P-please, man. Let me go. Take what you want. I won't stop you... Please. I've got a wife and two kids... Riddler:
Question: Why do people think that being part of the nuclear family gives them a greater right to live? Me, I'm doing my best to ease the burden of overpopulation.
Someone is caught by the villain. That someone is being (or is about to be) tortured, or killed. For some reason, while begging/negotiating, said captive may feel the need to inform his tormentor that he has a family. No one really knows why, since this revelation never leads to release or sympathy. The idea seems to be that the victim hopes that his or her captor is not too dark of an Anti-Hero
— or at least a Noble Demon
— not to hurt the innocent and helpless. Even by proxy.
In reality, this serves only to demonstrate
how big and bad the torturer is.
Other variation of this is that the bad guy or Mooks
use this card when defeated in the battle and pleading for their lives. This can be either a trick to have a cheap attack when the Hero lets his/her guard down
or it can lead to Heel-Face Turn
if The Hero
spares the poor mook's life, since Even Evil Has Loved Ones
Should you be dealing with a Badass Family
or The Mafia
, you may consider this a threat rather than pleading. If they say this so that they can offer them up first, they're just playing the Dirty Coward
Often written as "I have a wife/kids."
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Anime & Manga
- A sort of variation on this can be seen in Fullmetal Alchemist, when Maes Hughes uses the line after he thinks he's killed one of the bad guys. He's not using it to beg for his life so much as to say why he can't afford to die. He dies anyway.
- In One Piece, during the Marineford War arc, a Marine was trying to desert the battlefield (which by the way was involving forces so ridiculous that in no way he could've done anything other than getting killed) and was stopped by Admiral Akainu who told him to return to the battlefield. The Marine then invokes this trope, which made the Admiral even angrier and he melted him to death right on the spot.
- Also a slave of one of the World Nobles attempts to flee the island while saying this.
- A rare inversion occurs in the first episode of the Trigun anime. Vash the Stampede gets the drop on a bounty hunter mook and orders him to surrender... but finds himself stymied when said mook immediately calls his bluff.
Mook: I FOUND 'IM, BOSS, OVER HERE!!
Vash: What are you doing?! You don't like pain, do you?
Mook: I'm used to it.
Vash: I feel sorry for your wife and kids, then, you'll make them cry...
Mook: I hate kids, and most women find me pretty offensive, so I'm single.
: Sounds like a pretty lonely life...
- Golgo 13. Subverted in the Queen Bee OVA. Antonia gives his life in a Heroic Sacrifice so Queen Bee and her men can escape an FBI ambush. Later she's presented with the informer who betrayed them.
Queen Bee: You have any kids?
Informant: I got a boy almost four, and a new baby girl.
Queen Bee: Do you love them?
Informant: Yes, of course I do!
Queen Bee: I don't think Antonia loved his. (shoots him)
- In the first chapter of Dance in the Vampire Bund 2: Scarlet Order one of the terrorists that had, at best, proved perfectly willing to hold 100,000 humans hostage with poison gas to capture Mina Tepesnote invoked his wife and kids when he found out that the stadium instead contained nothing but vampires. Mina's response?
"I see... then to ensure that those children have a positive future as well-adjusted adults, it would be best to remove you as an influence on their lives."
- Used quite brutally in Ultimate X-Men. The X-Men had been captured by Weapon X and were being forced to work for them to take out some foreign guys who had captured Nick Fury and were in the middle of illegal genetic experiments. When confronting the lead scientist, Jean is ordered to kill him or watch Scott's head explode. As she agonizes over the decision, the lead scientist starts describing his family in an attempt to bargain for his life. Jean kills him.
- In a bit of a subversion, in The Authority, a guy pleads with Midnighter that he has kids, "somewhere." The implication is, as secret mutant soldier, that he's lead a promiscuous and nomadic life, probably leaving litters of illegitimate children behind. Midnighter responds by punching his head off and stating that they're better off without him.
- In The Flash, when his plea for help from fellow former Rogue (turned FBI agent) Trickster goes south, Piper forces the two back-up-agents to hold their guns to one another's heads. James immediately shouts their names and the fact that both have families in effort to get Piper to let them go. Unnecessary, really.
- The line above comes from an eighties Batman storyline entitled "Dark Knight, Dark City," where The Riddler (turned Ax-Crazy via Demonic Possession) lampshades this line.
- In the Order of the Stick book Start of Darkness, Big Bad Xykon tells this to a random heroic Red Shirt:
Xykon: Hey, fun fact: If you beg for mercy, I'll let you live.
Paladin: Please, sir, I have a wife and child back home! Have mercy!
Xykon: Even more fun fact: I'm a total liar.
- Black Fox, an old cat burglar in Spiderman stories, is an admittant abject coward and will plead for mercy the instant he is threatened. This trope is then Played for Laughs as he will claim to have sixteen kids, or two wives and eight kids with each, the details growing more ridiculous and changing all the time, and that they all depend on him.
- In Secret Six, Jeanette has caught Cheshire poisoning the title characters, and dangles her off the roof of a building by her hair while chiding her about "manners." Cheshire tries to get out by talking about her baby, but Jeanette doesn't give two shits, and while she doesn't drop her, doesn't let her off easy either.
- Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel:
Shirin's mother: Please, let him go. He's a father. We have a daughter.
Shirin (not letting go of the garrote): Yes, I know, Mother.
(Her mother faints)
Films — Animation
- A villainish mook to the other mooks example arises in "Quest for Camelot'':
Bladebeak: (about the forest) We're not going in there are we?
Mechanical Mook: (looks at him, holding him by the feet) Chicken.
Bladebeak: But I got a wife and three eggs at home.
- In Max Fleischer's Gullivers Travels (1939), Gabby begs this to Gulliver when he picks him up.
"You can't do this me, i have a wife and kids, millions of kids!"
- The line would pop up again in one of Gabby's own shorts subjects, "King For A Day".
- Parodied in Shark Tale, when Lenny the vegetarian shark is pressured by his father, Don Lino, to eat a shrimp. The shrimp starts by crying that he has a family, then goes on to describe each and every one of his kids in excruciating detail as Lenny and Don Lino argue.
Shrimp: It's true, it's true! And the other thing is, my sister had a baby and I took it over after she passed away and the baby lost all its legs and arms and now it's just a stump but I take care of it with my wife and... and it's growing and it's fairly happy... and it's difficult because I'm working a second shift at the factory to put food on the table but all the love that I see in that little guy's face it makes it worth it in the end. True story.
- Also parodied in the film version of Over the Hedge.
RJ: Please, I'm just a desperate guy trying to feed his family!
Vincent: You don't have a family.
RJ: I meant a family of one.
- In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar]], Iago tries to convince Abu to open his cage by yelling, "I have a wife and three eggs! Imagine them hatching... never knowing their daddy..." He doesn't, really. Abu opens the cage to introduce Iago to Rajah the tiger. ("CLOSE THE CAGE! Close it! close it! CLOSE IT!!!")
- Puss in Boots plays this card when he is defeated after trying to assassinate Shrek in the second movie. According to his own spin off film though, he's lying.
Puss: Oh no por favor. Please, I implore you. It was nothing personal Señor. I was doing only for my family. My mother, she is sick and my father lives off the garbage. The King offered me much in gold and I have a litter of brothers...
Films — Live Action
- Inverted nightmarishly in Alien³. At a moment of a breakdown, Ripley actually seeks the Alien and calls it out to kill her. The beast approaches, examines Ripley closely and then withdraws, not willing to hurt the "baby" Alien queen maturing inside Ripley.
- In Reservoir Dogs, while Mr. Blonde is torturing the cop, the officer screams out, "Please! I got a little kid at home man, now please!" This line was actually ad-libbed by the actor, and the shock it brought to Michael Madsen (who played Mr. Blonde), who had just had a son, made him walk off the set. You can actually hear Madsen break character and say "Oh, no no no..." after this line.
- Spoofed in the 1999 production of The Mummy, when Rick threatens Beni:
Beni: Think of my children!
Rick: You don't have any children.
Beni: ... Someday I might.
- Subverted in the original Total Recall (1990) with Benny the cab driver.
Benny: I needed the money. I got four kids to feed.
Quaid: What happened to number five?
Benny: Aw, shit, man! You got me. I ain't even married. Now put your fuckin' hands in the air!
- Used in The Hurt Locker, when a man with a bomb strapped to him asks for help from the American military to disarm it.
- Vernita Green tries to use this in the first part of Kill Bill to dissuade The Bride from killing her. This was the worst possible strategy Vernita could have tried on The Bride, seeing as how she had tried to kill her while she was pregnant. The Bride calls her on this, and states that if she really wanted to get even, she would kill Nicky and Vernita's husband as well.
- Near the start of the film adaptation of The Shadow, the scientist who the Gangsters tried the Cement Shoes routine on tries this line. As expected, the boss scoffs and replies, "They'll get over it."
- To be spared from being shot to death on the Carousel Trap in Saw VI, both Emily and Shelby try this. Quite an inversion as the guy they're pleading for their lives to is not a villain and that one of them (Shelby) is blatantly lying, and unmasked by a fellow captive. Unfortunately a very nasty case of Men Are the Expendable Gender occurs and she survives anyway.
- Played with in Inglourious Basterds. It's actually a Nazi soldier, Wilhelm, who survives a bloody shoot-out and makes a deal with the Basterds. He begs them to make a deal with him and end the bloodshed as his wife just had their first child. It doesn't work.
- In Defiance, the Jewish partisans capture a terrified Nazi soldier, who tells them he has a wife and two kids. One of the partisans yells out, "So did I!" They beat the Nazi to death while yelling about their lost relatives.
- "My wife is having a baby...!" is a last, desperate attempt by the titular Withnail of Withnail & I to avoid a beating after he had run afoul of an Irishman. He was lying. This makes for a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, as Richard E. Grant's wife had a miscarriage while filming.
- In Training Day, when Jake is about to be murdered by drug dealers, he shouts in panic that he has a little girl. It doesn't work by itself, but it does motivate them to check out whether he's telling the truth about his Chekhov's Gun.
- In Timeline, one of the protagonists pleads with De Kere another time-traveler permanently stranded in the past to spare him, bringing up his family, that De Kere has even met 'back' in the future. This only drives De Kere to fury, as it only reminds De Kere of his own family that he's been forcibly separated from.
De Kere: You have a family?
De Kere: SO DID I!
- In a The Three Stooges short, a detective threatens to have them arrested for allowing a bank robber to escape.
Shemp: Please officer, I got six wives and two kids!
- Subverted in Predators, when the Russian affectionately shows the doctor a photo of his kids, just before all hell breaks loose, and they're all forced to flee while the latter still has the photo. When the doctor is crippled and the other characters consider leaving him behind, he says "I've got kids" and shows the photo. While it's a lie, this looks like an understandable case of a terrified, desperate man trying anything to not be left behind, but the discovery that he's actually a psychopathic serial killer makes it less surprising that he was able to think up this sort of lie on the spot and without any hint of unease.
- In Sophie Scholl: The Final Days a German film about the White Rose antifascist group, one of the arrested students, Christoph Probst, pleads for mercy from the court as he has three small children and an ill, pregnant wife. He is executed by guillotine the same day.
- Ernest Scared Stupid does this when Earnest imitates a doll voice and wrestles with the dilemma of using a doll to stop the gears of a garbage masher.
Earnest: (as the doll) No, no, don't stick my head in those gears!
Earnest: (as himself) But it's either me or you.
Earnest: (as the doll) But I have a family in a doll house.
Earnest: (as himself - Beat
) I'll send them a nice photo.
- In Monster, one of Aileen's victims tearfully and desperately tries this as she holds him at gunpoint. It doesn't work.
- Subverted in Law Abiding Citizen. Darby, who murdered the family of the Vigilante Man protagonist, escapes arrest with the help of a mysterious voice on the phone, who guides him to a knocked-out policeman in his squad car which he uses to escape the dragnet. He pulls up at an abandoned factory and is about to shoot the cop with his own gun.
Officer: What about my wife, my little girl? I'll never see them again!
Darby: That's fucked up, ain't it. [gets phone call] You don't mind if I take this, do ya? [into phone] My guardian angel, I am impressed.
Officer: [speaking into his phone] You know why I won't see my wife and little girl again? [takes off disguise to reveal himself as the vigilante] Because you took them from me.
- Amusingly played in City Slickers, when Mitch is forced to ride off with the menacing Curly.
"Curly, did I ever show you pictures of my wife and kids? I'm their sole support, you know."
- Robocop 2014. When Robocop brutally interrogates one of Vallon's street thugs, the later begs for mercy, stating he has a wife and kids. Unfortunately for the thug, Robocop has access to the police database and a quick search reveals that not only did the guy's wife leave him for domestic abuse, he also has no children.
- Towards the end of Would You Rather, there are two contestants left: Lucas and Iris. Iris's choice is either they both walk out empty-handed, or she shoots Lucas and wins the game. Lucas starts to invoke the trope, but Iris still shoots him dead because she needs to win.
- Nine Dead: Subverted. Kelley pleads with the captor to let her go because she has to be there for her son. The captor angrily counters that he has been spying on her for quite a while and she's actually quite neglectful as a parent, so he finds it insulting that she would try to use this as an excuse. This is another clue that his grievance for capturing the nine people is a family matter.
- Doctor Zhivago. The protagonist is kidnapped by Red partisans who have need of a doctor. He pleads with them to let him go, saying that he has a wife and children. The partisans just laugh, saying; "And a mistress!" having intercepted Zhivago on the way from one to the other.
Live Action TV
- A nameless factory worker makes this plea of the hell goddess Glory in Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Said factory worker actually makes a reappearance a few episodes later after Glory has Mind Raped him. Turns out he wasn't lying, as it involves his family visiting him in the psyche ward in hospital.
- A flashback scene in "Amends" shows evil vampire Angelus about to feed on a female servant. When he shows his Game Face the servant pleads that she has a son. Angelus replies, "He'll make a fine dessert."
- Played utterly straight in the first episode of Heroes, where Nikki reminds her creditors that she has a son. Jessica gets better results a few episodes later by telling a goon what exactly she'll do to him if her threatens her son again.
- Played with on House, where one patient tries to get the medical proxy of another patient to sign off on a brain biopsy with it. It doesn't work, and it's revealed that she actually doesn't have the husband and daughter she said she did.
- A rare example of it working occurs in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Because she's a hero and a mom, she lets him go. Subverted in that he is actually a bad guy and shoots her. Later, she kills him. Also, she finds out that while he doesn't have a son, he does have a wife.
- Jason Pillar used this on Jack Bauer on 24 and Jack spared him. He ended up getting his comeuppance in the final hour.
- This is also done in season 1 with Ted Cofell, but it doesn't work as well.
- In Oz, an illegal immigrant being held in the prison is about to be murdered by Guerra with a nail gun.He begs, pleading "My wife and son?" Guerra cruelly responds "They will mourn you forever."
- Inspector Morse. Sgt Lewis is taken out into the woods and forced to dig his own grave by the Murderer-Of-The-Week. At one stage he turns to the killer and yells angrily, "For God's sake, I've got a wife and kids!" but the killer just tells him to keep digging. Fortunately Morse turns up at that moment.
- Boardwalk Empire: Angela tries this when Manny has a gun on her, having just killed her lover Louise, albeit accidentally. It seems to work, until she offers money.
- In "The High Ground" on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Beverly Crusher tells a terrorist that has kidnapped that she has a son (Wesley Crusher). As it turns out, he isn't interested in killing her because he needs her medical services, though he does later launch an assault on the Enterprise that could have led to the death of Wesley.
- As Another World heroine Frankie Frame was attacked by a local Serial Killer, she intoned, "Please, I have a child!", as a last ditch attempt at getting him to spare her life. It didn't work.
- Subverted in a Garfield strip. A spider tells Garfield that he has thousands of kids, "all teenagers." Garfield smashes him and the spider proceeds to thank Garfield for putting him out of his misery.
- A similar Garfield example has a mouse walking in front of him and telling him, "Okay, you caught me. Go ahead and eat, never mind that I have seven kids at home." When Garfield tells the mouse to go home, the mouse says, "To seven screaming kids? What kind of monster are you!?"
- In another strip, Garfield is about to eat a goldfish:
Fish: Please, spare me, Mr Cat! I've got a wife and six kids!
(Garfield stares at the fish who's alone in his bowl)
- In one The Far Side strip, a man is about to step on an insect when the insect responds with this. It begs him to spare its life because "I have a wife and a thousand eggs laid in the jelly!" The man is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- This even occurs in music, in the song "Stagger Lee."
- Better Than Ezra's "One More Murder" contains the lyric "Saturday night, comin' out/Parking lot a figure come about/Feel a piece click against your head/Pleading to his sympathy/'Take the car, I got a family'/Hear a laugh, 'don't mean shit to me.'
- Jim Ross, commentator for WWE Raw, frequently exclaims "That man has a family!" when a wrestler is on the receiving end of a beat down.
- When Jack Benny threatened to fire his announcer, Don Wilson, Wilson pleaded, "But Jack, I have a wife and two chins to support!"
- In Dino Attack RPG, Bartholomew Enderson used this line when he was confronted by Silencia Venomosa. He later confessed that it was the greatest mistake he ever made, since Venomosa used it as leverage against him: if he did not comply, then she would kill his family.
- There is a variation in Sweeney Todd, where Todd is about to slash the throat of a customer in his typical manner, but then spares him when he sees he has a child.
- The movie puts the wife and child in the room at the time, which makes it unclear whether he's being spared out of kindness or because there are witnesses present.
- Considering the entire scheme began as a method of silencing witnesses, more likely the former.
- An immensely popular Israel skit parodies this, similarly to The Simpsons’s example below. A man gives a lengthly ridiculous account he makes up on the spot about how he me aliens and says that when he met their leader, he begged to be spared, saying, ‘I have a wife and kids! Eat them!’ (Though he later mentions off-handedly that he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage.)
- In the opening of Sweet Tooth's story in Twisted Metal Black, a voice is heard saying this. The response from Sweet Tooth: "Shut up and bleed, you mother—," interrupted by the sound of a knife striking home.
- In The Punisher for the PS2, this crops up as one of the special flashbacks. A random mook, upon being "interrogated," may respond "I have a family!" giving Punisher a flashback to his own, dead, family.
Punisher: (Kill) Everybody does
) Punisher: (Mercy)
: Then go back to them.
- Played with in Baldur's Gate:
Guard: You wouldn't kill a man with a wife and ten children, would you?
Protagonist: No way, you've got a fate worse than death already.
- Occasionally, the innocent civilians in Oni will say this if a fight starts near them. One specifically begs Konoko not to kill him ("I have a wife and kids!") after divulging information.
- Spoofed occasionally during kidnapping missions in City of Villains.
- "Please don't do this, I have kids! Well not now, but I'd like to someday."
- World of Warcraft: A few NPCs in the "Death Knight" starting zone shout this when you attack them. Just in case the mere fact of being a Death Knight wasn't enough.
- In Fable, when you are offered a chance to spare a merchant after raiding his trading post, you get to hear him beg for his life. For some reason, he feels the need to inform you that he has a shop in the same breath that he tells you about his family.
- If Batman continues interrogating mob mooks after getting the information he wants in the Batman Begins video game, they'll start pleading that they have families.
- Knights of the Old Republic 2 has seemingly dozens of these, often just when you're talking nicely to them on the street. Almost everyone you catch double-crossing you will try it as soon as you find out. This happens if you're good or evil.
- The first game pulled a subversion. With the Mandalorian raiders on Dantooine, they have a farmer at gunpoint. The farmer begs for his life, asking for his family to be taken instead of him. The Mandalorian shoots him anyway.
- Mafia: "You should have thought of them before."
- Mass Effect 2 has rogue Spectre Tela Vasir take a hostage, a waitress named Mariana, in order to stop Shepard from killing her in the game's Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. The hostage tries one of these, saying she has a son, but Vasir uses this as more reason for Shepard and the squad to drop their thermal clips, also delivering a Kick the Dog to Liara and possibly Shepard if s/he has the right background, about how it might scar the child for life. Shepard can either distract Vasir while Liara hits her from behind, non-fatally wound the hostage and hit Vasir or drop their thermal clips. Either way results in the hostage getting away relatively unscathed and one of the toughest fights in the game.
Mariana: Please. I have a son.
Vasir: A son? Well, I hope he gets to see you again. I've heard losing a parent is just horrific for children. Scars them for life.
Shepard: It's alright, Liara. We'll handle this the usual way.
Vasir: You want Mariana's little boy to grow up without a mommy, Shepard? Thermal clips on the ground, now. Power cells, too.
- In general, playing a heavily-renegade Shepard will get you to hear this a lot. Immediately followed by "pew pew".
- Wounded enemies in Grand Theft Auto IV will often scream something to this effect.
- Heavy Rain has a rare dramatic non-villainous use of it. One of the trials protagonist Ethan Mars has to endure to find his kidnapped son is to kill a specific man and take a photo. Should you choose to go through with it, he will espouse that he's a father and show a photo to you to prove it.
- In the finale confrontation between Guybrush and LeChuck in the church in The Secret Of Monkey Island special edition, the player can make Guybrush say this
Guybrush: Please don't kill me. (Player's choice)
LeChuck: Give me a reason why I shouldn't!
Guybrush: I have a wife and three kids! (Player's choice)
Elaine: I hear that!
- Bob (LeChuck's right hand man) also uses this line when Guybrush attempts to kill him with voodoo root beer (which Guybrush can succeed at, depending on how many times he tries to kill him). However, none of Bob's family is seen on LeChuck's ghost ship.
- A guard in Batman: Arkham Asylum tries this line on traitorous fellow guard Frank Boles just before being gunned down.
- In Scarface: The World is Yours, after Tony finishes slaughtering his way through Sosa's mansion, a random mook appears and begs for mercy using this. Tony offers him a job.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Big Bad Raul Menendez, after having orchestrated the assassination of Alex Mason, at the hands of his best friend, Frank Woods, he then says that one more has to die, Hudson, his spy in the CIA, David Mason, Alex's son, or Woods. Hudson says he can't offer himself because he has two kids. But as Raul cocks his shotgun, Hudson changes his tone and tells Menendez to kill him so Woods and David don't have to die.
- The witch in No Rest for the Wicked pleads with the heroes to spare her because "I have children! There's no one else to care for them!". She doesn't. She wanted to keep them so safe that she killed and ate them, so they would be safe inside. Then she proceeded to kidnap, kill, and eat other children on the delusion that they were her own, who somehow sneaked off.
- Schlock Mercenary, as Schlock is threatening to eat the guard from whom he is trying to get information :
Guard: I've got a wife and three kids!
Schlock: Yum, are you pleading for your life or offering me dessert?
- In The Order of the Stick strip #589, we have the evil minion vs Pregnant Badass version:
Ninja: Please, don't hurt me! I have children, too!
Kazumi: Yeah? Did you go through half a year of hemorrhoids to get them?
Turn around and I'll show you exactly what that feels like.
- Black Hat Guy in xkcd gets fed up with the Writers' Strike and kidnaps Jon Stewart.
Black Hat Guy: Jon! Obama's leading in Iowa! Gimme a wry, witty comment on the situation!
Jon Stewart: Please let me go. I have a family.
- Celesto Morgan does this to himself by accident in Dominic Deegan. After killing a Jerkass athlete, he asks the stripper he was with to give her a reason not to kill her... and (as he's a seer) sees a vision of her with her young daughter. Knocked for a loop, he makes a decision:
Celesto: Go home, hold your daughter close, and thank her for that good-luck pinch. It just saved your life.
- In this The Whiteboard strip, after watching an awful movie Doc threatens a janitor with violence over it. The janitor pleads for pity on account of having three mouths to feed. Two goldfish and a gerbil, which is sufficient to get the janitor off the hook.
- Also occurs in Let's Destroy The Shagohod! where Naked Snake tried interrogating a scientist who utters this trope... only for Snake to accidentally kill him.
- Spoofed in Invader Zim. In "Gir Goes Crazy And Stuff," Zim is about to erase a police officer's memories. The man pulls out his wallet to show Zim the photos therein, lamenting "I have a home, children, pets, a toilet..." There is indeed a photo of a toilet at the end of the roll.
- Also spoofed on The Simpsons. Homer, confronted by aliens Kang and Kodos, shouts, "Don't eat me! I have a wife and kids! Eat them!"
- And a bullfighting commentator in another episode: "No! I have a wife and three girlfriends!"
- Deconstructed in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Joker's Favor." The episode's main character says this as he tries to convince the Joker not to hurt him after he cussed out the Joker for cutting him off in traffic. It doesn't work and just gives the Joker more potential targets.
- Bugs Bunny does this in Haredevil Hare: "I have a wife and kids, millions of kids!"
- Daffy Duck also did it. Having actually been cornered by Porky Pig and moments away from being killed, he called his wife and kids out to say goodbye. Porky changes his mind, after which the "wife and kids" reveal themselves to be Daffy's drinking buddies in disguise.
- In another cartoon, Daffy is a vagrant sleeping inside a department store display, and he's about to be thrown out by police officer Porky when he passes off two wind-up ducks as his kids. Porky takes pity on them and lets then stay, and at the end is seen with his own two wind-up kids.
- Parodied in an episode of Tiny Toons called "The Boiling Pot" where Hamton is trying to boil a lobster.
Lobster: Please have mercy. I have a wife and children! (flips open a wallet full of pictures of humans)
Hampton: I have the same family. (flips open an identical wallet) They came with the wallet!
- Played straight, and surprisingly it works, in another episode, where Hamton spares the life of a mosquito after finding out that the mosquito has a family (again by wallet full of pictures). Since this is Hamton, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
- It actually works for a random civvie in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and he doesn't even have to say anything. A visibly starved Zuko rides by while he's cooking and is ready to rob the poor guy blind — until seeing his pregnant wife. Cue swords sheathing, because Zuko's not that kind of villain/Anti-Hero.
- Incidentally, said random civvie and his pregnant wife play an important role in the plot of a later episode. Avatar was good at this element (that is, humanising even minor characters rather well).
- Transformers Animated: Bulkhead has to pretend to berate Professor Sumdac so Dirt Boss won't do something worse. The Professor, being a Genius Ditz who was only just rescued from Megatron, takes him seriously and begs Bulkhead not to hurt him. "I am a father!"
- Played with in Ugly Americans, when Randall has joined an evil zombie cult and his initiation requires him to kill and eat a man. His intended target is a bit of a jerk, and when begs for his life, he mentions that he has a wife and mistress.
- In Sam & Max: Freelance Police a store clerk begs "Please! I have an ex-wife and two kids!"
- Spawn in the first episode, when some poor schmuck about to be set on fire by trio of mobsters, tries to plea for his life. Goes ignored.
Poor Schmuck: Please I have a family, kids.
Mobster: And for their sakes, I hope decent life insurance.
- Problem Child: Mayor Healy and Principal Peabody failed to keep their end of a bargain with mobsters. Healy played straight with the trope by stating he had a family. Peabody, on the other hand, said he didn't have one but could get one.
- In Taz-Mania, Taz falls for this with Willie Wombat. Yosemite Sam later berates him over the phone for falling for the old "sympathy routine".
- In the ''Popeye episode "Olive's Boithday Presink", the bear that Popeye is hunting is visited by his family as Popeye is just about to shoot him, who tearfully hug the bear and say their farewells. After this Popeye doesn't have the hear to shoot him.
- In the book All the President's Men, there's a scene where Bob Woodward was talking on the phone with someone about whom he was going to publish some dirt. Part of the man's plea not to publish was the statement, "I have a wife and two children and a dog and a cat!"
- When Maximilian Kolbe, sainted Franciscan priest, was imprisoned in Auschwitz, the Nazis were about to execute ten randomly chosen prisoners after another group managed to sneak out. One of them was a Polish soldier/woodworker, who pleaded for his life arguing he had family. This time the trope worked: Father Maximilian heard this and offered to take the man's place, so the guards accepted Father Maximilian as a substitute. He was executed, while the other man survived. Kolbe was made a saint for his selfless sacrifice, and the man he saved was still alive and attended his canonization.
- If anyone in this case is a "villain", it's the person saying the line: in 2004, NBA player Latrell Spreewell turned down a 3-year contract worth between $21 and 30 million dollars, saying he had a family to feed as reason that wasn't enough money. So continued his decline out of the league. To say the least, he was never offered that much money again.