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Better To Die Than Be Killed / Live-Action Films

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  • In 30 Days of Night Billy kills his wife and children rather than have the vampires kill them, he attempts to shoot himself but the gun jams, so he sits in the darkness for 28 days.
  • Taken literally in The Abyss, where the heroine demands that the hero let her drown, rather than share his breathing apparatus. This leaves him conscious and able to carry her drowned body to safety, where she is revived.
  • Mentioned a couple of times in the Alien series:
    • Aliens: Lt. Gorman and Private Vasquez are trapped by the aliens and detonate a grenade to kill themselves rather than allow themselves to be captured and impregnated by a facehugger. Ripley and Hicks promise each other that they will "take care of each other" if they were hopelessly cornered by the Aliens. It doesn't come to that, and they live through the entire film.
    • In Alien³, Ripley tells Dillon to kill her. He agrees, "quick and painless"... but he doesn't go through with it. Then later he has his own Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Anaconda, Danny Trejo's nameless poacher in the opening is attacked by an Anaconda intent on eating him. When it corners him at the top of the boat's mast, he shoots himself to prevent it from digesting him alive.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Maria stabs herself with the blade Ojeda kept at her throat when she sees Aguilar hesitating between her life and the Apple. Failure meant more then shame; it meant enslavement.
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  • In Avengers: Infinity War, when Gamora realizes that Thanos intends to sacrifice her (aka the one he loved the most) to get the Soul Stone, she tries to stab herself to deny Thanos the chance. Unfortunately, the Titan simply turns the knife to bubbles using the Reality Stone and throws her into the abyss, obtaining the Soul Stone.
  • Bad Dreams: Gilda drinks a bottle of formaldehyde when she thinks Harris is about to mutilate her.
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: A very tragic example occurs in "The Gal Who Got Rattled." Mr. Arthur gives Miss Longabaugh such a gruesome account of what will happen to her if she doesn't kill herself to avoid capture, she shoots herself the moment that Mr. Arthur's fight with the Indians takes a bad turn, ultimately dying needlessly.
  • In Banshee Chapter, Thomas Blackburn blows his brains out rather than allow himself to be killed (or worse) by the otherworldly beings that have him and Anne cornered.
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  • In The Birth of a Nation, white girl Flora Cameron throws herself off a cliff to escape being raped by a former slave. Yes, it's racist as all get-out. Yes, it's a film sponsored by the Klan. But it's considered a classic because it was one of the first films to incorporate major dramatic themes with cinematographic style, which tend to be taken for granted today. Pity about the Values Dissonance.
  • General Yen, in The Bitter Tea of General Yen, poisons himself, not because his military has abandoned him or that he no longer has control over his province, but because the woman he loves, Megan Davis, doesn't accept her love towards him.
  • In Black Panther (2018), T'Challa manages to impale Killmonger with a spear. In spite of everything his enemy had done, T'Challa offers to heal him. Killmonger declines, saying he would rather die free than go to prison, comparing himself to the slaves in the Transatlantic Slave Triangle who chose to jump from the ships. He then pulls the spear out, causing him to bleed to death in seconds.
  • Subverted in The Blob (1988). After a failed attempt to blow up the Blob by dropping some bombs down the sewer, the scientists' second-in-command is about to be crushed and consumed by the Blob. He pulls the pins from his grenades, but the Blob eats him anyway. To add insult to injury, we briefly see two flashes inside of the Blob that don't do any lasting damage.
  • In the 1993 Body Snatchers, an Army officer commits suicide by gunshot rather than allow the aliens to convert him.
  • In The Bourne Identity, when Jason attempts to interrogate Castel, he commits suicide by jumping out of the window.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There's a reason this film is the Trope Namer for Bolivian Army Ending. It is unclear, however, if they realize what they're up against and choose to go out in a blaze of glory, or if they really think they have a chance to break out.
  • Circle: Several characters choose to kill themselves voluntarily by jumping off the platform rather than wait to be killed by the circle.
  • Subverted in The Count of Monte Cristo: Prosecutor Villefort has been arrested and is put in an armored carriage. A guard gestures at a pistol on the seat and says, "A courtesy for a gentleman". Villefort puts the gun to his head, pulls the trigger, nothing happens, and The Count appears at the window and says, "You didn't really think I'd make it that easy for you?" Magnificent Bastard.
  • Uniquely subverted after the fact in Dead Heat, in which the Big Bad eats his gun rather than be arrested for unleashing a horde of zombie criminals. Because It's Personal, the heroes get even by running him through his own resurrection machine so they can kill him themselves.
  • Two examples show up in Deep Rising:
    • When one of the mercenaries is grabbed by a sea monster that will slowly and painfully digest him alive, he detonates one of his explosives before it can eat him.
    • Subverted when another is grabbed by one of the monsters. One of the heroes hands him a weapon as an act of mercy, only for the guy to start shooting him. The hero escapes, the merc tries to take his own life, and discovers he doesn't have any bullets left.
  • In Dobermann, Manu is shot and badly wounded by the police. Although he tries to make light of the situation, claiming that he doesn't even miss his dick, he knows that he is losing a lot of blood and won't be able to escape. So rather than get left behind to be captured, or endanger others by causing them to stay behind to protect him, he shoots himself in the head when Dobermann's back is turned.
  • Downfall: The cast have to try and find ways to deal with the downfall of the Third Reich. Their options are: 1) throwing themselves at the mercy of the advancing Red Army, 2) trying to run the gauntlet to seek out some isolated Nazi-friendly corner of the world where they can hide, or 3) taking their own lives. Seeing as Option #3 at least gives them the choice of method, many people settle on that one.
  • General Ripper does this in the black comedy Dr. Strangelove, which is all the more hilariously ironic given that the threat is all in his own demented mind.
  • The "Disgraced Officer" version was done in Enemy at the Gates. Khruschev is brought into Stalingrad to replace the General who had commanded Soviet forces in their initial disastrous counter-attack against the Germans. Khruschev hands him a pistol and says, "Perhaps you would prefer to spare me the paperwork." He leaves the office, you hear a gunshot, and then Khruschev introduces himself as the new commander.
  • Su Lin, Bruce Lee's sister from Enter the Dragon, did this with a piece of glass when Oharra and his men cornered her at the warehouse, choosing to go out with honor rather than be raped and killed by them. It is this that would drive Lee to seek vengeance on Oharra in Han's tournament.
  • In Final Destination, one of the people who were supposed to die (Carter) tries this - for the exact reason that he won't let the "Evil Force"/"Death" decide when he should die and not have any say in it. Of course, he fails, because Death is a sadistic son of a bitch.
  • Flash Gordon:
    • Inverted when Thun, Prince of Ardentia attempts to assassinate Ming the Merciless:
    Klytus: Now the tributes from Ardentia.
    Prince Thun: Your Majesty, we, the people of Ardentia, we have suffered since you blasted our kingdom. I can offer you nothing this year, except my loyalty.
    Klytus: Prince Thun, we prize nothing more highly. And tell us, how great is this loyalty to your emperor?
    Prince Thun: Without measure.
    Ming the Merciless: We are delighted to hear it; fall on your sword. [dramatic pause] Show us this loyalty, throw yourself onto your sword.
    [Prince Thun approaches Ming's throne, draws his sword]
    Prince Thun: May this deed of Prince Thun be an example to all the kingdoms of Mongo. Death to Ming!
    [Ming's floating droid assistant freezes Prince Thun, Ming seizes the Prince's sword, disembowels and executes him on the spot]
    • Played straight when Ming is impaled by Flash, who then tells him to stop his attack on Earth and he'll spare his life. Ming says his life is not for any earthling to give or take, and, knowing his death is near either from his injury or Flash's sword, destroys himself with his ring.
  • Full Metal Jacket: Private Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence shoots Sgt. Hartman, his drill instructor to death before he turns the gun on himself and literally blows his brains out. Had he survived, he would have been court-martialed, sent away to a psychiatric hospital, or dishonorably discharged.
  • Two examples in The Handmaiden:
  • In Hangmen Also Die!, the intended Getaway Driver for the assassination of Heydrich jumps out a window at the Gestapo headquarters rather than be interrogated.
  • In Hardwired, when the Hope Corp commandos burst in, Hal commits Suicide by Cop, pulling out Keyboard's ventilation tube in his death throes.
  • In the final sequence of Hell's Angels, captive British pilots Roy and Monte Rutledge are facing death by firing squad unless (and probably even if) they tell their German captors about the Allies' upcoming battle plans. Roy claims that he'll tell all if he is allowed to kill his brother, and asks for a gun and two bullets - in case he misses the first time. His captors know he plans to use the second bullet on himself and only give him one bullet.
  • Hisss: After having captured the Nagini's mate, one of the Big Bad's superstitious Mooks is so terrified of her Roaring Rampage of Revenge that he's Driven to Suicide, preferring shoot himself than to be Swallowed Whole by her.
  • In the film adaptation of The Host, Melanie's father shot himself in the head for this reason when the Seekers showed up at their house. Later, two of the human resistance's redshirts drive their truck into a wall after the Souls have them cornered. Also there's Melanie, who's Fighting from the Inside and tries to kill herself when she manages to momentarily regain control of her body.
  • The Hunger Games: Due to letting two tributes win in the 74th Hunger Games, Seneca is given the option to commit suicide by eating some nightlock berries, whereas he was tortured and killed in the book. Which, given the context, is an example of Death by Irony.
    • The decision by Peeta and Katniss to commit to a suicide pact rather than forcing one or the other to kill also qualifies.
  • An unique variation happens in the remake of I Spit on Your Grave. Jennifer throws herself off a bridge, after she's been gang-raped. Whether this was a final attempt to escape (which is what it ended up being), or to deny them the chance of killing her as well is unclear.
  • James Bond:
    • This was expected of Bond after his capture in the opening credits of Die Another Day; M admonishes him for not dying for his country quite yet when he's recovered.
    • Casino Royale (2006): M determines that Vesper Lynd being Driven to Suicide after betraying James Bond was not simply out of guilt or the desire to die, but rather to avoid violent death at the hands of those who extorted her.
    • Spectre: By the time Bond visits him, The Pale King/Mr. White is now a broken shell of a man, having been on the run from SPECTRE in light of his failures in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace. Rather than let Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld or his goons do the job, The Pale King/Mr. White decides to kill himself, confident that his daughter Madeleine Swann will be safe with Bond.
    • In No Time to Die, Bond himself invokes this—rather than lying there on the floor bleeding to death from the multiple gunshots Safin has inflicted, he summons the strength to climb to the roof of the facility and take the missile strike head on. (It’s also a conscious decision to stay behind and die in the blast rather than dying because he failed to escape in time).
  • In John Wick: Chapter 2, Wick confronts his target, Gianna D'Antonio. She chooses to slit her own wrists rather than let him kill her, stating "I lived my life my way. And I will die my way."
  • In The Killer, Ah Jong is an assassin that always saves the last bullet in his gun, either for himself or for his enemy. This is a code all assassins in this film stick to, including his handler Fung Sei (who unfortunately didn't keep the last bullet for himself and ultimately has to have the title character end his life for him).
  • In the 1992 film version of Last of the Mohicans, at the end Alice throws herself off a cliff rather than go with Magua after he's killed Uncas.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen starts with an enemy Mook taking a Cyanide Pill.
  • During the hostage exchange in Lethal Weapon, Roger Murtaugh takes a grenade from his pocket and says he'll blow them all up if his daughter isn't released first.
    Joshua: He's bluffing! He'd never risk harming his own daughter.
    Murtaugh: If she's going to die, she's going to die with me! My way, not yours!
  • George A. Romero's Living Dead Series:
    • Dawn of the Dead (1978): Subverted by Peter at the end when he decides to face the zombie horde rather than escape and ensures that he has a gun he can use on himself when they storm his room. However, at the last second he decides to make a break for it and escapes the overrun mall with Francine (this was changed from the original ending, where he really did kill himself).
    • Day of the Dead (1985): When Steele is cornered by the zombies, he crosses himself before putting the gun in his mouth so he won't be eaten alive.
    • Dawn of the Dead (2004): CJ does end up blowing himself up in the remake rather than letting himself turn into a zombie (he's been bitten) or eaten.
    • Samuel pulls this off in Diary of the Dead: After a zombie starts chomping on his neck, he brings the scythe he's carrying right through his head and into the zombie's (Also counts as Taking You with Me).
  • At the end of the The Loft, Luke hears the police sirens approaching and realises that he now cannot arrest and the subsequent imprisonment and disgrace. He instead chooses to pitch himself backwards off the balcony to his death.
  • In Machete when Steven Seagal's character realizes he has been defeated by the titular character, he impales himself with his own katana.
  • Alejandro's brother Joaquim from The Mask of Zorro shot himself rather than get caught.
  • Towards the beginning of Men in Black, NYPD cop James Edwards, the future agent J, is pursuing a criminal who's actually an alien. After he finally corners him on the roof of the Guggenheim Museum, the alien reveals he's going to be killed by another alien because he failed his mission, so rather than get arrested, he calmly backs off the roof, falling onto the street.
  • In The Mist, after the main character and his party run out of gas while attempting to escape. He kills everyone with him (including his son), but runs out of bullets. He exits the car to let the monsters kill him... and the military arrive, killing all the monsters and saving him from his desired death. Cue anguished screaming and roll credits.
  • In the prologue of The Mummy (1999), Anck-Su-Namun defiantly and fatally stabs herself rather than be apprehended by the Medjai for her part in the Pharaoh's murder. Given the horrific punishment (live entombment in a sarcophagus full of flesh-eating scarabs) which her accomplice Imhotep suffered, hers was the easier option.
  • At the end of The Phantom of Crestwood, the killer decides to throw themselves off Lover's Leap, rather than face the shame and disgrace that a trial and execution would bring to the family.
  • In Reminiscence, Mae chooses to deliberately take an overdose of drugs and jump out of a window before she can be questioned and interrogated by her enemy.
  • Resident Evil Film Series:
    • Resident Evil (2002):
      • Also subverted when one of the soldiers is trapped by the zombies and considers killing himself to avoid becoming a zombie. However, he instead decides to keep fighting, escapes, and eventually saves the rest of the group.
      • Played straight near the end when Rain Ocampo asks Alice to kill her rather than let her turn into a zombie. She then appears to die and Alice prepares to shoot her...only for the still alive Rain to snatch the gun away "I'm not dead yet." Ultimately, no one gets the chance to shoot her and she does become a zombie.
    • Subverted in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, where the Corrupt Corporate Executive villain is cornered by zombies — he tries to shoot his way out, and when that fails, he puts his gun to his head... to find that it's empty. Cue ghastliness.
  • Return of the Living Dead:
    • In The Return of the Living Dead, Frank, knowing that he's about to become a zombie, decides to end it all before the transformation is complete. After offering a final prayer of forgiveness for what he's about to do, he immolates himself by climbing into a burning oven (the same one that had been used for the entire film to destroy the zombies), thus ensuring he will never become one of the living dead.
    • In Return of the Living Dead 3, the main character and his zombie girlfriend immolate themselves as lovers rather than let the latter be used as an undead superweapon.
  • Happens in The Ring Zero. One of Sadako's last victims decides to shoot herself and fellow terrified victim before the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl kills her in a much more vaguely horrifying way.
  • In Robot Ninja, Leonard Miller, after killing the last of the gang members goes to his apartment and shoots himself. Right before a cop arrives at his place, having finally put two and two together concerning all the recent vigilante killings.
  • Crops up four times in the Firefly movie Serenity, where it is enforced, played with, and averted.
    • The Operative forces this on Dr. Mathias in the opening for his abysmal failure in allowing River to escape with probable knowledge of the government's secrets. The Operative says it's much more noble to throw yourself down on your sword than to be killed in your sleep. He then paralyzes Mathias with a nerve strike, kills his guards, and puts his own sword down, blade up, right where Mathias is going to fall. When he inevitably does fall, the Operative assures him that his death isn't meaningless.
    • Later, Mal also does this for someone. He spares a man from the hands of the Reavers by shooting him dead as soon as he's grabbed. It's called a "piece of mercy" by Zoe.
    • And a little after that, as the Reavers are giving chase, Jayne gets shot through the leg with a harpoon. He shouts to Mal "You shoot me if they take me!" whereupon Mal cocks his pistol and aims, prompting Jayne to add "Well, don't shoot me first!" Mal then starts shooting at his actual target, the harpoon line.
    • Near the end, the crew views a video log of a female scientist telling about what happened on Miranda as the newly-created Reavers break down the door offscreen. As it becomes clear that there are too many of them, she stops firing at them and turns the gun on herself, but can't quite get the shot off before they bear her down. Much horrificness ensues off-screen before Mal mercifully has the recording switched off.
  • In The Shadow, one of Shiwan Khan's henchman deliberately allows himself to fall to his death, rather than allow himself to be captured by the Shadow.
  • Played with in Shaun of the Dead. Shaun, Ed and Liz are trapped beneath a burning pub filled with zombies, and Liz suggests they shoot themselves. They find that there are only two bullets, but Ed says he doesn't mind being eaten. Shaun and Liz then spend a few minutes discussing how to go about it, with Liz saying Shaun should shoot her since she would only mess it up, and Shaun saying he's not sure if he has it in him to shoot his girlfriend, his mum, and his flatmate, all in the same night. Ed then reveals that he's already been bitten, and will be zombified soon. Liz and Shaun then realise that they can get out through the keg hatch, and leave Ed with the gun. He kills a few zombies and winds up as one himself. Shaun then keeps him in the shed to play videogames with.
  • The evil warden Norton in the movie shoots himself once he's exposed in The Shawshank Redemption. Notably, he briefly considers pulling a Suicide by Cop on the officers busting down his office door, but he changes his mind and opts to cut out the middleman instead.
  • Slashers: When Matthew realises that he has does not have enough time left to stop Megan from winning the game, and incorrectly believes that he is going to be arrested for being a Serial Killer once the episode is over, he choses to kill himself instead: cutting off his own head with Dr. Ripper's oversized shears.
  • In Sleepy Hollow (1999), Notary Hardenbrook hangs himself when he thinks the Horseman will be coming after him next. Hardenbrook had earlier expressed the belief that the Horseman took his victims' heads to take back to Hell.
  • In Space Mutiny, Lt. Steve Codell is confronted by Commander Kalgan and his Enforcers as he's trying to get important information. Trapped on a platform, Kalgan gives Codell two choices — join him or be frozen. Codell tells him he'd rather jump. It ends up being defied as Kalgan opts to shove Codell over, taking the choice out of his hands.
  • In Starship Troopers, Lt. Rasczak shoots an unfortunate soldier before he gets mauled by a giant bug. He then requests for the same to be done to him if he were to get in a similar situation. Which happens.
  • Thelma & Louise famously ends in this fashion: with Thelma and Louise caught between armed federal officers and the edge of the Grand Canyon, and both opting to drive their convertable into the Grand Canyon instead of otherwise risking death or capture at the hands of the authorities.
  • In the original The Thing (1982), several of the camp members find the charred body of Fuchs along with a spent flare. They speculate that Fuchs knew he was about to be consumed by the Thing and so instead burned himself alive. Of course, considering this is the Thing, it may have actually killed Fuchs itself as a Red Herring. Nothing is ever confirmed either way.
  • In a deleted scene of The Thing (2011), Colin uses a razor to slit his own wrist and throat upon realising there was a thing in the same room as him and with no means of escape due to the fire outside of his room. The deleted scene can be found here.
  • A captured program in TRON: Legacy throws himself off a building rather than participate in the games.
  • Unknown (2011): Herr Jürgen takes cyanide to avoid being interrogated and betraying the hero, noting that as he's elderly, he has no chance of fighting his way out.
  • Kobayashi from The Usual Suspects said that whatever Keaton could do to him would be ludicrous compared to what Keyser Soze will do to him if his orders are not carried out.
  • In the climax of The Wild Geese, Janders gets shot in the leg as he's running for the airplane that's taking off in the face of thousands of panga-wielding Simba troops. They don't have time to stop the aircraft, and Janders has thrown away his weapon to run faster, so he has to beg his best friend Faulkner to shoot him. He does.
  • Subverted in The Wolfman (2010). During one of the titular beast's rampages, he chases one of his hunters into a bog. Trapped, the hunter fires his revolver at the Wolfman. It doesn't work, and the hunter attempts to shoot himself. Turns out that he spent his six on the beast, and gets graphically decapitated instead.
  • In World War Z, the commander of a US military outpost in South Korea (where the zombie outbreak began) fights off the hordes for a month. When he finally gets bitten, a sniper offers to finish him off, but he says "No, I got this" and shoots himself in the head.
  • The Wolverine: The Japanese soldiers in the prologue decide to die by their own swords so they won't be killed by an atom bomb. Wolverine uses his body as a shield to save one of them.
  • Graham attempts this twice in The Young Poisoner's Handbook; both times without success. When he is first arrested, he tries to take his "Exit Dose" of thallium, but drops the vial when he trips over a wall while running from the police. When his plan to poison all of his workmates at the camera factory fails, he grabs one of the poisoned mugs of tea (although it is doubtful even he knew which mugs where poisoned by this stage) and attempts to scull it, only to be restrained by workmates.