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Left for Dead
"You were DEAD!"
For the video game, see Left 4 Dead.
A character is so obviously dead that the attacker just walks away instead of putting one in his brain
and making him Deader Than Dead
. Conversely, the attacker may have shot him, stabbed him, or otherwise inflicted what he thought was a lethal wound upon the character before deciding to be extra sadistic and leave him to die instead of taking the few seconds to finish him off.
Inevitably the character is Not Quite Dead
and will come back to seek his vengeance on the original attacker, who will say "You're alive!"
One of the lowest degrees in the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness
. However, an en masse
version of this is sometimes used as a build-up to a Zombie Apocalypse
, in which people begin dying due to a strange new disease...only to come back from the dead.
Closely related to Not Quite Dead
and No One Could Survive That
. See also Unexplained Recovery
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Anime & Manga
- Bleach: This happens a lot. The problem stems from hollows and shinigami only being confirmed dead by cutting off the head. As a result, they can potentially (but not always) survive ridiculous injuries if this step isn't taken. More often than not, antagonists and protagonists will not take this last step, causing this trope to kick in. Lampshaded in-universe by Zommari who was a firm believer in cutting off heads to avert this trope and Hitsugaya who lectured Luppi on not following through when Luppi assumed he'd killed Hitsugaya. Aizen himself wasn't a fan of following through except on three occasions where he really did want his opponents dead and even then, one of his targets still survived (Yamamoto). Most of the time it seems that Aizen is just too egotistical to care; he's already proved that these people are no threat by curbstomping them, so what difference does it make if they manage to survive?
- Frieza in Dragon Ball Z survives an exploding planet after being left for dead by Goku, after which it's RetConned that he survives, and comes back to Earth (with a mechanized body) to exact revenge. In the end, however, he is easily killed by a super powerful Kid from the Future.
- Lampshaded in Fate/stay night with Kotomine. He doesn't come back and finish off Caster himself, but her anxious reaction when Tohsaka flatly disbelieves that she could have killed Kotomine was amusing.
- Happens TWICE in Gundam SEED Destiny, first when the Archangel is blown up just as it goes underwater and Kira's Freedom is run through by the Impulse and dumped in the ocean, second when the GOUF that Athrun and Meyrin were escaping on is sliced in half by the Destiny and also dumped in the ocean.
- To be fair, usually when Shinn stabbed someone through the cockpit (and the suit exploded), they don't usually (read: NEVER) live. On top of that, the Freedom had a friggin nuke engine that went critical. The two were not so much left for dead, but rather lived through an extremely lucky scenario. I mean, who lives through a point-blank Nuclear Explosion!?
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Lust stabs Roy and Havoc through their lungs and leaves them to bleed to death. Roy is able to burn their wounds closed and returns to totally curbstomp Lust. It was ''awesome.''
- Subverted in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. Metal Robotnik shoots a bridge out from under Sonic and Tails. They grab bridge girders just out of sight, and make gurgling sounds to convince Metal Robotnik that they're drowning. Metal Robotnik isn't fooled, and mocks them for thinking that the ruse would work. And resumes shooting at them.
- Played two times in One Piece by Crocodile:
- In his first fight with Luffy, he impaled him in the chest with his hook and buried him in quicksand. Luffy survived thanks to the help of Ms. All-Sunday.
- And in the second fight with Luffy, he drained all the moisture of Luffy's body, leaving him as a mummy. He still survived thanks to having shot water to Crocodile before, falling into his dehydrated body and saving him.
- At the end of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's Watanagashi and Meakashi chapters, Shion stabs Keiichi and runs off laughing, only watching them collapse. They recover, but then...
- What Gin and Vodka do to Kudou Shinichi in the first chapter/episode of Detective Conan. Not suspecting the seven-year-old is him is one thing, but seriously? Walking away like that just because you'd fed him an 'untraceable poison?' You're supposed to be super-professionals at this game.
- And that's not even getting into how they clearly just sort of stuck the pill in his mouth and made no effort to actually force-feed him. Seriously, the anime shows the water they pour in to wash it down running straight out the other side again! Except he obviously did swallow it since he shrunk.
- In the rebooted graphic novel retelling of Cyborg 009, Joe uses this phrase exactly to describe what Kai's goons did after severely beating him for planning to elope with his sister. It's implied that the only reason Joe survived was because the Black Ghost abducted him not long after.
- In Dark Reign: Lethal Legion, Tiger Shark talks about how Norman Osborn had him tossed off a tall building, but didn't even bother to have anyone check to see if he was dead. That, he feels, was uncalled for - adding insult to injury by making it clear that he's not important enough for Osborn to care whether he's alive or dead.
- The Punisher MAX
- At the end of "Up is Down and Black is White" arc, Frank catches up with Nicky Cavella, a mafioso who desecrated his family's graves. Frank shoots him low in the stomach, leaving him in the woods to slowly bleed out or die of infection. In a subversion of the usual course of this trope, Cavella does indeed die.
- Later in the Series, Punisher and Bullseye both end up in the same No One Could Survive That situation. Frank ends up in traction and prison, but Bullseye isn't mentioned. Punisher seems to realize that if he survived, so did Bullseye, so the first thing he does after escaping prison note is to track down the comatose Bullseye and shoot him in the head.
- In Sherwood, Texas, Rob Hood is shot, dumped in an abandoned mine and has the mine collapsed on top of him. He comes back.
- Sandor Clegane, of A Song of Ice and Fire, might apply here — it's still not for certain if he's alive or dead, though there is evidence for either.
- Looking more likely that he's alive, considering that we're told he's dead but shown evidence that he's alive. This is A Song of Ice and Fire, you don't take anyone at their word, even priests. At any rate, just the fact that Arya left him assuming he'd die is enough to qualify for the trope.
- Managing an intentional version of this is a Crowning Moment of Awesome for (Sir!) Horace Harkness in the Honor Harrington series. As a result of hacking an entire enemy battlecruiser, he sends out a decoy shuttle ahead of their actual escape shuttle, which is destroyed with a nuclear warhead. Between the sensor blindness of the nuke's EMP and the fact that after they leave, Harkness arranges for the Tepes to tear itself apart when he activates a nearby pinnance's gravity wedge inside the boat bay remotely, Haven notably assumes that he, his fellow captives, and most importantly his commanding officer Honor Harrington are all dead.
- Notably, the Peep tactical officer on the scene, Shannon Foraker, is good enough that even this doesn't fool her entirely. Both she and her commander, Vice-Admiral Tourville, simply fail to voice any suspicions to their superiors, and delete the data in question that might lead to a more in depth investigation.
- Closer to the trope, Haven's leadership as a whole has a colossal backfire from this when not only does Honor come back, but comes back after they broadcast her faked execution over every major network. It's hard to say whether the people she rescued or her own survival hurt Haven more.
- In the novel Relentless, Morgan's lover Payton pushed her out of the way of a cave in. Unable to find help or to free him on her own, she held his hand until it went cold, and then left. When he shows up years later as The Thresher, she is understandably astonished, and he, of course, resentful that she didn't try hard enough to save him.
- This happends quite a bit across the enitre Dune series, though most notable when Paul and Jessica are left for dead after flying right into a storm that was meant to carve the flesh off their bones and then destroy the bones. The Baron assumes they're dead, and pays them no mind. It ends badly for him, his family, his allies, and eventually the entire universe.
- Or, actually, pretty well for the human portion of the Universe generally, though it takes a while (and several sequels) before this becomes apparent. Paul is The Hero, after all. Jessica remaining alive is harder to call.
- The Japanese novel Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse follows a Hiroshima family who were victims of the nuclear bomb. At one point they encounter another family who, panicking and unable to free their nine-year-old son from their burning house, flee and leave the boy for dead. Eventually the kid manages to free himself, and, in what must surely be the Understatement of the year, his reunion with his family is described as "rather awkward".
- Parker is left for dead when he is betrayed by his wife and his partner after The Heist in The Hunter. He wakes up inside a burning house. managing to escape, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
Live Action TV
- In the LOST season 4 finale, the Others, who really ought to know better, leave Keamy for dead, not taking into account the body armor he's wearing.
- Ben shoots Locke and leaves him in the Dharma pit. In a much later episode, though, he tries to kill him again and that time he makes sure he's dead.
- It happens with Mikhail. Twice! The first time occurs when Locke pushes him through the sonar fence and the second time he is left for dead in the Looking Glass station. Needless to say, this losties' omission leads to a devastating end.
- In Supernatural - Born Under A Bad Sign, if Meg!Sam had actually checked that Dean had actually drowned instead of checking and then leaving, s/he could have enjoyed Sam's body for a hell of a lot longer.
- In the Heroes season 1 finale, Sylar is Left for Dead after being run through with a samurai sword... and at the very end, no one seems to notice his body has suddenly disappeared, with a trail of blood leading to an open manhole nearby.
- This happens again in the Volume 3 finale, after he gets stabbed in the back of the head which supposedly nullifies his regeneration powers. Even though there is no sign this time that he escaped, (trapped in an exploding building, after all) No one (in the audience) believed this death would stick. The fact that just seconds before they had just built up a storyline for Sylar to track down his true parents helped reinforce this belief in the audience.
- Season 1 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Master catches Buffy deep in his subterranean vampire lair, drains her, and dumps her face-first in a pool. What more needs to be done? Besides making sure Xander doesn't man up, go into an underground vamp playpen, and perform CPR on the Buffster, that is. The Master lives to regret it. About half an hour. In fairness to the Master, she was dead, just not brain dead.
- In the Doctor Who Series 3 episode "Smith and Jones", the Doctor is Left for Dead by an bloodsucking alien after she drained his blood. She was unaware that the Doctor possesses a dual vascular system, so in fact she'd only gotten half his blood, leaving him weakened but ready to pop up and save the day.
- The third season premiere of Merlin had Morgause decide that the best way to keep Merlin from foiling her plan to conquer Camelot was to leave him in magical chains to be killed by poisonous beasts while she went on her way. Of course, the titular character of the show escapes, much to her surprise.
- The robbers of the pharmacy in the CSI NY season 8 finale do this to Mac after shooting him In the Back. Naturally, he survives, although it's his team that hunts the shooter down since he's unable.
- Happened a lot on Highlander, by people who didn't know a character was immortal and only killable by beheading. The immortal would then come back to hunt them down. Duncan in 'Bad Day in Building A' is a prime example.
- Rob Dougan's song, "Left Me For Dead", is quite naturally an angry ballad from the point of view of a victim of this trope.
- Left 4 Dead was NAMED for this trope. In both games, the setup is that the army had been evacuating survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse, and the two groups of four immune survivors in each game got there too late, and were therefore Left 4 Dead.note
- While plot-wise it makes sense, leaving someone for dead in gameplay is one of the worst mistakes one can make, since many situations require a helping hand out of (getting pinned by a hunter, strangled by a smoker, hanging off a cliff, etc.).
- Depending on the situation, sometimes it is better to defy logic and leave incapacitated survivors to die outside the safe room/rescue vehicle since sometimes going back to help can result in you getting in trouble or getting the whole team wiped out, forcing a restart of the map.
- Amanda Evert in Tomb Raider Legend. Lara Croft was convinced she was dead... until an antagonist drops her name in conversation.
- This happens to the main character at the beginning of Fable II. The rest of the game is, of course, a quest for revenge.
- Final Fantasy IV places the Not Quite Dead blunder on the heroes' shoulders - when protecting the Dark Crystal in the Dwarven Castle, Cecil and company are taken out one by one from Golbez's Shadow Dragon. Rydia, previously thought dead (not uncommon in this game), appears and takes out the dragon just before it can kill Cecil, allowing them to turn the battle around and fell Golbez. The party is so overjoyed that Rydia is still alive that they start to leave without checking how alive Golbez is or grabbing the Dark Crystal themselves - he manages to get up, grab the Crystal, and warp out.
- In the first Overlord game it is revealed towards the end that the player was left for dead in the Tower by his companions, the fallen heroes you've been killing.
- Breath of Fire IV possibly takes this trope to its extreme in the Trauma Conga Line of attempts by the Fou Empire to kill its King in the Mountain and literal God Emperor Fou-lu (who has recently come Back from the Dead, a situation The Empire finds as inconvenient because The Emperor would have to give up his throne). In the most extreme example, Fou-lu is explicitly targeted as Ground Zero of a Fantastic Nuke, operated on the theory that Love Hurts, and literally used Mami as a Fantastic Human Nuclear Warhead after torturing her to the point of suicidal insanity first SPECIFICALLY because of her relationship with Fou-lu. This merely caused Blood from the Mouth and shoves Fou-lu across the Moral Event Horizon to full-blown Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds territory, with the King in the Mountain now wanting to conduct a Roaring Rampage of Revenge because he's finally decided Humans Are Bastards after all. (The Fantastic Nuking is, notably, the only bit in this entire sequence where Fou-lu is literally Left for Dead — because obviously No One Could Survive That...)
- This trope serves as the set-up for the Courier in Fallout: New Vegas.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution manages to subvert the trope, but ultimately play it straight. At the beginning of the game, your attacker gets distracted while attempting to kill you by another character. Rather than leaving you for dead at this point, he subdues the other character, picks up a pistol, and shoots you in the head. It is played straight because you do end up surviving, but at least the attacker makes the effort.
- Note how he shoots you in the head at point-blank range with your own .357 revolver. You do flatline on the table when they're trying to save your life, so he did manage to kill you...it just didn't stick.
- From Max Payne:
- In the first game, Nicole Horne leaves Max to die at the Punchinello Manor after injecting him with an OD of Valkyr.
- The second game has Vladimir Lem shooting Max in the head with a Desert Eagle (which would be fatal in any other universe) before leaving him.
- Mass Effect 2 DLC party member Zaeed Massani was betrayed by his former partner, who had six mercs hold him down while he shot him in the face and then left him to die. Zaeed got better and has been hell bent on getting his revenge for 20 years. Whether or not he goes through with it is up to you.
- A less obvious one happens with the main character. At the beginning of Mass Effect 2, your galaxy-saving badass (who by now has a bodycount roughly equal to the Battle of Stalingrad) has their ship blown out from under them, is spaced with multiple suit breaches and undergoes an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere of a deserted ice planet, perhaps to remind you where you lie on the food chain. For two years, Shepard is clinically dead, but the Collectors (responsible for their death) either didn't stick around to find the body or didn't have time to do so (which it is and why is discussed on the work's Headscratcher page), although it is mentioned that they do try to get their hands on his body. Needless to say, Shepard comes back.
- An unusual example in BioShock 2's introduction. The baddie doesn't leave the main character alive; in fact, he's quite clearly dead... in a setting with resurrection chambers behind every corner.
- During the opening cutscene of Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier is shot in the head and buried in a shallow grave. He is dug up and patched up before tracking down the man who shot him and retrieving his package.
- Muradin in Warcraft III.
- Lilian Voss gets left for dead by the player in the Scholomance dungeon, but is confirmed to turn up alive in Warlords of Draenor.
- Kusari leaves Oasis for dead after their first battle in Sluggy Freelance. Oasis actually does die from her wounds, but dying has never slowed her down much.
- Luke from FreakAngels took a shotgun to the chest at point blank range. Averted when Jack followed this up by putting a bullet directly through his brain before dumping him in an alley And then he came back anyway.
- Mark also comes back after being shot, dumped in a river, and supposed dead.
- In fact, it turns out ANY Freakangel who ever dies will just come back.
- Parodied in Homestar Runner. Strong Bad says he glued Marzipan to Homsar and "left them for dead" but gives no reason why he expected them to die from this (the scene also cuts to the pair, glued together, and very much not dead).
- In the Whateley Universe, evil sorceress Hekate puts an enchanted athame into Generator's chest, and rams it in so hard it goes all the way through her chest and gets stuck in the table underneath. Hekate then has to leave the corpse and her athame, and focus on Fey. Major mistake. Generator has the right powers to recover from this.
- Disney's The Lion King: Simba is Left For Dead in the middle of a burning desert, only to be later saved by Timon and Pumbaa. Simba was supposed to have been finished off by the hyenas, but they blundered this (as usual) — and weren't going to tell Scar about their failure.
- In Frozen, Hans left Anna to die from the ice curse. Justified because he couldn't afford to strike the killing blow himself (since that would expose his lies to the other officials), and because he couldn't afford to wait for the ice curse to finish Anna off (since Elsa was the greater threat).
- Peter Griffin's fights with the giant chicken in Family Guy end with Peter finally triumphing over the chicken and leaving. Then the camera zooms in and the chicken opens one eye over a sting. Peter never thinks to wring its neck and make a chicken dinner (though they did make peace and have dinner together at one point, but then they started fighting over the check).
- Morto does this after a round with the titular hero in Birdman.
- A parody of Kill Bill in Drawn Together Season 2, when Wooldor Sockbat is likewise buried in a coffin, and is likewise able to escape ala the video game Dig Dug. One character responds "THAT requires no further explanation!" to underscore how it's never explained how the Bride's feat was possible, since her martial arts training had never involved being a human oil-drill.
- In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the turtles leave Shredder for dead for the good and sensible reason that they had just cut off his head. Unfortunately for them, that still didn't do the job.
- In Corpse Bride, the title character actually died after being Left for Dead. It's not really an aversion, though, given that she still manages to be a main character and all.
- In Transformers Prime, Shockwave was left for dead on Cybertron after he was caught in an exploding space bridge. He managed to repair himself and continued his research in isolation until some Decepticons returned to the planet on an unrelated mission.
- In Sym-Bionic Titan Modula was genuinely believed dead by the king, but Modula considers it abandonment.