A way for The Hero
to dispose of a villain without getting blood on his hands
. Rather than the hero doing justice onto the villain (or what have you) himself, he decides to do it indirectly, by leaving him in the not-so-good hands of someone with fewer qualms about...harsh justice. Note that this is the hero's doing; this does not apply to the common situation of a villain leaving the hero at the mercy of his Mooks
Do with Him as You Will
, where The Hero
turns the villain over to the villain's former victims, is a subtrope of this. All instances of that should go on that page, not this one.
In short, it's in the middle of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
; The Hero
doesn't actually kill the Big Bad
, and the Big Bad
gets a Karmic Death
...but one that The Hero
throws them into.
As a way for a villain to meet their demise, this can easily be a Death Trope. Expect unmarked spoilers.
Anime and Manga
- In an episode of Naruto, Choji remarks about one suspect in the tracking of Hidan and Kakuzu, "We'll leave the torture to Ibiki."
- One Authority story has a Captain America knockoff beating the crap out of Apollo. At the end, said knockoff is paralysed and taunts Apollo into killing him. Instead of killing him, Apollo just says he promised him to someone else. Cut to Midnighter, wielding a jackhammer. "A pleasure to finaly make your acquaintance" indeed.
Live Action TV
- A Judge Dee story ends with the bad guy
confessing freely admitting his murders. Being of the Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! type, any accusation would end with him getting away free and destroying the judge's career, so the judge fools him into entering a small courtyard containing a bear and locking the door. Said bear was earlier shown to leave those he liked alone and maul the rest, leaving the bad guy some chance.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry convinces Lupin and Sirius to spare the traitorous Wormtail's life, arguing that the friend they wanted to avenge (Harry's father) wouldn't have wanted them to become murderers. Wormtail obsequiously thanks Harry for his mercy, only for Harry to snap back that he fully intends to turn him over to the Dementors. Of course, in the Wizarding World, the Dementors are the justice system, so it's really the only other option.
- Played with in Margin Play: Kasey does this to the main villain, by letting a gang of ''gopniki'', know that the bad guy was responsible for the death of a man they looked up to and respected. It's not entirely a straight use, because Kasey isn't The Hero, but he's more one of the good guys than he is a bad guy.
- Mal leaving Dobson with Jayne in Firefly:
Mal: I got to know... how much you told them. So I've given Jayne here the job of finding out.
Jayne (pulling a knife): He was non-specific as to how.
- The titular character of Angel locking the Wolfram and Hart lawyers in with Darla and Drusilla.
Lilah: For God's sake, help us.
Holland: Angel, please. People are going to die.
- One of Michael's favorites in Burn Notice: Convince the Bastard of the Week to betray his organization, make sure it's done in a way that makes them clearly responsible, and then dump them either with the betrayed or where they can be found.
- NCIS featured one criminal who had killed the boss of his gang and then used phone and text messages to pose as his go-between to the rest of the gang. The team found enough information to show he had committed this and other crimes, but nothing that would get a conviction. Instead, they brought in his gang and showed them the evidence that they had been duped and used by the man who killed their boss, but the law couldn't do anything about it. The criminal is released, and found dead the next day.
- In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, at the very end. Lazarevic, the final boss, has finally been defeated, but he pulls an If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him, basically telling Drake to gun him down, without hesitation or mercy, since that fits with his own philosophy. Drake, however, refuses, and when Lazarevic gloatingly states that he "does not have the will", Drake just agrees but comments "But THEY do..." and then quickly leaves as about a dozen of the monstrous, nigh-unkillable Guardians of the Tree arrive to tear him to shreds for trespassing on their holy ground.
- One of the arcs of Schlock Mercenary has a group of mercs under the leadership of Kevyn get captured by the pirate captain, Commodore Shufgar, who proves remarkably cruel, and successfully kills at least one of them. (He also kills Kevyn. Several times. But it doesn't take...) At the end, when they've turned the tables and captured the captain, the men are all-too-eager to dispense their own, personal justice for their fallen comrade, but Kevyn warns them off, saying that that road leads to "A dark place".
Kevyn: We are going to turn Shufgar, alive and healthy, over to the Judges of House Est'll.
Kevyn: Then, per ancient tradition, he will be killed and eaten a little bit at a time.
Brad: Your place sounds darker, sir.
Kevyn: It has the advantage of being legal.