"I'm a bookkeeper's son I don't wanna shoot no one Well, I crossed my old man back in Oregon Don't take me alive! Got a case of dynamite I could hold out here all night Yes, I crossed my old man back in Oregon Don't take me alive!"
A depressed or desperate individual wants to end their own life, but, for various reasons (a desire to make a point, insurance, programming, moral aversion to suicide), is not willing to do it themselves.
Instead, they engineer a situation in which someone else will be forced to do it for them. The "classic" scenario involves a criminal indiscriminately attacking Innocent Bystanders or police so that they will be forced to shoot. More sympathetic characters, however, will simply pull an unloaded gun or realistic toy gun on a police officer and hope they respond with lethal force. In real life, it is fairly common; a recent study showed that at least 36% of officer-involved shootings in the U.S. are suicide-by-cop attempts.
Could be broadly applied to any situation where a character attacks specifically because the expected reaction from the relevant authorities will cause the desired outcome, such as a Cold War scenario in which a megalomaniac United States general attacks the Soviet Union because the Soviet counterstrike would kill him (and a few million others, but who's counting?).
Unfortunately, there are documented cases of this happening in the real world. Let's leave it here. Police are trained to disable if at all possible because of this trope (at least when it's obvious that this is being attempted, which isn't always obvious in the heat of the moment), so don't count on it working just as planned.
It's also possible to commit it accidentally - Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet! is unfortunately Truth in Television. Avoiding this is why you never touch or move threateningly at a police officer, you never make movements that could be seen as reaching for a weapon around cops, and why you never brandish or carry a prop or fake weapon (much less a real one) in a way that suggests immediate use when one could possibly come into contact with police. (If you carry fake or prop weapons in public, you're advised to make them look safe at first glance with proper paint/markings/other "safety bonding," and openly carried firearms in areas where it's legal to open carry should be holstered in closed holsters.)
The Up to Eleven variant of this trope is Suicide by State, in which the person commits a crime which bears the death penalty and gets executed. This has really happened in Real Life - it was a popular method used by really desperate Scandinavians and Germans in a time when suicide was considered an unforgivable sin. By killing an innocent child, it was figured, both win; the child is innocent and goes to Heaven, you get to repent and prepare for death, and in the end the state lops your head off or hangs you or whatever and everyone wins. It's also happened more recently: John David Duty is widely suspected of having committed the murder that got him executed (when he was already in prison, for kidnapping) as a form of suicide. In Taiwan a cancer patient got recently death penalty from hospital arson which led to death of several patients at his ward: he had been denied the euthanasia he had requested.
Compare My Death Is Just the Beginning, where the death is part of an ongoing plan; if it's not that, it tends to be a Thanatos Gambit. See also Death Seeker for a character built around this. When you send someone else to get killed (by the police or any other armed force), it's The Uriah Gambit. This is related to I Cannot Self-Terminate.
This is a Death Trope, so expect spoilers.
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Anime and Manga
Eden: It's an Endless World! has a Tear Jerker example. A girl in a skyscraper full of people holding a bomb about to explode tries to throw it through a window. However, the window does not open, and she is out of bullets. She then threatens the police with her empty gun, so that they will shoot her, destroy the window, and send her falling outside with the bomb.
Naruto's Itachi Uchiha had an extreme subversion of Suicide By Cop well, brother, anyway. He came up with a plan and waited SEVEN years before having his brother kill him in a blaze of glory. In those seven years he did everything possible to drive the boy insane just to make sure he would kill him. The subversion is that he's ostensibly doing this for Sasuke's benefit and for other noble reasons, but his plan backfires spectacularly with nearly all of his goals save Sasuke's strength in ashes at this point.
Then there's Haku, who plays this straight at first.
Before either of them... Rin Nohara, doubling with Heroic Sacrifice. The Three-Tailed Beast had been sealed inside her by agents of Kirigakure, and intended for Rin to return to Konoha, where the beast would break out and rampage, destroying the village. Instead, when Kakashi tried to kill one of the Mist-nin pursuing them, Rin chose to save her village from this fate by putting herself in the way of his attack, which resulted in both she and the Sanbi (temporarily, in the Sanbi's case - Tailed Beasts cannot truly die, being living chakra, though they take some time to reform after their host dies with the beast still sealed in them) dying and thwarting Mist's plan. Cue Obito undergoing a Face-Heel Turn out of grief over her death, and the rest is history.
Pet Shop of Horrors: Count D's father did this, initially intending the FBI Agent to do it, yet having Leon Orcot put the bullet through his head in the end.
Another example is when the Black Knights betray Lelouch. Lelouch, still grieving over Nunnally's apparent death and now cornered by Schneizel, pretends to be a Manipulative Bastard and fakes a Kick the Dog moment with Kallen in order to get them to kill him and spare her. Then Roloshowsup.
Madlax has a war-tired general who realizes that the war plaguing his country is orchestrated by The Syndicate (and he is but their pawn, too) and hires the eponymous Action Girl to assassinate him in broad daylight as his final act of defiance. The episode also serves to introduce The Rival to the girl, Dark Action Girl Limelda, who was assigned to protect the general.
Carris tries this in Gundam X after a bit of a Freak Out, pointing at Garrod with an empty gun to trick the other into shooting him dead. He gets better, however.
Magic Knight Rayearth, which turns out to be from the POV of the "cops". The girls have been summoned to "save" Princess Emeraude by killing her, so she can be released from her duty as Pillar of Cephiro, in which role she has been gravely compromised since she fell for her Guardian, Zagato, and Cephiro itself started to die since she couldn't fully dedicate herself to it.
Johan loves this trope. He tells both Dr. Tenma and Anna to shoot him in the head pretty much whenever they meet. He wants Tenma to kill him because it would mean making him admit that all life is not equal, and the implication is that he's so far gone that the only way he feels he can die is by making another person have to do it.
Michio Yuki can provoke anyone to kill him, including Garai.
Rukia from Bleach viewed the possibility of being executed as this, since she was a Failure Knight who had to kill her Big Brother Mentor and first love when he was taken over by a Hollow. Ichigo, Orihime, Ishida, Chad and yoruichi disagree, and ultimately they rescue her and show her that she's loved and deserving to live through.
Judai from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, after his whole takeover of the Dark World thing. Though he was trying to commit suicide by former underling, technically. He did believe that was the only way to make up for his sins at the time. He learned differently, but he still tried.
Beelzemon of Digimon Tamers attempts this; during his Villainous BSOD, he walks up to a group of Digimon who's friends he'd slaughtered earlier and stands there. Eventually they notice and attack him, and while he's obviously in pain, he doesn't even try to fight back despite being able to kill them all in seconds. After they spare him and leave him for dead he simply lies there, and when Renamon and Rika show up looking for him he essentially tells them to let him die.
One episode of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou (and the manga story it was based on) involved Yorihisa's childhood friend/rival, a Nue, kidnapping Akane to force Yorihisa to go after him — it is made clear that he has no interest in Akane herself as he promises to set her free once Yorihisa arrives. The Nue is eventually revealed to have been poisoned by a member of the Oni clan, with the poison gradually driving him mad and causing him to turn into an uncontrollable monster. He guessed (correctly) that Yorihisa will choose his current duty over his past connections and save Akane at all costs even if it means killing his friend. Tear Jerker ensues.
This is more or less what Soichiro Yagami ultimately does in Death Note. After his daughter Sayu is abducted and used to blackmail him, after he's forced to choose between surrendering the Artifact of Doom to the Mafia or sacrificing his life and hers, he chooses to take the shinigami eyes and halve his life. Turns out he didn't have that long to live, regardless.
Done in Gantz by Izumi, who guns down hundreds of civilians in a crowded Tokyo train station so that he'll be killed and sent to the Gantz.
Death Seeker Grisel Gegenhuber (aka Hube) got a yojimbo gig for a total asshole in hopes of this, after being sequentially 1) exiled in disgrace on a Snipe Hunt for being a reckless commander, although the person who started the war for dumb reasons got off scot-free; 2) almost died a lot and suffered from racism; and 3) met his true love (in what was destined to be a Mayfly-December Romance) and was separated from her for what he believed to be forever.
Unfortunately, as soon as he saw Conrad in town his goal became to get his homeland's famous swordsman to kill him, and to that end he attacked the guy The Ace was protecting...then found out that that was the new king of his country, and he was now a traitor as well as an exile.
In the anime version of Trigun, this is an interpretation for Vash's complete failure to say a word or make a move in his own defense while being lynched by the town that recognizes him as the Stampede, in the episode after he shoots Legato in the head. He wasn't actually catatonic, but he kept acting as though he was while they tied him to the back of a truck and dragged him around on his face.
Of course, Vash "disapproves of suicide more than anything," so if he is doing this it's probably subconscious.
In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Marcoh brings up the Ishvalan war in front of Scar in the hopes that Scar will lash out and kill him for his own role in it. It fails, though.
Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi: Although he claims he wants revenge, this is Julie's subconscious goal when he attacks the immortal Hampnie, and Hampnie refuses to kill him.
In the filler Asgard saga from the Saint Seiya anime, the warrior Volker mixed this with Thanatos Gambit. He deliberately abused his adoptive son Mime and goaded him into killing him via revealing that he had killed Mime's parents, all of this when Mime was a pre-teen — both to die fighting instead of from a long-time illness, and to atone for having killed Mime's mom and dad by pretty much accident instead of in the middle of Rape, Pillage, and Burn.
During the second episode of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Cicciolina set up the events of the episode (excluding the flashbacks) to manipulate a Mafia Bodyguard named Jigen. She stole his Magnum, and sent him a message to meet her in an old church. She brought her goons there to shoot at him, knowing he was a better shot. She got her men killed and aimed Jigen's Magnum at him, manipulating him so that she could die by his hand.
In the newest X-Factor series, a dupe of Jamie Madrox does this by shooting a corrupt police chief in broad daylight with a horde of other cops standing around him.
Similarly, previously suicidal Rictor goes up against a horde of cops, armed with only a paintball gun. Later, Guido calls him on it.
In Y: The Last Man, Alter does something similar, murdering Agent 355 in order to bait Yorick into avenging her. Yorick sees through her and leaves her alive. The twist is Alter insists her death be at a man's hands - a good deal of the conflict in the series wouldn't have happened if she'd just been alright letting another woman kill her.
In an issue of Spiderman serial killer The Sin-Eater a.k.a. Stanley Carter holds a boy hostage pointing a shotgun at his head prompting the police to shoot him, as it turns out he had done this intentionally as he was depressed and before he dies he reveals the gun was empty.
Tarantula tried to duplicate Spider-man's powers through genetic engineering but instead became a giant spider. Saddened, he jumped in front of a volley of police bullets to kill himself.
In a Spider-Man VS Wolverine one-shot, Spider-Man gets embroiled in a case in East Berlin when Charlie, a female ex-KGB agent and longtime friend of Wolverine's, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against her KGB superiors. Not wanting to be tortured by the KGB, she wants Wolverine to kill her. Spider-Man intervenes (he thinks that either Charlie or the KGB had killed Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds) and he and Wolverine fight each other furiously. Dazed after the fight, Spider-Man feels a hand on his shoulder. Thinking it's Wolverine, he turns and hits the person, hard. Turns out to be Charlie and the blow is lethal, which is what she wanted. Suicide by superhero.
Spider-Man accuses Green Goblin of trying this during the "A Death in the Family" storyline, when Green Goblin puts Flash Thompson in a coma and then goes public with claims that Gwen Stacy died due to Spider-Man failing to safely catch her body when it fell off the bridge, and making claims of having sex with Gwen. We never find out from Norman if Spider-Man was right or not, though the ending implies that Norman could have murdered Spider-Man with a gun in his desk drawer during his Hannibal Lecture leaves it vague.
In The Ultimates volume 3, Hawkeye nearly goads Wolverine into killing him by shooting him from a short distance.
There is a strong case to be made for Rorschach trying this in Watchmen. Alan Moore himself has stated that Rorschach had a king sized death wish, and he knew that Dr. Manhattan would try to stop Rorschach from revealing the truth. Rorschach may not have engineered the scenario, but he willingly embraced death.
Subverted in an issue of The Punisher, as after chasing the Big Bad all over the city, Frank finally cornered him, only to have probably the only thing close to an honest cop catch up and point a gun to HIS head. Frank ends the Mexican standoff by tossing Big Bad his own gun. Big Bad makes to shoot Frank, causing the cop to kill him instead.
The Cavalier (Hudson Pyle) does this in the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight arc "Blades", purposely charging the cops and getting gunned down.
In V for Vendetta, V corners Finch in a subway but allows the cop to shoot him a few times. But they both knew that if both sides actually tried to kill the other, V would have won with his throwing knives.
Karolina attepted this in an early issue of Runaways, but it backfired. It turns out that Majesdanian blood is poisonous to vampires.
The Joker attempts this in "The Last Laugh". However, he called it "Suicide by Super-Hero" since it was Nightwing.
In Ultimate Spiderman Norman Osborn begs S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to kill him after he unthinkingly beats his own son to death as the Green Goblin.
The Mighty Thor does this to The Sentry at the end of Siege after the pummeling he receives knocks him back into his normal persona. He begs Thor to kill him, but while Thor initially refuses, demanding justice, the reemergence of the Void forces Thor's hand and he blasts him with lightning.
In the inaugural story arc in Solo Avengers, Hawkeye's old Evil Mentor Trick Shot torments the Avenger for months before finally tracking him down to an uninhabited island and challenging him to a duel. After Hawkeye deliberately missed, Trick Shot revealed he was dying of cancer and that all this was a ploy to provoke Hawkeye into killing him. He didn't want to die in some hospital bed, he certainly wasn't going to kill himself, and Hawkeye was the only one who could possibly best him in a contest of skill.
Done by the Just Like Robin Hood outlaw Railroad Bill in Jonah Hex. Bill works the lever-action on his empty rifle and points it Jonah as Jonah orders him to drop it, forcing Jonah to shoot him.
Inverted in Red Hood and the Outlaws — Arsenal had attempted suicide by crook when he picked a fight with Killer Croc. Croc thought he was so pathetic he just forced him to enroll in A.A.
One citizen in Judge Dredd, having converted to the Cat'lic religion and given an implant designed to manipulate his behaviour to that of a fundamentalist for his wife, finds that after she dies, he has no reason to live due to having disowned all his friends at the wedding. Since suicide is a sin, he begins training himself to go up against the one man guaranteed to kill him, Judge Dredd. It's subverted, though, as Dredd manages to arrest him and arrange to have the implant removed so that the man can serve his cube sentence, for which he is grateful.
In The Coiners' Paper Trail Andromeda Tonks got Harry to babysit her grandson and then went out to confront Thorfinn Rowle. Harry referred to the situation as "suicide by Death Eater" while telling Snape about it.
Yakumo in Black Flames Dance in the Wind: Rise of Naruto asks Naruto to kill her. After Kurenai apparently convinces her otherwise, she waits until his back is turned then charges him with a weapon in hand. Naruto instinctively turns around and stabs her through the heart, realizing afterwards her "weapon" was a paint brush.
The main character in Falling Down draws a water pistol during a stand off, and is shot by a cop because other methods of suicide would result in loss of his life insurance policy.* This does NOT work in Real Life, because insurers will not pay benefits if a loss is incurred in the commission of a felony, which you are unquestionably committing by the time police have their guns on you. While falling backwards, he notes that he would have won - he squirted the cop before getting shot.
An example of the aforementioned "megalomaniacal general" is given in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in the form of an artificial intelligence. The T-800, describing Judgement Day to John Connor, mentions that Skynet attacked Russia because it knew that the Russian counter-strike would eliminate its enemies in the United States.
In The Chase the main character, after having run from the police for most of the movie, finally realizes it's not going to work, and that he's putting his hostage-turned-love-interest through a lot of danger. Consequently, he releases the (reluctant) girl and gets out of the car. A deep, slow-motion, underwater-sound scene follows, in which he looks around at the massive police force surrounding him and smokes a last cigarette. Then, suddenly, he makes a gun shape with his hands and rapidly points it at the cops. He is shot countless times and falls down, dead... and then he blinks and shakes his head: it was just an Indulgent Fantasy Segue, and he's still in the car.
In Dogma, the rogue angels Bartleby and Loki planned to become human, then absolve their sins through plenary indulgence, and die, thus getting back into heaven. Suicide would be a strict no-no, so Bartleby killed a bunch of people, planning to be cut down by the police as he exited the church (the murder coming before the absolution of their sins). On a larger scale, the villain Azrael plotted to trick God into being forced to destroy the entire universe, just so that he would no longer suffer in Hell.
In Minority Report, Anderton is trying to prevent a future in which he kills a man, and nearly succeeds... only for the man to commit Suicide By Pre-Cop.
The otherwise rubbish movie Jimmy Hollywood has a good subversion of this trope at the end - surrounded by cops after his vigilante spree and with things looking bleak, Jimmy - determined to make a big exit - decides to go out fighting; loading his guns with blanks, he aims to pull a Suicide by Cop. So he bursts out of the building, guns blazing... and nothing happens. Turns out his girlfriend told the cops his guns weren't loaded.
In Se7en, John Doe murders Mills' wife, angering Mills into shooting Doe, which completes the set of seven sins (wrath).
In Bulworth, the title character purchases a 10 million dollar life insurance policy, then places a hit on himself to be performed within the next two days. He then tries to ruin his image by being completely unrestrained in his political opinions to give plausibility to his assassination. Ironically enough, this ends up working in his favor and when he tries to call off the hit, he finds that his contact to the mafia suffered a heart attack.
The police in Phonebooth suspect the main character of attempting this, and actively seek to defy it. Of course they're Wrong Genre Savvy as Stu doesn't want to commit suicide, he's being held hostage by a man with a sniper rifle aimed at the booth.
At the end of Odd Man Out, Cathleen kills both herself and her lover this way. Although, to be fair, he was already bleeding to death and wanted by the police, so it's really an act of mercy.
In Fallen, the hero John Hobbes (a cop) is forced to shoot someone who he thinks is attempting Suicide by Cop. However, it turns out the demon he's hunting possessed the victim, and then possesses one of the witnesses in order to frame Hobbes for murder.
In the movie Reign Over Me, Charlie Fineman attempts suicide through this method. However instead of being shot by the cops, he is instead tackled and arrested.
Walt's plan of getting rid of a well-armed street gang in Gran Torino is to psych them into gunning him down in full view of the neighborhood. Presumably, the neighbors would be inspired by his courage and come forward as witnesses instead of being scared into keeping their mouths shut, like they did with the gang's other crimes. To do so, Walt makes a racket calling them out, including mentioning one of them raped his own cousin to prove a point, stuff no one can ignore.
In The Constant Gardener, we gradually realize that the hero is doing this. In investigating his wife's murder by a conspiracy, he eventually learns enough to force the conspiracy to kill him in the same way and the same place as his wife.
In The Dark Knight, the Joker wants Batman to kill him, and thus prove that there is no difference between the two of them.
The French noir classic Le Samourai, starring Alain Delon, is a textbook example.
S.O.B.: Felix, the director, kidnaps a security guard using a water pistol and forces a movie film he wants to take to be brought out of storage. Confronted by the police, he points the pistol at them, and he is shot and killed.
Takers had an inversion and then played it straight in another case. When one of the bank robbers is cornered by a detective he aims his gun at the cop but the cop just lets the robber shoot him. The cop has been caught taking a bribe and if he dies in the line of duty now his family will get his pension and life insurance money rather than see him go to jail. Later on two of the robbers decide to walk straight at the SWAT team guns blazing rather than try to escape. They do not want to run and can't live with the deaths they caused.
Textbook case at the end of Violent City: After having killed the woman he loved and who betrayed him, Charles Bronson's character just...waits for the cops to get there. Once they do, he tells them to go ahead and shoot him. They naturally hesitate. He picks up his (unloaded) gun and points it at them. They promptly fill him full of holes.
In the remake of The Crazies, Deputy Russell faces the army soldiers with an unloaded gun so he wouldn't have to succumb to the infection and to provide a distraction for the other survivors.
Near the end of The Town, Jem decides to pull a hopeless I Surrender, Suckers on a firing squad of cops rather than actually give up and return to jail. The cops don't buy his fake surrender and riddle him full of bullets before he gets off a shot.
This was heavily implied to be the case with the prince in the legend/Mor'du in Brave since his little nod to Merida after his death hints that they had become horrified by their actions and was trying to be killed to be put out of their misery.
Aside from the possibility of making Superman anguish for derailing his plot to reestablish Krypton on Earth, this seems to be Zod's only reason for attempting to incinerate an innocent family at the end of Man of Steel. Superman has him in a neck lock and can't get him to turn his eyes away from his would-be victims, forcing Superman to break his neck to stop his attack (which might have given Zod the last word anyway because Superman was trying so hard not to resort to lethal force and it freed Zod from his now-meaningless existence).
Gabriel Finch, in Neverwas, attempts to have the police kill him rather than be forced to confront the fact that Neverwas doesn't exist except in his delusions and as a bestselling children's book.
The Great Escape: After the tunnel Tom is discovered, the shattered Ives commits suicide by attempting to scale the wire in full view of the guards, and is machine-gunned.
A drawn-out version in The Life Of David Gale. In this case, Gale is on trial for the rape and murder of a prominent anti-capital punishment advocate. He's innocent of the crime, but is executed anyway, to prove the point that sometimes, innocent people are executed. It's implied that he volunteered to be executed, because his life had recently fallen apart after being fired and divorced.
When he thinks Bella has died, Edward goes to Italy to die by sparkling at the Insane Ruling Triumvirate in Twilight's sequel, New Moon.
Near the end of Stephen King's now out-of-print novel Rage, the school-shooter protagonist grabs for a non-existent gun, prompting a policeman to shoot him several times. He survives and is committed to an insane asylum.
Inverted in A Touch of Frost when a drunk and depressed DI Frost tackles an armed criminal. He fails to get himself killed but does get the George Cross.
Subverted in The Silent Blade: after losing the fight with Drizzt, Artemis Entreri shouts and charges him in order to be killed. Drizzt does reflexively counterattack—at which point Entreri's allies grant him the ability to absorb and return Drizzt's blow, to the very unpleasant surprise of both.
In Rebecca, it is eventually revealed that the title character goaded her husband into killing her, so that she wouldn't have to face a lingering death by cancer.
In Green Rider, Jendara, knowing that her Heel-Face Turn was not going to redeem her in the eyes of her former colleagues for having turned traitor in the first place, and that the traditional punishment for a member of her order who commits treason is to be slowly tortured for weeks and then get staked out for the vultures - while still alive, deliberately attacks the Weapons who try to take her prisoner, forcing them to kill her quickly.
The fourth book of the Safehold series, A Mighty Fortress, features this with a senior vicar the Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn intends to have arrested for treason. Said vicar was once head of the Temple Guard and, when some of those very Guardsmen come to arrest him, picks a fight with them and manages to kills four of the armed and armored men before being brought down.
Lumiya receives this via Luke in the novel Sacrifice. An interesting subersion in that she didn't really seem to have any wish to die and simply felt she'd played her part. Jacen Solo even refers to it as 'Suicide By Skywalker.'
Tal'dira in Solo Command was brainwashed into attempting to shoot down Wedge Antilles while on a mission. Unable to let go of his conditioning, he instead lowers his own starfighter's shields during the attempt, enabling one of his squadmates to kill him before he can complete his mission. Bonus points in that said squadmate used to be a cop before becoming a pilot.
Just one of the varied and sundry ways to commit suicide in Ankh-Morpork. Rarely on purpose, though; in Ankh-Morpork, committing suicide is so easy that most conventional forms of accidental death take weeks of planning by comparison. Some people do it just by going out for a drink, since some neighborhoods or bars in Ankh-Morpork are so dangerous that any death in them is ruled a suicide by the authorities.
In Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides, Stede Bonnet falls under Blackbeard's power via vodun and extortion, but eventually opts to escape being a sorcerous puppet by invoking this trope ... with the Royal Navy as the cops. His desire to be killed in battle rather than hanged leads him to escape from jail when captured, then provoke the pursuing soldiers into firing on his own party of fugitives.
Deconstructed very tragically in The Dresden Files' thirteenth book. The protagonist has been rendered completely incapable of rescuing his daughter from the vampiric hordes who kidnapped her, so he says essentially, 'Fuck it, I'm throwing morals to the wind,' and makes a deal with the (metaphorical) devil, getting power enough to save her- and a gnawing corruption that eats at his soul, warping his desires into cruel, monstrous whims. He knew, however, that this would happen, and made pre-emptive arrangements for his own murder. The deconstruction comes in what happens after he dies, and his ghost is forced to roam the city he left. The thing about being desperate enough to commit suicide is that you don't consider how it will affect your friends...and if you're a hero so renowned that most monsters won't threaten your city while you live, things get even worse...
The Zoo Story, Jerry, who is a homeless very lonely man meets another man named Peter and forces him to kill him. Although he doesn't tell him to kill him, Jerry tries to get Peter mad enough to do it.
Anomander Rake in ''Toll the Hounds'' does this to get himself inside the Dragnipur, by letting Dassem Ultor kill him in their duel.
In Francis Beeding's "Death by Judicial Hanging" the protagonist decided to kill the business partner who'd financially ruined him so that his family would get the life insurance payment when he was executed, only to be foiled when the verdict was changed to a life sentence.
Live Action TV
The White House is shot at in an episode of The West Wing by a "disturbed individual" trying to be shot by the secret service.
CSI: Miami: Horatio's nemesis Clavo Cruise, having had all his plans foiled, shows up at the crime lab and, waiting until Horatio and other police officers have their weapons trained on him, tries to take a shot at Horatio.
A role-reversal of this occurred in an episode of The Shield, where a cop, unable to cope with his own sexuality, attempts to goad a cornered criminal into shooting him.
A suicidal cop in Third Watch takes main character Bosco hostage, holds Bosco's own gun on him, then walks into broad daylight and deliberately opens himself up to a clear shot from a SWAT sniper.
There are at least three instances of this occurring in The Bill.
Referred to by name in NCIS, after Kate shoots a despairing man who was waving an (unloaded) handgun in a threatening manner.
And averted spectacularly in another episode, "Murder 2.0", where the protagonists run into a hostage situation that looks to be the hostage-taker trying to commit suicide by cop... until Gibbs realizes that she's being forced by the "hostage" to "threaten" him with an unloaded weapon, and what's really going on is that the "hostage-taker" was being set up for a Homicide By Cop. Fortunately, it didn't work.
Subverted in another episode, where a drugged up guy pulls a gun on the team after being chased, only for Gibbs to come up behind him and pin him to a railing. From the other side.
Harper Dearing, the Big Bad of season 9 and the premiere of season 10. After Gibbs tracks him down alone, Dearing talks for a while. Then he goes for a gun on the windowsill and Gibbs knifes him.
Blue Heelers did this when Constable Susie Rayner is introduced with her husband Brad, an ex cop who was injured and wheelchair bound on the job. As he spirals further into depression he lashes out at Susie, and Ben when he tries to help. Convinced they are having an affair Brad steal's Ben's service revolver and makes as if he's going to kill Susie, forcing Ben to shoot him in self defense. The subsequent court case looked into the possibility of Brad being suicidal and he wanted to be killed, and this was eventually ruled as the official cause.
Done by a hostage-taker as a Mind Screw revenge on Detective Benson. His last words were "There are no bullets in my gun."
In another episode, a junkie robs his father's bank, and accidentally shoots his father in the process. As he heads out to commit Suicide By Cop, Dr. Warner shoots him in the leg with Stabler's backup weapon, allowing the SWAT team to restrain him.
In yet another episode, a young man who has taken several hostages, and is therefore surrounded by sharpshooters and police, finds out his father is a rapist who attacked, among others, the hostage-taker's own sister. He deliberately steps into range of the shooter, but Olivia, empathizing with him, steps between him and the window to block the shot and eventually talks him into surrendering.
Faith attempts Suicide By Vampire Detective in the episode "Five By Five".
Angel knew what she was doing because he once attempted Suicide by Sire.
Played for laughs with The Groosalugg, after a lifetime of being ostracized by his people he fought the greatest warriors and fiercest beasts in hopes of them ending his miserable existence, but was so skillful that he defeated them all.
Anya attempts Suicide By Slayer in the Buffy episode "Selfless."
In the Torchwood episode "Sleeper", knowing that when the aliens eventually activate her, her human personality will be permanently replaced by that of an alien killing machine, the sleeper agent Beth decides she'd rather die as a human and atone for the death of her husband, so she pretends she's about to slash Gwen's throat, forcing the other Torchwood members to shoot her.
Sanctuary: John Druitt, overwhelmed by the guilt that goes with being Jack the Ripper attempts to goad Magnus into killing him by beating the crap out of her. It almost works—she stops his heart with two stun blasts to the chest, but then revives him.
In Airwolf, the Evil Dr. Moffett may have committed suicide by attack helicopter. He had pointed out the one place that the helicopter was vulnerable to a Golden BB, and in another scene they had shown that he had the necessary skill with a pistol to make the shot.
An episode of Millennium features a woman doing this at the end of an episode by pulling not a gun out of her pocket, but a tiny piece of metal that has a shape resembling the Virgin Mary's face on it. The fact that the woman who does this is a stereotypically butch lesbian (flannel and all) makes it a bit awkward to think about.
In the Colombian TV adaptation of the novel Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso, Catalina, the main character and a trafficker's girlfriend, convinced a former lover to hire a hitman to kill the friend who helped her to enter into that Crapsack World. And then she takes her friend's place and gets the bullets.
Hill Street Blues: A man is holding someone hostage with a gun on them, and informs the cop that he is going to kill them unless the cop kills him first. He announces he's going to pull the trigger on one, and starts counting down. The cop tries to talk him out of it, but has no alternative but to shoot him at 'two'.
Cold Case had an episode in which a compulsive gambler pays off his life insurance and asks his gambling "coach" to kill him as a last favor to him and to his family.
Done on The X-Files where a man with manipulative powers and life threatening (but treatable) brain tumour makes Mulder play a game of Russian Roulette with him.
Jared attempts this in the season four finale episode "The End in the Beginning" of Bones, but is talked out of it by Brennan.
This Is Wonderland: A Filipino man was arrested as a suspected terrorist, but cop-turned-lawyer Anthony Davis figured out that he was trying to get himself killed so that his adulterous wife would have to live with her guilt.
In Andromeda, the characters encounter a ship which murdered her crew along with an entire planet, and spent three centuries mad. She ends up shooting at them, and then shutting her defenses so that the retaliation kills instead of disables her.
Various episodes of Criminal Minds feature this trope, and several protagonists refer to it by name.
Urza Jaddo challenged Londo Mollari to a Duel to the Death in one episode of Babylon 5 to save his family from a charge of treason levied against him. This was a justified example: Because of the rules and customs of the duel, the "winner" had to accept the "loser"'s family into their own "house"; by taking the rest of Urza's family into House Mollari, they would be spared Urza's dishonor. Londo reluctantly carried it out.
On Capt. Sherdian's first day on the job, the whole crew of a rogue Minbari ship tries to do this to spark a new Earth-Minbari war. Fortunately, Sheridan figures out what they are attempting and refuses to cooperate. Ultimately, they all commit suicide when they are cornered by a Minbari ship sent to capture them.
Dexter, at the end of the third season, makes it look like this is how the Skinner dies.
Given the subject matter, it was almost inevitable this would occur on Flashpoint. A couple attempt it "Last Dance", and it finally happens in "Behind The Blue Line".
Subverted in at least one episode of Diagnosis: Murder: the bad guy has a degenerative disease not covered by insurance (pre-existing condition), and spends the entire episode goading Steve into killing him. It is implied that part of Steve's refusal to do so is because the villain went a bit too far. Good Is Not Always Nice, perhaps?
In Rome a defeated and despaired Brutus chooses not to flee a lost battle and instead marches unarmored against approaching enemy cohorts of heavy infantry, he is rapidly surrounded and killed in a fashion resembling the killing of Gaius Julius Caesar, a deed he committed with other senators.
Subverted in the opening scene of Breaking Bad pilot; what do you do when you, the protagonist, until that moment a law abiding citizen, a trusted and respected member of your community, a loving husband and father, end up in underwear in the middle of the desert, driving a mobile meth-lab chased by police cars that get closer and closer? You leave a videotaped farewell message to the loved ones then proceed to confront the police with a gun in your hand ready to shoot.
In Without a Trace, this happened in the 17th episode of the 2nd season; an Iraqi war veteran accidentally kills a woman in a bank heist he pulled to get enough money to keep his house from being repossessed and his girlfriend from leaving him. In the end, after taking the girlfriend and an FBI agent hostage in his home, he agrees to come out. He unloads the gun he's holding (out of view of the SWAT officers that surrounded his house) and walks right out the front door, pointing the gun at the officers, who open fire. The final scene is Downer Ending: the FBI agent holding the hysterical, sobbing girlfriend back from running after him and into the line of fire, as the agent sheds a few tears himself.
An older Jewish doctor commits the Suicide by State variation in "Let Us Ask the Maiden". He shoots his fiancée's father in front of Detective Murdoch, Inspector Brackenreid and a couple of constables, which means he gets the noose. He did it because his future father-in-law murdered his employee who was also his daughter's lover. He loved the girl more than anything and he wanted her to be free from both of them — her father and himself.
The Indian Poetic Serial Killer in "Werewolves" met his end when he tried to attack the investigators. Inspector Brackenreid shot him dead with a rifle. He was quite shaken by it, claiming it was the first time he killed anybody on duty as a police officer.
When Ira Gaines in 24 is captured he believes there's no scenario in which he gets to live, so he opts to get it over with by trying to shoot Jack even though he's on his knees and Jack is behind him with his gun already pointed at him.
Semi-inverted with Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time. His main motive against Rumpelstiltskin is revenge but he is oddly obsessed with having Rumpelstiltskin kill him. He even encouraged the man to rip out of his heart when he was at Rumple's mercy. Presumably, he's doing this so he could be together with his deceased lover Milah.
The Doctor Blake Mysteries: A suspect attempts this at the start of "Brotherly Love". He charges towards the police, waving a gun and yelling that he has just killed a cop. When the police seem reluctant to shoot, he fires a shot into the air to provoke them. He is then shot by the police but survives.
In The Americans Gregory chooses this route instead of fleeing to Moscow
In "Fire Ships" of Horatio Hornblower, Hornblower must deal with a surly sailor of the week who tries to desert several time. Bunting actually wants to free himself, but is deeply disturbed and sinks more and more. When he attempts to desert for the last time, Hornblower catches him and wants to have him court-martialed — which means he'll swing. Bunting considers it a cruel mercy, thank you very much, and a fate far worse than dying on the spot. He tries to escape and twists Hornblower's pistol, knowing that it will force Hornblower to shoot him. Poor Hornblower gets understandably depressed and goes into Heroic Blue Screen of Death mode.
In Blue Bloods Jamie Reagan's first on-the-job kill is one of these. The man pointed a gun at bystanders, Jamie shot him, and then it turned out his gun was empty. Major Break the Cutie moment.
Implied in Jekyll when Hyde approaches a group of soldiers so they'll panic and shoot him. Given his demonstrated speed, he almost certainly could have charged down the corridor fast enough to kill them all, but instead walks slowly and pauses to taunt them - just killing some of their soldiers wouldn't have stopped the Institute, while if he's dead they no longer have reason to go after his family to control him.
JAG: In "Deja Vu", this is attempted by Colonel Patano, who opens up a gunfight with Harm with the intent of letting Harm win in order to cover up for the killer.
In the episode "Duet" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a man who was a minor functionary during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor claims to be one of the evil ringleaders, in hopes that his trial and execution will force his people to face the harm they did.
In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Yes Men", Lorelei tries to goad Sif into killing her using a Post Rape Taunt. As Lorelei had just verbally explained that she would rather die than go back to prison, this doesn't work.
The death of Marsac in The Musketeers episode The Good Soldier has a strong suggestion of this. He certainly forced the best shot in the regiment to fire on him at close quarters and his dying words also reinforce the notion.
Marsac: Better to die a musketeer than live like dog.
In an episode of Engrenages an apparent murderous gun rampage by an unstable teenage boy (which didn't seriously harm anyone) turns out to have been a failed attempt at Suicide By Cop, motivated by guilt over having killed his girlfriend. He later commits suicide in custody.
In P.O.S.' song "That One", the rapper mentions that he's "in the mood for suicide by cop" in the wake of a bad ending to a relationship.
"Seven Spanish Angels": A No. 1 country hit in 1985 by Ray Charles and Willie Nelson, two Hispanic-American lovers, fresh off a crime spree in Mexico, are fleeing the law but have tired from running. The two decide their only option is to engage in a gunfight or be captured, knowing that full well either option will result in their deaths. So, after a night of passionate lovemaking and declaring that God will help them in their fight to remain free, the two begin their fight. First, the male half shoots at the posse ... and is killed. Then, the young woman – just absolutely beautiful – decides to pick up the now empty gun and points it at the officers:
She reached down and picked the gun up/That lay smoking in his hand
She said "Father, please forgive me,/I can't make it without my man"
And she knew the gun was empty/And she knew she couldn't win
But her final prayer was answered/When the rifles fired again
"Out Among the Stars": Written by Adam Mitchell and recorded by both Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, the song tells the tale of a jobless young man, frustrated at years of being unable to hold a job. He finally snaps, robs a liquor store and lets the cashier run away … but foolishly waits for the police to come so he can engage in a gunfight, knowing full well that he will likely be killed:
Even though he knows they'll come with guns a-blazing already he can feel a great relief.
In the Dragnet episode "The Big Death" a perp tries this. He is only wounded. As he explains why he wanted Friday to kill him, Friday assures him that he may get his wish. In the postscript, the criminal is sentenced to life.
This American Life devotes the introductory act of Episode 473 "Loopholes" to the late-medieval and early modern Central European practice of suicide by state (killing an innocent baby, being tried as an infanticide, convicted, and hanged with an opportunity to confess).
A grand example in the actual story happens in Path of Radiance when Lehran manipulates everyone to start the entire war between the Senate and the Empress so it would wake the goddess, so he would finally die because the world would be destroyed.
This Suicide By Student allows him to become The Obi-Wan; he did it because he was convinced (despite Zack's Freakiness Shame moment) that his messed-up genetic disorder was going to eventually make him go as Nietzsche Wannabe as his best friend Genesis.
Before resorting to turning into a spectacularly ugly chimaera he tried to get Zack to kill him as part of their oath to "destroy anything that threatens the world." Zack had attacked him a while back when he believed he'd murdered his own mother, but since that and his going AWOL were really the only things to make Zack think he'd gotten himself an Evil Mentor and he'd just been disabused of the mistake, it didn't go well. Afterward they have a heartfelt Take Up My Sword—the iconic buster blade Zack passes on to Cloud at the end of the game.
The entire plot of the .hack//G.U. games basically revolves around this. The Chessmaster Ovan effectively manipulates Haseo into killing him, because only if Ovan's (extremely high-level) PC is killed by Haseo's special PC, his special ability will be activated, resetting the entire internet and cleansing it of the corruption that has been sending gamers (including Ovan's own sister) into coma.
Andrew Ryan in BioShock pulls a Suicide By Cop, by manipulating Jack into bludgeoning him to death with a trigger phrase.
In Suikoden II, there is a difficult-to-do subplot involving a couple of gunners from Harmonia. If you are able to follow it all the way through to the end, it ends in a quick-draw duel between the two. As the loser lies on the ground dying, she laughingly reveals her gun wasn't loaded...
Caster's master Kouzuki pulls this in the "Unlimited Blade Works" route when Caster is killed. Even though the heroes are willing to let him go (he's completely harmless to them), he still picks a fight he cannot win with Archer to "finish what he started", and is killed instantly.
It's not explicitly stated, but it's fairly clear this is what Caster did in the "Heavens Feel" route. Her Master and reason for living aka the aforementioned Kouzuki has just been killed and she's standing over his body, covered in blood and horrified when Saber and Shirou show up. When she finally notices them, she doesn't explain and, most tellingly, puts away her contract nullifying dagger and simply attacks. Normally she'd teleport out or something. But why bother?
In, Devil Survivor one of the multiple ways, Haru can die if the player doesn't intervene. If you do talk to her, your party discovers that she feels responsible for the demons plaguing Tokyo although you convince her that this isn't true.
Sol in Final Fantasy Legend III is merged with Xagor and says, "I'll hold Xagor's soul for you, kill me!" to the party. Knowing that Xagor attempted to conquer Sol so the entity flooding the world would never stop, Sol also knew that he could get himself killed, and takes Xagor down with him and stops the entity in its last stage.
In Mass Effect 1 Matriarch Benezia chooses this path (by Protagonist, who is sort of a cop) after briefly breaking Sovereign's indoctrination. She knew Sovereign's indoctrination was permanent and her respite would only be temporary and chose death over continuing its evil.
Wrex takes a turn in 3 if you backstab him over the genophage - coming after you with no backup and, judging by how easily he goes down, no shields or barriers. Of course, he takes all your krogan War Assets out of the fight as a final "screw you", but it's pretty clear that after having the one person he thought he could trust shaft him, he's got no particular interest in making it off the Citadel.
Preceded in Chain of Memories. If you look at the chain of events carefully, you'll realize that after Sora's storyline ended, Riku Replica deliberately sought out the real Riku in his storyline.
Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid really just waits for a soldier who is able to kill her. But as a world class sniper who doesn't hold back with her skills in combat, she's not making it particularly easy for her enemies.
One sidequest in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion involves an old man who feels like he has nothing left to contribute, and is only a burden on his family, so he tries to do this. The player character can either kill him, or endure his attacks and talk some sense into him when he wears himself out.
In the original game, there is a quest near Suran, where a tired and war-weary Orc asks you to do this. However, if you are not strong enough, he can easily kill you.
In Dawn of War 2: Retribution it is implied by The Ancient also known as Tarkus that Avitus does this in Chaos Rising.
The Arishok in Dragon Age II pulls this off by staging an all-out attack with the Qunari on Kirkwall. The demands of the Qun mean he can cannot return to Par Vollen without the Tome of Koslun and the thief who stole it, but he's become so disgusted with Kirkwall society that he can't make himself stay there any longer. He sees his death as the only way out of fulfilling his obligations.
Done in Skyrim during the Dark Brotherhood questline. After selling the player out to Commander Maro and being literally burned for it, Astrid uses her own body as a Black Sacrament and put a contract on herself.
The Old Orc has a variant: he simply asks you to do it (suicide is against his religion, at least in his interpretation of it). To make it harder, he can't simply pull his punches, he has to fight to the best of his ability (and he's quite a good fighter despite his age).
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Ezekiel Sandoval attempts this at a mall. As a veteran Marine, he couldn't bring himself to shoot any civilians. Before the police could show up, however, Humanity Front leader William Taggart talks him out of it.
Also one interpretation of the ending where Walker chooses to fight the squad sent to save him.
By the end of Dead Island Jin had gone completely loopy, after being gang raped and having to remain surrounded by the worst criminals in the world, who make it clear their intentions for her, she's basically Driven to Suicide. She angers Ryder White, releases his infected wife, and when she bites him Ryder shoots and kills Jin.
Odd case when the individual is already dead in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. A previous Defender of Earth tried take on the Netherworld, was killed, and his ghost cannot rest. When he challenges Laharl, Flonne begs him to let the ghost win. Instead Laharl gives him a damn good thrashing, which is what he actually wanted; to be defeated in honorable combat. He thanks Laharl and passes on.
A late-game conversation with Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins reveals that he took the assassination contract on the Grey Wardens as a form of this, knowing from their reputation that he would have little chance of surviving the encounter, wanting to die because he was tricked into killing his lover, Rina
From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, The Shield is a superhero whose sole power is utter and complete indestructibility. He literally cannot be hurt by anything. What he hasn't told his teammates is that he's actually over 20,000 years old, his immunity to harm includes being immune to time, and that he started superheroics because he desperately hopes he'll eventually find someone who can nullify his indestructibility. His entire careeer as a superhero is a slow form of Suicide by Supervillain.
There was some evidence in Beast Wars that Rampage's evil behavior and focus on Depth Charge was, in part, an attempt to commit Suicide By Depth Charge to atone for that horrific behavior and all the lives he took when activated.
Blackarachnia: You'll regret this!
Rampage, softly: I regret everything, my dear.
During the two part premier of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, resident Anti-Villain Red Lantern Razer attempts this by first provoking and then outright begging Hal Jordan to kill him for pushing a detonator that blew an entire planet to smithereens. Hal gives him a sound thrashing but refuses to comply, telling Razer that he should live and atone for what he'd done instead.
In the Looney Tunes cartoon "The Cheese Chasers", two mice, having eating so much cheese they feel they can't eat any again, decide that there's nothing left to live for and try to get a cat to eat them. The cat, suspicious that it's all a trick, grows paranoid and eventually decides to end it all as well. So he goes to a dog and asks him to kill him. The dog, in trying to figure out the whole situation, goes mad as well, and chases down the dog catcher. There's also a hen-pecked bird who wanted Sylvester to eat him, rather than put up with his wife for another day. Hilarity Ensues.
Tom and Jerry had a duckling repeatedly try to get Tom to eat him, believing himself to be too ugly to deserve living. Tom was happy to obligue but Jerry wasn't, so he kept trying. Until a lovely female duckling told him how cute he was, which made him regain the will to live. They walked away together and very happily, leaving the rather surprised Tom and Jerry behind.
In an episode of Family Guy, Stewie suddenly learns that he will die one day and decides that since we all die, life is meaningless and attempts to kill himself multiple times. He tries suicide by cop, running at a donut shop full of cops with a shotgun and mask, but is intercepted by Joe, who is attempting suicide by criminal, and they spend two minutes trying to get the other to shoot them.