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You Will Be Spared
aka: Your Death Will Be Quick
"You're a funny guy, Sully, I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last."
John Matrix, Commando*  

Part of a villainous stock phrase that usually goes "When I Take Over the World, you will be spared." The other variations are "I think I'll kill you last" and "Your death will be quick and painless."

Usually, the villain will make this promise to anyone who helps him, or to someone they feel indebted to, are friends with, or are in love with. If the villain really likes this person, expect them to sweeten the deal with a Shiny New Australia. This is generally played for laughs, since few "realistic" villains are quite so egomaniacal that they bandy out the lives of others this way.

If said to a hero, it may because they're Friendly Enemies. An Omnicidal Maniac may either express a desire to preserve one person or event that they like, or say that it's the one thing they'll miss after destroying the world. If they believe the person or people they spare have some sort of Uniqueness Value, that's Sparing The Aces.

An alternative reason for a villain to invoke this trope is to leave behind a witness to tell of their misdeed, intending for it to have a demoralizing effect on the villain's enemies.

Contrast I'll Kill You!!


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Marik Ishtar from Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series has to following evil monologue:
    With his help I shall defeat you and then conquer the world! Ah-hahaha! Oh hey look a bird! Isn't it just the cutest little guy— I mean no! In my new world all birds will be enslaved! Especially this one! And he shall be named Mr. Tweetums, because it is very evil! Ah-hahaha! Now be gone Mr. Tweetums. I am trying to stalk my nemesis.
    • He also likes Joey, who will be killed last.
    • Evil Bakura quotes the Commando exchange with Pegasus.
  • For Baccano!'s Ladd Russo and Lua Klein, nothing says love like "I'll kill you last."
  • The Big Bad of Fullmetal Alchemist didn't say anything until he'd already made his move, but once they're the only two left alive he gives something along the lines of this trope to Van Hohenheim, "in gratitude for giving me life." Poor man had had no inkling Homunculus was evil until then, and they had even established in conversation that he was basically his father.
  • In Aura Battler Dunbine, when the bad guys arrive on Earth announce their plan to conquer it, they say they will spare the city of Boston out of respect for one of their pilots who came from there.
  • In Claymore, the freshly resurrected and awakened Hysteria says that she'll spare any Claymore who removes the sword from her neck. One steps up and does so, and she keeps her word, avoiding that Claymore while slaughtering the rest. Also a prime example of Even Evil Has Standards.
  • In Jojos Bizarre Adventure, Nazi officer Stroheim goes to a group of Mexican prisoners and makes them choose which one of them will be sacrificed to the "man in the column". One boy stands up to offer himself to save the rest, and Stroheim is so impressed by his bravery that he chooses to spare him and kill the rest.

     Comic Books 
  • Ultimate Spider-Man - Peter and Kitty Pryde hit the mall on their first date and joke about the modern miracle that is the corn-dog on a stick. Kitty quips that when the mutants take over the world, the inventor of the corn-dog will be spared. She has to explain she was kidding when Peter looks nervous.

    Fan Works 

    Films 
  • In the B-Movie Evil Alien Conquerors, said conquerors tell a normal human, when he helps them, that he will die painlessly. It's something of a Running Gag, to the point that he eventually waves them off with a parting "Die painlessly" to theirs.
  • In the Coneheads movie, this is what Mr. Conehead says to the woman who sabotages her driving exam in an attempt to start an affair with him. He won't sleep with her, but promises she'll be on the protected list once his people invade.
  • In the first Transformers film, Megatron makes the offer to Sam: "Give me the Allspark, and you may live to be my pet."
    • Becomes a major plot point in the third film. Carly's boss Dylan, and some of his associates, are the descendents of humans who worked for NASA when the Ark was discovered on the moon. To ensure that no other human learned of this, Soundwave and Laserbeak forced NASA's employees to keep quiet about the discovery, lest they be killed off. Dylan turns out to be one of the few humans chosen to be spared after the Decepticons enslave humanity, possibly to work as a liaison between the 'Cons and the human slaves. It's also revealed that the various deaths in history related to NASA were Soundwave and Laserbeak getting rid of "loose ends."
  • Col. John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tells this to one of the villains in Commando. Later, he's hanging him over a long drop by his leg:
    Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
    Sully: Yes. That's right, Matrix, you did!
    Matrix: I Lied. (Drops Sully to his death.)
  • Anti-Hero-ic version in Blade II. Blade gets information out of a Vampire Mook, saying, "Tell me what I want to know, and I'll consider you as a loose end." The Mook spills the beans, and Blade actually lets him get away, even when he runs into him again later on. Of course, at the very end, Blade catches up to the guy in a sleazy porn theater about three countries away: "Well, you didn't think I forgot about you did you? <Brain-stab>"
  • In Doctor Zhivago, Yuri runs into the War Train of the brutal Bolshevik general Strelnikov, whom no one knows anything about. After questioning, he discovers that Strelnikov is actually his long-lost lover's Bishōnen ex-boyfriend, who was presumed dead and suffered a Heroic BSOD and now carries an evil scar. He informs Dr. Zhivago that Lara is still alive and has been spared the purge due to their past relationship. After leaving, the guards tell Yuri he must be blessed: no one is questioned by Strelnikov and lived to tell the tale.
  • In Lord Of Illusions, Nix confesses to Swann that his intent (unsurprisingly) is to "murder the world", but rather charitably offers to kill Swann last if he helps Nix with said murder.
    Nix: Now you know I will kill you when we're done. I have to.
  • In Billy Madison, after Billy apologizes to a guy he used to bully as a kid, said person marks him off his "People to Kill" list and saves his life in the ending.
  • In Hellboy, Rasputin says "It will be quick" to Professor Bruttenholm right before he kills him. It appears to be true.
  • During a flashback in Secondhand Lions, Hub has The Sheik, who has tried to kill him on several occasions, defenseless, and at his mercy. He decides to spare him, and leaves him with this.
    Hub: "I have held your life in my hands twice, and twice I have given it back to you. The third time, your life is mine."
  • The Wizard of Oz has the "I'll kill you last" version.
    Wicked Witch: The last to go. She'll see the first three go before her.
  • Imhotep makes this promise to Beni in The Mummy 1999.
  • This happens between Zorg and Cornelius in The Fifth Element.
    Jean Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg: You saved my life, and in return I'll spare yours...for now.
  • At the end of the director's cut of the third Riddick movie, Riddick confronts Krone as he's praying in the Lord Marshal's private chambers, having taken up Riddick's former post after betraying Riddick and leaving him for dead. Riddick promises to kill Vaako first and Krone second if he tells him where he can find Vaako. Krone launches into a long-winded rant instead of answering him, prompting Riddick to kill him ahead of schedule.
  • In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar spares Rodney when the apes break out, putting him in a cell for his own protection.

    Literature 
  • Ur Example: In The Odyssey, when Odysseus gives his name to the Cyclops as "Noman", the Cyclops says that he will eat "Noman" last out of thanks for giving him the wine. (It may or may not have been the giant's sick idea of a joke.)
    • This also doubles as a kick the dog moment to make him evil enough that the audience can enjoy him getting brutally blinded later. Capturing, enslaving and killing intruders wouldn't make him particularly bad in the eyes of Homer's audience (eating them is a bit over the top, though). Deliberately insulting the holy laws of hospitality by expressly making this Odysseus' "guest gift" is sacriledge though, and that's a completely different matter.
  • Bagheera does this in the Book of the Jungle by Kipling. During the water peace (when he is not allowed to hunt) he absent-mindedly says he wishes he could eat grass. A young animal from one of his prey species quips: "So do we". Everybody laughs and Bagheera makes an effort to memorize this animal's appearance so he can remember not to eat the animal that made him laugh next time they meet.
  • A rare heroic version in Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel: just before Humanity on Trial, Kip is assured that he and Pee-wee will be allowed to live out their lives. Kip asks that they be returned to Earth if humanity loses, which may have been a factor in deciding to spare humanity for now — although they intend to re-evaluate later.
  • In Wintersmith, the titular Anthropomorphic Personification offered to spare Tiffany and the Chalk (where she came from); the rest of the Disc would remain frozen forever.
  • Inverted by Virigar the Werewolf King in Ryk E. Spoor's Digital Knight, when he tells Jason Wood, "I'm minded to let you live for a while.... So you will suffer all the more while everything you value is destroyed before your very eyes!"
  • In the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter the main vampire—though not exactly a villain—would say, every time he and Abraham Lincoln met, and he didn't kill him—or the vampire would save him—he'd ask why and the vampire would say "Some people are just too interesting to kill." Then in the end, when Abraham Lincoln died and the vampire brought him back as a vampire himself, he said, "Some people are just too interesting to let die."
  • The Onion's ''Our Dumb Century" features Hitler saying this about the Japanese.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Goblet of Fire, Voldemort tells Harry that if he surrenders, his death will be quick, and possibly painless.
    I do not know... I have never died.
    • After bumping Lily and her family to top of Voldemort's hit list, Severus Snape begged him to spare her (though not James, who he hated, or Harry, who was Voldemort's primary target and had no chance of being spared), in part due to his unrequited love for her. It almost worked; Voldemort did offer Lily the chance to step aside, but since she insisted on protecting Harry, he ended up killing her anyway.
  • Another Older Than Feudalism heroic one is in The Bible-Rahab is told that she and her family will be spared after hiding the Hebrew spies from the soldiers of Jericho.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends has this exchange from Phoebe: When the revolution comes, I will have to destroy you all... except you, Joey.
    • Strange Fridge Logic: Phoebe and Joey are the poorest friends. The kind of "proletariat" revolution Phoebe presumably was alluding to would destroy all others: Rachel on account of being from a rich family, Chandler due to working for a large corporation, Monica and Ross for being somewhat-high-class (bourgeois). Joey is poor and "produces culture" (so to speak). None of the other Friends produce culture, nor do they work in the industry.
  • Heroes has Sylar informing Mohinder "I wasn't begging for my life... I was offering you yours."
  • Because they had an unwitting hand in his genesis, a Big Bad tells the Lexx crew that they will be the last in the universe to die.
    Mantrid: That will be my thank you.
  • On Supernatural, the demons assisting Lucifer will be killed as soon as Lucifer is finished with the humans and angels if not sooner. Any demon caught assisting Team Free Will will be granted immortality instead.
  • LOST inverts the "I'll kill you last" variety. Said by Ethan to Charlie, this is a threat: Charlie will see all his friends die before he's killed.
    • "What They Died For" plays it straight with the Man in Black offering to spare Penny if Widmore tells him what he needs to know.
  • Ingrid tells her therapist this after the therapist helps her get past her Villainous BSOD. The therapist believes that her ability to make such jokes is a good sign.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 6: While drowning sorrows and bemoaning their (lack of) love lives together, Spike tells Anya that she's the only one he wouldn't bite if he didn't have his Restraining Bolt. He respects women who say exactly what's on their minds (even if they happen to be off their rocker like Drusilla).
  • The first scene of the Blade series pilot subverts the trope after Blade chases down a vampire in Russia and acquires some information from him at swordpoint.
    Blade: You can go.
    Vampire: You are kidding, yes?
    Blade: Yes. (whack)
  • Doctor Who: In "The Waters of Mars", The Doctor meets a woman in 2059 whom he knows is critically important to history. She reveals that the reason she's in space is because she was spared by a Dalek during their invasion of Earth fifty years earlier. She never knew why, but The Doctor knows that it's because of her importance to the future; she's a "fixed point in time".
  • In the last season of Breaking Bad, Jack and his crew spare Walter and Jesse for very different reasons.
  • In Person of Interest, Root tells her psychiatrist she's deciding whether or not to kill him. She ultimately decides to spare him, thus playing the trope straight.

    Theatre 
  • How Alquist ended up as the last human in R.U.R. After the robots took over the factory he was dragged before the one in charge, the usually human hating Radius, who took one look at him and told the other robots to leave him be because 'he works with his hands like a robot'.

    Videogames 
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has Omnicidal Maniac Gig, who mentions if he gets control over the hero's body he will destroy everything, "except maybe those hotpods. Those are good. I'll keep those."
  • Saren attempts to invoke this in Mass Effect by making organics useful to the Big Bad. Even though the whole point of what they were trying to do was to kill them all. Saren was brainwashed into thinking he could actually have a few organics be spared so the next evolution of species/their own would be able to recover much faster. Then again, who would think that as the races of the galaxy would have a heads up?
    • In Mass Effect 2 we learned that a certain amount of people would be spared. Though they probably will wish they hadn't.
    • In Mass Effect 3 we learned that only the most advanced races are wiped out in each Cycle. During the Prothean's Cycle for example, the ancestors of the present day races were spared. The Reaper Cycle is actually a rather warped attempt to preserve organic life in the galaxy by periodically hitting a Reset Button on civilization to prevent an all out Robot War that would completely wipe out life. This leads to the Reapers' downfall, since the people of each Cycle worked on the Crucible, the weapon that ultimately defeats them.
  • This is one of the taunts in Red Alert 2. The exact wording depends on the faction, ranging from "I promise amnesty for you and your troops" for the Americans, to "Surrender now and I'll kill you quickly" for the Cubans.
  • Inverted in Star Control II; if you surrender to the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za, they will tell you that all of your crew will be spared, but your main character will be executed.
  • Axenos from Wizard101 inverts this trope by combining it with Mercy Kill. Since the player (accidentally) releases him, he thanks them and promises to kill the first so they would be spared from witnessing the horrors he'd bring about on the Spiral.
  • Weapon Lord has an interesting integration of this and Gameplay and Story Integration, as sparing an opponent instead of killing them in Story mode will force you to fight them again before fighting Zarak. Sparing certain people can also net you a different Story Ending.
    • Jen-Tai has been known to spare her opponents in order to let them learn from their mistakes and challenge her again.
  • In MouseHunt's "Great Winter Hunt 2012", the player assists an embittered mouse and receives a note of thanks, including the line "When we mice finally overthrow your world and become the rightful rulers, I will be sure to make sure the other mice treat you well."
  • Right before the Final Battle of MOTHER, Giygas offers to spare Ninten, and only Ninten, and take him back to Giygas' world out of lingering sentimentality for Ninten's grandmother Maria who was Giygas' Parental Substitute when he was a baby. Ninten of course refuses, and the battle commences.

    Webcomics 
  • In PvP, after horrifying him by Storyboarding the Apocalypse, Scratch reassures a quivering Skull that his death will be painless.
  • VG Cats plays with this here with the The Church Of The One-Winged Angel Of Latter-Day Summons.
    "So if I join, I'll be saved?"
    "Oh no, you'll still die...but faster."
  • Dominic Deegan uses this when Snow Song is thinking about how she'll destroy the town in a restaurant, but then the waitress gives her some chocolate cake on the house:
    Snow Song: None of these drones will be spared... Except for her.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Sarda shows mercy to the Affably Evil Dark Warriors:
    "Look, I don't do this... uh, ever. But you guys are basically like kittens stuck on a leaking lifeboat in a typhoon. Just run."
    • Also, upon stumbling upon the Dark Warriors trying to steal the Cosmic Keystones to defeat him and gain ultimate power, Sarda asks them if they even know how to use them. Bikke tosses his keystone at Sarda, becoming the first person in the series to land any sort of hit on him:
    "You're a quick thinker and spiteful. I can respect that. You won't be killed, Bikke."
  • "You're a crazy bastard, yes? You, I like. I'll kill you last." Though considering the speaker's modus operandi, this is probably of no consolation to the guy who really doesn't like seeing his friends killed.
  • Bob and George For being entertaining opponents
  • This Buttersafe.
  • Girl Genius:
    Gil, to Tarvek: "I am Gilgamesh Wulfenbach - heir to the Empire and defender of the Pax Transylvaniana - and I will crush this whole Knights of Jove/Storm King mess of yours. Ooh, don't worry - I'll let you escape. You can go skulking around with your little plans - after all, I'll always need someone to take the blame."
    • Castle Heterodyne eventually uses the "I will kill you quickly" line on Professor Tiktoffen, while crushing him to death.
    • Gil also uses a variant of this ("After this is over, you will be promoted") this to the one person who doesn't believe he's who he says he is just because of his hat.
  • A posthumous variant is employed in Sam and Fuzzy, in which Mr. Blank states that he made Mr. Black's death as quick and painless as possible because the person in question "had earned it"... But the person he's talking to is not going to be in for the same treatment.
  • In Sinfest, a succubus to Crimney.
    I think I'll let you live.
  • Homestuck: Eridan wants to kill all the land dwwellers he admits he won't kill Kanaya. Of course when he snaps the only land dweller he kills is Kanaya by blowing a hole through her stomach with a "science wand" she made him.
    CA: im not goin to vvery wwell kill you am i that wwould be fuckin unconscionable
    CA: wwhat kind of friend wwould i be

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy has Stewie, who has said this to Peter (Your death shall be quick and painless) when he turned off the mind-numbing Teletubbies show, and again to Flappy (Good news! I've decided not to kill you!) to let him know that his pancakes were satisfactory.
    • In "Petarded", Peter says "When we retarded guys take over you will beg for mercy, and we will consider it".
  • Futurama: Bender has said he might spare Fry when he kills all humans.
    Bender: "Whenever I said 'Kill all humans', I'd whisper to myself '...except for one'. He was the one!" * bursts into tears*
    • As of "Lethal Inspection", Hermes has been added to the list of humans to not kill.
    • Robot Santa proclaimed his intention to kill the entire Planet Express team ... except Zoidberg, who hadn't been naughty and got a pogo stick instead.
  • This line from Dr. Robotnik in an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog...
    "Perhaps due to your change of heart, I'll exterminate you somewhat painlessly..."
  • The Justice League Unlimited episode Alive offers Darkseid's take:
    Darkseid: It seems I have you to thank for my resurrection. Though your world will suffer slowly, I grant you a quick death.
  • In the fourth episode of The Legend of Korra, Amon ambushes Korra and has a golden opportunity to take her bending away, but doesn't take it because that would make her a martyr. Instead he gives a Breaking Speech explaining that he'll save her for last.
  • Though he never actually tells her, Cat R. Waul of An American Tail: Fievel Goes West planned on sparing Tanya Mousekewitz after he and his gang killed and ate every mouse in town, because he liked her singing voice.
  • Filmations Ghostbusters: Two kids unwittingly released a ghost bent on revenge against the family of one of them. He spared the kid as thanks.

    Other 
  • This is supposedly one of the reasons to worship Cthulhu. Upon his rising, cultists will be devoured first, sparing them what happens next.
  • Seen on 4chan: "youfunnyguyikillyoulast.jpg"
  • On I Can Has Cheezburger?: A promise made by a cute little tiger cub.
  • Red vs. Blue, Big Bad Omnicidal Maniac Omega discussing his plans to conquer the universe with Mission Control Vic.
    "Then, the universe will be mine, and I'll CRUSH EVERY LIVING SOUL INTO DUST!!.... Um... except for you, Vic. You can be assistant crusher."
  • In The Onion`s "Our Dumb Century", this is the Nazis' response when (as the headline says) Non-white Japan allies with White Supremacist Nazi Germany in Well-Thought Out Scheme.
  • Dane Cook has a stand-up act about befriending the creepy loner in your office so that this happens when he inevitably snaps and goes on a rampage with a shotgun.
  • On Atop the Fourth Wall, because he defeated someone who was a nuisance to it the Entity does save Linkara for last and lets him run and hide after it absorbs everyone else - but it's waiting when he comes back out.
  • In Noob, the hacker that is trying to get people to stop playing MMORPG says he'll leave the main guild alone due to them indirectly helping him with all the disasters they cause or a negociated immunity from his business partner among them depending on the media. Another implied reason is that they frequently Go Karting with Bowser.
  • Near the end of browser game Demon Thesis, Eldritch Abomination Mesmerus begins crossing over from his dimension to our world thanks in large part to the main characters being his Unwitting Pawns and states that the main characters will be killed quickly and at the same time, as that seems the most humane thing to do and he owes them that much for inadvertantly helping him as they have.

    Real Life 
  • The author of A Hundred Little Hitlers (about Neo-Nazis), who is Jewish, apparently impressed one Neo-Nazi so much that he told her when he annihilated all the Jews, he'd spare her.
    • We can one-up that one with the story of Ernest Hess, a Jewish former soldier in Nazi Germany, who was spared from all persecution, harassment and even death by his former military subordinate... Adolf Hitler. Yes. You read that right.
    • Add to that the physician who looked after Hitler's mother, who also happened to be Jewish. Hitler granted him special protection out of gratitude for his work.
    • Nazi Germany was, in some sense, full of this trope. Many high ranking Nazi party officials, military officers, and government bureaucrats had friends and relatives who were Jewish or, more often, had recent Jewish ancestry, and in fact, quite a few had recent Jewish ancestry themselves. An entire legal process was created (described in detail in the book Hitler's Jewish Soldiers by Bryan Mark Riggs) whereby such people might apply for legal exceptions that spared them persecution—at least for the time being. Some high ranking Nazi leaders on trial at Nuremberg even used the help they had given their friends in securing these exemptions in attempt to demonstrate that they were not hardcore Nazis. For example, Goering talked about how he helped his friend General Erhard Milch, whose father was Jewish, stay in "his" Luftwaffe (incidentally, Milch was himself on trial for war crimes at Nuremberg). Doenitz used the help he had given Captain Bernhard Rogge (who would become famous for his humane and honorable conduct as the captain of the German raider Atlantis) who had a Jewish grandfather, as his defense. According to Riggs, several hundred thousand such exemptions were granted throughout the Nazi era.
      • Riggs notes that the degree of protection granted by these exemptions varied. At the end of the war, Milch was a field marshal and Rogge was an admiral. But many who had received the legal exemptions were still dismissed from their positions of prestige and a large number, despite some being highly decorated combat veterans, were conscripted into undignified labor units (Organization Todt) doing menial work.
  • This trope most likely lay at the heart of the cynical German-Japanese military alliance during World War II from at least the Nazis' perspective (but possibly the Japanese as well). A paranoid, virulently racist, white supremacist country decides to team up against other enemies with a nation they probably deem subhuman when it gets down to it. This article from Our Dumb Century puts it best.
    • Ironically enough, Imperial Japan had notions of racial purity and superior bloodlines which, if not as consuming as that of the Nazis, was a significant part of their cultural ideology. Basically, both countries were willing to make a deal with what they considered an inferior race for the sake of gaining power over their enemies.
    • Hitler also made offers of this kind to the UK during the early phase of the war, generally along the lines of "Britannia can rule the waves and Germania the earth." The UK ignored them (they didn't even acknowledge they had received them), which is essentially a diplomatic way of saying, "f*** off."
  • There was a persistent Urban Legend floating around in the British media in the wake of the July 2007 suicide bombings in London about a woman stopping to assist a gentleman of Middle Eastern extraction with some problem or other -a lost contact lens, directions, whatever- and being told "don't take the tube on $DATE". If this exchange ever took place in any form outside someone's especially vivid imagination, it was a subversion; none of the quoted dates ever seem to match up to a known terrorist plot, successful or otherwise, and the person dispensing this advice was almost certainly taking the piss.
    • A similar urban legend in the US involves someone doing something nice for a Muslim or Middle Eastern person, and being warned not to drink [insert brand of soda here] after a certain date. The story always has a strong implication of "because it'll be poisoned", but so far, there have been no mass poisonings via Coke or Pepsi.
  • One of the reasons Guy Fawkes' plot to blow up the parliament was that many of the plotters had friends in parliament and wanted to warm them not to go.


You Have No Chance to SurviveEvil GloatingThis Is Unforgivable
You Watch Too Much XStock PhrasesYou Will Know What to Do

alternative title(s): Kill You Last; Your Death Will Be Quick
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