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Don't Make Me Destroy You

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"There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. (pause) Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. And with our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy."
Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back

Two characters conflict, and one is more powerful/more advantageously positioned than the other. This powerful character wants to avoid a fight, and so warns the other party against provoking a decisive clash because it's guaranteed that they will lose. This could be for any number of reasons:

Not to be confused with Why Did You Make Me Hit You? which is where the powerful character blames the victim for provoking a one-sided abuse. Compare You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry which covers most situations where a powerful character is trying to deter an attack. Has a similar, but opposite effect to Give Me a Reason, where one character does want to hurt the other, and does want the provocation, and certainly will if given.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Bleach, Captain Kyoraku, one of the oldest captains, on two occasions,
    • In the Soul Society arc he encounters a hopelessly inexperienced and outmatched Chad. He doesn't exactly beg for him not to attack, but makes an extensive attempt at parley, clearly for no reason other than the fact he didn't want to hurt him.
    • During the Fake Karakura Town arc, he (along with Stark) tries to make the point that a duel between such powerful men would be needlessly destructive (when pushed, he goes to the fucking wall). Jushiro Ukitake simultaneously has one of these moments with the fraccion, Lilynette.
  • Late in the second battle over Tokyo in Code Geass, Suzaku finds himself in an insane disadvantage against a furious Kallen, who warns him that she will destroy him if he does not take the opportunity to retreat. Naturally, given his death wish, he stays to accept defeat... which is when his "live" command geass activates and forces him to use the FLEIJA cannon equipped to his Lancelot, forcing a stalemate, and nuking most of Tokyo. Whoops.
  • For a True Companion example, One Piece has Luffy saying this to Usopp before their fight.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, when Al makes Ed stop trying to beat Tucker to death, and Tucker continues to goad him on. Al tells him that if he doesn't quit, HE'LL be the one beating Tucker. Al is made of nothing but steel like armor at this point, so if he starts beating you, it will hurt a lot more than if Ed gets a shot at you.
    • In "Fullmetal vs. Flame" Col. Mustang has a flashback to Ishval, in a situation with a young soldier he caught off guard, but hesitates to kill. Both Mustang and the boy know that if the kid so much as raises his rifle, Mustang will kill him. The kid does anyway.
    • When Buccaneer asks him to hold the line against the soldiers still loyal to Amestris, Greedling warns them first that if they don't want to get hurt or have a family at home, they should leave right now. Those that stay are the victims of a Terminator-inspired rampage.
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • Gohan begs Cell to give up his plans and surrender peacefully, because Gohan knows that if he should enter his Unstoppable Rage mode, he'd utterly annihilate Cell, and he doesn't wish that on anyone, not even a monster like Cell. Cell, however, decides that he wants to see this fantastic power for himself. He gets his wish, and it does not end well for him.
    • Goku repeatedly warns the Ginyu Force that they don't stand a chance against him and should just scram. They end up trounced by him (and finished off by Vegeta). He tries something similar when he first goes Super Saiyan in his fight with Frieza, though Cruel Mercy was also a factor.
    • In a villain example, before Frieza unleashed half of his power, he offers Goku the chance to come work for him, saying it would be a shame to destroy such talent. When Goku says no, Frieza is quite upset about it, saying what a complete waste it is, along with how stupid the Saiyans were for not remaining his faithful servants.
  • Holyland: Masaki says this to King in chapter 140. Obviously, the villain does not listen.
  • In InuYasha, Inuyasha and Kikyo's early interactions consisted of Kikyo pinning Inuyasha to a tree with her arrows and warning him to stay away from her and the Shikon Jewel if he doesn't want to be killed. It's subverted; every time, she gives him the warning, but doesn't go through with it.
  • In the backstory of Legend of Galactic Heroes, emperor Kornelias I sent emissaries to the Free Planets Alliance to beg them to accept his rule peacefully and negotiate their entry in the Galactic Empire. Three times he sent emissaries, and three times they were laughed out of the Alliance, whose government was still riding high on their triumph at Dagon, by then the only large scale confrontation of the war. Then Kornelias personally prepared and led an invasion, and bulldozed through the Alliance Star Fleet until a palace coup forced him to turn back.
  • Twice in Codename: Sailor V, in both the first and the last chapter:
    • In the first chapter Sailor V begs the youma Narkissos to stop his attack, as he was also her first love. He doesn't, and to save herself Sailor V hits him with a Crescent Beam, killing him.
    • In the finale Sailor Venus begs Danburite to stand down, as she still sees him as Ace and doesn't want to kill her true love. He attacks, and Sailor Venus promptly kills him.
  • Lupin III: Goemon Ishikawa's Spray of Blood: After he undergoes a revelation about his sword skills, Goemon warns the Inaniwa gang, who want him to take the blame for their boss's death, not to make another move against him or he will kill them all. They do... and he proceeds to disarm all of them.
  • In the first three acts of 3×3 Eyes, Madame Huang Shunli (a female demon masquerading as a human) has been a loyal ally to the heroes while secretly carrying on her plans to obtain immortality, but still Yakumo got very affectionate to her. To the point that when he discovers undisputable evidence of her plan, he begs her to explain herself (while preparing to defend himself) and even when he manages to pin her down at the cost of having two of his limbs turned to stone until her demise, he still refuses to kill her, quoting all the good things she did for him and Pai. This leads to her having a Redemption Equals Death moment saving Yakumo's life from the real Arc Villain Benares.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Matt Fraction Defenders, the Silver Surfer begs a tiger-headed man to release him, saying "Don't make me do this." The attacker doesn't relent, and the Surfer renders him into atoms.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: When the government sends in Superman to take down Batman, Supes spends the entirety of their fight begging Bats to just give up because he really doesn't want to go through with it. Bats refuses to stay down.
  • Angel and Faith: After Angel makes it clear to Whistler that he does not support his methods, Whistler snaps, punches a hole through Angel's stomach, and comes within a hair's breadth of staking him before he manages to stop and compose himself, remarking that, even after everything that's happened, Angel is still his "favorite kid" and he doesn't want to go through with it. Nonetheless, he warns Angel to stay out of his way because he won't be so lucky next time.
  • In an issue of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Spoken word for word by Monkey Khan in Universe 39 when he fights Mecha Sally.
  • Done twice in Unstoppable Wasp.
    • In issue 4 of the first volume, Nadia attempts to peacefully resolve a situation between her and wrestling supervillains Poundcakes and Letha. After she's slugged in the face, she drops all pretenses of being nice and shows off the fighting skills she learned in the Red Room.
    • In issues 4 and 5 of the second volume, Nadia's friends within G.I.R.L. confront her while she's in the throws of a Manic episode. They decide the best thing to do is to keep her away from lab until they can get Janet Van Dyne back, which only makes her sleep-deprived irritability worse. It's when Shay snatches her pendant-housed lab that Nadia ends up proving that the apple didn't fall too far from the Pym tree.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Heroic Dum-Dums" (God Key, Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #4), Dick and Muttley are sent behind the lines to capture Yankee Doodle Pigeon and retrieve his satchel. They eventually capture him (using the "salt the bird's tail" mythology) and hold a cannon to him unless he surrenders his satchel.

  • Advice and Trust: When Rei brings Kaworu home, she instructs him NOT to touch anything because she's yearning for an excuse to obliterate him. Kaworu assures her that he'll try not to goad her to destroy him.
    Rei: This is my residence. Do not touch anything. My instincts are already demanding your destruction for the invasion, even requested.
    Kaworu: [smiling] I will try not to force you to destroy me.
  • In the sequel to Alpha and Omega, Shinji calmly requests that Misato order her men to stand down. While the actions of WUNDER have led to the mess they're in, including Councilor Tevos being in a coma and dying, he's willing to resolve the situation without any further violence. However, he also prioritizes Tevos's health over their entire organization and will kill every last one of them if he has to.
    • A few minutes later when confronted with Misato's soldiers, Shinji offers them the same chance. When they decline, he guns them all down and continues on his way.
  • Ambience: A Fleet Symphony:
    • In chapter 99, Shoukaku receives a communication from the Abyssal reinforcements warning the Combined Fleet to withdraw, or else.
    • In chapter 106, after another incident that threatens the unity of the fleet, Sanford says that the ship girls had better stop pushing their luck, unless they want him to start giving out punishments.
  • In the The Legend of Zelda fic Blood and Spirit, when Link is briefly overtaken by Majora and sent to attack Zelda, Fi intervenes, stating that, while she does not want to fight her master, she will do what she has to do to protect her creator.
  • The last chapters of Cleaves, Cuts and Cracks has Spinel choosing between an old friend and the Crystal Gems. She begs the Gems to stop since she doesn't want anyone harmed which tragically leads to her demise.
  • In Enter the Dragon, Dumbledore learns that Lucius Malfoy was responsible for the possessions and attacks at school, but the evidence isn't admissible in court, putting Dumbledore in a quandary: he is oath-bound to protect his students, but he doesn't want to undermine the laws he has worked hard to reform by forcing shortcuts through. So, instead, he summons Lucius and makes it clear that if anything of the kind happens again, then Dumbledore will keep the law by freely accepting the punishment for murdering Lucius and as many as possible like him.
  • The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World: “Don't make me hurt you!” the panicking Actual Pacifist Paul screams at his captor, Keemerleen, who is at the moment much stronger than Paul and is holding onto him to keep him out of the fight that has broken out as several factions try to separate, depower, and imprison the four. Keemerleen just laughs, so Paul in desperation goes to high strength... which does not end well for either him or Keemerleen.
  • In Neon Metathesis Evangelion, Kaworu pleads with Arael to leave before he's forced to kill another sibling.
  • Once More with Feeling: In chapter 9 Asuka quotes the trope verbatim after Shinji gets on her nerves:
    Asuka: Third Child [...] Come with me.
    Shinji [to Misato]: You have no idea how long I've waited to hear her say that…
    Asuka: Don't make me destroy you.
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris has this reaction whenever someone tries to fight her. She knows she's going to win, and is constantly afraid of hurting people, but also doesn't believe in not putting a person who is a threat to her down as hard as possible.
  • Run Leia Run (Star Wars spoof animation)
    Darth Vader: Bring me my shuttle.
    Stormtrooper: Sir, that line's been changed to "Alert the Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival."
    Darth Vader: Don't make me destroy you.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: Saki attempts this in the prologue, trying to convince Kasumi to join his Foot Clan rather than share Yoshi's fate. Kasumi turns him down flat.
  • In This Bites!, Cross offers to let Fukuro go if he simply stands down, as he wasn't involved in Robin's kidnapping and is Just Following Orders. Fukuro admits that he'd gladly take them up on the offer if not for Lucci's orders to fight them; while the Straw Hats scared him, the leopard-man scared him more.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction You Obey, Shadowfax is threatened with this by her interrogator. He makes good on his threats in a non-lethal but gruesome way.
  • In crossover Point Me at the Skyrim, Antares — a super-hero — bluntly warns a group of bandits that she'll destroy them if they don't leave her alone. They don't, so she does.
    Antares: "In any case, you leave us the fuck alone, and I don't destroy you."
  • Darth Vader: Hero of Naboo: At the conclusion of his staged attack on the Jedi Temple, Vader bluntly tells the Jedi Council that he won't start any further conflicts with the Jedi, but he'll sure as hell finish them.

    Films — Animated 
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    Jumba: Don't make me shoot you. You were expensive.
  • The Prince of Egypt: In the scene immediately preceding the plague of the firstborn, Moses practically begs Rameses not to let things continue, all the while staring at Rameses's son...who is a firstborn. Rameses not only refuses to release the Hebrews, but decides to finish what Seti started years ago by wiping them all out, vowing that "And there shall be a great cry in all of Egypt, such as never has been or ever will be again!". From here, Moses has little choice but to resign himself to the final plague.
    Moses: ...Rameses, you bring this upon yourself.
  • Part of Mojo Jojo's We Can Rule Together speech from The Powerpuff Girls Movie ("We are kindred spirits whose powers spring from the same source, so, girls, do not make me destroy you!"), resulting in a very painful Shut Up, Hannibal!.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, while Clark has previously warned Bruce that he'll take him down if Bruce doesn't stop being the Batman, by the time of their actual fight, he's realised that Lex Luthor is the real threat, and wants Bruce's help to rescue his mother, whom Lex is holding hostage. When his initial attempts to talk to Bruce fail as Bruce just attacks him before he can finish his sentence, Clark shows how powerful he is in an attempt to convince Bruce that if he was here to fight, Bruce wouldn't stand a chance. Unfortunately, this fails to convince Bruce, who just breaks out the Kryptonite.
    Superman: Stay down! If I wanted it, you'd be dead already!
  • In Black Hawk Down, Specialist Mike Kurth sees a woman about to pick up a gun. He yells for her not to do it. When she does, another Ranger shoots her, taking the choice out of Kurth's hands.
  • Cap to Bucky at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. After all, he doesn't want to be forced to kill his best friend.
  • The climax of Chronicle becomes this when Andrew goes berserk with power after his mother dies and his father berates him for it. Matt, whom had been spending the entire 2nd half of the movie convincing Andrew to calm down and control his telekinetic power, continuously pleads Andrew to stop or he'd be force to do this. Sadly, Andrew doesn't listen, and Matt is forced to do what he has to do...
  • Dragonheart:
    Draco: I don't want to kill you; I never did! And I don't want you to kill me! [Bowen looks at Draco] How do we gain? If you win, you lose a trade. If I win, I wait around for the next sword slinger thirsting to carve a reputation out of my hide. And I'm tired of lurking in holes and skulking in darkness. I'm gonna let you up now, and if you insist, we can pursue this fracas to its final stupidity... or... you can listen to my alternative.
  • Shows up in the second of Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle movies. The good doctor wants to introduce Archie to Ava in hopes of preserving their species. Ava is not impressed.
    Ava, to Dr. Dolittle: Oh, don't make me eat you.
  • Near the end of The Elite Squad, Nascimento tries to get a mook to spill the beans on Baiano's location without having to torture. Unfortunately, the dumbass doesn't get the message...
  • The second half of 2010's B-movie Half Moon consists largely of the werewolf, Jacob, cuffed to a chair, held at gunpoint by the prostitute, Rose. She's trying to convince him to give her the combination to his safe so she can take the money to appease her pimp, while he's trying to convince her to leave with the money he's already given her (he needs the rest to pay for anti-lycanthropy treatments) before he transforms and kills them.
  • In the Line of Fire: Would-be assassin Mitch Leary is toying with Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan. He doesn't actually want to harm Frank, though, unless he actually gets in the way of his plan.
  • Every time Mr. Miyagi of The Karate Kid is confronted by someone hostile, he asks them not to make him fight until they throw the first punch. If they do that (and almost all of them do just that), he proceeds to mop the floor with them.
  • Said almost word for word in the original Men in Black, during the famous pawnshop scene. NYPD detective James Edwards and "Agent K" from a vague yet menacing government agency are giving a pawnbroker and alleged black market Arms Dealer the Good Cop/Bad Cop treatment when K suddenly straight up puts a bullet through the guy's head. An understandably appalled Edwards immediately trains his own weapon on K and repeatedly orders him to drop the weapon and put his hands up, his exact words being "Don't make me shoot you!" But then things get weird...
  • The Night Flier: While Dees is pursuing Dwight, Dwight himself has also been stalking Dees for much of the film. When they actually do confront each other at the end, Dwight attempts to make Dees see reason and not meddle in the affairs of a real monster. Dees refuses to let it go, so Dwight finally relents and shows Dees his Nightmare Face before feeding him his own blood to show him a vision of what awaits him in hell.
  • During Kyuuzou's early duel scene in Seven Samurai it's mentioned by a spectator that Kyuuzou asked his challenger not to duel him, because he would certainly be killed. Single-Stroke Battle ensues and Kyuuzou is notably saddened by the outcome.
    • Pay attention during the practice duel. Kyuuzou clearly landed a killing blow (if they weren't wielding bamboo shoots).
  • Spies Like Us. The two title spies are undergoing harsh training and ask to quit.
    Colonel Rhumbus: Boys, it would be a shame to have to kill you now.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Trope Namer is in The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader has Luke trapped and defenseless, but he also knows Luke is the best bet for ending the Galactic Civil War and possibly destroying the Emperor as well. There's also their familial relationship; Vader has found out rather recently that Luke is his son and as such would rather not kill him.
    • Happens twice in Revenge of the Sith. Anakin, knowing he is the Chosen One, says "Don't make me kill you", but at the end of that duel, Obi-Wan has the high ground and realizes that Anakin is about to do something really stupid in his blind rage. Obi-Wan's reply? "Don't try it," in an exasperated, almost pleading tone.
      • The novelization has another moment, when future Imperial commander Lorth Needa, commanding two old and battle-damaged ships, demanded Grievous surrendered or else he'd have his ship destroyed. Grievous obviously didn't take him seriously... Forgetting that his ship had damaged engines due Needa's previous actions and that he could call for back-up-as he did.
  • In The Ten Commandments, Seti, Moses' adopted father, is visibly distraught as Moses keeps digging himself a deeper and deeper hole in regards to his murder of a slave master. Seti must hold his adopted son accountable in the law, but does not want to sentence his own son to death — he eventually settles on exile and striking Moses' existence from all Egyptian records.
    Seti: Why are you forcing me to destroy you?

  • Sun Tzu advised this in The Art of War, saying that "supreme excellence" in wartime isn't winning every battle, but making the enemy back down without fighting. He thus advised a general to make it known to the enemy that, should they escalate a conflict, they would be swiftly and mercilessly destroyed.note 
  • A variant is used in the short story "A Family Resemblance" from The Associates of Sherlock Holmes. Mycroft Holmes deduces that Professor Moriarty's brother has turned to crime and offers him a chance at redemption, along with a warning.
    Mycroft: A shame I never got to meet your brother, and it might be a bigger shame still if you were to have to meet mine.
  • Averted in A Brother's Price: Captain Tern knows that, if she tries to force entry to the Whistler household, the Whistler girls (the oldest one who is at home at the time is about sixteen) will fight to death, regardless of what she says, as they have brothers to protect. She's not keen on killing little girls, so she decides to wait until the Queen's Justice arrives and sorts it out. She explains this thought process to Princess Rensellaer when asked why she's willing to wait for what could be hours. (Captain Tern would have to kill the girls, as it is her duty to protect the royal family, regardless of how stupid the princesses act. Fortunately, Rensellaer agrees that they should avoid a confrontation).
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Small Favor has Harry witnessing this type of confrontation. On one side is a human possessed by a Fallen Angel who takes the form of a powerful gorilla. On the other side, there is the Eldest Gruff, champion of Queen Titania and, based on the three purple shrouds he wears on a belt, killer of three Senior Council of Wizards in his long life. Both want Harry for their own reasons and the Fallen refuses to back down, despite the Gruff asking him too. He has no conflict with the Fallen, but will defend himself if attacked. It is a quick and painless death for the Fallen's host.
    • In Skin Game Harry gives this to a warlock named Hannah Ascher, who is possessed by a Fallen who really hates Harry. Harry pleads with the warlock to not attack again, to ignore the lies it has been told and stand down. The warlock, fueled by her deep hatred for Harry, launches a powerful fire magic attack. Harry creates a wind shield infused by Soulfire, the opposite of Hellfire, and redirects the blast once again into the ceiling over them. The warlock was so focused on Harry, she didn't notice this was seriously damaging the ceiling until tonnes of rock fell on both of them. Harry was saved only by casting a shield.
    • The Knights of the Cross will try and give these to their enemies if combat permits it. If they can, they will stay their hand on striking the enemy to offer them a chance at redemption and walking away from evil. If the enemy chooses to continue to fight, then the Knight will strike with all their heart against the foe.
    • Strength of a River in His Shoulders is a bigfoot who occasionally hires Harry for jobs involving River's half-bigfoot half-human son, Irwin. In "Bigfoot on Campus" a noble from the White Court of Vampires is threatening and trying to kill Irwin. River makes a big entrance to the scene by throwing the villain's car through Irwin's dorm room window. Said dorm is on the fourth floor. Once River walks in by the entrance he made, he stares at the villain and his ghoul mooks but doesn't continue the attack. He makes a non-verbal version of this trope. The ghouls and villain don't accept it, attack, and River wipes the floor with the twenty-odd ghouls.
  • Honor Harrington, during peace talks after decade-long wars:
    "Speaking for myself, as an individual, and not for my Star Empire or my Queen, I implore you to accept Her Majesty's proposal. I've killed too many of your people over the last twenty T-years, and your people have killed too many of mine. Don't make me kill any more, Madame President. Please."
    • This starts becoming par for the course when the Manticorans start having regular encounters with the Solarian League Navy. The SLN is so big its reserves have reserves, but it is also so painfully obsolete that those numbers amount to very little, prompting Manticoran officers to make it clear just how easily they could be destroyed. It's the rare Solly officer who has the intelligence and/or moral courage to Know When to Fold 'Em.
  • Journey to Chaos: When royal guards came to arrest Mia on false charge of sedition, she warned them not to make her leave the guild lobby. Her hammerspace ate them.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen says this to Ahrek and Lyrah after figuring out his 11th-Hour Superpower, telling them flat-out that they can't defeat him even together. As he isn't willing to kill them for any reason, what he's actually threatening to do is injure them enough that they can't keep fighting.
  • Star Wars Legends: Heroic examples occur several times during the X-Wing Series, when before or during a fight someone - usually Wedge Antilles - will announce his rank, his name, and his affiliation, and then offer the enemy the chance to either surrender or, sometimes, cease fighting and escape. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't he and his forces invariably annihilate the enemy forces, though not always without casualties.
  • The War Gods: Wencit to the wizards of Kontovar in The War Maid's Choice. Paraphrased, "This is the only warning, I know all your plans, if you try to go through with any of them or in any way seek to hurt the woman in question, I will release the spell to raze your continent. None of you will escape and it will become such a ruined, barren wasteland that it will be a hundred thousand years before any sign of life reemerges."
  • The Witcher: Geralt warns a Snow White Expy that this will happen when they fight. Though to be fair, his fighting style provides few non-lethal tools for dealing with dangerous opponents.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell does everything he can think of to get Thomas More to sign the Oath of Supremacy recognizing Henry VIII as head of the Church in England rather than the Pope. He stalls, sends in More's family, tells him basically to cross his fingers and sign, and asks if he's really unafraid of death as he drags out the matter until Henry's patience is at its limit. Though he admits he is afraid of the axe, More refuses to betray his principles, so Cromwell shrugs his shoulders and gets on with the Kangaroo Court.
  • In The Zombie Knight, the Rainlords of Sair basically say this with their motto, which is "The rain fears not the torch."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Commonly heard from human commanders: "Surrender or be destroyed." Sheridan, being a goody two-shoes, instructs his crew to target the engines and weapons systems.
    Sheridan: We're trying to disable them, not destroy them.
    • When Delenn arrives with several Minbari ships to protect Babylon 5 from an attack by Clark-loyalists, she and the loyalist captain trade a few of these. Delenn's are more convincing, and the loyalists retreat.
      Delenn: This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw, or be destroyed.
      Capt. Drake: Negative, we have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ships.
      Delenn: Why not? Only one human captain has survived battle against a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.
  • From Battlestar Galactica, when Kara and Sam reunite after New Caprica:
    Kara: [to Sam] I'm in a different place now. I... I, I don't know how else to explain it to you, but I got out of that cell and it's like someone painted the world in different colors. And I look at you and I want to tear your eyes out just for looking at me. I just want to hurt someone and it might as well be you. So you should probably go before that happens.
    • Earlier in the series, after Kara admits that she was indirectly responsible for Zak's death by clearing him to fly a fighter he didn't have the skills for, Adama tells her "Walk out of this room... while you still can."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Played for Laughs when Xander is fighting a demon-possessed Cordelia.
      "Cordelia! I don't wanna hurt you... some of the time."
    • Willow says this to Xander at the end of Season 6, when he stops her from destroying the world.
    • When Angel makes it clear that he will not support Whistler's methods, Whistler loses his temper, puts his fist through Angel's gut, and comes dangerously close to staking him before managing to stop himself, remarking that even after everything that's happened, Angel is still his "favorite kid" and he doesn't want to kill him. However, he nonetheless departs while warning Angel to stay out of his way or he would be forced to.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Ninth Doctor, in "World War Three", offers the Slitheen the chance to walk away and live. As becomes common with villains in the new series, they don't take it.
    • The Tenth Doctor regularly does the Last-Second Chance version to his enemies.
      • From "School Reunion":
        Ten: I'm so old now... I used to have so much mercy... You get one warning. That was it.
      • "The Runaway Bride": He gives the Racnoss Empress an offer to take her and her children to another planet. When she refuses... Kill It with Water ensues.
      • "The Poison Sky" has him put his own life at risk to give the Sontarans a chance to surrender. But they're far too egocentric, and decide having him blown up with them is worth it, so it takes someone else's Heroic Sacrifice to save the Doctor.
    • The Eleventh Doctor gets in on this, too.
      Eleven: No plans, no backup, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else I don't have: anything to lose. So, if you're sitting up there with your silly little spaceships and your silly little guns and you've any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight; just remember who's standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you and then, AND THEN, do the smart thing. [beat] Let somebody else try first.
      "The Pandorica Opens"
      Eleven: You gave me hope and then you took it away. That's enough to make anyone dangerous. God only knows what it will do to me. Basically, RUN!!!
      — "The Doctor's Wife"
      Eleven: Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.
      — "A Good Man Goes to War"
    • Twelve in "Face the Raven" almost goes a bit War Doctor when he threatens Ashildr. When Clara is about to be killed by the Quantum Shade, he basically turns into the Master, "I'll bring UNIT, I'll bring the Zygons, give me a minute, I'll bring the Daleks, and the Cybermen. You will save Clara. And you will do it NOW. Or I will rain hell on you for the rest of time." "I can do whatever the hell I like. You've read the stories, you know who I am. And in all of that time, did you ever hear about anyone who stopped me?" He even brazenly admits to not acting in the name of the Doctor any more, which is very very scary. He only seems to back off when Clara orders him not to insult her memory with revenge; even then, his last words to Ashildr are "I was lost a long time ago, she was saving you, I'll do my best, but I strongly advise you to keep out of my way", punctuated with an exhalation that seethes with blood curdling rage: "You'll find it's a very small universe when I'm angry with you."
    • In The Sarah Jane Adventures we see that this behaviour tends to rub off on companions.
  • Mal does this while dressed as a woman in Firefly:
    "If your hand touches metal, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you."
  • From JAG, when Admiral Chegwidden, a former Navy SEAL, gets into a scrape with a Italian mafioso:
    Admiral: Signor Amati, many people have tried to kill me one time or another. They're mostly dead. So there's a good chance that your brother-in-law will join them if he does come after me... Does he have other sons?
    Enrico Amati: Uno.
    Admiral: When he comes, I'll regrettably kill him too. And after him?
    Enrico Amati: My sister will expect me to uphold the honor of mi familia.
    Admiral: Then I'll have to kill you. I don't want to have to do that.
    Enrico Amati: [in Italian] You're either a very bold man, or crazy!
    Admiral: [In Italian] Not crazy. Practical.
  • Happens repeatedly when Merlin is cornered. He doesn't want to kill people with his magic (and he usually has to kill them to prevent his secret getting out) so he tries to warn them off in advance. Sadly, it never works.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Riker, to his new girlfriend Yuta, who turned out to be a villain (the misguided type).
  • Star Trek: Picard: When Elnor faces a potential enemy, he draws his sword and warns them, "Please, my friend(s). Choose to live." (In Romulan, it's "Feldor stam torret.") Those who disregard his warning end up a head short or with a Slashed Throat, after which he may say, "I regret your choice."
  • In Supernatural, Lucifer begs Gabriel, his beloved younger brother, not to stand against him, and says this trope nearly word for word. Gabriel retorts that "No one makes us do anything", a criticism of Lucifer's tendency to blame others for his own actions, and attacks him. It doesn't work out well for Gabriel.

  • In Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked", the protagonist is accosted by a mugger who states that he doesn't want to hurt him, but will if he has to.
    Not even 15 minutes later, I'm still walking down the street
    When I saw the shadow of a man creep out of sight
    And then he swept up from behind and put a gun up to my head
    He made it clear he wasn't looking for a fight
    He said, "Give me all you got. I want your money, not your life.
    But if you try to make a move I won't think twice."

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Older Than Dirt: In one of the more famous myths about the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, she descends into The Underworld but is denied entrance. She calmly gives the following response:
    If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
    I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
    I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
    I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
    And the dead will outnumber the living.
  • In Christian doctrine, everyone is born damnate due to Original Sin making everyone The Corruptible. However, God wishes for everyone to become part of His family by repenting and acknowledging Jesus. Even if you are saved, you can lose it by being The Hedonist, and get "cast out unto the Devil for the destruction of thy flesh," although you can gain it back by reaching such a state of self-loathing you truly repent, as illustrated by the parable of the Prodigal Son.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Halo 2:
    Sergeant Johnson: [while he is fighting the Covenant] I don't want to kill you, it's just that you're too ugly to let live!
  • Used word-for-word by Artanis towards Aldaris in Starcraft: Brood Wars during the penultimate Protoss mission.
  • Implied towards Shepard by Harbinger in Mass Effect 2.
    Harbinger: If I must tear you apart Shepard, I will.
    Shepard: And don't let us meet again.
    Adversary: What's this? Commander Shepard pleading for his/her life?
    Shepard: I am pleading for yours.
    • Unlike the Paragon Shepard who convinces them there's a better way and a chance for peace, Renegade Shepard can end the Geth-Quarian War by basically informing the quarians "The geth are about to come back online and I'm done saving you from yourselves. You want to throw yourselves at them, be my guest."
    • Saren invokes this several times during the first game. Paragon Shepard replies with exactly the same thing.
  • If you ask the Orz what happened to the Androsynth in Star Control II, they warn you that they will kill you if you insist on asking that, and thus ask you not to do so. Keep it up and they'll show that they aren't bluffing.
  • Resident Evil 6: At the very beginning of his campaign, Leon futilely attempts to talk the zombified President down, but ultimately can't stop the inevitable.
  • Devil May Cry 4: Right before the Boss Battle with Credo, Nero explicitly tells him to back down, not wanting to hurt him for the sake of Kyrie, Credo's sister and Nero's Love Interest. Credo dismisses it:
    Credo: Hurt me? You still don't get it, do you?! (goes One-Winged Angel)
  • Tales of Maj'Eyal has the Allure Wars, a conflict between the tricky and ruthless halfling Nargol Empire, and the honorable but intrusively "benevolent" human Conclave. When the Nargol were pushed to the brink of losing, they warned the Conclave that "a great tragedy will ensue if you continue to push further, and do not accept our previously-stated terms of peaceful resolution. Do not force us to do this." Of course, by this point, they'd spent so much time bluffing for tactical advantages that the Conclave was hardly inclined to believe them. The first mass-necromantic attack in history caught the Conclave completely off-guard, horrifying them into abandoning all pretenses of chivalry and ensuring the war would turn into an increasingly vicious stalemate.
  • If you're going down the Genocide path in Undertale, Sans the Skeleton will warn you that if you continue down the path you're currently on, you're going to have a bad time. He may be The Prankster, but this time, he's not joking.
  • In Project Wingman, the Eminent Domain's Captain Woodward tries to warn the remaining Federation ships off from continuing to fight and offers them a chance to egress instead. They refuse, and all are sunk.


    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in Exosquad, when Kaz finally catches up with his long-time rival Thrax and has him at gunpoint. Thrax rather calmly reminds Kaz that no one actually makes him do anything, so whether he does or does not pull that trigger is his decision alone. Kaz is so bewildered by this reply that he lets him simply walk away. This scene is particularly poignant because unbeknownst to Kaz, Thrax has just willingly disobeyed a direct order from the planet's supreme commander to nuke a city so it wouldn't fall to the Terrans, putting him on a short one-way track to be Court-Martialed.
  • The Fairly OddParents: The first time the Crimson Chin appears, his nemesis the Bronze Kneecap constantly points to his namesake and states "Don't make me use this!"
  • Gaz on Invader Zim seems to imply this when she has a hard time understanding the stupidity and lameness of Dib.
    Gaz: That was your fate of the world work? Jumping in a puddle? ...You do realize I'm going to have to destroy you now.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • Jack's father gave this ultimatum to some bandits who ambushed him and his family. They refused to leave peacefully, forcing him to kill them to protect his wife and son. Jack gives the same ultimatum to the Daughters of Aku before their second battle. Jack kills all but one of the Daughters of Aku, some by lethal weaponry and others by a long fall.
    • In "Jack and the Travelling Creatures", as Jack's fight against the Guardian continues to go downhill, the Guardian stops and suggests Jack leave before he "really gets hurt". Jack refuses and the Guardian resumes his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • In The Simpsons, included in Homer's advice to Lisa:
    Lisa: What do you say to a boy to let him know you're not interested?
    Marge Simpson: Well, honey, I...
    Homer: Let me handle this, Marge. I've heard them all: "I like you as a friend," "I think we should see other people," "I no speak English"...
    Lisa: I get the idea.
    Homer: "I'm married to the sea," "I don't want to kill you but I will"...
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Lair of Grievous", Nahdar Vebb — in his growing arrogance — says this exact line to General Grievous, underestimating how dangerous Grievous can be, even to a Jedi. He pays for that mistake with his life, as Grievous uses the opportunity to shoot him in the gut.
  • Star Wars Resistance: Commander Pyre says this to two children from Tehar that he's been ordered to capture, saying the will be spared if they come along quietly. He's lying, as his real orders are to kill them either way; Tehar was invaded by the First Order and most of the population slaughtered. They're hunting down survivors who made it off-planet to conceal their growing power from the New Republic.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the episode "The Tale of Tiger Claw," Alopex, Tiger Claw's sister, comes to town and manages to defeat him, but ultimately refrains from killing him because he's the only family she has left, warning him to walk away from his "twisted path" or he would receive no mercy next time. Immediately afterwards, Tiger Claw tries to shoot Alopex In the Back... only for her to Flash Step out of the way and chop his arm off as a warning.
    Alopex: Never forget. I could have taken your life.

    Real Life 
  • Marine Gen. James Mattis, in a message sent to Iraqi tribal leaders in August 2003.
    "I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
  • Basically the message from Commodore Matthew Perry to the Japanese government in 1854.
  • In the animal world, venom is a biologically expensive substance, taking a long time and a significant amount of energy to produce. As such, many venomous animals will try really hard to make you back off before they dose you with it. Rattlesnakes make their signature noise, cobras flare out their hoods and hiss, tarantulas (and some other spiders) will rear up and expose their fangs, and scorpions spread their claws and arch their tails over their bodies. Even some species of wasps will ram you as a final warning before they start stinging.
  • As tensions grew between Timur the Lame and Bayezid I of the Ottoman Empire, the Timurid Emperor warned the Turkish Sultan to not provoke him, stating that they were both Muslims and respective defenders of Islam, but Timur could have easily crushed him if he wanted to. Bayezid didn't care (he was pissed his son was murdered by Timur's troops) and in their final letter, he called Timur a coward and implicitly threatened to have his harem raped before his eyes. Timur responded by marching his troops and easily sacking the Ottoman seat of power and taking the Sultan in chains to his own home.
  • Any time a soldier or cop has a gun trained on you, demanding that you surrender, they are effectively telling you this. Contrary to what most fiction seems to think, there is no "safe" place to shoot someone and know that they will survive the wound, so they are warning you there is a good chance that you will not survive if you make them pull the trigger.

Alternative Title(s): Dont Make Me Do This


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