The worst kind of hostage situation.
"Nobody move! I have a hostage. If anyone follows us, I'll kill myself and then her."
Differentiated from an ordinary Hostage Situation
in that the hostage taker and the hostage are one and the same. Double points if the person in question is pointing a gun at their own head.
This might be because the baddies want the hostage alive
, or the hero is dealing with a principled antagonist who just doesn't want any casualties. If not, it's just plain funny.
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Anime & Manga
- This is a classic threat by the desperate in Diplomacy. A given player in a situation will claim that he will move all his forces to face the one he is threatening, so that someone else will have a power vacuum to take advantage of, while the one threatened will get very little.
- Played with in an issue of the John Byrne's reboot: Superman gets to hear about a vigilante called Batman and goes to Gotham City to capture him. Batman holds him off by revealing that somewhere in the city is a man with a bomb strapped to him, and Batman is wearing a device that will automatically detonate the bomb if Superman comes too close. Superman agrees to keep his distance and watch Batman in action, they wind up working together to bring down the villain of the week, and at the end of the issue Superman admits that Batman's not as lawless as he'd heard, and he'd probably be willing to let Batman continue operating if it weren't for that strapping-bombs-to-innocent-civilians thing. At this, Batman explains (what neither Superman nor the audience had known up to this point) that the man with the bomb strapped to him was actually Batman himself.
- It's played with even more 20 years later. During Infinite Crisis, Kal-L, the Golden Age Superman, gets to relive Kal-El's life from his eyes. During this point, Batman tells Superman about the bomb and is shocked. Moments later, he calls his bluff, gets rid of the bomb on him and the two become friends.
- In Star Wars: Legacy, Cade Skywalker is being visited by the ghost of his ancestor, Luke, who wants him to stop wasting his life taking drugs, smuggling, and bounty hunting and instead embrace his family's legacy. Cade pulls a blaster, which Luke points out isn't going to hurt him since he's long dead. So Cade points it at himself.
Films — Live-Action
- Blazing Saddles. See the above picture. "Back off or this nigger gets it!" What makes this especially funny and awesome is that the townspeople who were about to lynch him moments before are suddenly saying things like "Won't someone help that poor man?".
Bart: Ooh baby, you are so talented — and they are so dumb!
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Zaphod Beeblebrox: As my first act as president, I am kidnapping myself, and I'm taking the ship with me!
- John Q.: A borderline case, in that his death would actually accomplish something.
- Will does this in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Initially, however, it only really leaves Barbossa and his men confused as to why they should care, and Will has to explain who he is - they need his blood to lift their curse.
- The Whoopi Goldberg movie Jumpin Jack Flash.
- The opening scene of Murder at 1600 features the protagonist (a D.C. homicide cop) trying to talk down a cracked government bureaucrat who is holding a gun to his own head in the middle of a busy street. Why is a homicide detective filling in for a hostage negotiator? Don't ask so many questions.
- John Connor tries this in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines against the Terminator sent to protect him. It doesn't work because it has enough programming on human psychology that John's threat was most likely a bluff.
- Tom Cruise's character does this in Knight and Day just to cause a scene and make a local fireman a hero. "Nobody move or I kill myself and then I kill her!"
- In the French movie RRRrrrr!!!, the leader of the Cheveux Sales (the Dirty Hairs) takes himself hostage in order to force the Cheveux Propres (the Clean Hairs) to give his tribe the secret of shampoo. When the Cheveux Propres utterly ignore his demands as expected, he actually follows through with his threat to kill the hostage. Yes, it's that kind of movie.
- In Love Happy, the Marx Brothers' final film, Harpo is being tortured for information, but he's too dumb to torture. He is getting hungry though. So when he breaks out he points a gun to his own head and starts eating.
- In S.W.A.T., the team's first assignment after passing the S.W.A.T. test is to deal with a "Polish hostage" (a forty-something mental patient off his meds, specifically).
Deeks: So what if he's Polish?
Hondo: Naw, it means he's one of those "anybody comes in, I blow my head off" type guys.
- In the Andrei Tarkovsky film The Sacrifice, Alexander is convinced that sleeping with his maid Maria will avert World War III. He gets her to go along with it by pointing a gun at his head.
- Max in Elysium holds a live grenade to his head and threatens to detonate it to destroy the valuable implanted information in his head, in order to force the Elysium mercenaries to allowing him onto their shuttle.
- Mel, in Shuttle attempts to escape a White Slavery ring by threatening to cut her face if they don't let her go.
- An Acceptable Target walks into a bank, holds a gun to his head: "This is a robbery! I've got a hostage!" The manager: "Let me guess, you want <currency of acceptable target's nation>?"
- A blonde finds out her husband has been fooling around on her, so she busts in on him and his mistress with a gun that she points at her own head. The husband screams "Honey, don't do it!" The blonde yells. "Shut up! You're next!"
- If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it a hostage situation?
- Dona Lolita, the heroine of the original Zorro novel, does this with a dagger, forcing the Alcalde's guards to let her escape.
- In Chris Hiemerdinger's Feathered Serpent, part 2, Melody threatens to kill herself if King Jacob kills a few of his men (who made a mess up) seeing as he needs her alive to convince her uncle to help him, he agrees. Granted, she doesn't have a gun, she uses a knife.
- In the Magic: The Gathering novel The Shattered Alliance, Lim-Dul comments on this trope after pulling a Grand Theft Me on Jaya Ballard.
Lim-Dul: I could threaten her, I suppose, but I would just be threatening myself, and that would be stupid. "One wrong move and I let myself have it."
- In Shatterpoint, Mace Windu takes himself hostage to coerce his renegade padawan Depa, referring to himself as "the only hostage a Jedi could legally take". He comments on it, later:
Depa: Only Mace Windu would think of taking himself hostage.
Mace: I was the only one available.
- The Dresden Files: In Grave Peril, Harry gets past Leanansidhe by poisoning himself. His friend has the antidote, which he'll exchange for Lea's word that she'll leave Harry alone for a year and a day.
- In the second Codex Alera book, Academ's Fury, Tavi holds a dagger to his own throat in order to make the Canim ambassador Varg back down, citing exactly what would happen if he (as one acting in the First Lord's name) should follow through on his threat. Varg is impressed by Tavi's cunning in this.
- In Harbingers, Jack uses this when the Ally has mortally wounded Gia and Vicky. Since he's the backup Chosen One, his threat to shoot himself if they die works.
- In Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn, Bigman Jones holds a needle-gun to his own head and threatens suicide to manipulate a group of Three-Laws Compliant robots—they are forced to do what he says, because they can't allow a human being to come to harm.
- Parodied in Making Money. Moist von Lipwig broke an insane artist out of jail so he could work on designs for the new paper money, but the artist thinks Moist is there to take him back to jail, so he attempts to commit suicide by ingesting poisonous paint. He does actually get the paint into his mouth, but he left the cap on.
Moist: Ah. You left the cap on. An amateur mistake.
Owlswick: There are people who commit suicide professionally?
- The Eighth Doctor, in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie. After getting stuck in traffic whilst pursuing the Master, the Doctor walks up to a nearby motorcycle cop and offers him a jelly baby, sneaks his gun away from him and proceeds to hold himself hostage in exchange for the cop's motorcycle. While the television movie is contentious with many fans, most agree that this scene in particular cemented Paul McGann as a credible Eighth Doctor.
- An old Saturday Night Live skit spoofing Lethal Weapon had Mel Gibson stick a gun in his own mouth whenever one of his requests was denied. It even worked over the radio.
- John Crichton, when faced with enemies that want him alive, holds himself hostage with his finger, saying, in a direct reference to Blazing Saddles, "Get back or the white boy gets it!" Moments later, he remarks upon their stupidity.
- Not the last time he threatens himself, either, since for many reasons a lot of people DO want him alive. He later walks around with a bomb strapped to himself and tells his adversaries it's set to go off if he gets upset.
- Much earlier, he used himself as hostage to get an explosive-laden shuttle in position for destroying Scorpius's Gammak base.
- In Burn Notice, Michael does this in the first season finale. It's one of the few times the trope isn't played for humor; it's actually plausible.
- Stargate Atlantis, Season 3 episode "Sateda": Ronon Dex is captured, along with Teyla and Sheppard, by villagers he previously met during his Runner days. They're planning to deliver him to the Wraith in exchange for their village to be spared. The elder refuses to free them even when Ronon put a knife under the throat of one of his jailers — so Ronon threatens to slit his own throat if they don't let Sheppard and Teyla go. The villagers are forced to yield since the Wraith were already summoned forth — and they wouldn't be very pleased to find Ronon dead, as they want him alive for an ultimate hunt.
- Done by the title character in The Invisible Man series.
- The bad guys wouldn't have minded if he wasn't pointing the gun at his head, because they needed the gland intact, and it was hooked into his brain. He ducks around a corner and shoots the gun off, then falls to the floor apparently headless. When the mook leans over the body to examine it, he kicks his gun out of his hand. Apparently nobody told the mooks that he can selectively make only parts of himself invisible, too.
- Also done in the pilot episode. Darien points a shotgun at his head and threatens to fire if the bad guys don't back off. Since what they're after is the invisibility gland in his brain, they do so. (Bonus points as Darien knows where in his head the gland is located and positions the shotgun for maximum damage)
- In the episode "7 Men Out" of NUMB3RS, Granger was getting ready to get one guy when the guy put a gun to his own head. Granger ordered him to drop the gun and the guy did. He tossed the gun at Granger and ran for it.
- Red Dwarf "Body Swap": after Rimmer steals Lister's body and runs off in Starbug, he holds a gun to his head and warns them not to follow "or the body gets it!".
- In Blue Bloods, done in the Season 1 finale by a dirty cop, when confronted by ESU and the Police Commissioner. The Commissioner's response? "We all have to die sooner or later."
- Attempted by Hyde in Jekyll, but the antagonist calls his bluff.
- In the second episode of Black Mirror, Bing threatens to cut his own throat on live television to prevent anyone from interrupting his speech.
- In The Secret Circle the ghosts of a coven of witches possess Adam and threaten to kill the "shell" unless they're given Blackwell's amulet.
- In the final episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Jack and Rex (the latter having had a full body transfusion of Jack's blood), pull this on the Three Families and their Mooks when in the Blessing — the Families can't shoot them, because if they do, their (well, Jack's) blood will be absorbed by the Blessing and undo the Miracle, restoring death to the world. The Family members present try to create a Sadistic Choice to stop them, but they go through with it anyway.
- In the pilot episode of Cracked Detective Aiden Black puts a gun to his own head in order to get the attention of a schizophrenic Serial Killer who was now trying to kill himself. By drawing attention to the fact that they were Not So Different (Aiden suffers from PTSD after a fatal shooting) Aiden is able to convince the killer to put down his knife and seek help.
- On Breaking Bad, Walt and Jesse tell Gus that, if he kills one of them, the other will force Gus to kill him as well.
- Irving Bubbalowe in Too Many Cooks gets out of the final conflict by doing this with a gun to his head.
- Played for drama in Mass Effect 1. The Colonist's background mission, "I Remember Me", has Shepard trying to talk down a deranged, suicidal girl who'd escaped from some batarian slavers.
- Also in Call of Duty's first Modern Warfare.
- Just like in Pirates of the Caribbean, Will threatens to kill himself in Kingdom Hearts II unless Barbossa lets Elizabeth (plus Sora, Donald, and Goofy) go free. Unlike in the film, this backfires thanks to Pete's presence, and everyone else is left tied up on the Interceptor.
- In the Tom and Jerry short The Missing Mouse, Tom hears news of an escaped white lab mouse who has swallowed a powerful explosive. Jerry, who has been painted white when shoe polish falls on him, pretends to be the mouse, trying to hurt himself and forcing Tom to stop him. Eventually, Tom figures it out, and that's when the real lab mouse appears...
- In the Deitch-era short "Mouse Into Space", Tom tries to prevent Jerry from leaving the house by holding a gun to his head. It doesn't work.
- A similar situation occurs in the Looney Tunes short The Unexpected Pest. Sylvester keeps a mouse around to chase every once in a while and keep his mistress from kicking him out. The mouse eventually figures out that Sylvester needs him alive to keep his happy home, and has the poor puddy tat scrambling to keep the mouse from hurting himself.
- In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry threatens to give himself permanent brain damage in order to get the parasitic worms out of his body in a situation that doubles as Taking You with Me.
- A variation is tried in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Blue Spirit and Aang were trying to escape a Fire Nation base but where surrounded and about to be killed. The Fire Nation commander, Admiral Zhao, warned his soldiers that they needed Aang alive...and the Blue Spirit immediately put his swords at Aang's neck, even though he needs Aang alive too. At first it looked it worked and Aang and the Blue Spirit left the base, but as soon as Zhao's elite archer were in position the Blue Spirit got an arrow in face for the trouble (luckily, Aang can run really fast and saved both).
- Played with a little in the Donald Duck short Clown of the Jungle, where the Aracuan bird begins crying and threatening to commit suicide when Donald gets too angry at his actions, causing Donald to back off. Towards the end of the cartoon, Donald finally has had enough, goes into a rage and tries to shoot the Aracuan, who suddenly finds his threats of suicide have completely lost their effect.
- In 1968 Ludvik Svoboda, a veteran of both world wars, was the president of Czechoslovakia, which was a completely powerless position because the country was controlled by the Soviet Union. He marched into the office of Leonid Brezhnev, the general secretary of the Soviet Union, and demanded the release of 26 Czechoslovakian political prisoners. When Leonid told him no Ludvik pulled out a pistol and said. "If I kill myself, my blood will be on your hands, and no one in the world will believe you did not murder me." Every one in the room knew he was right so rather then face the political fallout from his "murder" they released the political prisoners.