Follow TV Tropes


Ain't Too Proud to Beg

Go To

I know you wanna leave me
But I refuse to let you go
If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy
I don't mind, 'cause you mean that much to me
Ain't too proud to beg, sweet darling
Please don't leave me, don't you go.

The opposite of Defiant to the End, this is when the hero of his own accord begs for mercy, or bows, kneels, cowers, or does pretty much anything covered under Kneel Before Zod. Technically, this trope isn't morality-sensitive, but heroes tend to be a lot less interested in submission, so it usually is done for the benefit of a villain.

Compare Villains Want Mercy, the inverted trope where villains, having ended up defeated and cornered by a hero, will try to beg or bribe the hero into letting them go or, if they are faced by a particularly angry Anti-Hero, for their life to be spared. Such situations pretty ubiquitously is meant to show that the villain for all the bravado they might usually project is a two-faced Dirty Coward when the chips are down. Compare to Too Desperate to Be Picky, which may overlap if the begger is acting against their own standards out of desperation.


The heroic version comes in two main types.

    open/close all folders 

Stalling For Time

Maybe they know for a fact that rescue is coming, or maybe they just figure that every moment they're not dead is another chance for a miracle to happen. Either way, they're sacrificing some dignity now for some kind of gain later. (If the gain is immediate, to lead their opponent to believe the fight is over, this is I Surrender, Suckers instead.) This will usually involve Holding the Floor.

Anime and Manga
  • In Dragon Ball, Mercenary Tao (for the 1st half of his appearances) has been seen sadistically killing people he's been hired to hit, the likes of which include General Blue and Bora, Upa's father, and he nearly killed Goku too. However, once Goku gets stronger after training with Korin and turns the tables on Tao by beating the crap out of him, Tao resorts to this as a last-ditch effort, tearfully pleading Goku to spare him. Needless to say, it doesn't work for him and Karma LITERALLY blows up in his face.
    • This even translated to the games as his Ultimate Move: The opponent kicks him to the floor, he begs for forgiveness and when the oponent looks away he throws a bomb at their face.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward does this to Envy when trapped inside Gluttony's stomach.
    Ling:: [after Envy walks up to the two] So it is Envy.
    Edward: Please tell us where the exit is!
    Ling: Humble already?
    Edward: Of course! If it's for the sake of survival, I'll bow down to my opponent.
  • In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam one of the conditions Haman Khan gives in exchange for allying with the AEUG is for Char to beg her for assistance. He is very reluctant, but ultimately does so, causing Haman to laugh and say it's a done deal. She winds up betraying the alliance anyway for her own ends.
  • In Soul Hunter, Heroic Comedic Sociopath Taikoubou will use any way to trick villains into lowering their guard, and it's mostly played for laughs. According to him, anything goes when you're fighting for your life. Of course, he is called the "worst kind of hero" by both the author and other characters in the story. But then again, his victories and the way he manages to completely turn the tables and own the villains within seconds more than makes up for the temporary grovelling.


  • Leonidas in the finale of 300.
  • John Belushi pulls this off successfully in The Blues Brothers.
  • Die Hard: Hans Gruber pretends to be a typical American when he runs into John McLane on the roof of the building, in an attempt to get back to his gun or find some way to call his troops to kill John.
  • Dredd has Judge Dredd about to be shot dead by an enemy. He mutters out "Wait"; his enemy, surprised and amused that the mighty and feared Dredd is apparently begging for his life, takes the time to make fun of Dredd. Then Anderson shows up to kill the enemy from behind, after which Dredd amends his request to "Wait for her to shoot you."
  • A Most Violent Year: It galls him greatly, but when Abel's bank pulls out and he's unable to complete the purchase he travels round the city asking for more loans and for more time to put the money together.
  • A rather delightful one comes from Animorphs, when a captured Marco and Cassie are instructed to "grovel in the fashion of your own people. Grovel as you normally grovel." Marco takes that as an invitation to totally make things up in a long monologue. Especially with poor Bad Liar Cassie doing her level best to keep up. "We grovel like... um... like people who are really, really grovelling."
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin gets abducted by women who wish to marry him to take control of the throne. Cira is seized when she tries to help him, and the Porters would be quite happy to kill her. So Jerin tells them that if she dies, they will have to rape him to get with child, he'll have to be always tied up to keep him from escaping, he will not raise their children, he will tell everyone, ever, always, what they did. If she lives, he'll be loyal, please them in bed, cook for them, tend their kids, be a good husband. He's lying, hoping to wait for them to let their guard down so he and Cira can escape.
  • In the book Crown Duel, Meliara attempts to plead for the life of her brother despite her obstinate attitude. Just as the villain catches on to her behavior, she reveals she was stalling for time as the Hill Folk arrive and save the day.
  • Dragons of Requiem has two cases.
    • Dies Irae does this twice, and both times it's after he's critically injured by his brother Benedictus. And both times, he tries to kill Benedictus as soon as he hesitates.
    • Queen Solina also begs for her life by making her former lover, Elethor, try to reminisce about their former dating life. She quickly slashes at his face with a dagger when he hesitates, then flies away.

Live-Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Season 2 Finale has Giles pretending to break down in the face of torture at the hands of Angelus.
      Giles: In order... to be worthy...
      Angelus: Yeah?
      Giles: You must perform the ritual... in a tutu. Pillock!
      Angelus: All right. Someone get the chainsaw.
    • During his death scene, Warren begins desperately trying to reason with Willow when it finally hits him that she really does intend to kill him. It doesn't work.
  • Burn Notice: Michael Westen has been known to do this to further the Obfuscating Wussiness of his cover identities.


  • Trope Namer is the song "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by The Temptations, which was also covered by The Rolling Stones on their album It's Only Rock 'N' Roll.
  • The narrator of the song "Silent Running" suggests this as a survival technique in the face of a hostile invasion.
    "Swear allegiance to the flag. Whatever flag they offer. Never hint at what you really feel."

Video Games

  • In the prologue to Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas kneels to beg forgiveness from rival gang leader Seifer... only to use that as a distractions so he can quickly grab a Struggle bat to fight him with.
  • This happens in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door during the Boss Battle with Hooktail. After you deplete her health to zero, she seems to be defeated, and offers Mario some bribes in exchange for being spared, first 1,000 Coins and then a "Really Ultra Rare Badge". If both are refused, she disgustingly asks Mario if he would like to smell her feet, claiming that people pay good money to do this. It's up to the player whether Mario accepts or refuses any of these bribes, but if he does, they turn out to be lies; she's trying to lure him close for a powerful attack. (If the player doesn't fall for it, she devours half the audience to regain some of her health, then the battle begins again.)
  • When close to death, a certain mook in Rise of the Triad will drop to his knees and start yelling "No! Don't shoot! Please!" It's a trick, though; if you try to spare them, they'll fall over, play possum for a little while, then get right back up and keep shooting at you.
  • In the video game Radiata Stories, during the Non-Human campaign, Jack beats up a few commanding officers of the human side. Afterwards, just to rub it in, he tells them to beg. They do, but it's to stall for time until reinforcements arrive to greatly outnumber him.
  • During the Batman Cold Open of Sonic Unleashed, Dr. Eggman starts begging for mercy in order to lure Sonic into a trap that will Depower him and charge Eggman's cannon. Since Eggman is a Dirty Coward, Sonic mistakes it for actual begging and doesn't realize what's really going until the trap is sprung.


Web Original

  • Why Not Janice? has... Janice. She will do anything, even extremely pathetic tactics and mentionning completely cringe-worthy irrelevant things, just to get subscribers.

Western Animation

  • Features in Mighty Max season 2 episode 3, "Blood Of The Dragon." Max and his friends are trying to escape a moving island when they're cornered by Skullmaster. Knowing that in just a few moments the island will drift into range of a portal which he can use to escape, Max pretends to surrender, offering to hand over the Cosmic Cap in exchange for his life. Skullmaster accepts his offer which distracts the villain just long enough for the island to arrive at the portal and for all of the heroes to escape safely.


They Mean It

Usually very much the darker variety. Their resistance has been successfully broken, whether through Breaking Speeches or Cold-Blooded Torture or some other means, and their submission is a sign of that. They'll probably recover, unless we're going for a massive Downer Ending, but for now, the villain has what he wants. Tears of Fear and Please, I Will Do Anything! can be involved.

Alternatively, a Pragmatic Hero may beg for mercy or aid to avoid an unnecessary fight, even if it hurts their pride. A more positive use, and more likely to actually work.

Anime and Manga
  • Played for Laughs in Axis Powers Hetalia; every time Italy gets captured by the Allies, he immediately starts pleading for his life. He also does this in the first episode upon first meeting Germany:
    Italy: Please don't shoot me, I'm too young to die! And what if I don't die, but I'm just mortally wounded and just forced to lie there miserably in a pool of my own blood? Please, I'll do anything! [beat] Well, I mean, within reason.
  • In the final volume of Blade of the Immortal, two of the deadliest warriors in the series, Makie of the Itto-ryu and Giichi of the Mugai-ryu face off. The battle ends when Makie feigns weakness and slices off Giichi's right hand which, combined with the damage he'd already accumulated over the series (including his left foot being split in half) leaves him unable to fight on. While Giichi's friend Hyakurin is ready to challenge Makie to try and protect him, Giichi is fully aware that Hyakurin doesn't even have a ghost of a chance, so he bows down in front of Makie, admits that she is the strongest warrior, and begs her to just take the win and leave them in peace (especially as Hyakurin is pregnant). While Makie is initially disgusted by his selfishness at begging for his life after slaying so many Itto-ryo warriors, she confesses that she doesn't have a moral high ground either and walks away.
  • When the final confrontation in the manga version of Death Note reaches its conclusion, Ryuk refuses to help out the defeated Light (exactly as he promised in the very first chapter) and writes Light's name down right in front of his nose. This gives the "God of the new world" exactly forty seconds to desperately beg for his life.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, as part of an elaborate ruse by the Digimon Emperor, team leader Davis is convinced that all of his friends have been captured and will be mauled by a rampaging Digimon unless he gets down on his knees and begs for mercy. Oddly for a kids show, Davis complies immediately and without embarrassment and is never judged for it - on the contrary, it's Davis' immunity to pandering or attacks on his personal pride when more important things are at stake that allows him to save everyone in the final battle of the series.
  • Saito in The Familiar of Zero, to stop the inquisition, but only once Louise is threatened.
  • Hijikata in Gintama pleads with the Yorozuya to protect the Shinsengumi as his last request when he is possessed by a cursed sword and is losing his personality and he knows Itou is up to something bad but cannot do anything about it because he was dismissed from the Shinsengumi.
  • One Piece:
    • This is the lesson that Luffy learns in the Drum Island arc: A leader should NEVER be too proud to beg for the lives of his followers. Vivi teaches him this when she gets shot and then yells at him for wanting to attack the guy who shot her, because it would only make the situation worse. She then proceeds to go into a Pose of Supplication, which he imitates, and both of them beg for a doctor to help Nami, who was deathly ill at the time.
    • Tashigi tries to convince Smoker of the same thing when they're held captive in Punk Hazard, saying that if begging a pirate for help is what they have to do in order to save the children and stop Vergo, then they should beg. Neither of them end up doing it, since what Law actually want is for them to keep quiet about his activities on the island, but the sentiment is the same.
    • Zoro later proves that he's not to proud to beg either when he asks Mihawk to train him. And Zoro manages to beg manly.
    • Earlier, Zoro got on his knees and beg Kuma to spare Luffy's life by offering his own in exchange.
    • Luffy showed that he learned his lesson when he begs help for Sanji in Fishmen Island and the Pose of Supplication is seen when he shows his gratitude to an unconscious Bon Clay.
    • Usopp has to do this before he is allowed to rejoin the Straw Hats after quitting. Zoro reasons that since he quit in defiance it has to be this way if the crew were to have true meaning.
  • Played with in Ravages of Time where during the battle of Puyang, Lu Bu taunts Cao Cao about the foolishness of trying to be Defiant to the End when cornered; this gets Cao Cao to vocally wonder, "Does that mean if you get captured one day, you will shamelessly beg for your life?" Years later, when Lu Bu is captured in the fall of Xiapi that's ''exactly'' what he does. Unfortunately for him, Cao Cao publicly "praises" Lu Bu for abandoning useless pride to save his own hide, since "[a] true hero understands that one can accomplish much more by staying alive"... which is exactly why Cao Cao won't let him livenote .
  • A non-heroic version would be Masao from the anime version of Shiki. In fear for his life he goes to his sister-in-law's house and begs her to offer him shelter. In the end she invites him inside... right before beating him with a pole and staking him to death.
  • Spice and Wolf has Holo negotiate with a group of other wolf gods to save Lawrence's life. We don't see the event itself, but mud on her knees implies that she begged them.
  • In Trigun Vash first kneels and bows his head to the ground to keep some thugs (including one pretending to be him) from killing his friend. The thugs tell him they'll go away if he strips naked and barks like a dog. He does. They keep their word and leave him and the girl be. But then shoot Vash as they're driving away. They then go back on it and kidnap the friend. However this turns out to be a bad idea on the thugs part.
  • Subverted in Vinland Saga: A rich landowner says he's willing to finance Thorfinn's expedition... if Thorfinn begs him on his knees. Thorfinn immediately does so and submits to the man's demands (after several years as a slave, Thorfinn should Know When to Fold 'Em), which causes him to throw off the deal (he wants to hold power over people, and willing victims just aren't any fun).
  • Coast Guard boss Kaizai in Wa Ga Na Wa Umishi is not too proud to beg ordinary fisherman to stop interrupting a rescue, much to the surprise of the fisherman who had demanded that he go on his knees.
  • A variation of this (it doesn't involve the character's own life) plays an important part of the backstory of Amon Garcia, a secondary antagonist in the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. As a child, he was torn between jealousy towards his younger brother (the biological son of his adoptive father, and thus the heir to the family's oil empire) and loyalty to his family. When his brother grew gravely ill, he considered doing nothing and letting him die. Loyalty won out; he found the only merchant who sold the medicine that could save his brother and shamelessly begged for it. (Apparently, the merchant gave in.)

Comic Books

  • Examples from Superman comics:
    • In All-Star Superman, Solaris's final line, after being firmly beaten by Superman, is simply "Mercy." Superman, having been been informed by time travelers that Solaris will survive, and one day be repurposed to help humanity, simply says in response "You'll live", before punching Solaris hard enough to create a mushroom cloud.
    • In the 1988 The Supergirl Saga, Zaora of the Phantom Zone criminals goes from boastful and proud to begging for her life when Superman subjects her to fatal radiation exposure of Green Kryptonite to execute her for her crime of genocide. She ends up dying along with General Zod and Quex-Ul, the latter of whom strangled Zod as they both died together.
  • In The Button, Eobard Thawne spends a second boasting about how awesome he is in the final issue, before really getting to see Doctor Manhattan. He then begins freaking out and begging for mercy.
  • Deadly Class: The main character is shown as a homeless beggar at the beginning of the series. Another, older beggar tries to steal his shoes, and begs for mercy after being caught.
  • Electro makes Spider-Man do it in one arc; after Taking a Level in Badass, the villain is a serious threat (attempting to use water to short circuit him fails, as he can turn it to steam before it reaches him, and he can control electricity enough to fry the synapses in a person's brain) and he's Drunk with Power. After curb stomping the hero in public, he demands Spidey beg for his life, and Spidey actually does it. (Seeing as the torture makes him feel like his brain is on fire; of course, when Spidey recovers, he's mad as hell, and goes after Electro with an insulated costume with Nate Summers backing him up.)
  • The Transformers (IDW) comics:
    • Tarn begs for his life when Megatron is preparing to kill him. It doesn't help. This example is especially pathetic because Tarn had previously mocked his own victims for doing the same thing, clearly expecting them to have dignity while dying horribly.
    • When he realizes that Optimus Prime intends to kill him and won't be dissuaded, Galvatron immediately drops any facade of stoicism and spends his last moments uselessly screaming "I SURRENDER!".
    • In a more tragic example, when the Decepticon Loyalists storm Cybertron's space bridge, Tracks tries to get Needlenose, leader of the attackers and Tracks's brother, to stop the assault. He's quickly reduced to desperate begging and when Needlenose still refuses to listen, he tries to forcibly pull Needlenose away. He gets shot for it and as he bleeds out, he once again begs for Needlenose to stop. Needlenose simply kicks him and continues the attack.

Comic Strips

Fan Works

  • I Am War: Celestia begs to Excolotis, the god of war, for help because as a peaceful goddess she doesn't know how to lead an army let alone train one.
  • The third video of the Town of Salem Affectionate Parody Town of Salem IRL ends with the Mayor and Pestilence being the last survivors note . Pestilence begs to be allowed to win, even promising to subscribe to the Mayor's youtube channel if he lets her win. The mayor votes guilty.
  • Loved and Lost: After Prince Jewelius pins the blame on them for the invasion of Canterlot and sentences them to exile, all of the Mane Five (even Applejack and Rainbow Dash) tearfully beg for him to show them mercy.
  • Wisdom and Courage: During the climax, Link is on the receiving end of a savage No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Veran, who decides to twist the knife even further by threatening to cut out his right eye. The Primal Fear immediately hits Link, who begs her not to do so; in response, Veran takes sadistic pleasure in the fact that she actually got Link to plead for mercy before proceeding to gouge out his eye For the Evulz.
  • In with the Old, Out with the New has a villainous example from Kano. After Sonya proceeds to beat Kano within an inch of his life, he begs for mercy. Given that Kano had kidnapped, tortured and raped Cassie, Sonya, understandably, isn't offering any.
  • A Brighter Dark: When trying to convince her father to spare Felicia's home village, Corrin ends up begging him with every fiber of her soul, in contrast to her usual defiant and headstrong nature. While it isn't enough on its own, it does convince Garon to allow her to think of a way to pull it off.
  • Forum of Thrones:
    • The prisoner in the court scene during the beginning of the first chapter is pleading for Harren Hoare to spare him, or to allow him to join the Night's Watch. It only makes Harren punish him more severely.
    • After being revealed to be a deranged child-murderer and after receiving a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Otis Shiff is reduced to a crippled and pathetic shadow of a man that desperately begs to be spared. It does not work out well for him.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Gary Oak goes off to beg a trainer-turned-novelist named Casey Snagem to train him after he suffers a devastating defeat against Paul, even entering a Pose of Supplication while he does so. This is notable because up to that point, Gary had dismissed Snagem's views about what meant to be a Pokémon Master, but now he's eating his pride and acknowledging him as a strong trainer and the person who can help him find what he's missing.
  • Universe Falls: In "The Stanchurian Candidate", Amethyst is still mad at Stan after the events of "Not What He Seems", and initially refuses to help with his campaign for mayor of Gravity Falls. Steven's idea of taking "drastic measures" to convince her is to cling to Amethyst's leg and beg, whine, and wheedle until she agrees to help.
  • In A Marriage Of Convenience, When it looks like their marriage isn't necessary anymore, Hans privately begs Elsa not to annul it. To show how desperate he is, he takes his shirt off and shows her all the scars he's received from his brothers and makes it clear he might not survive if he'll ever be sent back. He is desperate enough that he even offers to be a servant. Thankfully, Elsa tells him she's not going to annul the marriage.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Black Adam reacts violently whenMordru orders him to submit to him... and then promptly falls on his knees and begs to be spared when Mordru proves he can destroy him at any given time.
    Calmly, the bearded giant on the throne before him answered, "I am Mordru. You have been brought here to serve me."
    Angrily, the black-and-gold-clad villain launched himself at Mordru. His power and velocity should have carried him straight through the wizard's body.
    But Mordru raised a hand, and a lightning bolt sprang from his fingers. Black Adam was knocked out of the air. A flash of energy almost blinded Mordru's messenger.
    Now, a slim Egyptian man with no powers whatever cowered on the floor of Mordru's chamber. And the over-villain's hand still glowed with eldrich power.
    "Spare me!" begged Teth-Adam, who would never have spared a foe himself.
    "Agree to serve me, then," said Mordru, not giving an iota.
    Teth-Adam knelt before his new master, touching his forehead to the floor three times.
  • In Amazon Aid, Nabiki is so afraid that the people she had blackmail material on will come after her for revenge after said material is destroyed that she's forced to beg Ranma to protect her. He agrees, but only after making her promise to give up extortion forever.


  • As Tom Reagan is about to put down Bernie Bernbaum in Miller's Crossing at Miller's Crossing, Bernie breaks down into primal sobs and pleads for his life. It's harrowingly pathetic, and it does work in getting Tom to spare his life... the first time.
  • The ending of Oldboy (2003). After a particularly nasty revelation, Oh Dae-su forgets all about getting his revenge, begs the antagonist not to let Mido know the secret that would ruin her life and then, unprompted, cuts out his tongue just to show how much he has nothing further to add.
  • In Mystery Men Captain Amazing, who has the best reputation of all heroes, actively bargains to be the villain's assistant upon capture.
  • Subverted in The Princess Bride; the Dread Pirate Roberts spared Wesley for asking to be spared, with a simple a polite "please, I have to live". (Roberts had been more used to shameless and pitiful groveling, and sincerity was new to him.)
  • An example comes from Babe where Fly, a sheepdog, swallows her pride to politely ask the sheep (who she saw as stupid and nothing but inferior to her) just what happened the morning that Maa was killed, so she could prove her adopted son Babe's innocence.
  • In the movie Bent, Max is willing to do whatever the guards ask of him if it means he'll have a chance of getting out of the Nazi concentration camp sooner.
  • Death Proof. When Stuntman Mike has kidnapped Pam and trapped her in his car, she reacts angrily at first and threatens to kill him. When she realizes she can't escape, she tearfully begs Mike to let her go and that she won't tell anyone. He mocks her situation before giving the death blow.
  • Lampwick from Pinocchio does this as he's turning into a donkey while begging for Pinocchio to help him.
  • The pre-title scene in For Your Eyes Only has James Bond tangle with a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo version of Blofeld. Once Bond hooks Blofeld's wheelchair with the helicopter's landing skid, Blofeld goes from cackling villain and Diabolical Mastermind to a pathetically screaming wreck asking Bond to spare him, going so far to even famously offering to buy 007 a delicatessen - "In stainless steel!" But Bond ignores his offers and obliges his request by dropping him down a smokestack, killing him for good.
  • Star Trek: Generations has two:
    • The first is Downplayed and non-villainous, and occurs when the Enterprise is trying to rescue two El-Aurian transports from an energy ribbon. After the first one is destroyed and the inexperienced Captain Harriman realizes that he has no idea what to do, he swallows his pride and asks the veteran Captain Kirk for help, which he's practically jumping to provide.
      Harriman: Captain Kirk...I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.
    • The second is played much straighter and scarier. After Soran KO's Geordi, he holds Data at phaserpoint. Data, whose recently-installed emotion chip is malfunctioning, is overcome by fear and begging for his life.
      Data: not hurt me. Please, please...
  • Saving Private Ryan: "Stop! Listen to me, listen to me! Stop! Stop! No, no! Stop, sto-" - Pvt. Mellish when he's pinned down by a German soldier and about to be stabbed in the chest. No Big Damn Heroes or last-second miracle: these end up as his last words.
  • The now-iconic scene in A Clockwork Orange, when Alex is undergoing The Ludovico Technique to "cure" him of his sadism. It's commonly regarded as one of the most effective and chilling uses of Not So Stoic in film.
  • The Last Jedi: Rey and Kylo Ren develop a connection and each is convinced that the other will turn to their side. Then Kylo makes it clear that despite turning on Snoke, he's not leaving the First Order.
    Rey: Don't do this Ben. Please don't go this way.
    Kylo: You're nothing. But not to me. Join me...please...
  • Scarface (1983): Frank Lopez desperately pleads for forgiveness from Tony after failing to assassinate him. It sort of works, as Tony chooses not to kill him, but ultimately fails when Tony instead gets Manny to do the job to make his demise ironic.
  • Maleficent: During the christening, after cursing her ex-lover's infant daughter to die on her 16th birthday, in retaliation of him drugging her and stealing her wings, Maleficent forces King Stefan to beg on his knees for his daughters life, before she places in a curse escape clause.
    Stefan: I beg of you don't do this...
    Maleficent: I like you begging. Do it again.
  • In Hobo with a Shotgun, Slick tries to placate the Hobo when he's got his shotgun pointing at his crotch. Doesn't work.


  • In Twilight of the Red Tsar , more than a few victims of Stalin's purges beg for their lives when they realize their fate. It doesn't work.
  • In Dragon Bones, Oreg begs for Ward's forgiveness a couple of times. It's not necessary, Ward is a hero and rather confused by it, but Oreg has been a slave for most of his live, and it's a habit.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, for the Downer Ending to end all Downer Endings.
  • In the 6th Gor novel Tarl does this, bringing on a Heroic BSoD since he never thought he'd be the type to do that. Stalling for time occurs throughout the series as well.
  • In Stephen King's Under the Dome the surviving residents of Chester's Mill decide to go to the generator and beg for their lives when literally everything else fails.
  • In The Queen of Attolia, Eugenides' desperate begging to be spared having his hand cut off doesn't help at all. Yet, it turns out to have haunted the queen ever since.
    • Later in the book, this exchange occurs, referencing the above example (paraphrased)
      Euginides: I'll grovel.
      Attolia: I've seen you do that.
      Euginides: No, that was begging, I assure you, I'm quite good at groveling.
  • Straight from The Iliad, after Achilles has killed Hector and then... not paid Due to the Dead, Hector's father goes to Achilles and gives a speech, culminating in:
    Priam: Think me more pitiful by far, since I
    have brought myself to do what no man else
    has done before—to lift to my lips the hand
    of the one who killed my son.
  • In Dark Whispers, Ian, while trapped in the Rainbow Prison, asks Felicity for directions to his wife. She demands that he beg, which he does, because he knows that unless she helps him, he will die, his friends will die, and Martha will never see her daughter again. Felicity takes great joy in this, forcing Ian to crawl, and kiss her feet.
  • The Warrior's Apprentice: Aral Vorkosigan, who in past sentenced Count Vorhalas' son to death, begs Count Vorhalas not to lay charge of treason against his son.
    Vorhalas: Say, "I beg of you."
    Vorkosigan: I beg of you[...]
    Vorhalas: Shove it, Vorkosigan.
  • In the (really rather anticlimactic) climax of D.J. Machale's Pendragon series, the terrifying, superhuman Big Bad Saint Dane, when finally defeated by the Travelers, is reduced to a sobbing, groveling wretch begging to have his life spared.
  • Matilda in The Full Matilda does this so that the senator will not move back to the South, crushing her father's dreams of owning a nice house. She ends up sleeping with the senator.
  • Winds of Fate: When Starblade k'Sheyna relives his torture in his nightmares, one scene he and we both see is Starblade kissing Mornelithe's feet in adoration.
  • A pragmatic variety in Safehold—prince Nahrmahn knows perfectly that Emperor Cayleb is pissed off with his nation and if the Empire of Charis decided to attack them, Emerald would have no chance of surviving it, so he goes and begs Cayleb to allow him a Heel–Face Turn. It works.
  • In the Revenge of the Sith novelization, as Anakin has him literally disarmed and at his mercy, Count Dooku begs Palpatine to spare him, claiming they had a deal. In actuality, he's begging his Master, Darth Sidious, not to discard him in favor of Anakin, but, of course, to no avail; Anakin soon succumbs to temptation and takes Dooku's head off. This was intended to be in the film, but Christopher Lee rejected the lines as out of character.
  • Silas and Elish from the Fallocaust series fall into this where Sky and Jade are involved.
  • Scrooge, at the end of his spiritual journey in A Christmas Carol. Of course, his cold and uncaring haughtiness has already been irreparably shattered.
  • Address Unknown: In his final letter to Max, Martin begs for Max to abandon his scheme and stop writing him. Max refuses.
  • In Glorious Appearing from the Left Behind book series, False Prophet Leon Fortunato, when he is made to stand before Jesus Christ and to bow before Him and confess Him as Lord, ends up begging pitifully to be spared his fate in the Lake of Fire alongside the Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia, even renouncing his association with both Nick and Satan and pledging his allegiance to Jesus. Unfortunately for Leon, Jesus isn't changing His mind.

Live-Action TV

  • And Then There Were None (2015): Vera tries to bargain with Wargrave to save her wretched life. Wargrave patiently indulges her... then gives her a subdued "The Reason You Suck" Speech, kicks away the chair keeping her from hanging, and then leaves her to her (well-deserved) fate.
  • Hal in series 4 of Being Human (UK) voluntarily kneels while begging Cutler not to destroy humanity. It doesn't really have the desired effect.
    Cutler: I think I'm going to hurl.
  • Kevin Darling of Blackadder Goes Forth, having spent the entire series up to that point safely at army headquarters and miles away from the front, is told he's being deployed to the trenches for the upcoming "Big Push". Knowing exactly what this means he desperately tries to beg General Melchett to reconsider and let him stay. It doesn't work.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Bad Girls", Wesley's craven pleading is directly contrasted with Giles' snarky defiance in the face of a hideous demon and his vampire minions.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Utopia": The Doctor pleads for the Master to stop and think instead of stealing the TARDIS and escaping, but it doesn't work.
    • In "Journey's End", the Daleks drop the TARDIS into the fiery core of their space station — with Donna still inside it. This is the Doctor's reaction.
      The Doctor: Put me in her place! You can do anything to me, I don't care, just let her go!
    • "The Magician's Apprentice": The Doctor tearfully begs the villain on bended knee to stop the Daleks from exterminating his companion, Clara (aside from being a dramatic moment in its own right, this is also a watershed moment for the entire season as it establishes the Doctor's growing love-driven paranoia over Clara's safety).
  • Euphoria: Cal Jacobs, when Jules reveals herself to him at chili cookoff, finds her when she's alone and says he knows she can destroy him by revealing they had sex. He outright begs her not to, unaware Jules has no intention of doing so.
  • In the Farscape Grand Finale, Crichton is about to unleash the wormhole weapon that Scorpius has been dogging him for years over. He asks if Scorpius really wants to see the weapon. Scorpius, for his part, is more than happy to get begging if it means the culmination of his life's goal.
    Crichton: Beg.
    Scorpius: [instantly] I beg you.
    Crichton: That's not good enough. Say please.
    Scorpius: Please.
    Crichton: Pretty please.
    Scorpius: Pretty please.
    Crichton: With a cherry on top.
    Scorpius: [only one word behind] With a cherry on top.
    Crichton: [beat] Happy Birthday. Now, get out of my sight.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Cersei is quickly reduced to begging when Tywin declares his plans to place her in a new Arranged Marriage.
    • After being very gravely wounded many miles from help, Sandor Clegane is forced to tearfully beg his companion for a Mercy Kill.
    • In "High Sparrow", Janos Slynt starts crying and pleading when he finally realizes Jon is serious about executing him. Jon executes him anyway.
    • Played with using Hizdahr, who willingly kneels before Daenerys to plead for his father's body, but stands tall when facing incineration by her dragons. Then when Dany comes to his cell, he kneels at once and begs for his life, explaining he wanted to die bravely but would rather not die at all.
    • Gendry when he's leeched by Melisandre, immediately begs Stannis to stop her — even using the much fought-over royal address to sway him — even though Gendry dislikes highborns and wants to be done serving them. His willingness to beg makes sense because unlike most characters on the show, he's a commoner so has no noble pride to cling to and is used to being mistreated by more powerful figures. (And spent previous seasons having to submit to different masters or captors to survive.)
    • Despite looking down on Walder Frey (or "The Late Walder Frey") throughout most of the series, Catelyn still tearfully pleads with him to spare Robb's life, even offering herself in his place. It doesn't work.
    • After seven seasons, Littlefinger is rocked when he realizes too late he's been set up by Sansa and Arya for a public trial. Realizing he has no allies, he literally falls to his knees and asks for mercy for the memory of their mother, who he loved. Given how she died in part because of his conniving, it's no wonder they don't listen.
  • In Glue, James pleads for his life while Alone with the Psycho before trying to escape. Too bad he's unsuccessful and the scenario has to repeat itself.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): "Lithia" ends with Major Mercer begging very loudly not to be shoved into a cryo-tube. He gets louder when he finds out the one sentencing him to this knows his name because she's his fiancee, whom he thought was long dead.
  • Agent June Stahl in Sons of Anarchy. The Season 3 finale ends with her in the driver seat of a car and Opie in the back with a gun to her head, while she cries and begs him to not kill her, right up until he pulls the trigger.
  • A less-dark example from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q Who", as Picard asks Q to save them from the Borg. Q acquiesces, and remarks that it took a lot of courage for Picard to admit defeat, noting that a more prideful man would have rather died than ask for help.
  • Supernatural
    • When God!Mode Castiel (who just killed an archangel) demands that the Winchesters and Bobby bow down to him at the end of season 6, a pragmatic Bobby calmly agrees and kneels rather than risk his wrath, then prods the more reluctant Sam and Dean to go along with it. He even offers to go further with it if Castiel wants.
    Bobby: Well, all right then. Is this good, or you want the whole "forehead to the carpet" thing?
  • Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead TV series initially bawls and begs to Jesus to save him. Then he gets defiant. "I ain't never begged ya before an' I ain't gonna beg ya now!".
    • Gareth begs Rick not to kill him and the other hunters when they're captured after a failed assault on the church. It doesn't work.

Music Videos

  • In Miserable at least two of the band members (Allen and Jeremy) resort to begging the giantess not to eat them. (Kevin never saw it coming, so he never got the chance, and while A.J. still struggled a little bit, he seemed pretty resigned to his fate.) It fails. She ignores their pleading and devours them without a hint of remorse.

Video Games

  • A less dark example from Kingdom Hearts II: when Sora tries to get Saïx to take him to see Kairi, Saïx demands that Sora show him how important Kairi is to him. Sora responds by getting down on his hands and knees and saying "please." Saïx still says no.
    • Even more powerful with Japanese cultural connotation, as he is doing a bow known as Dogeza (土下座), which is reserved for when you've really fucked up, because by doing that act you literally saying you are worth nothing and purposefully and willingly putting shame and humiliation on yourself.
  • In the bad ending of Wing Commander III you're given the option to beg for mercy. The Big Bad kills you anyway.
  • Edward Diego from the first System Shock begs SHODAN to spare him in exchange of information on the hideout of La Résistance. This is roughly two weeks after he boasted that he completely controlled SHODAN.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, Yangus proves he ain't too proud to beg after his old friend Red steals the party's horse, kneeling before her and pleading that she return the poor mare. Of course, Red doesn't realize why he's so determined to get the horse back, being blissfully unaware that the mare is actually the cursed princess Medea.
  • Starkiller of The Force Unleashed does this to Darth Vader in order to save Juno's life. Juno stops it herself.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, a secretary in the Exchange Corporation does this, albeit without the pose, when you begin your rampage during the struggle for power in the Telosian Exchange. You can let her go or kill her (for Dark Side points).
  • In the ending to Abe's Oddysee, Mullock has Abe captured, bound and dangled over a meat-grinder in the floor. Abe reacts to this predicament by thrashing his legs around and tearfully pleading for his life. To be fair on him, he's a Non-Action Guy, and... Well, it's a meat-grinder.
  • Corypheus The Elder One of Dragon Age: Inquisition does this when being defeated in the Final Battle causes him to lose control of the Orb of Destruction. After spending the entire game mocking the faith of others in absent gods, he hypocritically begs Dumat and the Old Gods to save him.
  • When Porcus Rex threatens to eat a boy in Sands of Destruction, The Hero Kyrie suggests he just beg for mercy. He then says that, if it'll help, he'll beg for the boy's life, too. Everyone else is convinced Kyrie is either insane, stupid, or both; the Front has to kill Porcus Rex in order to save both the boy and Kyrie from being eaten.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, there's a sidequest where Yuan is looking for a ring he lost. When he eventually realizes the protagonists have it, he demands it back. They insist that he actually ask nicely, and in a rare moment of swallowing his pride, Yuan goes a step further and humbly begs them to give it to him. Rather than a dark moment for the protagonists, it's a significant Pet the Dog moment for Yuan, since the ring turns out to be his engagement ring to Martel, which he's worn for four thousand years past her death.
  • In the fifth episode of Minecraft: Story Mode, a villainous one comes from Aiden near the end after he's lost his sword during the Battle in the Rain with Jesse. His voice completely transitions from loud insane screaming to panicked pleading; with Jesse not so much as saying a word, he gives back the enchanted flint and steel he stole earlier and kneels before them. He then begs not to be left behind in the city as it's being destroyed; Jesse can choose to take him away to safety, roughly throw him into the waterfall that takes him to safety (without telling him it'll do so, making him think you're giving him a Disney Villain Death), or leave him behind. The first two options will result in Aiden being arrested, but if you do the first one, he'll seem genuinely remorseful and the right dialogue options can prompt him to become The Atoner. (The second option will just have him give you a silent Death Glare as he's led away.)
  • This can potentially happen to any character from Injustice: Gods Among Us: The victory animation for Regime!Superman has him tell his opponent "Kneel before me!" and the defeated opponent complies as he is surrounded by Superman's Gas Mask Mooks.
  • Afflicted heroes in Darkest Dungeon often time try to beg with the enemy or the heir to be let go as they take stress damage. Specifically, the Bounty Hunter has a unique quote of this, and meanwhile the Man-at-arms will try to bargain with the enemy to spare the others.
  • At the beginning of Cuphead, when the Devil offers the titular character and his brother Mugman a chance to beat him in a game of craps at his casino for his treasure, Mugman realizes that this is a bad idea, but Cuphead is too blinded by greed to listen to his brother's warnings when he bets their souls on the game... and then loses. When the Devil is about to claim their souls, Cuphead and Mugman kneel down and beg for their lives to be spared. Needless to say, the Devil agrees to let them go, on the condition that they must collect the Soul Contracts of other characters who have lost to him, and you know how this will turn out...


  • Ja Wangnan from Tower of God falls on all fours in front of Viole when he realizes that he can take him to the next floor and starts begging. Hon Akraptor and Kang Horyang follow suit.
  • The first chapter of morphE has 8 characters wake up in a mansion and forced to pair off and fight to the death. Billy is thrown into the ring and is recognized as a TV celebrity by the host. He begs for his life and is given support in the fight which helps him survive. In recent chapters he has been shown playing along with his captor in order to gain leverage. When it comes to survival, Billy has no shame.
  • Bowsette Saga: Bowsette is captured by an old Lakitu named Jugem who incapacitates her by attacking her injured ribs. She eventually resorts to begging for mercy before she passes out from the pain.

Western Animation

  • In ThunderCats (2011) One stockaded Lizard prisoner, Made a Slave for the crime of scavenging the Cats' crops, begs for mercy from protagonist Prince Lion-O, only for his defiant compatriot to cynically spit that you Can't Argue with Elves. Lion-O asks the angrier one to elaborate, whereupon he launches into a Motive Rant/Screw You, Elves! speech explaining his race's oppression by the Cats in fuming detail. This inspires Lion-O to sucessfully plead with his father for their release.
  • Zim himself on Invader Zim—somewhat surprisingly, given how much of a Narcissist he is. He has had to ask Dib for help a few times ("Planet Jackers," "Bolognius Maximus") and literally begged GIR to obey him in "Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain."
  • Starscream in Transformers: Prime has pretty much no standards when it comes to this. Doesn't stop him from being a threat, though.
  • In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "Raffle Ruckus," Hair Bear is so weary from being the zoo owner (which he won through a raffle he staged) that Bubi suggests he beg Mr. Peevly (the zoo's actual keeper) to take it back. "No one makes Hair Bear beg!" he states firmly. But when the phone rings with another possible complaint from the animals, Hair starts crawling out the cave on his knees to Peevly's office.
  • Played for Drama in Steven Universe. When Jasper finds Lapis in "Alone at Sea", she goes on bended knee and begs Lapis to fuse with her again. Considering their fusion is the embodiment as an abusive relationship, and that Jasper generally comes across as an addict, it's rather disturbing.
  • Action League NOW! uses this trope for a funny exchange in "Voice of Treason," as a garage door is about to crush the League.
    Announcer: With a door closing on any hope, the league has one last card to play...
    Thunder Girl: No please!
    Stinky: Don't hurt us!
    Meltman: We'll be your best friend!
    Announcer: ..The wuss card.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Darth Maul pleads for mercy after being defeated in his last appearance. Unfortunately, his opponent Darth Sidious doesn't believe in mercy.

Other Forms

Comic Books
  • In the French-Belgian comics Les Petits Hommes Les Prisonniers du temps, the hero begs the villain not harming him, telling that the villain can kill all the others if he wants. Just kidding. Actually, they were now ghosts for each other, so the villain had no way to harm anyone, and the hero was just having fun.

Fan Works

  • Second Wind: Don Krieg gets this twice, and both times proves to be an Ungrateful Bastard immediately afterwards. First, the canon situation where he's starving to death, and begs for food. Sanji obliges, much to the protests of the other chefs, and is rewarded with a barely blocked lariat. The second time, Luffy has punched his armor so hard that it's dented, caving in on Krieg and cutting off his air supply. He begs for Luffy to remove it, and the rubber man complies…after snarking at Krieg. As soon as Krieg gets his breath back, he charges at Luffy…only to get one-shotted.
  • Done in Bleach fanfic A Protector's Pride, by Ichigo, to get help from Yamamoto, after plan A (Ask Nicely) didn't work. Notably, plan B (Beg for help) also yields no results, and Ichigo is forced to seek help elsewhere. While it turns out Yamamoto had a valid reason for denying said request (he was trying to avoid a catastrophe, which happened still after Ichigo got his help from Urahara), helping would have been much better both in long and short run, as it would have preserved friendly relationship AND Yamamoto would have been in position to warn Ichigo aganist doing the exact wrong thing that led to said catastrophe.


  • In the Farscape miniseries Peacekeeper Wars, Crichton is about to unleash his wormhole weapon, and asks Scorpius, who has been dogging him for years, if he really wants to see the weapon. Scorpius, for his part, is more than happy to get to begging if it means the culmination of his life's goal.
    Crichton: Beg.
    Scorpius: [instantly] I beg you.
    Crichton: That's not good enough. Say please.
    Scorpius: Please.
    Crichton: Pretty please.
    Scorpius: Pretty please.
    Crichton: With a cherry on top.
    Scorpius: [only one word behind] With a cherry on top.
    Crichton: Happy Birthday. Now, get out of my sight.


  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", Holmes pleaded for help from someone he suspected of having infected his nephew with a deadly disease that he (Holmes) had apparently contracted, even offering to abandon the investigation. Holmes was feigning illness, as a ruse to get the suspect to admit both the original crime and the subsequent attempt to infect Holmes, with Watson hidden in the room to serve as witness.
  • In Mister B. Gone, Jakabok alternates his narration with either dire threats or pitiful groveling to get the reader to release him from the book. At the end he reveals that if he had been released, the reader probably would have been a bloody smear immediately after... if they were lucky.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore begs for his life when he's unarmed and being approached by Snape with wand in hand, pointing at him. This fact scares Harry, which makes him believe the situation is hopeless, which seems to be confirmed when the plea for mercy goes unheard. It's only in the next and last book when it's revealed that Dumbledore was actually begging for Snape to fulfill his promise to kill him, as he was dying of a painful curse anyway and this act would make the villains believe Snape was on their side.

Manga and Anime

  • In Holyland, Yuu does this in chapter 88.
  • In the Punk Hazard arc of One Piece, Tashigi begs Law to release her and Smoker when she gets her original body back. Smoker is disgusted at the very idea, but Tashigi remarks that it's not just their lives at stake, but also their men's lives, as well as the children experimented on by Caesar Clown. She's not begging out of fear, but because they need to stay alive to save them.


  • TLC's debut single, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", is about the girls saying that they don't mind begging for sex from their significant others.

Tabletop Games

  • Among the Invictus in Vampire: The Requiem begging is used as an occasional gambit when a lower-ranking Vampire fails at some task. If you can't assign blame or weasel your way out, then you can always prostrate yourself (publicly) in front of the Elder, wail about your worthlessness, beg for mercy, tear your clothes, demand some horrible punishment, etc. This might (emphasis on might) fluster the Elder enough to say that the failure wasn't that bad, and avoid losing face by actually punishing you. Or he could just tell you to stop being a drama queen and show some dignity.

Video Games

  • Suikoden:
    • Suikoden V straddles the line at one point during a Side Quest to capture and recruit the cocky thief Raven. The Oboro Detective Agency, having dealt with him before, helps to easily ensnare the thief. When approached about joining the rebellion, Raven pretends to be bargaining from a position of power, demanding that Oboro bow and beg him to join. Without missing a beat, Oboro gets on his knees and calmly requests he join, pissing Raven off because he can't believe his 'rival' capitulated so easily, but can't tell whether or not he's mocking him or being completely serious about it.
    • Under somewhat similar circumstances, this is also done in Suikoden II when Apple gets on her knees and begs Shu to join your cause when realises that she alone cannot act as the army strategist. If I remember correctly, you have the option of telling her not to, or joining her in a Pose of Supplication. Whichever option you choose, it really pisses Shu off, and he kicks you out of his house.
  • Early in Tales of the Abyss, Colonel Badass Jade kneels down to humbly beg Luke for his assistance in reaching the Kimlascan king with their peace treaty. Luke is actually the hero, although at that point in the game he was still a Jerkass, and Jade manages it without losing a great deal of dignity, despite very nearly sounding humble until after Luke tells him to knock it off (which is impressive for the game's foremost Deadpan Snarker). Mostly, the scene serves to underscore the seriousness of their mission.
  • "Grovel" is a God Reel technique in God Hand. Gene sinks to the Pose of Supplication and begs the enemies not to hurt him. The audience mocks you... and the Dynamic Difficulty sinks to the lowest possible level. (This doesn't work in Hard Mode, because the Dynamic Difficulty is locked on Level Die.)
  • At the climax of Story Mode of Mortal Kombat 9 there is an interesting example that is kind of both A and B. When Shao Kahn arrives to merge his realm with Earth, out of the surviving four heroes, only Raiden remains. Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade are too beaten to stand up to Shao Kahn and are easily dashed aside, and Liu Kang has died trying to kill Raiden. As the triumphant Emperor steps forward, Raiden falls to one knee and consigns the Earth to him. It's kind of like A, since the elder gods have decreed that merging the realms without victory in a Mortal Kombat tournament is forbidden, so Raiden could be seen as supplicating the Emperor's ego and drawing him into a trap. However, it could also be considered B, as at this point Raiden's faith that the elder gods will do anything to help the Earth is more or less gone, and he could be simply trying to hand over the Earth to Shao Kahn without the need for any more killing. Either way, the elder gods finally do intervene at the last possible second, but the victory is a bittersweet one indeed.
  • The ability to grovel/supplicate/GENUFLECT (otherwise known as "Dogeza" in Japan) is a funny and welcome addition to the third entry of Way of the Samurai. Not only it is useful for ending most fights prematurely, it is also required to recruit one particular follower.
  • Inverted at the end of Mass Effect 3: Citadel when Shepard has the option to convince The Dragon that her inevitable escape-from-prison-and-seek-vengeance scheme just isn't worth it.
    Brooks: [mocking] Is the great Commander Shepard begging for his/her life?
    Shepard: [completely serious] No. I'm begging for yours.
  • In Doom Eternal, Hellpreist Deag Ranak, when confronted by the Doom Slayer, immediately begins grovelling and offering his genius at creating weapons in exchange for his miserable life. We're not sure if he's sincere or not, because Doomguy chops his head off mid-sentence.

Web Video


Western Animation


Video Example(s):


Jeremiah Fink

Fink is blubbering at the point of Fitzroy's gun, begging for his life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / AintTooProudToBeg

Media sources:

Main / AintTooProudToBeg