[[quoteright:280:[[Manga/RoseOfVersailles http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/marie_pleading.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:280:Being royalty herself, UsefulNotes/MarieAntoinette knows how it's done.]]

->''"Execution, Execution, Execution, Execution, Execution...tough guy."''
-->-- '''[[Creator/MelBrooks Jacques]]''', while searching for a pardon form in the desk of King Louis XVI, ''Film/HistoryOfTheWorldPartI''

This is when you beg the monarch, or whoever is in charge, to spare the life of someone set to be executed or given AFateWorseThanDeath.

As shown in the picture, it's best done kneeling while grasping the [[RequisiteRoyalRegalia ermine robes]] in a reverent manner (kissing them optional). Often it's done by insisting you know this leader is magnanimous enough to do this.

But it's usually more successful if done in the form of ego stroking ("Surely such a great king as yourself is wise enough...", "How could he possibly pose a threat to someone so great...?") or noting the [[SlaveToPR good PR]] it will bring ("Everyone would know what a kind sovereign you are...") than by trying to appeal to any good nature ("If you just listen to your heart..."). Even if they agree, the prisoner may just be tossed into TheAlcatraz instead ([[Literature/TheVicomteDeBragelonne Iron Mask]] optional). A character who begs this way will be AintTooProudToBeg.

Compare/Contrast IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Pictured: In ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles'', when Louis XV wants to execute André for MarieAntoinette's accident. She recovers, and successfully persuades the king that André did nothing wrong.
** ''WebAnimation/RoseOfVersaillesAbridged'' spoofs this. Marie tries it as a JediMindTrick; the King is only partly affected, but he sighs and lets André go anyway.
* Sheeda does this for Oguma in the ''Anime/FireEmblem'' OVA (this is not in the games because Oguma's backstory in the games doesn't work with this).
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': [[BadassInDistress Rukia]] does this as a last request to the highest-ranking Soul Society captain right before she's about to be executed in the Soul Society arc, since she feels guilty that Ichigo and everyone are risking their lives to try and save her. Subverted when the captain says he'll let them go free, but really has no intention of doing so. He's only saying that so Rukia can [[LetThemDieHappy die peacefully]].
* Rowena/Margaret did this to save Erika from the wrath of Richter after he found out his sister was in love with Kazuya, the pilot of ''{{Anime/Daimos}}''.
* Hermione did this in ''Anime/RomeoXJuliet'' to stop Laertes Montague from taking Romeo's CoolHorse Ciel away. Even more so, the reason why father and son are verbally fighting is because [[StoodUp he didn't meet up with Hermione]] for the Rose Festival (and unbeknownst to the others, he was with Juliet); Hermione still defended Romeo and managed to calm Laertes down.
* Mittermeyer pleads for mercy on Reuental's behalf at least twice in ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes.''
* Kurumi attempts this in ''Manga/HaouAiren'', on behalf of [[spoiler:Reilan]] when [[spoiler:Hakuron decides to shoot her dead for ''setting Kurumi up to be gang raped''.]] [[spoiler:To say it fails is, well, an UnderStatement.]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/TheVow'': After [[WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2 Lord Shen's]] crime of [[spoiler:panda genocide]] is exposed (in the middle of his wedding, no less), Gongmen City's entire council condemns him to be executed and Shen's devastated parents seem to have no choice but to go along with it. Lady Lianne, Shen's beloved, arrives to speak on Shen's behalf, kneels in her wedding dress and begs in a teary way for Shen to be exiled instead, hoping that he'd repent and be able to return. Unfortunately, Shen is unaware of what Lianne did for him and believes her to have simply forgotten him during his following thirty years in exile, resulting in him imprisoning her when he retakes Gongmen as per canon and desiring vengeance on her as well. When he's finally told of what Lianne did to save him, [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone he feels remorseful]] for his treatment of her and fully rekindles his love for her [[spoiler:([[SparedByTheAdaptation which saves him in the end]])]].
* During the course of ''Disney/TheBlackCauldron'' fic ''Fanfic/HopeForTheHeartless'', [[AllLovingHeroine Avalina]] ends up several times begging [[VillainProtagonist the Horned King]] (her captor who's been [[ResurrectedForAJob resurrected]]) not to kill or hurt several other characters.
** When the Horned King intends to kill Creeper for hitting Avalina and seemingly defying the lich's order to stay out of the girl's sight, she points out that [[LoopholeAbuse the goblin didn't technically defy the order because she didn't really see him]]. Deciding that a good argument deserves a reward, the Horned King lets Creeper live.
** When the Horned King intends to kill Taran and have his revenge for his downfall, Avalina [[GoThroughMe comes between them]] and begs the lich to stop. After internal struggling, the Horned King acknowledges that he owes the pig-keeper for saving Avalina, [[LimaSyndrome for whom he has come to genuinely care]]; he repays the debt in his own way (by fixing Taran's shoulder, which the lich dislocated) and leaves with Avalina.
** After Avalina's been rescued from a group of kidnappers and child murderers [[spoiler:(who are all former soldiers of the Horned King)]], she begs on their behalf. This time the Horned King doesn't consent and has them all killed (though he makes sure to keep this out of Avalina's sight).
* In ''[[Fanfic/TwiceUponAnAge All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird]]'', after the events of Halamshiral, [[spoiler:Empress Celene sentences her cousin Gaspard to death. [[AllLovingHero Victoria]] intervenes on his behalf, successfully pleading with the Empress to banish him from Orlais instead.]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePrinceOfEgypt'': Aaron sort of does one of these when Miriam tells Moses the truth about his origins and says he's "one of [them]," to which he initially objects quite strongly and threatens to have her arrested or killed. He comes around, though.
* Maid Marian, in the Disney animated version of ''Disney/RobinHood,'' pleads with Prince John for Robin's life when he is captured after the archery contest.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/HistoryOfTheWorldPartI'': Mademoiselle Rimbaud begs King Louis XVI to pardon her father. Her father is actually sentenced to prison, not execution. King Louis [[ScarpiaUltimatum agrees in exchange for a "favor]]".
* ''Film/TheOtherBoleynGirl'': Mary pleads with King Henry VIII to spare her sister Anne because, as her sister, Anne is one half of Mary. He doesn't want to hurt her, but [[YouShouldKnowThisAlready you know how it ends]].
* ''Film/{{Downfall}}'': Eva Braun begs UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler to spare her brother-in-law Hermann Fegelein, who was ordered to be executed for treason.
* In ''Film/TheTenCommandments'', Lila begs Moses for mercy for Joshua after he struck an Egyptian overseer while trying to save Moses' mother (though he didn't know it yet) from being killed.
* Lampshaded in ''The Furies'' (1950) where proud Juan Herrera chooses death by hanging rather than see his friend Vance, daughter of cattle baron T.C., humiliate herself.
-->'''Vance:''' Do you want me to beg? Do you want me on my knees to you for his life?
-->'''T.C.:''' I'd hang him anyway.
-->'''Vance:''' That's what he said.
-->'''T.C.:''' He did, eh? He always was smart.
-->'''Vance:''' And you're not! You're old and foolish and you're made a mistake -- [[WomanScorned it's me you should have hung!]] Because now I hate you in a way I didn't know a human could hate! Take a good long look at me, T.C. You won't see me again [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge until the day I take your world away from you!]]
* In Film/TheManInTheIronMask, D'artagnan pleads with King Louis to spare the life of [[spoiler:his twin brother, Philippe]], doing so in the name of his long years of devoted service, during which he never Louis asked for ''anything''. [[spoiler:It doesn't work, but Philippe escapes death via an inspired bit of BriarPatching, and is instead thrown in jail, where he is swiftly rescued by Aramais, Athos, Porthos, as well as D'artagnan, who has undergone a FaceHeelTurn]].

* The first book of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' has this toward the end, with [[spoiler:Sansa (unsuccessfully) begging Joffrey to spare her father]]. She learns from her mistakes by the second book, and when Joffrey decides in a fit of rage to execute Ser Dontos for showing up drunk at a tournament, Sansa convinces Joffrey to spare him by [[BriarPatching suggesting that it would be crueler]] to turn him into a court jester.
** Her mother, Catelyn, did this many years before on behalf of Petyr Baelish, after he fought a duel and got curb-stomped by her betrothed, Brandon Stark, for her hand in marriage. [[spoiler:Years later, this bit the entire kingdom in the ass as Petyr saw Catelyn's pleading for his life as demeaning and humiliating, and he sought revenge against the Starks and to become the most powerful lord in Westeros through trickery and manipulation to prove he's not a "boy" as Cate called him]].
* In the book ''Literature/TheOtherBoleynGirl'', Mary wants to plead with King Henry VIII to spare her sister Anne, but her husband talks her out of it by pointing out that if she does, she'll likely share the fate of her siblings.
* In ''The King of Attolia'' of Megan Whalen Turner's ''[[Literature/TheQueensThief Queen's Thief]]'' series, Teleus begs the Queen to reconsider executing him by [[spoiler:reciting the invocation to the Great Goddess that Eugenides recited when in her dungeons earlier.]]
** A interesting variation in that the Queen knows perfectly well that it's [[spoiler:Eugenides who told him to make the plea and what to say]]
* In "Hop-Frog" by Creator/EdgarAllanPoe, Trippetta begs the king to have mercy on fellow dwarf Hop-Frog. The king being the nasty piece of work that he is, it doesn't go well.
* In ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'': after the sister of Turgon, King of Gondolin, is wounded by her husband Eöl; she manages to convince Turgon to spare him. Since she dies in the night (the weapon was poisoned), Turgon is not so merciful in the end...
** When King Thingol finds out about his daughter Lúthien's tryst with the human Beren, Lúthien begs him not to kill him.
* In ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'', Guan Yu intercedes for Zhang Liao's life when Cao Cao wishes to execute him. This works out in Cao Cao's favour: Zhang Liao becomes a frighteningly effective general for him.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'' [[spoiler:Severus Snape tried to do this in regards to [[TheLostLenore Lily Evans]] after she became [[BigBad Lord Voldemort's]] primary target (along with her husband and son).]] [[spoiler:It didn't work, although it should be noted that Voldemort would have been willing to spare her for Snape if she had just let him murder her baby. [[TheSociopath This is his idea of an honest, good-faith attempt to keep his end of the bargain]].]]
* ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'':
** In ''Literature/{{Barrayar}}'', Count Vorhalas begs Aral Vorkosigan, then Regent, to pardon his son for the capital crime of dueling. Vorkosigan doesn't, and the dead boy's brother later tries to assassinate him for it, leading to Aral's son Miles being crippled in the womb.
** In ''Literature/TheWarriorsApprentice'', twenty years later, the tables are turned when Aral Vorkosigan is forced to beg Vorhalas not to press treason charges against Miles that would lead to his execution (and Miles is technically guilty). Count Vorhalas tells Aral to get on his knees like he did when he pleaded for his son's life, and then looks like he will go on to stick the knife in, but Miles [[CallingTheOldManOut calls him out for it]], warning that if he goes through with this he'll have to answer to ''Cordelia'' Vorkosigan for his revenge. The Count agrees not to lay the charges, but still votes an abstention in Miles's subsequent inquiry.
* Both [[WorthyOpponent Waverley and Talbot]] do this in ''Literature/{{Waverley}}'' to their respective lieges for each other. In Talbot's case it was downplayed as Waverley was asking that Talbot not be confined as a prisoner of war while his wife was sick and needed him.
* ''Literature/WordsOfRadiance'' (second book of ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive''): Variant. When Kaladin is thrown in prison for [[spoiler:accusing a highlord of murdering his own men]], King Elhokar wants him killed, or at the very least exiled. These are the standard penalties for such things, but Dalinar, the king's uncle (and also Kaladin's commanding officer) tells Elhokar that if he insists on doing so, Elhokar will make an enemy of Dalinar. Dalinar has spent the last six years fighting to keep the kingdom together and give Elhokar the power to be a worthy king--but he's willing to throw that all away for Kaladin. Elhokar ends up imprisoning Kaladin for a month. It later turns out that [[spoiler:Elhokar knew what he was doing was wrong all along. He was just jealous of Kaladin's heroism, so he derailed his own plan in order to punish Kaladin for being better than him. Elhokar apologizes and even begs Kaladin for "the secret of leadership," though unfortunately Kaladin is too depressed at the time to help]].


[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In first episode of ''Series/{{Blackadder}} II'', Blackadder becomes Lord High Executioner and kills one of the prisoners early so he can have the day off. After he's done that, the man's brother successfully convinces Queen Elizabeth to let him (the executed prisoner) off the hook. HilarityEnsues. [[spoiler:[[BumblingSidekick Baldrick]] killed the wrong guy by mistake.]]
* In ''Series/HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys'', Iolaus tries the second form with Hercules's EvilCounterpart. It seems to work, because that made the evil Hercules laugh, but he executes the prisoner anyway.
* In ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' King Uther is tricked into believing that his son Arthur has been placed under an enchantment by Guinevere, and orders her burnt at the stake as a witch. Arthur begs for her life, but the more hysterical he gets, the more Uther is convinced that he's truly under a spell.
** Twice, Arthur begs Uther to spare a man, once with Gawaine and once with Lancelot. The result is exile for both.
** Merlin also begs Arthur to change his mind about [[spoiler:banishing Gwen.]] It doesn't work.
* In the episode of ''{{Series/Firefly}}'' "Shindig," Mal sword fights a man and is about to lose, but Inara tells that man that she will accept his offer to stay with him if he spares Mal's life. Which Mal, being a CombatPragmatist, [[SubvertedTrope takes as an opportunity to sucker-punch his opponent]].
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': in "[[Recap/StarTrekS2E1AmokTime Amok Time]]", [[NotSoStoic Spock]] begs T'Pau to block Kirk from entering the [[InvoluntaryBattleToTheDeath Kal-i-fee]].
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' has an example during [[spoiler:the Dominion's occupation of the station.]] Dukat's (naive) daughter comes to him looking for a pardon for a friend caught trying to commit sabotage on a military base. Despite a full pardon for an enemy saboteur during a war being a relatively ''outlandish'' request (which she can't seem to grasp), Dukat's reaction (criminals are enemies of the state, they never deserve mercy) finally convinces her he really is one of the bad guys. Kira has similar results with Weyoun when she tries to invoke Bajoran territorial authority in the matter.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Sansa pleads with Joffrey to exercise mercy in his treatment of Ned. Obviously she intends for Joffrey to commute Ned's death sentence to banishment to the Wall, but Joffrey has Ned beheaded. Joffrey says later that before Sansa pleaded for Ned's life, he was going to have Ned hung, drawn, and quartered before he beheaded him.
--->'''Sansa:''' You said you'd be merciful.\\
'''Joffrey:''' [[MetaphoricallyTrue I was. I gave him a clean death.]]
** King Joffrey is annoyed when [[FailureKnight Ser Dontos Holland]] turns up drunk for his birthday tourney, and orders him drowned in a cast of wine. Aware of [[OffWithHisHead what happened last time]] she begged Joffrey for mercy, Sansa Stark convinces him it will be more humiliating to make Dontos his fool.
** Jaime Lannister asks his father and DragonInChief Lord Tywin Lannister to spare [[TheUnfavorite Tyrion]]'s life when he looks certain of being convicted by the KangarooCourt in which Tywin is acting as chief judge. Tywin claims his hands are tied until Jaime (the sole male heir if Tyrion dies) agrees to leave the Kingsguard (who are sworn not to take a wife or hold titles) and carry on the Lannister dynasty. Tywin agrees so quickly, [[ManipulativeBastard it implies he was aiming for this result all along]].
** Catelyn had to persuade Brandon to not kill Littlefinger.
* In ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', one of the mooks of VillainOfTheWeek, "The Mayor", pleads to his boss to spare another underling due for execution. He says that [[EvenEvilHasLovedOnes the other mook is his cousin]] and that he should take the blame for his cousin's failure, since he recommended him to the gang. The "Mayor" agrees to spare his cousin, [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor and then kills him]] to set an example.
* On ''Series/{{The 100}}'', Clarke begs Lexa, the Commander of the Grounders, to spare Finn's life. [[spoiler:Lexa refuses.]]

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* [[Literature/TheBible The Book of Esther]] ends with Esther pleading on behalf of all Jews.
** It also features an interesting subversion; after [[BatmanGambit being set up]] by Esther to admit to Xerxes his plan to kill the Jews, [[SmugSnake Haman]] throws himself at Esther's mercy. Cue Xerxes suddenly entering and seeing Haman [[NotWhatItLooksLike apparently attempting to rape his wife]]. Naturally, [[HoistByHisOwnPetard this does not end well for Haman...]]
** A [[ValuesDissonance depressing]] percentage of the books of Numbers and Leviticus consists of the Israelites (God's "[[ButtMonkey chosen people]]," by the way) doing something to piss Him off, God threatening to wipe them all out, Moses pleading with Him, and then God agreeing to destroy only a few thousand of them instead.
*** Honestly, after a few times, [[TooDumbToLive you'd think they'd learn]] that God is not someone to piss off.
** Although this same God agreed to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if 50 righteous people were found living in it. Abraham (who was pleading for the life of the city) was able to negotiate God down to 10 righteous people. Unfortunately, the only halfway decent people living in the city were Lot and his family (and even [[ValuesDissonance Lot offered his virgin daughters as rape-toys to his violent neighbors]] in order to save the lives of a couple of houseguests). Needless to say, Sodom and Gomorrah didn't stand a chance.

* In Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/RichardII'' (yes, the play of the second named king, not the third king), the Duchess of York begs the newly crowned King Henry to spare her son (who's been accused of treason).
** Though the convention is also parodied in the same scene, with the ''Duke'' of York going on his knees to plead for his son's execution.
* Creator/WilliamShakespeare was quite fond of this trope.
** In ''Theatre/MeasureForMeasure,'' aspiring nun Isabella goes to Angelo - the temporary ruler of Vienna - to beg for her brother Claudio to be spared a death sentence for violating an old blue law decreeing death for any man who impregnates a woman out of wedlock. Angelo's offer to spare Claudio in exchange for Isabella's virginity fuels the main plot of the play.
** In ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar,'' the conspirators plead for their friend to be pardoned just before they assassinate Caesar. (And Caesar gives a ridiculously arrogant speech claiming that he is so god-like as to be above pity... presumably to remove whatever sympathy the audience have for him and prepare them for his violent death.)
** In ''Henry V'' it's {{inverted}}: the conspirators against Henry argue ''against'' mercy for an enemy of the king, so that when he reveals their guilt, Henry takes immense delight in telling them that [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor they have convinced him that mercy is a bad idea.]]
** Also in ''Henry V'', Pistol pleads for the life of Bardolph, who has been sentenced to death for looting a church. Both Fluellen and Henry refuse to pardon him.
* Leonora in Verdi's ''Il Trovatore'', for her beloved Manrico's life. Count di Luna refuses to spare his rival until she agrees to be his. [[spoiler:([[DrivenToSuicide She never says she'll be alive for it]], though.)]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', Judge Zargabaath attempts this with Vayne Carudas Solidor to save [[spoiler:Drace]], his colleague Judge Magister, which is effectively a mix between a FourStarBadass and a JudgeJuryAndExecutioner, after [[spoiler:Drace's failed attempt to violently refute Vayne's claim to autocratic powers with the death of his father, the Emperor Gramis Solidor]]. Zargabaath's considerations were likely to have stemmed from pragmatic considerations - Drace was a very talented Judge Magister, one Judge Magister had [[NeverFoundTheBody gone missing in action for a few years now]], and another had perished in an accident, so they were running out of qualified men and women for the post - but given Zargabaath's portrayal as a reasonable and level-headed gentleman, sympathy probably wasn't out of the question. [[spoiler:Unfortunately, Vayne has Drace executed anyways.]]
* In ''VideoGame/Disgaea2CursedMemories'', the HotBlooded HonorBeforeReason-afflicted Adell is escorting the DefrostingIceQueen, Rozalin, back to her father, The [[EvilOverlord Overlord]], whom he plans to defeat for the good of all. Rozalin is quite sure he'll have no chance whatsoever against her father, being a [[PunyHumans Puny Human]] in a world of demons, and while she initially relishes the thought of him being squashed, her gradual defrosting - and his clear dedication to protecting her and keeping his promise of returning her to her father - begins to change her mind. Eventually, she resolves to follow this trope and beg the Overlord to spare Adell once they reach him. And, when you first encounter him and find him unbeatable, she actually follows through. This, however, only makes him more determined to kill you, since he fears what ThePowerOfLove could do to Rozalin...
* In the [[FanRemake AGD]] VideoGame/KingsQuestII, this is the correct answer to [[spoiler:one of the Cloud Spirit's tests.]]
** Also implied in VideoGame/KingsQuestIV on Edgar's part when Rosella is brought before Lolotte.
* Possible on the Light Side path of ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords''. Queen Talia wants to execute her traitorous cousin Vaklu, but the Exile has the option (being a Jedi and all) to convince her to let him stand trial instead. Note that this is '''optional'''. You suffer no alignment penalty if you let him die.
* This is a possible outcome at the Winter Palace ball in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'', depending on what evidence has been found and presented, and also depending on whether [[spoiler:Grand Duchess Florianne succeeds in killing Empress Celene. The Empress may sentence Grand Duke Gaspard to be executed for treason. The Inquisitor may be given the option to intervene and plead for mercy, resulting in him being exiled instead.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' have feudal relationships as one of background themes, so this situation appeared too. [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20030115 Agatha begs the Baron to spare Dr. Beetle]].[[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20090429 Zola begs Agatha to spare Gil]] (her only really nice moment). [[SubvertedTrope Not that either attempt was really necessary]]; the Baron considered Beetle too useful to execute even if he ''had'' committed treason (and was rather annoyed when Gil ended up semi-accidentally killing Beetle in self-defense) and Gil is Agatha's LoveInterest.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The Burghers of Calais are a particularly well noted RealLife example. (Read about it [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais here]].)
* According to John Smith, Pocahontas famously begged her father, the chief of the Powhatan, to spare his life in 1607 Virginia. Of course, depending on who you ask, the whole thing might have been a sort of initiation ritual, or Smith might have made the whole thing up in order to give Pocahontas a hero's welcome on her trip to England.
* Katherine of Aragon, UsefulNotes/HenryVIII's first wife, pleaded for the lives of the perpetrators of the Evil May Day massacre, when she saw how devastated their families were by the death sentence. In spite of the fact that the victims were mostly Spanish aliens, and she was a Spanish princess, she succeeded.
** A couple decades later, the same king received a similar plea from his third queen, Jane Seymour, for the rebels in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Unfortunately, Henry had changed considerably since the "Evil May Day" incident, and this time, the plea was not as well received...
* Roman dictator Sulla once ordered a number of political enemies killed, among them young UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar. When his followers reacted with this trope (Caesar was very young then), he stated that they had to be unintelligent if they failed to see any danger in the boy. Caesar still survived, and the rest is history.
* In the last days of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, Eva Braun tried to plead with UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler to spare her brother-in-law Hermann Fegelein from being executed.