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I Have a Family

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You have kids. They have ambition and an Evil Plan.

Guard: P-please, man. Let me go. Take what you want. I won't stop you... Please. I've got a wife and two kids...
Riddler: Question: Why do people think that being part of the nuclear family gives them a greater right to live? Me, I'm doing my best to ease the burden of overpopulation.
Batman #452

Someone is caught by the villain. That someone is being (or is about to be) tortured, or killed. For some reason, while begging/negotiating, said captive may feel the need to inform his tormentor that he has a family. No one really knows why, since this revelation never leads to release or sympathy. The idea seems to be that the victim hopes that his or her captor is not too dark of an Anti-Hero — or at least a Noble Demon — to hurt the innocent and helpless. Even by proxy. It is common for the villain then to respond that he doesn't care or a Big "SHUT UP!" or that he'll even kill their family next just cause said victim brought them up.

In reality, this serves only to demonstrate how big and bad the torturer is.

Other variation of this is that the bad guy or Mooks use this card when defeated in the battle and pleading for their lives. This can be either a trick to have a cheap attack when the Hero lets his/her guard down or it can lead to Heel–Face Turn if The Hero spares the poor mook's life, since Even Evil Has Loved Ones. Also may be a reason why the hero ends up Sparing the Final Mook.

Should you be dealing with a Badass Family or The Mafia, you may consider this a threat rather than pleading. If they say this so that they can offer them up first, they're just playing the Dirty Coward.

Often written as "I have a wife/kids."


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A sort of variation on this can be seen in Fullmetal Alchemist, when Maes Hughes uses the line after he thinks he's killed one of the bad guys(first anime) or is about to attack the bad guy(manga and second anime). He's not using it to beg for his life so much as to say why he can't afford to die. He dies anyway since one of the villains, a shapeshifter, takes the form of his wife (from a photograph Maes carried on him) to stun him long enough to kill him.
  • One Piece:
    • During the Marineford War arc, a Marine was trying to desert the battlefield (which by the way was involving forces so ridiculous that in no way he could've done anything other than getting killed) and was stopped by Admiral Akainu who told him to return to the battlefield. The Marine then invokes this trope, which made the Admiral even angrier, yelling that his "cowardice" was casting dishonor on his family, and he melted him to death right on the spot.
    • Also a slave of one of the World Nobles attempts to flee the island while saying this.
  • A rare inversion occurs in the first episode of the Trigun anime. Vash the Stampede gets the drop on a bounty hunter mook and orders him to surrender... but finds himself stymied when said mook immediately calls his bluff.
    Vash: What are you doing?! You don't like pain, do you?
    Mook: I'm used to it.
    Vash: I feel sorry for your wife and kids, then, you'll make them cry...
    Mook: I hate kids, and most women find me pretty offensive, so I'm single.
    Vash: [sweatdrop] Sounds like a pretty lonely life...
  • Subverted in the Golgo 13: Queen Bee OVA. Antonia gives his life in a Heroic Sacrifice so Queen Bee and her men can escape an FBI ambush. Later she's presented with the informer who betrayed them.
    Queen Bee: You have any kids?
    Informant: I got a boy almost four, and a new baby girl.
    Queen Bee: Do you love them?
    Informant: Yes, of course I do!
    Queen Bee: I don't think Antonia loved his. [shoots him]
  • In the first chapter of Dance in the Vampire Bund 2: Scarlet Order one of the terrorists that had, at best, proved perfectly willing to hold 100,000 humans hostage with poison gas to capture Mina Tepesnote  invoked his wife and kids when he found out that the stadium instead contained nothing but vampires. Mina's response?
    "I see... then to ensure that those children have a positive future as well-adjusted adults, it would be best to remove you as an influence on their lives."
  • Parodied mercilessly in Sturmtruppen: when the Sergeant decides to punish a soldier who fell asleep during his sentinel shift by burying him alive in an anthill, the soldier in question tries to object with this argument:
    Private: "Zis is inhuman! Have you forgot I have a wife and four children? Four children!"
    Sergeant: "So wat? Even if you had just one, just how many anthills do you zink I have to bury people in?"
    Private: ".... zat was not my point..."

    Comic Books 
  • Used quite brutally in Ultimate X-Men. The X-Men had been captured by Weapon X and were being forced to work for them to take out some foreign guys who had captured Nick Fury and were in the middle of illegal genetic experiments. When confronting the lead scientist, Jean is ordered to kill him or watch Scott's head explode. As she agonizes over the decision, the lead scientist starts describing his family in an attempt to bargain for his life. Jean kills him.
  • In a bit of a subversion, in The Authority, a guy pleads with Midnighter that he has kids, "somewhere." The implication is, as secret mutant soldier, that he's lead a promiscuous and nomadic life, probably leaving litters of illegitimate children behind. Midnighter responds by punching his head off and stating that they're better off without him.
  • The line above comes from an eighties Batman storyline entitled "Dark Knight, Dark City," where The Riddler (turned Ax-Crazy via Demonic Possession) lampshades this line.
  • In The Flash, when his plea for help from fellow former Rogue (turned FBI agent) Trickster goes south, Piper forces the two back-up-agents to hold their guns to one another's heads. James immediately shouts their names and the fact that both have families in effort to get Piper to let them go. Unnecessary, really.
  • Henchmen: During Gary's first job (a bank robbery under the Head Pin of Crime), he finds a man Bound and Gagged on the floor. Gary removes the gag and the men says "Please, I got kids!".
  • Hitman (1993): During the arc "The Old Dog", Benito Gallo threatens to stab one of his men as incentive to go out into the fight. The guy pleads that he has a wife and kids, to which Benito replies that they'll be next.
  • Black Fox, an old cat burglar in Spider-Man stories, is an admittant abject coward and will plead for mercy the instant he is threatened. This trope is then Played for Laughs as he will claim to have sixteen kids, or two wives and eight kids with each, the details growing more ridiculous and changing all the time, and that they all depend on him.
  • In Secret Six, Jeanette has caught Cheshire poisoning the title characters, and dangles her off the roof of a building by her hair while chiding her about "manners." Cheshire tries to get out by talking about her baby, but Jeanette doesn't give two shits, and while she doesn't drop her, doesn't let her off easy. It's unlikely Cheshire cares either, except as leverage in situations like this.
  • Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel:
    Shirin's mother: Please, let him go. He's a father. We have a daughter.
    Shirin: [not letting go of the garrote] Yes, I know, Mother.
    [her mother faints]
  • In Spider-Man India, when Spider-Man confronts the robber who killed Uncle Bhim, the man stutters. "Please ... I have a family to feed." Pavitr replies "So did he."
  • In an Exiles comic taking place in an alternate universe, a woman runs into a more monstrous version of Morbius on the street and pleads with him, saying she has a son. Morbius replies the child is very likely dead, and before he bites into her tells her she should have been at home spawning her next brat.
  • 2000 AD:
    • Anderson: Psi-Division: Parodied when the Dark Judges rampage through a health resort. The obese patrons protest with "I have a family and three appetites to feed!"
    • Button Man: One Button Woman, Jackie, tries to use this excuse with Harry by showing him a picture of her children. It doesn't work.
  • Batman VS Bigby A Wolf In Gotham: When Mr. Salinger is getting ready to kill Mr. Ostergard, the latter begs for his life, stating he has a family. When Mr. Salinger asks him if he has a will, Mr. Ostergard says yes. Mr. Salinger then assures him his family will be alright without him, and gets right back to work.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield:
    • Subverted. A spider tells Garfield that he has thousands of kids, "all teenagers." Garfield smashes him and the spider proceeds to thank Garfield for putting him out of his misery.
    • A similar example has a mouse walking in front of him and telling him, "Okay, you caught me. Go ahead and eat, never mind that I have seven kids at home." When Garfield tells the mouse to go home, the mouse says, "To seven screaming kids? What kind of monster are you!?"
    • In the January 9, 2000 strip, Garfield is about to eat a goldfish:
      Fish: Please, spare me, Mr Cat! I've got a wife and six kids!
      [Garfield stares at the fish who's alone in his bowl]
      Fish: Who... uh... are away visiting my mother for an indefinite period of time?
    • In the November 12th 2007 strip, Garfield saw a snake filling in as a temp for a dog on his day-off. The snake becomes irritated with Garfield's condescending pleading, "I have a wife and 35 kids to support!"
  • In one The Far Side strip, a man is about to step on an insect when the insect responds with this. It begs him to spare its life because "I have a wife and a thousand eggs laid in the jelly!" The man is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • In one B.C. Thanksgiving strip, a turkey pleads to BC that he has a wife and six children ... and therefore wants to be eaten.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • A villainish mook to the other mooks example arises in Quest for Camelot:
    Bladebeak: [about the forest] We're not going in there are we?
    Mechanical Mook: [looks at him, holding him by the feet] Chicken.
    Bladebeak: But I got a wife and three eggs at home.
  • In Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels (1939), Gabby begs this to Gulliver when he picks him up. The line would pop up again in one of Gabby's own shorts subjects, "King for a Day".
    Gabby: You can't do this me, I have a wife and kids, millions of kids!
  • Parodied in Shark Tale, when Lenny the vegetarian shark is pressured by his father, Don Lino, to eat a shrimp. The shrimp starts by crying that he has a family, then goes on to describe each and every one of his kids in excruciating detail as Lenny and Don Lino argue.
    Shrimp: It's true, it's true! And the other thing is, my sister had a baby and I took it over after she passed away and the baby lost all its legs and arms and now it's just a stump but I take care of it with my wife and... and it's growing and it's fairly happy... and it's difficult because I'm working a second shift at the factory to put food on the table but all the love that I see in that little guy's face it makes it worth it in the end. True story.
  • Parodied in the film version of Over the Hedge.
    RJ: Please, I'm just a desperate guy trying to feed his family!
    Vincent: You don't have a family.
    RJ: I meant a family of one.
  • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Iago tries to convince Abu to open his cage by yelling, "I have a wife and three eggs! Imagine them hatching... never knowing their daddy..." He doesn't, really. Abu opens the cage to introduce Iago to Rajah the tiger. ("CLOSE THE CAGE! Close it! Close it! CLOSE IT!!!")
  • Shrek 2: Puss in Boots plays this card when he is defeated after trying to assassinate Shrek. According to his own spin off film though, he's lying.
    Puss: Oh no por favor. Please, I implore you. It was nothing personal Señor. I was doing only for my family. My mother, she is sick and my father lives off the garbage. The King offered me much in gold and I have a litter of brothers...
  • One of the Imperial officers says this word for word in the Family Guy Return of the Jedi parody, It's A Trap!, when Han orders the officers in the shield bunker to use their helmets to dig their own graves.
  • Said in Sausage Party as an Italian tomato is about to get sliced in half.
    Tomato: PLEASE-A, NO! I'VE GOT A FAMIGLIA! [gets sliced]
  • Mr. Bumblypants, a white rabbit puppet tries this line in The Happytime Murders pleading that he has 48 kids.
  • A pig police officer in Fritz the Cat tries this on an angry mob of crows pulling out a picture of his kids. They do not give a fuck.

    Films — Live Action 
  • This is a plot-point in The Accountant (2016). When treasury agent Raymond King rushes to the scene of an earlier mass shooting by the title character, he finds a gun to his head. Wolff asks if he's a good agent, and King admits that he isn't. Wolff asks, "Is that all?" and King quickly adds that he's a father with two sons. Wolff asks if he's a good father. When King says that's the one thing he didn't screw up, Wolff lets him live and later uses him as his Friend on the Force (Wolff and his brother were raised by an abusive though not uncaring father).
  • Inverted nightmarishly in Alien³. At a moment of a breakdown, Ripley actually seeks the Alien and calls it out to kill her. The beast approaches, examines Ripley closely and then withdraws, not willing to hurt the "baby" Alien queen maturing inside Ripley.
  • In Reservoir Dogs, while Mr. Blonde is torturing the cop, the officer screams out, "Please! I got a little kid at home man, now please!" This line was actually ad-libbed by the actor, and the shock it brought to Michael Madsen (who played Mr. Blonde), who had just had a son, made him walk off the set. You can actually hear Madsen break character and say "Oh, no no no..." after this line.
  • Spoofed in the 1999 production of The Mummy, when Rick threatens Beni:
    Beni: Think of my children!
    Rick: You don't have any children.
    Beni: ... Someday I might.
  • Subverted in the original Total Recall (1990) with Benny the cab driver, who keeps talking of his five children until he's revealed to be an agent of the Big Bad.
    Benny: I needed the money. I got four kids to feed.
    Quaid: What happened to number five?
    Benny: Aw, shit, man! You got me. I ain't even married. Now put your fuckin' hands in the air!
  • Annie in Game Night tries to avoid being shot by claiming she has kids:
    Henchman: Not with that ass you don't.
    Annie: Oh. Well... thank you.
  • Used in The Hurt Locker, when a man with a bomb strapped to him asks for help from the American military to disarm it.
  • Horrible Bosses:
    Harken: "Please protect me from them! I have a wife! .. And a cat!"
  • Vernita Green tries to use this in the first part of Kill Bill to dissuade The Bride from killing her. This was the worst possible strategy Vernita could have tried on The Bride, seeing as how she had tried to kill her while she was pregnant. The Bride calls her on this, and states that if she really wanted to get even, she would kill Nicky and Vernita's husband as well.
  • Near the start of the film adaptation of The Shadow, the scientist who the Gangsters tried the Cement Shoes routine on tries this line. As expected, the boss scoffs and replies, "They'll get over it."
  • To be spared from being shot to death on the Carousel Trap in Saw VI, both Emily and Shelby try this. Quite an inversion as the guy they're pleading for their lives to is not a villain and that one of them (Shelby) is blatantly lying, and unmasked by a fellow captive. Unfortunately a very nasty case of Men Are the Expendable Gender occurs and she survives anyway.
  • Played with in Inglourious Basterds. It's actually a Nazi soldier, Wilhelm, who survives a bloody shoot-out and makes a deal with the Basterds. He begs them to make a deal with him and end the bloodshed as his wife just had their first child. It doesn't work.
  • In Defiance, the Jewish partisans capture a terrified Nazi soldier, who tells them he has a wife and two kids. One of the partisans yells out, "So did I!" They beat the Nazi to death while yelling about their lost relatives.
  • "My wife is having a baby...!" is a last, desperate attempt by the titular Withnail of Withnail and I to avoid a beating after he had run afoul of an Irishman. He was lying.
  • In Training Day, when Jake is about to be murdered by drug dealers, he shouts in panic that he has a little girl. It doesn't work by itself, but it does motivate them to check out whether he's telling the truth about his Chekhov's Gun.
  • In Timeline, one of the protagonists pleads with De Kere another time-traveler permanently stranded in the past to spare him, bringing up his family, that De Kere has even met 'back' in the future. This only drives De Kere to fury, as it only reminds De Kere of his own family that he's been forcibly separated from.
    De Kere: You have a family?
    Gordon: I've got a family.
    De Kere: SO DID I!
  • In a The Three Stooges short, a detective threatens to have them arrested for allowing a bank robber to escape.
    Shemp: Please officer, I got six wives and two kids!
  • Subverted in Predators, when the Russian affectionately shows the doctor a photo of his kids, just before all hell breaks loose, and they're all forced to flee while the latter still has the photo. When the doctor is crippled and the other characters consider leaving him behind, he says "I've got kids" and shows the photo. While it's a lie, this looks like an understandable case of a terrified, desperate man trying anything to not be left behind, but the discovery that he's actually a psychopathic serial killer makes it less surprising that he was able to think up this sort of lie on the spot and without any hint of unease.
  • In Sophie Scholl: The Final Days a German film about the White Rose antifascist group, one of the arrested students, Christoph Probst, pleads for mercy from the court as he has three small children and an ill, pregnant wife. He is executed by guillotine the same day.
  • Ernest Scared Stupid does this when Ernest imitates a doll voice and wrestles with the dilemma of using a doll to stop the gears of a garbage masher.
    Ernest: [as the doll] No, no, don't stick my head in those gears!
    Ernest: [as himself] But it's either me or you.
    Ernest: [as the doll] But I have a family in a doll house.
    Ernest: [as himself; Beat] I'll send them a nice photo.
    Ernest: [as the doll] You can't get away with this, Ernest, I know where you live!
  • In Monster, one of Aileen's victims tearfully and desperately tries this as she holds him at gunpoint. It doesn't work.
  • Subverted in Law Abiding Citizen. Darby, who murdered the family of the Vigilante Man protagonist, escapes arrest with the help of a mysterious voice on the phone, who guides him to a knocked-out policeman in his squad car which he uses to escape the dragnet. He pulls up at an abandoned factory and is about to shoot the cop with his own gun.
    Officer: What about my wife, my little girl? I'll never see them again!
    Darby: That's fucked up, ain't it. [gets phone call] You don't mind if I take this, do ya? [into phone] My guardian angel, I am impressed.
    Officer: [speaking into his phone] You know why I won't see my wife and little girl again? [takes off disguise to reveal himself as the vigilante] Because you took them from me.
    [Darby pulls the trigger and is stunned by the Backwards-Firing Gun]
  • Amusingly played in City Slickers, when Mitch is forced to ride off with the menacing Curly.
    Mitch: Curly, did I ever show you pictures of my wife and kids? I'm their sole support, you know.
  • Nurse Betty: When Charlie holds him at gunpoint, Sheriff Ballard says that he has two kids and a dog. Charlie is unimpressed.
  • Robocop (2014). When RoboCop brutally interrogates one of Vallon's street thugs, the later begs for mercy, stating he has a wife and kids. Unfortunately for the thug, RoboCop has access to the police database and a quick search reveals that not only did the guy's wife leave him for domestic abuse, he also has no children.
  • Towards the end of Would You Rather, there are two contestants left: Lucas and Iris. Iris's choice is either they both walk out empty-handed, or she shoots Lucas and wins the game. Lucas starts to invoke the trope, but Iris still shoots him dead because she needs to win.
  • Nine Dead: Subverted. Kelly pleads with the captor to let her go because she has a young son. The captor angrily retorts that he knows quite well that she's a pretty neglectful parent because he had been spying on all of them, so he finds it insulting that she would try to use this as an excuse. This is another clue that his grievance for capturing the nine people is a family matter.
  • Doctor Zhivago. The title character is kidnapped by Red partisans who have need of a doctor. Zhivago protests that he has a wife and child in Varykino. The Commissar scoffs back, "And a mistress in Yuriatin!" having captured Zhivago on the way from one to the other.
  • Becomes a Saying Too Much moment in Sinners and Saints (2010). A detective is about to be burnt alive if he doesn't talk (and undoubtedly if he does as well). When he gives this trope, the Big Bad says to his henchman, "He has a family — you didn't think that was important?" and orders they be brought to him as well. Cue Big "NO!" from the detective.
  • When Craig points a gun at Pinky in Next Friday, Pinky begs him not to kill him, saying he has "a girlfriend" and "a wife on the side".
  • An inverted version in The Long Kiss Goodnight: Big Bad Timoth is about to leave Charly and her daughter, Caitlin Locked in a Freezer. Charly tries to get him to spare Caitlin by revealing that he's her biological father. He takes a close look at Caitlin's face, shrugs and leaves anyway.
  • Hardcore Henry. When Akan is rampaging through the brothel, one of the customers begs for mercy, saying he has a family. Akan glances over at the prostitute he was with, mockingly asks, "Is that your wife?", and then kills the man on the spot.
  • Rampage:
    • In the beauty salon scene, one of the employees tries to reason with Bill by mentioning that she's got a husband and two kids at home. It doesn't faze Bill for a second, and he does end up killing her.
    • In the second film, Chip begs for mercy to Bill to forgive him for accidentally breaking the CD that contained Bill's message. When Bill lashes out, Chip pleads he has a wife and children to which Bill replies "I don't give a fuck!" before handing him a back-up CD.
  • Justice League: At least two of Steppenwolf's kidnapped scientists try this line. No luck; he kills the first one to use it and is just irritated by the second.
    Scientist: Please, we have families!
    Steppenwolf: [genuinely confused] Why does everyone keep telling me that?
  • Die Hard. Hans Gruber doesn't have to be told this because he already knows about his intended victim before he's even met him.
    Gruber: Now... where is Mr Takagi?
    [no-one responds — Gruber starts moving among the crowd of hostages, peering at each Japanese businessman]
    Gruber: Joseph Yashinobo Takagi. Born Kyoto, 1937... Family emigrated to San Pedro, California, 1939... Interned at Manzanar, 1942 to '43... Scholarship student, University of California..1955. Law degree, Stanford, 1962. MBA, Harvard, 1970. President, Nakatomi Trading. Vice Chairman, Nakatomi Investment Group—
    Takagi: [stepping forward] Enough!
    Gruber: And father... of five.
  • In a Valley of Violence (2016). The protagonist is holding another man (Harris) at gunpoint.
    Harris: I know there's not a lot of dignity in this, but I have a daughter I'd like to see again. [no response] But I don't suppose that I will. [gunshot]
  • Troy: At the end, when the Trojan Horse ploy allows the Greeks to invade Troy, Achilles knocks down a random Trojan soldier. The soldier pleads for his life and says he has a son. Achilles lets him go and says, "Then get him out of Troy."
  • In the climatic scene of 7, John Doe actually brings this up for his Would You Like to Hear How They Died? taunt. Detective Mills had no idea that his wife was pregnant, so it's this news that finally causes him to kill John Doe.
  • A variation in North by Northwest, in that Roger Thornhill was not pleading for his life so much as expressing his disgust at being used as a chess piece by the Professor, and is thus more snarky than scared:
    "Now you listen to me, I'm an advertising man, not a red herring. I've got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives, and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don't intend to disappoint them all by getting myself slightly killed"
  • Juncture: Shaver begs to be spared by Anna when he's cornered, showing her photos of his kids in his wallet. It works-due to this, she can't kill him.
  • In All the President's Men, one character pleads with Ben Bradlee not to reveal that he had an affair with a Washington Post journalist, using the line, "I have a wife and two children and a dog and a cat!" A befuddled Bradlee explains that he doesn't care about the affair and they're not going to mention that — they want him to comment on a scoop that he revealed to the journalist (while having an affair with her). Bob Woodward noted in the book that the line was lifted word-for-word from Real Life.
  • Circle: The Rich Guy attempts to earn sympathy from the other characters by informing the group he has seven children. Many of the other characters accuse him of lying to buy himself time and mockingly claim to have even more children. We don't find out whether the Rich Guy was telling the truth, but the eagerness with which he attempts to kill the Little Girl suggests that he was lying. It also turns out that another man and woman pretended to be husband and wife to buy some sympathy. But it does work to a certain extent—up until the two sides are established, people with children managed to last a bit longer than those who said they didn't have any.
  • In Bloody Mama, Herman asks their prisoner Sam if he's scared at all. Sam replies, "I have a wife, two sons, and a daughter, all of whom I love very much, so I'm not entirely without fear, no. More to the point, they need me." Unmoved, Herman replies, "Yeah, they'd better need you. $300,000 worth."
  • In The Innocent (1994), Barlow shoves an orderly who he mistakenly thinks is a killer against a wall. The orderly protests, "I have a wife! And kids!"
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage: When Cletus first transforms into Carnage and tears his way out of San Quentin prison, one of the guards he grabs tries to beg for his life. Carnage actually pauses, but when the guard says "I have a family!" — Cletus's family being his Freudian Excuse — Carnage kills him especially slowly.
  • The Magnificent Seven (2016). When an outlaw wanted for rape and murder tries this trope on Sam Chisolm, he retorts that his family are better off without him.
  • In The Strawberry Statement, a professor who supports the protesters pretends they're taking him hostage so he won't lose his job. He tells them, "I have kids!"

  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Dead Beat, after Phil dies, Butters tells Harry that he didn't have a family — and they agree that no, it doesn't make it better.
  • Spoofed in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents:
    Rat Catcher 2: Have mercy! If not for me, please think of my dear wife and my four lovely children who'll be without their daddy!
    Malicia: You're not married. You don't have any children!
    Rat Catcher 2: I might want some one day!
  • In one of Christopher Pike's Last Vampire books, a guy tries a line similar to this on the Vampire MC, Sita, telling her "I have a girlfriend!" She replies with, "The line is 'I have a wife and two kids'" and adds that sometimes that line works and sometimes it doesn't. It works for this guy.
  • Horribly subverted in Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of the prisoners at the Ministry Of Love is being dragged off for torture in Room 101, and begs that he has a wife and family... and then begs his captors to kill THEM instead, rather than having to face the horror of Room 101. The idea is not to punish you, but to break you to the point where you will betray anyone you once cared about to make the torture stop. It is their fault your torture continues, when you break your loyalty to them, The Party is a merciful, loving figure that takes away all the pain.
  • At the end of the third book of A Song of Ice and Fire, Merrett Frey is captured by outlaws who intend to hang him and invokes this trope. The outlaw Lem retorts, "That Young Wolf never will." Merrett having been part of the conspiracy that killed him.
    • In the backstory of the setting, Ser Lucamore of the Kingsguard (who are meant to be celibate) was discovered to have married three women and sired sixteen children during his service. When he was brought to answer for breaking his vows, he asked for mercy on account of his wives and children. The king and queen were not amused.
  • An inversion appears in Brisingr, the third book of the "Inheritance Cycle." A soldier fighting for The Empire begs Eragon to spare his life, as he is too young to die - he has yet to marry and father a child. Unfortunately, Eragon cannot spare him, as the soldier has sworn a magical oath in service of Galbatorix that would force him to betray Eragon.
  • In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Knight, the catfish uses this on Puck. It works.
  • A variant happens in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry and Hermione watch the corrupt Ministry of Magic brutally interrogate a Muggle-born woman who they accused of "stealing" magic from "real" witches and wizards. When they ask her to confirm the names of her husband and children, she cries and tells them that her children are afraid that she'll never come home to them. The officials (actually Death Eaters) coldly respond that they don't care about the "brats" of Mudbloods. When Harry, Hermione, and Ron release all the prisoners at the Ministry, one of the things they say is for them to find their families and escape the country.
  • In Pact, Blake Thorburn attempts to use this to guilt-trip a witch hunter that is likely going to try to kill him in the future, using it as a way of humanizing himself, preventing the witch hunter from mentally dehumanizing him by talking about his estranged family, his friends, and how he feels about the situation. The witch hunter admits that he'll still kill Blake if he's ordered to do so, but now he'll feel like shit afterwards.
  • The Executioner. Mack Bolan (who's already lost his own family thanks to The Mafia) thinks his little brother Johnny has also been murdered (an ambitious mob boss actually faked his death in the hope that Bolan will run wild and kill his rivals). When another mob boss is confronted by Bolan, he starts rambling on about his family so Mack says, "For them, then" and lets him live.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: In the Hunting Grounds, a captured hunter begs for his life this way. Unfortunately, he specifically says "I'm not an NPC or a crawler, I'm a real person with a family!" While captured by a crawler. Turns out that calling your captor "not a real person" does not incline them towards not murdering you.
  • Girls Don't Hit: Joss' first seen victim attempts to sway her using this. He thinks it's worked after she asks about his daughter. It's only to get tips about what her own daughter, also a teenager, might like for her birthday. She kills him remorselessly after getting this.
  • The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War: While Adam and his surviving family members are traveling by bus to Damascus after their home in Aleppo is destroyed, soldiers come aboard to ask for everyone's ID, and find that one man doesn't have one. The man pleads, "Please don't take me, I have a family, please," but the soldiers drag him outside the bus and shoot him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: Done via Bilingual Bonus in "Half Measure", when Mike is taking out the cartel mooks that have taken over one of Gus's warehouses. The poor secretary, who apparently had no clue the place was being used as a criminal front to begin with, or if Mike is here to help, begs for her life, saying she has three kids to take care of (but only in Mandarin, and without subtitles). After Mike dispatches all of the cartel thugs, she can be heard yelling at her boss about the danger he's putting them in, and how she has a family to take care of.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • A nameless factory worker makes this plea of the hell goddess Glory in Season 5. He makes a reappearance a few episodes later after Glory has Mind Raped him. Turns out he wasn't lying, as his family is visiting him in the psych ward in hospital.
    • A flashback scene in "Amends" shows evil vampire Angelus about to feed on a female servant. When he shows his Game Face the servant pleads that she has a son. Angelus replies, "He'll make a fine dessert."
  • Played utterly straight in the first episode of Heroes, where Nikki reminds her creditors that she has a son. Jessica gets better results a few episodes later by telling a goon what exactly she'll do to him if he threatens her son again.
  • Played with on House, where one patient tries to get the medical proxy of another patient to sign off on a brain biopsy with it. It doesn't work, and it's revealed that she actually doesn't have the husband and daughter she said she did.
  • A rare example of it working occurs in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Because she's a hero and a mom, she lets him go. Subverted in that he is actually a bad guy and shoots her. Later, she kills him. Also, she finds out that while he doesn't have a son, he does have a wife.
  • 24:
    • Jason Pillar used this on Jack Bauer on and Jack spared him. He ended up getting his comeuppance in the final hour.
    • This is done in season 1 with Ted Cofell, but it doesn't work as well.
  • In Oz, an illegal immigrant being held in the prison is about to be murdered by Guerra with a nail gun. He begs, pleading "My wife and son?" Guerra cruelly responds "They will mourn you forever."
  • Inspector Morse. Sgt Lewis is taken out into the woods and forced to dig his own grave by the Murderer-Of-The-Week. At one stage he turns to the killer and yells angrily, "For God's sake, I've got a wife and kids!" but the killer just tells him to keep digging. Fortunately Morse turns up at that moment.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Angela tries this when Manny has a gun on her, having just killed her lover Louise, albeit accidentally. It seems to work, until she offers money.
  • In "The High Ground" on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Beverly Crusher tells a terrorist that has kidnapped that she has a son (Wesley Crusher). As it turns out, he isn't interested in killing her because he needs her medical services, though he does later launch an assault on the Enterprise that could have led to the death of Wesley.
  • As Another World heroine Frankie Frame was attacked by a local Serial Killer, she intoned, "Please, I have a child!", as a last ditch attempt at getting him to spare her life. It didn't work.
  • In the Grimm episode "Double Date", a guy who picked up a woman at a bar and now believed he was being threatened by her husband with a gun (he was actually the mark in a con trick) pleads that he has a wife and kids. In the circumstances, this doesn't make him any more sympathetic.
  • Person of Interest.
    • In "God Mode" a Smug Snake Dirty Cop threatens to kill Detective Carter's son if she doesn't stop investigating HR. When he's later attacked by a masked vigilante (Carter) he pleads, "Please, I have a family!" Carter takes pleasure in cracking a Glock across his face.
    • Subverted when Control is interrogating a schoolteacher whom she suspects is The Handler for several spies in her organisation. The teacher pleads ignorance and begs to be released, saying she has a daughter. However as Control also has a daughter, she realises the teacher is saying this to create empathy and manipulate her.
    • Played for laughs when a terrorist tries this line on Sameen Shaw. Shaw replies that the fact that he has loved ones means that Shaw can go after them. And the fact that he would allow that to happen makes her really angry.
  • Chuck: At the end of "Chuck Vs The Anniversary", we first see Chuck's mom held captive by a Volkoff agent who taunts her that he'll go after Chuck next. She eventually breaks free and overpowers him at gunpoint, and he cites this trope word-for-word as a plea for mercy. She responds, "So do I!" before killing him anyway.
  • Get Smart: Played for Laughs in "Closely Watched Planes". Several CONTROL couriers have disappeared. Not fancying his chances with the Idiot Hero guarding him, the latest courier pleads with Max to change roles, as he's got a wife and kids while Max is still single. Max protests that he's about to get married to Agent 99.
  • The cast of Come Back Mrs. Noah is faced with a Cold Equation where someone has to be left behind on the space station, so they start arguing who has the most worth to society.
    Fanshaw: I have a wife and family!
    Cunliffe: Well then you're done your bit to perpetuate the human race.
  • A heartrending version in an episode of Law & Order: The victim of the week (a teacher carjacked and murdered by a former student) manages to leave behind a recording of herself pleading with her murderer to let her go free, eventually trying to show him pictures of her kids. The defense manages to get the tape excluded from trial (exposure to the elements had degraded the tape past where they could get a conclusive match), but it was admissible during the penalty phase (since they'd proved he was the killer, he must be the one on the tape). Cue a shot of her husband and two daughters, hugging each other in tears as their wife/mother's last words were played.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent has a rare example where this actually works. A judge is murdered; her husband is shot but survives. He tells the detectives that the shooter was about to finish him off, but he pleaded for his life because his kids still needed him. To his astonishment, the shooter pulls the gun up and walks away. This ends up being a major clue to the identity of the suspect, as it turns out they have a particular respect for family ties and fatherhood.
  • In an episode of Nurses (1991) , two employees slacking off come across a construction worker in trouble. They're reluctant to help, as it will reveal that they've been playing hooky.
    First Employee: But what if he has a family?
    Second Employee: Oh, come on. What are the odds of that?
    Construction Worker: I have a family!
  • The Punisher (2017):
    • In the pilot episode a gangster tries this line with Frank Castle, whose response is to point out that he no longer has one, hence his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
      Gangster: I get it, an eye for an eye and all that. I've got a family of my own.
      Punisher: I don't.
    • In the flashbacks of the torture of Ahmed Zubair he gives this trope, and his interrogator (speaking Farsi so Frank Castle can't understand him) proceeds to threaten said family if he reveals he's actually a police officer and not the terrorist Frank thinks he is.
    • However in Season 2 this actually does work on Frank, who is about to use a Sawn-Off Shotgun on Russian oligarch Nikolai Poloznev, whose Last Request is not to be shot in the face so his wife and daughter will be able to view him in his coffin. Frank knows Poloznev has a daughter, and has been thinking of his own dead daughter recently, so spares his life. Ironically Poloznev is killed by a less scrupulous assassin shortly afterwards.
  • Played for Laughs on The Good Place. Janet, the humanoid AI who runs the neighborhood, is programmed to beg for her life if someone approaches the Big Red Button that reboots her. She'll also cheerfully remind the person doing so that all her pleas are fake and designed to make the person reconsider the reboot. When Eleanor tries to approach the button Janet produces a photograph of "her" children and asks who will take care of them if she's gone. The second Eleanor steps away from the button Janet calms down and admits the photograph is of random children at an awards ceremony.
  • Trey attempts this in the Broad City episode "Kirk Steele":
    Trey: Please, Abbi, I have a kid.
    Abbi: What? You do?
    Trey: Probably! I mean, a paternity suit could pop up at any time.
  • Arrow
    • Used for Dramatic Irony when the Arrow bursts in on Moira Queen declaring that she has failed this city. Moira holds up a picture of her daughter and son—not knowing the latter is actually the hooded vigilante holding her at arrowpoint—and begs him not to leave them without a mother. Oliver Queen lowers his bow...and gets shot when his mother throws down the picture and grabs a pistol.
    • A bleeding security guard is shown crawling away from Black Siren.
      Security guard: I have a wife...and two little girls...
      Black Siren: (caressing his head) Shhhh, I know. I had a family once. (Neck Snaps guard)
  • Frank attempts to pull this on Villanelle in Killing Eve. She mistakes it for a bribe.
    Frank: I have children...
    Villanelle: I don't want your children.
    Frank: No. I have children to take care of.
    Villanelle: Oh! This will give them something to bond over.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Played for laughs in "The Search, Part I". Quark refuses to go on a dangerous mission and volunteers his brother Rom instead. "He only has a son. I have a business!"
  • Intergalactic: A Commonworld soldier being robbed by Ash, Echo and Verona begs them to spare him, saying he has a daughter. Verona later shoots him when he breaks free, but feels guilty about it, gently putting his daughter's photo upright afterward.
  • Son of Zorn: Played for Dark Humor during a cut away scene back to Zephyria. As Vulturzon is slaughtering members of Zorn's old crew, one pleads that he has a family, and if the villains spare him, he'll lead them to it so they can be killed instead.
  • In the sixth episode of Squid Game, Sang-woo tries to invoke this to his partner in that episode's game because the players have just learned that only one person from a pair can win and that the loser gets executed. His partner Ali, sobbing, responds that he also has a family.
  • The Professionals: In "Slush Fund", Bodie uses this successfully as a sob story while posing as an unemployed man who's turned to burglary (he was searching a house but the wife returned early and caught him). Bodie goes to reach for a non-existent family photo to show her, but she quickly stops him and tells him to Get Out! instead of calling the police. Afterwards Doyle scoffs that anyone would fall for this line. "It's not her heart that's soft."
  • A rare protagonist example in Episode 9 of Dark Matter (2015). When Four has one of the bandits who attacked the crew at his mercy, the man pleads that he has a wife and children. Four retorts that they can do better than him before shooting him.

  • This even occurs in music, in the song "Stagger Lee."
  • Better Than Ezra's "One More Murder" contains the lyric "Saturday night, comin' out/Parking lot a figure come about/Feel a piece click against your head/Pleading to his sympathy/'Take the car, I got a family'/Hear a laugh, 'don't mean shit to me.'

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Jim Ross, commentator for WWE Raw, frequently exclaims "That man has a family!" when a wrestler is on the receiving end of a beat down.
  • On July 20, 2015, when The Undertaker confronted Paul Heyman who had been bad-mouthing him, Paul begged for mercy, screaming that he had children. Undertaker was still about to attack him when Brock Lesnar intercepted him.

  • When Jack Benny threatened to fire his announcer, Don Wilson, Wilson pleaded, "But Jack, I have a wife and two chins to support!"

  • In Dino Attack RPG, Bartholomew Enderson used this line when he was confronted by Silencia Venomosa. He later confessed that it was the greatest mistake he ever made, since Venomosa used it as leverage against him: if he did not comply, then she would kill his family.

  • There is a variation in Sweeney Todd, where Todd is about to slash the throat of a customer in his typical manner, but then spares him when he sees he has a child.
    • The movie puts the wife and child in the room at the time, which makes it unclear whether he's being spared out of kindness or because there are witnesses present.
      • Considering the entire scheme began as a method of silencing witnesses, more likely the former.
  • An immensely popular Israel skit parodies this, similarly to The Simpsons’s example below. A man gives a lengthly ridiculous account he makes up on the spot about how he me aliens and says that when he met their leader, he begged to be spared, saying, ‘I have a wife and kids! Eat them!’ (Though he later mentions off-handedly that he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage.)
  • In Margin for Error, when Moe realizes that the Consul wants him fired, he tries pleading with him:
    "Listen, I got a mother. I got Momma's family. Listen, I'm in a jam like everybody else—"

    Video Games 
  • In the opening of Sweet Tooth's story in Twisted Metal Black, a voice is heard saying this. The response from Sweet Tooth: "Shut up and bleed, you mother—," interrupted by the sound of a knife striking home.
  • In the 2005 The Punisher game, this crops up as one of the special flashbacks. A random mook, upon being "interrogated," may respond "I have a family!" giving Punisher a flashback to his own, dead, family.
    Punisher: [Kill] Everybody does. [BANG]
    Punisher: [Mercy] Then go back to them.
  • Played with in Baldur's Gate:
    Guard: You wouldn't kill a man with a wife and ten children, would you?
    Protagonist: No way, you've got a fate worse than death already.
  • Occasionally, the innocent civilians in Oni will say this if a fight starts near them. One specifically begs Konoko not to kill him ("I have a wife and kids!") after divulging information.
  • Spoofed occasionally during kidnapping missions in City of Villains.
    • "Please don't do this, I have kids! Well not now, but I'd like to someday."
  • World of Warcraft: A few NPCs in the "Death Knight" starting zone shout this when you attack them. Just in case the mere fact of being a Death Knight wasn't enough.
  • In Fable, when you are offered a chance to spare a merchant after raiding his trading post, you get to hear him beg for his life. For some reason, he feels the need to inform you that he has a shop in the same breath that he tells you about his family.
  • In the genocide run of Undertale, the shopkeeper in Snowdin flees before you even arrive, leaving a note that begs you not to hurt her family
  • If Batman continues interrogating mob mooks after getting the information he wants in the Batman Begins video game, they'll start pleading that they have families.
  • Knights of the Old Republic pulled a subversion. With the Mandalorian raiders on Dantooine, they have a farmer at gunpoint. The farmer begs for his life, asking for his family to be taken instead of him. The Mandalorian shoots him anyway.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords has seemingly dozens of these, often just when you're talking nicely to them on the street. Almost everyone you catch double-crossing you will try it as soon as you find out. This happens if you're good or evil.
  • Mafia: "You should have thought of you wife before."
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • rogue Spectre Tela Vasir take a hostage, a waitress named Mariana, in order to stop Shepard from killing her in the game's Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. The hostage tries one of these, saying she has a son, but Vasir uses this as more reason for Shepard and the squad to drop their thermal clips, also delivering a Kick the Dog to Liara and possibly Shepard if s/he has the right background, about how it might scar the child for life. Shepard can either distract Vasir while Liara hits her from behind, non-fatally wound the hostage and hit Vasir or drop their thermal clips. Either way results in the hostage getting away relatively unscathed and one of the toughest fights in the game.
      Mariana: Please. I have a son.
      Vasir: A son? Well, I hope he gets to see you again. I've heard losing a parent is just horrific for children. Scars them for life.
      Liara: I'm going to *end* you, Vasir.
      Shepard: It's alright, Liara. We'll handle this the usual way.
      Vasir: You want Mariana's little boy to grow up without a mommy, Shepard? Thermal clips on the ground, now. Power cells, too.
    • In general, playing a heavily-renegade Shepard will get you to hear this a lot. Immediately followed by "pew pew".
  • Wounded enemies in Grand Theft Auto IV will often scream something to this effect.
  • Heavy Rain has a rare dramatic non-villainous use of it. One of the trials protagonist Ethan Mars has to endure to find his kidnapped son is to kill a specific man and take a photo. Should you choose to go through with it, he will espouse that he's a father and show a photo to you to prove it. Ethan answers that he's a father too, and has no choice.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island:
    • In the finale confrontation between Guybrush and LeChuck in the church in the special edition, the player can make Guybrush say this
      Guybrush: Please don't kill me. (Player's choice)
      LeChuck: Give me a reason why I shouldn't!
      Guybrush: I have a wife and three kids! (Player's choice)
      Elaine: I hear that!
    • Bob (LeChuck's right hand man) also uses this line when Guybrush attempts to kill him with voodoo root beer (which Guybrush can succeed at, depending on how many times he tries to kill him). However, none of Bob's family is seen on LeChuck's ghost ship.
  • A guard in Batman: Arkham Asylum tries this line on traitorous fellow guard Frank Boles just before being gunned down.
  • In Scarface: The World Is Yours, after Tony finishes slaughtering his way through Sosa's mansion, a random mook appears and begs for mercy using this. Tony offers him a job.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Big Bad Raul Menendez, after having orchestrated the assassination of Alex Mason, at the hands of his best friend, Frank Woods, he then says that one more has to die, Hudson, his spy in the CIA, David Mason, Alex's son, or Woods. Hudson says he can't offer himself because he has two kids. But as Raul cocks his shotgun, Hudson changes his tone and tells Menendez to kill him so Woods and David don't have to die.
  • An interesting example in Grand Theft Auto V, Trevor finds himself unable to kill Michael in spite of his betrayal because of the latter's own family which Trevor also loves dearly.
  • In Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, in the Evil Goddess timeline, Paiga begs Noie not to kill him after he hast just killed Hanagata, saying that he has a family: a wife and kids, and he hasn't finished paying off his mortgage. He prepares to off him anyway, but Junown offers to let him join the Septerion Club instead. After a fashion he accepts the offer.
  • Subverted in Octopath Traveler. One villain lies to Alfyn, claiming to have three children who's depending on him to earn money as a mercenary. Later, when Alfyn confronts the villain after he's taken a child hostage, the villain claims to have four mouths to feed. Alfyn points out how the villain contradicted himself, and the villain nonchalantly says he should have kept his stories straight.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in Red vs. Blue when "Phil" is being threatened by Wyoming and says he's a single parent.
  • My Little Pony Meets: Spoofed in "Sailor Moon Meets My Little Pony". Discord pleads for mercy from Tirek and says he has a wife and daughter. Tirek points out he knows he doesn't, so Discord says he does in alternate universes. He opens a portal to Bride of Discord and pulls out his daughter for a few seconds before that version of Discord arrives and takes her back. Nonetheless, Tirek is not moved and keeps attacking him.
  • Parodied in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable But Really Really Fast, with Serial Killer Angelo Katagiri about to be beaten up by Josuke:
    Angelo: Please, I can explain, I've got a wife and kids to murder.

    Web Comics 
  • Killing Stalking: the gay man Sangwoo kidnaps and murders in Chapter 10 uses this excuse. It doesn't work.
  • The witch in No Rest for the Wicked pleads with the heroes to spare her because "I have children! There's no one else to care for them!". She doesn't, not anymore. She wanted to keep them so safe that she killed and ate them, so they would be safe inside. Then she proceeded to kidnap, kill, and eat other children on the delusion that they were her own, who somehow sneaked off.
  • Schlock Mercenary, as Schlock is threatening to eat the guard from whom he is trying to get information here:
    Guard: I've got a wife and three kids!
    Schlock: Yum, are you pleading for your life or offering me dessert?
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In strip #589, we have the evil minion vs Pregnant Badass version:
      Ninja: Please, don't hurt me! I have children, too!
      Kazumi: Yeah? Did you go through half a year of hemorrhoids to get them? Turn around and I'll show you exactly what that feels like.
    • In the prequel book Start of Darkness, Big Bad Xykon tells this to a random heroic Red Shirt:
      Xykon: Hey, fun fact: If you beg for mercy, I'll let you live.
      Paladin: Please, sir, I have a wife and child back home! Have mercy!
      Xykon: Even more fun fact: I'm a total liar.
      Paladin: AARRGH!!
  • Black Hat Guy in xkcd gets fed up with the Writers' Strike and kidnaps Jon Stewart.
    Black Hat Guy: Jon! Obama's leading in Iowa! Gimme a wry, witty comment on the situation!
    Jon Stewart: Please let me go. I have a family.
  • Celesto Morgan does this to himself by accident in Dominic Deegan. After killing a Jerkass athlete, he asks the stripper he was with to give her a reason not to kill her... and (as he's a seer) sees a vision of her with her young daughter. Knocked for a loop, he makes a decision:
    Celesto: Go home, hold your daughter close, and thank her for that good-luck pinch. It just saved your life.
  • In this The Whiteboard strip, after watching an awful movie Doc threatens a janitor with violence over it. The janitor pleads for pity on account of having three mouths to feed. Two goldfish and a gerbil, which is sufficient to get the janitor off the hook.
  • Also occurs in Let's Destroy The Shagohod! where Naked Snake tried interrogating a scientist who utters this trope... only for Snake to accidentally kill him.
  • El Goonish Shive uses this for Black Comedy in one of Grace's nightmares about how her pacifist nature could affect those around her negatively.
    Sensei Greg: I'm being attacked by a fire goo griffin right now, Grace. What are you going to do about it?
    Grace: Please stop, fire goo griffin! Let's work this out! WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS?
    Greg: The fire goo griffin has literally eaten my arm and is absorbing its power to make itself five times as deadly dangerous, Grace.
    Grace: AH! NO! I'LL STOP IT! I'LL —
    Fire Goo Griffin: I have a wife and three dozen fire goo griffin babies.
  • Used by Sienna in The Night Belongs to Us: when threatened by Ada and Hanks to spill the beans about Murphy, she begs for her live and tells them she has a child (which she never mentions before or after, and which is never seen, so it might just be her fibbing to get out of being held by the jugular by a vampire).

    Web Original 
  • Rec.Humor.Funny has a joke titled Discipline. The US soldier won't jump off a cliff because he has a wife and family. He receives no sympathy, and is escorted for court martial. The Russian soldier jumps because he has a wife and family.

    Web Videos 
  • The Legend of Neil features an annoying Octorok in the second episode who nearly kicks the crap out of Neil, before Neil grows a pair and decides try out his new wooden sword. After the mook fails to intimidate him ("You FOOL! Ganon will SWALLOW your SOUL!"), he resorts to this as Neil turns the tables on him. Since he's a just another enemy monster, he says "No! I have a Family of MILLIONS...!" This becomes a running joke in Episode 4 of Season 2, as he appears on a "Have you seen me?" type of poster.
  • The victim of Friday Night Crank's in-person prank said this as Jared and Kristin were attempting to calm her down at the end.
  • Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on YouTube and Twitch. This is a fairly common (and disgusting) scammer tactic seen in his videos and one of the ways in which they try to draw sympathy from the intended victim. This often goes along with the whole "I'm going to lose my job if you don't give me back this money" tactic that is part of many of the refund scams. In this video, around the 1:44 mark, the scammer starts with this (even before first part of the scam has been completed) and Kitboga picks it apart for all its worth. When the scammer claims he can't feed his family, Kitboga starts offering to connect him with local charities, only for the scammer to refuse. He then asks the scammer if the children go to school. The scammer claims that he can't afford it and Kitboga points out that it's both free, as well as illegal for them not to be in school if they're school age.

    Western Animation 
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Squilliam Returns", when SpongeBob's many metaphorical representations of his mind at work are dumping files, the boss of them threatens to fire one of his employees if he talks back at him again. That employee works up and begs, "No, please! I have 3 kids!"
    • SpongeBob sometimes uses his pet snail Gary as an excuse for his need to get out of sticky situations.
  • Spoofed in Invader Zim. In "Gir Goes Crazy And Stuff," Zim is about to erase a police officer's memories. The man pulls out his wallet to show Zim the photos therein, lamenting "Please! I have a house and children and pets and a toilet... and toilet children"
  • Also spoofed on The Simpsons. Homer, confronted by aliens Kang and Kodos, shouts, "Don't eat me! I have a wife and kids! Eat them!" They simply yell "Silence!"
    • And a bullfighting commentator in another episode: "No! I have a wife and three girlfriends!"
  • Deconstructed in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Joker's Favor." The episode's main character says this as he tries to convince the Joker not to hurt him after he cussed out the Joker for cutting him off in traffic. It doesn't work and just gives the Joker more potential targets.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Bugs Bunny does this in Haredevil Hare: "I have a wife and kids, millions of kids!"
    • Daffy Duck also did it. Having actually been cornered by Porky Pig and moments away from being killed, he called his wife and kids out to say goodbye. Porky changes his mind, after which the "wife and kids" reveal themselves to be Daffy's drinking buddies in disguise.
    • In another cartoon, Daffy is a vagrant sleeping inside a department store display, and he's about to be thrown out by police officer Porky when he passes off two wind-up ducks as his kids. Porky takes pity on them and lets then stay, and at the end is seen with his own two wind-up kids.
    • In "Porky's Hare Hunt", the prototype rabbit that would later evolve into Bugs pleads to Porky that he has a wife and kids. He even shows Porky a photo of him with his wife and hundreds of kids. Porky dismisses it.
    • In "One Meat Brawl", Grover Groundhog pulls this on Porky and his hunting dog. "Wife and seventy-two polo ponies...has to roll his own cigarettes...wife has no nylons..."
      Grover: Dogs are suckers for sob stories.
    • In the Looney Tunes Cartoons episode "Poolside Pest" with Daffy the cabana boy begging Elmer not to get him fired.
      Daffy: I need the job sir, I've got a wife. I've got a (what's the word?)..children! Oh and uh.. mortgages or something.
  • Parodied in an episode of Tiny Toons called "Drawn and Buttered" where Hamton is trying to boil a lobster.
    Lobster: Please have mercy. I have a wife and children! [flips open a wallet full of pictures of humans]
    Hampton: I have the same family. [flips open an identical wallet] They came with the wallet!
    • Played straight, and surprisingly it works, in another episode, where Hamton spares the life of a mosquito after finding out that the mosquito has a family (again by wallet full of pictures). Since this is Hamton, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
  • It actually works for a random civvie in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and he doesn't even have to say anything. A visibly starved Zuko rides by while he's cooking and is ready to rob the poor guy blind — until seeing his pregnant wife. Cue swords sheathing, because Zuko's not that kind of villain/Anti-Hero. Incidentally, said random civvie and his pregnant wife play an important role in the plot of a later episode.
  • Transformers: Animated: Bulkhead has to pretend to berate Professor Sumdac so Dirt Boss won't do something worse. The Professor, being a Genius Ditz who was only just rescued from Megatron, takes him seriously and begs Bulkhead not to hurt him. "I am a father!"
  • Played with in Ugly Americans, when Randall has joined an evil zombie cult and his initiation requires him to kill and eat a man. His intended target is a bit of a jerk, and when begs for his life, he mentions that he has a wife and mistress.
  • In Sam & Max: Freelance Police a store clerk begs "Please! I have an ex-wife and two kids!"
  • Todd McFarlane's Spawn: In the first episode, when some poor schmuck about to be set on fire by trio of mobsters, tries to plea for his life. Goes ignored, if not even backfires.
    Poor Schmuck: Please I have a family, kids.
    Mobster: And for their sakes, I hope decent life insurance.
  • Problem Child: Mayor Healy and Principal Peabody failed to keep their end of a bargain with mobsters. Healy played straight with the trope by stating he had a family. Peabody, on the other hand, said he didn't have one but could get one.
  • In Taz-Mania, Taz falls for this with Willie Wombat. Yosemite Sam later berates him over the phone for falling for the old "sympathy routine".
  • In the Popeye episode "Olive's Boithday Presink", the bear that Popeye is hunting is visited by his family as Popeye is just about to shoot him, who tearfully hug the bear and say their farewells. After this Popeye doesn't have the heart to shoot him.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Is Mystery", Buff Frog tries to get Ludo to spare him by pointing out he is a father. Ludo doesn't care, and points out he gave Buff Frog his adopted babies in the first place. He only spares him when his sentient magic wand points out Buff Frog may still be useful.
  • In Garfield in the Rough, Garfield thinks he's being approached by a predator when he encounters Billy Rabbit. One of the things he says in hopes that it will convince the predator to spare him is lying that he has a wife and nine kids.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series: In "The Final Decision", Magneto threatens to kill Senator Robert Kelly. Kelly pleads for his life and says he has a family and children. Magneto is enraged and tells him to shut up as he had a family too, but they were killed by racists, racists like Kelly.
  • Garfield and Friends: "Count Lasagna" has a lasagna delivery man plead that he has a wife and children when he is sent out to deliver lasagna while Count Lasagna is on the prowl.
  • In the Screen Song "You Try Somebody Else" when a cat sneaks into Betty Boop's house and raids the fridge, he selects a fish on a plate and brings him to the table; the fish pleads "I have a wife and two kids inside", so the cat goes back to the fridge and brings out said wife and kids and adds them to the meal.

    Real Life 
  • When Maximilian Kolbe, sainted Franciscan priest, was imprisoned in Auschwitz, the Nazis were about to execute ten randomly chosen prisoners after another group managed to sneak out. One of them was a Polish soldier/woodworker, who pleaded for his life arguing he had family. While the guards were unmoved, the trope ended up working in another way: Father Maximilian heard this and offered to take the man's place, and the guards accepted Father Maximilian as a substitute. He was executed, while the other man survived. Kolbe was made a saint for his selfless sacrifice, and the man he saved was still alive and attended his canonization.
  • If anyone in this case is a "villain", it's the person saying the line: in 2004, NBA player Latrell Spreewell turned down a 3-year contract worth between 21 and 30 million dollars, saying he had a family to feed as reason that wasn't enough money. So continued his decline out of the league. To say the least, he was never offered that much money again.
  • In the case of Michael Drejka who was incarcerated for shooting Markeis McGlockton (using a Glock pistol) who was unarmed although he did physically assault Drejka, Drejka's (unnamed, unseen) wife was a crucial subject in his immunity hearing. Drejka's defense attorney John Trevena issued an appeal for Drejka's bond to be significantly lowered on the grounds that Drejka and his wife were evicted from their house by the landlord and facing homelessness. The prosecutors reprimanded that Drejka is responsible for his own financial issues, arguing that he took advantage of his wife forcing her to work full-time, living off her income while he retired from working at age 37 (Drejka used to be a tree trimmer) and stayed unemployed for approximately a decade. The appeal was denied when the Judge ruled Drejka did not have a sufficient reason to kill McGlockton. Drejka was found guilty in 2019 and sentenced to 9 years.


Video Example(s):


Ralph's Kids

Ralph tries to save himself and his partner from getting ripped to pieces by an ensuing mob by showing them a photo of his kids.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / IHaveAFamily

Media sources: