Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred
So the hero has a chance to kill the Big Bad
, or some other villain, but the villain actually wants this. He practically goads the hero into doing so. Often it's because My Death Is Just the Beginning
, or the villain is invoking If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him
and wants to push the hero off the Slippery Slope.
The latter motivation is exclusively the province of The Corrupter
Of course, this is often more than a Thanatos Gambit
— the villain doesn't necessarily intend to die. In these cases it's enough that they provoke the hero into making the attempt. Once the hero has turned on them with intent to murder, the villain has already proven their point.
The other times, the villain really
does want to die
. But they can't
, so they goad the hero into killing them
. After which they explain their true motive.
Whether this works or not depends largely on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
, but it does make for great dramatic tension no matter what. Heck, at least part of the time, the villain is taunting the hero because they know he won't do it
. Of course, this also means that the success or failure of this gambit hinges on whether or not the hero has any preexisting qualms about killing. Said villain might try this on an Anti-Hero
(especially with more extreme cases) and get his ass handed to him, due to the hero's lack of such moral restraints.
villains beware, this can also easily backfire if the hero realizes what the villain is trying to trick him into doing precisely because of the evil gloating.
May also backfire if the hero counters this with Not Worth Killing
or Cruel Mercy
Can overlap with What You Are in the Dark
. Compare with The Power of Hate
which is a focus of the power hate gives. Contrast Get It Over With
. The villain may employ taunts like pushing the Relative Button
, Reminiscing About Your Victims
, or asking Would You Like to Hear How They Died?
in order to get the hero to strike.
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Anime and Manga
- The Joker does this to Batman a lot. There was also one story where he did it to Superman - not just goading him, but making Clark believe that killing him was the only way to save Lois.
- There was a Superman story arc where Manchester Black, a "superhero" from waaaaay down the cynical end of the scale messes with Superman's life in an attempt to get him to admit that idealism has its limits. Culminates with him (apparently) killing Lois Lane right in front of Superman, willing to accept the consequences because if Superman snaps and kills him that means he was right all along. He fails, of course.
Films — Live-Action
- Named for Palpatine doing this a lot, including saying the exact trope name, to Luke in Return of the Jedi. Given he had years to work on Anakin and mere minutes with Luke, he must have been damn good to almost succeed too. In fact, he would have succeeded, if he had shut his mouth for just five minutes. It's worth noting that this is explicitly not a Thanatos Gambit; the real plan is to get Luke to kill Vader, giving The Emperor a fresh, young apprentice rather than a crippled (and dangerously ambitious) Dragon.
- Word of God says that this is why Obi-Wan doesn't actively finish off Anakin at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin's betrayal and the fight had left him in a bad place mentally, and if he killed him as it was, he'd leave himself open to the dark side's influence and possibly be around for Palpatine to show up and kill him, or leave Padme to die.
- The end of Se7en: John Doe uses the head of Mills' wife to provoke Mills into killing him in order to complete the seventh sin, Wrath.
- Invoked in a way similar to Se7en in Jim Haggerty's The Slasher, wherein the titular slasher tries to goad the officer hunting him into executing him once caught. The detective refuses, leading the slasher to mock him mercilessly about how he'll get off easy with a good lawyer. Before his trial, however, the detective organizes a group of the families of the slasher's victims to have their way with him instead.
- Possibly played with in Eight MM. Eddie Poole taunts Tom Welles, who has him at gunpoint, telling him he doesn't have the guts to pull the trigger - and he's right. Until Tom whips out his cell phone, calls the mother of the girl Eddie and his fellows killed for their Snuff Film, and lets her talk him into doing the deed.
- Done by Nitti to the protagonist Eliot Ness in The Untouchables. He's really just playing a Batman Gambit to toy with him, except it backfires. Badly.
- The Joker in The Dark Knight, as mentioned in the comic book section.
Joker: "Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. Hit me!"
- There are occasional hints in the original film of The Hitcher that the title character is trying to get Jim to kill him in order to fulfill this trope.
- Done in the climax of Danny the Dog, with the villain goading Danny to kill him, while his Morality Pet retorts that If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him.
- In the climax of Platoon, a wounded Barnes dares Taylor to kill him, which he does.
Barnes: "Go on boy! Do it!"
- The entire plot of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown deals with this trope.
- In The Dresden Files:
- In Changes Martin arranges that Susan learn he was the one who revealed her daughter's existence to the Red Court, so that she'll kill him and complete her transformation into a Red Court vampire. Very unusual in that Martin is a Well-Intentioned Extremist making a Heroic Sacrifice by doing so. This happens in a room where a bloodline curse has been prepared - when a person is killed as the focus of it the curse will destroy everyone who came before them. Since Susan's transformation happened seconds before she's the youngest of the Red Court, meaning that if she's killed this way the entire Court will be destroyed. He's trusting Harry to finish the job, and Harry does with Susan allowing herself to be sacrificed.
- In Skin Game Nicodemus does this to Karrin Murphy, "surrendering" with transparent insincerity while his minion still threatens. Of course, he has no intention of actually dying. But if his enemy tries to kill him after he's surrendered and while wielding one of the Swords of the Cross, the sword will lose power and he can break it.
- A thug called Roddy McGristle does this to Drizzt Do'Urden in Sojourn, but only after finding that a) he can't beat Drizzt and b) Drizzt can't kill him, leading to an impasse. Then Bruenor confronts him and he sees that he'd have no qualms about killing him. Or eating his dog's leg, apparently.
- Legacy of the Dragokin: Jihadain does everything she can to provoke Daniar into breaking her rule against killing. The reason behind this is that only lethal rage from a pure soul can revive Kthonia.
- Lord Foul the Despiser tries this one on the title character of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant at the climax of The Power that Preserves, final book of the initial trilogy- and then the ghosts of heroes who'd previously died fighting Foul show up and also try to convince Covenant it's a good idea. However, by this point Covenant has realized that Foul is merely the externalization of the potential for evil that exists in all people, so that while he can be killed temporarily, he'd only be stronger when he returned from such a death. So instead, Covenant finishes Foul not with violence, but with something he cannot possibly endure- true, joyful laughter.
- Raul Menendez does this to the player in the last mission of Callof Duty Black Ops 2. At the end of the mission, you slide down a building wreckage, shooting two soldiers (and De Falco, if he was not already dead) and knife Menendez to the leg before lunging on him and sticking your pistol to his head. At This point, Menendez will whisper to you: "Martyr me... for Cordis Die." If you do it, the ending reveals that a pre-recorded propaganda message, which was set to play after menendez's death, was shown all over the world, igniting the rage of his followers. Thus, Menendez becomes a symbol of the revolution, whose power is shown by us by riots at the steets, graffiti at the walls, and an image of the White House burning down.
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, this is what Master Xehanort has been doing to Terra all the way up to their final confrontation in order to make sure Terra's heart is at it's weakest so that he can Body Surf into a younger, healthier body.
- Inverted in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle by Travis right before the last part of the final battle.
Travis: Come on, prez! Unleash your hate! Your anger! Everything! I'll take it all, and fucking KILL YOU WITH IT!"
- And before then by Pizza Batt.
- Terumi quotes the Trope Namer verbatim to Noel in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Unlike Palpatine, he succeeds. Noel gets Drunk on the Dark Side and becomes Mu-12.
- After being defeated by Ragna, a delighted Terumi laughs and and again calls out to Ragna to "strike him down with all of his hatred". Ragna has a tough decision, and finally refuses, deciding that there are plenty of things that can make killing Terumi a bitch. It turns out that he wanted Ragna to kill him, so he could go to his ghost form and invade Takamagahara. Instead, Relius shows up and finishes off Terumi himself.
- At the end of the third Disc of Final Fantasy IX Kuja goads the party into attacking him specifically because he needs to harness their aggression and put himself in a state of physical desperation so he can Trance with the accumulated energy of all the souls stolen from the Invincible, gaining god-like power
- In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the Light Side Ending has Starkiller defeat Palpatine in a boss battle. Palpatine groans and says, "You were destined to destroy me. Do it. Give in to your hatred!" When Kota talks Starkiller down, Palpatine gets really pissed and blasts Kota with Force Lightning for interfering.
- In the second game, Darth Vader dares Starkiller to kill him when Vader is defeated. If you try it, Vader's Dark Apprentice will jump in and kill Starkiller.
- In the final chapter of Baldur's Gate 2 you face Sarevok, the Big Bad of the previous game, as one of hell's trials. He tempts you to use your Superpowered Evil Side on him. The good path is to not give in.
Sarevok: Yes! Stoke that infernal wrath of yours!
- In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Celia attempts this on Soma Cruz, in a gambit to make him the Dark Lord. Whether she succeeds or not depends on if Soma has a certain amulet equipped. If she does, it leads to a Bad End and a new game play mode where Soma is the final boss.
- In The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night, Gaul tells Spyro to finish him after being defeated. When Spyro doesn't attack, Gaul calls him a coward and laughs at his "weakness". Unfortunately for Gaul, while Spyro might not have finished him off, Dark Spyro is more than willing to and completely obliterates him.
- In World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, when you attack the Sha of Anger, a literal physical manifestation of anger, yells for all of the zone to hear "Yes, YES! Bring your rage to bear! Try to strike me down!"
- Kind of subverted, in that striking down these physical manifestations of negative emotion tends to purge the afflicted of it's influence. The player is rewarded by the Shado-Pan for exactly this reason.
- Also subverted in that the Sha of Anger dosen't actually want to be struck down (it just wants the anger from failed attempts) and sometimes during its respawn, it angrily states: "You will not bury me again!"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Expected from the franchise at this point, but often well executed. Sith NPC's will regularly try to bait light side characters and especially jedi with this.
- In Guile's original ending in Street Fighter II, once Guile grabs Bison by the collar and yells at him about his murder of Charlie, Bison replies with this and urges Guile to kill him. It's a good thing that Guile's wife and daughter show up and tell him "If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him" instead.
- In the backstory to Injustice: Gods Among Us, The Joker basically dares Superman to kill him, after the Joker used Kryptonite-laced fear gas to make Superman kill Lois and his unborn child, which resulted in Metropolis being nuked. This takes place in an alternate universe to the main one, so instead of what would be expected, Superman goes through with it.
- In Lunar 2:Eternal Blue, Lucia has the Big Bad Zophar in her sights and ready for her to finish. The rest of the party wonder why she's taking so long to do it and even Zophar starts telling her to do it. The reason she's hesitating as Zophar reveals is the only way to kill Zophar completely would result in the total eradication of all life on Lunar as well.
- Invoked by Serpent towards Vent/Aile at the climax of Mega Man ZX, after they've gone one-on-one in their Megamerged forms. He taunts them, which causes them to remember how he was responsible for their family's deaths and get extremely angry. Turns out though, their hatred and anger was the last key he needed to wake up the Model W core.
- In The Order of the Stick, Belkar (a Chaotic Evil protagonist) tries to get Miko (a nominally Lawful Good antagonist) to do this, just so she'd lose her paladin powers... and then Belkar could just get himself resurrected to mock her.
- Vaarsuvius later points out to Belkar that the Order of the Stick lacks the actual resources to resurrect him. To be fair, by then we already know that Wisdom is Belkar's dump stat.