There are few ways that more viscerally convey love and loss than the Pietà Plagiarism, where an unconscious or dead character who has been harmed at the hands of an enemy is cradled in the arms of a loved one. Which is why this gets really weird when it's the killer who does the cradling.
The murderer will gently hold and comfort their dying victim, caress their face, perhaps gently kiss them. They'll offer advice to reduce pain, explain how they're dying so they don't panic, make an Empty Promise about it all being fine, say the pain will end quickly, and tell them to "go to sleep." It's not uncommon for them to offer a sincere apology, and maybe, just maybe... beg for a forgiveness they know they won't get.
A character Cradling Their Kill might do so for various reasons, none of them good. If the killer is a good guy who was forced to shoot the victim, they'll cradle the victim out of love and guilt. Usually it's because of self defense, a Mercy Kill, or because of other forces beyond their control. Likewise, a Hitman with a Heart may consider it a professional courtesy to give their mark a personal send off, so that they don't fear Dying Alone. A Noble Demon who considers the murdered a Worthy Opponent may give their rival this treatment; worth noting is that the murdered can usually extract a deathbed promise from their killer. Another regretful murderer is the Anti-Hero, Anti-Villain, or outright villain who has kicked the morality pet or killed their Love Interest who will cradle their victim as the Heel Realization kicks in. If the cradling happens before the victim is completely dead, they may be forming a Dying Truce.
There are, of course, much less merciful and worthy reasons for a killer to do this. A Combat Sadomasochist may torment their victim by mockingly aping a Pietà Plagiarism, using Terms of Endangerment, or twisting the blade to keep them in pain. A Straw Nihilist may hold their dying victim and tell them they envy them for achieving the "peace" of oblivion. And of course, a murderer going for stealth wants to keep the victim from crying out or audibly hitting the floor.
Or they might just be crazy.
Poise and verbosity on the part of the victim is optional.
This is a subtrope of Comfort the Dying. One Sub-Trope of this includes the White Void Room; the killer and victim enter the room and engage in a lengthy dialogue where motives, plot points, and Character Development are exposited in a minimalist and rush-free manner. This may be related to My God, What Have I Done?.
Compare and contrast Died in Your Arms Tonight, Cradle of Loneliness and Sympathy for the Devil.
As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- Ayakashi Triangle has a non-lethal variant where Omokage Mei stuns Matsuri by kneeing him in the abdomen, then embraces him as he falls over limp onto her. When that fails to incapacitate him, she continues beating him while still hugging him.
- Guts from Berserk is sent by Griffith to assassinate Lord Julius, the King's brother and the man responsible for a failed attempt on Griffith's life. Moments after completing the task, he notices a figure in the shadows of the doorway and lunges towards it, impaling it with his sword. Then he realizes that he just killed Julius' son, a thirteen year old boy with whom Guts felt a small measure of empathy. He holds Adonis' hand as he dies, but can't do a thing to help him and is visibly distraught. The only thing that prevents him from going all HBSD is the timely arrival of a pair of guards.
- Kenpachi cradles Unohana in Bleach after delivering a fatal wound, pleading with her to stay and fight him a little longer.
- Code Geass: Suzaku holds Lelouch after impaling him with a sword at the very end.
- In the first episode of Cowboy Bebop, Katrina kills her boyfriend Asimov once she realizes how sick he's actually become as a result of the performance-enhancing drug he's been taking. She then embraces him and steers their ship directly at the police blockade.
- Light does this to L in Death Note. While to the others in the room it looks like Light is trying to comfort his "best friend", Light is grinning like a maniac.
- A particularly heartbreaking example happens in Destiny of the Shrine Maiden, in which the full extent of Chikane's plan was only revealed after Himeko killed her, thus fulfilling the sacrificial ritual to destroy Orochi. They got better.
- Defied in Fate Series entries Fate/stay night and Fate/Apocrypha. At the end of the Battle of Camlann, after Arturia/Saber strikes down Saber of Red/Mordred, Mordred uses her dying breath to ask her "father" to hug her. Arturia refuses, although this was because Arturia believed showing emotion was unbecoming of a proper king and likely feeling too guilty to embrace her own "son" that she just killed (given that in Fate/Zero, Arturia doesn't say anything while Berserker/Lancelot apologizes to her after she is forced to kill him because she didn't want to make him feel any worse) rather than Arturia hating Mordred.
- In Fist of the North Star, Rei's battle with Juda ends this way- Juda may have been a bastard, but hearing how his descent into madness was sparked by being unable to accept that Rei was the more talented and beautiful fighter, admiring him to the point of jealousy, perhaps even to the point where it seems Yuda might actually have been in love with Rei, is sobering. His final request is to die in Rei's arms. Even Rei is saddened by this revelation and outcome, and he doesn't deny Juda's request.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Greed Ling kills a lizard Chimera he used to know. He feels some sort of remorse for killing him and cradles his body in his arms, screaming in anguish when his old memories come back to him.
- Another particularly heartbreaking example happens in Ga-Rei -Zero- after Kagura killed Yomi, Yomi told Kagura how much she loves her.
- Similarly (and in something of an Homage to the above example), Reisi Munakata with Mikoto Suoh in the end of K.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Signum does this to Zest Grangaitz after the latter performs a Suicide by Cop through her. As the latter lies dying in Signum's arms, he asks for her to take care of his charges and to continue watching over the worlds that he and Regius had sworn to protect.
- Not so much cradling per se, but in Naruto, Kakashi does pick up Zabuza after killing him and carry him over to Haku's dead body as a sign of respect for (and last request from) his fallen foe.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Makoto Shishio stabs through Yumi Komagata when she gets between him and Kenshin during their fight. Then, since they're absolute Mad Love, he cradles and keeps her company as she dies. And a few minutes later, he loses and dies too.
- In the same series, Kenshin holds his first wife Tomoe's lifeless body when he accidentally kills her.
- The Sengoku Basara manga Bloody Angel has Mitsunari stab his beloved master Hanbe and hold him as he dies. Subverted in that Hanbe had asked him to Shoot the Hostage if such an event ever occurred.
- Suitengu Choji, in Speed Grapher, finds his baby sister Yui years after they were both sold into slavery. What followed? Yui had been forced into prostitution and her mind was so gone that she didn't recognize him, even after he showed her her favorite music box. Feeling that there was no other way to help her, he cleanly kills Yui, then weeps bitterly as he holds her body.
- According to Classical Mythology, Achilles regretted the killing of the Amazon Penthesilea in the Trojan War immediately after the deed. The geographer Pausanias describes a painting by Panaenus (5th century BCE) seen in the temple of Zeus at Olympia which showed Achilles supporting Penthesilea as she died.
- Depicted in Ilya Repin's painting "Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan."◊
- Downplayed in All-Star Superman; Jimmy Olsen cradles Superman after being forced to fight him because he was exposed to black Kryptonite. Superman is beaten, maybe unconscious, nothing more.
- The Batman: Black and White story "Two of a Kind" features a reformed Two-Face planning to get married. However, he ends up having an affair with his fiancé's twin sister, who murders her sister when he tries to end the affair. After killing her in revenge, Two-Face holds her body in his arms and waits for Batman to come and take him back to the asylum.
- In The Brave and the Bold #104, Deadman shoots his new girlfriend Lily both to stop her from killing Batman and to keep her from going to jail for his murder. He rushes over to her (while possessing her ex-boyfriend, mind you) and holds her body waiting for a ghost to come out, in keeping with a promise by Rama Kushna that they'd be together in death. When nothing happens, Deadman exits the ex's body to confront Rama, leaving the poor guy holding his ex-girlfriend in his arms, a smoking gun in his hand, and no memory of how he got there.
- Happens in Ghost Rider when Blaze battles Dr. Strange, mistaking him to be the devil in disguise. He is able to overwhelm the sorcerer with the Penance Stare, but recognizes Strange (too late). He tries to revive Strange but fails, and ends up cradling his victim's body in clear remorse, lamenting that he has no powers that can be used to save, only those that can destroy. (Strange does get better, but only thanks to the intervention of a goddess he is apparently friends with.)
- Downplayed with the Spider-Man villain named the Queen. During her first fight with Spider-Man, she easily defeats the hero with her sonic scream while standing directly next to him, eventually causing him to black out from the pain. As he collapsed though, The Queen caught him in a hug, due to him having impressed her during their fight, and comforts him by telling him not to find shame in his defeat before forcing a kiss on him.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe comic Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War, Jedi Knight Cay Qel-Droma tries the "I'm not going to fight you anymore" appeal to his dark side brother, Ulic. It was not his best idea. Ironically, after Ulic cuts Cay down in a fit of rage, he does a Heel–Face Turn (complete with a My God, What Have I Done?) and that's when this trope shows up.
- In the Usagi Yojimbo story "A Mother's Love", an old woman kills her wicked son and tearfully cradles his body, begging the hero to kill her in turn so she will not have to live after that.
- At the end of X-23: Innocence Lost, X-23 cradles Sarah Kinney in her arms as the latter dies. For extra pathos, Sarah was Laura's mother, and she was forced to kill her via the trigger scent just as they were escaping the installation where Laura was bred, trained and tortured for thirteen years.
- In A Hollow in Equestria Ulquiorra does this to Nightmare Moon at the conclusion of their battle, to keep her body from falling to the ground. It's revealed soon after that Twist was taken by Nightmare Moon to serve as a host body to facilitate her return.
- In I'm Not Going Harry cradles Hermione after killing her in order to destroy the shard of Voldemort's soul which entered her body due to unknowingly wearing a Horcrux for several weeks.
- In I'm still alive, a Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfic, Jen accidentally shoots "Dottie Underwood" then holds her as she dies - while silently freaking out over seeing Dottie's real, childlike personality. What makes it even more creepy is that this is Jen's first (but definitely not last) murder.
- In this Merlin oneshot, Arthur cradles his kill. A bit of warning here: it does include character death.
- In The Night Unfurls, Kyril does the Mercy Kill variant of this trope to the husk that was once Luu-Luu. After drawing his Holy Moonlight Sword out of her chest, he catches her before she can fall. As she reaches up, coming back to her senses, he holds her hand until she passes on.
- Pokémon: Harmony and Chaos: A downplayed non-lethal example happens during Flash and Trixie's battle in the first round of the Equestria League. When Flash's Galvern, Astro, battles Trixie's Hatterene, Hatterene manages to get behind Astro and restrains him in her hair, eventually leaving him Bound and Gagged. With Astro defenseless, Hatterene defeats him by turning him around and planting a Draining Kiss on his head to drain him of his energy, with him only able to groan through his clamped mouth until he is knocked out. Once he goes limp in her grasp, she gently lowers him to the ground before unrapping him.
- In Puppet, a Marvel fic, Tony (who had been controlled by HYDRA to attack his teammates) thinks this is what he is doing while holding a badly wounded Steve. Fortunately, Steve turns out to be only unconscious and recovers.
- In The Second String Harry kills a rabbit due to hunger, then cups it in his hands in a fit of remorse.
- Kadaj dying in Cloud Strife's arms in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Probably out of pity, since Cloud realised that Kadaj was just a puppet of Sephiroth too.
- Queen Elsa does this trope in Frozen when her sister, Princess Anna, becomes an ice statue because Elsa accidentally froze her heart with her powers. Elsa caresses Anna's frozen face and gives her a hug, knowing that Anna will never come back and that Elsa really is "The monster that she fears she is." Guess who ends up thawing and giving Elsa a big hug?
- Happens in the end of Beyond Re-Animator. However, the killer only cradles the victim's severed head.
- Blade film series:
- In Blade II, Blade carries Nyssa (who was infected with the Reaper virus) outside at sunrise to honor her last wish to see the sunlight, and die as a vampire.
- In Blade: Trinity, Danica Talos is laying on the floor hugging Hannibal King and whispering lovingly in his ear, while strangling him. He escapes as she dies so I'm not sure if this is an averted or a defied trope.
- In The Devil's Backbone Jaciento stabs Conchita while holding her in a tight embrace and cradles her against him before letting her fall to the ground.
- In Dune (1984), Baron Harkonnen takes a slave, and pulls his heart plug, while holding him close. It has too much Squick to properly explain.
- Although no cradling takes place, a similar scenario occurs at the end of Heat, when Detective Hanna mortally wounds McCauley and then holds his hand as he passes away.
- In Hooded Angels, Hannah shoots her lover Ellie just as Ellie is about to kill Wes: having realised that Ellie has descended into complete insanity and that she can no longer hold her in check. She then cradles Ellie's head in her lap as she dies.
- Inception showcases the stealth version early on. Later, there's an exceedingly odd variation: Cobb cradles his projected image of his dead wife as she dies a second time.
- The Mask parodies Pietà Plagiarism and this trope when Jim Carrey/The Mask is shot by Darien's goons and collapses into one of the stunned henchman's arms. Carrey coughs out, "Hold me closer, Ed, it's getting dark," and rambles on until he appears to have died. The henchman, moved, starts weeping. The movie then Breaks the Fourth Wall as an audience appears in the foreground. Carrey cries, "You love me, you really love me!" and accepts an Oscar award as the villains in the shot look on self-consciously and smooth their hair. Of course, Carrey is unharmed and escapes moments later.
- In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, this is mocked by Freddy Krueger after he guts one of his victims with his claw. After wishing the victim off to the afterlife, he holds him in his arms and pats him on the back of his head.
- Passion in the Desert: Augustin, afraid of being deemed a deserter and shot, decides to leave his beloved leopard Simoom and rejoin his regiment. He ties her to a column and promises he'll be back. Simoom, enraged at being tied up and abandoned, gets loose and attacks him. He strangles her to save himself, then holds her body for several minutes, crying.
- The Professionals. After Dolworth shoots Chiquita, his former lover, he goes over to the dying woman to give her some water. While he's cradling her in his arms, she puts her revolver under his chin and pulls the trigger, but the gun is empty. Neither of them take this personally, with Chiquita just saying it's not her lucky day.
- Prom Night (1980): At the end of the film, Kim strikes down the killer and realizes to her horror that it's her brother Alex. She catches Alex as he collapses and reveals that his victims killed their sister Robin years ago. He dies from his wounds, screaming for the sister they lost.
- In The Raid 2: Berandal, Rama does this to both the Assassin and Uco upon killing them.
- In Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter comforts protagonist Will Graham after stabbing him.
Hannibal Lecter: Shh. Don't move. You're in shock now. I don't want you to feel any pain. In a moment, you'll begin to feel light-headed, then drowsy. Don't resist, it's so gentle, like slipping into a warm bath. I regret it came to this, Will, but every game must have its ending.
- Then he kind of ruins the oddly touching moment by saying "I think I'll eat your heart." Or perhaps adds to it in a strange way if you consider that Hannibal might be eating his heart because he has great regard for Will's courage and strength. Luckily for him, Will survives the encounter and gets Hannibal arrested.
- In The Return of Swamp Thing, Dr. Arcane finds out that Dr. Zurell sabotaged their experiment. He gets close to her by assuring her that he isn't angry, but then shoots her in the heart, killing her instantly. He lowers her gently unto one of the lab tables and says, "God will pardon me — that's his job."
- In Run All Night, after Jimmy Conlon kills Shawn Maguire in a running gunfight across the train tracks, Jimmy lets Shawn bleed out in his arms.
- In The Sacrament, Caroline does this as she kills her brother.
- Saving Private Ryan: The German soldier who pins Mellish to the ground and drives a bayonet into his chest whispers something along the lines of "stop resisting, it will be over quickly, you will see" to him, and leans in almost close enough to kiss him, making shushing noises as Mellish's life fades away. It's intensely creepy.
- The opening vignette of Sin City, in which the Salesman does this to his mark, shown at the top of this page. Word of God states that the victim actually hired the assassin, and requested that he comfort her in her dying moments.
- Featured in the conclusion of Sleepaway Camp. The killer, who turns out to be Angela, cradles Paul's severed head and strokes his hair.
- In Smokin' Aces, Pasquale cradles Bill after stabbing him in the lungs. Pasquale gives him a beautiful, tormented and sincere send off... while Bill is too in shock to be anywhere near clever.
- In Solo, Han Solo holds Tobias Beckett as he is dying, after shooting him (first). Beckett was a mentor to Han, and Han was grieved that Beckett betrayed him and that he was forced to kill him. Beckett's last words to him are complimenting him for making the smart move.
- The ending of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, in which Sweeney discovers that the beggar woman whose throat he just slit is his long lost wife Lucy. As he desperately cradles her dead body, Toby appears behind and slits his throat, so he also dies in this position.
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, a monster disguised as a human being changes back into her original form and kills her husband when he confesses to her that he saw a monster (her, although he doesn't know this) kill someone years ago. The monster enfolds/cradles her husband in her bat-like wings and bites him on the neck, laying him gently on the ground as he bleeds to death. She then howls in remorse.
- Waves: After he kills her accidentally, Tyler holds Alexis, begging her to wake up.
- James Bond comes close to doing this with Elektra King after he shoots her in The World Is Not Enough.
- In X-Men: First Class, an interesting variation of this, which is more like "Cradling Your Cripple," happens when Charles Xavier receives his spinal injury. Moira MacTaggert tried to shoot Magneto after his Face–Heel Turn and he ends up deflecting one of the bullets into Charles, hitting him in the lower back. Erik Lehnsherr runs over and cradles him in his lap until he realises that Charles isn't likely to die. Magneto and his new minions are long gone before Charles voices that he can't feel his legs.
- The also happened in X-Men: The Last Stand when Wolverine was forced to gut Jean Grey. He grabs her, gives an Anguished Declaration of Love, guts her, holds her as she dies, and gives a Skyward Scream. Seeing this in Logan's memories makes Charles realize Logan is a Jerkass Woobie in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
- In one of the BattleTech/MechWarrior: Dark Ages stories, Alaric Ward does this. The victim was Katrina Steiner-Davion, his mother, who had counseled him to kill an ally, fearing for her own position and indirectly threatening his own. He even cried while doing so. Given that he was her son with her brother Victor who was born and raised with the sole purpose of bringing down the Inner Sphere...
- In the Bounders novel Fractured Futures, Denver is forced to shoot Eames, who was his lover before he lost fifteen years in the spacetime rift, in order to stop her from attacking the Youli homeworld, which would cause the Youli to destroy Earth. After the battle, he cradles her body in his lap, crying and stroking her hair.
- In City of Glass, Valentine holds his adopted son Jace (who he's just stabbed through the heart) while he dies, whispering, "My son. My boy."
- In Dragon Bones, Ward has to kill Oreg, his immortal slave, whom he inherited, and whose life is bound to castle Hurog, in order to make the castle collapse and stop the villains. Oreg has wanted to die for a long time, so it is a mixture of Mercy Kill and Heroic Sacrifice. Ward holds him as he drives a dagger into his brain, a method that he supposes "is painless. At least for Oreg."
- In Robert Browning's poem "Porphyria's Lover" the disturbed viewpoint character describes how he gently strangles his love with her own hair and cradles her corpse all night long, to ensure she will be with him forever.
- The Saga of the People of Laxardal: On the urging of his wife Gudrun and her brothers, Bolli finally participates in an ambush on Kjartan, his own cousin, foster-brother, and formerly closest friend. Bolli is still unwilling to fight Kjartan, but when the attackers cannot get the better of him despite their superior numbers, Bolli himself has to deal Kjartan the death blow. Then he "took up his body and held him in his arms when he died."
- In The Star of the Guardians, when Sagan kills Maigrey out of mercy.
- There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: Lacking a physical avatar, Delta can't literally hold anyone, but she does her best when burning the mindlessly aggressive Slimers trapped in her dungeon, pleading with them to be freed from their hatred and maybe find a way to return, "and I'll make your time fun. I promise! If I can come back... maybe you can? Maybe things can be different!"
- Invoked in one of The Witcher's short stories, as a Last Request of the killed. Subverted in that it is only to get the killer close enough. Double-subverted in that Geralt wasn't foolish enough to grant the request and kept his distance.
- Arrow: Tatsu does this to Maseo after she stabs him in "This Is Your Sword".
- When Keats kills Viv/harvests his soul on Ashes to Ashes (2008).
- This also happens when Gene shoots Supermac in self defense and then comforts him as he dies.
- In the third season of Battlestar Galactica, Saul Tigh is convinced that his wife, Ellen, has betrayed the human resistance movement by collaborating with the Cylons. The resistance leaders agree that she must be punished by death, so Saul volunteers to do the deed himself. He poisons her drink, and holds her as her last breath slowly slips away. This does his psychological state no favors.
- Avon does this with Anna Grant, in one of the sadder moments of Blake's 7 in "Rumours of Death".
- Wayne Brady's infamous skit from Chappelle's Show has him do this to a police officer whose neck he snapped.
- In The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Season 2, Sabrina and her magical evil clone get into a Mexican Standoff-Russian Roulette hybrid witch ritual in order to get rid of one of them to preserve the balance due to Sabrina carelessly creating a clone to give her all her witch powers. Sabrina cheats by turning around and shooting her clone dead before the count is complete. As her clone dies, Sabrina runs over and holds her in her arms.
- A Running Gag in Danger 5 involving Pierre cradling a dying friend or enemy, who'd use their dying breath to pass on the ingredients of a perfect cocktail they'd invented.
- In Season Two, Dexter injects Lila, his dark ex-girlfriend, with a spinal epidural and then carries her to the couch before laying her gently down and stabbing her through the heart. He then closes her eyes.
- In Season Four, Trinity forces his first victim to lie with him in a bathtub, holds her close and says, "Shhhhh, it's already over," before cutting her femoral artery. He continues to hold her as she bleeds out and dies. Made even more horrifying by the fact that he's an extremely specific ritual serial killer and has probably done exactly this to dozens of women over the years... including Rita.
- In the Season Seven finale, Debra shoots Maria LaGuerta who alternated between being her bitchy boss or some sort of a friend. Debra is horrified by what she did, runs to her to embrace her, crying the whole time.
- On The Event, one of the aliens imprisoned in Alaska offers to give up the information on those living amongst human society if he and his girlfriend are released in exchange. To keep him quiet, his girlfriend stabs him while holding him close, pleading with him to keep imagining the future they could have had together while he dies.
- In the final episode of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow stabs his beloved Daenerys in the heart to prevent her from establishing a tyrannical reign and holds her as she dies.
- A heartbreaking Break the Cutie example in Gotham: Ed Nygma/the young Riddler accidentally strangles his girlfriend Kristen Kringle in a fit of panic, then sobs over her body as he realizes what he's done. It all goes downhill for him from there.
- In the sixth episode of Hannibal, the title character kisses the top of the head of a victim he is suffocating.
- In From the Cold: After strangling her, Anya holds Faina in her arms and sobs.
- Interview with the Vampire (2022): A brief shot near the end of "The Thing Lay Still" shows Louis de Pointe du Lac holding his lover Lestat de Lioncourt's body and screaming, after Louis himself slashes his throat.
- On Jekyll, Mr. Hyde does this mockingly with his first kill.
- In the final battle of Kamen Rider Gaim, the kind-hearted hero Kouta kills his rival-turned-final-boss Kaito because Kaito was set on destroying the old world and was about to kill Kouta to achieve that. Kouta then holds the dying Kaito is his arms while crying and they have one last talk before Kaito dies.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Elliot Stabler does this in the final episode of season 12 when he is forced to shoot a sixteen-year-old girl who has gone on a shooting rampage in the precinct, killing a social worker and wounding the men responsible for her mother's rape/murder. A devoted family man with a daughter of his own, Elliot rushes to her side and holds her as she dies. He is utterly heartbroken and retires.
- Merlin does this to Morgana near the end of season 2 after he poisons her. He's the protagonist and he's only trying to save all of Camelot, so his reason for cradling her while crying his heart out is probably guilt and heartbreak. He DID just try to kill one of his best friends. Though it should be noted that he's cradling his "kill," but she doesn't actually end up dying.
- In the first Midnight Caller episode, Jack does this to his partner Rusty after accidentally shooting him dead.
- The killer does this a little in S10 Ep 01 of Midsomer Murders.
- In the Once Upon a Time episode "Swan Song", Emma cradles Hook after she stabs him to end the Darkness and the Dark Ones.
- Rome. After losing the Civil War, Scipio orders one of his own legionaries to kill him. The man slashes Scipio's throat, and then gently eases him to the ground.
- In Smallville, "Sacrifice", Zod does this with Faora.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Day of the Dove", Kirk cradles Chekov as he takes him to sick bay, lamenting how he was driven to beat him senseless.
- Stargate SG-1's Sam Carter does this to Martouf after she is forced to kill him to foil his brainwashing-induced assassination attempt on the US President.
- The Terror implies this with Captain Crozier and Captain Fitzjames, after the former helps the latter end his scurvy-induced suffering. While the scene ends on a shot of Fitzjames's empty, open-eyed expression after the poison takes its course, we later see Crozier's shirt is bloodstained where Fitzjames's bleeding face would have rested on Crozier's shoulder, implying that Crozier cradled him and wept.
- True Blood: After Eric seduces and murders Russell Edgington's lover Talbot, an increasingly insane Russell goes out and finds a male prostitute who resembles Talbot, puts a stake through his heart, and while the man dies says the heartfelt goodbye that he never got to say to Talbot. At the end, he cuddles with the body of the now dead man.
- The Sufjan Stevens song "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." describes the actions of the titular serial killer:
He'd kill ten thousand peopleWith a sleight of his handRunning far, running fast to the deadHe took of all their clothes for themHe put a cloth on their lipsQuiet hands, quiet kiss on the mouth...
- The Irish folk ballad "Molly Ban" features this. Justified as the killer was Molly's lover, who mistook her for an animal.
He quickly ran to herAnd found she was dead.And there on her bosomMany slow tears he shed.
He ran up beside her and found it was she
- A similar situation occurs in "Polly Vaughn", which may or may not be a more modern version of this particular ballad.
He turned away his head, for he could not bear to see
He lifted her up and found she was dead
A fountain of tears for his true love he shed
- The Vocaloid song "The Muzzle of Nemesis" from the Evillious Chronicles features the titular Nemesis cradling her lover in a flashback; she had been ordered to shoot him a year before the song takes place.
- Some versions of the folk ballad "Frankie and Albert" (AKA "Frankie and Johnny") has this as well, after Frankie shoots her boyfriend after finding him with another woman.
Frankie got down upon her knees
Took Albert into her lap
Started to hug and kiss him
But there was no bringin' him back
- Many productions of Carmen end with Don José cradling Carmen's body after confessing to her murder.
- In Henry IV, Part 1, many productions have Prince Hal holding Hotspur (who he's just fatally wounded) as the latter dies.
- In Miss Saigon, Kim cradles Thuy's body after shooting him.
- The Franco Zeffirelli production of Pagliacci ends with Canio holding his dead wife in his arms after killing her and her lover, announcing "La commedia e finita!"—"The comedy is over!"
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Mr. Todd holds the dead body of his wife Lucy in his arms. He murdered the Beggar Woman without realizing who she was.
- Assassin's Creed: It is tradition in the Assassin Brotherhood to treat one's targets respectfully in their final moments.
- Assassin's Creed: Altaïr gives all of his main targets a Final Speech as they lay dying in his arms with a punctured throat. It borders on Exposition Beam since the Animus' loading screen replaces the landscape in this scene and he is surrounded by guards trying to kill him.
- Assassin's Creed II has a little more fun with the trope. One of Ezio's victims sarcastically asks if he was expecting a confession. Ezio averts the trope when he stabs another victim in a manner that could not possibly be described as calm. A third victim uses the moment to stab Ezio in the side. Generally, however, the trope is still played straight because Ezio's uncle, Mario, tells him to do so. This leads to Ezio's first Catchphrase, "Requiescat in Pace".
- A nonlethal version of this happens every time you use the Silent Takedown maneuver in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
- At the end of DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou, Saya embraces Hina's upper remnants as the latter dies after defeating her. This was also the Limited Edition's cover art.
- A heartbreaking example: Isolde and Connor in Dragon Age: Origins, dependent on the player's decisions and persuasion skills.
- In Hitman: Codename 47, after taking out Ort-Meyer, he collapses and, bleeding out, recognizes 47 as his greatest achievement and his son. 47 kneels down, takes Ort-Meyer's head in his hands... and snaps his neck.
- Happens again in Hitman: Absolution when Agent 47 kills Diana. While he doesn't exactly cradle her per se, he does kneel down by her and hold her hand while she begs him to find and protect a young girl who is a clone, much like him. Later subverted as it turns out Diana isn't quite dead and 47 purposely left her alive.
- In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Roxas gets to do this with Xion. Even worse, she was one of his only two friends and the only person he could still trust.
- Thane Krios does this in his introduction scene in Mass Effect 2, shooting his target at point blank range, then gently arranging her body into a peaceful repose as she dies.
- Subverted in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. When Raiden defeats Armstrong by cutting open his chest and grabbing Armstrong's heart, the latter holds onto Raiden's shoulder as he delivers his Final Speech. Raiden puts his free hand on Armstrong's shoulder, initially showing that he reciprocates the respect Armstrong has for him. Raiden then immediately rips Armstrong's mechanical heart out and crushes it.
- In the bonus chapter of Mystery Trackers 7: Blackrow's Secret Emily Lockwood holds her fiance Jeffrey Dean after accidentally shooting him with a real gun which was somehow exchanged for the prop firearm from the play both were in.
- One ending of NieR has your character kill Kainé after the Shade possessing her takes full control, and sadly cradling her body and kissing her before she fades away.
- The final chapter of Oichi's story in Samurai Warriors 2 has her fight for her brother against her husband, Nagamasa. After defeating the latter, she holds him in her arms, as they exchange goodbyes and Nagamasa fades away.
- In a flashback in Sands of Destruction, it's revealed that Taupy held his best friend in his arms after defeating him in a duel-by-proxy. They had each taken a contract for an opposing nobleman, unbeknownst to the other until the time of the duel. Both had too much honor to think of backing out, and so they fought to the death.
- The trailer for Silent Hill 2 had James carrying Mary down a long hallway, Pieta-style, after having killed her.
- The World of Warcraft achievement Make Love, Not Warcraft also qualifies.
- Errant Story has a good example, as Sarine does this at length with the remains of her oldest friend Sarna, whom she has just killed in a fight (not exactly a Duel to the Death, but close enough) she really, really didn't want to have.
- In The Zombie Hunters, "Mercy" zombies approach sick, wounded or dying humans, and follow them, protecting them from other zombies, until they can no longer go on. Mercies deliver a single bite to a vital artery, then hold the dying victim, while gently stroking their hair and cooing softly. They'll even remain with their victims for hours after they turn. It is incredibly disturbing, but, compared to the horrible deaths other breeds inflict, also oddly sweet. Website materials state that some traumatized survivors seek them out as a form of suicide, hence the name.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: It was an accident, but Dr. Horrible's death ray exploded in Captain Hammer's hands, making both of them somewhat culpable in Penny's death. Dr. Horrible carries her body to the emergency stretcher.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, Refan ends up doing this to Awar after he kills him in the aftermath of the siege of Vanna.
- The ending credits for Zero Punctuation's review of Spec Ops: The Line show Yahtzee doing this after killing an Imp, as a parallel to how the game makes the player feel guilty for killing civilians.
- Superman does this to Goku's body after killing him via lobotomy with his heat vision in their rematch in DEATH BATTLE! as a form of respect to the Saiyan by refusing to let his body hit the ground.
- This is later repeated with Jonathan Joestar doing this to a mortally wounded Tanjiro as he vows to protect Nezuko in Tanjiro's stead. This is also done so Jonathan can use his Hamon to make Tanjiro's death painless.
- Happens on many Bugs Bunny cartoons. Elmer (or whoever is hunting Bugs at the time, but mostly Elmer) thinks he's killed Bugs and cradles him as he "dies" - only for Bugs to get the best of him now that his guard is down. "What's Opera, Doc?" in particular is a good example.
- A form of this trope where the kill was accidental occurs in the Justice League episode "Only a Dream". Superman, having lost control of his strength, crushes Jimmy Olsen to death while hugging him. When he realizes what has happened, he cradles Jimmy's body, desperately apologizing to his young friend for harming him. Luckily, as implied by the title, it's All Just a Dream.
- In Star Wars Rebels, "Twin Suns", Maul attacks Kenobi, but is struck down. Kenobi catches Maul as he collapses. Maul asks if the person Kenobi was guarding was The Chosen One. Kenobi confirms this to which Maul's last words are "He will avenge us."
- An interesting version of this trope occurs in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), where Harry unwittingly causes Nano's "death" in S01 Ep05. Since Nano disappeared in a vat of molten liquid there was no body for Harry to cradle, but he found and picked up one of Nano's cracked masks that had escaped destruction. Holding it in his hands, Harry wept and talked to the mask as though it was Nano, apologising for what happened.
- There's actually one practical reason for doing this. Covert operatives who are trained to kill people quickly and quietly (usually with a discreet knife stab) will grab their target and gently lower them to the ground so the thud of a body hitting the floor doesn't alarm anyone else nearby.