Sometimes a Big Bad is bigger and badder than expected and the heroes are unable to take him down by conventional means. One of the heroes may get lucky and restrain the villain, either physically or by trapping the villain's malevolent spirit within their own body, but this presents a problem. At any second the villain may break free from the character's control and continue on in his or her rampage. This is especially problematic if the character restraining the villain is the strongest member of the heroes' team; if the best the strongest hero can do is mildly inconvenience the villain for a short time, then the rest of the heroes aren't going to stand much of a chance against the villain once they break free. Sometimes the hero who is doing the restraining will recognize this fact, and from their mouth will issue forth the ominous phrase which heralds the sad solution to this problem:
"Kill us both! Now!"
Of course, the phrasing need not be exact, but the general idea remains the same for all examples. This particular brand of Heroic Sacrifice is probably the most poignant and heart-rending of all, since it requires at least one of the heroes to be the instrument of a friend or ally's death. More often than not, the heroes will shrink away from this solution, allowing the villain to escape. In cases like this, the hero who was doing the restraining will often berate the other heroes for not taking the opportunity to end things right then and there. The rest of the team usually won't sweat it, though — as surely there has to be some other way of defeating the villain that doesn't involve sacrificing one of their own. (If not, expect a Downer Ending to ensue…)
If the author is really aiming for a Downer Ending/Tearjerker and the heroes do decide to pull the trigger, the villain may survive anyway despite the death of the sacrificing hero. Or the heroes could shy away from pulling the trigger, allowing the villain to escape and take advantage of the restraining hero's close proximity to kill him anyway. This is the cruelest twist that this situation can result in.
Note: this trope doesn't extend to the vast majority of villains who use Kill Us Both-like tactics against the good guys, since most villains aren't likely to have much internal conflict when it comes to sacrificing themselves — or one of their own number — along with the hero. 'Cuz villains be all heartless and fanatical like that. (Sympathetic villains may qualify for this trope if they do feel some conflict about hurting an ally, particularly if there's been some healthy Minionshipping or Villainous Friendship occurring within their own little group.)
A variation is commonly found in Spot the Imposter scenarios, where the Good character will use this to distinguish him/herself from his Evil Twin, who would never be so self-sacrificing. On the other hand, a manipulative villain may use it knowing that it will convince the good character's allies that he is the good twin.
Compare Kill Him Already!, Sealed Evil in a Duel, Shoot the Hostage, Taking You with Me (although it's a third party doing the "taking"). Compare Trial by Friendly Fire where a heroic character reluctantly decides that We Have Reserves.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- Mikage from Jubei-chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch. At one point during her duel with the Big Bad, she holds him down and begs the heroes to run her through. As this is a rather non-serious series that would suffer from having a Downer Ending, the order is refused and the Big Bad throws her off. In the manga, this was done by undead but friendly Koinosuke, and the heroine does run them both through. However, Jubei-chan's sword doesn't kill people, but restores them, so Koinosuke becomes fully resurrected.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Goku's first death, where he grabs Raditz long enough for Piccolo to blast them both. The others didn't feel too bad about it though because they knew they would wish him back with the dragon balls.
- Vegeta invokes this during the fight with Kid Buu. He had been stalling Buu for Goku to charge up a Spirit Bomb. By the time Goku was done charging Vegeta was so crippled he couldn't get out of the way of the attack, and told Goku just to fire anyway. But Goku couldn't do it and Buu literally stood on top of Vegeta to force his hand. The others tackled Buu out of the way and carried Vegeta to safety.
- Elfen Lied: In the final arc, Lucy's body becomes completely controlled by the DNA Voice. Luckily, Lucy and Nyu manage to hold the voice back long enough for Kouta to kill them.
- Hellsing: Alucard shoots Seras through the heart with a gun that kills vampires in order to destroy a FREAK holding her hostage. This is then subverted when Alucard proceeds to turn her into a vampire anyway, thus saving her life.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, the battle with Pride ends in a toned-down variant of this. Al has Hohenheim trick Pride into gathering all his shadows into one spot, first by having Hohenheim advance on him, and then by having Pride snare Alphonse, stopping what appeared to be a painfully obvious sneak attack. The tables are turned on Pride when Hohenheim alchemizes up an enormous stone prison around Pride... and Alphonse. Trapped in total darkness, Pride can't do anything, and Alphonse has no intention of making an escape. Al knew that this would only work if he was the bait, and that he was the only one who could deal with the ensuing situation.
- During the confrontation with the Devil Gundam in the Battle Royale arc of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Schwarz Bruder (actually a clone of Domon's brother Kyoji), charges at the Devil Gundam, wrecking his own Gundam in the process, and restrains the real Kyoji, who had been brainwashed into piloting the thing. He then tells Domon to shoot at the cockpit while the Devil Gundam can't attack, which would kill both him and Kyoji. Domon shoots, but not without tears
- Subverted in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, as Queen Maria tells Uso to kill both her and the Big Bad Tassilo, who is standing right next to her and is holding her at gunpoint. When Usso hesitates since Maria's not just a Queen but the mother of his best friend Shakti, Tassilo shoots Maria dead and is soon killed by a very pissed Usso. In fact, Queen Maria's Famous Last Words were this trope to the letter, and are quoted above.
- In Sonic X during the fight with Dark Oak, the series' main Big Bad, Cosmo matures into her adult form, which is a tree. In doing so, she restrains Dark Oak, but then this trope pops up.....with Tails, whom Cosmo had shared a close relationship with. Cue a tearful goodbye, before Tails is forced to shoot both Super Sonic and Super Shadow at her. It was one of the most moving moments of the series.
- In IRIA: Zeiram the Animation, Iria's brother, who's become the host of the eponymous Zeiram, retains just enough self-awareness to make an opening in its armor so she can kill them both. The tiny hitch is that the "opening" is her brother's face, which implores her to shoot.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: Battle City Finals. (At least in the English version.) Atem vs. Marik's evil(er) side. If Atem defeated him, the real Marik would be trapped in the Shadow Realm. Marik wasn't technically a hero, but Atem had promised his sister Isis that he would save the real Marik. When the real Marik realized that Atem wasn't attacking because he didn't want to break his promise and trap him in the shadow realm, Marik gave a little speech that boiled down to an apology and this trope. It was also a Heel–Face Turn.
- Meggan from Marvel's Excalibur recently did this, and her order was soon reinforced by her husband, Captain Britain, after she told him that refusing to do this would doom the universe. It was a moment of utter nobility from her.
- In the Warlord of Mars miniseries Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars, Dejah Thoris becomes stranded in an ancient city overrun by white apes. Facing the prospect of being torn apart by the beasts, she orders her son Carthoris to bomb the hell out of the city to kill the apes, but manages to find a safe place to wait out the bombs.
- In the "Insiders" arc of Batman and the Outsiders, Indigo has reverted to her old Brainiac-8 programming and is trying to kill her teammates. Eventually, her more benign personality manages to reassert itself, and she begs Shift to kill her before Brainiac-8 takes over again.
- In one of Sonny Chiba's The Street Fighter movies, a girl whom he has sold into sexual slavery grabs him and begs her brother to stab the both of them. This tactic doesn't work, though. This example is interesting in that neither Sonny nor any of the other characters are particularly "heroic", but some of them do care deeply about each other.
- The "Pour The Lead!!" moment in Alien³, when the Charles S. Dutton character Dillon screams at the rest of the prisoners to go ahead with the plan to kill the Alien even though it will mean his own death.
- In Platoon, the climatic final battle involves the Company's position being over-run by the Viet Cong. The situation is so desperate, it only ends when the Company Commander (played by Dale Dye) requests "final protective fire," asking bombers to bomb his own position.
- In We Were Soldiers Colonel Moore and his men are about to be overrun so he orders his radioman to call for Broken Arrow, meaning to have every plane in the vicinity stack up and bomb the position. Notably different from the Platoon example above in that only some unfortunate American casualties were caught in the attack.
- In a non-combat example from Volcano, two men from the demolition team get trapped inside a building that needs to be knocked down as a lava barricade. Unable to escape in time, and hearing the radio-call to check if the team is clear, they lie and report that they're out of the building so the explosives can be set off and the lava flow deflected.
- In the final Harry Potter book, Harry discovers that he himself is the accidental, seventh Horcrux (a part of Voldemort's soul), and accepts the necessity that he face death at the unknowing hands of Voldemort to destroy it.
- In the Thursday Next book Lost in a Good Book, Spike tells Thursday that he's got a Supreme Evil Being trapped in his skull and the only way to get rid of it is for her to shoot him. Naturally, Thursday refuses - something Spike hadn't expected, as his real plan was to get Thursday to shoot a blank at him and thereby force the SEB out of his head.
- A variation of the Spot the Imposter version occurs in Digital Knight. Jason Wood is in a room with his friend Verne and a werewolf who has assumed Verne's form. Unable to tell them apart by visual observation, Wood shoots them both without prompting: his gun is loaded with silver bullets, which are lethal to werewolves and harmless to vampires such as Verne.
- This is the only way to permanently kill a Raver (three immortal demonic spirits of pure evil, who can possess most people in Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. A Haruchai, Giant, or someone else who has a strong enough mind to fend off possession, must deliberately allow the Raver into him, then the victim's friends must kill him while he holds the Raven locked inside him, keeping it from escaping and causing it to be rent into shreds.
- The first season finale of Supernatural has John Winchester restraining the demon that has possessed him. Killing him will kill the demon, but in the end Sam is unable to do it and the demon escapes.
- Later, Sam ends up trying to pull off the same tactic with himself possessed by Lucifer. He loses control to Lucifer, and later regains control long enough for a Heroic Sacrifice.
- In the Star Trek episode "Whom Gods Destroy", Spock is faced with both Kirk and Garth of Izar who was impersonating Kirk. Kirk ordered Spock to shoot them both to prevent Garth from taking over the Enterprise. Spock only shot one. Luckily it was the right one.
- Jokingly referred to in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Xander was split into two entities. Subverted in that neither Xander was 'evil'; one was simply more confident than the other.
- The drama of the scene is a bit broken by the fact that Spock was carrying the series' signature, 100% safe and effective stun weapon.
- John Watson attempts something to this effect in the third episode of Sherlock when Moriarty straps a bomb to him. It doesn't work.
- This was done in Choujin Sentai Jetman's finale in Humongous Mecha form, with The Hero in one mech asking The Lancer in another to stab both him and the Big Bad. He does so and the two blow up. Though the hero's fine.
- Occurs in Metal Gear Solid with Grey Fox helping against Metal Gear Rex where if the player attempts to fire, Snake says "No! I can't do it!" and again in Metal Gear Solid 4 with Raiden fighting Vamp as a callback to the first.
- A variation of this happens in the RPG (and, by extention, the novelisation of) Betrayal at Krondor. At the end of the game, two dark elves, one a Noble Demon / Antihero allied with the good guys and the other one of the multiple Big Bads, are locked in combat over the Lifestone that traps the essences of the Valheru, an ancient race that had enslaved the world of Midkemia centuries ago. During the battle, both of them become possessed by the Valheru. Two mages - Pug, one of the greatest magicians in existence and Owyn, an apprentice magician and a close friend of Gorath, the 'good' dark elf - witness the scene. Pug realizes what's happening and tells Owyn that both dark elves must be killed in order to prevent the essences of the Valheru from escaping. Owyn is in desperate denial for a moment until Gorath yells at him to do it. "Save my people, Owyn! Save me!" Needless to say, heartwrenching events ensue.
- Invoked by Chris in Resident Evil 5, where he's perfectly willing to let Sheva shoot through him if it means taking down Wesker in the process. Subverted though, in that Sheva doesn't shoot and instead opts to run up to the villain and slash him many, many times with her knife.
- You get this choice in Persona when a scientist tricks Kandori into entering a machine that would kill them both. This is fairly early in the game, so your choice doesn't really matter. Except that it's one of many tests of character throughout the game that determine how many ultimate Personae you can get.
- Subverted in Halo 3, where Johnson, captured by Truth and being forced to light the rings tells Keyes to do this, in order to prevent the Halos from being fired. Truth takes the opportunity to Spiker her in the back and use Johnson to light the rings anyway.
- Maxi's ending in Soul Calibur III has him begging his friend Kilik to slay him in order to destroy Soul Edge. The trope is then either played straight or subverted depending on which command you input at that moment.
- In Ōkamiden, this is the fate of Kurow, who was actually a living doll created by Waka in order to trap Akuro for this purpose.
- In Homeworld Cataclysm, after the scientists aboard the spaceship accidentally unleash The Virus, they frantically demand that their section is jettisoned before The Virus spreads to the rest of the ship. You can hear their screams dying out as the section drifts away.
- In Ittosai's Good ending in Yo-Jin-Bo, Sayori tells Ittosai to do this when Harumoto uses her as a Human Shield, saying that if she has to die she wants it to be by Ittosai's hand instead of Harumoto's. Ittosai is fully prepared to go through with it — and then kill himself — but fortunately Harumoto gets impatient and tries to attack Ittosai, giving Ittosai an opening to kill him without hurting Sayori.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Soon demands that the spell to seal the rift leading to the Snarl be cast before he and a teammate are clear. (Although he may have thought it would get both him and his teammate.)
- Also played with earlier in the comic, when Vaarsuvius walks in on Elan and his Evil Twin Nale locked in battle. The trope is used by Nale, immediately lampshaded by the Genre Savvy Elan, only to have Vaarsuvius provoke Nale into revealing his identity by insulting his schemes.
Vaarsuvius: Ah, a set of identical twins, each claiming to be the good one. A classic of the genre.
Nale: There's only one way to settle this: blast us both. It's the only way to be sure you get Nale.
Elan: Oh come on! That's such a cliche, even for this comic! The twin that suggests they both be killed must be the good twin, because the evil twin wouldn't be selfless enough to die to make sure the other one did too. It's like, the oldest trick in the book!
Vaarsuvius: I tend to agree. Elan would be familiar with the trope as a result of his bardic training... while Nale would recognize it on the account of being a fairly dull and predictable plot turn.
Vaarsuvius: Well, surely you both must realize that Nale's stratagems to date have been tedious, unoriginal, and lacking in any truly keen insight. For a self-proclaimed Evil Genius, his plans have not required any great intellect in their conception.
Nale: Oh yeah? So, what, you think you could come up with something more clever than Nale did?
Vaarsuvius: [Blasts Nale right out of the panel with a lightning spell] Apparently.
- In Homestuck, during one of the final battles, Dirk gets caught in a hold by a Jack Noir empowered with Lord English's powers, and that Jack gets caught in a hold by Spades Slick. Dirk and Dave exchange knowing looks and Dave proceeds to behead all three of them. Though Dave manages to save Dirk's corpse for a possible resurrection.
- In El Goonish Shive, a non-lethal version of this is said in a non-canon Spot the Imposter scenario.
- In John Dies at the End, the malevolent spirit version comes up. Dave volunteers to absorb a shadow demon into himself so John can shoot him in the temple and hopefully kill the demon, but instead, a young woman lets the demon possess her and manages to kill it with her pure heart.
- Done by the warden of "The Boiling Rock" in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Whatever you may think of the man, you have to admit it takes balls to willingly have yourself boiled alive in a superheated lake rather than let some prisoners ruin your perfect record. The best part is that in his introductory scene, he had told a prisoner, in no uncertain terms, that he would do exactly that.
Warden: (shouting from the gondola he's being held hostage on) CUT THE LINE!!
Guard #1: He wants us to cut the line!
Guard #2: But...if we cut the line, there's no way he'll survive.
Guard #3: (matter-of-factly) He knows that.
- In the episode of South Park where a portal to a Mirror Universe where everyone is evil and has goatees, this is used. The Cartman from the other universe is good, and the main universe's group decide they like him better than their Cartman. Main!Cartman attacks Mirror!Cartman and rips off his beard, causing them to get mixed up. Main!Cartman says to send them both away, and Stan, thinking this trope was in effect, shoots the other. The remaining Cartman loudly rejoices that they fell for it.
- In X-Men, Wolverine was fighting an impostor, and one of the Wolverines told Jubilee to blast them both. Jubilee blasts the other one... who turns out to be the real one. The impostor knew Jubilee would expect the real Wolverine to say that, and so he said it first.
- One Robot Chicken sketch plays with the imposter variety by having two Michael Jacksons fight one another, with the evil Michael created by aliens in order to take over the world. When a little kid points a gun at the two of them but doesn't know which one to shoot, the good Michael tells him to shoot them both, and the boy does just that. Of course, the two Michaels looked completely different (the good one was black, the evil one was white), so the fact that the kid wasn't able to tell them apart was a dumb move on his part.
- Sev Trek: Pus in Boots (an Australian CGI spoof of Star Trek: The Next Generation). The crew find themselves confronted with two Captain Pinchhards and must establish who is the evil shapeshifting alien. Lt. Barf wants to kill them both, as the alien would revert to its natural state when dead. Neither captain approves of this plan.
- Most militaries throughout the world maintain a concept known as requesting "final protective fire." The name is, as you would assume knowing it is a military term, a bit of a euphemism. What it means is that when a military position is being over-run by the enemy, the commander of the position can request that artillery or air-assets fire directly on his own position, in the hope that enough of the enemy will be killed, and enough of his men will survive, so that the position can be held.