his lover, Victoria, only for her to ignore him.
  • Star Wars
    • Darth Vader's death is probably one of the most famous examples of this trope.
    • The Rancor from Return of the Jedi. A dancing girl and a guard already had the misfortune of being its lunch. Luke has to work hard to avoid being torn apart by this hulking beast, and the spectators are very surprised when he manages to kill it. Then the rancor's keeper bursts into tears and has to be led away.
  • HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Despite being an apparently cold, logical computer AI who was willing to murder the crew of Discovery One, it becomes apparent why he did so: He was afraid. He did not want to be reprogrammed for making an error, which would essentially kill him. In the end, he is lobotomised while pleading for his life with the sole survivor (David Bowman), who ignores him. "Stop, Dave. I'm afraid. I am afraid, Dave. Dave... My mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it..."
  • The Stephen King movie Sleepwalkers looks like it's building to this, with the titular soul-sucking cat monsters constantly stalked by their weakness, and they're possibly the last of their kind. The young male Sleepwalker reads poetry describing their plight in class and seems to be falling for the female lead. A redemption plot looks all but guaranteed... And then when he tries to eat her soul, all the drama around whether or not he's falling for her vanishes and he becomes a gleeful monster with shocking speed.
  • Vincent from Collateral gives a rather saddening Meaningful Echo just before he dies at the end of the film.
    "Hey Max... A guy gets on the MTA here in L.A. and dies...think anyone will notice?"
  • Both halves of the Big Bad Duumvirate from The World Is Not Enough.
  • Gen. Francis X. Hummel from The Rock. The fact that he was actually an Anti-Villain makes you feel even more sorry for him when he dies.
  • Sadako Yamamura, the Designated Villain from The Ring series, suffers a lot even before she becomes a villain. She is raped in the novels, lost her mother in both continuities, beaten to death by angry actors, and then she bonded with her evil twin and kills all those who harmed her before, including her own innocent boyfriend, before being tossed down the well by her stepfather.
  • In Ring 2, Sadako appears before Mai Takano and Yoichi Asakawa as a ghost, asking why they can escape the well and yet she cannot, before allowing herself to fall back down into the well for eternity.
  • Samara Morgan, the American version of Sadako in the American version of The Ring, suffers a lot too and is thrown down a well by her adoptive mother. This doesn't help, since her biological mother tried to drown her as a baby. And then she gets trapped in the well again at the hands of Naomi Watts.
  • James Bond:
    • Die Another Day: In-Universe; Bond experiences this when he sees Miranda Frost's corpse even though he had tried to kill her the instant he had learned that she was the traitor at MI6.
    • Skyfall: Raoul Silva is a former MI6 agent, who was tortured to the point of severe facial deformity and hinted-at PTSD to keep their secrets. M (who left him for dead) admitted he was a "brilliant agent," and he himself has pulled a Not So Different with James Bond. At the end of the movie, M has been mortally wounded, and Silva begs her to put the same bullet through their heads to end both their suffering.
  • In The Faculty, Casey kills the alien queen, Marybeth. As she is dying, he softly tells her, "You wouldn't have liked it here anyway.", acknowledging that — despite being a monstrous parasitic alien — she was just another outcast trying to find her place.
  • In Law Abiding Citizen
    • Aimes participated in a burglary. The plan appeared to be that his partner, Darby, would knock the adult occupants of the home to the floor with a baseball bat, then Aimes would handcuff them and then throw valuables from the home into a bag. Darby kills two people during the burglary while Aimes watches in horror and protests. Due to some legal technicalities and deals, Darby gets off easy while Aimes is executed. Aimes' last words: "What I did that day was wrong. But I'm not the one who killed those people. You're executing the wrong guy."
    • Clyde Shelton, the man whose wife and daughter were murdered by Aimes's partner, Darby. Beginning as a combination Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and Well-Intentioned Extremist, Shelton quickly jumps off the slippery slope and has no doubt crossed the Moral Event Horizon by the movie's end. Despite how far he sinks, though, Shelton never fully loses the sympathy points gained from his family's murder, and even shows remorse for his crimes. In the end he faces death with dignity, sadly looking at the charm bracelet his daughter made for him in the beginning of the movie, seconds before being killed by one of his own bombs.
  • The death of Mr Morton in Once Upon a Time in the West.
  • The death of Prince Nomak in Blade II, who was driven to kill his father out of revenge for making him the first Reaper. In a final battle, he is stabbed in the heart and chooses to drive the blade in further to end his suffering. Tellingly, he does so with a smile.
    "Strange … It hurts … It hurts no more …"
  • In Alien: Resurrection, for all the murderous havoc the Newborn and it's entire race caused for Ripley, she's visibly sorrowful about having to kill it (and in an indirectly torturous manner at that).
  • Willie Lopez and Carl Bruner in Ghost. The scenes of them being literally dragged into the netherworld (not to mention what is probably waiting for them once they get there) are pitiful and terrifying.
  • It's hard not to feel a little sorry for the Emperor in Legend of the Black Scorpion when he realizes he was just another pawn in the Empress's plan, and accepts death at her hands because "if it is your will, how can I refuse?" He dies in her lap.
  • Subverted in Scream 3 with the movie's Ghostface Roman Bridger. While Ghostface is dying, Sidney holds his hand because he's her lost brother. Barely a minute later he gets up to kill them all again just when they were sure he wasn't superhuman. Slasher Movie psycho killers have to be shot in the head to put them down.
  • Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana attempts to save Elsa when she causes a Cataclysm Climax by trying to steal the Holy Grail. He manages to grab her before she falls into a pit; however, her obsession with the grail leads her to reach wildly for it. Indiana tries to hold on, but her hand slips from its glove and she falls to her death. After escaping the temple, Indiana looks back with an expression of regret that he couldn’t save her life. His father shows less sympathy when he says, "Elsa didn't believe in the grail. She thought she'd found a prize."
  • General Garza from The Expendables, who is killed as he undergoes a Heel–Face Turn and stands up to the true Big Bad, Munroe.
  • Viktor Cherevin from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, especially when you find out that he has less than a few months to live due to his alcoholism.
  • General Zod in Man of Steel. After losing everything he had due to his refusal to coexist with humanity, he soars across the Despair Event Horizon and commits Suicide By Superman by forcing Superman into a situation where he has no choice but to kill Zod. After his death Superman breaks down out of remorse, having clearly wanted to find a peaceful solution.
  • Andrew from Chronicle. Being subjected to his Drunk Father's constant abuse everyday, his neglectful cousin Matt paying little attention to him until it's too late to save him, constantly being bullied by everyone in his school, once he gets telekinetic superpowers you can only imagine what's on his mind. Needless to say, when the time comes for Matt to put him down before Andrew could destroy Seattle, he was extremely reluctant to do so.
  • In Peter Pan, at the very end, Captain Hook has just found himself right over the water, dangling above the crocodile with the last remnants of his fairy dust magic. Desperate to live, he starts thinking of all manner of things that make him happy while the Lost Children and Darlings repeatedly cheer "Old, alone, done for" to bring him down. Then, finally, Hook, sounding horribly depressed and weary, begins to repeat their chant, stops his flailing, and goes straight as he allows himself to fall into the mouth of the crocodile.
  • The Saeki Family in the Ju-on and The Grudge, or at least Kayako, Toshio, and the cat Mar, who were all murdered by Kayako's husband Takeo under the false assumption Kayako was having an affair. Consumed by their own rage, they now haunt their former home and stalk and kill anyone who enters.
  • In Run All Night, Jimmy Conlon kills Shawn Maguire, his old friend, and he lets him bleed out in his arms.
  • In a way, as everything Sheriff Teasle from First Blood tried to do was to prove what Korean War vets are made of after being shunned for so long and to uphold the law in his duty as a policeman, yet now he's wounded in a pathetic state and is about to take more flak then he's ever before imagined.
  • The death of ruthless railroad tycoon Mister Morton in Once Upon a Time in the West. An old crippled man who just wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before dying, Morton was willing to have Frank kill anyone who impeded his train's progress. After receiving a mortal wound in his duel with Cheyenne, Morton dies struggling to reach a puddle as a substitute for the Pacific while Frank looks on impassively.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Cato. In the book, he's portrayed as a psycho Blood Knight who enjoys killing other tributes right down to when he dies. Here, he's more or less the same... until he's about to die. We then learn that his motives were to bring honor and respect for him and his District. He was also a career tribute, meaning that he was trained to kill from a very young age, and likely had no choice in the matter. Killing was all he knew. Combining all of these, plus his behavior at the end, implies that he was craving respect and recognition from people, which, in turn, implies that he was abused, neglected, unappreciated, ignored, or possibly all of the above. This may show that he feels the only way to be loved is to win. What's even sadder is, that assumption may have been true.
    Cato: Oh no, I can still do this. I can still do this. One... more... kill. It's the only thing I know how to do... to bring pride to my District.
    • Foxface wasn't really a villain in the book, mostly just being a parasite on the Careers, stealing their food and generally being sneaky. In the movie, we have a scene between her and Katniss where they bump into each other while running from the slaughter at the Cornucopia, look at each other in terror for a second, then silently run off in separate directions. This makes her seem a bit more like Katniss herself. Katniss even seems glum when finding out that Foxface is dead, and from a rather random death too.
    • As in the original book (and possibly even moreso here), Glimmer in her death scene.
    • To a certain extent, Seneca Crane. The character seemed to possess a certain degree of honor and fair play judging by his awarding Katniss points and there's something poignant about the scene where he's given a Sadistic Choice wherein his death occurs either way - especially since, like most Capitol citizens, he appeared to be more conditioned into his way of thinking than genuinely evil.
  • Most of the Corleone family go out this way in The Godfather:
    • Sonny Corleone in Part I, particularly with Vito's and Tom Hagen's reactions.
    Vito: *crying* Look how they massacred my boy...

  • In Dragon Bones a minor villain is fed to a basilisk by a more major villain. Alive. This is a fate no one deserves. The heroes think so, too.
  • Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events, one of the few cases where it works for the main villain.
  • Harry Potter
    • Severus Snape. Okay, technically, to say whether he was a villain or not is debatable but still. Yes, he did have his reasons, but the audience didn't know that at that point in the story, and it was still a sad scene.
    • Barty Crouch, Jr. Sure, he became a death eater, but all he ever wanted was a loving father. Some fans thought that when he received the dementor's kiss, that his punishment was not only too far, but also very sad, considering how neglected he was by his own father.
    • Peter Pettigrew may be the most disgusting and loathsome character with no excuses, but you feel a bit bad that his own hand strangles himself to death because of his one moment of mercy for Harry.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • Nearly every book in the Redwall series uses this trope, and half the time, it's the Big Bad!
  • Martel's death in David Eddings' The Elenium fits the bill. After three books of playing Worthy Opponent to Sparhawk, he admits he knew Sparhawk was better all along, and both Sparhawk and Sephrenia forgive him and give him their blessings. Just for a minute, the guy who betrayed the entire Pandion Order goes back to being Sparhawk's brother in arms again.
    Martel: You always said I'd come to a bad end, little mother, but you were wrong. This isn't so bad at all. It's almost like a formal deathbed. I get to depart in the presence of the only two people I've ever really loved. Will you bless me, little mother?
  • The Belgariad:
    • Zedar's fate in The Belgariad makes one almost feel sorry for the guy. Sealed up in the ground, forever? Yeesh. Worse when you consider that his Face–Heel Turn was a result of being forcibly turned by the Big Bad while trying to be the mole.
    • Speaking of which, said Big Bad also gets an Alas Poor Villain. Torak was a God of Evil, a Narcissist, and an utter bastard, but his death at the end, screaming for his mother as burning tears pour off his eyes after Garion takes away everything that matters to him? It's not pretty and it's acknowledged in-universe as such.
    • The same could be said for Asharak, a high-ranking servant of Torak and manipulative bastard who messed with Garion for years, whose awful death will likely haunt Garion for the rest of his life.
    • There's a retroactive example in The Malloreon. Taur Urgas, King of Cthol Murgos was a frothing madman, and was played as such in the The Belgariad. In The Malloreon he comes off even worse as it comes out what life in his home was like for his children. Garion notes when talking about the terminally-depressed 'Zakath that he would much rather be fighting Taur Urgas ("now there was a man I could cheerfully have gone to war with. He polluted the world just by living in it.") And then Eriond points out that "he was insane, Garion, and that's not his fault." At that point, all of Urgit's comments about his father's fits of madness and irrationality come back to you in a whole different light, as you realise that the man was genuinely clinically insane, and not merely Ax-Crazy, and never got any help for it.
  • Warrior Cats has a tendency to do this with most of its villains, due to its Grey and Gray Morality policy. Tigerstar, at least in the first series. Firestar notes afterwards that he could have been a great and noble warrior if he hadn't let ambition control him. The truly horrible death he suffered: being ripped open, and subsequently bleeding to death NINE TIMES.
  • The reader might not feel this way, but Rafen from James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novels feels some sorrow when he sees the corpse of Sachiel. A nice foil to Sachiel's gloating over Rafen's (presumed) death.
  • From Codex Alera, for all the horror she had caused, all the death and the near destruction of the world, the Vord Queen seems, in the end, to be a sad, lonely child seeking the approval of her father.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms:
    • Cao Cao gets a long poem on his death, daring anyone to criticize him.
    • Smug Snake Yuan Shu dies as a result of some mixture of illness, starvation, and dehydration, all the result of his last botched campaign. His last words are a request for a little honey water for his throat, to which his chef replies that there is no water in the camp, save that which is tainted by blood.
  • Many villains from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams get this treatment.
    • King Elias, despite playing the Unwitting Pawn and being a complete Jerk Ass throughout most of the series, reveals that all the evil he commits (and abets) started with grief over his wife's untimely death. At the very end, he begs to be killed so he won't become the host for the Eldritch Abomination that the Big Bad Storm King has become.
    • Fengbald, the viciously amoral leader of Elias' army and the man Princess Miriamele was going to be forcibly married to, dies pitiably when he's caught in the trap of the Fake Defectors at the battle of the Stone of Farewell.
    • Ineluki, the Big Bad himself, is revealed to have committed all the atrocities in his life out of love for his people and a desperate desire to lead them to salvation. In the end, this realization leads directly to his defeat.
    • Utuk'ku, the Norn Queen and The Chessmaster behind Ineluki's rise, is broken by the failure of the Evil Plan, and is left as nothing more than what she always feared to become: a frail old woman.
  • In Otherland, Tad Williams' next offering, the death of Corrupt Corporate Executive Felix Jongleur is suitably karmic as his creation, the Other, turns his worst fears against him. However, given the glimpses the reader's allowed to see of his upbringing in a Boarding School of Horrors and how his entire adult life has been driven by fear of the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, it's hard not to feel sympathy for the poor tormented kid who grew up to be a bully himself, but died screaming in absolute terror.
  • Dragonlance universe:
    • A short story has Tanis and Flint kill a Black Mage who's been sucking the life out of people. After he's dead, they find out that he was doing it to prolong the life of his sickly son.
    • Test of the Twins: the Archmage Raistlin Majere attempted to become a god by dethroning one of the current ones. He manipulated everyone around him, abandoning or killing them as soon as they stopped being useful, and, as shown in an alternate would, have not only succeeding but have DESTROYED every other god in the pantheon, leaving him sole ruler of the universe. However, he sacrificed himself to save his time-traveling brother, ex-friend, and one of the people he manipulated, because they showed him that he would destroy the world in the process of attaining godhood.
  • Several villainous characters by John C. Wright are pitiable when they die:
  • Brandin in Tigana. And he's the main villain too.
  • Steadholder Mueller at the end of Ashes of Victory, simply because he was an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Almost every half-blood villain in Percy Jackson and the Olympians gets this in the final book.
    • Luke tries to kill the heroes multiple times and tries to help the Big Bad, Kronos, rise again (eventually hosting him in his own body). In the final chapters of The Last Olympian, he sees Annabeth bleeding, breaks free from Kronos's mind control, and realizes that he was fighting for the wrong side. He then kills himself to destroy Kronos, and it is indicated that he goes to Elysium in the afterlife.
    • Ethan Nakamura fights in a battle to the death against Percy, and when Percy wins, he refuses to kill Ethan. Ethan repays him for this by betraying him and pledging himself to Kronos, enabling Kronos to rise again. Throughout "The Last Olympian", he is seen working for the Titans. Then, Percy convinces him to turn against Luke/Kronos, who kills him, earning him sympathy in the end.
    • Silena Beauregard originally seems like a gentle, romantic daughter of Aphrodite. However, she is secretly a spy for Luke, and the information she has reported has lead to the deaths of many campers. When Kronos and his minions become responsible for the death of her boyfriend, she begins to think twice about her actions and eventually disguises herself as Clarisse, rallies the absentee Ares campers, and charges a Drakon, resulting in her death. Her secret - that she was the spy - comes out as she is dying, but the other campers remember her as a hero anyway.
  • The Phantom of the Opera — Erik's death has this effect both on readers and on his fellow characters.
  • In City of Heavenly Fire, Sebastian Morgenstern goes down quickly, but Jonathan, the good within him, arises, tells Clary how to destroy the Infernal Cup, talks about what might have been, and then dies.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian
    • In "The Slithering Shadow", Thalis tortures Natala, but after the titular shadow swallows her up:
      She shuddered. "She tortured me — yet I pity her."
    • In "Shadows In The Moonlight" — Shah Amurath
      Olivia closed her eyes. This was no longer battle, but butchery, frantic, bloody, impelled by a hysteria of fury and hate, in which culminated the sufferings of battle, massacre, torture, and fear-ridden, thirst-maddened, hunger-haunted flight. Though Olivia knew that Shah Amurath deserved no mercy or pity from any living creature, yet she closed her eyes and pressed her hands over her ears, to shut out the sight of that dripping sword that rose and fell with the sound of a butcher's cleaver, and the gurgling cries that dwindled away and ceased.
  • In Dracula, Renfield's death invokes this trope. He's mostly unsympathetic for most of the novel—he nearly beats a man to death and attacks one of the protagonists with a knife—but when he realizes that Dracula had lied to him, he attempts to defend Mina Harker from him and is fatally injured because of it. The graphic description of his injuries doesn't help.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil, the death of the Russian assassin Tesseract. After being fatally injured by Lord Vile, Tesseract removes his mask and asks Skulduggery to help him get outside so that he can feel the sun on his face one last time. As they go, he talks about how he'll miss his cat, and how he has no regrets.
    "I have a cat, you know. Back home. [...] She doesn't have a name. She is just Cat. She curls up on my chest whenever I sit down, and goes to sleep. I hope she doesn't miss me. I'm going to miss her."
  • Mandrake is introduced in Duncton Wood three chapters in as a bloodthirsty, giant mole that later becomes an iron-fisted dictator. Then, in a quick moment of Rebecca's life, he scolds her for enjoying the snow and, after that, delivers a speech against the snow that's quite poignant considering his story. And when he finally dies, he does so half-mad from wandering the Ancient System for months alone, crying for his only daughter while being mercilessly beaten down by a revengeful Stonecrop.
  • Sly Moorcock from Stark by Ben Elton is a ruthless billionaire who has no qualms about leaving Earth with the other billionaires and letting humanity die in the inevitable ecological breakdown. Yet he moves more and more into Anti-Villain territory as the story progresses, and shows himself in possession of both moral standards and the capacity to love, and when he commits suicide in the epilogue by throwing himself out of an airlock, it is just as sad as when one of the good guys die.
  • In Azure Bonds, the red great wyrm dragon Mistinarperadnacles lays down her life to destroy the Darkbringer Moander. The heroes mourn her, and one of them, Akabar, notes that Mist's evil was fairly petty while she died saving the world from A Fate Worse Than Death. He even suggests that the group's bard should compose a song about her.
  • Aurora in The Dresden Files, the well-meaning but insane villain of Summer Knight:
    'Wait,' she said, her voice weak and somehow very young. She didn't look like a mad faerie sorceress now. She looked like a frightened girl. 'Wait. You don't understand. I just wanted it to stop. Wanted the hurting to stop.'
    I smoothed a bloodied lock of hair from her eyes and felt very tired as I said, 'The only people who never hurt are dead.'
    The light died out of her eyes, her breath slowing. She whispered, barely audible, 'I don't understand.'
    I answered, 'I don't either.'
    A tear slid from her eye and mixed with the blood.
    Then she died.
  • In Good Omens, the demon Duke Ligur is doused in holy water in a booby trap set up by Crowley. He thoroughly deserved it, but for a demon, it's an amazingly horrible way to die, and his partner-in-crime Hastur immediately goes into Villainous Breakdown and attempts a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Crowley, chasing him down a phone line.
  • Phoena's death in Fusion Fire was so horrific that Brennen did his best to comfort her in her last moments, despite the fact that not only was she responsible for his capture by the Shuhr, but she also tried to have him and his wife essentially tortured to death.
  • The third Safehold book, By Heresies Distressed, has this happen with Prince Hektor of Corisande. He's been beaten, he knows it, and he is preparing to negotiate terms of surrender with Emperor Cayleb. Before he can, however, he and his eldest son and heir are victim of an assassination that is blamed on Cayleb. Hektor, in his final moments, realizes that he truly loved his son, who had thus far been The Unfavourite.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Faquarl achieves the vengeance he's been craving for 5000 years, and discovers that it doesn't bring him the satisfaction he wanted. Then he finds Bartimaeus sharing a body with a human, proving him wrong about the inevitability of conflict between humans and spirits. Bartimaeus narrates that he's never sure if, had he wanted to, Faquarl couldn't have killed them before they shot him.
    Faquarl: Your discovery is remarkable. But it comes too late for me.
  • In Death series: this has happened with some of the murderers after they get caught or killed. Portrait in Death has Eve and Peabody realizing that the murderer they caught wasn't greedy, vicious, or downright evil, just pathetic.
  • Time Scout's Skeeter Jackson truly feels sorry for what happens to the enraged gladiator who spent the entirety of Wagers of Sin trying to kill Skeeter.
  • Antrax in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara was just following its programming. Its reaction as it slowly loses contact with the outside world and shuts down is as sad as it is necessary.
  • The Aeneid: Most of the antagonists go out rather sadly. The standout may well be Mezentius, Nay-Theist, exiled tyrant, and brutal fighter whose disdain for the gods and vicious rule over his old city-state have brought him to Italy to fight as a mercenary. When his son and Morality Pet Lausus is slain, Mezentius goes ballistic, cutting down opponents left, right, and centre before being stopped by Aeneas; his Famous Last Words, wherein he refuses to pray and asks only that he buried by his son, are quite touching.
  • Durza, the Shade from Eragon, surprisingly earns sympathy just before his death at the hands of the protagonist. While fighting off the Shade's mental attacks, Eragon accidentally breaks through into his mind and sees a quick succession of images from his early life, before he became a Shade. The man who became Durza was originally a young orphan named Carsaib who was taken in by a sorcerer and instructed in the art. When his master was murdered, the grief-stricken young man called upon powerful spirits to get revenge, but they proved more than he was capable of handling and possessed him. Durza was pure evil, but Carsaib was a tragic figure who made a terrible mistake and paid dearly for it.
  • Of all the characters who are involved in the Final Solution of Timeline-191 — or at least all of the ones you get to know — only Hipolito Rodriguez is still human and moral enough to have a Heel Realization and repent of what he has done. It's the sincerity of his horror and repentance that evokes sympathy.
  • From It, Patrick Hockstetter's death to some. Yes, he is a creepy and very disturbing sociopath who sees absolutely nothing wrong in doing things like suffocating his baby brother and killing animals for fun, but his death is so disturbingly horrifying and disgusting that it might be hard to feel any satisfaction over it.
  • In The Stand, the death of Harold Lauder. Presented as a fat, sometimes disgusting social outcast who uses overly purple language at times, is insanely jealous of Frannie Goldsmith, incredibly hateful towards the Free Zone Committee (and Stu Redman in particular, whom he believes stole Frannie from him), pompous, contrary and argumentative, Harold is nonetheless a tragic figure: sadly used by the Big Bad, Randall Flagg, who takes advantage of Harold's weaknesses and literally leaves him to die by the side of the road with his leg shattered. Harold's final statement says it all: "I was misled."
  • In The Dark Tower there is the death of Trampas, one of the Mooks guarding the Devar-Toi. He works for the Big Bad, but he's actually a pretty decent guy once you get to know him. It's made pretty clear that Ted really doesn't want to kill him and even yells at him to get out of their way, although he is forced to eventually resort to throwing a mind-spear at him, killing Trampas in the process.
  • In Fate/Zero:
    • Caster having a hallucination of Jeanne d'Arc reaching out to him while smiling and realizing just what kind of monster he has become before dying.
    • There is also Kayneth's death, based on your definition of "villain" (he did kill Risei). It's hard not to feel a little sorry for him when he gives up the War to ensure the safety of the woman he loves, only to be ruthlessly gunned down together with her.
  • The gamebook Search for Dinosaurs: A T-rex slowly starving in the aftermath of the meteorite fall is a rather pitiful sight, even if it tried to eat you previously.
  • The Wheel of Time: Asmodean and Lanfear. Ishamael could possibly be considered an inversion, as he wanted to die, and being resurrected was his punishment by the Big Bad for his failures and insubordination.
  • Kara no Kyoukai: Overlooking View has Kirie Fujou, who unconsciously uses her spiritual counterpart to drive other girls into suicide out of loneliness. When Ryougi kills her spiritual counterpart, Kirie says that the moment Ryougi killed her was the most she has ever felt alive. Feeling she has nothing to live for and wanting to experience death again, she commits suicide.
    • There is also Fujino Asagami in Remaining Sense of Pain, although she's mostly an Anti-Villain. She's been raped, her own father has hired Ryougi to kill her, and she's dying a slow, excruciating death via untreated appendicitis. At the end of the chapter, she's crawling through rubble, weakly repeating that she doesn't want to die between bouts of vomiting blood.
    • Araya Souren in Paradox Spiral. As he lays dying after Ryougi defeats him, Touko questions his obsession with the Spiral of Origin. Araya recalls his past and we see that witnessing endless death and tragedy has left him guilt-ridden over his inability to save the people around him in his years as a wandering Buddhist monk, so he decided to at least record their deaths and desperately attempted to find some form of meaning or purpose in them.
  • Although the death of Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre leaves Jane and Rochester free to get married, it's hard not to feel for her, especially since her life has been so loveless and painful.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Loathsome as Grima Wormtongue might have been, it's hard not to pity him when one sees the level to which he has been reduced by the time of his death.
  • In The Doomspell Trilogy by Cliff Mcnish the death of the first book's main villain Dragwena in the second book is really rather sad. The way she dies is rather horrible as she attempts to revive herself but Came Back Wrong in a Body Horror way. She also dies being cradled by her mother and sister who love her deeply and mourn her death.
  • At the end of The Spell of the Black Dagger, Overlord Ederd, having been restored to his throne, refers to Tabaea, the woman who overthrew him and seized control of the city and then died in a failed effort to save it (the city was saved, but not by her) as "that poor girl" and "poor little Tabaea." It is clear that he means it.
  • Les Misérables chapter "Javert In Disarray" is all about this, as Inspector Javert is Driven to Suicide after his entire view of the world is destroyed by Jean Valjean saving his life.
  • Not even an Ax-Crazy Jerkass like Cato deserves to be Eaten Alive by Mutts for over twenty hours in The Hunger Games.note 
    • The way Glimmer bites it is pretty nasty, especially her cries for help.
  • Alfred Builder in The Pillars of the Earth, in a Big Bad Wannabe sort of way. He was a Big (Step)brother Bully to Jack and Martha, got Jack kicked off of the building site of Kingsbridge Cathedral, married Aliena out of spite just so Jack couldn't have her and treated her like crud, betrayed his stepbrother when he had the decency to hire him after all he did, and even tried to friggin' rape Aliena at knifepoint. However, he becomes a lot more sympathetic once you realize that, unlike Willaim Hamleigh or Waleran Bigod, he acted the way he did not because he wanted power or because he enjoyed it, but because his whole adult life he had to deal with one tragedy after another: his mother's death, his father favoring his stepson over him, the woman he loved turning down his marriage proposal, and his father's death. Everything he did was out of revenge for the world treating him awfully. Aliena even muses as he lays dying that he could have been a better, happier person had he just been nicer:
    "She thought, as she looked into his eyes, that he had never been compassionate himself, nor forgiving, nor generous. He had nursed his resentments and hatreds all his life, and had taken his pleasure from acts of malice and revenge. Your life could have been different, Alfred, she thought. Your could have been kind to your sister, and forgiven your stepbrother for being cleverer than you. You could have married for love instead of revenge. You could have been loyal to Prior Philip. You could have been happy."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Viserys' death, which is treated as rather pathetic and sad after the character's sneering villainy through most of the show.
    • Doreah, who screams for forgiveness rather pathetically. Interestingly, the character's villainous actions were left on the cutting room floor, making it rather ambiguous as to whether she was a willing participant in the villainy. This, along with it being Adaptational Villainy from the books (where she was good to the end), makes it all the worse.
    • Despite being the go-to character for Kick the Dog, Joffrey's death early in Season 4 is very poignant, especially the case of Cersei's reaction. Margarey also feels bad about the nature of his death.
    Margarey: "Clawing at his own throat...looking to his mother to make it was horrible."
    • Ygritte's death in Jon's arms during the Battle of Castle Black is crushingly sad, despite the character becoming very, very dark very, very quickly.
  • Smallville
    • Lex in the appropriately named "Requiem". Clark arrives and scatters his ashes in the wind after he is blown up by Toyman's bomb planted by Oliver.
    • Davis Bloome/Doomsday in "Eternal", with Chloe crying next to him outside his cage. It would have been a bigger tear jerker if you don't know he is going to be back. By the time of his second death, he is a lot less sympathetic.
  • From Doctor Who, The Master. Repeatedly.
    • Also, that one Dalek, from the episode of the same name. Never has the word "Exterminate" been uttered with such pathos.
    • Cassandra in "New Earth".
    • Oh man, that poor Krafayis from "Vincent and the Doctor", an invisible alien that kills a child in its first "appearance". Who gets the blame? Vincent. And yet, later, after Vincent manages to fatally stab it with his easel, we find out that this particular Krafayis was actually blind, and its supposed "attacks" were just fearful acts of self-defense, having been abandoned and left all alone on Earth by its pack (according to Eleven, it even gasps out "I'm afraid" repeatedly in its last moments). The Doctor realizes this as it's dying and tries to soothe it, even though he can't even see it. Cue tears.
    • Yvonne Hartman, upon her final scene as one of the Cybermen, fighting off all the other ones.
    • The Minotaur in "The God Complex". Spent the whole episode "feeding" on the faith of those trapped in the hotel, but at the end, was revealed to be just another Death Seeker.
      Doctor (translating the Minotaur's grunts): "an ancient creature drenched in bloodshed" (...) "for such a creature, death would be a gift." Actually we find out, in the very next sentence, that it was referring to the Doctor, but still... it makes sense in the context.
  • Arrow: In an episode that highlights his past in a sympathetic light, Deadshot sacrifices his life to enable the rest of the Suicide Squad to escape the building that's set to explode. He's shown finding a measure of peace as he looks at a photo of his family just before the explosion.
  • AgentsOfSHIELD: Shockingly enough Hive of all characters is given one of these. His plan was to pilot a stolen Quinjet into the upper atmosphere and detonate a bomb that would turn the population of three continents into his brainwashed slaves, but he didn't expect a badly wounded Lincoln to pull a Heroic Sacrifice by sneaking on board and sabotaging the controls, causing the jet to go all the way into space where the detonation can't harm anyone but the two of them. Rather than raging or trying to kill Lincoln, Hive calmy accepts his fate and the two of them watch the amazing view of the Earth, talking about how amazing they both think humanity is. Hive closes it by saying that for all his misdeeds, he really did just want to make the world a better place.
  • Angel
    • The villains go out this way from time to time, which is natural for a show that swims in the Grey area. Nearly all the major antagonists get taken out this way, and it's up to the viewer to decide whether or not their fates were just. Darla, Lindsey, and Lilah each had ridiculously sad and depressing death scenes, while Holtz and Jasmine began to show signs of this trope, but would then yank it away by either setting into motion their own death or by tossing Angel off a bridge and then kissing him to screw with Connor, respectively.
    • Holland Manners, as well. Sure, he was rather unrepentant in his actions, and his role in manipulating Angel led to a particularly Karmic Death, but Angel's leaving him to plead for his life, about to be torn apart by Darla and Drusilla, was treated by Wesley, Gunn, Cordelia, and the audience as a stepping stone in our main character's Moral Event Horizon.
  • Livia, the Evil Matriarch of I, Claudius was so pitiable on her deathbed that even Claudius, who knew her murderous nature well, was touched. Caligula on the other hand...
    Caligula: And what makes you think that a filthy smelly old woman like you could become a goddess?
    • Caligula himself died a rather pitiable death. It must be quite a shock to discover that you are not immortal after all.
    • All the villains of I, Claudius qualify: Tiberius dies asking for lamb cutlets, Messalina frantically begs the soldiers sent to kill her not to take her head, and Sejanus (possibly the most despicable villain in the whole series) asks what has become of his children (both dead, and his daughter raped first because it was against Roman law to execute a virgin).
      • Even before their deaths, most of the fates of the villains invoke this trope. Thanks to his mother forcing him into a fate he never wanted Tiberius goes from being a stern but good general and loving, loyal brother to being a depraved, paranoid loner manipulated by Sejanus and filled with hatred for Rome and his own family. Livia becomes a lonely woman deprived of most of the political power she once enjoyed (and actually used well), having to live isolated with the memory that she murdered a man she genuinely loved, with the fact that her faith in her son, whose rise to the imperial office she dedicated herself completely toward, was tragically misplaced, and finally with her own terror of being punished eternally in the afterlife. Caligula devolves from an eccentric libertine to a madman who is cursed with the occasional moment of lucidity and in his delusions of godhood tortures and kills his sister Drusilla, the one woman he loved (while she's pregnant, no less). Sejanus is reluctantly pushed into abandoning his lover Livilla by his political ambitions, which despite his ruthlessness clearly hurts him and pushes Livilla even further over the edge. Messalina may be an exception, and even she obviously becomes increasingly unstable and unable to comprehend the risks she takes.
  • Criminal Minds: poor, poor Vincent Rowlings. Made even more heartwrenching by his last dialogue with his Morality Pet:
    Stan: (Crying) C-can we go around one more time?
    Vincent: I don't think so.
    Stan: I-I wish you were my dad.
    Vincent: (Last words) Forgive me.
  • Cassidy from Veronica Mars was very pitiable when he killed himself. Freudian Excuse came into play massively.
    Logan: Beaver, don't!
    Cassidy: My name is CASSIDY!
    Logan: Cassidy, don't.
    Cassidy: Why not?
    [Logan can't say anything]
    Cassidy: That's what I thought.
    [He jumps]
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Weyoun. Yes, he dies several times. But a few of his deaths are very poignant, and very much ARE this trope. Particularly the one who became a defector, but was forced to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save Odo. After his final death, the Female Changeling breaks her usual Fantastic Racism to mournfully acknowledge him as "the only solid I ever trusted."
  • Star Trek: The Original Series had a few of these (in keeping with its avoidance of actually evil villains). One was Apollo (yes, that Apollo), who spent the episode trying to coerce and cajole the landing party into worshipping him so he could survive, all to no avail because Kirk and co. have Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions and so, he fades away in a moment of Woobie-ness...
    McCoy: I wish we hadn't had to do this.
    Kirk: So do I. They gave us so much. The Greek civilization, much of our culture and philosophy came from a worship of those beings. In a way, they began the Golden Age. Would it have hurt us, I wonder... just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?
    • Another was Dr. Richard Daystrom, whose Motive Rant about being laughed at behind his back and underestimated is legitimately heartbreaking. The fact that Daystrom is portrayed by William Marshall - an amazingly talented black actor who was undoubtedly kept out of roles by racism - adds an excruciating Reality Subtext.
    • Flint from Requiem For Methuselah, was not totally a villain but he has become somewhat misanthropic after 6000 years of life. To his credit, he was once Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Leonardo, Merlin, and Brahms. He has met Moses, Socrates, Jesus, and Shakespeare. He used Kirk's obvious attraction for Rayna in the hope that Rayna (an android he created) would transfer the resulting feelings she experienced to him. This failed miserably and she was torn between her love for the young, handsome captain, and her love for the kind old man Flint whom she considered like a father. This lead to her eventual death by short circuit. Throughout the encounter, Flint interfered with the Enterprise's mission to aquire a much needed cure for a plague, threatened the Enterprise crew, and tried to take them hostage. In retrospect, Kirk, emphasized with Flint who, while having shunned humankind, only wanted the company of someone who was his intellectual equal, even if he had to build her. Kirk, on the other hand, was far too easily attracted to Rayna and thus manipulated by Flint, which did say something about him as well. Kirk summed it up: "An old and lonely man...and a young and lonely man."
  • Dollhouse has a prime example of this in one of its final episodes, when Boyd is wiped, strapped up with explosives, and sent in doll state to destroy Rossum HQ. The doll stock line "I try to be my best" clinches it.
  • The villain of Harper's Island, Henry Dunn, is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by the protagonist Abby Mills, the girl he's in love with. OK, that love is creepy and unwanted, but he goes out professing his love for her.
  • He's a certainly a lot less antagonistic than the other villains in the series, but Sano/Imperer's death in Kamen Rider Ryuki is no less heartbreaking. In summary, Sano had finally attained a semblance of the happiness he'd always wanted, only to be betrayed by a man he thought was his friend and left to dissolve in the Mirror World with no hope of returning home. "I only wanted to be happy", indeed.
  • In Kamen Rider Kabuto, we get the Rich Idiot With No Dayjob Tsurugi, who has thoroughly become a lovable comic relief character... until it's discovered he's really the Scorpio Worm. The real Tsurugi's over-the-top personality had over-riden the Worm's, essentially Becoming the Mask. While it seems like Tsurugi has betrayed humanity, even his potential love interest, it's actually all a part of a gambit to lead the Worms to ruin by following his orders. And it succeeds. Every Worm is defeated. Every . Worm.
    Jiiya: Master!
    Tsurugi: Hey, Jiiya?
    Jiiya: What is it?
    Tsurugi: Is it okay for me to dream?
    Jiiya: Yes! Don't worry about anything. Jiiya will always be by your side.
    Tsurugi: Thank you, Jiiya.
  • LOST: The Man In Black. Once you learn his tragic backstory and motive, you can't help but feel sorry for the guy.
  • Captain Sawyer of Horatio Hornblower. Cruel towards his lieutenants and especially Midshipman Wellard, unstable, and antagonistic, but you can't help but pity the man who used to be a hero of the Nile. His death comes as both a relief and a tear jerker, especially as, directly beforehand, he had momentarily regained a shred of sanity, and he and Wellard had faced the escaped Spanish prisoners together with dignity.
  • No matter what you thought of Shane Vendrell after he murdered Lem in Season 5 of The Shield, you can't help but feel sorry for him when he killed himself (and his family) in the series finale.
  • NCIS: in-universe example: Ari. Ziva is clearly affected by killing him, she sings a song over his body and is haunted by it. Justified, they are half-siblings. The fans probably didn't feel the same way.
  • Power Rangers
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Scorpius was a creepy looking Galactic Conqueror, but he genuinely loved his daughter, and his formal deathbed, with her in attendance, is quite sad. The deaths of Noble Demons Loyax and Villimax also tugged at some heartstrings.
    • In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Lokai is killed by Queen Bansheera, who forced Diabolico to fire upon the Rangers while he was fighting them. As he lay dying, Lokai lamented that all his years of faithful loyalty to the treacherous monarch seemed to be nothing but a waste.
    • Power Rangers Samurai: Deker is freed of his curse after his final duel with Jayden, and is finally allowed to ascend to the afterlife after being forced to live with a hunger for battle for centuries. Even after all that he did in his battles against the Samurai Rangers; seeing him go was genuinely saddening. Even more so Dayu, Deker's wife who was cursed alongside him and had to live with a beloved husband who no longer remembered her. At Deker's death, she fell into despair at her lost love and the years she spent pining for him. She then lost it, denying her human side and swearing utter loyalty to Master Xandred, who killed her and absorbed her body. At least Deker died happy.
  • Queen Beryl in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. The real motivation behind her attempt at awakening Metaria and ruling over the world? She wanted to get back at Princess Serenity who always had everything she dreamed of: fame, beauty, power, and, most of all, Prince Endymion's love. 'Why do you... take everything away from me?'
  • Breaking Bad
    • The Salamanca twins provide an interesting subversion. They go out in a particularly inhumane fashion and are still treated as the irredeemably evil force they have been up until that point, but that scene served as the climax to an episode that opened with a flashback to their Freudian Excuse.
    • Hector Salamanca (Tio) and Gus Fring in the Season 4 finale.
    • Mike, if he even counts as a villain: He's getting out of the business and has kept Walt and Jesse in line as the Only Sane Man in their operation, but winds up dead after angering Walt.
    • Walt. His attempts at redeeming himself, whether you think he succeeded or not, and the sheer awesomeness of his takedown of the Nazis and Lydia make his death even more devastating. His final conversation with Skyler, where he finally tells her and himself the truth, doesn't help either.
    Walter: Everything I did...I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. I was, really...I was alive.
  • Nick Cutler in Being Human (UK). Especially after the flashbacks. He was just desperate for approval from people who treated him so horribly, including Hal. In the scene where the Old Ones utterly cut him down his down his devastation is heartbreaking. Then he gets cooked.
  • With the tendency for The Amazing Race teams to get a touching send-off after being eliminated or losing, even teams people originally rooted against can invoke this response upon realizing just how passionate they were about the race. The biggest example is probably Season 2's Wil, whose final speech has him tearing up and trying to figure out what he could have done better, while his ex-wife Tara celebrated with the winners, one of whom she had been flirting with for the entire season.
  • Charmed: Lulu and Frankie, the ghosts who possessed Cole and Phoebe in "Paige from the Past". Despite being villains, you can't help feel sympathetic when it's revealed that their entire Unfinished Business was simply wanting to get married. Considering that they'd have likely moved on afterwards, Piper interrupting the ceremony comes across as kinda a dick move on her part. Of course, sympathies are lessened somewhat by a line of dialogue that reveals that along with being robbers, they were also serial/thrill killers.
  • Stringer Bell's downward spiral and death is seen as this by many fans of The Wire. Despite him being a murderous drug dealer who setup D'Angelo Barksdale's death and then had an affair with his woman afterwards, Stringer Bell was also shown as a thoughtful man who wanted to leave the life of crime and become a legal business man. He ends up getting screwed over by Senator Clay Davis when he tries to go legit, and his scheming finally catches up with him, to the point he can no longer talk is way out it. Finally, he decides to Face Death with Dignity.
  • Justified
    • The episode "Long in the Tooth" features Joe, a Professional Killer for the Miami Cartel who is gunned down by Raylan while trying to make a deal with him. He manages to have a fairly lengthy conversation with Raylan before bleeding out, and it serves to humanise him.
    • Mags Bennet, the Big Bad of season two lives long enough to watch everything she worked her life for crumble. Her hometown despising her, her criminal empire going up in smoke, her two favored sons dead, her remaining living son in police custody, and the surrogate daughter she truly loved only barely being talked down from killing Mags herself, Mags opts to kill herself by drinking her poisoned moonshine. Her last words, a sincere echo of what she said to the man she killed with that very same moonshine, show just how far she's fallen into despair.
    "Put an end to my troubles. Get to see my boys again. Get to know the mystery."
    • Colton Rhodes, Boyd's Dragon in season four. A former soldier in the U.S. Army, he had started out decently enough for a criminal, but steadily got worse and worse as his drug addiction took a bigger toll on him. Eventually, while in a revivalist church, he's caught by his nemesis, Tim Gutterson, the friend of a man he earlier killed. Knowing the end is nigh, he decides to Face Death with Dignity. He lights up One Last Smoke and apologizes to Tim for his friend's death, saying he believes the better part of Tim's friend died during the war, obviously using his victim as a stand-in for himself. Finally, knowing he'll die in the confrontation, he draws on Tim, smiles briefly after the bullets perforate him, then collapses dead atop one of the church pews.
    • Marijuana kingpin Rodney "Hot-Rod" Dunham in Season 5. Betrayed by Johnny Crowder, and held hostage by Jay & Roscoe, Hot-Rod breaks loose and kills one of their men, only to take a bullet in the process. He's found moments later by Raylan and his own Friendly Enemy Alex Miller, and chats with the two of them for a few moments as he bleeds out, reminiscing about the old days.
    • Danny Crowe of all people gets a send-off like this. While his death itself is meant to be Black Comedy, tripping and stabbing himself through the throat while trying to kill Raylan, the minutes before that, where he's mourning over the body of his dead dog, Chelsea, and tearfully recounting how he rescued him from a puppy mill, does a lot to humanize a man who had otherwise been a stupid, psychotic asshole.
    • Dewey Crowe, Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain extraordinaire and a mostly non-malicious Man Child, gets killed in the sixth season premiere. Returning to his old gang leader and former friend, Boyd Crowder, for work after he believes he received a sign from God, Dewey's outraged when Boyd uses him as a dupe in his latest plan. When he returns to Boyd, he laments the constant abuses and humiliations he's suffered throughout the series, and tearfully professes a wish that things could go back to the way they used to be, back when they were Crowder's Commandos and he felt like he belonged with friends. Boyd tells him that things can never go back to the way they were, but shows Dewey a picture of his grandfather and a bunch of other men working as coalminers. He tells Dewey, no matter how much hardship they suffered, they still dreamed of a better future. Boyd fills Dewey's head with hope that things could get better, just before shooting him the head while he's distracted.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Subverted in "The Prodigal" with Michael. His fight with John Sheppard on top of the Atlantis main tower concludes with Teyla (who's most personally connected to Michael) and John throwing him off it. Michael holds on to the ledge and screams at Teyla for mercy. By this point Michael had already committed galactic genocide, kidnapped and experimented on Teyla's people, mutated her husband into a monster, tried to harvest her baby at least twice, and tried to kill her and everyone in Atlantis out of petty spite. She kicks his hands and watches him fall to his death.
  • Boardwalk Empire: In the series finale, Villain Protagonist Nucky Thompson goes out like this. Despite committing progressively worse deeds throughout the series to maintain his power as The Don of Atlantic City, one of the worst being his murder of his surrogate son, Jimmy Darmody, Nucky never lost all of his redeeming features. Throughout the final season, flashbacks showed his Start of Darkness, how he Used to Be a Sweet Kid who came from a poor and abusive background, and how he craved both money and power as well as a loving family. The minutes leading up to his death are interspersed with one last flashback, of the moment he metaphorically sold his soul by arranging the rape and resulting impregnation of a teenage Gillian Darmody at the hands of the pedophilic Commodore in order to become Sheriff. The self-loathing, pain and despair on the young Nucky's face is palpable even after he reluctantly goes through with the deed to get ahead. In the present, his greatest sin ends up the cause of his demise. After settling most of his affairs and about to go into retirement, he's confronted by Joel Harper, a young man he had tried to mentor. Joel reveals himself to be Tommy Darmody, the grandson of Gillian and son of Jimmy, who proceeds to fatally shoot Nucky in the same way Nucky killed his father. The last image of the series is a Book End to the final season's opening moments, of a dying Nucky imagining himself as a child trying to catch a gold coin tossed into the ocean, only this time, instead of failing like he did in real-life, he manages to catch one.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): Valerie 23 from the episode of the same name. She's a Robot Girl designed for love, then goes on a jealous rampage when she thinks that another human is taking the object of her affection away from her. When she's destroyed she acknowledges that she fears death, which the protagonist had earlier deemed is what makes something truly alive.
  • Dexter: Even Dexter is genuinely distraught when he has to finally ice the Ice Truck Killer in the Season 1 finale.
  • On The 100, Anya led the Grounder warriors who tried to massacre the 100. Despite this, Clarke is rather upset to see her unceremoniously gunned down (it helps that, mere minutes before, Anya had agreed to ally with Clarke against their common enemy in Mount Weather).
  • Blackadder: Villain Protagonist Edmund Blackadder dies in most of the series endings and the second one subverts this trope by making his death sudden and very darkly funny. The first one however is sadder and more emotional, as it shows the Prince dying alone after finally getting his father's affection and a montage of the main cast most of whom died already in past scenes while an angelic voice sings a mournful song. The fourth ending is even more tragic, having Captain Edmund going to certain death along with most of the main characters, though he could only be considered a villain if one takes into mind the war crimes that he did before the series during the colonisation of Africa. Captain Darling deserves a special mention for becoming such a nervous mess after realising that it is all over and that he isn't going to make it.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs:
    • The Liopleurodon getting beached in "Cruel Sea". Though it's not exactly a villain, just a predator.
    • The Postosuchus's death in "New Blood" is also quite depressing.

  • mothy loves this trope, especially in the Evillious Chronicles.
  • The music video to "Gods and Punks" by Monster Magnet. Sure, it leans heavily on parody ("Will destroy your world for food") but when in the end the brats kill the villain (who saw better days) with his own death ray, you shed a tear for him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Farmgirl and Goodwitch mourn Dark Lady's passing in the artwork for Kozmourning in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG. The scene resembles both a sorrowful Dorothy regretting having to kill the Witch and Luke Skywalker mourning his father's death.

  • Makuta Krika in BIONICLE; he was the Noble Demon of the Makuta with a Monster Sob Story, who only went along with the plan of the Makuta of Metru Nui because he saw it as a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario. He made a genuine effort to help the Toa (the heroes) at the end of the Karda Nui arc, and then, when he learned that the Makuta were about to outlive their usefulness, he tried to warn them, and was rewarded by slowly becoming so intangible that all of his atoms flew apart - the kicker of his death was that it was caused by his own power being forced out of control by his brethren, who thought he was lying.

  • Subverted in Oklahoma!. Curly tells Jud that when he dies, people will cry for him despite being afraid of him prior to his death. When he actually dies, what's the first song that they sing? "Oh what a beautiful morning…" Foreshadowed in the Curly/Jud duet Poor Jud is Dead. Jud is really getting into this vision of how awful people will feel when he's dead, and Curly is echoing:
    Jud: And folks are feeling sad that they used to treat him bad, and now they know their friend is gone for good.
    Curly: Good.
  • Romeo and Juliet
    • Tybalt. After all, the hero had just murdered him for what had ultimately been an accident. As this is Shakespeare, the validity of this is really up to the director and the actor.
    • Paris would also be a good example. He's often displayed in a negative light, but ultimately, is simply a man trying to woo a girl he's in love with in the typical fashion of that era, and he's killed while trying to arrest a dangerous criminal who had killed the cousin of the woman he loved, and, for all he knew, drove her to suicide.
  • Javert from Les Misérables gets sent off with an absolute Tear Jerker of a song, after having his entire worldview shattered.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: "So long Judas, poor ol' Judas." (You could interpret it as mockery, though.)
  • Macbeth: As a Shakespearean tragedy with a Villain Protagonist, this is a given.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Beatrice falls in this trope. She starts the series as a witch who loves to kill Battler's family in the most horrifying ways, but in EP5 it's confirmed that she didn't actually enjoy doing this, and in EP7 you are shown just how Beatrice came to be. After she's broken, Bernkastel keeps playing with her.
  • All of the murderers in Dangan Ronpa are presented this way immediately before their execution. Most of them are portrayed as a Sympathetic Murderer.
  • Godot's defeat in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations could count, judging by how he was desperately trying to repay his debt for Mia Fey, for whom he blames himself for her death and has been taking it out on Phoenix for his failure to stop the murder back in the second case of the first game. It's not until Bridge to Turnabout that he was finally ready to forgive him.
    • Acro's defeat as well in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, with his remark (that you have to interpret for Regina) about how he wanted to stick around. He's worried that he might be in prison or executed by the time his brother gets out of his coma.
  • Caster in Fate/stay night's "Unlimited Blade Works" scenario. Yes, she captures and tortures Saber, holds Taiga hostage, and is responsible for many a Bad End in Unlimited Blade Works, including one where she orders Shiro's friend, Issei, to kill him. Yet her last moments were so touching, it almost made you forget all that.
    • Kirei Kotomine in Heaven's Feel, even more so. His actions in the route, and the backstory it reveals, does an impressive job of building sympathy for him, considering that he lives to see others suffer and is actively trying to destroy the world. Seeking the reason for his twisted existence, he died without regret. No wonder Shirou realized that he liked Kirei.
    • Zouken Matou. It's difficult to feel sympathy for the monster he's become, but you might just pity the idealistic Zouken Makiri, who kept seeking immortality so that the woman he loved wouldn't have died in vain.
    • Ilya, who in 'Fate' was a psychopathic monster at worst, appeared in 'Unlimited Blade Works' long enough for a tearjerking finale with backstory that managed to woobify her without even giving away her whole Freudian Excuse (which was saved for 'Heaven's Feel'). And Berserker, already Deader Than Dead from his Self-Destructive Charge, managed to stand long enough to give her comfort before both died.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Order of the Stick:
    • Miko Miyazaki's slide from holier-than-thou Knight Templar to a Tautological Templar has her murder her lord, lose her Paladin powers, and accidentally kill herself in fulfilling what she had decided was her divinely ordained destiny. The ghost of her order's founder tells her that her efforts were... adequate... but not worthy of redemption, which she accepts with uncharacteristic grace as she dies. It's still debated whether she deserved it.
    • In strip 830, it's really hard not to pity Tsukiko — an unrepentant Card-Carrying Villain who sold out her own city to Xykon — when Redcloak usurps control over her wights, who she'd treated like her own children, to prove that undead are little more then automatons for necromancers of any stripe. And then he has them drain her to death. And then eat her. She was a sick, twisted, self-confessed necrophiliac who was obsessed with Xykon because every living person she ever met in her entire life treated her like crap. What puts her solidly in Alas Poor Villain territory is that she really and truly loved him, and only died because she discovered concrete proof that Redcloak is manipulating Xykon, and that the MacGuffin they're after won't get Xykon the power he wants. The point really gets hammered home when the only person to mourn is the Monster in the Darkness, who points out that in the end, Tsukiko just wanted to be loved.
      Demon-roach: So what? Who cares?
      Monster in the Dark: Exactly. That's why I'm sad.
    • Nale's death in 913: Independent has caused some of these reactions. Nale is a petty, selfish mass-murderer, but hearing his anger about being treated like a tool by his father, and refusing his father's help to his face shows that he has balls, only to get stabbed by his own father. Plus Elan's reaction...
    • Subverted when a reanimated Crystal is dumped into lava: three panels of silence, followed by brunch.
  • Whenever Oasis dies in Sluggy Freelance, it's treated with sadness, even when she's been in full-on Ax-Crazy, Stalker with a Crush mode, since we know she's only like that because Dr. Steve Brainwashed her. However, as Oasis becomes more heroic and we learn she'll always come back from being killed, this has faded.
  • The entire cast of The Last Days of FOXHOUND. Except Mantis and Ocelot.
  • Violent Glaswegian Dougie in What the Fu suffers a breakdown from the revelation that he's not actually Scottish. Zac almost feels sorry for him, except he's "still a murderous psychotic bastard".
  • Homestuck:
    • Vriska Serket, who had spent the entirety of Act 5 Act 2 getting closer to John and finally admitting that she wanted to try living a normal life. She was killed by Terezi in order to prevent her from fighting Jack, which in an alternate timeline got everybody except Vriska and Aradia killed. Her final message? Telling John that if and when they finally do meet, she'd like to go on a date.
    • Courtyard Droll, Jack's clueless underling who fails at being evil, which gets his superiors pretty annoyed with him. When he finally manages to follow one of Jack's orders to the letter (Jack had ordered him to kill Jade, something Jack himself couldn't do due to his Undying Loyalty from Bec's prototyping), Jack snaps and kills him. Thankfully the Scratch brings him back. Sort of.
    • Snowman is a Jerkass, but it's hard not to feel bad for her when the Doc Scratch-influenced Spades Slick shoots her dead at the end of Act 5, especially since she had just saved his life a few moments before. Furthermore, she requests and welcomes her own death as an end to her eternal servitude to Lord English.
  • In Our Little Adventure, in universe, the body gets dump with the epigraph: You poor, stupid kid.
  • Ephsephin from Unsounded, an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who suffers more and more abuse as the story goes on. He becomes even more sympathetic when Word of God says he was a failure at life who was obsessed with over how he couldn't provide a better life for his mother. The only reason he signed up with Starfish was to get a big enough payoff so that she wouldn't have to keep breaking her back working. After he gets grievously wounded by Jivi and begs Starfish for a doctor, Starfish merely smiles, then bashes his head in with a whiskey bottle.
  • Tobun in Penny Arcade's Cardboard Tube Samurai storyline, is implied to have become a Death Seeker after being compelled to commit atrocities. Fighting the CTS hand to hand, his last words are "before this moment, did I ever see the world?"
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: The first Cell Jr's death by his own father's hands. Especially after he had a Hope Spot of becoming more powerful.
  • At the grand finale of Errant Story, Ian just keeps repeating "I just wanted to help." Despite a personal body count in the thousands, he's quite serious. However, it doesn't keep him from getting his brains blown out.
  • Apple Bloom in Moody Mark Crusaders. Even though she's a jerk, it's hard not to feel sorry when she's Taken for Granite. She gets better though.
  • Kalki in Drowtales spends the majority of her screentime either acting like The Fake Cutie or inflicting serious harm or brutal deaths on other characters, including stabbing the hand of her own half-sister and nearly killing her by chopping off her arm the very first time they meet, but the way her mother Snadhya'rune, whose neglectful parenting was at least half the reason she became as twisted as she did, coldly kills her and tells her she has outlived her usefulness firmly puts her into this.

    Web Original 
  • Happens quite often in Survival of the Fittest:
    • Bobby Jacks' death, committed after realising the path he took. Read it here.
    • Laeil Burbank goes out with a fairly tragic death, accented by how violently and sadistically she received her fatal injury and how she was almost saved. Found here.
    • Clio Gabriella gets a fairly touching send-off, dying in her boyfriend's arms while she begs for him to save her after being shot. Again, readable here.
  • In the tradition of its source material, Stray does this for one of its villains - the Tyke Bomb Patriot agent Esau.
  • Mega 64 Version 3 ends with the legitimately tragic death of Dr. Poque, who started the series as the main antagonist.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the villain Hardcase was generally thought of as a brutish, selfish thug who liked to beat up women for fun, drank too much, and was generally a sleaze. And on September 11, 2001, he gave his life by using his superhuman strength to save people from the collapsing North Tower of the World Trade Center. The heroes not only campaigned to get him a posthumous presidential pardon, they sprang for a funeral the likes of which are normally reserved for deceased presidents and popes.
  • CT in Red vs. Blue (no, not the one from Season 7, the real Freelancer who the Rebel Leader took the identity of) was never really a villain in the first place, but instead ended up becoming a Hero Antagonist to try and take down the Director. Her reward for trying to do the right thing? A throwing axe to the chest which mortally wounds her, causing her to die in her lover's arms.
    • The Director also got a moment like this in the finale of Season 10, when he realised he should have spent more time looking after his daughter Carolina, realises that he has been chasing at ghosts futilely for several years, asks Carolina for a pistol, makes peace with her and F.I.L.L.S and then is implied to commit suicide.
  • Scion of Worm was unquestionably a sadistic, Omnicidal Maniac, but the way that Taylor defeated him by taunting him with the death of his counterpart makes it hard not to pity him.
  • Although a lot of the villains in Arby 'n' the Chief are usually downright over-the-top like Craig, or downright hateful like Adam, the series's final villain, Eugene Black is certainly an interesting case of this. As evident throughout the show's final season, he's a downright sadist who has no trouble letting his psychopathic or pedophile friends do as they wish to people online, as well as enjoys forcing hundreds of innocent people to replace their Xbox 360s after banning them with a hardware corrupting software over a period of 2 months, just for laughs. On the flipside though, he's also a failing student at his school (despite also being a bully too), is constantly abused by his Drunk (and sometimes neglectful) Father, and his sister (the only source of happiness in his life) is dying a slow and agonizing death of Leukemia. It's hard whether to feel sorry for him for how crappy his life is, or to hate him for how much of a bastard he is just to repress these feelings. To add insult to injury, this only get worse for him, and he's Driven to Suicide by the show's end.
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses goes out with a strange mix of this and Death as Comedy. In the Grand Finale, someone asks him "do you have a question?". He gets so excited that someone finally thought about what he wanted that he literally explodes. Lampshaded by Chester A. Bum, who is sad when he first finds out about That Guy's death, but then realizes that he was a terrible person and it's probably a good thing he's gone.
  • Llamas with Hats: It's oddly heartbreaking when Carl in the final episode gets Driven to Suicide by the realization that he's killed his former best (and probably only) friend along with everyone else on Earth.
  • Critical Role has one with Delilah Briarwood. She and her husband Sylas are, by all accounts, a loving couple who care for one another very, very deeply. They are also truly terrible people, and are the ones responsible for the massacre of protagonist Percy's family and household and the trauma he endured as a result, as well as unknown other evils. But even after the horrible things they did, critters and players felt bad for Delilah, due to her absolutely heartbroken reaction when she saw Sylas killed right before her eyes.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Villainous Woobie Moment