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You Said You Would Let Them Go
Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookiee to my ship.
Lando Calrissian: You said they'd be left at the city under my supervision.
Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.

Standard response to a bad guy going back on a promise that he had no intention of keeping.

The use of this phrase comes in three tasty flavors:

  1. Sometimes uttered by The Mole or a member of Les Collaborateurs upon discovering the Big Bad's true, diabolical intentions for the captured heroes, Doomed Hometown, Innocent Bystanders, or other recipients of impending canine soccer or even worse. Usually, the speaker cut a deal with the villain to get the intended victims off easy, or simply hadn't seen the full extent of the evil scheme. This is also likely to come from The Mole who has found himself sympathizing with the protagonists he's betraying. This is a clue that the Turn Coat might not be all bad, even though they've just sold the good guys out, or that they just discovered how Eviler than Thou their new boss really is. It's often Foreshadowing a Heel-Face Turn on the part of the traitor, though they are likely to receive Redemption Equals Death as reward for their last-minute repentance.
  2. Also frequently spoken by a captive good guy who has been convinced by the villain, in a Hostage for MacGuffin scenario, to give him the location of the Rebel base, Secret Identity or Achilles' Heel of the hero, or other plot-driving information in exchange for the safety or freedom of something or someone the captive cares deeply about. More rarely, spoken as "You said you'd let me go!" by a Dirty Coward ally of the heroes captured by the villain and tricked into squealing on them with a promise of mercy.
  3. More rarely still, the "You said you'd let me go!" variation is spoken when a Mook or other underling is captured and threatened by a particularly unscrupulous or vengeful Anti-Hero and squeals on the bad guys in exchange for his life. This line is never uttered if the hero is actually intending to show mercy and let the badnik go. Simply hearing it said indicates the captive is about to discover just how much Darker and Edgier their captor really is.

In all of the above cases, the villain's response is always the same: "I Lied."

Somehow, the speaker is always surprised by this.

Variants include "You said you were just going to scare him!" and "You said you'd only hurt them a little!", among others. Another variant is "You promised me mercy" / "And you shall have it" (shoots victim in head). By the standards of those who practice this variant, that is mercy.

If the villain had no reason to not keep his promise (Say, releasing the girlfriend of a hero who only got into this to save her, and who has no interest in stopping his evil plan), then he may be carrying a Villain Ball.

When the villain follows through with the Exact Wording of this agreement, it's either Unhand Them, Villain! or False Reassurance. This is one case when the bad guy is exempt from Villains Never Lie - revelations may be true. Promises may not. Compare/Contrast: I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure. May occasionally trigger heroic/villainous Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played with in Bloody Monday — the villainess releases the hero's sister after he does what she wants, then immediately turns around and kidnaps her again. She believes this will make him think she keeps her word.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Azmaria promises to go with a demon as long as Chrono and Rosette aren't hurt. He happily takes her—then sends a blast of energy towards them in an attempt to kill them anyway. Azmaria's horrified response is "No, YOU PROMISED!"
  • It is implied in Dragon Ball Z that Vegeta suffered this trope as a child from Frieza. Frieza takes Vegeta from his father when he was just a little boy in what was implied to be a deal forced upon his dad, and Frieza also threatened to kill his father should Vegeta disobey him or fail. Despite Vegeta doing everything Frieza told him, Frieza ended up reneging his end of the bargain by killing his father anyways, and then committing Genocide against the Saiyans.
  • In One Piece, as the Straw Hats came to rescue Nico Robin in Enies Lobby, Smug Snake Spandam gloats that Luffy charged headfirst into the island and the 10,000-strong forces of the island and those forces have captured or killed him by now. The following lines ensue.
    Robin: Wait... this isn't what you promised!! My terms for cooperating with you were that you let them escape safely!!!
    Spandam: What's all this fuss for? Lucci, state the precise terms of the agreement.
    Lucci: "For the six members of the Straw Hat Crew, excluding Nico Robin, to leave Water Seven unharmed."
    Spandam: Yes... that's right. They left Water Seven perfectly unmolested... And came here, didn't they?!
    • He tries to justify it this way. The Straw Hats attack Enies Lobby after being spared, so sparing them anew would be quite stupid, as would be expecting someone to do so. But the fact that he was not going to let Robin go anyway, and also his Hannibal Lecture about how marines have no obligations to keep promises to pirates don't help his cause much.
    • Arlong promises to free Nami's village if she gives him 100 million Berries. She gets close to that amount, but Nezumi, a corrupt Navy Captain, comes to confiscate Nami's money hoard, and accidentally reveals that Arlong sent him by mentioning the specific amount. Nami confronts Arlong, who feigns ignorance and tells her to start again.
    • During the Marines' attack on Ohara, they promised to let a ship full of citizens to go free, but Akainu blew it up, justifying it by saying that if a scholar was on board, the entire operation would be pointless.
  • In Pandora Hearts, Vincent promises to give Break the antidote to the poison killing Sharon (who was poisoned by Vincent) if Break destroys Alice's memories (it sounds more complicated than it is). When Break destroys the memories, Vincent drops the antidote off the balcony.

    Comicbooks 
  • Happens in Judge Dredd, when a man helps the other three Dark Judges (y'know, the ones dedicated to extinguishing all life?) free Judge Death on the condition they don't kill his wife. Naturally, "WE LIED!"
  • In one Carl Barks comic, Magica DeSpell turns Donald Duck and his nephews into animals (well... non-anthropomorphic animals...) and says that she'll only turn them back if Scrooge gives her his dime. Naturally, she doesn't.
  • The Joker does this constantly. Then again who would really trust the Joker in the first place?
    • Well, usually they don't really trust him. They're just too terrified to say "no".
  • From Usagi Yojimbo:
    -You promised you would release Usagi if I turned myself over to you, Noriko!
    -Don't be an idiot.
  • Buffy does the Anti-Hero version of this to a captured vampire in the Wolves at the Gates Arc of season eight. Even sparked some debate among fandom, as some considered the act to be bordering on a Moral Event Horizon for her. To be fair, she never explicitly stated she would actually let him go in so many words...
    • Given that she tortured a vampire for information and then apparently killed her anyway as early as season two of the series, she probably crossed that line a long time ago.
  • Both invoked and inverted in an early issue of The Transformers, where Ratchet does a deal with Megatron whereby Ratchet will help Megatron takes back control of the Decepticons from Shockwave in return for him surrendering control of the Ark, where most of the other Autobots lie deactivated. In the end, Ratchet (falsely) tells Megatron he's fulfilled his side of the bargain, Megatron reveals he has no intention of fulfilling his and Ratchet reveals he's already prepared for that and has the Dinobots waiting in ambush.
  • MAD's parody of The Godfather Part II has Michael promise his sister that he'll never kill their brother Fredo, despite Fredo's treachery, while their mother is alive. Then he tells his consigliere to "put out a contract on Mom." Well, he didn't lie.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Emergency! fic "Lost and Found" , John Gage convinces a deranged killer to take him instead of Roy-but the the guy shoots Roy anyway after making John cuff him to the squad. Poor John spends 18 months of captivity thinking this and occasionally saying something close to it,believing Roy is dead.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Despicable Me, after Vector kidnapped the girls and holds them hostage in exchange for the moon, Gru complies but Vector decided not to uphold their side of the bargain.
  • In the second one of Disney's Peter Pan movies, Return to Neverland, Captain Hook states that he won't hurt a single hair on Peter Pan's head. When he captures Peter Pan he pulls out the one hair he won't hurt.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Both versions crop up in Star Wars
    • In A New Hope, Leia gives the (false) location of the Rebel base to Grand Moff Tarkin; Alderaan is not spared. The entire conversation, however, is filled with hidden meanings; Tarkin merely asked Leia if she had a preferred target, he never said he would destroy it instead of Alderaan.
      Tarkin: You see, Lord Vader, she can be reasonable.
      (to his men)
      Tarkin: Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready.
      Leia: WHAT?!
      Tarkin: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry — we'll deal with your rebel friends soon enough!
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando is a textbook example of the former type, betraying his friends to the Empire but getting screwed over when Vader "alters the deal." Lando - who only agreed to betray them because doing otherwise would mean his city's destruction - rescues the heroes and joins their cause once it becomes clear that Vader has no intention of sticking to the original deal.
  • From Batman Returns, after The Penguin has just sent the Ice Princess off the edge of a building to her death by means of a swarm of bats and framed Batman for it:
    Catwoman: "You said you were just going to scare the Ice Princess."
    Penguin: "She looked pretty scared to me!"
  • Batman Forever:
    Security Guard: But you said you'd let me live!
    Two-Face: Too true! And so you shall: nothing like live bait to trap a bat!
    • Appropriately for Two-Face, he had told a half-truth. When he said that he'd let the guard live, he really did mean he'd let him live - for the moment. Harvey Dent always lives in the moment, with his two-headed coin determining every course of action he takes. He'd always planned to kill the guard one way or another: the coin toss was simply to establish whether the guard would die right then and there or would burned to death by acid in the bank vault with Batman.
  • From The Dark Knight When Harvey Dent/Two-Face encounters Maroni, and learns that Ramirez second Mole in the police department (he already killed the first), he decides to flip his coin. When Maroni protests, Dent points out that he only said that telling him that it wouldn't hurt his chances of him surviving, he never said that it meant he actually could go free yet. He then decides that Maroni is spared, but then kills the driver when the coin declares him not nearly as lucky.
  • RoboCop 2. Cain orders that a corrupt cop who betrayed him be killed by torture. His henchwoman Angie objects.
    Angie: You said you were just gonna scare him!
    Cain: Doesn't he look scared?
  • The exact "You said you'd let them go!" "I lied" exchange appears between Ridley and Damodar in the first Dungeons & Dragons movie. Considering what kind of movie this is, Ridley is the only person surprised.
  • Played straight in the live-action Masters of the Universe adaptation starring Dolph Lundgren. Granted, He-Man's friends followed them back to the Castle, but had Skeletor made some pretext of "Hey, I'm trying to follow my part of the bargain", it seems He-Man would have let himself be tortured to death and let Skeletor become a god.
  • The Mask: "You said you wouldn't hurt him!" followed by the obligatory smug "I Lied".
    • In a previous draft of the screenplay, the collaborator is then thrown into an active printing press for her troubles. Though that scene didn't make it into the final release, we never see or hear from Peggy again.
    • In context it's obvious that they will hurt him, and that she's cooperating merely for personal gain, making the line in question much more macabre.
    • She may have thought they were just going to steal the mask from him, which wouldn't necessarily have hurt him.
      • Ultimately, though, they don't hurt him. Well, they do frame him and he gets sent to jail, but he's unharmed.
  • Inverted in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock:
    Maltz: Wait. You said you would kill me.
    Kirk: I Lied.
  • Subverted in Pirates of the Caribbean. Will makes a deal with Barbossa in that Elizabeth goes free. When Will calls him out for dumping her on a desert island, rather than state that he lied, Barbossa points out a loophole: Will never said ''when'' or ''where'' Elizabeth would go free.
    • Re-imagined in Kingdom Hearts II. Will orders Barbossa to, among other things, "leave". Barbossa and his men comply and leave the ship, but "The Heartless stay."
  • The Patriot has a particularly cruel rendition of the "You said you'd let me go" variation, when a man gives up the location of the militia to Colonel Tavington, right before he has the man and everyone else in his town locked in a church and burned to death.
    Mr. Hardwick: But... You said we'd be forgiven!
    Col. Tavington: And indeed you may! ...But that's between you and God.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines has the titular robot becoming able to lie:
    Terminator: Where's John Connor?
    Kate Brewster: If I tell you, do you promise to let me go?
    Terminator: Yes.
    Kate Brewster: He's, he's in the kennel. In a cage.
    [the Terminator goes to close the trunk]
    Kate Brewster: Hey. You said you'd let me go.
    Terminator: I Lied.
    • It's also a homage to a line he had in Commando, but in that one, he actually did let the guy go...
  • In the film Spacehunter, the cyborg villain promises the plucky young heroine (played by a 14-year old Molly Ringwald) that she would go free if she could escape from his death maze. She does so, but he reneges on the deal. The two characters exchange the trope word for word, complete with Michael Ironside's gleeful "I Lied."
  • From Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Abe gives up the crown piece allowing elf prince Nuada to activate the genocidal Golden Army to free princess Nuala. Nuada's first command:
    Abe: You'd do the exact same for Liz.
    Nuada: Kill them!
    Abe: But... he lied to us!
    Hellboy: Abe old buddy... if we ever get out of this, you and me gotta talk.
    • Despite Abe's reaction, the Big Bad never actually said that. Add to that the Synchronization the Big Bad had with the hostage, and we must conclude that Abe was hugging the Idiot Ball tightly on this one.
  • In The Outlaw Josey Wales:
    Fletcher: Damn you, Senator. You promised me those men would be decently treated!
    Senator Lane: They were decently treated. They were decently fed and then they were decently shot. Those men are common outlaws, nothing more.
  • From Sneakers:
    Bishop: "You gave your word."
    Cosmo: "I cannot kill my friend. [to henchman] Kill my friend."
  • Inverted in the John Wayne movie Big Jake. The title character's grandson is kidnapped by ruthless desperadoes; Big Jake and two of his sons travel down to Mexico in order to pay the ransom. What the kidnappers don't know, however, is that Jake McCandles has no intention of paying a ransom to them, and the strongbox that supposedly holds one million dollars actually holds nothing but newspaper clippings. When they get to the exchange, Jake uses the fake ransom to buy himself enough time to get his grandson to safety and slaughter all of the kidnappers.
  • In Midnight Run, Robert De Niro's character has taken custody of Charles Grodin and is taking him back to jail. They run into various mishaps along the way, and at one point, De Niro is knocked into a raging river. Grodin can rescue him, but only does so after De Niro promises to let him go. As soon as he's on dry land, he slaps handcuffs on Grodin, saying he'll let him go once he's back in jail.
  • In Air Force One, Ivan Korshunov doesn't release the First Lady and First Daughter as promised. He replies with the Exact Words, "I Lied".
  • In the film Darkman.
    Rick: Oh, god! Don't! I've told you everything!
    Darkman: I know, Rick. I know you did. But let's pretend you didn't!
  • In Wall Street, Bud Fox says to Gordon Gekko: "You told me you were going to turn Bluestar around, not upside down. You used me." Or, to put it another way (since the sale of Bluestar will cause Bud's father's union workers to be fired), "You said you would let them stay!"
  • Johann Schmidt (aka "Red Skull") also did this trope in the beginning of Captain America: The First Avenger to locate the Tesseract.
  • Played with in Star Trek Into Darkness. Harrison keeps his word to release Kirk and the other prisoners in exchange for his men, but once they've beamed back announces that he's going to destroy Enterprise.
  • Mission: Impossible. Subverted in Ghost Protocol. The villain holds the family of a Russian scientist hostage until he authenticates the nuclear launch codes he's buying on the black market. Once the deal is done, the scientist pleads for his family to be let go. The villain makes a phone call and orders them released, then immediately shoots dead the scientist so he can't tell the authorities about what happened.
  • In Runaway, Big Bad Dr. Charles Luther kidnaps the protagonist, Ramsey's, son Bobbie, sets up the exchange on top of a high rise to play to Ramsay's acrophobia. He releases Bobbie, only to inform Ramsay that his robots are waiting to kill the first person who exits the building.

    Literature 
  • In book seven of the HIVE series, Laura's family is taken hostage in exchange for the location of the Hunt. Once the information is delivered, her parents are ordered to be killed, and her younger brother put in the Glasshouse.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel The Big Game contains a rare example of the the good guy, Sisko, breaking a promise to one of the villains: to spare him arrest and let him finish the big poker game in exchange for information about the other villains. After he gives it, Sisko orders him arrested anyway. Though since the villain is a poker player, to his indignant "You said I could keep playing," Sisko gets to respond, "I was bluffing." And he was ready to bluff the other villains by the end, too.
  • In Dune Yueh's conversation with Baron Harkonnen is this with a nice brutal twist at the end. Oh and Yueh still manages to get revenge, in a very, very roundabout way.
    • Mainly because it is clear that Yueh knew all along what the Baron had done.
    • Dune is the only space opera in which everyone, everyone is clever and competent. The characters who are cleverer and more competent than the others are superhuman.
      • Oh come on. The original book actually has an appendix devoted to explaining how the Bene Gesserit were too stupid to live.
      • Yes, but they were very clever about it.
      • To paraphrase Albus Dumbledore: the corollary of knowing it all and being extremely powerful is that your fuckups, on the rare occasions they occur, are disastrous in proportion. Arguably almost everything that goes seriously wrong in that universe is the consequence of humongous fuckups by people who knew it all and were extremely powerful and made just a few critical mistakes. Everyone is clever and competent; but that's because at least in the original Frank Herbert sextet, nobody is an outright buffoon.
  • Done in The Dresden Files twice. First to Thomas in Grave Peril Harry's White Court vampire half brother, who, until the relationship is explained in Blood Rites, is inexplicably helpful who betrays Michael and Harry to get Justine back, she being the love of his life and someone who had turned down Bianca, the Big Bad, so being in serious trouble. He explains it as he wanted to get her back then double cross Bianca. All that stops Harry and Michael killing him on the spot when he turns up again is the fact he has Amoracchius /Excalibur undamaged. He later helps Harry by holding off Lea with Michael.
    • Later after Harry's duel with Duchess Arianna in Changes, when the Red King double crosses him on a technicality, something of an irony, as Harry is a Guile Hero and pulls this on assorted villains.
    • This is also the faeries primary form of contract screw: they will abide by the letter of the deal, but never the spirit. If you make a deal with a fairy to have them let you go, alive, they will do so, but beating you to near death is perfectly valid, as long as you're alive when they do let you go. Suffice to say that you need to word your deals with faeries very carefully.
  • Speaking of wizards named Harry, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort promises to let Harry's friend go free, if Harry surrenders. Harry duly surrenders, Voldemort duly sets Neville on fire. Nobody is surprised, not even Harry.
    • The standard was set even earlier when Snape tries to make Voldemort promise not to kill Lily Potter. He is seemingly aware that Voldemort will not likely keep his word and as a back-up plan goes to Dumbledore to help save her. In the end, alas, Voldemort manages to anyway.
      • Voldemort did make a token gesture towards his promise by asking Lily to stand aside when she tried to get between him and his intended target, but when she refuses, he simply kills her. Instead of, say, stunning her, or magically forcing her to obey him.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Magnificent Bastard Petyr Baelish, after apparently having tried to cheat on his wife Lysa with Sansa, promises he will never leave Lysa for as long as she lives. Then he immediately kills her.
    • Immediately after that Merrett Frey runs afoul of a variation this trope:
    Merrett Frey: (who is about to be hanged) NO, DON'T, I gave you your answer, you said you would let me go!
    Lem: Go bugger yourself.
    Tom: *Shrugs*
  • Used a couple times in The Silmarillion: After seeing that his wife is held captive, Gorlim agrees to betray Barahir if Sauron reunites them and sets his wife free. Unfortunately, the wife was just an illusion—she was really dead—but Sauron still "reunites" them by killing Gorlim. Later, Mîm the Petty-Dwarf agrees to betray Túrin's location to the Orcs if they let Túrin go; they still take Túrin captive. Similar offers are made fairly frequently in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings, but most of the other times either the offer is refused (Gandalf & co. when Frodo is captured, Húrin when he's captured, the Sons of Fëanor when Maedhros is captured) or the character is killed some other way. In general, if an evil (demi-)god makes this kind of offer, don't listen to him.
  • The "killing a prisoner Mook" version occurs with War-Prince Alloran in The Andalite Chronicles, complete with the line "you said you would let me go" and Alloran's retort that throwing the Mook out of the ship is "letting him go."
  • Inverted in Adam Hall's Quiller novel The Sinkiang Executive where it's the supposed 'good guy' who didn't keep his side of the bargain.
    "You failed to keep this 'deal' of yours," Parkis said.
    "So did they."
    "Did you ever imagine they'd keep to it?"
    "I think they would have."
    "If you had. So the blame was yours."
    "Indirectly. But I didn't kill her. They did."
  • The Discworld novel Interesting Times has Lord Hong's mole, having failed to set up La Résistance to take the fall for his own assassination of the Emperor, remind Lord Hong that he promised he would never speak or write any order to harm him. He gets around this by making a little origami figure of a headless man.
  • Casetti, alias Ratchett, from Murder on the Orient Express had kidnapped a child for ransom. Some time after the money had been paid, the child's remains were found, and the rest of the family died one by one. And Casetti skipped the country. The surviving relatives and the servants tracked him down and conspired to kill him, and no one shed any tears, least of all Poirot.
  • In The Guardians, Deacon makes a Deal with the Devil to protect his hostage lovers. The demon does return them afterwards, but he never promised he'd return them alive.
  • The Mooks in the Redwall book Legend of Luke reminisce about past instances their captain Vilu Daskar has done this. One notable occasion involved the prisoners being sewn up in sacks full of rocks and thrown overboard, with the words "You leave my ship alive, free to go where you will!" He's also fond of making worn-out slaves walk the plank or "setting them free" over the edges of cliffs.
  • In Brotherband, this is used by Zavac in order to get the information about the Andomal out of a Skandian. The Skandian's overconfidence about the Andomal had him say more than he ought.
  • Elantris modifies this slightly: Ahan believes the rebellion he was part of was doomed to failure, and so sells out his co-conspirators to Telrii in exchange for a promise that they would be merely imprisoned for it. Telrii shows up and orders his guards to kill them all, anyway.
  • In Angie Sage's Septimus Heap book Darke, Linda goes to do this to the lovebirds, after one brought back Jenna in return for its mate. The Witch Mother stops her because a witch must not renege on a Darke agreement — it isn't good for her.
  • Variation in the first Malus Darkblade book. The titular character, a Druichi slaver, has a hold full of hostages. In order to spread the word of his raid, he offers to let any one of them, as chosen by the rest, go free unharmed. The prisoners unanimously vote to have the only woman aboard freed. She then offers anything in order to have her betrothed freed as well, an offer which Malus takes up. The anything, in this case, being a combination of brutal rape and slow, careful torture. The man to which this unfortunate girl was betrothed is then brought up on deck, and informed that the deal was to let the girl go unharmed. She's no longer unharmed, therefore the deal is off. There is a bright side, though, as Malus has a present for the poor present boy. "After all these exquisite tortures, she did recant, but by then it was too late, she was harmed. I did save you a token though, to remember her by". Malus then holds out the preserved face of the girl, removed from her corpse and dried with salt. Then, according to the best Joker traditions, Malus hoists the peasant boy up and throws him overboard, letting him off the ship into the siren-filled waters below
  • Trapped on Draconica: Apparently there was a miscommuncation. Yusef was under the impression that the cavalry would be killed but the infantry spared because they were little more than farmers with pitchforks; the cavalry would go first and then the infantry would give up and Gothon would 'let them go'. Gothon's plan was all or nothing. He gave the entire the army chance to surrender and join him and face no further aggression from him. Kazem turned this down on principle and the entire Eastern Alliance was slaughtered.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: In the fourth season, Mitch Anderson threatens an Air Force officer's family so that he will take him to his air base, enabling him to steal a fighter jet. When the officer does as he's told and asks to speak with his family, Anderson informs him that his family is dead and that he will be the next to die before shooting him.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): Inverted Trope: in season 2, the fleet captures a Cylon and Roslin tells him to cooperate or he will be flushed out of an airlock without a spacesuit. He cooperates but she had him spaced anyway just because he was a Cylon.
  • Castle: Subverted Trope in the episode "Heartbreak Hotel": mafia boss kidnaps the girlfriend of a guy who accidentally stole 10 million dollars from the mob. Mafia boss promises if he returns the money, they'll return his girlfriend unharmed. Guy returns the money. Guy utters this line word for word. Mafia boss thinks for a moment, then... returns his girlfriend unharmed.
  • Heroes:
    • Sylar wants his abilities blocked by Matt. While doing that, he traps him in his own head for eternity. I guess after threatening a guy's family, killing his friends and taking over his body asking him for a favor is a bad idea.
    Sylar: (unbelieving) You said you would help me.
    Matt: Yeah, well... Guess there is still a little of you left inside me. Because I lied. Enjoy hell. (He disappears from Sylar's mind, leaving him scared. He then starts to wall up Sylar's body in his basement.)
    • Subverted Trope in Volume 1 of Heroes. DL Hawkins manages to pay off the debts to Linderman and give them to Linderman's Amoral Attorney, but then the Attorney implies that Linderman had altered the amount and takes the money. A later episode reveals that Linderman ordered a hit on that same attorney for stealing the money to buy diamonds for himself, implying that Linderman fully intended to uphold the deal.
  • Power Rangers: Standard for the franchise whenever the Rangers make a deal with the villain.
  • Revolution: Played with in the first season finale. When Tom Neville becomes the new leader of the Monroe Republic, his son asks him to please spare Charlie and Rachel, whatever happens in the Tower. In Tom's defence, he was going to uphold the deal, but the minute Team Matheson got into the control room on level 12, Tom orders the troops to break into the room and kill them all. He snidely asks his visibly shocked and uncomfortable son if he has a problem with that.
  • Smallville: Clark gets hit with this when Amanda Waller had agents holding Chloe at gunpoint and demanding him to reveal himself.
    Amanda Waller: I'd like to have my cake and eat it too.
  • Doctor Who: In "Nightmare in Silver", the Doctor plays Chess With Cybermen with human hostages as the stakes, and correctly anticipates this outcome beforehand.
  • A variation in Mob City: Mob enforcer Sid Rothman has hero Joe Teague restrained saying he'll let Teague go if he lets loose the location of a witness, but he'll kill him if Teague doesn't cooperate. When Rothman's associate calls him that he's in the process of assassinating said witness, Rothman gives us this gem: "I guess this cat got skinned another way, so, uh, never mind," and starts untying Teague.
  • In Gameof Thrones: Joffrey agrees to spare Eddard Stark at the behest of his bride-to-be Sansa, who is also Eddard's daughter, as long as he confesses to treason and declares Joffrey as legitimate. Eddard makes said declaration but Joffrey has him beheaded anyway.
  • In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Jafar promises to Will that he will spare Anastasia if he tells where his heart is. As Anastasia herself predicted, he still kills her anyway.

    Radio 

  • Inverted in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio play The Sirens of Time: The Sixth Doctor threatens to release the Temperon if the Knights of Valeysha don't back off and release his fifth incarnation. They comply, at which point he releases him anyway.

    Theatre 
  • In Anne Of The Thousand Days, Smeaton says at the trial that Cromwell promised him that he would be allowed to live if he confessed to carnal relations with the queen. Henry tells Smeaton that it was a lie and he's to die regardless of what he says.

    Videogames 
  • The Force Unleashed: When Darth Vader attacks the Rebel meeting, Galen Marek shouts, "You agreed to stay away". Vader's response? "I LIED"
  • Half-Life 2: Dr. Mossman says that to Dr. Breen after the Resistance leader's capture. She ends up doing a Heel-Face Turn in the end, after the hero's Violation of Common Sense.
    • And before that, Eli invokes the trope with "Goddammit Breen, you agreed you would let her go!"
  • Played with in the first Golden Sun game, where the party trades the plot coupon for a hostage, only to be tricked by crafty wording. (To be fair, the villain only said he wouldn't hurt the hostage, her release was never mentioned.)
    • This actually happens twice in Golden Sun I, implying that Isaac really should have known better. And yet, despite managing to outsmart Isaac & co. twice using Exact Words, Saturos & Menardi get referred to as Dumb Muscle in The Lost Age.
      • If you're referring to capturing Jenna and Kraden, they do admit they really did intend to let them go once the terms of the bargain were fulfilled— and then the mountain they were in erupted before Isaac could hold up his end of things, and they chose to evacuate with the hostages rather than release them inside of an erupting volcano.
  • In Guild Wars Eye of the North, the vanguard soldier Anton reveals that he provided information to the Charr in exchange for his village's safety (it went exactly the way you'd expect, with the bonus of his being caught and imprisoned for it). His quest line involves seeking out and eventually killing the Charr he made the deal with.
    • Who, upon being defeated, attempts to strike another deal to save his skin. It doesn't work.
      • The charr being talked about here are the Flame Legion, the evil overlords who propagated a nutjob cult that worshipped false gods, but those gods were still powerful beings who kept most of the charr in line with the threat that those who were disobedient would either be brainwashed or killed. (This happened a few times.)
  • Suikoden II: A poor villager begged at Luca Blight that she'd do anything to be spared. Luca humored that and ordered her to act like a pig. She does, and Luca laughed at the efforts. When she asked about being let go... "DIE, PIG!!!". Slash. One dead woman.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, you find a group of Great Khans holed up in Boulder City holding a few NCR soldiers hostage while a small NCR force is gunning for them. With some persuasion, you can convince them to release the hostages in return for being allowed to leave in peace. When you tell the NCR officer in place about the deal, he says that he just received orders to take the Khans out by force, even though they released the hostages. Fortunately, if you're still hoping for a peaceful resolution, you can appeal to his integrity and convince him to stand down anyway.
  • Subverted at the end of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure. Montana Max tells Buster that he'll return Babs and the rest of his friends to him if he gives him the titular hidden treasure. Buster refuses to give it to him, thus starting the final battle with Monty's giant robot. After Buster defeats Monty and his robot, he tells him he promised to let Babs and his friends go. Monty reminds him he still owes him the treasure, and Buster still refuses to give it to him.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Jaree-Ra assures you that after you help him cause a ship to become wrecked that he'll make sure the crew is safe. Naturally when you arrive at the ship and discover that his marauders have instead butchered the crew it's really no surprise when his sister Deeja proceeds to turn on you when she offers you "your share" of the spoils.

    Web Original 
  • Mecha Sonic implies after defeating Yoshi in Super Mario Bros. Z Episode 3 that he would have pulled the trope on Yoshi anyways had he simply given him the Chaos Emerald.
  • Variant 3 occurs in Worm when Nyx of the Slaughterhouse Nine, a violent serial killer and murderer with illusion powers, is caught by the Wards and Undersiders. Clockblocker, the Wards team leader, gives her his word as a hero that she'll live if she tells them where Jack Slash, the leader of the Nine, is, but after she does so both he and Grue agree that she can't be allowed to live, and Crucible incinerates her.

    Western Animation 
  • From the Batman Beyond episode "Ascension":
    Batman: "Enough. Turn it off. That thing's gonna kill him."
    Paxton Powers: "You want this as much as I do."
    Batman: "No. I wouldn't have agreed to this. You said you were gonna help him."
    Paxton Powers: "I Lied."
  • Danny Phantom, "Reality Trip": Freakshow takes the ¡Three Amigos!' families hostage to blackmail them into bringing him three powerful Mineral MacGuffins. Not only does Freakshow seize them before Danny has a chance to use them to doublecross him, but he doublecrosses them.
    Danny: We had a deal!
    Freakshow: The deal was, "if you want to see your parents alive again." Well, here they are, alive... for now!
  • An episode of Sonic Underground had Knuckles helping Dr. Robotnik to capture the hedgehogs, on the condition that he not roboticize them afterward. He's rather outraged when Robotnik goes back on his word.
  • In the origin story of Freakazoid!!, Gutierrez promises to let Dexter Douglas's family go free if he's given the code that will allow him to become a "Freakazoid." When Roddy complies, Gutierrez thanks him and orders his guards to eliminate Roddy, Dexter, and the family. Roddy doesn't even get to say the whole phrase (But you said-) before Gutierrez cuts him off with "I Lied."
  • From The Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode "Pirates of Koopa":
    Princess Toadstool: You said you wouldn't harm my friends if I came willingly!
    King Koopa: Would Blackbeard Koopa lie? [winks at the camera] Besides, you didn't come willingly!
  • In South Park episode "Fun With Veal", Cartman gets the job of negotiating with the FBI over the 23 stolen calves (which are treated exactly like a hostage situation). He offers the FBI negotiator one calf in return for weapons and ammunition. Stan and Kyle are uncertain about this, but when he gets them, he quickly finds a reason not to hand over any calves, and keeps bargaining for more.
    • Actually this is on the fault of the negotiator as well, as he tried to raise how many calves Cartman was to hand over for the exchange so Cartman severed the deal.
  • Used in the Sofia the First episode, "Make Way For Miss Nettle", where Miss Nettle promises to free the fairies from Sleeping Beauty, whom she captured earlier, in exchange for Sofia handing over a powerful spellbook. As she's about to fly off with the book, Sofia reminds her to free the fairies.
    Miss Nettle: Oh no, I can't do that. If I let them out now, they'd just come after me.
    Sofia: But we had a deal!
    Miss Nettle: Oh, all right. I'll let them out of their bubble after I've learned every spell in their book and become the most powerful fairy in the world!

    Real Life 
  • Richard Phillips, the captain who was held hostage on his cargo ship by Somali pirates in 2009. Using a series of mind games and Obfuscating Stupidity, he secretly communicated with his crew that allowed them to capture one of the pirates. This led to a trade: the captain for the captured pirate. The pirate was released first, but the captain wasn't. After his rescue by the Navy SEALS, Phillips said that he had learned never to make deals with pirates.
  • The Lindberg kidnapping case. The kidnapper lied and killed the toddler anyway. Or, according to another theory, the Lindbergh baby was killed during the kidnapping by accident (falling from the arms of the man who had held him on the ladder goin down from the window) and they lied saying he was alive to collect the ransom.
  • This is the central problem behind "sovereign debt" (and, by extension, problems with a lot of governments and their activities.) If you lend money to the king at times of his need, the terms under which the money was lent are rarely enforceable when the king is supposed to pay the money back since he controls the courts, the army, the law, etc. Not surprisingly, kings (and governments) have always had trouble borrowing money and elaborate systems of government institutions had to be created so that someone not (hopefully) beholden to the king (usually, the Church in Western Europe) had to act as a third party mediator to ensure that the king does pay up (and do whatever he promised) but such arrangements, in turn, generally became quite complicated and did not always work well.


Unsportsmanlike GloatingA Dishonorable Index    
You Monster!Surprise TropesYou're Insane!
Unhand Them, Villain!Good Is Dumb    
You Didn't AskTruth and LiesAccidental Truth
Wrong Side All AlongBetrayal TropesI Lied
You Can Keep HerI Have Your IndexI Lied
You Said You Couldn't DanceStock PhrasesYou Should Have Died Instead

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