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I Will Only Slow You Down

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So much for "A good soldier never leaves a man behind."

R. L. Stine: Unh, I'm stuck! Go on without me! Save yourself!
Champ: Okay, good luck!
Stine: No, I didn't mean it, Champion! What kind of monster would take me up on that offer?!

You have a group of protagonists, one of whom has been injured or disabled. Either that person is literally slowing the group down, or Someone Has to Die. Naturally, the "damaged" party member volunteers to sacrifice themselves and/or be left behind: after all, being permanently injured is a Fate Worse than Death and well... They'll just slow them down.

The situation will be handled differently, depending on who the other characters in the group are. A heroic character will of course insist that No One Gets Left Behind and will do what they can to help the injured party, and will even have them evacuated first if an opportunity arises. Characters of more anti-heroic persuasions, and especially if they are a Pragmatic Hero or The Spock, will note that the injured character is right and have few, if any, qualms about following their request. The latter situation can also be played for laughs, where the injured character didn't actually mean for the others to leave them behind and was trying to be dramatic, or the others simply run without skipping a beat, or they take the injured character's request literally, or even all-of-the-above.

A Super-Trope of No One Gets Left Behind, and a Sub-Trope of Heroic Sacrifice. Often used in a More Hero than Thou dispute and may involve Crisis Catch And Carry if the person's solution includes dragging the injured party along.

Often leads to You Shall Not Pass!, Self-Destructive Charge, and It Has Been an Honor but also covers other situations such as quietly going off to die when no one's looking.

This may make pragmatic sense when the character is already mortally wounded or unable to escape from an oncoming deadly threat. This can be a natural end to Your Days Are Numbered. Compare Doomed Hurt Guy.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Eren's mother/Mikasa's Parental Substitute Carla Jaeger is gravely wounded and pinned underneath rubble. She pretty much orders her children to leave her there so they can escape. In a more realistic (and heartbreaking) version of the trope, poor Carla understandably freaks out at the thought of being all alone as the Titans get close to her, but then she makes sure to cover her mouth with her hands so her children won't listen to her "Please, Don't Leave Me".
    • During the attempt to rescue Eren from the Armored Titan, a Titan snags Erwin from off his horse. He immediately demands that the rest of them advance and rescue Eren, though that doesn't stop a handful of Red Shirts from jumping in to save him. He survives, but not in one piece.
  • In the Knight Hunters Dramatic Precious Drama CD, Birman is captured and subjected to Mutilation Interrogation by La Mort. Weiss is ordered to kill her before she cracks and tells them everything she knows; when they protest, Manx reminds them that they're killers, not rescuers. When they find her alive, they decide to rescue her anyway, and she asks Aya for the gun he carries as a backup weapon, saying grimly that she's still got one finger to pull a trigger with. Aya gives it to her, apparently thinking she wanted to help cover their escape, but she explains the trope and shoots herself instead.
  • Done at least twice in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • First, Lan Fan when she is seriously injured by Bradley. Ling Yao manages to escape carrying her on his shoulder, but is being followed by Bradley and forced into a dead-end. She pleads for Ling to leave her so he can save himself, but Ling won't take shit like that. She ends up cutting off her own injured arm and using it to elude Bradley's tracking unit.
    • After he got paralyzed, Havoc tearfully begged Mustang to leave him, since he won't be much help for Mustang anymore in military. Mustang complies... so Havoc can recover and join him later. Like above examples, he later proves his worth by smuggling weapons for Mustang and his men when the Promised Day is coming.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. Sousuke has forgotten Kaname's notes for a test, so has to race back to his home to get them. He's struggling up a hill on a bike with Kaname doubling on the back, and invokes this trope when Kaname worries he might not make it. Kaname angrily agrees that she will leave him behind if he passes out, then has a Luminescent Blush.
  • Played straight in the original Full Metal Panic!. Sousuke gives Kaname a transmitter and tells her to try to make it to the coast, leaving a wounded Kurz and Sousuke behind. When Kaname refuses, Sousuke threatens to shoot her rather than let her be captured and experimented on, but Kaname talks him into Take a Third Option.
  • Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV has two examples which mirror each other and involve the same people:
    • In the opening, King Regis is carrying Noctis while also holding Lunafreya's hand as he tries to flee Niflheim's forces. The young Luna realizes he won't be able to get away at this pace and lets go of his hand, giving herself up to the Niflheim troops so that he and Noctis can escape. The result is that Lunafreya grows up a glorified prisoner of Niflheim, something that has haunted King Regis ever since.
    • Later in the movie, Niflheim forces have invaded Insomnia, with General Glauca in hot pursuit of Nyx, Lunafreya, and Regis. As they flee, Lunafreya is holding the ailing Regis' hand. Just like how Lunafreya herself did years ago, Regis lets go and stays to confront their pursuer to buy the others more time to escape. The result is that Regis is slain by General Glauca.
  • Downplayed in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. Towards the climax of the MahoraFest arc, Negi is running along with Yue, who urges him to go on ahead without her, not necessarily because she's hurt, but because her inability to use magic or be useful in this particular scenario doesn't really help Negi in any way. Negi refuses to leave her behind, not out of any sort of heroic deed, but because he's not sure if defeating Chao Lingshen is the right thing to do and wants to discuss it with her before he leaves to fight her. He does leave her behind, only after having said discussion with her.
  • Main character Seiya attempts to pull this in Saint Seiya when he's under the effects of a poison-based technique and Shun can't fight his own Evil Counterpart properly, since one of his chains is wrapped around Seiya's arm to keep him from falling off a cliff. Seiya mentions this trope right before he uses his free hand to cut off the already-damaged chain and willingly throw himself off, which sends Shun into an Unstoppable Rage against his enemy. Luckily, Seiya lives to tell. Barely, but he does.
  • Parodied in episode 9 of Seiyu's Life!. Futaba and Konno are stuck in traffic while trying to get to a voice recording, so they decide to run instead. Along the way, Konno trips and tells Futaba to leave her behind. All that happened was she got a bloody nose, but they both treat it as if she had been mortally wounded. Futaba makes it on time, but Atsumari pointed out that they could have just called and let the studio know they were running late.

    Comic Books 
  • Played for Laughs in an issue of Planetary, as the crew are racing to recover a man trying to escape from them while The Drummer is under the weather due to info overload:
    Elijah: He's getting away!
    The Drummer: Leave me behind! I'll only slow you down!
    Elijah: Okay.
    The Drummer: I didn't mean it, you evil old geezer.
  • Transformers: Wings of Honor: Red Alert, Ultra Magnus and a bunch of other Autobots take on Devastator in a flashback (which is also a deleted scene from the movie). They blow the combiner apart, and then the Constructicons continue fighting, forcing the bots back. Red Alert is shot in the back and tells the others to continue. The Bots leave him, and the Cons march on past him as he expires.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: In "Top Traitor", Modesty and Willie go to rescue Sir Gerald after he's abducted, and the rescue goes wrong and turns into them half-carrying Sir Gerald through a dark forest with their enemies in hot pursuit. Sir Gerald tries several times to get them to leave him and save themselves, only to be cheerfully ignored.

    Fan Fiction 
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: After Tom discovers the Auxillary Animorphs' secret in "What if the Auximorphs joined the team right away?", they're forced to leave behind all the team members who can't survive outside of the hospital.
  • In the Hetalia: Axis Powers doujinshi Our House on the Big Snowfield, a teen Ukraine and a child Belarus run away from invaders. Since Death Is Cheap for nations, Belarus tells her sister to leave her since it will make no real difference and she'll return soon. Subverted in that Ukraine does leave but promises to return for Belarus as soon as she can. Double Subverted in that Belarus ultimately doesn't die either.
  • Invoked in I Did Not Want To Die by the protagonist when he has his Obi-Wan Moment.
  • In Kill or Be Killed, Yoona's seat breaks on a rollercoaster, and she is grabbed by Yesung before she can fall, but convinces him to let her go since she is ready for death and even if Yesung ignored her, she'd have nowhere to go and she would tire out Yesung's arm.
  • In the chapter "Heat Survival" of Living The Dream, Zorrow is tackled and pinned down by Pinkie Pie while she's in heat. He tells Lance to go on with out him, only to regret it when Lance accepts without hesitation.
    Zorrow: Run man, save yourself.
    Lance: Thanks dude, I so owe you!
    Zorrow: What the fuck! I didn't fucking mean it! Get back here and save me!
  • In The Progenitor Chronicles, the MC sustains a crippling injury at the hands of Illumina and invokes this trope when telling the BSAA team, including Rebecca, to leave him in the base and evacuate – especially since there is an ongoing countdown before the Regia Solis destroys the city again. Rebecca has exactly none of it and runs back into the base to get him.
  • The Saga Of Tanya The Firebender: Yue forces Sokka to leave her behind after she injures her foot while they flee the Northern Water Tribe capital, insisting that Aang needs him more than she does. It helps that, as a princess, she's liable to be made a political prisoner rather than executed.
  • Shadows over Meridian: After the Frostbiter injures Philip whom Caroline manages to drag to a space between rocks, he tells her to survive without him and even plans on distracting Jade and her troops after she makes the Frostbiter leave, but Caroline adamantly refuses to abandon him. They're found in the midst of their argument, though, and taken captive.

    Films — Animated 
  • Capture the Flag: When Marty gets stuck on the fence surrounding the launch site, he urges Amy and Mike to go on without him. When they comply however, he immediately freaks out that they are actually leaving him behind.
  • In Dead Space: Downfall, a number of characters end up doing this, though more because they realize that the marker is slowly driving them insane than because of any physical injury.
  • Pinocchio: After Monstro destroys their raft, Geppetto tells Pinocchio to "save yourself" as he sinks under the water. Pinocchio gives his life getting him safely to shore, and even then, Geppetto, still barely conscious, continues to say it.
  • Raya and the Last Dragon: Benja, Chief of Heart, gets an arrow in his leg during the fight over the Dragon Gem, and when the Druun appear, he tosses Raya to safety before being petrified.
  • Toy Story:
    • One of the Army Men is squashed when Andy's mom stepped on him.
      Soldier: Go on without me! Just go!
      Sergeant: A good soldier never leaves a man behind! [pulls him to safety]
    • Near the end, Woody is trapped under a crate in Sid's room.
      Woody: Listen, Buzz, forget about me. You should get outta here while you can.
  • In Ice Age, after taking the mortal blow for Manny during the fight against his own pack, Diego insists that Manny and Sid go on returning the human baby to its father without him. Since he seems to be dying, they accept it.
    Diego: Listen, you have to leave me here. If those humans make it through the pass, you'll never catch them.
  • In Zootopia, when Nick and Judy are trying to escape Bellwether and her minions, Judy injures her leg, making her incapable of running. She tells Nick to leave her as she will only slow him down. Nick refuses.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The 13th Warrior, one of the 12 Norsemen stays behind in the tunnel to hold off the rampaging horde of cannibalistic cave-dwelling Neanderthals after uttering the tip-off phrase for a wounded soldier: "Well, I think I've gone as far as I can. Today was a good day. Meet me in Valhalla!"
  • Lampshaded and mocked in the film of The Bridge on the River Kwai, as the would-be victim's reasoning is compared to the ideology of the Japanese soldiers he opposes. "The only important thing is to live like a human being!"
  • Burning Ambition has a Troubled Backstory Flashback of the four main characters, as kids, with their father and heavily pregnant mother, being pursued by enemy triads intending to kill all of them. The pregnant mother pleads for her family to flee, saying she will attempt bargaining with the Tongs since she's pregnant, but unfortunately it turns out the Tongs doesn't give a single concern about hacking a pregnant woman to death.
  • In The Cranes Are Flying, a young soldier is injured during an Army Scout mission with Boris and tells the latter to go on without him. Boris refuses and carries his partner on his shoulders into safe territory.
  • Flight of the Intruder: One of the pilots had an agreement with his observer that they would leave the other behind if they were too wounded to walk out when Trapped Behind Enemy Lines. He is ostracized for this (they stuck to the agreement, he changed his mind and went back but his observer had been killed already) so lets his new pilot know that he has no intention of fulfilling this trope.
  • Subverted in Forrest Gump — after his platoon is ambushed and decimated in Vietnam, a wounded Lieutenant Dan Taylor wants to be left behind to die so his surviving men can escape (one man from his family had fought and died in battle in every American war up until now, so he believes it's his destiny to do the same) but Forrest rescues him anyway. He's initially angry and bitter about losing his legs when he feels he should have died honorably on the field with his men, but eventually finds a new lease on life.
  • Goosebumps (2015) parodies this, as shown in the current page quote. Stine, unable to fit through the narrow opening in a chained-up gate, suggests that the heroes go on without him. Champion agrees a little too eagerly, leading Stine to call him out, saying that he didn't really mean it.
  • The Guns of Navarone: Major Franklin has a serious leg injury and can't keep up with the team, so he tries to commit suicide to avoid slowing them down. Mallory tells him his Heroic Sacrifice is unnecessary because the mission has been cancelled as an allied invasion will be taking place on the opposite side of Navarone from their target. Franklin is then left behind to be captured and interrogated until he gives up this false information.
  • The slave girl in The Hidden Fortress gets wounded during battle and requests to be left behind, which the hero refuses to accept. He then carries her out of the danger zone.
  • The Last Samurai: Katsumoto's wounded son Nobutada single-handedly holds off scores of Japanese soldiers at a small bridge behind his father's home in Tokyo, so that Katsumoto, Algren and the rest of the samurai can make their escape.
  • In Lou, the title character threatens to leave Hannah behind if she slows her down while tracking the man who kidnapped Hannah's daughter Vee. After Lou is wounded, she begs Hannah to take her because she's walking into an Obvious Trap. Hannah, who's just found out that the kidnapper is Lou's son, gives an Ironic Echo of Lou's words and abandons her. Later Hannah gives the trope straight, telling Lou to get Vee to safety instead of carrying her.
  • The three geologists in Letter Never Sent are desperately trying to escape the raging forest fire they're trapped inside. Andrei is injured, leaving Sabinin and Tanya to drag him across the difficult Siberian terrain. He tells them to leave him and they refuse, so he crawls away during the night and is never seen again. He leaves behind a note saying that it's better for one person to die than three.
  • This was astronaut Bud Chantillas' stance in Red Planet. After the ship crash-lands on Mars and mortally wounds his liver, he tells his younger comrades, "This is no time for misguided heroics" and demands that they carry on with their mission without him. He even allowed himself to die in a sitting position.
  • In The Reef, Matt urges the group to leave after the shark bites off his leg. It's a moot point because he dies of blood loss shortly after.
  • In Set It Off, Cleo draws the attention and gunfire of the police by revving the engine of the getaway car, so her pal Jada Pinkett can escape via the greyhound coach.
  • Ed in Shaun of the Dead, being severely wounded and infected, suggests this to the hero who grudgingly accepts. Shaun does make sure to leave him the rifle with two shots left in it, though he ultimately uses it to kill two zombies and hide himself from the horde and military before passing away, and then his zombie is found by Shaun.
  • In Starship Troopers, a wounded MI trooper named Watkins asks to take a nuclear RPG round and remain behind so he can pull a You Shall Not Pass! on the Bugs. When asked "You trying to be a hero?", he replies, "I'm trying to kill some Bugs, sir. Get outta here!"
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, McCoy is again suffering from the cold, this time with Captain Kirk on a Klingon prison planet. He tries this trope again, and the captain tells him that the Enterprise is tracking their location and will rescue them if they can hold on a few more minutes.
  • Terminator:
    • The Terminator: Kyle Reese tries this, collapsing from his gunshot wound after Sarah Connor has dragged him into the factory. By this time in the movie Sarah has taken a level in badass, so she isn't buying it.
      Sarah: Move it, Reese! On your feet, soldier! On your feet!
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Miles is mortally wounded, but stays behind to trigger the detonator that will destroy his research.
  • U.S. Marshals: As fugitive Mark Sheridan and his girlfriend attempt to flee, they quickly realize that he can't pull her over the wall blocking their path. She immediately lets go of his hand and all but begs him to go, even as he continues to yell at her to keep trying to climb.
  • Warlock (1989): While they're pursuing the Warlock, Kassandra uses the "Go on without me" version on Redferne after she undergoes Rapid Aging to become sixty years old.
  • In White Wolves 4, after being bitten by a snake, Pamela unsuccessfully tries to convince Jack that staying to nurse her will needlessly endanger him.
  • Zig-zagged in The World's EndSteven tells Gary and Andrew to leave him as the Blanks drag him away in 'The Beast', only to turn up fine a few minutes later.

  • In the Bounders novel The Tundra Trials, Regis steals Mira's bounding gloves, leaving her stranded in the middle of nowhere on the tundra planet Gulaga, where the temperature after dark is dangerously low. Mira urges Jasper to bound back to Gulagaven, but he stays with her while they shelter in an Abandoned Mine.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand, cadet Donal and the governor opt to stay behind and delay the enemy after they are wounded. Cain promotes Donal on the spot to Commissar in honor of his bravery. Subverted when this well-meaning sacrifice allows Varan to use his Compelling Voice to take control of them.
  • In The Courts of the Morning, when Archie Roylance and Geordie Hamilton are stranded halfway up a mountain and Geordie is seriously injured, Geordie tries to tell Archie to leave him behind. Archie refuses, and they both survive.
  • Honor Harrington: The Captain of the HMS Madrigal, in The Honor of the Queen, says this to let the surviving Grayson ships leave them and escape.
  • The Hunger Games series:
    • In Catching Fire, Mags walks into poisonous gas in the Quarter Quell so that Finnick can focus on rescuing Peeta.
    • In Mockingjay, Peeta asks to be left behind because of his personality issues.
  • In TMiserere: An Autumn Tale, the elderly Matthew sends Lucian on alone because he is too old and would only slow him.
  • In the final Paradox Trilogy book, Heaven's Queen, John Brenton sacrifices himself this way during the battle at Dark Star Station. Aware that he's mortally wounded, Brenton stays behind at a control panel holding down a button so the others can escape.
  • Polly in Quicksand House tells Tick to leave her behind more than once. He'll have none of it, to her annoyance.
    Polly: What did I tell you? I said stop trying to save me.
    Tick: Do I ever listen to you?
  • Parodied in a short story by Neal Shusterman, Ralphy Sherman's Patty Melt on Rye, when the narrator and his sister are about to rescue their father from the clutches of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess:
    "Ralphy! Roxy! Get out of here — it's too dangerous. Run — save yourselves!"
    Of course, he always said that when trapped in life-threatening situations, but the one time we did run and save ourselves, he grounded us for two months once he got out of traction. So now we know that "run — save yourselves" really means "get your butts over here or suffer the consequences".
  • Rockjaw Grang in the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, after being fatally wounded. He manages to kill over twenty Mooks before he finally dies.
  • Save the Enemy: When Zoey finds her kidnapped father tied to a chair in a house that's on fire, he says, "Leave me here. You shouldn't have come here." She ignores him and works on untying the ropes.
  • The Scholomance: Attempted on a strategic/long-term sense early in The Last Graduate, when El concluded it was vanishingly unlikely she could recharge the Power Crystal stash she had drained prematurely during the events of A Deadly Educationnote  to the point of pulling her weight when she and her allies Aadhya and Yi Liu made their desperate monster-infested dash for the Scholomance's exit at the end of the term, she confesses the situation to them and tries to talk them into 'ditching' her in time to throw in their lot with groups likely to survive Graduation Day where she was doubtful she was even going to last that long.
    (Aadhya had) already taken half a dozen chances on me that anyone else would have called a bad bet. I did't want her to drop me, but — I couldn't be the reason she didn't make it out.
  • Septimus Heap: In Flyte, Septimus insists in Nicko running away without him from the wolverines that are following them after he tripped and twisted his ankle. Nicko doesn't listen and gets trapped along with Septimus.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Star Wars: Blade Squadron, Rebel Wing Commander Adon Fox orders the remaining three fighters in the squadron to leave him behind and rejoin the rest of the Rebel fighters rather than try to rescue him from his crippled fighter. The story ends with him still alive, but with little hope for rescue before his injuries kill him or his fighter falls apart.
    • In the opening book of the New Jedi Order series, ExGal-4 scientist Tee-Ubo tells her colleague to leave her behind, as she is slowing him down and one of them has to make it back to base in time to warn them of an impending biological disaster. When he protests, she deliberately exposes herself to the plague, condemning herself to a quick and certain death, so that he won't waste time and resources trying to save her.
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy: In Wishsong of Shannara, half of Jair's companions die like this. Garet Jax is technically an exception, because he wasn't wounded when he remained behind to hold off the Jachyra. Jair really was leading a Suicide Mission when you come right down to it.
  • Subverted in one of Mack Reynolds' United Planets stories. Section G's top operative, Ronny Bronston, takes a new agent on a training mission to an enemy planet. Ronny is wounded and tells the newbie to kill him so the enemy won't capture him. The rookie instead helps Ronny to their escape vehicle. The subversion comes because Ronny wasn't that badly wounded; it was an impromptu Secret Test, and by not being ruthless enough to kill his comrade, the new guy failed and gets washed out of field agent training. Ronny's boss points out that the rookie was trying to save Ronny's life. Ronny replies flatly that saving his life wasn't the mission.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, Blackadder and Baldrick have been captured by the Germans and sentenced to spend the rest of the war teaching young schoolgirls in Heidelberg home economics. Edmund is far more comfortable with this fate than with being sent back to the front again. When his companions come to rescue him, he attempts to invoke this trope in order to be left behind, claiming to have "splintered his pancreas". It doesn't work.
  • Breaking Bad: The Cousins, Leonel and Marco Salamanca, ambush Hank in a parking lot on Gus's orders. However, Gus has a person using a scrambler call Hank to give him a one minute head's up about the impending attack. So when Leonel appears behind his car and raises a gun, Hank floors his car in reverse and rams Leonel, knocking his gun out of his hands and crushing his legs against the back bumper of another car. When Marco catches up to Leonel, Leonel tells him, "Finish him." Marco goes off to attack Hank, shooting him four times, before Hank manages to kill him with a special "black death" bullet as he's preparing to finish Hank off with a chrome axe. Leonel's legs have to be amputated on arrival at the emergency room, and to guarantee he won't talk, Gus sends Mike to the hospital to poison him.
  • In the HBO film Deadly Voyage (Based on a True Story), Kingsley Ofosu and his brother are trying to escape from the murderous crew of the ship they have stowed away on (who have already killed their seven companions). As they reach the deck, his injured brother, knowing that the two of them will never escape together, pushes Kingsley away from him and staggers off on his own. Sure enough, the crew quickly catches him and throws him overboard, but the separation and the distraction gives Kingsley the precious extra few minutes needed to escape.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Forever: When Henry is shot near the end of "New York Kids" he tells Jo to go after the shooter without him. Played with as Henry catches up with Jo almost as soon as she catches up to the shooter.
  • Lost: This is given as the reason Charlotte and Daniel stay behind while the rest of the left-behinds travel to the Orchid. Of the group, Charlotte is suffering the worst effects of time-traveling. This also allows the pair a poignant death scene, which motivates Daniel's actions for the rest of the season.
  • Parodied in the Seinfeld episode "The Puerto Rican Day", where a parade is obstructing the traffic, and Elaine tries to go through underneath a viewing stand, leading a group of people. An elderly priest can't keep up:
    Elaine: Come on, father, you can make it.
    Priest: No, I can't. I've got a bad hip. Go on without me.
    Elaine: No! I won't!
    Priest: Leave me! You must.
    Elaine: All right. Take it easy.
    [catches up with the others]
    Elaine: All right, we can move faster without Father O'Gimpy.
    Priest: I heard that!
  • Subverted in the first season two episode of Stargate SG-1 in which Daniel is badly wounded. Thinking that this will likely kill him anyway, he tells Jack to take the others and go on without him while he plans to stay behind and cover their escape. However he ends up meeting no resistance and instead hauls himself to a Goa'uld sarcophagus to get healed.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a few examples:
    • In "Move Along Home", during the Wadi's game (which the characters think is real), Dax is injured and tells Sisko and Kira to leave her. They refuse, and all three are "killed" (meaning nothing more than Quark losing the game).
    • Injured Kira to Dax after the crash in "The Siege", but Dax takes her along anyway.
    • Dax is bleeding to death in "Change of Heart" and is left behind by Worf to finish a mission. He ends up abandoning the mission and comes back for her.
    • Humorous example in "The Ascent" when Quark hauls the injured Odo (during the period when he had become a "solid") up a mountain on a stretcher. When Odo protests, Quark emphasizes his reasoning: Odo's along for emergency rations; if he dies, he's food.
    • Worf yells "Leave me!" to Ezri when he's shot as they try to escape the Dominion. She just tells him to shut up.
    • A mortally wounded Eddington holds off a Jem'Hadar attack to let Sisko, Eddington's wife, and numerous refugees get to their ship and escape in "Blaze of Glory". Fitting for Eddington, as he previously saw himself as the hero of his own story.
      Eddington: [chuckling to himself] This seems like a good time for a song.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "All Our Yesterdays", McCoy tries to tell this to Spock after getting frostbitten. The Vulcan tells him that No One Gets Left Behind.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Subverted in "The Chute", in which Tom Paris and Harry Kim are confined in an inescapable prison. Tom tells Harry to leave him behind if necessary, but as they both start to crack up under the stress, Tom loses his bravado and begs Harry not to abandon him. Harry doesn't.
    • In "The Haunting of Deck 12", an injured Tuvok tries to invoke this on Neelix. Three guesses how that turned out.
  • Played for Laughs in the episode "Real Time" of Workaholics while the guys are trying to race to work, Adam is beginning to pass out in the street on account of being too drunk and tells the others to go on without him. Ders and Blake agree, but Adam then says "Actually, its very dangerous out here, carry me," and the other two drag him out of the street.

  • Warren Zevon's song "I'll Slow You Down" references this trope in the context of ill-fated love.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A variation in the Classic Traveller adventure Rescue on Galatea by FASA. During a rescue mission in enemy territory an NPC is wounded. The PCs hear a shot: when they arrive they find the NPC dead, killed by another NPC named Freeman. Freeman explains that he had to shoot the wounded NPC because he would have just slowed them down, or worse been forced to tell about the team's mission if captured.

    Video Games 
  • In Betrayal at Krondor, whenever a party member gets "killed" in battle, they will tell the others to leave them. No matter how bad it is, they will invariably be told, word for word, that No One Gets Left Behind, and will remain in the party in a state of Near Death.
  • Used along with the exact phrase "I will only slow you down" by the injured Grey Warden Keenan in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening.
  • In Fable III, when Walter and the Hero first arrive in Aurora, they encounter a creature known as the Crawler and Walter is left blind and injured. Knowing he's too weak to cross the desert in his current state, Walter tells the Hero to leave him behind, saying "I won't just slow you down, I'll get you killed." You're actually forced to leave him behind, but doing so at the first opportunity makes you an evil asshole.
  • In Fallout 3, while escaping Project Purity with Dr. Li and her staff, after The Enclave crash the party and kill your father, Garza, one of Li's staff members is revealed to have a heart condition and won't be able to follow the rest the party without medical attention. Unless you have the medical supplies on you to help him, he'll be forced to stay behind.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Hope tries to convince the others to leave him behind in Pulse after he collapses from his brand advancing, and his fear that he'll get them hurt is what summons Alexander. After he beats it with some encouragement from Lightning and Fang, he resolves to keep going.
  • If Edelgard dies in the second half of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, she will tell Byleth to leave them behind. However, We Cannot Go On Without You is in full effect with Edelgard, meaning that if you do, it's Game Over for you.
  • Ib: Depending on how you've played the game, there's a chance that Garry might pull this on your near the end, telling little Ib to go on ahead and that he would catch up with her. If he does, you can wait around to watch him eventually crumble to the ground and lose consciousness.
  • Attempted by Athena Asamiya in one of her team's endings from The King of Fighters 99. If Kensou is the one who defeats Krizalid, while the Psycho Soldiers Team escapes from the crumbling NESTS base Athena gets trapped under the rubble and tells Kensou to leave her there. He refuses and, he temporarily unlocks his latent powers, saving them both.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    • Played straight and inverted in , where a struggling Survivor may encourage the rest to go on to the next safe room without them. Justified because Death Is Cheap and they'll respawn in the safe room at the beginning of the next map. This is considered a valid tactic on the higher difficulties, since a dozen or more attempts may be needed to finish a campaign on Expert.
    • Played absolutely straight with The Crossing in Left 4 Dead 2, as Bill does this for a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Mad Father: Maria will pull this on Aya at a vital moment near the end, after having her leg very badly (and bloodily) damaged. Luckily, she comes back with a Big Damn Heroes moment when Aya is put in a tough spot minutes later.
  • Meryl asks Solid Snake to shoot her in the first Metal Gear Solid after being shot by Sniper Wolf, claiming she promised she wouldn't slow him down and broke her promise. Actually killing her gets you a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Also played straight in PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2: all heisters not in custody need to be at the getaway point to leave, or the game doesn't end. Since they all get paid and out of jail if you win (small cash and exp penalties for in-custody allies), sometimes it's best to let a downed character bleed out, rather than go out to save them and risk losing. Unfortunately, the thirty-second timer is already in the process of slowing the leaving heisters down.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: Arthur Morgan, in his final stages of tuberculosis, fully invokes this in the finale of Chapter 6 of he decides to help John Marston to safety.
  • In Until Dawn, Chris invokes this if he is with the group in the tunnels looking for Mike. Ashley can choose to let him rest or encourage him to keep going. If she chooses the former, it can result in Chris' death if Ashley followed Jess' voice in the tunnels and was decapitated by a Wendigo after opening the trapdoor.

    Web Animation 
  • The Wrath of Giga Bowser: At the Stadium, Captain Falcon is running away while carrying the capsule given to him by Dr. Mario, but eventually passes it to Mr. Game & Watch before kneeling to the ground, unable to go any further. As Mr. Game & Watch starts running as well, Giga Bowser is seen catching up to Captain Falcon and crushing him to death.

  • Goblins:
    • Subverted for laughs in Brassmoon City.
      Complains: We don't have long before the remaining guards notice us. Ears, I can't move in the state I'm in and you're already pretty much carrying Fumbles. So I want you to listen very carefully...
      Ears: No! I am NOT leaving you behind, Complains!
      [Beat Panel]
      Complains: ...Are you high?! I was GOING to say that we should find a board or something to put me on, and you could maybe drag me out of here! Damn right you're not leaving me behind!
    • Said almost word for word in this strip, but gets subverted one page later when it's revealed that his spine isn't broken and he can fight Kore briefly.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: While trying to get Lalli's unconscious body to safety, Emil attracts the attention of trolls. Due to being in a situation enabling him to communicate with Emil, Lalli's spirit approves of his body being left behind if it can save Emil. The trope gets played with because Emil can't outrun trolls even when unburdened, so he might as well include Lalli's body in his alternate survival plan.

    Web Originals 
  • Completely averted in Freddie Wong's video "Flower Warfare" where, at the end, Freddie falls and begins to tell his comrade to go on without him, just to see she's already done so, barely stopping to see him fall.
  • Simon Minter's Deconstructive Parody tutorial on making horror films ends in a found-footage format that makes a scenario that has fellow Sideman Vikram Barn (Vikkstar123) telling Simon to leave without him as the killer (KSI) approaches. However, he's doing all this right in front of the door to freedom, and Simon ultimately abandons him.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
    • "Beast of the Temple": Linka gets her foot stuck during one of the dragon attacks, and when Wheeler can't pull it loose, she begs him to leave her and save himself. Unsurprisingly, he refuses.
    • "A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste": Wheeler insists the others should go on without him after he injures his ankle during an escape attempt, snapping at them to leave him alone. Gi, of course, insists that No One Gets Left Behind.
  • In the car chase scene at the beginning of Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, Ed is grabbed by Rolf by the latter's teeth when he begins pulling Ed out of the car. Ed tells Edd and Eddy to save themselves and not to forget him as he is dragged out of the car. However, his friends are having none of it, and promptly drag him back into the car and save him from Rolf's grasp.
  • In the Halloween episode of The Fairly Oddparents, Timmy and his friends (which include his godparents, since no one would recognize them as fairies with everyone in costume) visit the Buxaplenty Mansion to get candy. Instead they get dogs sic'd on them for not having nice costumes (that and the owner just a snotty jerkass) with Timmy tripping over his costume and telling his friends to go on without him. Without missing a beat or even turning around, they all yell, "Okay," and leave him behind, to which Timmy yells he was "being dramatic."
  • In Futurama's The Beast with a Billion Backs, the cast is being chased by a tentacled monster from another dimension.
    Zoidberg: [after tripping, on the ground, talking to Leela] I can't make it. Go on without me!
    [camera pans, so we see that he's clinging to her leg]
    Leela: I'm trying!
    Zoidberg: Go on without me faster!
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of King of the Hill. The Hills are trying to find their dog Ladybird before she goes nuts in a retirement home. Bobby gets stopped by a couple of old women who start pinching his cheeks and cooing over him. He tells his parents to go on without him, but when one offers to let him play with her dentures, he shouts "I changed my mind! Come back!"
  • Molly of Denali: In "River Skate," Molly and Tooey try to teach Trini how to skate so they can all skate down the frozen river to the bonfire together. Trini is not so good at it, and eventually, she tells Molly and Tooey to go the bonfire without her because she’s too slow. Molly and Tooey won't have any of that, so they all skate together and make it to the bonfire.
  • In an Ozzy & Drix episode, Ozzy and Drix are on Hector's scalp attempting to exterminate lice eggs. Ozzy, due to being a white blood cell, is wearing a suit not unlike a space suit so he doesn't coagulate. Inevitably, them killing all the eggs attracts the mother lice. During the ensuing chase, Ozzy's suit gets ripped, and he begins to coagulate. This exchange ensues when he starts to get too stiff to run.
    Ozzy: Forget about me, just go on without me.
    Drix: [visibly saddened] Do you really mean that?
    Ozzy: Of course not! Save me! Save my butt right now!
  • The Simpsons:
    • Subverted in the episode 'Das Bus', when the passengers of Otto's bus end up stranded on an island, a' la Lord of the Flies. Bart, Lisa and Milhouse are being chased by the other kids, until Milhouse collapses from exhaustion:
      Milhouse: I can't go on... You two go ahead... and carry me with you!
    • In the episode "Mayored to the Mob", at the sci-fi convention brawl Mark Hamill tells Homer to move on without him because he twisted his ankle. Homer responds with a No One Gets Left Behind and carries Hamill out.
  • Skull Island (2023): In Episode 5, Mike confirms when arguing with Cap that one of the reasons why he turned himself in to the mercenaries is because he knew that if he stuck with Charlie for much longer, he would soon just be a physical hindrance to Charlie that could very well be the death of them both on the titular Isle of Giant Horrors, since Mike is getting sicker and weaker from the Kraken's toxic sting.
  • In ThunderCats (1985), Lynx-O, blinded by a jet of hot gas escaping from the dying planet Thundera, begs Ben-Gali and Pumyra to leave him and save themselves. Needless to say, they refuse to abandon him, even when he protests that he is "holding them back".
  • In the Thunder Cats 2011 episode "Omens Part Two", Jaga, wounded during the escape from their invaded castle, uses the line verbatim when telling Lion-O and the other Thundercats to leave him behind.
  • Trollhunters: Invoked by Nomura as Jim and his friends are trying to escape the Dark Lands and Gunmar's army catches up with her while they're desperately climbing a steep cliff. Naturally, he doesn't listen.

    Real Life 
  • Captain Lawrence Oates is most well known for committing suicide by Antarctic so the rest of his exploration party could live. He was suffering from a frostbitten foot and injuries he received during service in the Boer War. Unfortunately, this didn't help save his comrades. His last words were written in Robert Scott's diary as: "I'm just going outside and may be some time." The leader of a different party in the same expedition, Edward "Teddy" Evans, dying of scurvy, ordered his two companions to leave him in his sleeping bag. They refused to leave him, dragged him on their sledge and were very lucky to all survive.
  • During the Battle of Saipan of the Pacific War, the Japanese Forces launched a massive Banzai Charge against the Americans. US Army Seargent Thomas Baker and his men were forced to fall back after taking heavy casualties & running low on ammunition. Baker was mortally wounded and after the soldier carrying him was injured by the enemy he ordered his men to leave him to save themselves. His men reluctantly agreed and placed him against a tree, leaving him with a pistol holding eight rounds of ammunition. Later when the men recaptured the position, they found Baker dead at the same tree with the pistol still in his hand, with all eight rounds fired, and eight dead Japanese soldiers lying before him. For his actions, Thomas Baker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • During the Three Kingdoms period, the warlord Cao Cao and his son Cao Ang were both wounded during a surprise attack by Zhang Xiu. Cao Ang, too wounded to escape, gave his own horse to his father and stayed behind, dying in battle.
  • In his account of his experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD the Roman writer Pliny the Younger records that his mother begged him to abandon her and save himself as they fled the expanding ash cloud. He refused and they struggled on together. Both survived.
  • Mountain climbers in the so called 'Death Zone' have the choice of abandoning companions who can't climb under their own power or sitting down beside them to die too. The 1953 American expedition on K2, the second highest mountain in the world, tried to carry down a stricken member, Art Gilkey. After a slip and mass fall might have killed almost all the climbers Gilkey's stretcher was secured to the mountainside while his teammates set up tents. While they were working the men heard Gilkey calling what they assumed to be encouragement and shouted back reassurances but when two men went to fetch Gilkey they found an avalanche had scoured the mountainside clean where he'd been left. It is not impossible that Gilkey's shouts were a deliberate and successful effort to call down the avalanche upon himself. The rest of the expedition, unburdened by Gilkey, made it down safely, though frostbitten. Some of the expedition members suspected that instead of succumbing to the avalanche, Gilkey had deliberately loosened his stretcher and allowed himself to fall. The expedition members have politelynote  disagreed on whether Gilkey was killed by an avalanche or let himself fall, and on whether they could have been able to save Gilkey: Expedition leader Charles Houston initially believed the avalanche was to blame, but later changed his mind; Houston also believed that Gilkey's death, while tragic, likely contributed to the survival of the remainder of the team, whereas Pete Schoening, the person responsible for single-handedly stopping the mass fallnote , has always believed that it was possible to rescue Gilkey, though at the cost of more frostbite being suffered by the rest of the team.
  • This behaviour is actually documented in some species of ants, where the workers will pull injured soldiers back into the colony to heal their injuries (with surprising success). However, soldiers with mortal wounds will thrash and attack their rescuers until they back off, because they don't want the workers to waste time and energy on what is most likely a lost cause. (It helps that ants are eusocial creatures: the sterile soldiers weren't going to reproduce anyway.)


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Go On Without Me


Kelsey & J.P. Left Behind

As everyone rushes to beat Xavier to Maya's house, J.P. gets caught in a rosebush, while Kelsey gets her head stuck trying to jump through a playhouse.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HelpImStuck

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