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Last-Second Chance

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Desann: I was wrong about you, Katarn. Your failure as a Jedi hasn't weakened you; it's made you stronger. Come, join me. You know in your heart that you'll never truly be one of them.
Kyle Katarn: Maybe, maybe not, but I know I won't be alone. How 'bout you, Desann? Even now, after all this pain, it's not too late... [extends his hand] Come, join us.
Desann: ...Y-you weak fool! [activates his lightsaber]

The Heel–Face Turn that never was.

If your villain is tragic, insane, infected with some kind of horrible, mutating, alien virus or otherwise not entirely responsible for his actions, and your hero isn't a complete meanie, then you might want to include the Last-Second Chance scene, in which the hero offers to help the villain put things right and/or cure his affliction. "It's not too late yet" is a common stock phrase.

Because viewers have come to expect that villains must die in the final act, this offer is usually turned down. It may be done tragically ("no, no, I can't go back now, not after what I've done"), selfishly ("why would I want to give up this power?"), or dramatically ("there's nothing left for me anymore..."), but it will almost certainly happen. It may also happen after the innocent loved one of the villain is killed, giving him no reason to turn back and driving him into a despairing rage. Most frustrating perhaps is when the villain realizes that accepting what the hero says is the right thing to do... but he doesn't do it anyway.


This scene typically occurs just after the big climactic battle, so that the villain can have one last go at killing the hero before meeting a Karmic Death. Sometimes, however, it happens just before the big battle, so that the audience can relax and enjoy the fireworks without having their conscience harmed. This also serves to make them a Self-Disposing Villain, freeing the hero from much of the guilt associated with killing.

Should the villain actually accept the Last-Second Chance, it's usually curtains for them, since Redemption Equals Death, maybe even immediately. At best, they may get a Redemption Quest to go on in their attempt to become The Atoner. Still, this is nothing to sneeze at since they have essentially proved Redemption Earns Life.

May also occur with a Rival Turned Evil or a Fallen Hero. Different from the Kirk Summation in that there the hero is trying to browbeat the baddie into capitulating through moral rightness, whereas here the hero is trying to save the villain and offer help.


Compare Save the Villain and Redemption Rejection. Flip the speaking roles, and it's We Can Rule Together (if the villain is trying to convince the hero to join him) or Last Chance to Quit (if the villain just wants the hero to back off). In particularly poignant examples, one party can attempt to take the offer after all, only to learn that it's now Off the Table.

Incidentally, the trope name is sort of a phrasal portmanteau and can be interpreted both as "another chance offered at the last second" and "the final offer of a second chance" at the same time.

Since many of these occur at the end of a work, spoilers may be unmarked.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lyle Dylandy offers this to Ali al-Saachez in episode 24 of Season 2 of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. It doesn't work... however he's smart enough not to lower his gun, allowing him to immediately shoot Ali when the latter attempts to turn around and fire at him.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry Hanyuu gives this sort of version to Takano after she lost, saying that she can forgive the sins of man. However, Takano rejects the offer, saying that it's too late, then tries to shoot Mion.
  • Used at the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Precia refuses Fate's offer, however, and goes down with the tank containing Alicia's lifeless body.
  • Nina tries to pull this on Johan in Monster by forgiving him for his actions (towards her, at least) in the climax, to stop his plan to make Tenma shoot him. Johan replies, apparently somewhat saddened, that some things cannot be taken back or forgiven. He had already pulled the same plan on her ten years ago, and she shot him.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • One of the anime's most prominent examples is Jounouchi's/Joey's second duel with Mai during the Doma arc. Unfortunately, by the time she decides she doesn't want to kill him, he's already in the throes of a Heroic Sacrifice. Mai was still under Mind Rape/brainwashing when she was about to finish him off but suddenly snapped out of it at that very moment.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Vector of the Barian emperors has proven himself to be a remorseless monster, but when he was about to get absorbed by the series' God of Evil, Yuma risks his life to save him, saying he still considers him a friend (since Vector had previously masqueraded as one of Yuma's lovable friends, and it has been revealed that most of his sadistic persona is due to Mind Rape). While it appears at first that Vector is moved, he reveals his psychotic face again, wanting to take Yuma with him towards their demise, much to the others' shock. However, Yuma still smiles at him and promises him to go with him, so that he is never alone. This time, however, Vector let goes of Yuma and bids him farewell before letting himself be absorbed.
  • In Toriko, IGO President Ichiryuu visits the Gourmet Corp headquarters to confront Midora. He invites Midora to share a meal with him at one of their old hangouts, reminding Midora of the good old days when they considered each other family. He then asks if Midora would be willing to share GOD. Midora smirks and declares that he'll be taking GOD all for himself. Ichiryuu resigns himself to war with his former brother, realizing they can no longer sit at the same dining table.
  • In Attack on Titan, Jean and Connie desperately try to talk Reiner and Bertolt down, using The Power of Friendship. After this triggers Bertolt's Villainous BSoD, Mikasa calms down from her previous murderous rage and asks him to give Eren back. He regrettably responds that he can't, and after several more casualties, the group ultimately manages to rescue Eren, leaving Reiner and Bertolt behind.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Goku abruptly ends the battle with Frieza, claiming that the tyrant was no longer a challenge to him and thus not worth fighting anymore. Goku goes on to say that he's satisfied in leaving Namek in the knowledge that Frieza would be forever tormented by the humiliation of his defeat at the hands of a Saiyan. To reinforce his distaste in continuing the battle Goku powers down from his Super Saiyan form and immediately flies off. Frieza enraged by his words throws an energy disk at Goku (akin to Krillin's destructo disk) as a last-ditch effort to kill Goku; this betrayal of the mercy Goku offered Frieza incites his wrath and has him passionately retort: "You truly are a helpless fool! I gave you one last chance to live, and this is how you repay me?!" Frieza ends up cutting himself in half with his own attack, but Goku gives him another chance to save himself by transferring some of his own lifeforce to Frieza. When Frieza still keeps attacking him, Goku finally has had enough and goes for the Coup de Grâce.

    Audio Plays 
  • The Big Finish Doctor Who half-hour freebie "Forever Fallen" asks the question "what if the villain took up the offer?". It starts with the Seventh Doctor on a space station, giving a The Evils of Free Will Well-Intentioned Extremist a Breaking Speech on Humanity and the importance of Free Will and the would-be villain stepping down... for now. The Doctor manages to get him to promise to meet him once a year for tea to discuss the matter. The rest of the story is a snapshot of their tea-dates and the Doctor ever so gently course-correcting his outlook and life from an embittered street-sweeper to becoming a hero of his people.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman confronts The Joker and asks him to let Batman help him back towards sanity. The Joker refuses. Actually, many Batman stories have him asking his more deranged enemies to go peacefully back to Arkham Asylum for treatment... usually followed by a big fight. The Joker, for probably the only time in his villainous career, actually considers Batman's plea to try to get rehabilitated, which he dismisses with surprisingly humane sadness (it's "far too late for me", he says) rather than rejecting it instantly.
    • Batman never stops trying to rehabilitate his former friend Harvey Dent aka Two-Face. Sadly, Harvey's inner demons are too strong and his Heel Face Turns never last.
  • In Amazing Spider-Man #500, Spidey sees a vision of a possible future, the end of his career. His future self is at his aunt's grave, the cemetery itself surrounded by a SWAT team. a plainclothes officer approaches him, addresses him as "Peter" and pleads for him to surrender, claiming the plea bargain still stands. (Whatever crime has been committed remains unknown, but is likely murder.) Spidey refuses, gives a few words of encouragement to the younger one watching, and then turns to fight the police, eventually being gunned down.
  • Supergirl is very big on "second chances" in her Rebirth book:
    • Played straight with Mastrocola, a data thief whom she put behind bars. Aftewards she visited him several times to encourage him to change his life. She got to him and later the man was seen attempting to be a hero.
    • Deconstructed with Cyborg Superman— the Zor-El version— when he invaded National City. Supergirl stopped him and then tried to help him afterwards. Another super-villain leaked she was protecting a murderer and the public turned against Kara despite her arguing her father was a broken mad man and she couldn't give up on him or anybody for that matter.
  • In the latest Wavedancers graphic collection, Surge (former chief) is so paranoid about "landers" (humans, but by extension, anyone who doesn't live underwater) that he takes drastic measures to prevent his tribe from becoming friends with the "lander" elves. This includes kidnapping Cutter (chief of the non-Wavedancer elves) and swearing to kill him if he doesn't get his way. During the hostage situation, Cutter just about talks him into being more open-minded, when the actual chief of the Wavedancers challenges Surge (his father). The chance is lost, and Surge reverts to his paranoid control-freak persona. But in the end, he does sacrifice himself to save Cutter, and there is an afterlife for elves, so it's kinda okay.
  • Deconstructed in Irredeemable where The Doctor expy Qubit saves Plutonian from death or tortuous-but-fit-for-his-crimes imprisonment a number of times in the hope that Tony isn't, well, irredeemable. Each time Tony goes on another Roaring Rampage of Revenge, killing millions, and Qubit's teammates are not pleased.

    Fan Works 
  • In Black Flames Dance in the Wind: Rise of Naruto, after Kurenai abandons her team, Naruto threatens to kill her if she ever approaches them again, having spent hours comforting a devastated Hinata. Kurenai attempts to circumvent it by going to their new teacher, but Naruto catches wind of it and it's only Asuma's begging and offer to take responsibility for Kurenai that spares her. Naruto informs both (Asuma directly and Kurenai via Implied Death Threat) that it's Kurenai's last chancenote  and next time he'll kill them both.
  • In the penultimate chapter of Boast Busted, after Twilight has been caught summoning the Ursa Minor that trashed Ponyville, Trixie offers her a chance to surrender herself and come quietly. Unfortunately, Trixie's apology for baiting Twilight earlier in the fic convinces Twilight that she's completely blameless, and Twilight runs instead of facing her crimes.
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! between canon!Celestia and Tyrantlestia, at the end of The Conversion Bureau: Worlds Where It Wouldn't Work, Celestia being the All-Loving Hero she is, offers Tyrantlestia a chance to walk away, being the self-righteous egomaniac she is, Tyrantlestia verbally spits the offer in her face and proclaims that it is her destiny to win, leaving Celestia with no choice but to inform her the destiny can change and finishing her off for good.
  • In the Death Note fic A Cure for Love Light/Kira asks L if he's changed his mind and is going to join him. L in turn pleads that he stop being Kira and they could run away to an island somewhere. Light explains that he can't stop being Kira because he's made a Deal with the Devil and in any case, he doesn't want to because being Kira is "his calling" and besides there's nothing left to go back to.
  • At the end of the Dashverse story May the Best Friends Win, Rainbow Dash tells Trixie she can either leave town, thus ending their friendship, or stay and try to make amends for her actions, giving them a chance to rebuild. She chooses the latter.
  • Friendship Is Aura: Lucario offers Chrysalis a chance to leave in peace if she tells him where the kidnapped Celestia is. She responds by absorbing her followers and trying one last time to kill him. This gets her killed.
  • In Supergirl story Hellsister Trilogy, Kara vows to help Satan Girl look for her child if she stops fighting her. Her evil duplicate replies she can find her offspring on her own.
    Supergirl: You won't believe this, but I'm sorry. On my honor, I am. And if you will swear to stop this battle, I will help you search for your child. That is my promise.
    Satan Girl: Ohhhhh, don't you wish, Lightsister. I can find my child. After our war, I will find him. Or her. There is nothing left to us now, except the fight.
  • The Immortal Game: After stripping Titan of all his power, Twilight offers him a chance to live the rest of his life as a normal pony, and maybe atone for what he's done. He opts instead for a final, suicidal charge.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Superman offers Parasite to help him be normal again if he turns on Luthor and reforms.
    <I can't even get close to a woman without her running away now, Supes. They don't dig the tall, strong, and purple type. If I bought and paid for one, I might suck the life out of her while we were together. You understand?>
    <Perhaps, Max. And perhaps you'd be better if we could find a cure for your condition.>
    <Yeah, well, I'll settle for getting back my old bod, if and when. If and when.>
    <So why did you throw in with Luthor?>
    <Because he offered me a good deal. Said he'd get rid of you forever, and kick in a lotta dough at the same time. My two primary motivations.>
    <If we got you your body back, Max, and if we removed your Parasite powers, would you reform? Would you even consider it?>
    More hesitation. Then, <I don't know.>
  • The Last Son: In Book Three Superman tries to give General Zod a chance to turn himself in and go through rehab after he loses control of Fort Rozz and Battlestation Sentrius. Zod instead loses it and goes on a rampage, forcing all of Earth's heroes to lead him into a trap do depower him. At this point, Superman has had enough and is not giving him any more chances.
  • Leave for Mendeleiev: Marinette considers whether or not to extend one of these to Chat Noir after learning that Master Fu has been mulling over whether or not to strip him of the Black Cat Ring. Throughout their partnership, Chat Noir's refusal to take things seriously and focus more on flirting and joking around has made him into The Load; however, she wonders if he'd take a warning that he needs to shape up seriously... or not. Ultimately, she decides against it, and Adrien's decision to try blackmailing Plagg during Syren's attack blows up in his face.
  • Mare of Steel: During the Final Battle of the first arc, Rainbow Dash offers Zod a chance to surrender and become The Atoner, but he refuses, opting instead to attempt Taking You with Me.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Mass Effect Fusion Fic, Mass Effect The Equestrian Equation, it is instinct to do this to any potential opponent for both the Equestrians and their ancient ancestors, the Equines. However, having evolved from prey animals, they are a lot shorter-tempered with outsiders trying to pick on the small, harmless-looking critters than they are with each other. At one point, Twilight gives a broadcast explaining that while Equestrians have an elaborate conflict solving/defusing social ritual, it only applies to their own kind; other species get given one chance to back down and then are immediately attacked with everything the Equestrian has to offer.
  • Inverted in The Night Unfurls. During the climax of Chapter 6, remastered version, Vault offers Kyril one last chance to join his Sex Empire, starting by handing over Olga and Chloe. He responds by blowing him up to smithereens.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2 Po is able to achieve inner peace even after learning that the villain, Shen, massacred his people years ago. After defeating Shen with his new-found abilities Shen is dumbfounded and asks how Po was able to achieve such a state. Po explains that it is the ability to let go of the weight of the past that allows one to move forward, and it's Shen's choice on what he wants to do next. Shen ultimately agrees that it's his choice, and he chooses to go down fighting.
    • In fact, this happens throughout all three movies. In the first movie, Po tries to tell the Dragon Scroll's secret to Tai Lung in an attempt to make him stop pursuing revenge; in the third one, this happens at the beginning, with Oogway warning Kai that his pursue of power will end badly. In both cases, the antagonist refuses to redeem themselves.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Towards the end of Alice in Wonderland (2010), the White Queen offers one to the Red Queen.
    White Queen: Racie, we don't have to fight.
    Red Queen: I know what you're doing. You think you can blink those pretty little eyes of yours, and I'll melt, just like mummy and daddy did.
    White Queen: (Quietly) Please...
    Red Queen: NO! It is MY crown! I AM THE ELDEST!
  • The Avengers: Loki attacks Manhattan with an alien army in order to take over humanity thinking it will stop war among them, with the Avengers trying to fight the army. Thor tries to approach his brother for a last time by making him aware of the destruction caused by the Chitauri army and fact that they are getting out of Loki's control. For a moment it seems as if Loki is considering it... but unfortunately it doesn't last.
    Thor: Look at this! Look around you! You think this madness will end with your rule?
    Loki: It's too late...It's too late to stop it.
    Thor: No, we can. Together.
    [long Beat]
    Loki: [stabs Thor with a small knife] Sentiment...
  • Occurs in Batman Returns, where Bruce gives Catwoman the offer to live happily ever after with him in his mansion. Her answer, she could never live with herself.
  • The ending of Falling Down has Det. Martin Prendergast asking William "D-Fens" Foster to surrender so that he can still watch his little girl grow up. Foster refuses, insisting instead on a final shoot-out with Prendergast. It turns out to be Suicide by Cop since Foster only has a water pistol.
  • At the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Dr. Elsa Schneider had a second chance when Indiana dove for her hands as she almost fell into an abyss. All she had to do was let him lift her up to safety; instead, she pried one of her hands free to reach the grail underneath her. As she stretched, the glove on her other hand came off slowly but surely, resulting in a fatal plunge.
  • In the 2000 version of Jesus Christ Superstar, after a much more taunting version of the climactic song than usual, Jesus reaches out to Judas, who rejects him one last time. Once Jesus is back in the physical world, the demonic showgirls vanish, and the last we see of Judas is of him suffering in Hell.
  • Kill Bill: Before their fight begins, the Bride offers Gogo Yubari a chance to back off and go home (most likely because she is 17 at the very oldest), but it's laughingly denied.
  • In the film version of David Brin's The Postman, the title character does this to General Bethlehem after defeating him. His reward? A predictable but failed attempt to stab him in the back.
  • In Robot Jox, the two leading robot pilots, hero Achilles and villain Alexander, end up fighting it out hand to hand after they destroy each others' mecha. After a realization that they are both just soldiers for their corporate masters, Achilles offers Alexander a chance to end the fight in an honorable draw that would let them both survive. Unusually for this trope, Alexander accepts the offer, and the movie ends with the two saluting each other.
  • Spider-Man 2 has a memorable scene where Dr. Octavius (AKA Doc Ock) takes the last-second chance, and dies saving the city from his own machinations.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek (2009): The villain is on the ropes and is especially spiteful in turning down his last-second chance. "I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times! I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you!"
    • In Search for Spock, Kirk tries to save the Klingon commander from falling into a lava field. Of course, Klingons being Klingons, the commander tries to drag Kirk down with him; and gets kicked off.
      "I... have had... enough of... you!"
  • Star Wars:
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon has Optimus trying to awake some good in his old mentor Sentinel Prime but fails and ultimately forcing him to execute the latter. When Sam Witwicky was fighting Dylan Gloud in the final battle, he tried to reason with him but likewise, said person didn't listen.
  • Taken 2: Bryan Mills tries to offer the Big Bad Murad a chance to walk away in exchange for leaving his family in peace. Murad blows it.
  • The Equalizer: McCall always offers his adversaries a chance to simply give up and walk away before killing them. In the sequel, because Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil, he states that he's not going to extend his customary offer to a group of wealthy rapists.

  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", Conan appeals to Rinaldo, the idealist among his assassins to give it up.
  • The Dresden Files: Skin Game:
    • Nicodemus specifically has the Genoskwa distract Michael as Deirdre sacrifices herself because he knows Michael would offer Deirdre the last-second chance, and — in her final moments and facing a Fate Worse than Death — she might actually accept.
    • Michael offers this to Nicodemus after they break into Hades' vault, pointing out that Nicodemus' pursuit of power has cost him the one thing that can never be replaced: Deirdre, his daughter and lover, and the one person who truly loved him, whom he had to sacrifice to get through the Gate of Blood. It's also the reason Karrin doesn't believe she's fit to be a Knight of the Cross, as the Knights must always allow their targets to seek redemption if they are willing, and Murphy believes that truly evil people deserve to be punished.
  • The Grapes of Wrath has an odd example, when Jim Casy tries to talk a strikebreaker into switching sides because the strikers can't afford any more wage cuts. Said strikebreaker bashes his head in.
  • Harry Potter: Harry, naturally, gives Voldemort the "last chance to feel remorse" speech before an Inaction Sequence Wizard Duel because Harry knows what will happen to him after death if he doesn't mend his soul. It isn't death he's trying to save him from.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf offers one to Saruman in The Two Towers, and while Saruman actually considers it seriously for a while, his overwhelming pride and jealousy of Gandalf make him ultimately refuse. And then he gets offered another one toward the end of The Return of the King.
    Galadriel: Saruman, we have other errands and other cares that seem to us more urgent than hunting for you. Say rather that you are overtaken by good fortune, for now you have a last chance.
    Saruman: If it be truly the last, I am glad, for I shall be spared the trouble of refusing it again.
    • In The Silmarillion, Maedhros and Maglor receive one from Eönwë, after they, being the last surviving sons of Fëanor, demand the remaining Silmarils from him. Eönwë tells them that they no longer have any right to the Silmarils, and gives them a chance to return to Valinor and be judged by the Valar for their crimes. Maglor wants to go and tries to persuade Maedhros, but Maedhros refuses, and in the end persuades Maglor to go along with his plan to steal the Silmarils from Eönwë. Needless to say, it doesn't end well for either of them.
  • The Scarlet Letter: Hester Prynne, title character, gets one against a passive-aggressive villain, just after he's had his epiphany.
    Chillingworth: Thou hadst great elements. Peradventure, hast though met earlier with a better love than mine, this evil had not been. I pity thee, for the good that has been wasted in thy nature!
    Hester: And I thee, for the hatred that has transformed a wise and just man into a fiend! Wilt thou yet purge it out of thee, and be once more human?
  • In the Dale Brown novel Shadows of Steel, Madcap Magician attempt to persuade Admiral Tufayli to surrender so that he and his men can be treated and released. The other guy doesn't bite.
  • Subverted in A Song of Ice and Fire when Theon Greyjoy is offered the opportunity to be conscripted into the Night's Watch as an alternative to being executed after his botched invasion of Winterfell. He considers the offer, but his acceptance of it is interrupted by the invading Bolton army, who drag him away to a much worse fate.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Dark Rendezvous, Yoda travels to meet with Count Dooku, his former pupil, to negotiate an end to the Clone Wars. Dooku tells Yoda that what started out as an idealistic crusade has gone horribly wrong and that he's in over his head, and Yoda offers to let Dooku return home to the Jedi Order. Darth Sidious, however, gets wind of what's going on, and playing off Dooku's dislike and jealousy of Anakin Skywalker, sends none other than Anakin and Obi-Wan to go "help" Yoda. When battle breaks out between Dooku's guards and the two younger Jedi, Dooku assumes that Yoda brought them along as reinforcements and feeling rather betrayed, he flees the scene.
    • In Darth Bane, one of Bane's former comrades from his days in the Sith Army reaches out to him and tries to get him to turn away from the path of the Sith. It almost seems like it will work, and for a brief moment Bane is Dessel again. His own apprentice Zannah kills his comrade to stop it, and the moment passes.
  • In the last book of The Wheel of Time, Rand offers his Arch-Enemy and Evil Counterpart Moridin a final chance to, for once in his life, do the right thing. Moridin will have none of it. Cue final duel.
    • Lanfear also gets one of these. It actually looks like she seriously considers taking it for a moment, but of course she doesn't. Cue Neck Snap. There's more than a bit of Alas, Poor Villain about this one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an early episode of Andromeda, Trance offers a second chance to the man who killed her in the pilot, and after a few threats and a chase scene he accepts. As Trance explained to Harper at the end of the episode. "Everyone deserves a second chance.... or as many as they need."
  • Subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    Faith: Give me that speech again. [...] It's not too late, we can still save you.
    Willow: It's way too late.
  • In the Burn Notice episode "Friends and Family", Michael Westen offers one of these to his old friend Harlan. Harlan betrayed Michael, now a burned spy, framed Michael for murder, and is being paid for killing a corrupt man so his worse partners won't be betrayed. Once Michael receives affirmation the man is willing to kill Michael, Michael escapes his bonds and fights back. Harlan doesn't die, but when the extraction team comes in to obtain the unexpectedly dead corrupt man, Michael has Harlan next to the man's corpse and explains over a phone call to the team leader just who Harlan is and why he killed the man he was hired to bring in. Harlan is taken with them to get any information he has about the other businessmen in the cabal out of him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Tenth Doctor makes a point of offering most of his enemies a peaceful resolution if possible. Woe betide them if they refuse... "No second chances. I'm that sort of a man." In his tenure as the Doctor, exactly one villain ever took him up on this. Still, he's often inconsistent and generally never stops trying to get the enemy to come over to the light.
    • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane also tends to do this. Three guesses where she learned it from, and the first two don't count.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": At the climax, the Thirteenth Doctor offers the antagonist, an alien Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, a chance to end his hunt and leave peacefully. He refuses... just as she expected.
    • "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror": At the climax, the Doctor points out to the Skithra Queen that she already offered her a chance to leave peacefully, but since she didn't take it she's not getting any more chances.
  • Occurred once in Farscape, when Crichton tries to convince Pathfinder Neeyala to help save Moya instead of her research vessel, offering to return her to her home planet. Neeyala coldly refuses, explaining that returning home without her ship and its precious data would be punished with her execution, the execution of her family, and the families of her crew.
  • In the series finale of Game of Thrones, Jon begs Dany to forgive Tyrion for his betrayal as well as all of the survivors of Dany's attack on King's Landing. He's pleading with her to show everyone that she's not some crazed Mad Queen out to bring the world under heel. Sadly, Dany refuses to forgive.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Parado is offered this after Emu revives him. Other options involved being left to Masamune Dan or ending his life by his own hand this time. He took the chance as he was afraid of other options more than he was afraid of Emu and realized the wrong of his actions.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Cardinal Ximinez of the Spanish Inquisition is awfully keen on second and third last chances.
    Cardinal Ximinez: You have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy. Reject the works of the ungodly—two last chances. And you shall be free—three last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterances.
  • Ferron in The Musketeers is an odd example, not least because King Louis doesn't realise he's offering a shot at redemption. Louis thinks he's just asking his beloved half-brother to become guardian to his son; for Ferron, it's a display of love and trust that makes him abandon his plans to murder the King (he literally had the dagger in his hand when Louis hugged him), and instead deliberately seek out Redemption Equals Death.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events Jacques Snicket offers this to Count Olaf, saying "we won't throw the book at you." Olaf summarily rejects this, replying "too bad I can't say the same for you," before dropping a huge book on his head.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Sheppard's team repeatedly tried to convince Lt. Ford to return to Atlantis to get cured to no avail. Note that he was not an actual villain, but just crazy because of the wraith enzyme that he was addicted to and prone to endangering the lives of expedition members without realizing it.
  • Used in The Vampire Diaries on Damon, who is seemingly permanently on this trope, usually with Bonnie, on occasions with Elena & Stefan. Due to Contractual Immortality it's unlikely he'll ever get his full comeuppance.
  • Averted for Sonny Steelgrave in the first season of Wiseguy: although Vinnie admits to Sonny that he would have given him a last-second chance to elude prosecution, Sonny murders a man in cold blood while Vinnie's hidden video camera is recording him, making it impossible for Vinnie to invoke this trope for him.
  • Turned up to 11 in Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Tsunami": Villain tries to kill Gabrielle, Xena says "If you do that again, I will kill you." Villain tries to kill the Captain, Xena says etc. etc. Villain tries to kill the pregnant woman, Xena says etc. etc. Villain tries to kill everybody, Xena says etc. etc. Repeat for 40 minutes.

  • In The Megas, Mega Man offers one to Proto Man in "I Refuse (To Believe)". For once, it actually works, leading to "Melody From the Past".
    Mega Man: Stop pretending you don't have a choice, only that can set you free...This rage is not your destiny.
  • Chameleon Circuit's "Exterminate Regenerate" is about two things: Davros telling the Doctor that they're not that different, and the Doctor rejecting this but still offering Davros an alternative to the two of them clawing at each other in a battle that could last to the end of reality.
    Exterminate, regenerate
    You know that it isn't too late
    To end what seems impossible
    And leave time turning

  • In the Christian radio drama Adventures in Odyssey, Mr. Alan gives Dr. Blackguard a chance to redeem himself after his plot to collect a mineral that could be used to produce a super virus he was planning on selling. The Dr. says he's beyond saving, and decides to trigger a bomb to take him, Mr. Alan, and much of Whit's End out. Ironically in a scene, and part of an arc that the show's creators would have criticized for being too violent if it had been in a visual form rather than audio only.

    Video Games 
  • Many antagonists in the Fallout series can be reasoned with by players with high enough stats in certain areas (usually charisma or speech). While this often merely results in the antagonists committing suicide after realizing the error of their ways, this can also lead to a villainous character having a sincere change of heart, joining forces with the player character and ultimately surviving the game.
    • One notable instance is the Big Bad of the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Lonesome Road, Ulysses, who wants to launch nukes at both the New California Republic and Caesar's Legion, as well as kill the Courier for an incident from their past. With the highest speech check of 100 (90 if strongly allied with a faction) he can be convinced not only to allow you control of the nukes, but he'll also help save you from the ambush he planned for you.
  • Depending on the ending you're going for in Devil Survivor 2, you can do this to all your former party members after defeating them. But notable examples are Yamato and Ronaldo, who will either become available to recruit, try a last-ditch attack against one of your party members (disregarding the fact that he's a Physical God), or, in Yamato's case, perform a Heroic Sacrifice by pushing you out of the way of a falling tower.
  • In the Tales Series, the heroes almost always try and reason with the Big Bad at the end, which never works.
  • Jowy, the Rival Turned Evil in Suikoden II, gets his last-second chance at the end. As he insists that they have to fight, the player can either choose to strike him down or consistently refuse to fight back, in which case he dies anyway. Unless, of course, you played the game in just the right way, in which case you end up with a rare subversion... but then again, he was only Necessarily Evil.
  • Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights has one if you have too few ranks in Persuade and didn't complete her romance subplot.
  • Knights of the Old Republic is quite fond of these:
    • Three characters get a last-second chance in the Light Side path of the game Bastila and Juhani can be persuaded to take it; Malak cannot.
    • Hell, the Player Character can get one if you choose to go down the path of the Dark Side if Revan is female and began a romance with Carth. True to the trope (patches notwithstanding), your character spits in the face of opportunity and you get the choice of killing Carth yourself or having Bastila do it for you... the ending in which it would have been possible to accept the offer and die together saving the Republic was cut from the game. Oh well.
    • The game gives you the option to offer the Last Second Chance to pretty much every single Dark Jedi that doesn't attack you on sight. Only a handful of them will accept it. Including one who's long past his last seconds; you can redeem his ghost. The second in command of the Korriban Academy, Yuthura Ban, will actually accept it if your diplomacy's good enough and you've talked to her about her motive beforehand.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords features one right at the end when you confront Kreia. Even though she has no intention of taking you up on it she still seems to appreciate the offer. As far as she's concerned there's only one way this is going to end.
  • Kyle Katarn to Desann in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, as seen in the page quote. No luck, but at least it manages to make him angry. It also completes Kyle's character arc from an angry guy with a lightsaber to a Jedi Knight capable of forgiveness.
  • Kyle Katarn's student Jaden Korr has even less success trying this on The Dragon Alora in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy; she just laughs. At the end of the Dark Side route, Kyle attempts this on the power-crazed Jaden and goes 0 for 2.
  • One of the major villains in Chrono Trigger, Magus, gets one of these. In the final battle against him, when he realizes that he has lost, he admits defeat and invites you to kill him. However, you can take the merciful route, and not only let him live but convince him to join your party to fight against the real Big Bad.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance does this in an oddly reversed way rather commonly. Muarim, Shinon, and Ena all are defeated, and recruited after the fact (though in Shinon's case, only if you satisfy certain requirements first, thus merging last-second chance with Defeat Means Friendship.
    • However, Bryce, the last of the Four Riders, plays this trope straight to the hilt, as his loyalty is to the Daein crown, no matter how insane its sovereign may be. This happens after Ashnard admits to killing everyone ahead of him in line for the throne, including his own father, the previous king to Bryce's face. Further, fighting him with Tauroneo, a former Rider of Daein and Bryce's old comrade, causes a bit of bonus dialogue where he admits that he realizes Tauroneo's decision to defect is more just, but that there are some people who can't change their ways.
    • Also notable is General Shiharam, father to party member Jill. Already a defectee from Begnion rather than serving the corruption in the senate, he sees his service to Daein as the only way to be sure that his troops have a home to come back to, following the orders of General Petrine who openly despises him as a foreigner in the process, and ends up dying to accomplish nothing. In an ironic turnabout, fighting him with Jill is a double last-second chance both ways: if Jill does not have a support built up with one of the other characters, she'll switch sides and fight alongside him.
    • Path of Radiance's sequel, Radiant Dawn, plays this straight more often. Jarod is given this choice when outnumbered and outmaneuvered at the end of the first act, and the final act features this choice given to Hetzel, Levail, Dheginsea, Nasir and Gareth if you choose to attack them, and finally Sephiran.
    • Radiant Dawn also subverts this a few times as well, with Ludveck, who pre-emptively accepts the Last Second Chance and surrenders before Elincia takes his head off and Oliver who volunteers to defect to the good side without any effort on the player's part if he spots Rafiel, much to everyone else's discomfort. Furthermore, with a little hoop jumping, Sephiran will actually accept rather than refuse his last-second chance on the second play through the game.
  • Seifer gets one of these just prior to the last fight with him in Final Fantasy VIII. Naturally he refuses it, claiming that he's gone too far to stop now. The ending sequence implies that, because he was fortunate enough to survive, he actually does renounce his evil ways, though it's a little ambiguous.
    • In a twist, this last-second chance is offered by Seifer's Silent Bob henchman, rather than by the hero.
  • At the end of Final Fantasy IX, right after the final boss is defeated, Kuja, the villain and Zidane's brother, is dying inside the roots of the Iifa Tree when he realizes the mistakes that he's made in his life, resolving to at least try to make up for them by teleporting Zidane and his friends with the last of his power safely away from the now convulsing roots of the dying tree. Zidane, being the good guy that he is, heads straight back into the roots, where he finds Kuja and tries to convince him that he doesn't have to die just yet, and that he can make up for what he's done. Kuja thanks Zidane for the offer, but knows that he's finished. Just then a root heads straight for them, with the scene fading to black right as it's about to hit. It's heavily implied that Kuja died saving his brother from the root, making this a Redemption Equals Death situation.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • You can offer this to a lot of characters in Baldur's Gate, most notably perhaps Yoshimo. He doesn't, or rather, can't, take it.
    • Inverted in a scene in Throne of Bhaal — without it being a case of We Can Rule Together, and more like an inversion of that too. A figure supposedly representing the player character's lost innocence offers them a chance to return to their childhood home and the state before they became powerful. The player can't actually accept the offer (and it would have to be a Non-Standard Game Over). The apparition then transforms into an avatar of evil and attacks.
  • In the game Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, you play as a mercenary blowing stuff up for money, eventually making many people angry at you. However, those same people know that if they pay you well, you will end up destroying your own clients, so these people come up with a deal. You give them a cut of the paycheck you received from your previous client (say, $100,000-$500,000), and they give you a brand new job. This, of course, leads to a cycle of you betraying every single faction of the game, and THEY STILL WILL HIRE YOU! Lampshaded when the leader of the South Korean faction, a CIA Spook, said, "This is your last second chance."
  • In Planescape: Torment, you can also offer to try this trope at a few characters, most poignantly to Trias the Betrayer by reminding him that the Upper Planes are also a place of forgiveness. Having Vhailor in your party makes it's a moot point, however, as he'll strike Trias down whether you succeed or no.
  • Mass Effect has one of these just before the final confrontation with Saren. If you succeed, he commits suicide. Sovereign still reanimates his corpse for the final battle, however.
    • In Mass Effect 2's Arrival DLC, a Paragon Shepard gives this to the DLC's main villain, Dr. Amanda Kenson. Sadly, by this point, she's too heavily indoctrinated to be helped, and triggers a bomb to try and take Shepard with her.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard gave this by showing mercy to Kai Leng after their final confrontation, leaving him beaten-but-alive on the floor. Cue Leng realising far too late that he really should have stayed down.
      • In the Citadel DLC, Paragon Shepard gives this to both the DLC's Big Bad and their Dragon. The Big Bad refuses, playing the trope straight, but if you have a high enough Paragon rating, the Dragon will actually take the chance and will begrudgingly go to jail without further strugglenote .
  • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters' Demon Path, the Villain Protagonist Player Character gets this offer from a remaining friend among the good guys before the final battle. It's actually subverted: you can accept it, but the other heroes point out that the villain passed the Moral Event Horizon long ago and that one person doesn't have the right to offer them forgiveness after everything that's happened, so the battle starts anyway.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy Cecil offers a place among the Warriors of Cosmos to his designated nemesis, Golbez. He does this because, at this point, he knows that Golbez is his brother, and not entirely responsible for the evil he committed in their homeworld. Golbez refuses the first time, telling Cecil that he has done too much to be forgiven at this point. After their final final battle in Shade Impulse, Cecil offers him the same thing, and this time, while he still turns away, Golbez acknowledges that there may be hope for him someday.
    "But... maybe someday. If the light should smile upon me..."
  • Halo:
    • In Halo 2, the Arbiter attempts to talk Tartarus out of activating the Halos. After presenting evidence (in the form of an "Oracle", Guilty Spark, even) of the true purpose of the rings, Tartarus seems to consider stopping... but instead knocks Johnson away with Spark, forces Miranda Keyes to insert the Activation Index, and haughtily claims that his race will rise above the Elites. Notable in that the Elites and Brutes are at each others' throats at the best of times, yet the Arbiter gives him a chance to step away without a fight even when he's about to destroy all life in the galaxy and already orchestrated the death of hundreds of Elite Councilors. It shows the Arbiter's nobility, even compared to other Elites.
    • The Arbiter does this again in Halo 3, when he tries to convince a group of Drones that Truth is just leading them to their doom. It fails, and you have to help him kill them all.
  • If you do a No Mercy run in Undertale, the game gives you multiple chances to back out of it.
    • Papyrus telling you that he believes you're still a good person at heart and sparing you instead of fighting you fits the most traditional variation of this trope the best.
    • If you rush to Mettaton NEO without fully depopulating the Hotlands+CORE area, he'll still die but give a speech about how he can tell you're not irredeemably evil after all and won't destroy everyone — and your character indeed doesn't.
    • The final chance is in the final boss fight (against Sans), where he will spare you and practically beg you to stop fighting. If you agree and spare him in turn, he one-hit kills you while your guard's down because you're far too dangerous to be allowed to live — but as he points out, if you really regret your actions, you can reset instead of continuing.
    • If you didn't take that one, there's still one more last chance, but this one is more meta. The Fallen Child takes control during most of the final cutscene and murders Asgore without your input. But just before murdering Flowey, they falter, making you press the button to prod them into finishing the job... or instead, you can hold ESC and quit the game.
    • Finally subverted in your confrontation with the Fallen Child, where they prompt you to Destroy the entire world. While you are technically given the option to refuse doing so will result in The Fallen Child merrily smashing the fourth wall and destroying the world anyway. As if the game is mocking you for, after having already crossed the line multiple times, trying to back out at the last possible moment.

  • Boy, Gordon Frohman of Concerned gets his chances. Too bad he never makes proper use of any of them. He even manages to undo his Deus ex Machina.
  • Dracula Everlasting: In the climax, Cate offers this to Manson as he dangling from a second-story window. He refuses and winds up falling to his death while trying to shoot her.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Grace gives one to Damien asking him to surrender but he doesn't take it.
  • In Erfworld, just before Jillian goes to attack Stanley, she makes one final attempt to salvage her relationship with Wanda, assuming that Wanda is bound to serve Stanley via a loyalty spell. Wanda shows, in no uncertain terms, that she is Not Brainwashed.
  • Inverted in A Girl and Her Fed, when Jesse asks for this, and is flatly refused.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In strip #913, Tarquin makes one last attempt to reconcile with Nale, even after Nale rebelled against him and killed his best friend Malack. Nale stubbornly refuses and declares that he wants nothing from Tarquin. Tarquin promptly stabs Nale to avenge Malack.
    • In the next story-arc, Haley gives her rival Crystal one after the latter kills Bozzok for turning her into a flesh golem in constant pain. When Crystal rejects the idea of going on a quest to find a cure for her current state, preferring to stay where she is and kill gnomes to dull the pain temporarily, Haley leads her to her death via a lava pit.
  • In Sam & Fuzzy, Sam puts Mr. Black in a Morton's Fork between having to work with Sam or killing him, which would put someone who wants Black's head on a plate in control of the Ninja Mafia. Sam also throws a whole lot of concessions onto the table, including giving Black his own squad and a seat at the Mafia's ruling council. Unfortunately, Mr. Blank interferes at exactly the right moment.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Zuko getting a last-second chance was the major point of hype for the season 2 finale, a chance he blew when his sister played the "honor and father's love" cards. His Heel–Face Turn only came around when he finally got sick of playing along with her in the third season, by which point none of the viewers were surprised.
    • Of course, Aang gives one to Ozai, (though more to get him to stand down) who just laughs it off.
  • Big City Greens: In "Feud Fight", a tomato war ignites in the Farmer's Market between Cricket and Chip Whistler, and Tilly convinces Cricket to stop by deciding enough is enough. Taking her advice, Cricket goes up to Chip, asks if they put aside their difference and calls a truce, hoping he'd make a Heel–Face Turn...but Chip thinks he's forfeiting the fight, and pelts him with tomatoes all over, resulting in him Shamed by a Mob.
  • My Little Pony:
  • ReBoot: Bob actively tries not to delete Megabyte because he believes all viruses can be redeemed and believes that if Megabyte can it would serve as the ultimate example. He has some backing for this: as he points out, if he had deleted Hexadecimal earlier in the series instead of trying to redeem her, the entire Internet would have been destroyed in the first movie.
  • Teen Titans: The second season ends with one of these, with Terra sacrificing herself to stop a volcanic eruption. Note that in the comics she was much less sympathetic, so naturally she didn't get this treatment.
  • Nox, the Big Bad from Wakfu is offered this after his plan to travel back in time to save his family fails. In a bit of a twist on the norm, he accepts, retreats, and - having given up on his time-magic immortality - is last shown dissolving into dust by his family's graves.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Dreadwing is disillusioned with the Decepticon cause after discovering just how little honor really matters to Megatron. He then aids the Autobots by giving them the Forge of Solus Prime. Optimus once again asks Dreadwing to join the Autobots. Dreadwing refuses since betraying the Decepticons doesn't mean he is ready to join the Autobots. Dreadwing then returns to the Nemesis and takes actions that he almost certainly knows will lead to his death and indeed they do.
  • Samurai Jack; the episode "XCIV" has two examples- in a flashback, Jack's father offers mercy to some bandits that attacked his escort guards and about to do so again to his family in the horse carriage, quickly dispatching them when they refuse. Many years later, Jack makes the same offer to the Daughters of Aku when they catch up to him, but they too refuse. At least three of them are dead before the end of the episode, and the fate of the other three is uncertain.


Video Example(s):


The Bog Lady

Arlo apologizes to the Bog Lady and asks for forgiveness, but she coldly turns it down.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / RedemptionRejection

Media sources: