Mercy Kill

"Close your eyes..."

"Sometimes death is the only mercy we have left."
The Demon Hunter, Diablo III

Something horrible has happened or is happening to Alice. Her pain is unbearable. Even her loved ones look away and cover their ears, trying to block out the sights and sounds of her agony. There is nothing they can do to ease her pain or save her. But they can offer one last mercy to their friend: they can end it all for her now, before it gets any worse.

Whatever is afflicting Alice is usually in the category of a Fate Worse Than Death (thus making the death a kindness). There may be a Body Horror that nobody can figure out how to destroy. Or Cold-Blooded Torture has left her horribly maimed and screaming incoherently. Or perhaps she's about to succumb to The Virus or The Corruption, and she wants to Die As Herself. It may be that she could survive, but they have no access to medical care; or that Alice, if she lived, would be reduced to a shell of her former self. Whatever the reason, this trope implies that death is the merciful option, even if Alice is begging for her life (or is so overcome that she cannot speak at all).

Instant Death Bullet is likely, and justified in this situation: the killer has no difficulty getting to a position and attacking in a manner that would cause quick death. There is usually a moment when a glimmer of self-awareness allows Alice to show her gratitude through a tearful smile or the like. This is usually easier when the shooter is Cradling Their Kill.

When several people could do it, it is likely that her closest friend will insist on being the one to give the fatal blow; compare Dying Alone.

The Medic, even if holding to Thou Shalt Not Kill, may make an exception for these.

Note that in Real Life, euthanasia is extremely controversial. In either case, it is usually an incredible Tear Jerker.

Not to be confused with Put Them All Out of My Misery. Very common in zombie stories, for obvious reasons.

Contrast Cruel Mercy, which aims to do the exact opposite. Compare the combat-ending Coup de Grâce, the villainous Thwarted Coup de Grâce, and the assisted-suicide I Cannot Self-Terminate. See also Staking the Loved One, where this is usually the motive. A subtrope of Shoot the Dog, whose trope namer was a Mercy Kill.

As a Death Trope, several if not all spoilers will be unmarked. You have been warned.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In 7 Seeds, Gengoro sees it as his duty to kill all the animals he had previously taken care of in Animal Class, after they had been let loose in nature where they are confused, perhaps with stunted survival instincts or were flat out infected with rabies. Especially hard was Gengoro killing the tiger Tango, whom he had practically raised.
  • In Aldnoah.Zero, a flashback reveals Lt. Marito shot and killed his friend and fellow soldier Humeray at his request, as he was trapped in his tank and was burning alive. This is explained to be the cause Marito's PTSD, as well as Captain Magbaredge's initially hostility towards the Lieutenant. (Magbaredge is revealed to be Humeray's younger sister.)
  • In the anime series spinoff of Arc The Lad, the hero Elk encounters his long lost childhood friend, changed into a barely sentient womb for the terrible monsters the bad guys are using as mooks. He strangles her to end her suffering.
  • At the end of Black Butler's Circus of Fear arc, Ciel orders the destruction of the villain's lair, including all the surviving children whose minds have been broken.
  • Killy destroying the eternal cloning machine and it's sole occupant in Blame! could be viewed as a mercy kill.
  • In Canaan, Alphard kills Liang Qi after she goes into a full mental breakdown that concludes with her trying to give herself synesthesia and suffering a Super Power Meltdown... sort of.
  • Towards the end of Chrono Crusade, Fiore offers to do this for Satella after she's badly wounded in a battle with each other (the alternative being to leave her to be killed by the feral demons they're surrounded by). Satella Takes a Third Option and uses her "jewel witch" powers to freeze them both in crystal.
  • Routinely done in Claymore when a titular Claymore exceeds their Yoki limit and transforms into a Youma. They are then typically beheaded by another Claymore out of mercy while some of their humanity is still in tact.
  • Code Geass:
  • This is one way to view Light's death in Death Note. Only in the anime, though; in the manga, it's made clear that Ryuk has gotten bored.
  • In Detective Conan, one case has the culprit Ryouta Shimizu kill his girlfriend and partner in crime Fumie Ozawa because she took the blame of the embezzling acts they both committed by herself and he didn't want to see her in prison for the rest of her life.
  • At the end of Elfen Lied:
  • In the last episode of From the New World, Saki does this to Squeala/Yakomaru after he's sentenced to a Fate Worse Than Death and she realizes he is technically human.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Noble Demon Scar does this to Nina Tucker, whose father had transmuted both her and her dog Alexander into a pitiful chimera.
    • In order to escape from Gluttony's stomach, Ed has to use some of the souls attached onto Envy in order to open the gate. One of them even thanks Ed for being put out of his misery.
  • The truth behind Takiko Okuda aka Genbu no Miko's death in the original Fushigi Yuugi. It was discovered that Mr Okuda killed her to stop her being devoured by Genbu and then killed himself. Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden reveals that Takiko was already dying from tuberculosis as well as being devoured. Mr Okuda bonds their lives together and commits suicide to ease her suffering.
  • Averted in Fushigi Yuugi Byakko Ibun, where Reipin begs Nirusha to kill her and use her bones in his protective charms after she both reveals herself to be a Shape Shifter and destroys her village. Nirusha refuses and tells her that she's a human, and she returns to her human form in tears.
  • In Garei Zero, Kagura kills her surrogate sister Yomi after the latter is possessed by a cursed stone.
  • In the anime Hellsing, when a human is turned into a ghoul, there is no turning them back, so the Hellsing organization agrees that it's best to take them out quickly as a mercy kill.
  • Shapor in The Heroic Legend of Arslan is captured by Lusitanian soldiers and will be brutally tortured to death as part of the psychological warfare for the sieged capital city. He begs his allies to end of his life as he would rather die at the hands of a friend. Soon-to-be-revealed character Grieve is the one to makes the shot.
  • At least Twice in High School Of The Dead. The first time, Hisashi wasn't killed until after he turned (despite asking to be killed so he wouldn't, and Takashi considers this as his personal Moral Event Horizon crossing), but the second time went over without a hitch.
  • Averted in Hunter × Hunter's first Anime adaptation. Killua wants to mercy kill a bear cub that was mortally injured by a sniper, thinking that there's nothing they can do to for the baby, but when he's going straight for the kill Gon's aunt Mito extends her hand and blocks the lethal blow. She then convinces Killua to not do it, saying the cub hasn't given up on life, and Gon convinces Killua to heal the cub through Nen. They do; the baby is soon saved and returns to his family.
  • In King of Thorn, Ron decides to mercy kill the child Tim, believing there is no hope of rescue and that a quick death by bullet is better than being eaten by monsters or petrified by Medusa. Katherine isn't ready to give up hope, however, and just barely manages to prevent him from shooting the boy. Tim, asleep, doesn't even realize what almost happened.
  • In the anime version of Linebarrels of Iron, KATO-KIKAN member Nakajima Soubi, after his defeat at the hands of Hayase Kouichi, is revived by the real Big Bad and used as part of its invasion force of hive-minded man-machines. In a final act of clarity, during the actual invasion of Earth, he asks his former teammates to put him down while he retains the lest vestiges of his consciousness. They comply.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory: A Zeon soldier, disgusted at the sight of a Zaku painted white and used by the Federation, resolves to give it a "mercy killing".
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, Heero offers this to the critically injured Mariemaia after the final battle. When he pulls the trigger, it is revealed that he is out of ammo.
  • In Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, Kazusa is trapped and being swarmed by BETA, and begs to be killed by gunshot before she can be Eaten Alive. The trope is averted. Yui empties her gun trying to comply, only to miss every single shot. Kazusa remains visibly alive, jostled as her body is eaten free of the wreckage. She doesn't die until they finally tear her disemboweled upper half out of it.
  • Certainly Tsunayoshi viewed her death at the hands of Yoshiyasu as this in Ooku: The Inner Chambers: she had long believed that she became The Wrongful Heir to the Throne and would welcome someone to kill her. It's unclear though if Yoshiyasu killed her to fulfill this trope or if another trope motivated her murder.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Kyouko sacrifices herself to kill Sayaka after Sayaka turns into a witch.
    • In one of the attempts for Homura to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, she's forced to shoot Madoka before she can turn into a witch. Earlier that same timeline, Mami does this to Kyouko after realizing what's going to happen to them. She was going to do this to Madoka, Homura, and herself. The only reason she doesn't succeed is that Madoka does it to her first.
    • In a way, dying from battling a witch and getting your soul gem destroyed seems like a fate much kinder than turning into one.
    • Madoka does this in a world wide scale in the Grand Finale. Her wish says that she wants witches to not exist anymore, so she spreads her power all over the world helping magical girls in need. In the case of magical girls whose Soul Gems are completely corrupted so they're about to become Witches, she can't save their lives, but at least she can make sure they'll die painlessly and peacefully while their energy is collected to save the world. (This includes Sayaka, who can pass on in peace now.) And in a sense, she also does this to herself: since she's destined to become the most powerful witch right after becoming a magical girl, Madoka ends up erasing herself outta existence when done, after a last talk with Homura.
  • Attempted in Rosario + Vampire, where Tsukune became a ghoul. Thankfully, Moka was stopped before she could land the finisher.
  • In Speed Grapher, Suitengu did this to his little sister, Yui, after discovering that years of abuse and degradation in a brothel had destroyed her mind.
  • In Vinland Saga Askeladd tries as such for his fatally wounded friend Bjorn but he screws up the blow, missing the man's vitals. He rectifies this mistake shortly after a few last words between himself and Bjorn.
    • After another failed assault on London, a viking is walking through the camp with the wounded, asking if anyone needs a finishing blow to both die less painfully and, according to their beliefs, go to Warrior Heaven. One warrior in the picture is even calling over to him to take up his kind offer.
    • Askeladd himself offers to let Thorfinn Mercy Kill him after he's stabbed fatally by Canute, more for Thorfinn's benefit than his own since he knows he's bleeding out anyway. Thorfinn is too messed up to do it.
  • It's a sign she's all grown up when Witch Hunter Robin delivers a Mercy Kill to the witches being "processed" into Orbo.
  • This happens to Hige in Wolf's Rain.

    Comic Books 
  • In 100 Bullets, Wylie Times does this to Gabe, a dimunative, ugly Butt Monkey, who only has his uncanny talent at playing the trumpet going for him. Gabe's jaw had been destroyed by a bear trap while running away from a gunfight, putting an end to his musical prospects.
  • In the first Alien vs. Predator miniseries, one of the human survivors suddenly dies to a chest-burster. Another immediately realizes he's in for the same fate because he was cocooned and left unconscious in the hive with the first victim. Machiko Naguchi offers him a mercy kill, and the Predator in the group even offers to do it for her. Machiko insists on doing it herself since she's already promised to, but accepts when the Predator loans her a plasma cannon to make it quick and painless for the host.
  • One of the many "Commando" pulp comic war stories, "Sunderland Ahoy", turned on an RAF fighter pilot taking pity on a trapped Stuka gunner and acting on the German's signal to shoot him. Since his fellow officers and superiors alike didn't see exactly what happened, they are scandalized by his bloodthirsty conduct and he is transferred to the highly unglamorous flying-boat patrols. Eventually, though, a chance meeting with the brother of the man he killed — who did hear the whole story, and is grateful — sees his name cleared.
  • An issue of The Savage Sword of Conan saw him attempt the rescue a young maiden from the stronghold of a bunch of monsters. The maiden tells him that he arrived too late and the beasts had already started to turn her into a brood mother (one of which Conan had already encountered and slain). She begs him not to let her become one of them. Conan does so, with the closest thing he has to a prayer for her soul.
  • After tagalong nobody Ugly John is mortally wounded by a Sentinel, Cyclops puts him out of his misery — at Wolverine's insistence.
  • Doctor Strange was forced to kill his own mentor, the Ancient One, to prevent Shuma-Gorath from using his mind as a conduit to enter their world. Said mentor was dying anyway, and after death he became one with Eternity, sticking around as a spirit adviser to Strange (who was understandably upset over what he'd had to do).
  • In Elfquest, Skywise ends his mortally-wounded wolf's suffering after its throat is torn open by another wolf.
  • In A History of Violence, the protagonist Joey finds his childhood friend Richie in the hands of the mob that they'd attacked and ripped off decades earlier. Richie had been caught early on and tortured the entire time. When Joey finds him, he is barely recognizable as human. Richie pleads for death, and Joey hesitantly grants it.
  • In the Justice League of America, the second Commander Steel, Henry Heywood III, has most of his flesh burned away by an android built by Professor Ivo. His grandfather, the original Commander Steel, puts him on life support but euthanizes him after recognizing that he will never wake up.
  • Subverted in Knights of the Dinner Table. After Windel the hireling is wounded by a dragon, Bob thinks he's begging him for this, and kills him.
    Sara: “Actually, I think Windel was pleading for not to kill him, Bob. His wounds weren’t really that serious.”
  • In the first story arc from the anthology series Marvel Fanfare, after being transformed into the Man-Spider Spider-Man begs Kazaar to kill to him while he still has some of his mind left. Kazaar complies, but in the end it's averted as Karl Lykos absorbs the mutated energy from him and turns him back to normal.
  • Morbius the Living Vampire's ex-fiancée Martine tracks him down with the explicit intent of curing him or killing him if that fails. "One way or another, I'm not going to let him suffer anymore."
  • Subverted in Preacher, where Jesse Custer, in his final confrontation with the Meat Man (who is making out with a woman made of raw meat), says that he has seen many fucked up-things in his life: "If this is not a mercy killing, then I do not know what is."
    • The Meat Man was also already painfully dying after being struck by lightning.
  • Providence set in an Alternate Universe of Lovecraft Country features Robert Chambers' "Lethal Chambers" built in public parks, where suicides can walk into a park in a relaxing room and self-euthanize themselves.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws: The Talon in the Night of the Owls tie-in asks this of Jason.
  • In The Sandman, Morpheus' son Orpheus was torn apart by the Maenads and reduced to an Oracular Head. He begged his father to kill him, but Morpheus (who was a pretty cold-hearted jerk in the past, even more so than in the present) refused since he was offended that Orpheus had ignored his advice to let go of Eurydice. Two and a half thousand years later, Morpheus and Orpheus reconciled, and Morpheus finally gave Orpheus the death he wanted. This Mercy Kill dooms Morpheus, since killing his own son made him a viable target for the Furies. That, and he wanted to be punished for what he had done to Orpheus.
  • The World War II comic Sgt. Rock has an interesting variant on this: One of the Easy Company soldiers is trapped in a burning barn after a skirmish, screaming for someone to put him out of his misery. The sergeant and other men hesitate over what to do, before the barn collapses into a ball of flame, along with the man's dying screams, and his soul is snatched up by the Devil. Seems he'd made a Deal with the Devil that he'd never die by gunfire...
  • Occurs in Strikeforce: Morituri where the heroes find four people who were secretly subjected to the Morituri Effect and were accidentally turned into super-powered deformed monsters. The "mutants" were euthanized at their request.
  • Amanda Waller does this to Duren after he is mutated by Regulus's bomb in Suicide Squad #0. It was this act that made her determined that any future special ops team she commanded would be composed of disposable operatives.
  • Sideswipe does this to captured, tortured, and mutilated human companion, Hunter O'Nion at the end of The Transformers: All Hail Megatron.
  • In Ultimate X-Men, Wolverine does this for Jesse. There are other factors at work, including the fact that the U.S. government had sent Wolverine to do this and how bad the truth would be for the mutant community, but it's presented as sparing a boy from a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • When Karima briefly manages to overcome her Sentinel programming while attacking Utopia, she begs Hellion to do this to prevent her from attacking everyone else again. He complies, and somehow becomes a pariah in the eyes of... pretty much everyone afterwards.
  • When X-23 was a child, her handlers gave her a puppy to kill. After an hour, she hadn't killed it. They said they would kill it in the most painful way possible and make her watch unless she mercy killed it.
    • Later during X-Force, the team comes across an alternate universe version of her friend Kiden Nixon, who is being used by the Big Bad for her time manipulation powers. Laura is ordered to do this as there's no other way to help her or stop the villain, but notably can't bring herself to do it and someone else has to do it for her.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown Of Stars: In chapter 8 Shinji and Asuka find an alternate Shinji who had been tortured to the point he was dying, forcing Asuka (who had gone to rescue him) to give him a swift death (and then he got better. Long story).
    "We got to Shinji, but he was, was...” Tears began to drip onto their joined hands. “...dying. We gave him mercy... He died in my arms. Don’t let yours go."
  • In Chapter Seventeen of Tiberium Wars, Brother-Captain Alvarez of the Black Hand is torn between engaging in a Last Stand to evacuate a small number of wounded troops, or saving his men by ordering a retreat and leaving the wounded to be captured by GDI, who he believes will torture and kill them. He instead chooses a third option: executing his own wounded to keep them out of GDI hands.
  • A Tear Jerker moment in Aeon Natum Engel: Two persons consider doing this to their dying 5-year old half-sister, neither of them is able do it, and break down in tears.
  • Happens to Brock and Ash during the course of Carnage Necropolis, after they're infected.
  • Night of the Shy: Birostris Oswaft, the last of the Sand Mantas, begs Twilight to do this to him, as he wants nothing more than to join the rest of his people in death.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In chapter 20 Asuka did it to Kaworu at his request.
  • The Pony POV Series: This comes up during the Final Battle with Princess Gaia/ Nightmare Whisper. Both Rarity and Rainbow Dash decide they have to kill her, not out of hate, but because they both figure Fluttershy would rather die than see what she's become.
    • During the Epilogue/Dark World timeline, Apple Bloom apparently ended up subjected to the same curse as Sunny Town. After eventually helping the entire town free themselves from the curse and move on, she begs Liarjack to do the same for her so she can be with her family; reluctantly, LJ agrees, and Apple Bloom dies.
    • This rationale is how his allies comfort Shining Armor for having killed one of Makarov's Alicorn cyborg Co-Dragons, by pointing out that the poor soul was in a living hell.
  • The Fall Of The Fire Empire: When Ozai descended into senile madness, Azula smothered him with a pillow. Qing Xi describes it as the only merciful act of her life.
  • The Powers Of Harmony: After Eclipse fatally poisons him, condemning him to a slow and painful death, Strauss requests that Granny Smith put him out of his misery. She reluctantly complies.
  • In Cheerilee's Garden, after Cheerilee submerges Pinkie Pie into a container full boiling hot water, she convinces Rainbow Dash that it would be better to put her out of her misery rather than to let her go on living.
  • Discussed in the Berserk fanfic "The Entire World is a Battlefield" when Guts is met by a spectre of pre-Eclipse Casca. While the real Casca is not dead, she is mentally gone, and Guts wonders if the current Casca is better off dead after what she experienced.
  • The Fall of Cleveland has Marshall find a hideously tortured fluffy pony in the chapter "The Facility". It begs for help, but it's so horribly maimed that Marshall can't think of a way to help it. So he does the only thing he can and breaks its neck. The fluffy's last word is "Ffffffffffannnnnnkkkkkkkk..." (Fluffies can't pronounce "th" sounds.)
  • Mammoth does this for Plasmius/Otto von Furth in Consequence of Misunderstandings after Slade makes it impossible for him to sleep (and thus stay human). Gizmo mentions that while Raven's healing powers do prevent most of them, the team has had to perform mercy kills before.
  • In Constant Temptation Light does this for his father, he writes his name in the Death Note after his father has been kidnapped and tortured to breaking by Beyond Birthday before Beyond was finished hacking pieces off of him.
  • Played with in the Left 4 Dead fic Acts Of Mercy. Originally, it's implied that the titular 'Act of Mercy' is Marcy saving Den from the barbed wire fence; later on, it's when she is forced to kill Denver after he tries to attack her. Ultimately subverted, though, since the CEDA intervenes before she does the deed.
  • In "From Bajor to the Black, Part II", Eleya guns down a shipmate who's in the process of being assimilated by the Borg.
  • The Second Try: Shinji and Misato stop Ritsuko from activating the control that destroys the soulless Rei clones in the Dummy Plug system, so Rei does it herself.
    Rei: These are not human beings. Their official purpose is to serve as core for the Dummy Plug system, but even that is only secondary. As Dr Akagi explained, they are mere vessels to hold my soul. That was the only reason they were created for, just like the body I possess now and the ones before. Without a soul, they can not become aware of their feelings. They notice the feel of the warm LCL around them, of this glass holding them; they can see us, the world outside of theirs. But... it does not matter to them. All they are doing is existing, blissfully unaware of everything. They cannot understand the difference between pain and joy. They do not know the vast variety of human emotions. They do not feel hope or fear for the future. I always wondered whether to pity or to envy them. (pushes the button)
    Shinji: Rei... What have you done?
    Rei: I have... set them free...
  • In Sean Bean Saves Westeros, the "real life" Sean Bean is transported into the land of Westeros of A Song of Ice and Fire. Now living as Ned Stark, not just playing him on TV, Sean Bean sends Westeros Off the Rails. In the aftermath of the Battle of the Green Fork, Sean has to give a Mercy Kill to a mortally wounded Tyrion Lannister.
  • Tails's death in Episode 77 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos is this after he sacrifices himself to stop Dark Tails and suffers And I Must Scream because of it.
    • Eggman and his robots terminate Beelzebub's "test subjects" in the Episode 67 rewrite.
  • In My Little Pony Crossover MLP Trinity, Sweetie Finemare administers a fatal overdose of opiates to her dying husband Rich Greentree, to spare him further agony.

  • This appears frequently in the Alien franchise, often by victims of facehuggers, although in a deleted scene from Alien Ripley finds her crewmates (who have all been attacked and either killed or dragged off by the titular alien) cocooned to the walls of its lair and the line is uttered as a request for euthanasia rather than to prevent the alien from reproducing.
  • In Black Death, Wolfstan gives one to Griff when he reveals that he's got the plague. Characters also discuss the use of misericorde at the battlefield.
    • Osmund does this to his lover Averill when he finds her insane and suffering. It is later revealed by Langiva that Averill's appearance of insanity was merely a temporary effect caused by drugs, rather than the result of being unnaturally brought back to life... maybe. This pushes Osmund over the edge.
  • Played for laughs in Black Dynamite, when the titular characters asks a friend who has consumed tainted malt liquor that shrinks a man's genitalia whether he wants to keep living. The friend says no. Boom, Headshot.
  • In Blade II, one of the Blood Pack is bitten by a Reaper, and is quickly mutating into one of them. The others demand he be put out of his misery, so he's shot twice in the chest. However, he's mutated far enough that the silver bullets won't do the trick. Then a guy cuts half his head off, which also fails. Blade finally shoots a hole in the ceiling so sunlight will do the job.
  • Coupled with Fridge Brilliance in Cleopatra. One of Cleopatra's ladies-in-waiting serves her a poisoned drink and begs for forgiveness. Cleopatra says "I forgive you" and orders her to drink the poison. It's a Mercy Kill because being poisoned is likely to be a much more quick and effective death compared to what the servant might have gotten as punishment for trying to assassinate the Queen.
  • BJ does this to Tucker in the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake.
  • Done in The Dead 2 when Nicholas Burton is unable to save a mother and her daughter from the approaching undead horde.
  • Dead Presidents: Anthony gives D'ambrosio an overdose of morphine after he's been disemboweled by the Viet Cong and begging to die.
  • In the German Holocaust drama Der letzte Zug, a severely dehydrated Erika Friedlich stops lactating, and suffocates her baby son rather than allow him to slowly starve to death.
  • In The Descent Sarah finds Beth with an open wound in her throat (caused by an ice-pick) and ends her pain by smashing her head with a rock rather than leaving her to the Crawlers. She is understandably reluctant to kill her friend, but tearfully relents after Beth begs her to do it.
  • Invoked in Edge of Tomorrow, where the heroine insists that the hero should kill himself (or let himself be killed by somebody else) if he is K.O., crippled, or otherwise incapacitated. This is because doing otherwise might result in him being given a blood transfusion or just bleeding out, which would rob him of the time-warping power.
  • Tragically used at the end of David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986). The only thing Brundlefly can do is crawl miserably along the floor and point the end of the heroine's gun at its own head.
  • The hero of The Fly II had no choice but to mercy kill a poor dog. Why? The condition of the dog was a result of an experiment that turned the dog inside out, thus deforming it both physically and psychologically.
  • In Full Metal Jacket when the sniper girl has been shot and is begging the soldiers to shoot her again.
  • Parodied in Funny People, when Adam Sandler's character tells Seth Rogen's, who is working for him at the time, that he has an almost certainly fatal disease and asks him to shoot him, for a fee. When Rogen replies that he needs time to think about it, Sandler replies that he was just kidding and that Rogen is sick for even considering it. He DOES still have the deadly disease, though, so that part wasn't a joke.
    • Chevy Chase is offered a similar deal in Fletch, although the man who requests it doesn't really have bone cancer and is trying to use Chevy as an Unwitting Pawn.
  • In the 2002 Korean Film "H", a police officer executes her kneeling partner on the beach in front of their hire up. He had solved a serial killer case and the knowledge he gained tormented him.
  • Neil in Heat mercy kills one of his partners in crime after the guy has been tortured and is dying.
  • Nonhuman case in I Am Legend: After Neville's dog Sam is infected with the vampire virus, Neville chokes her to death. Borderline in that it's also self preservation, because Sam is already becoming hostile.
  • The French film I've Loved You So Long is about a woman who was in prison for murdering her son. In the end it is revealed that he had terminal cancer, and he got so sick and in pain that she killed him out of mercy, after spending one last day with him doing everything he loved.
  • In Land of the Dead, the protagonist shoots a woman who's being bitten in the neck by a zombie right between the eyes to spare her either being eaten alive or reanimating as a zombie.
  • The Last of the Mohicans: Hawkeye gives one to Heyward towards the end.
  • Used famously in Million Dollar Baby.
  • The Ninth Gate: After Balkan's deal with the Devil goes horribly wrong and he catches on fire, Corso shoots him to put him out of his misery.
  • Classic example: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, when Chief Bromden smothers McMurphy with a pillow after the latter is lobotomized.
  • Pan's Labyrinth: The army's doctor, who is supposed to heal a captured rebel for another torture session, kills him instead.
  • As the Kraken attacks the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Mr. Gibbs delivers an offscreen mercy kill at the request of a pirate who was grabbed in one of its tentacles.
  • An unusual modern film usage features at the climax of Quantum of Solace when Bond prepares to shoot Camille, as they are trapped in a burning building and she is reliving her childhood trauma of being trapped in a burning house. Subverted when he finds a way of escaping their situation.
  • Double Subversion in the first Resident Evil movie. Rain gets infected by the zombie virus and tries to get the rest of the group to kill her before she turns, but they refuse and try to find a cure. Later on she becomes a zombie anyway and has to be killed.
  • Averted in Return of the Living Dead, when two survivors are cornered in an attic. Knowing these zombies can't be killed by bullets, the male survivor covertly aims his pistol at the back of his teenage companion's head, rather than let her be eaten alive by her own undead boyfriend. Averted because the place gets nuked before he can pull the trigger.
  • In Ring 0 Birthday, when Akiko and Etsuko are cornered by Sadako with no chance of escape, Akiko shoots Etsuko through the head before turning the gun on herself.
  • Frank from The Rocky Horror Picture Show tries to brush off his murder of Eddie as a mercy killing. The audience may feel free to call him on this.
  • The Sand Pebbles: Holman shoots Po-han to spare him being tortured to death.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, they give The Medic an overdose of his own morphine because he cannot survive his wounds. Inverted earlier in the movie, when an unnamed soldier orders the others not to mercy kill Germans who have been doused in flames.
    Soldier: Don't shoot! Let them burn! note 
  • In Saw III, Amanda does this to Adam as shown in a flashback. Adam was left in the bathroom to die at the end of the first movie, and Amanda, unable to detach herself emotionally like Jigsaw does, suffocates Adam with a plastic bag so he dies quickly instead of starvation or disease.
    • It may have been more guilt on Amanda's part. In the flashback where she and Jigsaw are setting up the bathroom trap, it shows she failed to secure the key that would have freed Adam properly (Jigsaw told her to tie it around his ankle — she just placed it in the tub and it wound up going down the drain). If she had done what Jigsaw told her, Adam would have survived.
  • Nathan Fillion is no stranger to the Mercy Kill.
    • In Slither, he doesn't hesitate in delivering a headshot to a friend whom the mutated Rooker-beast has infected.
    • Serenity:
      • Mal shoots a man he had pushed off his hover-jeep who then gets dragged away by Reavers. Later, Zoe acknowledges it: "That was a piece of mercy."
      • In the same film (minutes after the Mercy Kill described above), Jayne gets skewered in the leg by the Reavers, and is hanging off the back of the mule, prompting him to make Mal promise to shoot him if the Reavers take him. Mal quickly takes aim, prompting Jayne to shout, "Don't shoot me first!" before Mal shoots through the rope tying him to the Reaver ship instead.
      • Also attempted (as seen on tape) by a woman on herself as the Reavers are breaking in. She fails. The tape continues to record.
  • In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the protagonists come across Shangri-La in the Himalayas, but find out that it has been taken over by Totenkopf, and its inhabitants used as slaves and test subjects in the irradiated mines. They find this out from the last survivor of Totenkopf's experiments, a disfigured old man who asks but one thing for all his answers: "Kill Me." It is unknown if they fulfilled his wish.
  • In the film Starship Troopers, Lieutenant Rasczak shoots one of his men who is badly wounded and captured. He then tells his troops that he expects them to do the same for him if it is ever necessary. It is.
    • In the book when a man who went AWOL during basic training murdered a little girl and the rest of the recruits had to go and make sure he was hanged, because he was their man right or wrong. Rico begins to think whether or not they should try to cure him of his insanity, in his mind one would have to be crazy to kill a child for no reason, but then decided that living with the knowledge of what he did would be worse than death. So he kinda views hanging the guy as a mercy killing, or at least mercy for every other little girl he might have come in contact with.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, when the Borg start assimilating crew members, it's Picard who takes it upon himself to vaporize, Tommy gun, or otherwise euthanize every affected crew member he can, because he knows what it's like. Of course, when he got turned, they certainly had to save him. Picard believed that the only reason it was possible for him to be rescued at all was because the Borg Collective deliberately left him some degree of autonomy, to act as an interlocutor, while he saw the redshirts as being unsavable.
    Picard: There was no way to save him!
    Lily: You didn't even try!
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Bones relives one of his most painful moments, where his father is dying and suffering from an incurable disease. He begs Bones to stop treatment so that he can finally die. Bones does so. What makes the memory especially terrible is that a cure was found three months later.
  • Averted in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan leaves Anakin's mangled, triple-amputated, horrifically burnt body on Mustafar. Killing him would've been a mercy at that point, though we know that, logically, that could never happen. The novelization makes his thought process on why he doesn't do it explicit.
    He was not feeling merciful. He was feeling calm, and clear, and he knew that to climb down black beach might cost him more time than he had. Another Sith Lord approached....In the end, he was still Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he was still a Jedi, and he would not murder a helpless man. He would leave it to the will of the Force.
  • Stonehearst Asylum: It turns out this was Lamb's motivation in the "incident" which landed him at the asylum.
  • In the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) remake Erin comes across a dying Andy in Leatherface's "workshop" she puts him out of his misery by stabbing him with a knife.
  • According to the director, Harry Lime's death in The Third Man is one of these.
  • Discussed in Tora! Tora! Tora! when Admiral Kimmel, watching the attack on Pearl Harbor, gets hit with a spent and harmless shell casing: "It would've been merciful had it killed me."
  • Happens in the horror film Train. Alex and Willy find their friends Sheldon and Todd locked in a torture car, both horribly mutilated. Sheldon can still walk, but Todd is barely alive, missing his eyes and unable to move. He begs his girlfriend Alex to finish him. When she tearfully refuses, Sheldon does it, cutting him with an axe.
  • Subversion in Transcendence. Martin, the first victim saved and hybridized by the nanomachines, is captured by RIFT so they can gain access to Will's code and engineer a virus to shut him down. In the process, they have to shoot him several times and isolate him in a Faraday cage so Will can't network with him. His wounds are severe enough that he dies on the table, since without the network connection the nanites can't heal him. They later rationalize this to Evelyn as giving him back his humanity, even though the whole time he was begging them to let him go so he could survive.
  • The Western Ulzana's Raid has a brutal example. Hostile Apaches menace a white woman and her child on a stagecoach. A cavalry officer arrives and, fearing the woman's about to be raped, shoots her in the head. Then, when the Indians turn on him, shoots himself for good measure.
  • In the film adaptation of The Whisperer In Darkness, Professor Wilmarth encounters the disembodied brain of Henry Akeley, who asks him to do this. In a subversion, Wilmarth cannot bring himself to carry out the request.
  • Done multiple times in The Wild Geese — the mercenaries don't have the time or resources to carry their incapacitated comrades, lest the Simbas arrive and overrun the whole company; given the Simbas' notorious reputation for brutality and butchery, a shot to the head is kinder than being captured.
  • Logan, to an injured and poisoned grizzly bear in The Wolverine.
  • You Don't Know Jack follows the career of assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, otherwise called "Dr. Death", who helped dozens of people with incurable diseases painlessly kill themselves.

  • In the books of The 100 Clarke injects Lily with a deadly dose of medication to save her from the slow and painful death by radiation poisoning.
  • In the first Age of Fire novel, Dragon Champion, when AuRon makes his way back west on his mission to infiltrate the Wyrmmaster's forces, he finds that they have already attacked the headquarters of the Chartered Company of dwarves that he once worked for. And worse, he finds that his friend Djer has been mortally wounded, having literally his entire face covered in burns, and even had his lungs damaged. Djer manages to croak out a request to be put out of his misery rather than wait in agony to die, and AuRon doesn't hesitate, crushing Djer's skull and killing him instantly.
  • And The Mountains Echoed has Parwana doing this to the paraplegic Masooma, and Nabi doing this to the paraplegic Mr. Wahdati.
  • At the end of The Return David begs Rachel to do this for him rather than force him to live out the rest of his life as a rat. The book ends with Rachel crying in front of David, and whether or not she killed him is never revealed.
  • In Antrax, Quentin Leah and Elven Hunter Tamis spend the entire book trying to perform one on their Mentor, Ard Patrinell, who has become one of Antrax's brain-controlled wronks, something that is acknowledged in-universe as a Fate Worse Than Death (the victim remains alive and aware but subjected to Antrax's will). Given that the wronk in question is an Implacable Man, this is not easy and ends horribly for all involved with Patrinell and Tamis both dying and Quentin completing his transformation into a Failure Knight.
  • In Jo Graham's Black Ships, the narrator is forbidden from seeing blood shed. Nonetheless, when she and her companion Xandros come across a man whose insides are... not so inside anymore, she gives Xandros the go ahead, and he slits the man's throat.
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, Zul tells Troy to help him kill the Uplifted Animals, because the alternative is the patrolmen getting the truth out of them and then killing them.
  • In PC Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Kencyr Lords and officers have a duty to walk the battlefield and cull the wounded, identifying those who should survive with ''dwar'' sleep and medical care and those who will die; if the latter cannot end their own lives, it is their duty to use a suicide dagger to dispatch them. Lords in particular feel a compulsion to aid those who are bound to them who are in distress.
  • In The Illearth War, one of the Ranyhyn (sapient horses) stumbles into an acid swamp and suffers horrific and incurable burns. The lead stallion of the group, after evidently obtaining its permission, beats its head in with his forehooves to kill it instantly.
    • Elsewhere, after Lord Verement has been enspelled by Fleshharrower and is being forced to worship Lord Foul, his Bloodguard Thomin kills him where he stands before making a spirited attempt to kill the Giant-Raver with his bare hands.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Cold Fire, the villain of the story is sentenced to be burned at the stake. Daja decides that no matter what he's done, she can't stand there and watch that, and uses her magic to incinerate him instantly.
  • In the first book of Jim Butcher's Codex Alera, Furies of Calderon, Fidelias does this. He snaps the neck of a girl that was going to be eaten alive by the Marat he and his cohorts were allied with.
  • In H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space", a visitor to the blighted farm finds the ruined, half-disintegrated remains of Nahum's wife dying in the house. When he exits, nothing living is left behind him, and the narrative state that it would've been an atrocity to leave her alive.
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, Bruce, the Starflyer Assassin, has a brief moment of clarity where he asks Gore to Mercy Kill him.
    Bruce: Do it. Kill the alien.
    Gore: Good for you, son.
  • A particularly horrid (and ultimately futile) version takes place in the Ambrose Bierce story "The Coup de Grace".
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship Thieves, Thena urges this on Kit after she's burned by radiation.
  • In Earle Birney's poem "David", a mountain climber is injured badly, and is pushed off a cliff by his friend.
  • In The Death Cure, Newt gives a note to Thomas, telling him not to read it until the time was right. The note begs for his death. Finally, Thomas shoots a desperate Newt on his request.
  • At the climax of High Deryni, this resolves the four-on-four duel arcane between Torenth and Gwynedd. After Stefan Coram reveals he's poisoned Wencit and his colleagues with an incurable and slow-acting toxin, Kelson is advised this is a good idea. Bishop Arilan claims to recognize the substance Coram took to speed his own death, and it's said that the others will take at least a day to die. Also, the terms of the duel will keep all of them there in the circle until all of one side are dead. Wencit himself asks for death. Morgan offers to do it, but Kelson insists on doing it himself and all but commands Morgan to show him the means: the same spell Charissa used to murder King Brion months earlier.
  • In the second Dexter book, on encountering a "yodeling potato" (a truly horrific Fate Worse Than Death), Doakes tries to shoot him. His fellow cops stop him.
    • This is one of very few instances in which Dexter and Doakes agree on something. Dexter considers Doakes's solution quite reasonable given the circumstances.
    • Has one moment in the series too, see Live Action tab.
  • In Dies The Fire, some of our heroes happen upon a group of Eaters (cannibals), some of whose victims are still alive but in horrible, and thankfully undescribed, condition. One of the protagonists asks them if they want to die, and since none of them are mentioned later, we can assume he kills them.
    • In a later book of the same series, a mortally wounded woman asks her commander to kill her quickly.
  • Several examples from Discworld, in keeping with Terry Pratchett's views on the matter:
  • In Dragonseye, part of the preparation for the return of Threadfall is a medical conference on treating Thread injuries. Some of the medics get into a discussion on the ethics of giving "mercy" to a Thread-injured patient.
    • Previously, in Dragonsdawn, the first generation of Pern settlers (some of whom are war veterans) wind up giving "mercy" to Thread victims. One old soldier reflects "he had given mercy several times, too many times."
  • In The Dresden Files book Changes Harry sacrifices Lloyd Slate, who had been tortured into insanity and a lot more by Mab. Harry, however, refuses to use this as an easy way out of the guilt, acknowledging that he's killing him for power, not out of mercy.
  • E.C. Tubbs's Earl Dumarest had to do this more than once in the series. In one book, a man was taken by giant spiders which laid eggs in his flesh. Dumarest went into the spiders' nest to find him, and the narrative states, "There was no cure and only one mercy. Dumarest administered it..." Another character commented that the dead man was lucky because "'Sometimes that's what a friend is for—and he had one of the best.'"
  • In Fate/Zero, following Emiya Kiritsugu's Exact Words contract with Kayneth Archibald, he personally is forbidden from killing Archibald... but the contract neglected to include his partner, Maiya. Following this, the semi-immune to bullets and surprised Archibald requires a mercy kill from Saber.
  • George R.R. Martin gives a memorable one to the Big Bad's Dragon, Sour Billy Tipton, in his novel Fevre Dream. Tipton has earnt a partial redemption by attacking his deceitful boss, but received further terrible wounds in so doing (he's already been damaged so badly prior to this that he's been hauling himself along the floor by his fingertips, biting on his knife to dull his pain). Aferwards, Joshua York quietly breaks Tipton's neck. "There was no hope for him."
  • In Frostflower and Thorn, Frostflower speeds up a condemned warrior's time to help her die faster.
    • Later on Thorn threatens to Murder-Suicide them both unless Frostflower uses her powers, believed to have been lost due to her rape earlier in the story. The threat backfires when Frostflower agrees it's probably for the best.
  • A recurring theme in The Gargoyle: Francesco asks his brother to do this for him when he is dying of the plague that killed his wife, by shooting an arrow made from their wedding rings into his heart. Later, the 13th-century version of Marianne does this for her husband when he is being slowly tortured to death.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only In Death, Mkoll finds mutilated victims of the Blood Pact and Mercy Kills them. One is explicitly described as recognizing it and being grateful; Mkoll feels like a priest bestowing a final blessing. (Until he finds Gaunt. Him, he saves alive.)
    • In Ghostmaker, when a shuttle crash-landed in wilderness and two troopers are injured, Rawne says they should be "merciful." Gaunt refuses. Fortunately, rather than put four troopers to carrying them, they have Bragg carry them both. In the same novel, a soldier is impaled by debris from his vehicle and his teammate has to shoot him.
    • In Straight Silver, uninjured soldiers are screaming in agony because their psionically linked mounts are dead; the troops who come to rescue them end up mercy killing them.
    • In Traitor General, when it appears Feygor will not recover and carrying him costs them too much, Rawne attacks Gaunt, thinking he intends to leave him behind; Gaunt assures him that he always intended to be merciful. When Ezsrah's attempt to treat him causes Feygor to go into a frenzy, Rawne stops Gaunt on the grounds that he would do it himself; fortunately, when Rawne approaches with drawn gun, Feygor asks, coherently, what it is for.
  • In Plague, the fourth book of the Gone series, Sam does this to Hunter to save him the slow, agonizing death that would come with the bugs eating him from the inside out. Dekka wants Sam to do the same for her, but he figures out a way to save her.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape kills Dumbledore. Next book, it's revealed that Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him, revealing that moment in Half-blood Prince to be euthanasia instead of crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
  • In the Hawk & Fisher series, the titular cops use a magic-nullifying stone to end the anguish of several still-conscious dissection specimens, human and animal, in an evil sorcerer's house.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Hexwood, Mordion has a very nasty example in his backstory—he's forced to kill his only remaining sibling, who's been horribly tortured, to spare her further pain. The torturer then informs Mordion then if he ever shows any reluctance in his job as assassin, the same thing will be done to his target; in a sense, everyone he kills from then on is a preemptive Mercy Killing.
  • In The Subtle Knife, Serafina Pekkala mercy kills a fellow witch who's being tortured for information by agents of the Magisterium about the prophecy regarding Lyra.
    • Later, in The Amber Spyglass, Lyra's group finds a badly injured frog on the road, missing several legs so it can only hop in a circle. The trope is then discussed: the Gallivespians suggest mercy killing the frog to spare it further pain, while Will counters that, in spite of everything, the frog might still prefer life to death. Since they can't ask the frog for its opinion, they end up leaving it alone.
  • In The Host An old man in the human community is painfully dying of bone cancer. Jared steals enough painkillers for Doc to give him an overdose.
  • In The Hunger Games (novel and film), Katniss mercy kills Cato to put him out of his misery when he's being ravaged by muttations.
    • Peeta mercy kills the female tribute who was tortured by the careers.
  • Hurog: Oreg wanted to die hundreds of years ago, and tried everything in his power to get a Mercy Kill but his father, who had made him the soul of his castle deliberately avoided killing him. Ward later does kill him at his request.
  • At the very end of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream Ted realizes that death is the only way out of AM's suffering; he quickly kills Benny and Gorrister, while Ellen kills Nimdok. Ted manages to kill Ellen, but is unable to save himself from AM's rath.
    — "Surrounded by madness, surrounded by hunger, surrounded by everything except death, I knew that death was our only way out. AM had kept us alive, but there was a way to defeat him. Not total victory, but at least peace. I would settle for that."
  • The King in Yellow: "Government Lethal Chambers" are introduced in "The Repairer of Reputations" so that any citizen who desires it can end their lives.
  • The Last Ditch: Cain doesn't know if the first crewman targeted by a daemonhost is alive or dead, but takes time to put a lasbolt through the guy's head just in case.
    It was too late to save his life, but I might still have been in time to preserve his soul.
    • Later in the novel, Corporal Magot pauses to "grant the Emperor's peace" to a soldier critically injured by a tyranid.
  • In The Last Full Measure, one nameless soldier shoots a wounded man so he doesn't have to burn to death after the Battle of the Wilderness.
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, the bear-cows kill their wounded. The humans come to suspect that it's a means of keeping them from being kept alive as prey.
  • In Metro 2033, Artyom is forced to kill Daniel, when the latter is ambushed in the library by a librarian and is fatally injured by being disemboweled by it. What makes it even worse is that the librarian's hand is feeling around in Daniel's stomach/torso, and mimicing both Artyom and Daniel whilst they talk.
  • In Stephen King's Needful Things, Ace Merrill does this to his partner, "Buster" Keeton, after he's shot in the stomach.
  • Happens to several characters over the Newsflesh series, when they're facing viral amplification. This is also a safety measure for those around them.
  • In the Nightside books, John Taylor is forced to kill his friend Razor Eddie in a possible future, because Eddie — as an immortal — is suffering through being used as an insect incubator. Over and over again, since the insects, the last surviving things on a ruined Earth, lay eggs in his flesh. Then the larvae hatch and eat their way out. Then they lay eggs in him again. The cycle has been repeated for eighty-three years.
    • Also in the Nightside series, Suzie Shooter invokes this trope for a woman who's in the process — the slow process — of being eaten piece by piece by demons.
  • In Of Mice and Men, a dog is shot for being too old and 'no use to anyone'.
    • And later, Lennie is shot in the head just like the dog by George, because George considers that the fate that would await him at the hands of the other farmhands would be worse, and also because Lenny was basically too dangerous for society. The Film of the Book makes it seem less like a Mercy Kill and more like a I'm Fed Up With You kill.
  • Literary/film example: Old Yeller is a classic example. Due to an earlier fight with a wolf, the dog develops rabies and has to be put down.
  • The Power of Five: Present!Matt is killed this way by Richard, after being captured and tortured by the Old Ones.
  • A variation occurs in various swashbuckling novels — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Refugees for instance — the hero and heroine find themselves facing a Fate Worse Than Death from which the heroine requests the hero to save her by shooting her (usually The Cavalry arrive just in time to prevent this). Usually takes place before the Fate Worse Than Death can occur and while the suicidee is still undamaged. Not I Cannot Self-Terminate as the emphasis is on dying by the hand of someone who loves you rather than being functionally unable to do it oneself.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard provided this to his own mother, after she lost her mind and was still being used as a prostitute. A lot of other people end up going with her.
  • Averted in Rihannsu: My Enemy, My Ally. While Tafv tr'Rllaillieu was already mortally wounded, his mother Commander Ael isn't acting out of mercy when she kills him in his sickbay bed. She's exacting vengeance for him betraying her.
  • A potential motive for one of the murders in Sad Cypress. The accused, Elinor Carlisle, is suspected of her aunt's murder. The strongest possible motive is said aunt's huge inheritance, but another is the Mercy Kill; the aunt was an invalid who just had a second stroke and couldn't stand the thought of being helpless.
  • Referred to as "Pasquale's Grace" in the Safehold series. At least one Temple Loyalist commander has taken to ordering it done to wounded Reformists since it's more merciful than taking them alive so that the Inquisition can torture them to death instead.
    • it was also done by a captured captain to one of his midshipmen, again to save him from (more) torture.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom", Kull and Brule promise each other this, in event of their being mortally wounded — because the Snakemen can enslave the souls of those they kill.
  • In The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold, dying Lakewalkers are supposed to be killed by other Lakewalkers with special knives made from Lakewalker bones because that is the only way to create the magic knife needed to kill a malice. This is more like a Heroic Sacrifice in practice, as the killed Lakewalker is usually aware and willing to die for the cause.
    • Also, after a malice is killed, the mud men {animals twisted into human-like forms} revert to their animal minds, but are still trapped in their twisted bodies which they don't know how to use, so it's best for them to be put out of their misery to save them a more lingering death.
    • Averted, however, in Bujold's Shards of Honor, where Cordelia refuses to allow Aral to mercy-kill one of her junior officers who is horribly and irreversibly brain-damaged. He is much confused, as this is standard procedure for his military and they're in a desperate situation even without the soldier as a liability. In a much later book, she apologizes to the ensign's memory; it's ambiguous whether this is because she feels she made the wrong decision or because she can't bring herself to do the same for Aral.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Fingon almost kills his cousin Maedhros, who is being tortured by hanging from a cliff and is out of reach; but at the last moment he is given a way to reach his cousin...who cannot be freed and again begs to be killed. Then Fingon has another idea.
  • In Someone Else's War, Ruth kills her baby daughter so she won't grow up to live the same life her mother did.
  • Whenever a wounded soldier asks for mercy in A Song of Ice and Fire, they're usually referring to this kind of mercy.
    • Sandor Clegane comes to mind as a frequent dispenser of such mercy, and helpfully teaches little Arya where the heart is so that she can do it, too. Ultimately, he, wounded and feverish, ends up begging mercy of her. She refuses, saying that he doesn't deserve it.
    • Lord Manderly identifies the death of Little Walder as one of these. Because, had he lived, he would have grown up to be part of House Frey.
    • Joffrey Baratheon sent an assassin armed with a Valyrian steel dagger to kill Bran Stark after he is left crippled and in a coma. Joffrey overheard his father Robert make an off-hand remark that living as a comatose cripple is a fate worse than death. Joffrey being a somewhat twisted "Well Done, Son!" Guy arranged the "mercy kill" hoping to follow his father's example.
    • Daenerys Targaryen smothers her brain-dead but still alive husband Drogo with a pillow.
    • In a variation, Ned Stark kills the direwolf Lady personally because she is "of the North" and deserves better than a hired headsman who sees it as just another duty.
  • In Andre Norton's Star Guard, every Terran soldier carries a special dagger whose sole purpose is to "give Grace" to a direly wounded comrade. The main character uses it ... at the specific request of a severely burned man. Norton's books are often described as "juvenile fiction," apparently by people who didn't read scenes like this one.
  • Being set in feudal Japan, Tales of the Otori is all over the various "a good death is better" tropes. Early the first book, Takeo climbs a castle wall to finish off members of a persecuted religious group who have been hung there to die. Later in the same book, he does the same for his adopted father, Shigeru.
  • The title of Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? derives from the practice of shooting injured horses to put them out of their misery. After the novel's protagonist is arrested for shooting another character — who'd been Driven to Suicide, couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger, and begged him to do it for her — and the cops ask him why he did it, he recalls seeing his grandfather euthanize a horse in this manner as a boy, and utters the phrase.
  • In The Powder Mage Trilogy Adamat asks Bo to do this to his eldest son, who was kidnapped and subsequently turned into a Warden- a mindless Human Weapon designed specifically to combat the titular Powder Mages.
  • A variation occurs in The Thin Red Line, where a sergeant delivers morphine to a mortally wounded soldier so that the latter can overdose on it.
  • In Those That Wake, this is done to Brath in the first book, as hopelessness has corrupted him beyond help.
  • Happens a few times in Timeline-191, most notably when President Evil Jake Featherston is forced to kill his secretary and Morality Pet, Lulu.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Xhea mercy-kills Shai to save her from her And I Must Scream fate of being used as a Living Battery to power a Tower.
  • In Vampire Academy, when discussing what one would want if turned into a Strigoi, killing them could be interpreted as this, because if there was a shred of that person left, they would most likely want to be killed. Becomes a foreshadowing when Rose has to do this to Dimitri.
  • Journey To Chaos: Basilard is willing to do this when necessary
    • When Zettai was in agony from Bladi Poisoning, he was going to cure her and then let her die. Tasio twists his arm into truly saving her.
    • When Eric mana mutated, he was explictly going to "put him down". Kallen intervened and said she could reverse his mutation.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, when Uriel and Pasanius want to rescue some captives, the renegade Space Marine Vaanes shows them the prisoners and explains that freeing them would be pointless and death a mercy. They do not actually kill them but leave them to certain death. On the other hand, this foreshadows Vaanes's willingness to leave people behind. Later, Uriel looks at a Chaos fortress they destroyed and sees that all the victims of their experiments have been granted the Emperor's peace.
    • In The Killing Grounds, when the Lord of the Unfleshed was the only survivor of being possessed with the souls of the dead, and that with dreadful wounds, Uriel stays with him while he weeps, reassures him, and kills him quickly.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, when Space Marines are invading a church to put down insurgants, one dying man begs Lokun for a blessing because the otherworld will shun him without it. Having Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions Loken refuses, and when the man asks for help again, kills him, regarding it as mercy.
    • In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, Voyen says they should give it to Decius. Garro bitterly accuses him of wanting to destroyed the evidence of what the lodge (which he belonged to) had done.
  • The above entry also applies to The Wars, only with a horse instead of a dog and the man was shot for refusing to help when he should have. Or something.
  • In White Wing by Gordon Kendall, the eponymous fighter squadron is pretty much all that's left of the human race after Earth is destroyed. The other species don't like them much, especially the "barbaric" custom where a badly wounded pilot requests "the Mercy of the Wing" - the other fighters form up and solemnly blast him and his ship to atoms. Public opinion does change a bit by the end of the book, when two facts have come to light: humans are immune to the enemy's Brainwashing, and Earth was actually destroyed not by alien invaders but by humanity, in a Defensive Feint Trap that invoked the same principle of "Mercy" on a much larger scale.
  • Comes up a few times in the Warcraft Expanded Universe book Wolfheart. The orcs consider this a way of honoring a Worthy Opponent who would otherwise have a slow and agonizing death from battle wounds. Early on an orc looks for a night elf courier they stopped to confirm her death or offer her this. Another orc does it for a defeated night elf foe later. On the Alliance side, Jarod Shadowsong uses the threat of not doing this to get information about one of the book's antagonists.
  • Subverted in World War Z. A group of neighborhood protectors come under attack by what they think are zombies and one is bitten. He asks the others to kill him so he doesn't turn. Then one of them notices that the "zombie" bleeds red blood. He was just a human whose mind snapped.
    • Also, performing this "service" became standard practice for chaplains in the Russian armed forces, a task they embraced in order to avert bitten soldiers' church-condemned suicides.
  • In Dan Abnett's Xenos, Eisenhorn is running through a building full of people being prematurely roused from cryogenic sleep and dying. He explicitly says that he could have mercy killed one of them, but did not in order to prevent even more suffering — if he had, the local authorities would have buried him in inquiries and court cases for years while the Big Bad roamed free. He assures us he suffers Bad Dreams as a consequence.
  • Stunningly enough, occurs in the X-Wing Series novel Mercy Kill. It transpires that the reason Piggy is such a Shell-Shocked Veteran is that he was forced to personally mercy-kill his Fire-Forged Friend Runt.
  • The last verse of Kipling's poem "The Young British Soldier."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game Shows: Although no blood is shed, Non-Standard Game Over situations are sometimes called "mercy killings" because the game ends early due to one contestant being mathematically (or physically) unable to catch the contestant in the lead before the standard end of the round.
    • One example is Series/Pyramid, where the front game sometimes ended before the sixth question (the second game of a three-round game) was played because the contestant in the lead — through the leader's good play and the opponent making too many mistakes — had such a large lead that playing the last round would make no difference in the final score.
  • 24: On Day 3, terrorists release a lethal virus into the ventilation system of a hotel, infecting everyone inside. Anyone who turns up a positive reading will die a slow, horrible death. On their own initiative, several CTU agents decide to provide the victims with an alternate way out by offering the suicide capsules normally reserved for captured agents to the hotel residents. Even the resident Obstructive Bureaucrat tacitly approves of this after he finds out.
  • In The 100, Bellamy threatens to do this to Jasper, who's been speared in the chest and is disturbing everyone with his screaming. Later, when Atom has been severely burned by the poison fog and is begging to die, Bellamy finds himself unable to end Atom's life and Clarke ends up killing him instead. Later she kills Finn to spare him from a slow death by torture.
  • In the last episode of The4400, Shawn does this when Danny is dying painfully from his ability.
  • One episode of Adam-12 has an elderly man approach Reed and Malloy and confess to having done this to his terminally ill wife at her request. They inquire after him with the D.A. after taking him in, and all three of them are sympathetic, but the D.A. doesn't have a clue what his legal chances are.
  • A non-lethal variety is featured on The Amazing Race. When a team gets so far behind that it would be impossible for them to catch up to the other teams, they are given a clue that sends them straight to the Pit Stop for their elimination. "Mercy Kill" is even the Fan Nickname for this clue.
    • Sometimes, even that can't be used due to circumstances. One time, a team got stuck in a Road Block, unable to find the hidden clue despite hours of work. Eventually, the host appeared in person to put the team out of their misery.
  • On Angel:
    • In "Dead End", a Season 2 episode, Lindsay tracks down the unwilling donor of his 'evil' new hand and, finding him and a number of other innocents locked up in a Wolfram & Hart body-part-harvesting factory, kills him, as well as any of the rest who are too crippled to live.
    • At the end of Season 4, Connor is so broken and destroyed by everything that's happened to him that he's not really himself anymore. As part of their deal to recruit Angel, Wolfram and Hart offer him the chance to give Connor his life back - a deal that apparently can only be activated by killing him as he currently exists.
    Angel: I love you, Connor.
    Connor: So what are you going to do now?
    Angel: Prove it. *STAB*
  • The nature and purpose of the kill isn't apparent at first, but in the first episode of the new Battlestar Galactica (2003), Caprica Six's killing of a baby in the street could definitely be seen as a merciful death-the entire planet is about to get nuked to hell.
    • A more conventional example would be in a later episode where Six mercy-killed another Six. The second Six had previously been drowned in a septic tank: a horrible death to be sure, but then had the added disadvantage of being resurrected with the memory of her terror, pain, and the look on her killer's face. Cue months of horrendous psychological trauma, and finally permanent death becomes available.
    • Deckhand Socinus while they're on Kobol after a crash landing (the episode with the mother-frakker line) is given an overdose of a painkiller as he's in agony from his injuries and his survival is unlikely.
  • In the last episode of The Big C, the main character, a woman on hospice care with late-term stage 4 skin cancer, begs her brother to find someone to help her die, because she is in pain (despite the morphine) and can barely see. To say he is upset at the prospect is a severe understatement.
  • In one of the fourth season episodes of Blackadder. General Melchett reveals he's quite fond of mercy killing.
    Gen. Melchett: Now George, you remember when I came down to visit you when you were a nipper, for your sixth birthday? You used to have a lovely little rabbit, beautiful little thing, do you remember?
    Lt. George: Flossie.
    Gen. Melchett: That's right, Flossie! Do you remember what happened to Flossie?
    Lt. George: You shot him.
    Gen. Melchett: That's right! It was the kindest thing to do after he'd been run over by that car.
    Lt. George: By your car, sir.
    Gen. Melchett: Yes, by my car. But that, too, was an act of mercy when you remember that that dog had been set on him.
    Lt. George: Your dog, sir.
    Gen. Melchett: Yes, yes, my dog. But what I'm trying to say, George, is that the state young Flossie was in after we'd scraped him off my front tyre, is very much the state that young Blackadder will be in now: if not very nearly dead, then very actually dead!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Dark!Willow feels the pain of everyone in the world, and intends to do this on a global scale.
    • In Season 9, Angel and Faith kill the people who took the Mohra Demon blood, as they kept growing giant tumors all over their bodies.
  • In one episode of Cold Case, a man suffocated the woman he loved who was being raped by a group of his drunken friends.
    • And in another, a young girl in The Fifties is smothered to death by her friend after she's completely broken (mentally, physically, etc.) in the mental hospital where her family locked her up.
    • And in "The Good Death", where it is thought that the victim, who was already dying from an inoperable brain tumor, was unwillingly killed by a hospice nurse/embittered wife/embittered son/jealous business partner, only for it to turn that his loving wife (they'd reconciled shortly before) gave him a lethal dose of morphine at his request.
  • In one episode of CSI Crime Scene Investigation, the victim of the week was a girl whose family had been using her as a glorified bone marrow bank for her very ill brother. The murderer was the brother himself in an attempt to end both her pain and his own. Grissom isn't very sympathetic, arguing that the brother could have simply killed himself, ending his pain and giving his sister the opportunity for a normal life; when he responds that suicide is a sin, Grissom, in the iciest voice imaginable, replies, "But you think your God forgives murder?" The rest of her relatives also end up going to jail for helping the brother, blatantly the favorite child, cover up the murder.
  • On Dark Angel, Max kills her brother Ben rather than allow him to be reclaimed by Manticore. The whole thing is an homage to Of Mice and Men.
    • Averted earlier in the same series. Max and Zack are weighing up whether or not to bring Brin back to Manticore to save her from the progeria she is dying of (the 'not' option would, given the example above, more than likely have involved some level of this trope) but Brin begs them to take her back there because she doesn't want to die. She has a Face-Heel Turn and is a full-tilt Manticore puppet soldier when next they meet, so it would have been better to go with the mercy kill.
  • Dark Matter: Four offers this to Two when she's infected with an incurable virus which will turn her into a Technically Living Zombie. She refuses, preferring to wait it out, and turns out to be fine.
  • Al Swearengen does this for Reverend Smith in Deadwood, smothering him to save him from the lingering and painful death of a brain tumor.
  • Dexter faces himself with having to help an old friend put out of the misery of cancer. Although a killer by nature, he is reluctant to do it, but being in a time where his Code makes less sense in favor of helping his friends, he reluctantly agrees. See also the Literature entry.
  • The Cybermen of Doctor Who reproduce by removing the flesh and altering the mind of other species, a nightmarish and irreversible process to which this trope is the universally accepted solution. When the Daleks adopted a similar strategy in "Revelation of the Daleks", the trope also appeared when one character mercy killed her own father who was partially mutated into a Dalek.
    The Doctor: You sleep now, Sally. Just sleep.
    • This killing is made even more shocking when it transpires that the only way to stop the Cybermen, is to turn off their emotional inhibitors, which stop them realizing just what they've become... It may be a mercy killing, but they died in agony
    Cybermen are exploding all through the factory:
    Cyberman John Lumic: What have you done?
    The Doctor: I gave them their souls back. They can see what you've done Lumic. And it's killing them.
    • In Series 8, poor Clara is forced to perform this on her own boyfriend, already once dead, in order for him to gain advantage over the other converted Cybermen and help the Doctor with their defeat. It's every bit as heartbreaking as it sounds, but both characters do their best to handle this awful personal sacrifice with dignity. (Fortunately, Danny actually retains his love for Clara and his devotion to helping his fellow humans, rather than either becoming full Cyberman or self-destructing.) In contrast, the Doctor is scarred by the experience, as he feels guilt over not being previously nice to the person who selflessly gave his life to provide them with a chance of defeating the Cybermen.
  • Equal Justice: The episode "Do No Harm" (2x05) explores the "right to die" issue with a physician on trial for assisted suicide in giving a woman with terminal cancer lethal drugs so she could kill herself before it got even worse.
  • Implied on ER, when the mother of a boy dying from ALS asks Doug to "help him". Doug later admits to giving her the means to provide the boy with an overdose of pain medication, but it's never established whether he or the woman actually did so.
  • In Firefly, it is universally accepted that a quick death from a bullet or drug overdose is vastly preferable to what a Reaver would subject you to. It's also a common (but not universal) opinion that if you encounter someone who lived through a Reaver attack, they're likely better off dead rather than be allowed to go mad from what they saw.
  • Neil Chung in the Fringe episode "Making Angels" uses Observer technology to read the future and an arcane poison to terminate those with especially bleak futures. In one case he slips up and causes a paralyzing accident he was trying to avert.
  • Game of Thrones. Sandor Clegane stabs a farmer slowly dying of a gut wound in the heart while Arya Stark looks on. After he's severely injured with a broken leg miles from aid, he begs Arya to kill him as she's been threatening to do since Sandor cut down her friend Mycah on the orders of his sadistic master Prince Joffrey. Instead Arya robs him and walks off leaving Sandor to die slowly, an act that comes across as much more cold-blooded than in the novel.
  • In the Japanese Tokusatsu Show GARO, the Monsters of the week are humans possessed by demonic entities called Horrors. Whenever a human is possessed by a Horror, they will feel excruciating pain. This makes almost every kill the main character makes a mercy kill.
  • In Helix, Jordan kills Dr. Van Eigem at her request with a morphine overdose, because she's infected with what amounts to a zombie virus and doesn't want to turn into one, which is deemed a fate worse than death.
  • House. "Informed Consent" deals with an elderly patient who is slowly and painfully dying requesting the doctors to help him die. Chase argues that this is part of the job, while House seems willing but needs to solve the puzzle. Once they diagnose him with a terminal illness, Cameron apparently does the mercy kill while the patient sleeps.
  • How To Get Away With Murder: Nia, Nate's wife, asks Annalise to assist her in killing herself so she can escape the pain of her late-stage ovarian cancer. Annalise agonizes over it, even getting some pills, but ultimately refuses to let her have them.
  • In Lost Sawyer badly botches an attempted mercy kill, accidentally putting a bullet into the marshal's lung rather than his heart, leaving him to bleed slowly and painfully to death. Jack, despite his previous statements against the ideanote , quickly euthanizes the marshal to prevent his now inevitable death from being drawn out and agonizing.
  • Parodied in Mash. Colonel Potter's jeep has been run over by an out of control tank and smashed to pieces. He walks up to it, pulls out his gun, and shoots it in the engine.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Imprint", the disfigured prostitute claims to have murdered Komomo to spare her the life of a prostitute and being tortured by the madam. She believes that she sent Komomo from Hell to Heaven.
  • The Messengers: Rose started out euthanizing a mortally wounded soldier at his request. Then she moved on to killing terminally ill or elderly patients without their permission. Notably though, it's only when she deliberately murdered her lover's wife in jealousy and hate that she jumped off the slippery slope, becoming the Horseman of Death.
  • Parodied in one episode of Mongrels where Nelson thinks he has rabies and asks Marion to kill him if he goes mad. Unfortunately he still wants to kill him after it turns out he's not rabid.
  • Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard of NCIS, off-screen, was forced to work for the CIA/MI-6 during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, patching up people who had been tortured. So they could be tortured again. Eventually, he puts one guy out of his misery.
  • In The Pacific, a Japanese soldier, having just seen his friends die all around him on Guadalcanal, stumbles out into the lake, really not up for this any more. The Americans, having just seen a Japanese soldier pretending to surrender only to kill two Marines with a grenade, start sniping him in the arms and legs for "sport". One of the main characters shoots him in the chest to end it.
  • Played with on one episode of Reno 911!. While out on patrol, two of the officers are asked by a distraught man to Mercy Kill his dying dog. So, one officer takes his gun and shoots it. While the man is thanking them, a woman comes out of the house and screams when she sees the dog. It turns out the dog was hers and the man was actually a neighbor who wanted the dog to stop howling at night.
  • In Revolution, Neville gives one of his mortally wounded soldiers a vial of poison so he can die quickly without more pain.
  • Smallville:
    • Chloe is forced to do this to Davis as he begins to transform into Doomsday.
    • Lex claims this in the series finale when he kills his half-sister Tess, saying that he does it so that she doesn't end up like him. What he doesn't realize is that, as she tells him as she dies, he didn't need to worry about that- Clark had already saved her.
    • Tess herself had previously attempted a Mercy Kill via cyanide injection on a suffering and apparently dying adolescent clone of Lex. His "suffering" turned out to be from the activation of the previously unknown Kryptonian DNA weaved into his genetics, and the needle couldn't break his skin.
  • On The Sopranos, Tony Soprano murders his cousin, Tony Blundetto, in order to save him from being tortured to death by Phil Leotardo. It comes back to bite Tony later, as Phil doesn't feel satisfied by this.
  • In the first story of Stargate Atlantis, then-Major Sheppard does a Mercy Kill on his Colonel, who has just been fed on by a Wraith.
    • It's brought up again during the siege that the new military head doesn't believe it was a Mercy Kill until he experiences the feeding for himself. Before he's carted off with the wounded he tells Sheppard 'I wish you had been there for me.'
    • Happens again in ''Stargate Universe', when Col. Young puts Airman Riley out of his misery from being pinned under debris after a shuttle crash.
  • Supernatural. While soulless, Sam encounters five men who are All Webbed Up and infected with venom by a spider demon. Instead of taking them to a hospital, he arbitrarily decides to shoot them to spare their agony, then burn the bodies. Unfortunately the spider demon was actually creating more of itself, and the result is Immune to Bullets and fire. One of the victims, an ally Sam used as The Bait to find the demon, survives and wants revenge. He points out that rather than sparing him, Sam has actually created more monsters.
  • In an episode of Third Watch, Bobby is asked to help his retired teacher stop hurting.
    • In another one, as Doc is transporting a badly burned colleague to a hospital with a special burn, the man begs him to do this (aside from the agony he's already in, he knows full well it's only a matter of time before he dies from infection and dehydration). Doc finally complies and gives him a lethal dose of morphine.
  • Done several times in The Walking Dead to zombies. Even though as a zombie the afflicted can't feel the pain or horror of their situation, the characters (especially Rick) often consider it a mercy kill to end their existence.
    • Also done by Dr. Edwin Jenner in the finale of Season 1. He considers continued living to be pointless and doomed to end in terror and agony, and though he eventually allows the other survivors the choice of leaving and continuing to fight for survival, he also offers anyone who stays an instant and painless death when the CDC building explodes — and at least one of them accepts this option.
    • In Season 2, Daryl delivers one to Dale via a shot to the head, after he's been disemboweled by a zombie.
    • Another non-zombie example, in the Season 4 episode "The Grove": After Lizzie kills her little sister so she'll come back as a walker (long story), Carol, now knowing she's absolutely insane, takes her out to the titular grove and shoots her in the back of the head.
    • In Season 6, Carol does this to an Alexandrian who's slashed through the stomach by one of the Wolves.
  • Z Nation: Killing a zombie is considered giving the person mercy.

  • On this less permanent level, many sports leagues and organizations have mercy rules in place where a game ends early if one team attains a presumably insurmountable lead after a defined point in the game. Usually, these are recreation and youth leagues, and to a somewhat lesser extent, high school and other sub-professional levels. Examples:
    • Baseball and softball: From youth leagues through semi-professional, a common rule is for the winning team to have a 10-run league after the end of the fifth inning, although some leagues end games before that (usually, the earliest is the third inning) if the winning team has an even larger lead, such as 15 runs after four innings, with the home team, if they are trailing, having a final at-bat. This is a rare aversion to post-secondary teams having a mercy rule in place, as the college level and many semi-pro leagues often have some sort of mercy rule in these sports (although professional does not have this rule).
    • Basketball and 'football: Many state high school athletic associations use a "continuous clock" after a score differential is achieved after halftime. In this instance, the clock doesn't stop for things that it would normally be stopped for, such as going out of bounds or moving the down markers in football, or fouling in basketball, although the clock would stop for such things as time outs. States with continuous clock rules still often have the discretion to end a game early, provided that it is halftime or later.
      • Soccer: Most youth leagues and a number of state high school athletic associations have rules ending games at halftime or later if a certain goal difference is reached; usually, this is the leading team ahead by 10 goals.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Anathema, technically every murder is this. Either you murder your victims or they, and everyone else, will suffer a slow, horrible, death as the planet becomes uninhabitable.
  • Mage: The Ascension has the Euthanatos, an entire splat of mages (player character mages, no less) who use this as their hat.
  • In the Ravenloft setting, where lycanthropy is even more virulent and dangerous than in most D&D settings, this is the standard and expected outcome if an attempt to cure the affliction fails. As such a failure generally indicates an afflicted person is coming to like their condition, it's as much mercy for everyone else as for them.
  • The humans of Warhammer40000 refer to mercy kills as "The Emperor's Peace," and Space Marine Apothecaries carry a special pistol for just this purpose.
    • And then they chainsaw open the chest of the fallen to get at his genetic material. With the utmost respect, of course.
    • Similarly, but without the chainsaw, psykers carry what they call "Mercy Blades". When the Warp is trying to get into your head, a quick stab through the heart is vastly preferable.
      • The Commissar's (and formerly the Sanctioning Officer's) special rule "It's For Your Own Good" evokes this on psykers when their own hands cannot be trusted.
    • This is also the standard Imperial response to any human infected by Genestealers. Since the infection is incurable by normal Imperial medicine, and causes the infectees and their children to be subordinated to the Tyranid Hive Mind, it's considered better for everyone to end it quickly.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Amethyst wizards have a spell for Mercy Kills. It can be used on any enemy who has taken Critical Damage. This makes it very handy for dispatching that one beastman who has Tzeentch's own luck on the Critical Hit table and goes 3+ rounds without actually taking a Critical Hit that will kill him.


    Video Games 
  • In The 3rd Birthday Aya does this to Kyle Madigan upon his request, after he becomes... Whatever the hell that was.
  • Adventure War, a virtual gamebook made by one-guy studio Malign Black, plays this for laughs: You can let your character "search and search and search" a certain dead-end room, and God Himself will decide to put you out of your misery.
  • Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs features an extremely dark take on this. Ozwald Mandus was shown a vision of the various atrocities committed in the 20th Century, including the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide and Stalin's purges. However, what caused him to really snap was seeing that both of his sons would die lying in the cold mud of the Somme, lungs full of shrapnel. To spare them this fate, he killed both of them himself.
  • Big Bad Kerghan in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has spent centuries studying the afterlife, concluded that all the suffering living beings must endure means that death is the preferable state of existence, and intends to enact this trope upon all living things.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio does this to Jacopo de'Pazzi after Rodrigo Borgia and another Templar fatally wound him as part of You Have Failed Me. He later also does this to Savonarola, to spare him burning to death.
  • In Assault on Dark Athena, Riddick encounters a man strapped to an operating table who's being converted into a Ghost Drone. The man begs Riddick to pass a message on to his family and kill him before the doctors can finish. It's up to the player to do so.
  • In Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn you do this to a fellow prisoner in Irenicus' dungeon/laboratory. The poor fellow is being kept alive in a special tank against his will and has died and been brought back countless times. He begs you to kill him by removing the energy cell that powers his life support, which is convenient for you since you need that cell to power a different device.
  • In BioShock Infinite, Elizabeth asks Booker to kill her if that ends up being what it takes to protect her from Songbird.
  • BioShock 2 features Gil Alexander, who before the onset of insanity and Body Horror from massive doses of ADAM recorded messages instructing whomever would find them on how to kill him. His current horrendous and quite insane incarnation, Alex the Great, will beg for his life, leaving it up to the player to decide how to deal with the situation.
    • Later on, Sinclair is turned into an Alpha Series Big Daddy against his will and is forced to obey Lamb's orders on impeding you from your objective by holding onto the necessary key, begging you to take him out while he's still sane over the radio.
  • In Borderlands 2, this is a key plot point for stopping the Big Bad who locked away his own daughter as a power source for his superweapon. She begs to be freed by death, going so far as to point out the necessary weak spots and supply the player(s) with extra ammo.
  • In Breath of Fire IV, about 90% through the game, you finally find Princess Elina. However, she's been transformed into a horrific monster. She asks her beloved, Cray, to kill her. Even worse, you never get to punish the guy who did it to her.
  • In Brutal Doom, you can save trapped marines and they will aid you on the level, and they will often talk to the player, on one of his lines he tells you to shoot him if he ever starts to turn into "one of those things"
  • Occasionally, unlucky enemies and player mooks in Cannon Fodder will bleed to death in agony instead of dying instantly when shot. You're strongly encouraged to put them out of their misery.
  • FromSoftware:
    • In Demons Souls, the true King Allant is nothing more than a feeble blob clinging to his sword thanks to his corruption by the Old One, wishing for death. He still puts up a rather pitiful fight even in this tormented state — his lingering obsession with the power of souls is just that powerful.
    • In Dark Souls, Gwyn's and his champion Artorias' boss battles have you putting them out of their misery. Gwyn has been reduced to a mad Hollow after burning for so long as the kindling of the First Flame. Artorias is even worse off, having been reduced to little more than a vessel of the Abyss. If you speak to Artorias's companions afterward, they will thank you for killing him and ending his torment, something even they were unable to do.
    • In Dark Souls II, King Vendrick's attempts to cure the Undead Curse failed, and he became afflicted with it in the end. By the time you meet him, he is nothing but a mindless Hollow wandering aimlessly in his tomb. By killing him, you lay the once great king to rest.
    • In Bloodborne, Gehrman offers the Hunter mercy from the horrible Hunter's Dream by killing the Hunter, the reverse can also be true, as Gehrman also wants to be unshackled from it as well, but he decides to sacrifices his own good and offers the mercy kill instead. If the Hunter refuses the offer, then the Hunter can honour the old man's wish.
  • Deus Ex: If you tell DeBeers that Everrett has no intention of treating his illness, he commands you to deactivate his life support. This is more or less since he doesn't want to "die a prisoner."
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Brent asks you to do this, since he doesn't want to become an aug due to his injuries. It is possible to talk him out of it though.
  • Early on in Diablo III, you have to help New Tristram's blacksmith, Haedrig Eamon, kill his wife Mira and everyone else who's been bitten by the zombies attacking the town. The page quote is the Demon Hunter's response to Haedrig's question about how he could kill his own wife. Later on in the game, when Leah is possessed by Diablo himself following Adria's betrayal, the final battle is essentially this for Leah as well as a final reckoning for the Prime Evil.
  • In the PlayStation game Die Hard Trilogy, the Die Hard 2 segment is an FPS rail shooter. Shooting a character who's on fire is considered a "mercy kill" and worth points.
  • In Disney Princess Enchanted Journey, this is implied to happen with Zara. She agrees to hold the heroine's hand and disappears.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins the prophet Andraste was condemned to be burned at the stake after she was betrayed by her husband to the Tevinter Imperium. The Tevinter Archon Hessarian who ordered her execution felt pangs of guilt and compassion at the last minute and impaled Andraste to spare her the pain of burning to death. Afterwards he converted to the Chant of Light and helped spread it over Thedas. The sword he used is symbolized in Andrastian lore as the "Blade of Mercy", and is usually depicted wreathed in flames such as on Templar heraldry.
    • The first game, while helping the Dalish with their werewolf problem, the Warden runs into a Dalish-turned werewolf who gives them her scarf, asks them to deliver it to her husband, and kill her. Doing so gains approval with compassionate party member Leliana.
    • While traveling in the Deep Roads the party comes across a taint-maddened dwarf named Ruck. You can opt to kill him, if the assassin Zevran is in the party, he will insist on it on this basis.
  • This happens a lot in Dragon Age II, and it usually overlaps with Kill the Ones You Love just to rub salt in. You can also find one of the aforementioned Blades of Mercy and give it to Fenris, a runaway slave from Tevinter. Depending on your relationship, he either finds the irony amusing or tells you to keep it.
    • Near the beginning, Aveline's husband Wesley is infected by the darkspawn. He begs for her to kill him to spare him the slow, agonizing death the taint would bring him. Hawke can either force Aveline to do so, do it themself, or leave the choice to Aveline; who then kills Wesley herself.
    • Later on, Hawke may have to do this to their sibling, if brought into the Deep Roads without Anders in the party.
    • At the end of the quest "Tranquility," Anders's friend Karl is revealed to be made Tranquil; which cuts a mage off from the Fade, removing their magic and ability to feel emotions. When Karl is temporarily restored by proximity to a spirit, he begs Anders to kill him before it wears off, preferring death to living as an empty husk.
    • Varric can do this to his lyrium-crazed brother Bartrand (Varric already wanted to kill him for betraying the party, but finds a broken, gibbering wreck rather than a monster).
    • Serial Killer Kelder will ask you to do this, as he can't stop himself and his magistrate father will just keep covering up for him. You can use your Murder Knife or let Fenris do it — either way, it's one of the few actions your party unanimously agrees on.
  • In Duke Nukem 3D, the babes the aliens have abducted and incorporated into some kind of alien personal holding cell (most likely complete with very sexual tentacles) beg for Duke to kill them.
  • In Eternal Darkness when Paul meets Anthony, he does what anyone would do when attacked by a hissing, moaning bastard-sword-wielding zombie and fights back. Afterward, however, he prays for his soul and receives a quick flashback of Anthony's time as the holder of the Tome of Eternal Darkness, making it obvious that this was a bit of a bonus.
  • In Fallout 3, you encounter the playthings of Dr. Stanislaus Braun. The karmically good end of the quest is to deactivate the failsafe that kills his victims permanently and traps Braun (who has his own separate failsafe) forever all alone in his virtual world.
    • If you locate the forested Oasis and engage in the mission there, you will encounter Harold, a mutated character merged with a tree. One of the "good" options the Lone Wanderer can take in this mission is to grant Harold's request for this trope. The lone "bad" option for this mission is to invert the trope and kill him without mercy.
  • In his backstory in Fallout: New Vegas, Boone tracked his pregnant wife Carla and her kidnappers to a Legion slave camp, where he realized rescue would be impossible. Rather than let her and their unborn child be subject to a life of rape and beatings, he decided to shoot her.
    • You can also find amputated and mangled troopers in the No Man's Land between Nelson and Camp Forlorn Hope, frag mines set beneath their bodies. They beg you to kill them.
    • In Nipton, the only survivors (other than the lottery winner and runner up) are hanging on crucifixes and on death's door. Saving them is impossible, and it is far kinder to shoot each of them in the head.
    • Boone also notes that as an NCR sniper, he's had to do this to various prisoners of the Legion since they deliberately torture them in plain sight to reduce morale.
  • Far Cry 2 allows you to put down a mortally wounded assisting character, if you let him/her get injured enough times. Or you just feel like it.
  • In Fate/stay night's Heaven's Feel route, Shirou is forced to do this to Saber after she is hit by The Corruption and turned into Saber Alter. Especially bad, as Saber had been a symbol of purity throughout the game, and had been your primary love interest in the first route, as well as a possible love interest in the second route.
    • In one bad ending Shirou is reduced to a torso and head suspended in a liquid that has left him drugged into insensibility. When Rin finds him she shatters the container, letting Shirou die.
  • The flashback nightmares Shadow from Final Fantasy VI suffers from reveal that he became The Stoic because his emotions caused him to chicken out of mercy killing a wounded friend.
  • Final Fantasy Adventure makes the player do this to Amanda — she's cursed to turning into a Medusa that will victimize the nearby village, but her curse also means that the hero can gather her tears to cure her brother, who was turned into a parrot. She's already transformed to the point where she cannot commit suicide; the player must attack her to end her misery.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics: Ramza kills Zalbaag, who's being possessed by lucavi demons and can't commit suicide to avoid harming Ramza.
  • In Gears of War 2, Dom is driven to do this for Maria once he finds her.
    • Subverted and Double Subverted depending on the player. In multiplayer getting an execution on an enemy, rewards you with the ribbon Coup De Grace, which means "Mercy kill". How much of a mercy kill? Depends on you stand point: If you're the last guy alive, and your teammates were assholes (towards them) expect the worst kind of mercy kill ever. You should be accounted as lucky if someone just curp-stomps or shoot you as the last one alive.
  • In God of War 2, Kratos comes upon the Titan Prometheus, who as per Greek mythology is chained to a rock with an eagle ripping out his organs every day (which grow back every night, meaning endless torment). Kratos mercy-kills him by dropping him into the Fire of Olympus, earning the Rage of the Titans power-up.
    • He later does this to his own mother, after breaking a pact causes her to mutate into a grotesque, and obviously in pain monster.
  • Half-Life 2. Headcrab zombies. The screams. For the love of God, just hurry up and throw that buzzsaw at them before they have to suffer another second...
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, when Master Chief finds Captain Keyes infected by the Flood, he chooses to give him a dignified death by punching his face in, which also allows him to get the implants out of Keyes' skull. In this case Keyes had already become assimilated, so killing him was basically the same as killing a human combat form at that point, and the Flood were going to use his knowledge to pilot a Covenant ship off of Halo and spread to other worlds.
  • After shelling North Korean troops with white phosphorus mortar rounds in Homefront, you have the option of shooting the burning soldiers to earn a 'mercy' achievement (there's another achievement for just letting them burn).
  • Mentioned in Homeworld: Cataclysm; certain large ships are immune to takeover by The Corruption, taking severe damage instead. The manual tells us that this is achieved by dumping high-temperature plasma into the afflicted sections of the ship and then opening an airlock. Not a pure Mercy Kill in that it's necessary to save the rest of the crew, but the crewmembers about to be ripped apart by flesh-eating nanotech and used to make network cabling would undoubtedly see it that way.
  • In Hotline Miami, occasionally when an enemy is killed he'll slowly crawl along the ground, barely alive. Executing an enemy like this will give you a point bonus, named Mercy Kill at the end-of-level results screen.
  • In Jade Empire, the Water Dragon requests one of these from the Spirit Monk. The dragon's body is being kept alive so that her blood can be used to end the drought, while her divine power is being siphoned off by the emperor.
    • Earlier, someone being held by cannibals and forced to turn into one of them asks that you kill him. If you don't, he transforms into a flesh-eating monster.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II, when the Jedi Exile and Darth Sion have their final showdown, Sion (who is her Stalker with a Crush) says that killing the Exile with his lightsaber is nothing compared to what Darth Traya is planning to do to her, so he'll put her out of her misery now to spare her from that.
    • Also part of Atton's backstory. he was a Sith torturer and "working" on a female Jedi. The Jedi revealed to him that he was Force-sensitive, and gave him a glimpse of the Force. Atton freaked out and realized that he couldn't save her, so he either choked her to death or snapped her neck, then ran like hell from the Sith.
  • This is the ultimate fate of The Mother in La-Mulana, at the hands of the Player Character.
  • Multiple times in L.A. Noire, mostly at the end or in flashbacks at occur near the end. One flashback shows Courtney Sheldon running up a hill to administer a fatal dose of morphine to an injured and screaming soldier. Another flashback reveals an accidental but nightmarish atrocity: a flamethrower soldier torched a cave full of women and children, thinking they were soldiers, and the US soldiers have to shoot each of them to put them out of their misery. Finally done by Jack Kelso for Ira Hogeboom, the aforementioned flamethrower soldier, when the latter can no longer live with what he's done.
  • In The Last of Us you will have to go in a building filled with spores (Said spores turn people into "zombies"), that forces you to wear a gas mask, on said building you will encounter a survivor who is pinned under a piece of wood and his gas mask broke, meaning that he will turn into an Infected sooner or later. He will cry out to you to not "Leave him to turn", and you have the option to shoot him to put him out of his misery.
  • The Left 4 Dead online comic showed this as part of Zoey's backstory — her mother turned during a family dinner, biting Zoey's father before being put down. Since Zoey and her father had watched the same zombie movies, they knew what had to come next. Tragically, the same comic later revealed that the genetic immunity to the zombie plague is passed down on the father's side, meaning that the mercy kill was probably unnecessary.
  • In the Legacy of Kain series, Kain's attempted murder of Raziel is actually one of these. He had known for some time of Raziel's destiny to trapped in the Soul Reaver and he believed death would be preferable. When Kain finally sees the Elder God after Raziel's sacrifice purifies him, Kain is distraught when he realizes he had actually condemned Raziel to a different Fate Worse Than Death as the Elder God's slave.
  • In Legend of Legaia, though you don't actually perform the killing directly, Noa's parents, fused with a giant Sim-Seru, request that you destroy the final Mist Generator to save the world and destroy the Sim-Seru, killing them in the process. As the pain they are in is implied to be horrendous, it's likely that they preferred death. This course of action also takes the entire city of Conkram with them, but considering the Body Horror and Fate Worse Than Death that Conkram's citizens have been suffering through for 10+ years, it's confirmed by Terra that this is the kindest thing that could've been done to them.
  • In Mass Effect 1, there is an optional scene where Shepard can perform a Mercy Kill on salarian troops who were indoctrinated by Sovereign. And knowing exactly how horrible Reaper indoctrination is, it's hard to disagree with the mercy kills.
    • There is also a section where you find a ship, empty with the crew apparently dead, aside from a man on life support, whose brain has been described as 'dead'. The crew wanted to put him off it, to which his biotic girlfriend Julia reacted... violently. She will attack, and you may take him off the life support yourself. Your own squad members consider it the merciful thing to have done.
    • On Noveria, the Rachni Queen asks you to do this to her own kids; the rachni are a telepathic species who need to be raised around others to develop properly, but the resident mad scientists took her kids from her before they were ready and the 'silence' has driven them insane. On the same planet, Matriarch Benezia declines medigel after you beat her, knowing that since she's been indoctrinated already living on would just involve being subjected to more of it.
    • If you let Gavin Archer keep David at the end of 2's Overlord DLC, Mass Effect 3 reveals that he eventually "ended his suffering".
    • The third game gives you the opportunity to do this to a Batarian terrorist grieving for his family and dying of terrible injuries.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Javik learns from Liara about Shepard wiping out the Collectors, indoctrinated Protheans modified by the Reapers into obedient slaves. When Liara apologizes, he merely comments that he is grateful for the act of mercy.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series features this as a device at least twice. In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake kills Sniper Wolf after she is badly wounded in a battle with him. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the player is forced to initiate the mercy kill of The Boss. Both of these characters beg to be killed though the trope description precludes this, but many of the other examples here are similar.
    • Third times the hat trick. At the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, Big Boss's dialogue before he cuts off Zero's oxygen implies that, regardless of what led him to create the AIs, Zero would've been ashamed of what they've done in the name of furthering his vision of a unified world. That and the given that the AIs have kept Zero alive as long as they have solely because he is a living encryption key to them imply that this was Big Boss's motivation towards killing him.
  • NieR
    • This is done unintentionally on a species-wide scale. Humanity has been slowly going unavoidably extinct for over a thousand years; beating the Big Bad finishes it off, reducing an inevitable several centuries of further decay down to a few years.
    • Nier has the option of mercy-killing Kainé in several of the endings.
  • A possible interpretation of the ending for Outlast. Miles was killed by the police officers to prevent the Walrider from escaping the asylum and using Miles until he's no longer useful. Too bad they made things worse for themselves.
  • In Planescape: Torment:
    • A githzerai woman is violently ill and dying a slow death from the polluted air of the Lower Wards. Unable to even speak, she beseeches the Nameless One through gestures to end her life.
    • A somewhat more comical mercy kill comes in the form of a zombie who has been animated to provide the local coffin maker with a permanent listener—the coffin maker is rather annoying and will talk endlessly about anything and everything, and is so clueless that he doesn't even realize his best listener is a zombie. The zombie begs the Nameless One to undo the enchantment and return him to nothingness because he can't bear to listen to the man any longer.
  • One way of getting out of the tutorial in Project Zomboid is smothering your injured wife with a pillow.
  • Skint asks for one at the end of The Reconstruction. Dehl gives it to him.
  • In Saints Row 2, the main character does this to ease Carlos' pain after he's keelhauled by car by the Brotherhood.
  • Kerkan from Sekien No Inganock is a serial killer who believes everyone is eligible for a mercy kill, but tends to only pick the truly hopeless.
  • The defeat of the final boss in Shadow Hearts: From The New World counts, considering what Lady/Grace had become.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, you travel through the base of Jack's Squad and encounter a group of demons in life-sustaining tanks, being used for a variety of unethical experiments, screaming and crying as their organs are harvested. You have the option of turning off their life support.
  • Pops up with heart-crushing regularity in Shin Megami Tensei IV; humans who become demons cannot be restored, the National Defense Divinities all hate their summoners but cannot escape their leashes, the people imprisoned in Reverse Hills for use in Red Pills probably all dream about dying. And then come the White with their offer to just end the cycle of suffering.
  • A major element of Silent Hill 2, as James doing this to his terminally ill wife Mary is the event that causes the entire plot, which examines James' true motivation for doing so. Was it for his wife, to give her peace; or selfish, to get his life back?
    • Silent Hill: Homecoming has this as an option for the first of two choices (or three, depending on which ending you're going for) that determine the ending you get. Alex's mother is strapped to a device and is obviously suffering. You are given the choice to either end her life or not. You can only get the good ending if you mercy kill her.
  • Spec Ops: The Line — Mercy killing is a game mechanic; often times when you kill an enemy in a place other than the upper torso or head, they'll fall over and start dying slowly on the ground, crying in pain. Walker can perform an "Execution" move on them — at first, they are genuine mercy, such as a quick bullet to the head or snapping their neck. As the game goes on, Walker becomes increasingly violent and tries to inflict as much pain as possible, by blasting out their kneecaps then shooting them in the heart, or even more brutal techniques. When Walker uses white phosphorus on the soldiers in "The Gate", they will beg you to kill them as you walk by. At the end, the player can choose to do this to Walker if they want, and after all the crap he's been through and done, it's a surprisingly tempting and reasonable option.
  • In the game The Suffering, one can increase their Karma Meter by mercy killing a guard who has had most of his body eaten by rats inside of a room in an Asylum. Your wife will reassure you that it was "the right thing to do" if you do it.
  • If anyone defeats the Red Riot during Scenario 45 in Super Robot Wars UX, the pilot will begin to burn alive in his cockpit. Jin, acting quickly, shoots down his subordinate so that he doesn't have to suffer.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, just after you finally meet Belius, she gets corrupted by Estelle's Child of the Full Moon powers and you have to kill her.
  • Team Fortress 2 — Invoked for Black Comedy in one of the Scout's domination lines directed at the Sniper.
    It was a mercy killing, ya live in a... camper van!
  • In Thief 2: The Metal Age, Garrett comes across a captured spy during one mission, who has been locked in a freezer. After the spy gives Garrett the information he managed to obtain, he requests a mercy killing rather than freezing to death. Although if you oblige, the game still counts this as "killing an innocent".
    • However, since Hard Difficulty requires a Pacifist Run, the requirements for this mission are carefully worded: You're only forbidden from killing Mechanists, meaning you can put down the informant and still clear the mission.
  • In the Tomb Raider reboot, after causing an explosion a mook ends up trapped under burning rubble, begging Lara to kill him. Complying causes Lara to bitterly state "Go to hell".
  • In one of the routes in the Tsukihime Visual Novel, Akiha is succumbing to her demon blood and begs Shiki to kill her if she loses control. When she does, if you don't keep your promise and keep her alive, you get a depressing "Normal Ending" where she's basically become a mindless, bloodsucking doll under Shiki's care for the rest of her "life". If you do kill her, you get a Bad End. No, to get a decent ending you have to Take a Third Option. Also, Shiki killing Satsuki after she became a murderous vampire, earlier on.
  • At one point in Unreal you encounter Nali who are being crucified by the Skaarj. While the game doesn't give you any means of saving them, there's a small consolation in that the game does let you perform a Mercy Kill on the poor guys.
  • In The Walking Dead a boy in your party, Duck, is about to succumb to the zombie infection. You must choose who will put him out of his misery. You the player character, or the boy's father. Later in the game you can choose what you want Clementine to do with you. Shoot you before you turn, or run away and leave you chained to a radiator
    • If Ben is still in the party in Episode 5, this happens after he falls onto a metal bar from a balcony, leaving him unable to move. Kenny chooses to stay behind to make sure Ben didn't turn. Seconds after they are out of sight, Ben's screams are cut short by a gunshot.
    • Earlier in the series, the player spots a woman in the distance being chased by zombies. Without any chance of closing the distance to save her, the only options are to shoot her out of mercy or to leave her to her fate and allow her screams to serve as a distraction.
  • Axenos from Wizard101 uses the more villainous version of this trope when he decides that to reward the player for releasing him by killing them first so they do not have to witness the horrors he'll bring upon the Spiral. Fortunately he's more bark than bite and no tougher than most boss battles.
  • In Episode Five of The Wolf Among Us, Bigby has the option of doing this for Georgie Porgie, who suffered a fatal stab wound during an earlier fight.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, in the final confrontation with General Deathshead B.J. Blazkowicz discovers the true fate of his comrade whom Deathshead had tortured and dissected right before him fourteen years earlier (Pvt. Wyatt/Fergus Reid, depending on who you choose to sacrifice in said scene); depending on who, their intact brain is used to power one of the General's Machine Men, and they are fully aware and conscious of everything even after fourteen years of having lost their body. After being forced to fight them, Blazko does the only decent thing he can do for his comrade and honors their wish to let them die rather than suffer this fate any longer.
  • Numerous bosses in World of Warcraft, particularly in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Several bosses use their last words to thank you.

  • In And Shine Heaven Now, it's revealed that Walter and Alucard did this to Jeeves when he was mortally wounded in World War II, since he could not fall into the hands of the Nazis and Jeeves refused to be turned into a vampire. Officially, he's listed as MIA, presumed dead.
    • Walter himself ended up mercy killed when he was brainwashed by the I-Jin of Jeeves to work for Millennium. His brainwashing could be broken only temporarily, his choices were death or being forever binded to Integra. He chose death. To make it even sadder, his own daughter had to do the deed.
  • In The Beast Legion , upon defeat Gorgorath pleads to Xeus to free him from his cursed existence.
  • The Sovereign of Sorrow, from Captain SNES, apparently wants to do this to everyone.
  • In Cuanta Vida, BLU Medic does this to BLU Sniper after Sniper is Driven to Suicide after losing his lover and then his eyes. He claims to have done this at the Sniper's request, but a little while after that he tries to do it again when the BLU Scout gets a crippling injury on his leg; "a Scout that can't run is a dead weight". The Scout was not consulted about this beforehand, and fortunately the BLU Spy is able to intervene.
  • Deep Rise: In a civilization of immortals, this is more often than not the way to go.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage mentions that he killed his own brother, who was blind. When questioned about it, he responds that it was an act of mercy, and it would've been far more cruel to let his brother live after what BM had done to his eyes.
    • Black Mage gets points for the most sadistic and needlessly elaborate "mercy kill" of all time; he trapped his blind brother in an uneven room filled with sharp corners and tiger pits. Then pushed him into one of the tiger pits when it looked like he was going to make it across.
  • Parodied in Exterminatus Now, Alien Shout Out ahoy.
  • Mr. Rovainen from Girl Genius does it preemptively.
  • In Goblins a mysterious character (his identity is revealed later) snaps the owlbear's neck who is about to be tortured. It's also revealed that this was the actual meaning of Saves-A-Fox's Prophetic Name. In an attempt to Screw Destiny, she killed the fox she was supposed to save, and later found out it was actually suffering from a terminal disease.
  • In Homestuck, in the Troll's session, this situation comes up between Tavros and Vriska. Vriska is beaten within an inch of her life by Aradia, and Tavros manages to get her to her Quest Bed, which will ensure her resurrection and ascension to higher power. She then asks Tavros to kill her himself, doing it quickly so that she doesn't have to die a slow, agonizing death of bleeding out. Tavros, however, is unable to bring himself to do it, and runs away crying. Vriska never really forgives him for this "moment of weakness".
  • In Men In Hats, Aram uses this as an analogy to justify shredding Beriah's report:
    Aram: See me shredding the papers? This is the only humane way to deal with them. Like putting a dog to sleep instead of letting it run around with a tumor in its brain.
    Beriah: ...Is that why Scruffy's gone?
    Aram: No, that dog was just ugly.
  • This strip of The Order of the Stick.
  • Penny Arcade"A Ring And A Prayer".
  • Sluggy Freelance: Explicitly stated by Riff that he is going to do this to Zoe.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn's horse Ember has been gutted and had its back broken by a dragon, and cannot be saved, only spared.
  • Thunderstruck offers a straight example, with a good ol' Neck Snap being the method used.
  • In The Zombie Hunters, the "Mercy" zombies perform arguably the creepiest Mercy Kill ever. They only approach sick, wounded or dying humans, and follow them, protecting them from other more violent breeds, until they collapse. Mercies then deliver a single bite to a vital artery, and hold the dying victim, gently stroking their hair and cooing softly. They'll even remain with their victim for hours after they turn. Website materials state that some traumatized survivors seek them out as a form of suicide, hence the name. These same supplementary materials recommend that human rescuers euthanize many survivors of Berserker zombies, who love to torture and beat their victims before biting them.

    Web Original 
  • Sailor Nothing combines this with Enemy Without. It doesn't work, however - Himei has come to believe that there's hope for her to have a life that ISN'T poor, nasty, brutish, and short after all, and manages to muster the Heroic Resolve necessary to activate her Unstoppable Rage and kill her Yamiko.
  • In Survival of the Fittest version one, after having gotten separated from the Intrepid Six and tortured by Cody Jenson, Marcus Roddy finally stumbles across his group again at the river, and after some of his wounds have been treated he goes to rest while everyone else continues their business. However, unknown to them, he had been given a severe concussion, and eventually fell into a coma. After they notice that he had somehow slept through everything that had happened since his arrival, including a few gunfights, they check up on him and discover what has happened. This leads to some debate, but eventually Adam shoots him instead of leaving him to be eaten alive by animals.
    • Another instance happens in version three, between Will and Christian. Christian had been severely wounded by Bobby Jacks earlier, and even though they escaped his injury became steadily worse over the time they spent travelling, and eventually a large rat-like creature appeared when they stopped to rest and attacked him, viciously tearing into the wound before Will kills it. Unable to take the pain any longer and knowing he's lost too much blood to survive even if the wound were treated, Christian asks Will to shoot him. He does.
    • Further examples include Serenity Halos, who suffered a grievous gunshot wound at the hands of Blood Boy, which eventually got worse and worse until, when she finally was reunited with her boyfriend Steve Digaetano, she begged for him to kill her. And Jimmy Trejo, who was fatally wounded in a fight with Harry Tsai and asked for one of his travelling companions, Laeil Burbank, to kill him rather than let him die slowly and painfully. In V4, Adrian Staib begs Samantha Ridley to finish him off after he falls down a hill and paralyzes his arms and legs.
  • Warcraft Dressing is infamous for frequent mercy kills. The Lich King is a bad, bad man.
  • Many, many items contained by The Foundation can require this. In some cases, you can't even do that.
  • The trope comes up more than once in Worm:
    • When Skitter sees what Bonesaw did to Grue, Ballistic offers to kill him, but Skitter refuses, wanting to find some way to avoid it.
    • At the end of Noelle's rampage, after Noelle has almost completely given in to her Superpowered Evil Side, the last thing Sundancer does before returning to Earth Aleph is burn her to death with her sun.
    • The protagonist herself shoots Aster Anders, a toddler, to prevent her from suffering a Fate Worse Than Death at the hands of the Slaughterhouse Nine.
    • Later, Contessa does this to Khepri, after her mind has degraded to the point that she can no longer think in terms that don't imply her planned conquest of all possible Earths, and she is briefly able to signal her approval through refusing Contessa's offer of help.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is on the ground, sobbing and begging for the Devil to kill him in Son of the Mask. Nothing painful is happening to him, mind you, he just wants out of life again.

    Western Animation 
  • In the episode "Trouble in Lumpy Space" of Adventure Time, there's a conversation where Finn thinks Jake (in the throes of the Lumps) is about to request this of Finn, should he go completely Lumpy. Yes. They actually got away with referencing this. It's never actually stated, and it turns out that Jake just wanted Finn to still be friends with a Lumpy Jake. "What did you think I was saying?"
  • Ruthlessly parodied in Animaniacs, when Yakko, Wakko and Dot have lassoed a Jerry Lewis-style comedian into filming their movie Old Screamer, with the comedian playing the dog. When Yakko sadly explains that they have to put the dog out of his misery, Wakko seems sad for a moment, and then (Once Wakko has been given a puppy to replace Old Screamer), to the comedian's horror, cheerfully pulls out a Hyperspace Mallet to do the job...
  • Shayera does this for the resurrected (but now an Empty Shell) Solomon Grundy in a Justice League Unlimited episode in what is one of the most tear jerking scenes in the series.
    Doctor Fate: The beast knows only rage and seeks only Oblivion. Your mace may be the one object on Earth that can grant him peace.
    John Stewart: What are you saying?
    Shayera: Your favorite movie's Old Yeller, you know exactly what he's saying.
  • Parodied in the Robot Chicken sketch "Toy Story 4'' where Woody smothers Buzz with a pillow after he's effectively lobotomized when a now college aged Andy turns him into a bong.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons, where a flashback shows grade school-age Homer and Chief Wiggum playing Cops and Robbers; Homer, the robber, is wounded, and begs Wiggum for a Mercy Kill.
  • The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode, "Yesteryear," had this trope as the critical decision Spock as a child had to make concerning his mortally wounded pet, I-Chaya. When Spock decided that putting him down was the most humane and logical choice, that was the moment he embrace the traditional teachings of Surak of logic and emotional control.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In the first episode, the latest Monarch henchman Speedy is caught in a chokehold by Brock Sampson as he is put into a temporary coma, since they can't get him to let go and that Speedy is suffering badly one of them performs a mercy kill on him by shooting him in the neck.
    • Discussed in another episode when Hank drinks Goliath serum and believes he will eventually explode. Hank asks Brock to kill him before that happens, and Brock assures that it won't be necessary since they'll find a cure. Hank is comforted, but he can't help but ask Brock how he would kill him if it ever became necessary. Brock immediately tells Hank he'd snap his neck and that it'd be a quick and painless death. Hank is a little unnerved by how quickly he got an answer, since it means Brock's thought about it before.

    Real Life 
  • "I made the effort, and it was possible for me, to shoot only children. It so happened that the mothers led the children by the hand. My neighbour then shot the mother and I shot the child that belonged to her, because I reasoned with myself that after all without its mother the child could not live any longer. It was supposed to be, so to speak, soothing to my conscience to release [erlösen] children unable to live without their mothers." - (Reserve) Order Police Officer Friedrich M. note 
  • In 1942-3, Sicherheitspolizei (Si'po) and Ordnungspolizei (Or'po') police units in Poland were ordered by regional Police authorities to dispose of their Jewish 'Hiwis' (non-German 'helpers') to render those regions ''Judenrein'' (non-Jewish). Since many had grown very attached to their Jewish helpers, more compassionate squad members went out of their way to kill them quickly and totally unexpectedly. In one instance they got the best shot in their company (100 men) to shoot their Hiwi ('Harry') in the head from several hundred metres away while he was tending to the garden. In another, one engaged their Hiwi ('Mary') in conversation in the kitchen and another moved behind her and shot her in the head. The alternative was leaving them to the tender mercy of armed Hiwis ('recruited' from Soviet POW and civilians given the choice of volunteering or death), who were often so drunk that they failed to shoot straight and their victims were merely wounded and so buried alive, or deportation to one of the extermination camps wherein they would suffocate over the course of several panicked minutes in a gas-van or gas chamber.
  • Captive bolts were designed to kill an animal with as little suffering as possible, but as the documentary Earthlings shows, it does not always work as intended.
  • The original concept of Coup de Grâce, French for "strike of mercy". Nowadays it just means "finish off".
  • The knightly short sword or dagger was called misericordia (Latin for "mercy") for exactly this reason. It was intended to give the Coup de Grâce for a mortally wounded soldier who would otherwise linger on his wounds in agony. It was thin enough to penetrate mail and go between the plates of an armour.
  • There are examples and anecdotes from all over the world in everything from the aftermath of disasters to wars to hunting accidents. So this trope is very much Truth in Television.
  • After the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, a lot of wooden frame buildings had collapsed with people inside, and many caught fire due to either broken gas mains, upturned stoves or furnaces, or some combination of the two. Many of the people trapped were pinned under debris, but the admittedly few first responders often didn't have the strength to drag them out before said fire could kill them. There are stories of people begging to be shot if they couldn't be freed. There is a story of at least one person who complied before the victim could burn to death, who then went immediately to the nearest police he could find to turn himself in. After listening to his story, the police told him he had done the right thing and let him go.
    • Similarly, in the Alpatacal tragedy (a huge train crash in the Chilean/Argentinian border that killed several Chilean soldiers), there's the urban legend about a recruit who had survived the crash but found his friend badly injured and about to burn to death under the debris. The dying guy begged the other to shoot him dead with his service gun and spare him the upcoming Family-Unfriendly Death, which the survivor did. Then he turned himself in, but was absolved by the military tribunal since the victim would've died anyway.
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Memorial Hospital in New Orleans was surrounded by ten feet of water and did not have enough supplies to maintain their patients. Four of them were killed by hospital personnel and the District Attorney brought murder charges. A grand jury refused to indict them.
  • Standard practice for terminally-ill pets, and almost totally uncontroversial (though always heartbreaking).
    • Also for many large animals, especially horses, with broken or badly injured legs. A horse with a broken leg, even if given the best care known to veterinary medicine, is almost always better off euthanized.
  • Self-inflicted during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The building caught on fire, trapping many workers on the top floor of the factory. The workers decided to jump to their deaths through the windows instead of being slowly burnt to death or suffocating from the smoke.
    • Also done by people trapped in the burning World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
      • At least one jumper struck a firefighter on the ground, killing them.
  • A priest was being burnt at the stake because he didn't toe the state church line. The village woodcutter, who was loyal to the priest, split the priest's skull with an axe to spare him any further pain.
  • Supposedly, when an older woman found out she had Alzheimer's, she asked her husband to do this if she ever went too far gone. One night, he went to the hospital she was in, shot her in the head, and waited for the police outside.
    • There was also the sad case of Carol Carr. After watching her mother-in-law and husband succumb to Huntington's disease, she saw her two oldest sons develop it as well. She ended up killing them to spare them the pain. This led to controversy in the state of Georgia as to what to try her for...
  • Much of the Terri Schiavo tragedy dealt with just how much this was the case. Schiavo had an accident that left her clinically braindead. Terri's husband wanted her taken off of life support, but her parents wanted Terri kept alive. In the end, her life support was pulled.
  • During the Spanish Inquisition, "heretics" who were condemned to burn at the stake would often, if they confessed, be strangled first to spare them the agony of death by fire and/or asphyxiation.
  • This is how Magda and Joseph Goebbels saw the killing of their six children during the last days of the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
  • An American paratrooper during the Battle of the Bulge witnessed this first hand. Following a skirmish with a German squad, a great majority of the enemy soldiers surrendered, most of them wounded. However, the American's squad did not have the supplies, nor the manpower, to guard or feed the prisoners (like the Americans, the Germans were badly low on supplies and food, and it was one of the reasons they surrendered, to get aid for their wounded.) Finally, the American squad leader grabbed a German machine pistol, gathered just enough ammo for it, and disposed of the rest of the weapons and ammo, telling the German squad leader (who spoke English) the cold hard truth that they could not take them prisoner, and that he was leaving the submachine gun behind for those who wanted to end it quickly. A few minutes after the Americans left, they began hearing single gunshots behind them.
  • Battlefield medics and surgeons in the past were traditionally "unarmed" but usually allowed to carry pistols, both for self-defense and for providing a quick death to those who were beyond their help.
  • It was the role of the Kaishakunin designated to assist a samurai during his suicide by Seppuku: he has to behead the samurai with a katana to spare him a long agony due to evisceration; it's considered bad form to show pain while ritually disemboweling oneself.
  • This is the reason behind the voluntary euthanasia laws in Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and three US states (it will also be legal in the Canadian province of Quebec beginning in 2015). Obviously, as stated above this remains very controversial.

Alternative Title(s):

Mercy Killing