->''"Look at you. You know what you want me to do. You know what has to be done. But it's not 'honorable,' so the words stick in your throat. When the Queen proclaims one king, and the Hand proclaims another, whose peace do the Gold Cloaks protect... ? The man who pays them."''
-->-- '''Littlefinger,''' ''Series/GameOfThrones''

There's a problem, and the heroes can't solve it or make it go away. It boils down to a situation that requires a decidedly [[ShootTheDog unheroic action]] to solve, whether it's hurting, [[ThouShaltNotKill killing]], or something even less pleasant. The heroes can't very well do it and still be classic White Hats, but ''not'' doing anything would have grave consequences. Who can save the day now? Not the BigDamnHeroes, but the ''villains''! Hey, they're evil already, doing an evil act to save the day is no problem. Essentially the author's version of TakeAThirdOption in a narrative lose/lose situation.

Different from a HeelFaceTurn because the villain isn't necessarily being heroic; the villain may be [[PragmaticVillainy entirely motivated out of self-interest]], such as [[EnemyMine fighting a common threat]] or because [[EvilerThanThou a competitor is challenging his place as nemesis]]. Another possibility is it [[MakesUsEven makes them even]] for previous SaveTheVillain behavior. It's possible for it to even be a complete coincidence. At any rate, in more philosophic works, the villain will be likely to subject the hero to some flavor of TheReasonYouSuckSpeech, explaining that the hero can only afford to be so squeaky clean because of this trope.

SubTrope of NonProtagonistResolver; in this case, the "resolver" is the villain. Contrast VillainousRescue, where a villain pulls a BigDamnHeroes without committing any acts that were too reprehensible for the good guys in the process. If the villain saves the day by accident through doing something villainous, that's NiceJobFixingItVillain. Overlaps with TheDogBitesBack when the "dog" is a minion. See DisneyVillainDeath for when there is no other bad guy to do the work, so it is done by gravity. If the hero deliberately sets it up, this is a possible case of DoWithHimAsYouWill. Compare AlwaysABiggerFish, when a usually non-sapient monster saves the heroes from another monster.

NoPlaceForMeThere and NecessarilyEvil are this trope applied to UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans.

Also see ExitPursuedByABear, DesignatedEvil, PoisonousFriend and TokenEvilTeammate (the 'hero' inclined to play dirty pool in a team of good guys), and TheDogShotFirst (keep the hero morally upright by making their unsavory actions into self-defense).



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* This tends to apply frequently to the main characters of ''Manga/ApocalypseNoToride'', although ''most'' of their actions could be written off as {{Villainous Rescue}}s. One particular instance of this is Yoshioka stabbing another inmate through the hand and pinning him to a table to divert the zombies, giving them a chance to escape.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', the Central 46 are {{Obstructive Bureaucrat}}s of the worst kind. Good thing [[spoiler:[[BigBad Aizen]] [[BoardToDeath kills them all]].]] Although the person who killed them had been frequently acting in their names, manipulating, or outright impersonating them for a long time now (all the decisions relating to Rukia's sentence were carried out by [[spoiler:Aizen]] and his accomplices impersonating them), so it's hard to tell just how obstructive they ''really'' were...
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', hardly anyone outside of Britannia likes the Imperial Family, which the main character claims to be a symbol of evil that looks down on others. They promote Social Darwinsim, support militarism and genocide, and/or are pretty much a band of over-privileged parasites. The only exception all three of these is Euphemia [[spoiler:and Lelouch accidentally geasses her into starting a massacre, forcing him to ShootTheDog by killing her.]] As for the rest, [[spoiler:Prince Schneizel does the world a favor by annihilating most of them in one swoop, though this doesn't change the fact that he blows up the entire capital with all its inhabitants in the process.]]
* Invoked in ''Anime/CrossAnge'' when [[spoiler:Embryo uses the WaveMotionGun on his mech to kill Julio.]]
* ''Anime/DokiDokiPrecure'' has it in for [[spoiler:Bel killing off Leva and Gula after they got defeated by Precure for the last time, effectively giving the team not only free from the duo but also getting their darkness to use it on Ira and Marmo.]]
* ''Franchise/DragonBall'':
** ''Anime/DragonBallZ'': Vegeta's entire purpose, story-wise, for being on Namek is to kill every single minor villain so the heroes (or at least Goku) don't have to. Cui, Dodoria, Zarbon, 4/5ths of the Ginyu Force (two while helpless!) and most of Freeza's mooks. Goku clearly doesn't want him doing this, and even calls him out after killing the two helpless Ginyu Force members. [[spoiler:Though Goku kills Freeza himself, or would have if King Cold didn't show up to revive him... only for ''both'' of them to be killed off by [[GenerationXerox Vegeta's]] KidFromTheFuture.]]
** ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', also has this in the Universe Survival Arc. While mostly averting it initially with all of the Z-Fighters doing the eliminating of other universes, Frieza eventually steps up in eliminating Dyspo coupled with a HeroicSacrifice from Gohan. Frieza later pulls a VillainousRescue, keeping Jiren from attacking the Saiyans who had been knocked down as he attempts to [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou kill Jiren himself]].
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'', after the eponymous guild is satisfied with just letting Grimoire Heart, the worst villains they faced so far who are clearly still evil, off with a scolding due to [[spoiler:their leader being the guild's former master]], Grimoire Heart leaves. As they lament their failure, Zeref, who they spent the entire series trying to get their hands on, approaches them. When they attempt to instigate their plan, he brushes them off, lets them know why he hates their guts, and makes their leader the third person in the series to be killed.
** He also got the second kill of the series, though that was an AccidentalMurder.
* In [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist the 2003 anime version]] of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', the brothers need to create the Philosopher Stone. Problem: By episode 40, [[spoiler:it became obvious that in order to do that, one needs to kill quite a lot of people. Solution: Scar did it. And died in the process.]]
* This trope shows up several times in the second season of ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'', though very rarely played straight.
* In ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'', [[spoiler:Due]] disposes of the TSAB High Council, which was responsible for [[spoiler: having Scaglietti created]], preventing any such mistakes in the future.
* One wonders what the TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness group of old ladies who rule Japan (First Division) would have done to the cast of ''Anime/MaiHime'' had [[spoiler:Shizuru not gone crazy and killed them all]] after the cast ''kills their god.'' It's doubtful that they were [[spoiler:resurrected along with the rest of the cast.]]
** A scene with the Obsidian Lord indicates that he was planning to invoke YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness on them, but [[spoiler:Shizuru]] got to them first.
** In Mai's fight with Shiho, she's unable to go on the offensive, realizing that as both of them consider Yuuichi their most important person, either of their Childs being destroyed will result in his death (Shiho, being overcome with jealous rage, fails to realize this). Yuuichi, not wanting them to fight, orders Mai to destroy Shiho's Child ''while fully knowing that he'll kick it'', but she refuses. Then [[spoiler:a brainwashed Mikoto jumps in, having been conditioned to attack Mai's enemy, and destroys Shiho's child. Yuuichi thanks Mikoto for this before he passes away]].
* Played with in MaouNoHajimekata. The evil sorcerer Aur, the openly-evil VillainProtagonist, winds up catching a beautiful hero trying to slay him. As part of his attempt to corrupt him, he first displays the ways he helps villages that agree to serve him and then takes her to the village that'd asked her to kill him. These villagers try to stone her out of rage over all the losses they suffered after Aur took away his aid. When hero Yunis breaks and tries to kill the villagers, Aur does the task for her claiming that it's a villain's job, not a hero's.
* Johan from ''Anime/{{Monster}}'' kicks off the plot by killing the corrupt doctors who screwed Tenma's career over. He also tends to kill any lesser villains who might be threatening Tenma or Nina.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', [[RivalTurnedEvil Sasuke]] played this role in killing [[spoiler:Danzo]], as there was no way for the good guys to get rid of him without a huge political mess [[spoiler:because he was their acting leader at the time]]. His action enables [[spoiler:Tsunade to resume leadership once she awakens from her coma]] without any complications such as a power struggle.
* At the very end of ''Manga/{{Pluto}}'', [[spoiler:Brau-1589, the first robot to kill a human being and a Hannibal Lector {{Expy}} who spent most of the manga giving {{BreakingSpeech}}es to his visitors in prison, breaks free and kills TheManBehindTheMan[=/=]BigBad.]]
* In one episode of the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime, the heroes arrive at a festival dedicated to the Pokemon Wobbuffet, and several party-crashers come and start destroying things. The festival people explain that since Wobbuffet can't hurt the enemy except by reflecting attacks, in honor of that they will not attack the party crashers. Ash & co know the guys must be stopped, but are unwilling to break the rules of the festival. [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Team Rocket]], on the other hand, have no such qualms. [[CurbStompBattle Ass kicking]] [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown ensues.]]
* Discussed, but subverted in ''Manga/RaveMaster''. After defeating Hardner and learning about his sad past the heroes and their allies of the week are wondering what to do with him when Lucia comes out of nowhere and stabs him in the back, claiming they should be grateful that he solved the problem for them. Due to quick action, Hardner is instead saved and becomes the only ''Rave Master'' villain not to suffer from RedemptionEqualsDeath.
* This is very common in MagicalGirl series when it comes to the human-like lieutenants of the main villain. An example most western fans would be aware of is the big bads of ''Anime/SailorMoon'' kill off most of their own subordinates who fail them which keep Sailor Moon and company from having to get their hands dirty. This is not the case of the DarkerAndEdgier [[Manga/SailorMoon manga]] however where they regularly kill their adversaries.
** This courtesy does not, of course, extend to the BigBad themselves or often to their [[TheDragon Dragon]]. As more often than not Sailor Moon will kill them ''personally''.
* [[spoiler: Shiva and Agora]] from ''Manga/SaintSeiya'' invoke the trope when [[spoiler:they throw little Helen inside an active volcano.]] They even say that it's the best, [[spoiler: since they had killed her grandfather and would've died anyway]]; in their words, [[spoiler: after being offered as a 'sacrifice' of sorts, Helen's "pure and gentle" soul will become a benevolent spirit.]] [[spoiler:Ikki]] obviously refuses to take this explanation and says they just went [[KickTheDog in full puppykicking mode]]. [[spoiler:And uncommonly for this trope, ''Helen survives''.]]
* In ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'', at the end of the Koryo arc, Syaoran talks Chunyan out of killing the ryanban, but he is conveniently taken care of by his own previously mind-controlled servant.

* The first ''ComicBook/NickFury Agent of SHIELD'' story in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} ended with the fleeing leader of [[NebulousEvilOrganization HYDRA]] being killed by his own men when they fail to recognize him out of his identity-concealing uniform. Curiously, both Fury's UsefulNotes/WorldWarII stories in the concurrent ''Sergeant Fury and His Howling Commandoes'' comic and later SHIELD stories depicted Fury or his agents killing bad guys in combat.
* In the 1947 Franchise/{{Batman}} story that introduces Joe Chill, the [[DeathByOriginStory killer of Bruce Wayne's parents]], Batman confronts Chill and, in a fit of anger, reveals his SecretIdentity to him. Since this was back when recurring villains didn't get to learn such secrets, but Batman doesn't kill, Chill is instead killed by his own enraged men after he tells them he is responsible for creating Batman... and, naturally, dies before he can say just who's behind the mask.
** The story was later adapted for ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', but tweaks it by having Chill die in a freak accident before Batman's enemies could get him -- which was heavily hinted to have been arranged by ComicBook/TheSpectre. It still qualifies as this trope, as the Spectre is considered a hero but one that's far, ''far'' less scrupulous than Batman.
** In Post-''ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths'' continuity, Joe Chill would be killed off by psycho vigilante The Reaper just as Batman is struggling with the decision to kill him himself or not.
* Happens in ''ComicBook/{{Deadpool}}''. A man who had been abusing Wade's friend is cornered by him, but unfortunately, she had earlier made him promise not to kill him. He leaves. Cue Taskmaster, who happily proclaims that HE didn't promise her squat. Cue GoryDiscretionShot.
* At the end of ''ComicBook/InfiniteCrisis'', [[BigBad Alexander Luthor]] has managed to escape the FinalBattle and is planning to start over. Unfortunately, he forgot that he'd pissed off everyone's [[ComicBook/TheJoker favorite homicidal clown.]] Not content with the possibility that Luthor [[NotQuiteDead might]] [[GoryDiscretionShot return]], the writers have Mister J [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill burn him with acid, electrocute him and shoot him in the head.]]
--> [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome "Now who's]] [[SugarWiki/FunnyMoments stupid?"]]
* The remnants of The Black Glove that tried to utterly destroy Batman (and utterly failed) in ''ComicBook/BatmanRIP'' could have caused problems in the future. It's probably for the best that [[spoiler: Joker as Oberon Sexton]] killed them all. Later on, the same thing happens to [[spoiler: Simon Hurt]].
** Similarly, when Batman finally goes after the leadership of the [[ComicBook/NightOfTheOwls Court of Owls]], he finds that they've all already been killed by [[spoiler: Lincoln March.]]
* In a late '[[Comicbook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog Sonic the Hedgehog]]'' comic, Shadow confronts Eggman and outright states he's going to kill him. Eggman tries to play the ThouShaltNotKill rule. He turns out to be WrongGenreSavvy, as Shadow points out; "Sonic holds such beliefs. But then, he's a hero... I'm not."
* ''WayneShelton'' exploits this trope: the BigBad is killed by another villain. Shelton confesses that he hoped him to do this. And call this a bargain with his own conscience.
* Depending on if you see him as a hero, anti-hero or an anti-villain, most everything [[ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}} John Constantine]] does could be seen as this: [[IDidWhatIHadToDo he certainly does what needs to be done]] when Swampy and others he interacts with hesitate to.
* In an early ''ComicBook/{{Thunderbolts}}'' story (#14), the Thunderbolts have to kill an alien leader in order to get out of the dimension they're stuck in. Even though he understands the necessity of it, Abe (MACH-I) can't bring himself to, and Moonstone has to instead.
* In the ''ComicBook/XMen'' graphic novel ''ComicBook/GodLovesManKills'', the X-Men and their erstwhile ally ComicBook/{{Magneto}} have captured a few of the enemy "Purifiers." The heroes are desperate for information about the BigBad's plans, but the Purifier they question refuses to talk. Magneto, who at this point has yet to enter the HeelFaceRevolvingDoor, does...something...to the man to force him to answer.
** Something comparable happens in ''Uncanny X-Men'' #269. Here Comicbook/{{Rogue}} and the personality she absorbed from Comicbook/MsMarvel come out of the Siege Perilous as two separate persons; unfortunately there is only life force for one of them to survive, and therefore the Ms. Marvel revenant (a separate being from Carol Danvers, who was then in outer space as Binary) tries to kill Rogue. Rogue manages to defeat her, but can't bring herself to kill her even to survive, and so "Ms. Marvel" turns the tables again. She is about to kill Rogue when Magneto intervenes and kills the Ms. Marvel revenant. This could possibly be interpreted as Magneto being a CombatPragmatist, but the subsequent story (#274-275) shows him starting on the road to becoming a villain again.
* ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} considers himself damned already because of his past, so he's willing to cross lines actual heroes shouldn't. He does not want anyone else, especially kids, following his example.
* Similarly, in Transformers ''ComicBook/MoreThanMeetsTheEye'' Whirl believes he's already a monster, and knows that sometimes to keep people safe there are difficult decisions in which there is no winner. He is willing to make those choices so that good people aren't forced to do bad things.
* Happens a lot in ''ComicBook/JonathanHickmansAvengers''. With the Incursions threatening all existence, the Illuminati reform to try and find a way to stop them. However, their first option doesn't work, and their next option they consider far too horrific to actually do it. So [[Comicbook/SubMarine Namor]] [[spoiler:reforms the Cabal, who for eight months handle the Incursions themselves, albeit with wholesale slaughter of other universes thrown in for good measure. Elsewhere, Doctor Doom sets about analysis the Incursions, and learns far more about their mechanisms than the Illuminati ever did.]]
* Namor has a history of this. During the ''Emperor Doom'' graphic novel, he was the one who ultimately stopped ComicBook/DoctorDoom's mind control machine by killing the Purple Man.
* In ''ComicBook/SecretSix'', someone once put out a hit on the Six, resulting in Scandal's beloved girlfriend Knockout being critically injured, and Scandal tracked down the would-be assassin and brought her back to their base. However, having tied the woman to a chair, she was unable to bring herself to finish her off. Her teammate Deadshot stepped in and shot the woman himself, sparing Scandal the trouble.
* In the final issue of ''ComicBook/{{Rat-Man}}'', the title character struggles with the idea of killing Topin, even after his former apprentice nearly destroyed the world, [[spoiler:kidnapped his daughter and was revealed to have influenced him into not contacting her or her mother]]. Before Rat-Man can steel himself and do the deed, [[TokenEvilTeammate Valker stomps on Topin's head]].
** Valker was rescued from the Shadow specifically for this trope: being a [[ReformedButNotTamed a sociopathic villain who just happened to have a reason to side with the heroes]], namely [[spoiler:[[PapaWolf remembering that Rat-Man is his son]]]], he's more than willing to murder any of the Shadow's minions, and, as [[HeroKiller his body count of superheroes]] can attest, extremely capable at it.
* In the Punisher / Daredevil crossover ''Seventh Circle'', Murdoch arranges for the guilty-as-hell Antonov to be put on trial in Texas, as there's no way they can get an impartial jury in New York. Frank (who doesn't know they're the same person) has a different theory: Murdoch is setting up the trial in Texas as they still use the death penalty, ensuring Antonov dies legally rather than a sniper's bullet (Frank's plan). [[LetsYouAndHimFight Several people die because they can't agree on the ethics of the whole thing.]]
* In ''ComicBook/StreetFighterVsDarkstalkers'', [[spoiler:Jedah Domah is killed Gill (his [[BigBadDuumvirate partner]] whom Jedah [[TheDogBitesBack betrayed]]) by pulling out his heart from his body and then Akuma (a decidedly grey character) delivers the killing blow by striking him with the Dylec sword. Granted, its not like the heroes weren't trying, its just Jedah was so powerful that it just so happened the ones to defeat him were bad guys. Ironically, Gill himself is defeated just as when he tries to claim victory for getting rid of the competition, he is teleported back to Earth by his own cultists trying to resurrect him]].
* ''ComicBook/{{Ultimatum}}'': Reed is fully aware of the things that Van Damme did, including his part in all this, but his moral code does not allow him to kill him. So he blames himself that he's partially responsible, because his unwillingness o kill caused all this. He confided all this with Ben, who then took it to himself to do what Reed did not dare to do, and kill Van Damme.


* ''Fanfic/TheLionKingAdventures'' features two examples:
** In ''Friends to the End'', [[spoiler:Hago kills Scar whilst his back is turned.]]
** In ''The Interceptor's Challenge'', the Interceptor [[spoiler:rips Shocker's head off, before burying him underneath the ground for all eternity.]]
* ''FanFic/QueenOfAllOni'': So far, all of the villains killed off have met their ends at the hands of [[VillainProtagonist Jade]] or her minions.
* In ''FanFic/TheEndOfEnds'', [[spoiler:Dr. Beljar makes it really easy for the Titans to not kill Beast Boy, since he takes over control of the Dark Prognosticus, and it’s required that whoever controls the Prognosticus must die in order to close the void. This arguably ends up being a moot point, though, when Beast Boy dies anyway from injuries sustained in the battle.]]
* In ''Fanfic/PerfectionIsOverrated'', the First District is dealt with in a similar manner to canon, but this time by [[spoiler:The [[BigBad Usurper-possessed Obsidian Lord]] and his minions]].
* A bizarre example happens in ''Fanfic/ThePrayerWarriors''. After [[ArcVillain Dumbledore]] is killed, the heroes need to burn his body, and they apparently do not have any other means to set a fire, so they have HarryPotter, their (recently BackFromTheDead) enemy, burn it with fire magic, because he's going to hell anyway.
* In the ''{{WebAnimation/RWBY}}'' Fanfic ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10515746/1/Those-Silver-Eyes Those Silver Eyes]]'', Summer Rose refuses to kill Barbary, even though he's blatantly threatening to spark a second Faunus War to KillAllHumans. Even after he tries to kill her after she spared his life, she refuses to finish the job. Fortunately, he runs afoul of a pack of Ursa Majors, who have no such qualms.
* This is pretty standard procedure for Ulquiorra in ''FanFic/AHollowInEquestria'' when something needs to be done that the ponies can't do themselves.
* In ''FanFic/{{Webwork}}'', an [[UnstoppableRage enraged Tohru]] almost crosses the line by killing the new Squid Khan General [[spoiler: [[TheSociopath Simon Leston]]]]. Before he can, however, [[FallenHero Jade]] swoops in and handles it for him.
* ''Fanfic/EarthsAlienHistory'' has a couple of examples:
** When the Reapers invade the Alpha Quadrant, they do several things that inadvertently help out the rest of the galaxy, such as [[spoiler: killing the [[BigBadWannabe Mekon]]]] and breaking the power of the Orion Syndicate.
** When the Romulans help Blackfire take over Tamaran, they also take the time to destroy the Citadel Empire ([[OneSteveLimit not to be confused with the Citadel Council]]), which had been tormenting the Tamaraneans for years.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Simba from ''Disney/TheLionKing'' is too moral to give Scar the killing blow. However, the hyenas who Scar tried to blame for everything when things started looking bad... they have no such morals. And they haven't eaten in a while...
-->'''Scar:''' Ah! My friends!\\
'''Shenzi''': [[TheDogBitesBack "Friends?" I thought he said we were the]] ''[[BackstabBackfire enemy.]]''\\
'''Banzai''': Yeah, that's what I heard.\\
'''Shenzi and Banzai:''' Ed?\\
'''Ed''': [[EvilLaugh Eh, heh heh heh, heh heh heh heh...]]
* Similarly in ''Disney/ThePrincessAndTheFrog,'' [[spoiler:the Friends on the Other Side pull this off]] after Tiana [[spoiler: breaks Dr. Facilier's talisman, making it impossible for him to pay off his spiritual debt. They [[DraggedOffToHell take him to the Other Side]]]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/IceAgeContinentalDrift'', [[spoiler:Captain Gutt]] is implicitly devoured by [[EnthrallingSiren the sirens]].
-->'''Siren:''' (''emerging from a clamshell [[MasterOfIllusion in the form of]] [[spoiler:an ape mermaid]]'') Oh [[spoiler:Captain Gutt]]...\\
'''[[spoiler:Captain Gutt]]:''' That's me!\\
'''Siren:''' Let's rule the seas together!\\
'''[[spoiler:Captain Gutt]]:''' ''Aye-aye!''\\
'''Siren:''' (''flashes a terrifying SlasherSmile at him and drags him into her shell'')
* PlayedWith in ''WesternAnimation/HortonHearsAWho''. The Sour Kangaroo is a [[JerkAss prissy, bossy, stuck-up prude]], but she genuinely believes that she's in the right as far as getting rid of the clover. She also prides herself on being a lady who doesn't "get [my] hands dirty", which is why she hires Vlad to get rid of it for her. When Vlad fails and her patience is at her limit, she subverts this entirely, [[spoiler: leading an angry mob to trap Horton in a cage and dropping the clover over the boiling oil herself]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'':
** The crew of the Dutchman in ''[[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd At World's End]]'' in the wake of Norrington's HeroicSacrifice as Elizabeth's crew makes their getaway.
** Done in ''[[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanOnStrangerTides On Stranger Tides]]'' by the Spanish navy with the intention to ''destroy'' the Fountain of Youth.
* ''Franchise/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'' saga is based on taking this trope and making a franchise out of it.
* The climax scene of ''Film/LetTheRightOneIn'' goes...this way, kind of. [[spoiler: As the kid's about to be drowned, the Eli shows up and saves the day. But since she's a vampire, she kills three people doing so.]]
* In ''Film/RedSun'', the villains are about to kill the heroes, only to be interrupted by an attack by murderous Comanches.
* ''Film/TheDarkKnightTrilogy'':
** The Joker did this in his own twisted way in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', when a Wayne Enterprises accountant discovered Bruce's big secret and was about to reveal it to the world on live television (because the Joker had threatened a massive killing spree if Batman didn't reveal his identity). But leave it to the Joker to take something that would have been a favor to Batman, and to twist it to his own ends:
-->'''The Joker:''' [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou I don't want Mr. Reese spoiling everything]], but why should I have all the fun? Let's give someone else a chance. If Coleman Reese isn't dead in sixty minutes then I blow up a hospital.
** Straight example in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'': Batman's one rule keeps him from [[spoiler: killing Bane. But Catwoman has no such restriction.]]
** Subverted in ''Film/BatmanBegins'': Bruce is about to assassinate Joe Chill when [[spoiler: the mob assassinates him instead for becoming an informant]]. This is when Bruce realizes that crime has become so pervasive, killing one person won't resolve anything.
* ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'':
** ''Film/XMen1'': The Mutant Registration Act is defeated due to the Brotherhood unintentionally killing the Act's main supporter and [[VoluntaryShapeshifting Mystique]] replacing him later on.
** ''Film/XMenApocalypse'': A BrainwashedAndCrazy [[spoiler:Wolverine]] slaughters all of Stryker's soldiers holding our heroes prisoner.
* Creator/ChrisPine's character in ''Film/{{Carriers}}'' where everyone is a CrazySurvivalist [[ShootTheDog shoots the dog]] many times in order to spare his more innocent brother from doing it himself. It rubs off on his brother though, who later finally gets his hands dirty by killing Pine when he is infected.
* Salim from ''Film/SlumdogMillionaire'' spends most of the movie playing TheCaretaker to Jamal, [[ShootTheDog shooting]] and [[KickTheDog kicking]] the dog alternately allowing them both to survive, but allowing Jamal to remain relatively untarnished.
* In ''Film/BadLieutenantPortOfCallNewOrleans'', the title character is being pursued by gangsters who want him to pay $50,000 for roughing up the son of a local real estate mogul. Rather than paying, he lures them to a place where he's meeting a drug kingpin that he's in business with. When the gangsters try to steal the kingpin's product in payment for what the protagonist owes, the kingpin and his men kill them all.
* In ''Film/{{Child 44}}'', [[spoiler: Leo finally catches up to the serial killer who's been gruesomely murdering children... and he proves to have NotSoDifferent back-story to Leo himself, as well as wracked by guilt about his horrific crimes, which he claims not to be able to control. As Leo hesitates over whether to shoot him as he intended to, [[TheDragon Vasili]] comes along and does it for him.]]
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'':
** In the extended cut of Return of the King, what to do with [[spoiler: Saruman]] is a bit of a problem for Théoden and the Fellowship. He resists coming quietly to be questioned until Grima backstabs him after being kicked around one too many times.
** The sudden presence of [[spoiler:Gollum]] at Mount Doom means that Sam doesn't have to [[spoiler:fight or even kill Frodo to complete the quest and destroy the Ring after Frodo succumbs to the Ring's temptation and refuses to destroy it himself]], since someone is already handling the fight for him.
* In ''Literature/{{Insurgent}}'', [[spoiler:Tori, one of Tris' friends, kills Jeanine near the end of the novel to avenge her brother]]. In its film adaptation, ''Film/TheDivergentSeriesInsurgent'', [[spoiler:it's instead Evelyn who does the job, likely to foreshadow the fact that she is much crueler than she appears to be]].
* In ''Film/TheBigHeat'', Debby kills Mrs. Duncan and brings down the titular big heat on the mob — sparing the TechnicalPacifist hero to do it.
* In ''Film/TheHandmaiden'', [[spoiler:Kouzuki brings Fujiwara back to his estate after being tipped by Hideko as to his location, and then Fujiwara [[BetterToDieThanBeKilled kills himself]] [[TakingYouWithMe and Kouzuki]]. Sook-hee and Hideko are able to escape without needing to kill either of them directly.]]
* ''Film/DevilInABlueDress'': Easy Rawlins discovers that a friend was involved in a woman's murder. He leaves the man to be guarded by his PsychoSidekick Mouse while he goes to save the DamselInDistress. When he comes back, his friend has been strangled by Mouse. When Easy gets upset, Mouse pointedly asks, "If you didn't want him dead, Easy; why did you leave him with ''me?''"
* Discussed but ultimately averted in ''Film/BestSeller'', in which a psychopathic ProfessionalKiller teams up with a detective turned novelist to write his story about his work for a CorruptCorporateExecutive. The novelist decides to publicly expose the executive instead of shooting him, causing the killer to quip that he ruined a perfect ending for the book.

* In the backstory of ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', the princesses were married to Keifer Porter, an abusive rapist who was prone to temper tantrums. The elder princesses were madly in love with him because he was so pretty, and as it was the eldest sisters decision to divorce him, the younger sisters' only option to get rid of him would have been murder. Keifer conveniently dies in an attempt on the princesses' life, which sadly also claims the lives of many innocent people, among them half of the princesses. The dead sisters are mourned, Keifer is not.
* In ''Literature/DragonBones'' a minor villain is killed by his boss because he didn't do a good enough job. Although the heroes are horrified at the cruel manner of execution, it is very convenient for them, as [[spoiler: the man in question betrayed his heroic older brother in order to become the one in charge of their estate. His brother loved him very much,]] and it would have been a real problem to determine what to do with him, had the villain not solved the problem for them.
* ''The Probability Broach'': It would be wrong to attack the Hamiltonians ''before'' they import a nuclear weapon, so they're killed off by a [[ChekhovsGun previously mentioned]] side effect of closing a broach when [[PortalCut something is halfway through it.]]
* When the Azn Bad Boys begin [[spoiler:a bombing spree]] in ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', supervillains of the town team up to attack the ABB's bases in order to remove that chaotic element from the table -- and end up doing a lot more visible damage to the organization than the local superhero teams.
** It's growing into a major theme, stretching from taking down the ABB, to going toe-to-toe with several major threats, to [[VillainProtagonist Skitter]] keeping the peace in her territory safer than it had been for years. People noticed, too. [[spoiler: They noticed enough to shield her from an arresting band of "heroes".]]
** The one trope that best summarizes the theme of the story. [[spoiler: The Biggest, Damnedest Villains of all, Cauldron, exist for the purpose of saving as much of humanity as possible from an inevitable catastrophe, and even the ''[[{{Kaiju}} Endbringers]]'' pitch in to help when that catastrophe arrives.]]
* The [[Literature/TheCulture Culture]] novel ''Matter'' has a SealedEvilInACan being released and in typical Banks fashion killing most of the main cast. While this is nearly all of the heroes, it also includes the EvilChancellor who had usurped a throne and his minions. Thus, the Culture are able to set-up the surviving hero as the future prime minister, and unlike in other novels in the series, didn't actually have to act morally ambiguously and get rid of corrupt leaders themselves.
** In general in Culture novels, Special Circumstances plays this role for the rest of the Culture (and their non-Culture Citizen agents play this role to the rest of the organization). Literature/UseOfWeapons contains a particularly clear example of this with the amoral/immoral protagonist and his anti-hero handlers taking on a morally ambiguous mission that will help promote freedom and tolerance in general for a particular region, but cost a lot of innocent and not-so-innocent lives in the meantime.
* In ''Discworld/NightWatch'', Vimes frees prisoners from the [[TortureCellar Cable Street watch house]]. In the process, he has to subdue a [[TortureTechnician torturer]], who he leaves tied to a chair and forgets about until someone reminds him. Since he gets reminded ''after'' he started burning the place down, he has to run back in, all the while trying to decide whether to kill the mook, cut him free, or cut just enough rope that he can maybe escape before he burns to death. Luckily, [[ANaziByAnyOtherName Captain Swing]] shows up and kills the mook before Vimes has to make his choice.
** Vetinari: In his own words “history needs its butchers as well as its shepherds” or, in plainer language “{{Magnificent Bastard}}s do the dirty work.” Note Swing ''also'' used the phrase.
** "Stoneface" Vimes used more or less the same phrase, and executes the last king of Ankh in person, without any form of trial. To be fair, the king deserved it, and some of the comments about the event indicate that he ''tried'' for a trial, but there wasn't anyone willing to be judge.
** ''Discworld/GoingPostal'' also had this, in a way. It turns out that [[spoiler: the backlog of unsent letters at the Post Office are sentient and want to be delivered, and are powerful enough to cause telepathic hallucinations. Not only is this very dangerous given the number of Vetinari's men that got killed falling off of ledges that they couldn't see, it is flatly impossible to deliver some of them since they come from another universe's Post Office, and could cause a lot of upheaval if they accidentally got out. Conveniently, Reacher Gilt's [[TheDragon Dragon]] is an arsonist and burns the office down, letters and all, relieving Moist of the burden.]]
* In Creator/BernardCornwell's book ''Agincourt'', the main character, Nick Hook, has made a vow to a priest not to kill the murderous rapists who his family has been in a blood feud with for generations. [[spoiler: His arch-enemy, father-in-law, and prisoner (it's complicated) made no such promise.]]
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'', the Pensieve reveals to Harry that [[spoiler:Snape]] felt he was subjected to this when he was told to kill [[spoiler:Dumbledore]] so that [[spoiler:Draco]] wouldn't have to cross the point of no return.
* Happens in the second ''Literature/DaughterOfTheLioness'' book by Creator/TamoraPierce. Aly's god-ordered objective is to put one of two sisters on the throne of the Copper Isles as part of a revolution. Among the people they will be usurping are the five-year-old king and the girls' own three-year-old half-brother, whom Aly (and a number of the other {{Rebel Leader}}s) has personally cared for. Aly considered binding them with magical oaths to not try and retake the throne and exiling them with a bodyguard, but everyone knew that wasn't a perfect solution and the boys could still be figureheads or martyrs for a counterrevolution. Then Aly mentioned the problem to said god, he got impatient over [[JerkAssGods such an "insignificant" problem]], and [[spoiler:whispered in the regents' ears until they decided to kill the boys ''themselves'' so they could just have the throne for themselves]].
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' This is how Lannisters endeared themselves to Robert Baratheon. Robert's Rebellion was won except for the Targaryens' last holdout, King's Landing. Tywin Lannister, who had stayed out of the fight until it was all but decided, tricked the Targaryens into letting his army inside their city and then sacked it. Tywin's son Jaime Lannister instigated a BodyguardBetrayal on King Aerys, while Tywin's bannermen assassinated the last of the Targaryen line still in the city. This deflected a lot of blame for the atrocities at King's Landing onto the Lannisters, sparing Robert's reputation and conscience. Tyrion would question the wisdom of this, citing that it made the entire realm despise them when they could have let Robert take the blame. Tywin however felt that since they entered the war that late, they had to do it to prove their allegiance.
--> We had come late to [[TheAlliance Robert's cause]]. It was necessary to demonstrate our loyalty. When I laid those bodies before the throne no man could doubt that we had forsaken [[RoyalBlood House Targaryen]] forever. And Robert's relief was palpable. As stupid as he was even ''he'' knew [[TheWisePrince Rhaegar's]] children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Yet he saw himself as a hero, and heroes do not kill children.
* In ''Narnia/TheLastBattle'', Tash (i.e. Satan) gets rid of some of the bad guys - since they inadvertently summoned him for real, thinking he didn't exist.
* In the Creator/DaleBrown novel ''Executive Intent'', the Chinese assault on and takeover of Mogadishu is likened to this InUniverse by one character, noting how China had solved the problem (Somali pirates, to be exact) most of the world probably secretly wanted to deal with but could not bring themselves to handle.
* Wormtongue killing Saruman near the end of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''.
* A weird meta example occurs in the first ''Literature/WarriorCats'' MythArc. [[TheHero Firestar]] had to defeat [[BigBad Tigerstar]], but being the classical HeroicArchetype he needed to beat Tigerstar with moral superiority. Unfortunately, Tigerstar's plan was actually beneficial to the forest, with it's only problem being that someone crazy and evil was designing it. The problem was resolved in the last book of the arc ''The Darkest Hour'', when Tigerstar's ally [[PsychoForHire Scourge]] betrays him and becomes the BigBad, allowing Firestar to have an opponent he could kill by having greater morals.
* Literature/TheHungerGames are about a competition where 24 children have to kill each other until only one is left standing. Luckily for the main character, a group of kids who went into the game by choice rather than by force are painted in a very negative light, and commit almost all of the unprovoked killings.
* ''[[Literature/{{Deverry}} The Deverry Cycle]]'' has little Olaen. When the Deverrian civil war ends, five-year-old Olaen 'rules' the losing side. The choices to prevent future challenge are death, castration, or blinding, the later two involving turning him over to the priesthood to raise. [[spoiler:[[EvilChancellor Oggyn]] poisons the boy with 'Dwarven Salts'.[[note]]WordOfGod is the salts are arsenic.[[/note]]]]
* Ruahkini in ''Literature/TheQuestOfTheUnaligned'' is an incredibly rude and borderline crazy RichBitch who is perpetually insulting Laeshana and patronizing Alaric, as well as being partially responsible for the destructive imbalance in Caederan's magic. Unfortuantely, he's also the royal chancellor, so there's no conceivable way for the heroes to get rid of him. [[spoiler: Luckily, his AxCrazy [[BlackMagic hoshek]] brother Gaithim shows up and kills him.]]
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', this is why the [[KnightInShiningArmor Knights of the Cross]] sometimes fight alongside [[AntiHero Harry]] [[IDidWhatIHadToDo Dresden]]. He's not evil, but he's willing to ShootTheDog and do morally questionable things if it averts a greater evil- freedom the Knights, who are truly [[AllLovingHero good]], [[FriendToAllLivingThings loving people]]- do not have.
%% * Being a FallenHero, Kalona from ''Literature/TheHouseOfNight'' has his moments, most notably in ''Awakened'' and ''Destined''.
* In the first book of James S. Corey's ''Literature/TheExpanse'' series, "Leviathan Wakes", [[RecycledInSpace Outland-esque]] [[HardboiledDetective rent-a-cop]] Joe Miller is present when the heroes make their final move on the base of the [[EvilInc genius sociopath-staffed corporation]] responsible for setting loose a [[TheVirus bio-modifying hyper-advanced fractally programmed engineered virus]] on a space station filled with millions of people. When they capture the [[CorruptCorporateExecutive head researcher]], the de facto [[BigBad Big Bad]] of the novel, and they mean to interrogate him, he goes into a very well-planned [[VirtueIsWeakness justification speech]] that actually has a lot of legitimate reasoning, and leaves the protagonists kind of doubting their own motives. [[spoiler: Miller, recognizing that the man might actually walk, and already having been on a [[DeathSeeker despair bender]] for the majority of the book, decides to do what no one else seems to have the initiative to, and promptly shoots the man in the head. Three times, no less.]]
* A chilling example in ''Literature/TheShawshankRedemption'' combined with LaserGuidedKarma: After Boggs and the Sisters beat Andy "within an inch of his life", Boggs returns cockily to his cell after his spending his time in solitary, whereupon Hadley and the other guards beat him nearly comatose...but the Sisters leave Andy alone after that.
* On more than one occasional {{Literature/Spenser}} has found himself forced into a position of murdering someone in cold blood but can't bring himself to do it. [[PsychoSidekick Hawk]], on the other hand, has no such scruples and cheerfully does the deed himself.
* In ''[[Literature/SwordOfTruth Soul of the Fire]]'', Kahlan falls pregnant. She was told by Shota that a child she will bear will be a male, and male Confessors tend to be AlwaysChaoticEvil (even if this one does not, Shota had promised to kill him or die trying just in case). She obtains a miscarriage inducing potion, but since GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion, ultimately discards it... cue a bunch of thugs beating her nearly to death, causing a ConvenientMiscarriage.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In the second season finale of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', Cal [[spoiler: kills Jiaying]] so that Skye doesn't have to.
* An interesting use occurs in ''Series/{{Angel}}'' when the main character leaves most of the key employees of [[BigBad Wolfram and Hart]] in a cellar with Drusilla and Darla, whom the lawyers had been helping (mainly just to piss Angel off and get under his skin), knowing full well that the two will kill most or all of them. Unusually, this is played as Angel becoming evil, or at least turning into an UnscrupulousHero even though it's technically villains doing the dirty work.
* In the second season finale of ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', Brother Blood finds out Oliver Queen is The Arrow, and their last conversation implies that he's very likely to blackmail Oliver with this knowledge. Then suddenly, Ravager shows up for a YouHaveFailedMe.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'': it's obvious midway through "Pegasus" that Admiral Cain is a dangerous psychopath who needs to be dealt with. Adama is too moral to go through with an assassination. Fortunately, [[spoiler: Baltar has let a Cylon with a grudge against Cain loose]].
** Ironically just after Cain proved that she wasn't ''completely'' insane yet, having in turn just refused to assassinate Adama.
** In one episode, Roslyn has Baltar in the brig and threatens to throw him out an airlock if he won't tell her what she wants. Baltar says that she wouldn't go through with it, so she brings in Col. Tigh. [[spoiler: Even that was a bluff, but Tigh would have done it.]]
* In the final story arc of ''Series/BreakingBad'', Walter is [[spoiler:captured and arrested by his brother-in-law, who he refuses to kill because he's family]]. But then unexpectedly Jack Welker and his men show up and [[spoiler:kill Hank, allowing Walter to go free, although he's not too happy about it]].
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** "Wild at Heart": We don't kill werewolves, because they're human most of the time, but Oz's wolf side is amoral and thus free to kill Veruca.
** In "The Zeppo", Xander defeats his [[spoiler: zombie]] VillainOfTheWeek with a BreakingSpeech, but lets him go. Moments after the departing baddie swears vengeance, he, too, is eaten by feral-werewolf-Oz.
** Buffy can't kill the Anointed One, partly because she's prophecied not to but mostly because he's a kid. Luckily, Spike does it for her.
** Borderline case because he's not a ''bad'' guy, though he has apparently had his moments : Giles kills Glory while she is in her human form because Buffy won't kill a human being.
* This is Michael Weston's modus operandi in ''Series/BurnNotice''. Michael mostly abides by ThouShaltNotKill, [[spoiler:in part due to guilt over a past that includes having killed innocent people to get his target]], but despite this many a VillainOfTheWeek has wound up dying in incredibly horrible ways at the hands of their boss or criminal rivals due to Michael's actions. Seldom (if ever) has Michael or any other member of Team Weston batted an eye at this happening or expressed any moral qualms at indirectly causing the death of their target. As an one example Sam goaded three criminals into a MexicanStandoff inside a house, then stood outside the house and fired his gun into the ground so that the three would [[BlastOut all pull the trigger at once and kill each other]]. Yipes.
** Note that none of the main characters ever expresses a moral objection to killing. Most of the early episodes have an obligatory scene where Fiona offers to murder the bad guys and Michael explains why that would cause more problems than it solves. They're all okay with bad guys being killed, it's just easier to accept them as the heroes if they don't to it themselves.
** It has more to do with pragmatism than anything else. Dead bodies attract police. If they let the bad guys kill each other, any investigation by the police will stop there.
* In the first episode of ''Series/CimarronStrip'', Marshal Crown is saved from death by two-bit alcoholic Screamer, who shoots the villain Ace Coffin [[InTheBack from behind]], even though he won't get a $10,000 prize for it. Not that Crown himself isn't above killing, even in self defense.
* ''Da Ren Wu'' is a Chinese TV series based on a classic kung-fu novel set in medieval China. The heroes, as usual in wuxia literature, are staunch Confucianists: morally opposed to unwarranted violence and who don't approve of killing under any circumstances. At one point, Sisi, the main heroine, is tricked by some crooks who steal everything she owns and [[IHaveYouNowMyPretty give her to a Masqueraded School for whores]]. The boss and his cronies take great pleasure in tormenting defenseless girls, and kill those who don't respond well to the training. Three characters come to Sisi's rescue, one after another: 1) Yang Fan is the first. He can't find Sisi in the School (the boss locked her in a hidden room), so he leaves convinced he made a mistake. 2) Qin Ge, a famous kung-fu master, is the second. He can't find Sisi either. He suspects something, but can't prove anything. He leaves as well. 3) The hunchback is the third. [[spoiler:He's a major bad guy. He needs Sisi for some nefarious plan. He waits till night, gets into the School, finds Sisi and takes her with him. He pummels the cronies, and when the crossdressing boss tries to stop him: the hunchback pulls a Fist of the North Star on him. After leaving the School with Sisi, the hunchback tracks the crooks who had tricked her. He finds them, makes them give back the stolen stuff and beg for mercy on their knees...and then kills them nevertheless, just because!]] They say the author was very surprised when the hunchback's popularity with the audience skyrocketed after this story arc.
* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'', end of season two. [[spoiler: Sgt Doakes can prove that Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher, so Dexter locks him up in a lonely cabin until he can decide what to do. Dexter won't kill Doakes because he's a good guy. Lila, who is as psychopathic as Dexter but with no such code, finds the cabin and blows it up.]]
** In a way, this trope is the entire premise of Dexter... Dexter is the [[BigDamnVillains Big Damn Villain]], played straight whenever he interrupts a murder to abduct his target.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' special ''The Five Doctors'', the Master has been captured by the Cybermen and is initially being forced to do their bidding. [[spoiler:He ends up turning the tables and wiping the whole lot of them out by skipping through a trap he's figured out the solution to, but conveniently forgets to tell his captors about.]]
** Twenty-six years later, in "The End of Time," this same Master (well, different actor/[[TheNthDoctor regeneration]]) forces [[spoiler:Rassilon]] back behind the [[spoiler:time lock on the Time War, and won't let him take the Doctor with him, either.]]
** Subverted in "The Pandorica Opens." [[spoiler: A good number of the Doctor's foes all band together to save the universe...from the Doctor, who they've been tricked into believing will destroy it, when in fact he's the only one who can stop the explosion that will destroy the universe.]]
** In "Last of the Time Lords," after the Master has spent a blissful year (for him) freely murdering Earth's population and doing horrible things to the Doctor's friends, when he is finally defeated, despite the fact that Jack and Martha are both perfectly willing to see him dead, the Doctor can't bring himself to kill him because he's the only other Time Lord left alive [[spoiler: (maybe)]]. Luckily, the Master's wife, Lucy, shoots him before the Doctor can do anything Subverted, however, because Lucy is [[spoiler: beginning her HeelFaceTurn by this point.]]
* ''Series/{{Elementary}}'': Elana March orders an attempt on Joan from prison, and there doesn't seem to be much the police can do to stop her - even from solitary confinement, she sends threatening letters that she'll succeed next time. [[spoiler: [[GreaterScopeVillain Jamie Moriarty]], however, won't have a [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou lesser villain]] interfere with her WorthyOpponent, and has Elana killed.]]
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': In the episode "Prayer", it's ambiguous whether or not John knew Scorpius was going to [[spoiler:kill the merged Chiana-Aeryn]] when he brought him along to the alternate universe, but it's [[ShootTheDog what had to be done]]. See page quote.
** In an earlier episode, Moya is in orbit around a planet with notoriously sexist laws, and accepts a visit from a mechanic- accompanied by an armed security guard. Things go well, up until Chiana discovers that the mechanic is actually a woman, rebelling against the government by doing a SweetPollyOliver; just when it looks like they're becoming friends, the security guard shows up and, infuriated that he's had a woman under his nose all this time, holds both of them at gunpoint. Given that there's almost nobody else aboard the ship at the time, it looks as though the two of them are going to die...right up until Scorpius calmly drifts past and snap the man's neck. All the more impactful because [[AffablyEvil Scorpius had been having a friendly chat with the guard before then]].
* In an episode of ''Series/{{The Flash 1990}}'' where a baddie had discovered his SecretIdentity and blackmailed him (with even a TheydCutYouUp threat). He ended up killed by other baddies, with a [[ExternalCombustion Car Starter Bomb]].
* In ''Series/TheFlash2014'', Dr. Harrison Wells ([[spoiler:AKA the Reverse-Flash]]) is determined to keep Barry's secret safe at all costs, including getting rid those who would exploit him for his abilities. To this extent, [[spoiler:he kills Simon Stagg and delivers General Eiling to Grodd]].
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': The Hound's massive, AxCrazy brother Ser Gregor attacks Ser Loras after losing a joust to him. Sandor jumps in and blocks the blow because he hates his brother, not because he cares about Ser Loras. He ''is'' impressed with Loras for taking his asshole brother down a peg, and is unwilling to allow the young knight to be murdered for it.
--> '''Sandor:''' And this is all your idea? Seems every bad idea has some Lannister cunt behind it.
--> '''Tyrion:''' And some Clegane cunt to help them see it through.
* ''Series/{{Gotham}}'', being a Franchise/{{Batman}} origin story, can't allow young Bruce Wayne to take a life. Young [[ComicBook/{{Catwoman}} Selina Kyle]], on the other hand, is not so restricted.
** Later in the series, Bruce has found the identity of the man who killed his parents, and he needs Alfred's help to track him down. In return, Alfred demands that he be the one to kill the guy, instead of Bruce. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work out that way...[[spoiler: Alfred is hospitalized and Bruce finds the killer on his own. He intends to kill him, and the man even [[DeathSeeker begs him to]], but he can't bring himself to do it, so the killer [[AteHisGun eats the gun]] after Bruce leaves the room.]]
** The series does this ALL THE TIME considering how many villains die from the hand of other villains-often for all the wrong reasons. The Penguin does this most often thanks to his tenuous, but not quite antagonistic so far, relationship with Jim, compared with the other criminals.
*** The most awesome example comes towards the end of season 2, when Theo Galavan[[spoiler:, resurrected in the form of Azrael,]] is about to kill Alfred, Bruce, and Jim. Cue his mortal enemy Penguin showing up... '''''with a [[TheresNoKillLikeOverkill ROCKET LAUNCHER.]]'''''
----> '''Butch:''' [[SugarWiki/FunnyMoments Goodnight, fellas!]]
* In Chris Carter's short-lived ''Series/HarshRealm'' the Three Percenters are a population of virtual zombies caused by [[AIIsACrapshoot a glitch in the program]]. They can convert just about anyone playing the game, and nearly do so to Hobbes and Pinocchio. [[TheDragon Mel Waters]] sees through them immediately and he's the one who eliminates the threat.
* In the third season of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', [[spoiler:a [[BroughtDownToNormal depowered]] Peter heads off with [[AntiMagic the Haitian]] to kill his father Arthur Petrelli and destroy [[SuperSerum the Formula]]. Before Peter shoot him, Sylar shows up, complete with recently stolen lie detection power, to ask Arthur if he's really a Petrelli. Naturally, Arthur lies, thus causing Sylar to allow the bullet he had grabbed in thin air to kill Arthur stone dead permanently.]] Sylar actually lampshades the fact that he prevents Peter from becoming a murderer. So actually he wasn't here to do the job, just to keep Peter from having remorse.
* For most ''Franchise/KamenRider'' shows, the monsters are often monsters taking the guises of humans. [[Series/KamenRiderDouble Double]] and [[Series/KamenRiderFourze Fourze]], however, do the opposite: humans who take the guise of monsters. While taking them out is a breeze (all that's needed is to break their TransformationTrinket and they'll no longer be able to transform), taking out the higher-ranked members, some of which are {{Anti Villain}}s, might be a hassle, especially with Double being a detective who helps the police nab criminals and Fourze being the AllLovingHero. Leave it to the resident bad guys or self-dooming inflictions to do those villains in. Though Double and Fourze have their share of defeating the higher-ups, rarely killing them in the process (or putting one in a coma for one case).
** ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' has a ThereCanBeOnlyOne approach and the protagonist is unwilling to kill anyone. Leave it to his badass partner to do the work for him. Though even ''he'' has hesitations to kill. Cue the Rider who's job prior to being a Rider was [[SerialKiller nothing BUT killing]].
*** Likewise in ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight'', though the protagonist ''did'' end up [[NeverSayDie sending a Rider]] to the [[FateWorseThanDeath Advent Void]].
** In ''Series/KamenRiderWizard'', the main hero is all about being the HopeBringer. Though the BigBad's hope is to [[spoiler:[[{{Necromantic}} revive his daughter]]]]. Well, [[AntiVillain noble goal]], right? Well, his means involve [[spoiler:sacrificing tons of people and convert them into monsters so as to power up a spell to revive her]]. What's a HopeBringer like Haruto to do in a situation like that, especially since he was going to do this all over again? [[spoiler:Cue TheDragon to come and run the BigBad through with his own sword. Although, [[KickTheSonOfABitch because this action might cause people to think this Dragon is a hero]], [[MoralEventHorizon he kills the Big Bad's daughter next]]]].
*** [[spoiler: It would be good to note that said HopeBringer has GoodIsNotNice tendencies and killed TheDragon, disregarding his wish to become human again. He was a monster even when he was still human so there was not much to pity.]]
** In ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'', this was done not so much as to spare the hero from killing off someone, but to make it so the person doing the dirty work in question [[MoralEventHorizon crosses the line in doing so]] and punctuate himself as the local HateSink. Want context? Well, [[spoiler:Kouta is hesitant to fight a human that he saw transform into an Inves before his eyes and is dead set on trying to have him be human again. He gets to his breaking point and at that time, Sigurd arrives, easily kills the human, then rubs it in Kouta's face by claiming it as a heroic feat.]] A similar thing happens late in the series, when [[spoiler:MadScientist Ryoma has just vivisected Mai in his quest for the power that she now holds, killing her in the process and also [[BreakTheHaughty reducing another villain to tears in the process]]. Kouta might be too nice to kill him (and had been in a bad situation of nearly dying), but ''Kaito'' isn't; brutally beating Ryoma and driving him to suicide cemented himself as the series' final antagonist.]]
** [[spoiler: Gaim's finale subverts this as while Kouta had to kill Kaito or let him destroy the world so he could remake in in his image.]]
** ''Series/KamenRiderDrive'' pulls this off a bit differently. Throughout the series, the Roidmudes are presented as cruel and vicious towards the human race, to which the heroes must stop them. However, over time, Roidmudes who are actually ''good'' towards humans get slowly revealed. One such example is a Roidmude who befriends the cast and another is a Roidmude commander who considers every other Roidmude to be his friend. To spare the dilemma of killing off the former Roidmude, [[spoiler:one of the other commanders is revealed to be a genocidal {{yandere}} who murders said Roidmude to quell the number of Roidmudes not acting according to their programming.]] However, eventually even ''that'' commander is revealed to be an AntiVillain. The solution? [[spoiler:Bring in their inventor, who proves to be EvilerThanThou. The moment he is revealed to be the BigBad, every Roidmude death afterwards was either caused (in)directly by him or if it's by the hero's hands, have said Roidmude be BrainwashedAndCrazy]].
** ''Series/KamenRiderExAid'': Played straight and enforced as no matter how much the events had [[GoodIsNotSoft hardened]] [[AllLovingHero Emu]] he would never stop trying to save the villains. So obviously someone or something had to come in and fix it. [[spoiler: The first HateSink, Kuroto Dan was killed by [[TheDogBitesBack Parado]] and second HateSink, Masamune Dan, killed himself ''twice'' just to screw everyone over. Parado himself, on the hand, had been redeemed by Emu.]]
* In the ''Series/LALaw'' episode "Beauty and Obese," Grace Van Owen has just joined a two-man law firm which is, unbeknownst to her, championed by a mobster named Frank Vincent. Vincent asks her to represent his nephew, who's charged with murder. Grace declines. Vincent takes her to lunch and makes it clear he's not politely asking anymore, and that people who go against his wishes sometimes get hurt. Grace still refuses and raises Vincent's ire; at that point [[spoiler: a gunman disguised as a waiter walks up and puts a bullet in Vincent's head.]] Later on in the series, Grace tells Frank Kittredge about this incident, saying, "I was relieved. Got him out of my life. Once these people have you, they don't let go."
* Inverted in ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'': When Rip Hunter thinks that they may need to kill their own teammate Martin Stein to keep the secret of the Firestorm matrix from falling into the hands of Vandal Savage, he turns to Sara Lance, the White Canary, rather than to hardened criminal Leonard Snart, Captain Cold. Lance, it is true, is a trained assassin, but she is not evil, and has never been one of the bad guys. Snart was a villain on ''Series/TheFlash2014'' before being recruited by Hunter, and remains a cold-blooded criminal even in Hunter's service. Snart even [[WhatTheHellHero calls Lance out]] on this, pointing out that in all the jobs he pulled, no matter how bad things got, he never killed one of his own accomplices. Lance responds that if killing Stein is the only way to stop Savage and save the world, then she will [[IDidWhatIHadToDo do what she has to do]].
* This is one of the main ideas of ''Series/{{Leverage}}''. Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.
** When Nate goes for revenge on the two men behind [[spoiler: his father's murder]], Elliot warns him that straight up murder carries a much higher moral cost than their usual method of destroying a bad guy's life. In the end, Nate plays the two against each other (getting each of them to point out why they should want the other dead) then leaves them to fight over a gun with a single bullet. [[spoiler: They ''both'' fall off the nearby cliff while fighting over the weapon.]]
* Many episodes of ''Series/MissionImpossible'' involved manipulating characters associated with the target into killing them.
* In the ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' episode "Iced" a low-level hood killed his gang's leader and then used text messages supposedly from said leader to take control of the gang. The team doesn't have enough evidence to get a conviction, so instead they hold the hood in interrogation while showing the gang's senior members exactly how they've been duped. The hood is dropped off at his gang's hideout and is found dead the next morning, executed gangland style and left in a dumpster.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'':
** In third season, [[AdaptationalVillainy Peter Pan]] and his Lost Boys kill previous {{Big Bad}}s Tamara and Greg, after they've [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness become no longer necessary]].
** In "Good Form", Regina mentions that she could [[BeatStillMyHeart tear out the lost boy's heart]] and use that to control him to deliver the message to Henry. Snow White freaks out, but Emma tells her to do it. Later she says something to this effect when Snow White says she doesn't want Emma to have to do those things.
-->'''Regina:''' She didn't, ''I'' did. [[DirtyBusiness That's what I'm here for.]]
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''
** Reese attempts to go on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge against Simmons for [[spoiler:killing Carter]], despite his own life-threatening injuries. Finch and Shaw manage to catch him and talk him down (after his gun refuses to fire due to being clogged with his own blood), but Fusco tracks Simmons down, breaks his arms, and hands him over to the FBI. However, he never makes it to jail, as mob boss Elias brings in his own goon to strangle Simmons while he watches, because [[spoiler:he liked Carter, too]].
** By Season 5, the ethics of our heroes are starting to slip. When Elias uses a carbomb to blow up the VillainOfTheWeek, he suggests that Finch brought him along just to invoke this trope. Finch doesn't contest the idea.
* Series/PowerRangersInSpace has this happen in the finale when [[TheStarscream Darkonda]] destroys [[GreaterScopeVillain Dark Specter]] with a planet-destroying missile, and Dark Specter [[TakingYouWithMe returns the favor by destroying Darkonda with his last breath]]. All of this greatly simplifies the mission of the Rangers to simply having to stop [[BigBad Astronema]] and [[TheDragon Ecliptor]] from taking over the world.
* This has happened tons of times in ''Series/{{Smallville}}''.
** Clark has to face people with dangerous superpowers, and while he can beat them readily enough, he can't very well run a super-jail or convince them to lead an honest life because, well, Kryptonite gives most people a god complex, and most krypto-freaks aren't stable/good to begin with. Having Clark kill or permanently disable them is far too {{squick}}y for a proto-Superman to do, so the preferred solution is to have them depowered or [[HoistByHisOwnPetard hoist by their own petard]]. The other solutions that pertain to this trope are to have them be killed by evil infighting among themselves, or having Lionel (and later Lex) deal with them.
** A big one in season nine. Both the Justice League and Zod have a bone to pick with [[GovernmentConspiracy Checkmate]]. [[spoiler:Oliver and John get captured at different points, although they managed to escape. Chloe is also kidnapped and almost killed in an attempt to blackmail Clark into revealing more about their team.]] Zod, on the other hand? [[spoiler:He comes over to visit and burns down their entire castle base with [[EyeBeams heat vision]]. [[PunyEarthlings Zod will not tolerate human nonsense]]. KneelBeforeZod.]]
* Garak from ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' often falls into this trope, since his morality is almost always teetering on the line between gray and black. Probably the best example is from "In The Pale Moonlight", where he [[spoiler: lies, extorts, and murders at least six people (a criminal, a Romulan senator, and his four aides) to bring Romulus into the Dominion War on the Federation's side. He notes at the end that that's exactly why Sisko sought his help, because he was capable of doing the dirty work Sisko wasn't willing to do.]]
** Sisko himself pulls this gambit in order to capture the renegade Maquis operative Eddington, by using (and threatening to continue using) a biogenic weapon to make a Maquis colony uninhabitable. For anyone else in the Federation, this would be far too heinous of an action - but for Sisko, ItsPersonal.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Taxi}}'', Elaine visits a trendy hair stylist(played by Ted Danson) and comes away with an atrocious hairdo. She, Alex and Louie pay the stylist a visit to demand an apology and he rebuffs them. Elaine considers dumping a bowlful of hair dye on the stylist's head but decides not to, declaring "I'm better than you." Before they leave, Louie (in a combination SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome[=/=]SugarWiki/{{Funny|Moments}}) casually dumps the hair dye over the stylist and says, "She might be better than you, ({{beat}})...but I ain't!"
* ''Series/{{Teen Wolf}}'' has both Peter and Deucalion kill the third season Big Bad.
** Gerard also killed the Kanima's master a season earlier.
* ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'': The trope gets played with. Captain Jack Harkness fills the role of the trope, despite not actually being villainous. Torture, murder, kidnapping, or any other action that would normally fall under this trope and require a villain to perform it gets performed by Captain Jack at the protest of the other characters.
* In the finale of ''Series/TheWire'', the police department needs to explain several apparent murders (which Jimmy [=McNulty=], one of the series' protagonists) had faked at the scene(s) to look like the work of a serial killer that did not really exist). Rather than admitting that they were faked, the mayor wants to blame them on a mentally ill homeless person the police had recently picked up. [=McNulty=] objects to putting the blame on the mentally ill man; deputy of operations Bill Rawls (one of the series' antagonists), however, does so anyway, and it keeps [=McNulty=] from facing any legal consequences.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''. Averted in "Redemption". Chancellor Gowron offers Worf the chance to execute Toral, PuppetKing of the Duras family who've done Worf so much harm. Worf refuses. So Gowron just orders Kurn to do the deed, but Worf stops this too, pointing out that Gowron has granted Toral's life to Worf, and he's chosen to spare it.
* At the climax of ''Series/TheNightManager'', the heroes are able to screw up Richard Roper's arms deal and get him arrested, but he smugly predicts that his connections will prevent any actual jail time. [[spoiler: Then his very angry business partners show up and take him away from the police, clearly intending to kill him.]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' 3rd Edition book, ''Oriental Adventures'', suggested that even if the players wanted to play samurai or other members of a noble caste in an Asia-themed game, the players would still probably want at least one dishonorable or lower-caste party member to do the dirty work - sometimes ''literal'' dirty work, such as searching enemy corpses.
* Pretty much the whole point of the Pact Primeval in the 3.5e+ D&D cosmology: good gods don't want their followers to become evil, but they don't want to punish them. What do they do? Leave the punishment up to [[Main/TheDevil Asmodeus]]. [[spoiler: This, of course, backfires on them spectacularly.]] In Asmodeus's own words: "We have blackened ourselves so that you can remain golden."
* The whole sacred purpose of the Guardians of the Veil in ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'', along with other ways of keeping other Mages on the straight-and-narrow. They also believe this makes them ritually and spiritually unclean, and members vary between NoPlaceForMeThere and hoping the Hieromagus (who will, notably, '''not'' be a Guardian, as they will be pure and righteous) will redeem them for the good they've done through bad means.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/AdvanceWars Dual Strike'', the BigBad is defeated and at the player's mercy. But the machine he hooked himself up to is still draining the planet, and he needs to be killed. Von Bolt taunts Jake, asking if he can really shoot a defenseless old man. The player is offered a choice of whether to shoot him or not, and if you don't, [[spoiler: Hawke shows up and does it for you.]] The odd thing about this is that [[spoiler:''either way'', the shooter just destroys Von Bolt's machine itself.]]
* Reaver's job in ''VideoGame/FableIII'' is to do this. He stands in court to argue in favor of the evil option when making decisions as king. While these options are generally quite despicable and having an orphanage would be a fine and dandy in the long run, you could really do with the 1.25 million you'd make from opening a brothel right now to [[spoiler:fight back the EldritchAbomination that threatens to destroy Albion]].
** He also does this in the [[VideoGame/FableII previous game]]. If the player does not kill Lucien in the middle of his MotiveRant, Reaver will take the chance to shoot him.
* Gaius from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' is a thief and general scoundrel. As he explains to BadassPreacher Libra, he considers it his duty to do the army's dirty work so that TheGoodKing Chrom doesn't have to.
** Likewise SociopathicHero Henry from the same game. PlayerCharacter Robin takes issue with killing unless it is in self-defense. Henry has no such reservations, and will do whatever it takes to end the war, even summoning an army of zombies that he has no idea how to control. If they overrun a few villages, oh well!
* In ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', if you're taking the pacifist path, [[spoiler: two of the bosses get backstabbed by their underlings; conveniently meaning you don't have to kill them.]] This was actually added in, since earlier versions meant a completely innocent run was impossible.
* In ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', Ilya [[spoiler:kills Shinji]] in Fate, saving Shirou from having to do it; [[spoiler:Sakura]] does the same in Heaven's Feel. In Unlimited Blade Works, [[spoiler:Shinji survives, but not before Gilgamesh puts him through an [[BodyHorror utterly horrific]] case of BreakTheHaughty, after which he seems to cease any villainous behavior]]. Also in Heaven's Feel, [[spoiler:Sakura and Kotomine]] combined also kill off [[spoiler:Zouken]] , who would probably have caused some moral quandaries since he's essentially defenseless on his own at that point even though his very existence is an abomination.
* In ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime 3: Corruption'', Dark Samus kills [[spoiler:the corrupted Hunters]] after you defeat them. Samus probably couldn't bring herself to ShootTheDog, making Dark Samus quite convenient in a twisted, twisted way.
** And it may also double as YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness.
* A borderline example between this and VillainousRescue occurs in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars3''. Anavel Gato's claim to fame in his [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam0083StardustMemory show of origin]] is ''launching a stolen nuke at a peace conference''. He reenacts this scene in the game, but this time the "peace conference" is between [[VillainTeamUp two villainous factions]]. What makes this a borderline example is the fact that the heroes congratulate him on this and gladly accept his HeelFaceTurn application, suggesting that they may have done the same thing if they had a nuke lying around.
* Invoked by AntiHero Booker [=DeWitt=] in ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite'': After Elizabeth [[spoiler:is tortured by Comstock's men,]] she insists that they find and kill Comstock rather than escaping the city as they had planned. Booker does not want her to become like him.
-->'''Booker''': I'm not gonna let you kill him\\
''(Elizabeth summons tornado)''\\
'''Elizabeth''': Really, Booker? What are you going to do to stop me?\\
'''Booker''': Not a damn thing. Because I'm gonna do it for you.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Drakengard}} 2'', it transpires that one of the pact knights that keeps the Goddess Seal intact is [[spoiler:[[DeathSeeker Ulrich]], a party member and Nowe's BigBrotherMentor]], and must be killed to break the seal. Despite wanting to destroy the seal, Nowe can't bring himself to do it. Fortunately, [[RogueProtagonist Caim]] happens to be in the area and is [[KillAllHumans more than happy]] to oblige, even it means having to go through Nowe to do it. ''Especially'' if he has to go through Nowe to do it, really...
* ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' is pretty devoted to this trope.
** Selvaria's going to crush the militia! What do we do? [[spoiler: Have Faldio shoot Alicia and awaken her Valkyria powers so she doesn't have to accept responsibility for becoming one herself.]]
** You also have Georgios Geld in a side chapter. A notorious war criminal who tortured and killed [[spoiler: Eleanor Varrot's lover]], he is nonetheless released in an IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim moment. Naturally, someone this bad can't be allowed to get off scot-free, so he flees back to the Imperial headquarters... [[spoiler: only to be court-martialed and executed ''by his own side''!]] Also doubles as EvenEvilHasStandards. It also sorta falls flat because Geld's superiors knew all about his war crimes, [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality they just didn't care until they noticed a protagonist wasn't cool with it, apparently.]]
** General Damon is an asshole with no apparent positive qualities, and he spends the entire game sending Squad 7 out on suicide missions in order to keep his success record looking good. When Squad 7 finally manages to capture Selvaria alive, he immediately leaps in to take all the credit for it. [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality Welkin and Alicia get upset at Damon for not being nice to her (apparently they've forgotten how she's been killing thousands of Gallians, some of which might be Squad 7 members depending on how you play)]] but he's the top brass, so they can't stop him, and are assigned to escort the Imperial soldiers away from the battleground at Selvaria's request. [[spoiler: And then Selvaria fries the entire army with a SuicideAttack, so Damon gets his comeuppance, Varrot becomes the only authority Squad 7 answers to, Selvaria is no longer an obstacle, and the good guys don't get a single drop of blood on their hands.]]
** Maximillian's on the ropes and the land battleship is about to explode; it's too dangerous to approach and Welkin and Alicia can't capture him alive! How do we solve this? [[spoiler: Have Faldio show up out of nowhere, grab Max, and pitch himself into the exploding inner workings of the machine, killing them both.]] Again, the villains get their punishment, and our heroes are utterly unconcerned.
* In ''VideoGame/Uncharted2AmongThieves'', after defeating the FinalBoss [[spoiler: Lazarevic]] in a blatant example of GetItOverWith, [[spoiler: Lazarevic dares the protagonist to shoot him and end it. True to character, Nathan is not the one that has to end it. The Guardians, originally mini-bosses, arrive to finish the job for you.]]
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRevelations'', Ezio promises Suleiman that he will spare the Templar Leader, [[spoiler:Suleiman's uncle, Ahmet]] if he can. [[spoiler:During the confrontation, Selim, Suleiman's father and Ahmet's brother, interrupts, strangles Ahmet, and throws him to a DisneyVillainDeath.]]
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamOrigins'' The Joker murders Gillian Loeb to sow chaos and dethrones Roman Sionis and usurps his empire. Loeb was a politically corrupt douchebag who was as untouchable as he was corrupt, and Sionis was the top crime boss in town. So while the Joker's intentions weren't pure, he perversely got rid of two of the biggest sources of rot within Gotham. [[VillainHasAPoint Joker later gloats to Batman that he has "done more in two nights than [Batman has] done in two years"]].
* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] in ''VideoGame/SuikodenV'' by Sialeeds. She performs a FaceHeelTurn to the Godwins' side in part because, if the Prince's faction won the war cleanly after the New Queen's Campaign, he would be forced to spare corrupt nobles like Salum Barows and leave the system of nobility in place, and that would risk starting the whole circus up again a generation down the line. Instead, she joins the Godwins to prolong the war a bit and [[ThePurge Purge]] Salum and the remaining Nether Gate assassins, knowing full well that [[ThanatosGambit she'll be killed in action]]. When the war is finally over, nobody is left alive to oppose Queen Lymsleia's reforms, and she and the Prince have clean hands to do it with.
* ''VideoGame/Injustice2'': In the Arcade Ladder mode, almost all character endings for supervillains, anti-heroes and [[FallenHero Regime members]] have [[BigBad Brainiac]] killed often in brutal and cruel ways, while he survives in most superhero endings where he is jailed instead. The only heroes to explicitly kill him are [[Franchise/MortalKombat Sub-Zero and Raiden]], who by DC standards could qualify as anti-heroes but are actually two of the greatest champions of good in their setting. In the story mode, this trope becomes a plot-point when [[spoiler:at the end, the Regime elects to kill him since he is considered TooPowerfulToLive, but Batman and his allies disagree and a fight breaks out between the two factions, with the player deciding who is right]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Adventurers}}'s Argent:'' [[http://www.adventurers-comic.com/d/20040327.html While that may not have been necessary, if you know the backstory it's hard to blame him.]]
* Vriska from ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' attempts to take the fight to the BigBad, and even TheOmniscient thinks she ''might'' win. The price would have been [[spoiler: leading the bad guy directly back to the LastBastion and wiping out her race]].
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', it falls down to Tarquin to kill [[spoiler: Nale]]. Being GenreSavvy he also points out that with this he freed the plot from yet another recurring villain, wanting himself to be the important villain.
** Incidentally, [[spoiler: Nale]]'s death was done partly because [[spoiler: he killed Malack, Tarquin's best friend and the one who turned Durkon into a Vampire.]] This act also [[spoiler: seemed to get rid of a potential threat in the form of a vampire, as it freed Durkon his Thrall state, allowing him to rejoin the Order of the Stick. Or so [[DemonicPossession it seemed]]...]]


[[folder:Web Original]]

* Both inverted and played straight in the same example in ''Roleplay/{{AJCO}}'' when A_J requests that she and Pi be put through the re-education process. Inverted when Egg, arguably the only 'true' good guy (or at the very least [[KnightTemplar the only one without centuries of blood on her hands]]), is forced to make the decision - then played straight when Req, the most amoral of the four, is the one to push the button.
** A_J is quick to blame Egg when [[spoiler: the Doctor dies]], however.
* In WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee the crew of the USS Exit Strategy needs a bit more time to counterattack the villains, who are already locked on to them and might just win. Cue [[spoiler: Mechakara, whom those same villains betrayed at the end of last episode, beating up the whole evil bridge]].
* In the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', a religious cult attempts to blackmail a student at the titular AcademyOfAdventure by threatening her friends' families. So the Headmaster calls the alumni association and suddenly all of the superhero alumni are looking the other way while the supervillains take action.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Doomsday's first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague''. In the comics, he killed Supes (He got better). However, Supes' evil universe counterpart, Justice Lord Superman, used his eye lasers to ''lobotomize Doomsday'' not five minutes into the fight (he got better too, and was mighty pissed, but that's another story).
* In ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'', in the episode "The Citadel", Aladdin threatens to turn a magic-eating monster loose on Mozenrath, who taunts him by pointing out that he's not ruthless enough to do that. "You're right. I'm not." Then Aladdin points at Iago, who is already poised to remove Mozenrath's control collar from the beast. "But he is!" And Iago proves it.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KongTheAnimatedSeries'', Ramone De La Porta is the main villain and constantly causes trouble for Jason, Kong, and the gang when he is trying to unlock powers of the Primal Stones, while often making threats and trying to kill Kong, yet they often save him whenever he is in danger (and he only returns the favor once, just so they're even). In the final episode, [[spoiler: Harpy sucks De La Porta's life force out as part of a ritual to awaken Chiros. De La Porta survives when his life force is returned to him later, but is left in a permanent state of shock.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheBatman'', Wrath and Scorn have figured out Batman and Robin's identity. Even though they are arrested, Batman really can't do anything to keep them from revealing this to everyone. [[spoiler:Luckily, the Joker (much like in ''The Dark Knight'') [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou didn't want someone else causing the end of Batman]] and gassed them while they were in the police van.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/GeorgeOfTheJungle'': Tom Slick once raced against a cheater who, after being defeated, was told by Marigold he'd get his commeupance. He said good guys like Tom Slick don't get even. Then he got his commeupance from another racer wronged by his cheating.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Castlevania}}'', the [[SinisterMinister Bishop]] serves as the ArcVillain of the first season, as his fanatical control of Wallachia is what caused Dracula's rampage in the first place (by killing his wife for supposed witchcraft), and leads to him persecuting the few people who can actually do something about it. But in the end, while Trevor and his allies fight the Bishop's men, they don't have to deal with him personally, as [[spoiler: Dracula's demons track him down and kill him in his own church]].