Kill Steal

She's mine! MINE! MIIIIINE!
Freddy Krueger, Freddy vs. Jason

Someone is about to kill a person, and someone else leaps in and does it instead, usually to get the credit and/or reward. This is a common way to establish a rivalry in stories about killers. Stealing a kill is a sure way to piss these characters off. Heck, Body Count Competitions often encourage this.

Happens with players in Tabletop Games (especially with The Munchkin) or online games (especially with Griefers). There is a significant difference between it happening in an FPS and an MMORPG though. In an FPS things tend to be much more fast paced and the consequences of losing a kill aren't much more than the loss of one point (and maybe a few wasted bullets) so complaining about it too much is considered quite childish. In an MMORPG things are slower paced so it's always clearer who's fighting what (so a Kill Steal is more likely to be deliberate) and a single kill usually involves more effort and grants a lot more resources (in the form of loot and XP), as a result kill stealing is a lot more of an issue. This is best summed up in the solutions to the problem:
  • In an FPS you can get points for "assisting" in a kill, much like Leaked Experience in a role-playing game.
  • In an MMORPG you can't attack someone else's target without their permission (or alternatively if you attack something already fighting someone else you won't get anything for it).

In general, kill stealing in video games will refer to a combat oriented online game, and the actual act is killing an enemy who's heath has been whittled down by another player but then one person comes along when they are almost dead and kill them despite not having dealt any damage before. It is often seen as a dishonorable act by other players, leading to cries of "Stop Helping Me!" There are a few cases where it is helpful, such as an MMORPG where a lower level player can do this on a higher level monster to get more XP.

Compare The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, Ninja Looting.

Contrast Helping Would Be Killstealing.


In-Universe Examples Only:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Isamu's does this to at least one other pilot in the opening sequence of Macross Plus. This is one of several bad habits that eventually get him re-assigned as a test pilot for Project Supernova.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, superhero Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid has a regular habit of stealing other heroes' arrests (and thus their points and hero ranking) at the last minute.
  • Subverted in Berserk. At first glance it looks like the Skull Knight's appearance during the final battle with Ganishka qualifies, but the dialogue reveals that his stroke was actually meant to hit Femto, who was about to fight Ganishka. It's debatable whether Femto actually planned this.
  • Chloe's first appearance in Noir had her killing two targets that the main characters had accepted a contract on. In a later episode, Chloe then goes on to protect her target from a group of assassins sent by a third party to prevent this trope. At the end of the episode she tracked down their boss and killed him for the attempted offense.
  • The titular character of Cross Ange is very fond of doing this, pissing off her other allies who do need the kills because their income is based on the number and type of dragons they kill. Averted, as it's suggested she does this to keep anyone else from dying like her disastrous first mission.
  • In UQ Holder Afro blames the protagonist for taking the points for his battle by intervening to save him when he looked to be in a bad position. In Touta's defense, he didn't even know that the preliminaries were going on.
  • In Attack on Titan while the 104th Trainee Squad are doing an exercise, Connie leaps in to steal a kill from Jean. Subverted though, in that Sasha then goes and steals it from Connie.
  • Kibaou from Sword Art Online rants on the "beaters" who, according to him, are beta testers who more knowledgeable the titular game than he does and Kill Steal all the rewards that should have been his. His credibility is completely thrown off the window when the La Résistance leader he worships turns out to be a false hero who form up a team in order to exploit the system in such way. Not to mention he later starts kill stealing himself.

    Film 
  • This is what sets off the "versus" in Freddy vs. Jason, as seen in the quote. Freddy resurrects Jason and sends him to Elm Street, hoping that Jason's rampage will provide him with a fresh source of fear. Everything goes as planned right up until Jason stabs one of Freddy's sleeping victims before he could kill her himself.
  • Not directly stealing, but Alice doing this to Jill a few points in Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a major reason she's considered a Canon Sue. See Phelous's reaction to them here.
  • Gimli accuses Legolas of this in The Two Towers during the fight with the warg-riding orcs.
    *riderless warg charges at Gimli*
    Gimli: Bring your pretty face to my axe!
    *Legolas shoots the warg when it's within mere feet of Gimli*
    Gimli: That one counts as mine!

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Highlander, Amanda (who is, after all, a thief) takes the head of an Immortal antagonist whom Duncan MacLeod was just about to finish off. As a result, she gets the energy from the Quickening.
    • Methos does this after Duncan refuses to kill a female immortal, citing "It had to be done"
    • Part of the reason that Immortals in the Highlander verse insist on duels instead of ganging up is to minimize the chance of someone stealing a kill and gaining the energy from the defeated Immortal's Quickening.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Pick Me Up", the conflict between the two serial killers revolves around this, with both fighting over the prey they both have set their sights on.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson guns down HYDRA officer Daniel Whitehall in front of Skye's father, who had been plotting vengeance against Whitehall for decades. Coulson did not intend it, but Skye's father definitely views it that way.
  • On The 100, the Grounders capture Finn, tie him to a post, and are about to kill him via Death By A Thousand Cuts, but Clarke stabs him in the chest before they get the chance, so that at least his death will be quick. A lot of Grounders are upset they didn't get to inflict their traditional punishment on Finn, but their Commander forces them to accept it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A main theme of the game Cutthroat Caverns. Players represent a party of adventurers who must work together to fight and defeat various monsters...but only the player who delivers the killing blow gets points. The game's tagline: "Without teamwork, you will never survive. Without betrayal, you'll never win."

    Videogames 
  • This is a popular tactic in Halo online multiplayer, let someone else weaken a foe, and then swoop in and steal it.
    • In the single-player game, the A.I. controlled Marines will complain about this if you kill the enemy they're targeting; even if you're the one who actually landed the majority of hits on it.
    • Halo: Reach actually has a specific medal just for stealing an assassination by killing the person being assassinated before the animation ends. It's called Yoink! and it's used as the Swear Filter on 343 Industries' forums. For the inverse, killing the assassin (if he's a foe), you get Showstopper.
  • In No More Heroes, Henry does this in a cutscene for Letz Shake, the fifth ranked assassin.
    Travis: Where are your manners? That was my kill you naughty boy!
    • In the same game, Jeane does this as well to Dark Star, the first ranked assassin. It should be noted that the association has apparently thought of this ahead of time, however: in both cases, despite Travis not having killed his intended opponent himself, he is still declared the "winner" and takes their rank.
    • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Henry (again), Shinobu, and ironically Dr. Letz Shake do this, although Travis didn't have the opportunity to fight himself, and again, the kills still count for him.
      • Dr. Letz Shake, who is a boss that's never playable, kills twelve instantly in what was supposed to be a battle royale that you just missed due to being locked out of the boss arena until the last second.
      • Shinobu kills two of the assassins so Travis can do other stuff. You actually get to play as Shinobu for both the levels and the boss stages.
      • While Travis is sleeping, Henry kills three, who are suggested by earlier statements in the story to be two assassins and a challenger, since the math didn't add up for three ranked assassins. None of these were actually playable, though he did have a different playable boss fight. Trailer images suggest he was originally to have at least one playable stage, that got removed from the game. He even leaves Travis/you a message and sends pictures just to rub it in.
    Travis: You've got to be kidding me! Would you fucking people stop stealing my kills?!
    Travis: Dammit! Irish ass. He could at least have told me more about those assassins.
    Henry (answering machine message): And in case you were wondering, I took pictures of the three scangers as souvenirs. You'll just have to drool over 'em, 'cause there's no way you can play through these fights. The game's stuffed full as it is.
  • In the Super Smash Bros. series, mainly Brawl, when someone gets knocked off the stage, the KO goes to the last character to land an attack on them. This means that if you're quick enough, you can get credit for the KO even if another character is the one who does them in. This is most easily accomplished by placing a Lip's Stick hit or Pikmin on the opponent before they get sent flying.
  • In Star Fox, Fox's wingmen will complain if he shoots down an enemy they were taking care of.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, you fight the legendary Divine Dragon, which once dead is supposed to drop his soulgem, allowing whoever gets it to use his power. Once you finish the boss fight Lloyd appears out of nowhere, cuts the dragon's 7th eye, gets his soulgem, and takes off without you being able to do anything about it. You don't get it for yourself until you're literally in front of the final boss.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Seifer Almasy invokes this trope during the tutorial. He orders his comrade (you) to leave him the last hit on all monsters, because this way he gets more XP. Classy.
  • In Fable II, if you wait too long to kill Lucien, Reaver will shoot him instead.
  • This is used to train weaker soldiers in Fire Emblem games. Have your stronger fighters weaken the enemy then have the unit you're trying to train score the finishing blow. All other things being equal, the unit that inflicted the killing blow will gain more experience than the other fighters. This combined with the fact that units gain more experience if they have a lower level than the enemy means that your weaker units can soon become bona fide powerhouses.
    • Some characters in Fire Emblem Awakening will complain about this if their Paired Up partner takes a kill.
  • In Flying Heroes, you may order your AI companion to steal kills. As it is a four-team deathmatch, the companion will take kills from the other teams rather than yourself.
  • Vindictus averts this. No matter who killed the monster, everyone gets a share in the XP and loot. It does open the possibility of party leeches, but they can just be kicked from the party.
  • In Phantom Brave, Bounty hunters are called "Chroma," and the man named Walnut is a "Chroma Oxide," someone who specializes in ripping off the bounty other Chroma are getting, either by this trope or by defeating the other hunters directly.
    • Castile's dad, Saffron, pulls this at the end of Chapter 4, by killing off the last enemy with a fire bomb; since Marona didn't defeat the last enemy, she didn't complete the job, and therefore he doesn't have to pay her. However, he only does this because they need all their money to pay for Castile's treatments. Ironically, Marona would definitely have refused the payment anyway had he mentioned it (as she's happy enough to have befriended Castile) and is a bit sad that Saffron thinks she'd be that concerned about the money.
  • Ragnarok Online allows you to configure equal XP share or damage proportional XP share for all party members. Loot is still dropped on the ground.
  • Gears of War has players go into a "Down But Not Out" state when they take enough damage. In this state they can be revived by a teammate or killed by an enemy. The frequency of players killing the downs of other players is perhaps one of the major factors that led to the series' severe Complacent Gaming Syndrome regarding the shotgun, which, in addition to being just better, could blow an enemy to Ludicrous Gibs without the need of a down, and if you did get a down with it you were close enough to claim your kill quickly before anyone else could.
  • MOBA games typically deliver bonus gold to the person who lands the killing blow, although anyone who's helped recently gets some. But more importantly, how many kills you get is recorded on your match statistics. Naturally, the arguments are bitter. Not helping is the extremely large amount of factors, many of which are unlikely to be discernible to someone intervening, that make the difference between someone dying and someone managing to limp back to safety with barely any health left.
    • Darius, from League of Legends, in particular seems designed for this. His ultimate is especially effective at last hitting enemy players and has its cooldown reset when it scores a kill; even though Darius is a melee fighter and susceptible to getting kited or stunlocked to death and therefore not a good basket to put all of a team's eggs into. Axe and Necrolyte in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars have the same problem, being respectively an early game tank with no carry potential and a mage with no spell damage scaling from items; so while their ultimates can easily score tons of kills, doing so in front of other players with heroes that actually benefit from gold will probably result in a loss. Zeus however is well known in the fandom for being able to steal kills from anywhere in the map by using his ultimate Thundergod's Wrath to deal high magic damage to every enemy hero on the map. While others have global-range abilities to do such a thing with, they're all more delayed in action than Thundergod's Wrath, which is nigh-instant in execution.
    • Ideally, all kills should go to the carries, while supports should try their hardest to avoid taking kills from others (in League of Legends, due to reduced gold rewards for killing players who keep dying without scoring kills, a support or splitpusher getting a kill may even end up giving the other team a bigger gold advantage over time than simply letting the enemy run!). Of course, while this is the most ideal strategy, players tend to judge each other based on kill/death ratio, especially when the team is losing and someone is bound to pin the blame on the player with the lowest score. Once the match starts going badly or someone decides to complain about bad teammates, team priorities often subtly shift to everyone trying to steal kills while not being too obvious about it, instead of working together to win the match.
  • A viable tactic in Dokapon Kingdom (and its portable counterpart, Dokapon Journey), where you can interrupt a fight between another player and a monster and deliver the killing blow to take all the credit for yourself.
  • The World of Warcraft quest chain that has you decide between two factions in Sholazar Basin begins with a Wolvar accusing you of this when you kill a jungle cat for a completely different quest.
  • There is actually a achievement in Red Dead Redemption multiplayer to allow someone to steal your kills 10 times in a gang hideout.
  • You can do this in Anarchy Reigns without consequences (Well other than a pissed-off player). Considering it's anarchy, there's no rules to stop you from doing so either, and the game even encourages you for doing it by giving you bonus points.
  • The plot of RE: Alistair is touched off when the eponymous "Alistair" killsteals a boss out from under Merui and claims the item reward she was trying to get from the fight.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online, like many modern games, has a "tapping" mechanic to prevent killstealing: the first player or group to damage a mob gets the experience for killing it. It's still possible to usurp other player's efforts, though: If multiple mobs attack a player, it's quite possible for another player to tap a rare/plot-critical mob in the group before the first player gets to it.
  • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, your wingman, Solo Wing Pixy, would frequently steal your kills even if you ordered him just to cover you. Of the many wingmen in the series, Pixy is by far one of the most aggressive ones.
    • Ace Combat Infinity includes a few mechanics to make this less painful, being a multiplayer-centric game - for starters, players are given points just for damaging enemies, so multiple players going for high-value, hardened targets aren't screwed out of all the ammo they used on it. There's also various bonuses for cooperating with a teammate to kill an enemy - Kill Confirmation for watching as they kill it, Assist for damaging it before they kill it, Overkill for hitting it with a missile after it's dead, and Rescue for killing it as it's attacking an ally.
  • In the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you're a Dragonborn, with the power to absorb dragon souls after you slay them to both kill them permanently and keep their power for yourself. After progressing past a certain point in the expansion Dragonborn, the Arc Villain Miraak (also a Dragonborn) will teleport in and absorb the dragon's soul instead. Fortunately, you get all the stolen souls back after defeating him.
  • Call of Duty tries to avert this by way of Assists - while whoever lands the killing shot on an enemy will be fully credited for the kill, any teammates who contributed will also gain a smaller amount of points as an assist (up to 75% of the points for a full kill if they did the most damage), assuming the target didn't heal from their damage before dying. "Kill Confirmed" mode, however, revels in this - it doesn't matter who kills the enemy, so long as someone on their team grabs the dog tags dropped by that enemy after he dies. You can even take dog tags from fallen allies, to deny the other team the chance to steal them and get credit for the kill.
  • One of the few games where this is less of an issues is World of Tanks, where you get no credit or experience rewards for landing the killing blow, only for damage done. Some players actually prefer that someone else gets the kill in cases where the enemy tank has only a handful of health left. At higher tiers, the shells are prohibitively expensive, and some tanks don't carry nearly enough to last a whole match. So for them, they'd rather let someone else kill the guy, so they can save their shots for something else.
    • It becomes an issue when War Gaming introduces missions requiring you to score certain amount of killsnote  or when some famous enough personnote  is sighted on the field. Players abilities seem take a huge hit during such events, either because of tunnelvisioning or deliberate sabotaging the team effort in order to get more kill themselves.
  • Averted in Monster Hunter, where there is little benefit in delivering the last hit to or being the one to tranquilize a monster; there's no experience system, carve limits for slain monsters are localized so that everyone gets a fair chance at loot (before individual skills that boost carve limits apply) , and everyone gets the same number of rewards (except those with reward-boosting skills). After all, who cares about who delivered the finishing blow as long as everyone gives it their best shot?

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    Real Life 
  • One of the most famous property law cases, Pierson v. Post, involved Pierson shooting and killing a fox that Post was pursuing. Post sued for the value of the fox, claiming a right to it by virtue of pursuit. The court held that while kill-stealing might be rude, a person doesn't get any property right in an animal just by chasing it.