"Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!"So the hero has a chance to kill the Big Bad, or some other villain, and the villain wants them to take it. He 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 like The Corrupter. 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 vs. 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. 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. This could then lead to Hero with Bad Publicity because he lacks such restraints; who looks like the aggressor in this situation? Genre Savvy villains beware, this can easily backfire if the hero realizes what the villain is trying to trick him into doing precisely because of the evil gloating. It may also backfire if the hero counters this with Not Worth Killing or Cruel Mercy. It 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.
— Emperor Palpatine, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
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Anime and Manga
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Jin-e is perfectly willing to die just to make Kenshin break his oath not to kill. Doing so will awaken "The Battosai" permanently. It fails at the last moment, thanks to Kaoru, so Jin-e is Driven to Suicide instead.
- In Monster, it turns out Johan did this to his sister Nina during the first episode, killing their foster parents and enticing Nina to shoot him. Obviously, she did. It eventually turns out he wants the protagonist Dr. Tenma (since he saved Johan and allowed him to continue being... who he is) to shoot and kill him to prove that human lives aren't equal.
- Kurt Godel in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
- Later, Dynamis.
- Noir had Altena doing this. She seemed to think the titular duo killing her would result in them becoming The Scourge of God. It's not clear if what happened "counts."
- Chrono Crusade: Aion does this to a weakened Chrono after the latter is hit with a blast from Rosette's gun. Aion believes Chrono has grown soft.
- In Trigun, Legato Bluesummers tries to goad Vash the Stampede into killing him. Vash is a Technical Pacifist who believes "no one has the right to take the life of another"; Legato knows that forcing Vash to betray his beliefs and kill him is the single most abhorrent thing he can do to Vash. In this case, it's more of a Despair Gambit than trying to push Vash off the slippery slope.
Legato: It's alright, kill me. It's simple. All you need do is pull the trigger. Once you've killed me, this will all be over. Come on. Time to choose. You have free will.
- Used in Lost Universe very much like Star Wars, with a twist. Just as Kain Blueriver is about to use a newfound ability to supercharge his Psychoactive Powers with Unstoppable Rage to slay Darkstar, Millie arrives just in time to reveal that's exactly what Darkstar wants, as part of a Thanatos Gambit in which Kane's fury and self-loathing will unleash Darkstar's true form. Because of this, the only way to beat Darkstar is to kill him without an ounce of hatred.
- Naruto inverts this: Naruto says that if he can't get Sasuke to make a Heel–Face Turn, then he's Taking You with Me. He's gotten Sasuke to promise to save all of his hatred for him and avoid killing anyone else until they fight. In the end, it doesn't happen
- Explicit in Fullmetal Alchemist's final showdown between Envy and Mustang. While not part of Envy's plan at all, the normally icy cool Mustang's allies are so horrified at the sadistic glee with which he's torturing Envy to death that they beg him to stop until he can realize what he's doing and cool off. This ultimately acts as something of a wake-up call that saves the character from the nihilistic death spiral he'd been in to that point, which would've led him to become as bad as the enemies he's fighting against.
- Envy actually gets very frustrated about this and tries to start him up again, because he knows he's not surviving this time and wants to bring Mustang down with him. And then Ed sympathizes with him, which disturbs him so much he commits suicide then and there.
- In the first anime Greed does this to Edward, by intentionally provoking him to a Duel to the Death on false premises. He does this because he knows he's a goner anyway and his choices are throwing himself at the Big Bad's mercy (whom he hates) or Suicide by Ed (which will teach Ed how to kill so he has a fighting chance against the Big Bad later). Ed kills him.
- Uttered by Yomi to Kagura at the end of Ga-Rei -Zero-. By that point, everything that Yomi cared about was destroyed, some of them by her own hands while being Brainwashed and Crazy, so she believed that death by the hands of her own adopted little sister is the only way she can retain some dignity out of the whole mess.
- Reilan does this in Haou Airen. When Hakuron rescues Kurumi from being gangraped by Reilan's henchmen, instead of giving in she begins to arrogantly taunt him, saying among other things that this is her revenge for having her innocence stolen away by him, and warning Kurumi that she will be thrown away later. This being Hakuron, he does shoot Reilan dead... And this is what she actually wanted.
- Near the end of InuYasha, the villain Naraku employs two particularly devious instances of this:
- In one, he possesses a priestess and has her attack the heroine Kagome, trying to force Kagome to choose between allowing herself to be killed or killing the priestess in self-defense. However, because the priestess is currently committing evil under demonic possession, she will apparently be condemned to hell if Kagome kills her in this state; and if Kagome willingly chooses to kill her knowing this, she will lose her holy powers and cease to be a threat to Naraku anyway. Kagome manages to Take a Third Option by finding a way to exorcise the priestess of Naraku's possession.
- In the other, Naraku has protagonists split up within the final dungeon. He shows the warrior Sango that her love interest, the monk Miroku, is about to sacrifice himself to try to destroy Naraku, without realizing that it is only an illusion of Naraku that he would destroy. He uses the Anti-Hero Sesshoumaru's Morality Pet Rin as a Human Shield, and tries to get Sango to choose to kill Rin in order to destroy him and save Miroku, which would further corrupt the sacred Shikon Jewel with darkness (as well as probably turn Sesshoumaru against Sango and possibly the rest of the protagonists). To top it all off, unbeknownst to her, the Naraku speaking to Sango is actually just another illusion, so Sango wouldn't actually hurt him or save Miroku at all. The plan successfully tricks her into trying to sacrifice Rin, contributing to the corruption of the jewel, although the other protagonists manage to save Rin, and Sesshoumaru remains focused on Naraku as the enemy (and even refuses the grief-stricken Sango's "Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You!").
- 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.
- In the Superman story arc What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way? (adapted into the animated film Superman vs. the Elite), 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.
- The Green Goblin has tried this on Spider-Man a few times.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic Difficult To Fight Against Anger, Warren Mears taunts Willow by suggesting that, when he was raping Tara, he got the impression that she isn't all the way gay. This is completely intentional, to get her to lash out at him with magic, so he can absorb her spells. He even says "Strike me down with all of your hatred!" at one point. This is Warren, after all.
- Peace Forged in Fire: Tal'Shiar Colonel Merik tr'Kiell tries to provoke D'trel to kill him by ranting about how he helped rape her lover to death decades before. It backfires: D'trel decides death by exploding starship is too merciful. Daysnur later determines the intent was to deny intelligence to the enemy—the Self-Destruct Mechanism and computers had been knocked offline so he couldn't get rid of the data himself. Still disgusting.
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. It helps that he had Vader to trigger the Big Brother Instinct by threatening Leia. 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 8mm. 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!"
- In The Purge: Election Year, the Ax-Crazy Owen encourages Dwayne to purge him when being held at gunpoint. He doesn't oblige to that.
- 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.
- In Smallville, Legion, Brainiac taunts Clark to kill him. Clark couldn't bring himself to do it because he is in Chloe's body.
- In an early episode, Dean does this to a very pissed-off Sam who's had his head messed with by a ghost. Dean even hands Sam a gun and tells him to do it. Sam does. The gun isn't loaded. Dean's not stupid.
- In season 4, Lilith pulls this with Sam when he'd rather reunite with his brother than kill her like she wants him to so he'll inadvertently start the apocalypse.
- In season 5, a captured demon gloats to an enraged Sam that he killed Sam's now dead girlfriend Jessica and just how much he loved doing it, and when Sam prepares to slit his throat he's goading Sam into killing him, because it will ruin the Winchesters' plan. Sam eventually resists the urge.
- A wily serial killer who Gibbs caught years before NCIS started asked to see Gibbs again days before his execution date, taunting and teasing that he'd tell where the bodies are kept. This is the guy who turned Gibbs from a jovial jokester like DiNozzo into the jaded guy he is in the show. He wants Gibbs to kill him in an attempt to ruin Gibbs, since he's less than a day away from execution anyway.
- A rare heroic variant occurs in the Doctor Who episode "Victory of the Daleks," when the Doctor is trying to get the "Ironsides" that Winston Churchill insists are robots created by the Allied special forces to admit they are actually Daleks, only to be constantly told by them that they do not understand, that they are his soldier, and would he care for some tea? He finally flies into a violent rage and beats one of them with a giant wrench while screaming at them to show everyone how evil they really are. It's unclear if he's exhibiting Death Seeker behavior, if he's too angry to think about what he's doing, or too angry to care either way:
The Doctor: Fight back! I know you will! You hate me! You want to kill me! Well go on! Kill me! KILL ME!!
- In Cold Blood, a Silurian called Aleya attempts to provoke her human captors into killing her, so that it will spark an interspecies war.
- In a rather Nightmare Fuel-inducing use of this trope, the Daleks in "Hell Bent" beg the Doctor to do this to them because they are trapped in an And I Must Scream-inducing prison. Fridge Horror kicks in when you remember that earlier in the season it was revealed that the Daleks' speech circuitry rewords the Daleks' speech for them, so they might be saying something even more extreme than "Exterminate me!".
- In Lost Girl, Lachlan's treatment of Lauren is basically one Kick the Dog moment after the other. Bo finally confronts him on it and seems hell bent on killing him. He eventually drops his sword and encourages her to do so. Naturally, she doesn't. He then reveals that his treatment of Lauren and goading her to kill him was a test. There is something much worse coming (that feeds off of anger), and he had to make sure she was up to the task of confronting it. He notably becomes more likeable afterward, and treats Lauren better.
- In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the evil god Dahak possesses Iolaus and goes on a rampage. When Hercules fights him, Dahak keeps goading him to kill him. It is pointed out that if Hercules does kill him while he's in Iolaus' body, then Iolaus will go to Hell along with Dahak. It will only be a minor setback for the evil god, while the forces of good would lose a good warrior and it will tip the scales of the cosmic balance to evil. Fortunately, Hercules manages to enter the body's mindscape, where he and Iolaus defeat Dahak together.
- Played with in the last episode of season 4 of Covert Affairs, in which Henry Wilcox gives Annie a Not So Different speech, slides her a gun, and dares her to shoot him. The gun has no bullets in it, and Annie guesses as much without even bothering to try shooting him first, as she knows exactly how Henry works.
- In the second season of Hannibal, Hannibal Lecter encourages Will Graham's fantasies of killing him.
- In the Haven episode "The Lighthouse", William congratulates Audrey for shoving him through the door between worlds, which he had previously described as consigning him to a Fate Worse Than Death. Committing this act is the thing that finally frees William's beloved Mara (who had been trapped inside Audrey's mind) from her punishment.
- Happens twice in Agatha Christie's Poirot:
- Toward the end of Five Little Pigs, after the denouement, Elsa Greer walks out after being found out that she was Amyas Crale's murderer, and dares his daughter Lucy to shoot her. Hercule Poirot walks in and tells Lucy to spare Elsa, warning her, "If you kill her, you kill yourself." Lucy finally heeds his advice and breaks down, sparing Elsa and leaving her defeated.
- Towards the end of Curtain, when Poirot tells Norton that he (Poirot) will execute him, Norton pulls off this stance and dares him to do it, as in a Suicide by Detective. He contends that Poirot's hastiness and "corruption of goodness" will destroy him; Norton then pulls off a "Doomed Moral Victor" speech in a "Break Them by Talking" manner when he claims that God will find him innocent at the judgment and that Poirot's reputation will be blown to bits. Poirot doesn't care, though, as he is already dying of a heart condition and has to kill Norton anyway.
- 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 its 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.
- Sith Warrior players can get in on this, too. At one point Warriors have the option to mock a pair of Jedi while steadfastly refusing to pull their weapon first- even claiming to be a better Jedi than the Knights he's facing! It actually works on one of them, but he doesn't live long enough to regret or revel in his fall to the Dark Side.
- 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: 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.
- Big Bad Claudia in Silent Hill 3 keeps goading Heather to hate her in order to have her birth God, who dwells in Heather's body. When Claudia had a monster kill Harry Mason, Heather's father, it gave Heather enough hatred to go and seek Claudia out so she could kill her. Because the cult's God feeds off of hatred, Heather sometimes doubles over in pain. Should you try to shoot Claudia at the end of the game, Heather completely collapses and the God bursts out of Heather's body.
- 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.
- Lex Luthor does this to Superman in Justice League Unlimited, taunting Supes to kill him for apparently causing Flash's death so he will become like his Justice Lord counterpart.
"This is the part where you kill me, right? Go on, use your heat vision. You know you want to."
- Megatron does this to Jack in Transformers Prime in the episode "Rock Bottom", daring Jack to kill him while he's trapped after a cave-in. Jack doesn't take the bait.