Would You Like to Hear How They Died?
"Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the... little emotions. In... you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did."
) "Would you like to know which of them were cowards?"
Villains generally have big egos, and they love
. Given the chance, they can't resist the temptation to insult the hero
or to revel in their own wickedness when they think they have the upper hand. A particular brand of Evil Gloating
favored by those who enjoy relating their many evil deeds is to describe in detail to the hero how the villain has murdered the heroes' friends or loved ones, preferably in the most unpleasant way possible.
Sometimes the villain does this to mess with the heroes' emotions, or because he wants to frighten them, or he enjoys reliving the memory
, or he just plain loves causing pain and can't resist the chance to confront the hero with this source of anguish. Villains who love to Break Them by Talking
thrive on this.
However, it is important to note that this trope often has the tendency to backfire on the villain in question. Not only relevant to the dangers that Evil Gloating
can cause, a villain who mercilessly mocks the hero about how he just butchered their True Companions
has a tendency to cause an Unstoppable Rage
or just give the hero that extra incentive
to fight back that he needs to put the villain to his end. And woe to the villain who inadvertently awakens a Mama Bear
or Papa Wolf
by gleefully telling them they just killed their kids...
That said, a reasonably common variation is that the person invoking this trope is actually trying to commit Suicide by Cop
, and either deeply regrets what they did deep down, or even were totally innocent of the crime and are just trying to provoke a reaction for some end.
Usually takes the form of the phrase "Would you liked to hear how he/she died?" but doesn't have to, the villain may just start giving lurid details unbidden about the last moments of the person they've killed, possibly accompanied by an Evil Laugh
, or make things up about how the victim begged for death, or outright lie about killing them entirely just to generate a reaction. It can be combined with a Post Rape Taunt
for extra Kick the Dog
factor. Also bonus points for trying to describe their murder as an Undignified Death
, mainly by making their victims out to be cowards.
This is also a prime way to push the Relative Button
. The exact opposite, on the other hand, is But for Me, It Was Tuesday
, wherein the villain can't even remember who it was he killed, never mind how they died, which shows that they've killed so many that they stopped caring about it
as well as Lack of Empathy
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Anime and Manga
- A villain does this to Jubei in Ninja Scroll: The Series; he is lying and just trying to piss Jubei off to help him kill a parasite in him.
- Gauron from Full Metal Panic! loves to do this. He's shown doing this to a minor character, and does this in a more notable instance to Sousuke during TSR. Towards the minor character, Gauron laughs and tells the guy that he's the last one, and that some of his comrades died crying and begging for their life. This pisses the guy off enough to send him into a berserk rage. Too bad he's just a small side character that ends up getting blown up. And in TSR, Gauron volunteers a (fake) detailed description of how Kaname died to Sousuke. Including how her cute uniform was in tatters, but that she never begged for her life, and that her last words were "I'm sorry" to Sousuke. This pisses Sousuke off to the point where he shoots the hell out of Gauron. Which was exactly what Gauron wanted, the Manipulative Bastard.
- Kimbley pulls this on Major Miles in Fullmetal Alchemist. Considering it's Kimbley, this may be less trying to antagonize Miles as it is a twisted way to try and connect with him.
- And of course, Miles was only pretending to take it personally to keep Kimbley distracted.
- Also used by Envy in the manga and Brotherhood to brag to Mustang about how easy it was to kill Hughes by taking the form of his wife. Of course this backfires. Literally.
- Bleach has Mayuri Kurotsuchi describing to Ishida in horrific detail, what happened to the Quincy during his experiments on them. The one that really makes it personal is when he described what happened to Ishida's grandfather, and even produced a graphic picture of his remains. Having spied on Uryuu for a while before revealing himself, Mayuri seemed to know exactly who Uryuu was. However, he had no idea just what Berserk Button he had pressed until Uryuu one-shot him in revenge.
- Ga-Rei Zero-: Yomi gives the rundown of the named characters she's killed under the Sesshouseki to Kagura before their penultimate confrontation. Like how most of them begged for their lives. And how much she enjoyed it.
- Hansel does this to Balalaika in Black Lagoon when describing how one of her men died — given how insane he is, whether or not it was an attempt at enraging her or just his general sadism is anyone's guess. Whichever way, Balalaika's response was probably not one he was expecting.
- In One Piece, Diamante asks Rebecca this before callously explaining how he killed her mother.
- In Dragon Ball Z, after incapacitating Goku, Frieza lies to Gohan and claims that Goku died begging for mercy and crying like a baby.
- In The Flash, Wally pursued Bart Allen's Evil Twin Inertia after Inertia's scheme to steal Bart's Speed Force caused Bart's death. When Wally finally got his hands on Inertia, the little jerk spitefully and gleefully told Wally that Bart "died screaming like a little bitch". It doesn't end well for Inertia.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- Falcone gives one to Batman in Batman Begins. This earns him an especially choice headbutt from the Batman later on. Of course, in this case Falcone is wrong and Chill was obviously just trying to sound tough to his mob-boss cellmate (or Falcone was lying). Not only is that not what happened; Bruce knows it wasn't because Bruce was there.
Carmine Falcone (to young Bruce Wayne): Yeah, you got spirit, kid. I'll give you that. More than your old man, anyway. In the joint, Chill told me, uh, told me about the night he killed your parents. He said your father begged for mercy. Begged. Like a dog.
- The Joker does this to Detective Stephens in The Dark Knight after his first approach fails (Stephens is enough of a veteran that he knows he can't teach a complete psycho a lesson in human decency), although he seemed to have been purposefully trying to provoke him to violence, seeing how he did shoot most of the cops he'd killed up to that point.
- In a rare heroic case, in Die Hard, John McClane shouts at a bad guy, "You should have heard how your brother squealed—when I broke his FUCKING NECK!!!"
- Gladiator: "They tell me your son squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross. And your wife moaned like a whore."
- Lethal Weapon 2. Martin Riggs, the protagonist with a dead wife issue is about to be killed, and Peter van Horscht sits down to tell him a couple of things.
Peter: I'm the bloke who changed the course of your life, mate. When you was a narc back at Long Beach you were getting too close to us, so we put a contract out on you. I handled it myself. Ran your car right off the road, bam! But of course it wasn't you, was it? I pulled back this mop of blood-soaked hair to see this woman's face. Your wife, right? (pause) She didn't die right away. Took a bit of time.
- Needless to say, since Riggs is a Determinator, and this revelation is essentially Riggs' Berserk Button, it doesn't turn out well.
- The Princess Bride. The Man in Black tells Buttercup about the last moments of her love Westley (there's more to it than that, however):
Man in Black: He died well, that should please you. No bribe attempts or blubbering. He simply said: "Please. Please, I need to live." It was the "please" that caught my memory. I asked him what was so important for him. "True love", he replied. And then he spoke of a girl of surpassing beauty and faithfulness. I can only assume he meant you. You should bless me for destroying him before he found out what you really are.
Buttercup: You can die too, for all I care! [shoves him over the side of a hill]
- Frank Nitti tells Elliot Ness how he killed Jim Malone in The Untouchables. It doesn't end well for Nitti.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Early in the movie we learn that a Toon murdered Teddie, Eddie Valiant's brother. When the killer is revealed:
- Played with in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, when Moriarty is the one who breaks the news to Holmes that Irene Adler is dead. He presents Holmes with a bloodstained handkerchief and claims she died from a rare strain of tuberculosis, but Holmes reads between the lines and deduces that Moriarty had her poisoned.
- Turned around in a way with Sherlock doing it to Moriarty. While Moriarty targeted some one close to Holmes, there really wasn't such a person to Moriarty that Sherlock could exploit (Moriarty being a sociopath, and Holmes really isn't that kind of guy anyway). Moriarty does, however, have a vast fortune from his covert war profiteering that Sherlock completely depleted in a brilliant sleight of hand, and Sherlock described in detail how he did it. And then he scores a discover checkmate.
- Just before the Sonya vs. Kano fight from Mortal Kombat, Kano taunts her by brandishing his Raptor knife, and mentioning how he used it to put a big smile on Sonya's partner, "ear... to ear," before murdering him.
- In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Guy of Gisborne tries to goad Robin into a fight by talking about killing his father. "Your father died cursing your name and squealing like a stuck pig!"
- In Highlander, the Kurgan gloats over killing Connor's mentor. "Ramirez was an effete snob who died on his knees..." he says, and then reveals a terrible secret that was kept from Connor for almost 450 years - it's that part that hits home.
- In Rush Hour 2, as Lee has Ricky Tan at gunpoint and Carter shows up, Ricky asks Lee if he would like to know how his father had died. Carter tells Lee not to lose his temper, but when Ricky insults Lee's father, Carter goes "Okay, now he's gone too far. Shoot his ass, Lee!".
- Heroic version in Eclipse, when Edward taunts Victoria about how he tore James to pieces and burned his body, in order to enrage Victoria enough to break cover and attack him recklessly.
- A variation occurs in From the Hip (co-written by David E. Kelley). Robin "Stormy" Weathers is trying to goad his client, Douglas Benoit, into a confession for murder so he can get off the unwinnable case:
Weathers: I'm sick of you, Benoit. I'm sick of seeing you prance around like some ridiculous peacock.
Benoit: Have you any idea what it takes to kill a human being, Mr. Weathers? I don't mean one brute bashing another brute's skull out of primitive passion. I mean the kind of measured, dispassionate action that comes from absolute clarity of mind....transcends rational thought. The kind of action that springs from absolute necessity, unclouded by the restraints of conscience, mercy, pity. The kind of action that allows one to take a common, ordinary hammer and with clinical precision, split a skull so cleanly that the cranium cracks right through the medulla....allowing the claw of the hammer to be used to pry back the skull cleanly, exposing the brain, while the subject remains alive....even aware. Such a man is to be envied....revered....and much feared....never paralyzed by impotence of will.
- In Snow White & the Huntsman, Finn raped and murdered the Huntsman's wife. Finn admits that she fought well, but claims that she died cursing her husband for not being there to protect her. Right after he says this, the Huntsman impales him on a tree stump.
- In Dean Koontz's version of the Frankenstein myth, at one point Victor Frankenstein tells one of his modern-day enemies, a female police officer, that he killed her parents personally and her father (also a cop) begged for mercy. She just shrugs and mentions that she's sure he begged for her mother's life, anyway, by this point her contempt for Victor is so total that he can't get to her at all.
- When Harry Potter confronts Voldemort for the first time in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Voldy starts by telling him "you'll meet the same end as your parents... they died begging me for mercy...." But when Harry doubts that version, Voldemort quickly agrees that Harry's parents did indeed fight courageously... and still goes on to describe how they died.
- Which, ironically, did involve Lily begging for mercy before she died...mercy for him to spare Harry's life.
- The Dementors force Harry to hear his parents' final moments every time he gets near them.
- Voldemort does this again during the last battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when he thinks he's finally succeded in killing Harry, brings Harry's body back to Hogwarts, and then tells a false story to all of the fighters inside the castle about how Harry was killed while trying to escape the battle and save himself.
- In The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara. Cree Bega puts Ahren Elessedil through this during the lead-up to their final Knife Fight, asking him if he'd like to know what happened to his crush, Ryer Ord Star, after she was handed over to Cree Bega and his henchmen.
She took ssso long to die, little Elvesss. Ssso long it ssseemed that it would take forever...
- A Song of Ice and Fire: During the duel between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane, Martell tries to get Clegane to admit to the murder of Martell's sister and her children. Clegane finally admits it once he's got Martell trapped in a bear hug.
Clegane: Elia of Dorne. I killed her screaming whelp. Then I raped her. Then I smashed her fucking head in. Like this. *CRUNCH*
- In Smallville, Desaad taunts Oliver by saying how Chloe died screaming his name, provoking Oliver into pummeling him. She is not dead, and Oliver's reaction is what Desaad is counting on.
- On LOST, Psycho for Hire Keamy gloats about killing Ben's daughter and is promptly stabbed to death by him a few minutes later.
- Criminal Minds:
- One team of unsubs tortured women to death and then sent DVDs to their families.
- The Boston Reaper threatened to do this to Jack: "I'm going to find that little bastard son of yours and show him your dead bodies and tell him it's all your fault."
- In the Highlander episode "Innocent Man", Sheriff Crowley does this to Duncan MacLeod: "Your friend died on his knees, begging for his life."
- In the Sky One production of Going Postal, the psychopathic banshee assassin tells Moist while attacking him that one of his previous victims the brother of Moist's love interest died pathetically. The guy's death is shown at the very beginning, and the banshee's claim isn't really true.
- Happens in the Tracker pilot. Rhee gloats that Cole's daughter "went slowly", and Cole responds with "So will you" and proceeds to make the life force collection very slow. Apparently it's more painful when done slowly.
- Heroes and heroines usually don't do this but Buffy taunts The Mayor into chasing her by reminiscing about how she stabbed Faith a day or so ago. It works.
- In Supernatural, Azazel's purpose in ordering the killing of Sam's girlfriend Jessica was to drive Sam to The Dark Side, and this works better if he admits to Sam that he was responsible, sooner or later. The demon who did the actual killing, Brady, also brags about having done so, and his motive appears to be significantly more about evil for its own sake than his master's.
- Doctor Who has a rare case of a heroic character using this against a villain, when Rose Tyler taunts a Dalek by telling it how she killed the Dalek Emperor in the previous season.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Swami tells Altair that, right before Altair's son, Sef, was killed, Swami told Sef that it was on his Alta´r's orders, so that he died thinking his father had betrayed him.
- Fuminori does this to Kouji in Saya no Uta.
- Seymour does this in Final Fantasy X when he describes how he slaughtered the Ronso tribe.
- Curtis Blackburn does this to his partner Pedro in one of the more infamous (and horrific scenes) in Killer7. "Your wife... has a mole in a very unique place..."
- In the Safe Ending of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Ace decides to tell Snake how great it was to kill his sister. This results in Snake, after taking six shots from Ace's gun, getting up and pinning Ace down inside an incinerator that's about to turn on, killing them both.
- There's a couple of rather nasty one for the Human Noble origin from Arl Rendon Howe in Dragon Age: Origins: "Your parents died on their knees. Your brother's corpse rots in Ostagar; and his brat was burned on a scrap heap, along with his Antivan whore of a wife. And what's left? A fool husk of a son likely to end his days under a rock in the Deep Roads". You can find out later that Fergus is alive, though it will hardly be obvious.
- In World of Warcraft Cataclysm's Dragon Soul raid, Deathwing, when facing Alexstraza, taunts her about how he turned many members of her flight into mindless Twilight drakes, and how painful a process it was. She, with forced stoicism, says they are no longer of her clutch, and the raid has to kill them.
- One of Pigma's possible dialogue pieces while facing him and the rest of Star Wolf in Star Fox 64 gives a slight bit of detail into his killing of Fox's dad.
Pigma: Daddy screamed real good before he died!
- In Mass Effect 3, If Kai Leng killed either Thane or Kirrahe during the Cerberus attack on the Citadel, he'll make it a point to say that they died like cowards during his boss fight in Thessia. Of course, considering that those cases were Heroic Sacrifices and Kai Leng is not above throwing gunships and mooks at Shepard during their fights and running when things do not go his way, it just makes him look like a Hypocrite, which Shepard calls him out on when s/he's fighting him for the last time completely shutting him up.
- A Dark Brotherhood quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gives you the option to do this to a target, telling him that his mother "bled like a pig" when you killed her. This serves as a convenient way to get him to attack first so you can kill him without getting a bounty from the nearby guard.
- Fable: The Lost Chapters added some extra dialogue during what was the final boss of the original, where Jack of Blades taunts you about killing your father.
- Banshees in Fable II sometimes taunt your hero by saying something calculated to cause them as much sorrow as possible. Occasionally, this trope will come into play:
"Did you know Rose didn't die right away from that shot? No, she watched you fall through that window, heard as your body thudded against the ground and cried bitter tears before a final shot from Lucien ended her life."
"Your son/daughter is so sweet, like honey. Last night when I visited your home, he/she screamed your name as he/she died."
- The Order of the Stick:
Ancient Black Dragon: Did you...did you really think a Disintegrate spell would kill me?
Vaarsuvius: It was the spell you requested, was it not? Besides, I wanted you to experience what it felt like for your baby when I shredded him into a trillion lifeless specks of ash. Incidentally, he mewled helplessly while I did so.
- Nale boasts to his father, Tarquin about how he killed the latters' best friend Malack:
Nale: I killed Malack. I made him scream for his god under the desert sun. His ashes smelt like burning leather. He suffered.