Let Them Die

Kirk: Don't believe them! Don't trust them!
Spock: Jim.... They're dying.

Sometimes even the Hero gets utterly frustrated by a particular race or person, to the point that the race or person may face a horrible extinction or other horrible fate, and the Hero is just too jaded or disillusioned to care, usually by having been personally wronged by the race/person in question to a horrible extent, most often involving family or a friend having been killed by said race or individual's actions. Sometimes it is accompanied by a speech, sometimes it is just those three small, but powerful and life-changing (or life-ending) words. This trope often results in a What the Hell, Hero? moment, or at the very least a long, often loud objective lecture. Often the result of a Moment of Weakness.

This trope is USUALLY applied to the Hero, but not always. However, the ones delivered by the hero are almost always the ones that get the most fervent objections from friends, or sometimes even change who was perceived as the hero into an Anti-Hero at best, or the Big Bad at worst.


Comic Books
  • Green Lantern Sodom Yat hated the xenophobia of his homeworld Daxam. It reached a peak in his childhood when he befriended an alien named Tessog that had crashlanded on Daxam. Sodom's parents brainwashed Sodom and murdered Tessog. Sodom realized the truth after seeing his friend's stuffed corpse in a museum. He repaired his friend's ship vowing to leave the planet forever when the Green Lantern ring appeared and gave him another out. Years later, when the Sinestro Corp attacked Daxam, Sodom seriously considered leaving the planet to its fate.

  • The Trope Namer is Star Trek VI. Kirk is infuriated to find he has been nominated to extend "the first olive branch" of peace to the Klingons, who can no longer afford to maintain hostilities with the Federation. Kirk has hated the Klingons outright ever since they killed his son and when Spock attempts to persuade him that it's the right thing to do he names the trope.
    • Incidentally, originally Kirk was supposed to immediately recoil in shock at his own bloodthirsty outburst before amending "I didn't mean that", but it was cut. Apparently William Shatner was quite annoyed at the ommission.
  • During the Normandy assault on Saving Private Ryan, a soldier gets behind the German bunker and sets it ablaze with his flamethrower. One of the soldiers on the beach sees the Germans jumping off the side of the bunker on fire and orders the others not to shoot, but "let them burn".
  • BatmanBegins sets the condition that Batman will not kill a human. During the climax, Ra's AL Gul says he'll never stop trying to destroy Gotham, while on a speeding train headed towards Wayne Tower. Batman says he won't kill him, but he doesn't have to save him either and BASE jumps off the train.

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire many people counsel the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch to abandon the wildlings behind the Wall to be killed by the Others, due to the difficulty of saving them and their historical status as enemies of the Night's Watch. During one attempt to convince them why this is not a good idea, he points out that the Others raise the dead, and they're proposing giving their enemy thousands of soldiers.

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • For most of Mass Effect 1 the Council has mocked you, questioned you, and otherwise screwed you, even colluding with Udina to ground your ship on the Citadel. At the climax, you have the option to leave the Citadel fleet and the Destiny Ascension to be annihilated fighting the Geth fleet, allowing the Alliance to ride in and mop up the remnants and take down Sovereign. The dialogue tree option literally says, "Let the Council die!" Later, a renegade Shepard has the option to claim he/she was waiting for a chance to get rid of them all along, prompting a shocked response from Anderson and a smug response from Udina.
    • This option also causes 10,000 people to die, and can result in worsened relations between humanity and the other Council races.
    • For a more individual-oriented example, in Mass Effect 2 on Jacob's loyalty mission you have to option to leave Acting Captain Taylor to be presumably maimed and killed by his feral crew. Why? He set his mechs on you and his crew, brainwashed several of them to be mindless guards, forced most of the crew to worship him like a god, and passed around the female crewmembers like sex slaves between officers. His abuses are so unacceptable his own son recommends you kill him or leave him to die.
    • In the third game, the Renegade method to achieve peace between the geth and quarians is to tell the quarians that you're sick of helping them out like you did in the past, and that if they attack the soon-to-be-upgraded geth, they will die and you will not stop it; they will then get the hint and abandon the attack. This option does, however, require a fair bit of preparatory choices going back as far as Mass Effect 2 to be available (as is the more Paragonic alternative to reconciling the two sides).

Web Comics
  • In the webcomic Inverloch, the main character Acheron delivers this in reference to the Elves, justified because after a long, grueling, life-threatening journey to return a pendant and find a lost elf child, he finds out that http://inverloch.seraph-inn.com/viewcomic.php?page=614 his father was killed by an elf who had broken a deal to protect their people, the Da'kor. He gets some sense slapped into him by the group's token Elf chick (complete with ridiculously impractical clothes for fighting), who gives him a short What the Hell, Hero? which he responds pretty well to, even though it seems that he'd pretty much be justified in letting them go to hell, what with several broken deals that they made not only with his people, but with human mages as well, having promised to teach human mages healing magic, which they broke their word on, though it turned out their method of healing wouldn't have worked for the human mages anyway.
  • In The Order of the Stick, when Elan was captured by bandits, Roy was seriously considering simply leaving him to his fate due to Elan being a complete burden to the party. Later on however, he decided that like it or not, as the leader he shouldn't leave his people to die and joined the rest of the group in rescuing him.

Western Animation
  • In the Justice League episode "Twilight", Darkseid shows up in the Watchtower and asks for the League's help since Brainiac is attacking Apokolips. Superman's response?
    Superman: Good.