The villain is furious. The Hero and his allies have defeated his elite force and stolen his MacGuffin. In grand Evil Overlord fashion, he stands up and orders every man he has to attack the hero's entourage. But as for The Hero himself: "Leave him to me!"/"He's mine!" Unless the villain is sufficiently badass enough to be a good match for the hero one-on-one, which he sometimes is, this is almost never a good idea.
At times, it's the Hero who's determined to be one to take down the villain. This is often because the villain had hurt someone very close to him. The hero wants to make the villain know why he is dying.
The tendency of villains to order the hero captured alive or ignored on the battlefield so that they can have the satisfaction of killing him themselves, the result of It's Personal, and the evil version of This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself, almost always backfires. Considering that the villain's form of killing the hero is to put him in an easily escapable Deathtrap, maybe the Mooks should disregard the order...
In some cases, there are sound reasons for this attitude. Perhaps the main hero/villain is the only one who can defeat the main enemy, and doesn't want anybody else on his side to get injured or killed in a hopeless attempt. Alternatively, there might be some complication that the hero/villain's allies don't know about, and they'd just mess things up if they tried to help.
Saying this is forbidden by rule 117 on the Evil Overlord List, and performing the action commonly associated with it is prohibited by rule 39. Villains who wish their Evil Plan to succeed are well advised to follow both rules until and unless they have a clear path and too few Red Shirts remain to mount an effective counter.
More formally, you have Combat by Champion.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Roy Mustang decides that he'll deal with Envy alone after he hears how his friend was killed by them. It's unarguably his most terrifying moments in the series.
- Uttered by Haruhi Suzumiya in the episode "Day of Sagittarius". Involves Leeroy Jenkins, by the way.
- Luke Valentine in Hellsing. He wants to fight Alucard himself while his brother takes care of the rest of the good guys. Unfortunately for both of them, they both severely underestimate their adversaries.
- Raid and Nike in Magical Circle Guru-Guru insist on this in episode 44. Raid because he thinks beating Nike will win Kukuri to his side. Nike because Raid did it.
- In the Punk Hazard arc of One Piece, after Luffy attacks him and his men attempt to retaliate, Mad Scientist Caesar Clown tells them not to touch him as he wants to kill him personally. It goes as well as you'd expect.
- In Gamaran, after joining the Muhou Ryuu and witnessing Gama's skills from afar, Muraku Matsumoto gave (offpage) this order regarding Gama to the members of the division assigned to him. When they decide to engage Gama and a wounded Zenmaru in combat, he violently murders them all for daring to fight with his "beloved Gama" before him. In this case is both because of bloodlust... and actual lust.
- The former page quote, from Daredevil #19:
"Once you have him helpless, leave him for me! The Masked Marauder must have the honor of actually finishing him!"
- Happened in an old Fantastic Four comic, as shown here◊. Mr. Fantastic tells The Thing to leave Namor to him.
- Often said by Jigsaw when he is out for The Punisher.
- In the flashback of the Tintin book "The Secret of the Unicorn", Red Rackham's lieutenant called dibs on Sir Francis Haddock, but died by his hand. In the animated version, Rackham himself challenges Haddock, so the accidental knockout happens before the duel ends.
- In the IDW Transformers comic More than Meets the Eye, after being assaulted by Whirl, Autobot Megatron (the new captain of the Lost Light) explains that just after declaring war, he ordered his Decepticons not to harm Whirl. Megatron's motivation for this can either be to kill Whirl himself, to taunt Whirl that he isn't as great of a warrior as he thinks he is (he only lived for so long since the Decepticons couldn't harm him), or to taunt him about the consequences of their first encounter together (Whirl taught Megatron about hatred and the use of violence to achieve goals). Needless to say, Whirl does not take this well.
- (Anti)Heroic example by Rick in The Walking Dead when some bandits threaten Carl.
- During the JLA Avengers crossover the Joker teamed up with Red Skull, and after discovering he was an actual Nazi, told his minions to back off so he could take him down himself. Declaring that while he's a criminal psychopath he's an ''American'' one.
- Laff-A-Lympics: In "The Purple Pig Puzzle," the Scoobys and the Yogis have found the whereabouts of Lucky Starr's ceramic pig. En route to collect the prize money for it, they see Starr taking off with the money (he bet everything on the Really Rottens to find it first).
Dynomutt (exiting the Falconcar) Leave him to me! There's a big surprise in store for Mr. Lucky Starr!
- In The Amazing Spider-Man #77, the Human Torch shows up while Spider-Man is battling the Lizard. Spidey tries to tell the Torch to back off and leave things to him; the Torch thinks that he's just being a stupid glory-hound and insists on helping. In fact, Spidey is trying to keep control of the situation to make sure the Lizard doesn't get hurt and/or revealed to be Dr. Connors.
- In The Secret of NIMH, Big Bad Jenner uses the phrase word for word. However, the context is unusual for this trope; Jenner is busy plotting against Justin and the other good rats, not engaged in battle.
- In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Gaston sees the Beast possibly as competition for Belle.
Gaston: Take whatever booty you can find, but remember, the Beast is mine!
- Plus he's a big game hunter, and what bigger game is there than a seven-foot-tall bison-man-thingy?
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Zira snarls near the end of the battle "Simba! You're mine!" and all Outlanders back away from him, to allow the two of them to prepare for their death duel.
- During Transformers: The Movie Galvatron declares that Ultra Magnus is his target and that Scourge and his Sweeps can have the rest of the Autobots instead. Amusingly, Galvatron never actually goes one-on-one with Ultra Magnus, or even actually seems to single him out in his actions, spending the rest of the movie attacking almost every other Autobot except Ultra Magnus. When Ultra Magnus does die (though only for about 15-ish minutes—apparently Death Is Cheap even for Optimus Prime substitutes) it's because Scourge and the Sweeps kill him, on Galvatron's orders.
- The Flight of Dragons has a heroic variant. When the group prepares to confront the dragons, Sir Orrin states: "Let me take Bryagh." This is completely ignored when Bryagh actually arrives, and everyone desperately attacks him with everything they have; but Sir Orrin is the only one who stands a chance anyway.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The titular Winter Soldier has a bunch of guys with machine guns backing him up when he goes after Cap, Black Widow and Falcon. After Nat shoots him, though, he tells his team to handle Steve while he personally deals with her.
- Twice in Die Hard.
- John McClane is on the roof, and Karl is going after him, so he tells the other henchmen, "No one kills him but me."
- Hans disarms John, and one of his henchmen is about to shoot John, when Hans says, "Nein! He's mine!"
- After working together to dispatch Angel Eyes' men in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Tuco declares to Blondie that "Angel Eyes is mine." Subverted as Angel Eyes has escaped when they burst into the hideout. Also played with when Blondie disarmed Tuco the night before the gunfight so he could kill Angel Eyes himself.
- Highlander: The Kurgan, the immortal leading the enemy in Connor's first battle, orders him to be left alone, so that he can claim Connor's head and Quickening himself. Rather sensible, considering that there was something in it for himself besides mere satisfaction. How the Kurgan knew Connor was an immortal who hadn't faced his first death yet is left unexplained though.
- In Hook, a rarer case of a Hero doing this to a Villain happens, as Peter Pan/Banning tells the Lost Boys to let him duel Hook one on one. Turns out to be completely justified when one of them lets Hook goad him into fighting anyway and ends up dying in Peter's arms as a result.
- The parody Hot Shots! Part Deux mocks this trope. One of the mooks tells Saddam "I've got them in my sights!" and Saddam responses, "No, this is personal!", only to get crushed by a falling piano.
- The big demon with a deep voice says this to his underlings in I, Frankenstein during the final battle regarding Adam. Subverted, as he's immediately picked up by a gargoyle and killed.
- In the Loop has Malcolm Tucker instructing Simon to leave Linton Barwick, the world's most boring psychopath, to him. Obviously a dramatic duel is not what he had in mind since the film is a political satire, but it ends up subverted anyway when Malcolm's superiors at Number Ten order him to essentially be Linton Barwick's bitch.
- The Legend of Frenchie King: Louise is determined to be the one who deals with Maria in all occasions due to feeling insulted by her, and leaves the latter's brothers for her sisters to deal with.
- The final battle of The Matrix series, despite being watched by millions of Smith clones, is strictly one-on-one. Of course, Smith had already tried the "bury Neo in clones" approach, so perhaps he just learned his lesson and was going for a different strategy. And he had already foreseen that he was going to win. He could have more fun and enjoy it better, knowing the outcome wasn't in doubt.
- Twice in the first Mortal Kombat film: Cage and Goro, and Shang Tsung and Liu Kang (arguably necessary to avoid screwing up the bigger plan on a technicality).
- In The Phantom, the leader of the Sengh Brotherhood claims the right to be the one to kill the Phantom, and even stabs one of his own men who's about to beat him to it.
- Star Wars:
- Darth Vader loves handling things personally. Justified somewhat in A New Hope, in which Darth Vader is the only man on the Death Star with a hope of taking out Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also one of the few successful instances of this trope (albeit with Obi-Wan's cooperation). Vader is also an ace pilot and personally kills many more of the invading Rebel ships than the barrage of gun turrets on the Death Star, so of course he'd want to tell his wingmen to back off and let him handle it. And he says "Leave them to me" again in Return of the Jedi, but that was more a case of "don't screw up our sting operation just yet."
- Used in Revenge of the Sith by General Grievous, also against Obi-Wan, although he wasn't so successful. Again, Grievous was the only person who had even a prayer of taking Obi-Wan down in single combat, but even he was outclassed. It just never occurred to him that a Jedi would use any weapon besides a lightsaber, and he had defeated enough Jedi in the past to be reasonably certain of winning.
- Double subverted in the climax of The Last Jedi: when Luke Skywalker appears, alone and on foot, to challenge the First Order's forces, Kylo Ren orders everyone to open fire. It's only when his enemy emerges unscathed from the devastation that Kylo takes to the field in person.
- Disney's The Three Musketeers (1993). D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis kill several members of the Cardinal's Guard. After Athos, Porthos and Aramis leave, D'Artagnan is left behind. Rochefort and more Cardinal's Guard members arrive and D'Artagnan challenges them. Rochefort tells his troops "He's mine!" and the two charge toward each other.
- In The Belgariad when Taur Urgas, King of the Murgos faces off against his long hated foe, Cho-Hag of the Algars, he says that Cho-Hag is his and tells his troops to get out of the way. Cho-Hag takes him up on the challenge, and kills him easily. Although we never really see him before the last fight, it's mentioned that he's completely lost his mind by this point, to the degree that he can't even fight properly anymore. Cho-Hag expresses regret that their battle couldn't have come when he was still competent.
- A heroic version is in Belisarius Series where Rana Sanga by chance runs into Valentinian and realizes that this is a true Worthy Opponent. He waves off help from all the other Rajputs. His army in turn, not having seen a match like this in ages crowds around to watch and shoves away anyone who might get in the way of the fun.
- Voldemort's Death Eaters are repeatedly instructed to capture Harry Potter but not kill him, even if this means endangering themselves to protect him. Possibly this is because of the prophecy of their fates is vague enough he's worried about someone screwing it up.
- It turns out that Voldemort can't kill Harry, because using Harry's blood to resurrect himself made Voldemort a keeper of Harry's mother's sacrifice.
- Unlike most versions of this trope, the mooks see no reason to endanger themselves. While they won't kill Harry, Voldemort didn't say anything about putting into a permanent coma by feeding him to a dementor.
- It's stated several times in the series that Voldy's minions have begun to doubt him, because he lost his power trying to kill a baby, and the fact that every time he fights Harry, he comes off second-best. Facing Harry and winning would prove that to be a fluke.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Jr. is convinced that killing Harry will put him in some sort of exalted position with Voldemort. The true purpose of the Evil Plan use Harry's blood to resurrect Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry himself immediately afterward. It's safe to assume that he didn't think he could possibly fail, so there would have been no need for such instructions at that time.
- A rare heroic version occurs in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Molly Weasley goes Mama Bear on Bellatrix Lestrange. A couple people come forward to help, but Mrs. Weasley sends them back screaming "She is mine!" Unlike most versions of this trope, she succeeds.
- Also in Deathly Hallows, Harry tells everyone not to interfere in his last duel with Voldemort.
- In the third book of The Hunger Games, Katniss demands to be the one who kills President Snow.
- Occurs in Macbeth, during the climactic scene. MacDuff orders his men to leave Macbeth alone so that he may be the one to get revenge on Macbeth for having his family murdered.
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, when Strybjorn has Ragnar down and another Grimskull goes to kill him, Strybjorn bellows, "No, leave him! He is mine!" And then he does strike a mortal blow.
- But utterly inverted in the last of the Word Bearers trilogy, Dark Creed, where one of the noble Space Marine Captains challenges the invading Word Bearer Dark Apostle to an honourable duel. The book notes the Captain's surprise when the Apostle refuses and simply has his men gun him down on the spot.
- During the Last Battle in The Wheel of Time, Demandred wants more than anything to kill Rand Al'Thor(the re-incarnation of his old rival Lews Therin) and makes it very clear he will be very upset if anyone tries to take that away from him. The only problem is, Rand has his own battle with The Dark One to fight and has left this one to the other characters. It becomes almost a black comedy, with Demandred constantly screaming for Rand to come and face him and everyone else trying to explain to him that Rand isn't there...
- Subverted in Firefly. Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the unstoppable henchman are grappling over a perilous pit of doom. The crew arrives, lead by second-in-command Zoe, takes a look, readies their weapons.
Zoe: Hold fire! This is something the captain has to do for himself.
Mal: NO! No it's not!
(they open fire, and bad guys go down in a hail of bullets)
- M*A*S*H: "Tell It To The Marines" has Charles in command while Potter is away, and he's using Klinger to do menial tasks for him. When Potter returns and sees Klinger in his predicament and then Charles (listening to his opera records) bellows out a command to him, Potter tells Klinger to "sit this one out...I'll handle Brunhilde!"
- These were the instructions Prince Devitt left for Bullet Club regarding his rematch with former Tag Team partner Ryusuke Taguchi New Japan's 2014 Invasion Attack. The Young Bucks didn't seem to realize how serious he was about this though, leading to a fight between the three that turned memetic when commentator Shinpei Nogami took Devitt's side.
- Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu by Gaslight boxed set, "The Yorkshire Horrors" adventure booklet. During the final battle at Stonehenge, if any of the PC Investigators tries to target Professor Moriarty then Sherlock Holmes will shout "He's mine" and attack Moriarty himself.
- Warhammer Fantasy: Wulfrik the Wanderer once made the imprudent boast of being able to best anyone and anything in single combat. The Chaos gods took him up on it, and now he wanders the world killing powerful champions (he used to resent it, but now that he gets to spend eternity in a flying teleporting ship hunting down Worthy Opponents, he's as happy as can be). His special rule prevents him from declining a challenge, and those he challenges cannot back down either (he does this by hurling the crudest insults he can think of in the target's language, which enrages them to the point where they can only think of killing him).
- When Scream attempts to claw at the riders in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios, Doctor Octopus yanks her away, exclaiming, "Get away! They're mine!"
- In It's Tough to be a Bug at the Disney Theme Parks, a Spider Swarm that's a part of Hopper's evil army drops down towards the audience, only to pull back when Hopper orders them to, saying, "Back off, spiders! They're mine..."
- Rare heroic example: during the campaign of Age of Mythology, just before the mission to storm Kemsyt's fortress, Amanra tells her soldiers "If Kemsyt is there, no one is to touch him but me."
- Borderlands 2 plays it straight: After the vault hunters kill Angel, Handsome Jack publicly rescinds the bounty he had previously put on their heads, and threatens to torture to death anyone who kills them before he can.
- Dracula/Gabriel Belmont says this to Alucard before facing Death (AKA Zobek) in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2.
Dracula: He. Is. Mine!
- In The Godfather 2, you can have enemy Made Men Marked for Death. This causes your allies to leave the target alone so you can have him Killed Off for Real by using the correct method. Unlike most examples, this is actually a good idea; you want your allies to stop helping you, because their default method, filling people with lead, won't actually kill any Made Man for good.
- Kirby Super Star: In the Sub-Game "Revenge of Meta Knight," Meta Knight tells his subordinates to abandon ship, so that he could take on Kirby alone. They insist on taking him on first.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater when Ocelot fights you, he orders the squad that accompanied him to simply hold the line and let him battle Snake one-on-one. However, as you start to wear Ocelot down they end up breaking Mook Chivalry and opening fire, with Ocelot scolding them for doing it, and even apologise to him as they keep shooting at Snake.
- In Paper Mario, the Goomba King, the main boss of the prologue, says this verbatim.
Goomba King: Ready to meet my wrath, Mario? You better be!
Blue Goomba: We've got your back!
Goomba King: Leave Him to Me!
- The Saboteur The French Resistance has grown strong enough in Paris to launch a full scale uprising against the Nazis. But with the Germans have superior numbers in firepower and numbers and the leader of the Resistance Luc having just been killed, Sean, the protagonist knows the French will lose. He tells Veronique she needs to lead them, for her people need her. When she inquires about the Nazi who killed Jules, her brother and Sean's best friend, Sean drops the trope. "Leave Dieker to me."
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Amy says this when she saves Sonic from being killed by Silver.
- Later on, in the same game, it's Shadow's turn to rescue Sonic. While he doesn't say this directly, the offside glance he gives Sonic is enough for the blue hedgehog to get the message.
- Suikoden V has a bit of fun with this: by the time you get a chance to face Childerich, several of your allies have personal reasons to take him down. If you bring all of them along, once you catch up with Childrich they all declare this, then get into an argument over which of them should be the one to take him on.
- Eliwood and Hector, heroes of their respective stories in Fire Emblem The Blazing Blade, each declare that not only is Nergal to be left to them, but that they intend to fight the entire enemy army singlehandedly. Their friends talk them into allowing their closest allies to fight as well.
Eliwood: “Listen to me! This is my fight now! Mine alone! Everyone, stay back!”
- Eliwood's son, Roy, follows his father's example, asking his allies to let him be the one to fight Idenn, as only his legendary weapon can peacefully defeat her.
- Dellyn Goblinslayer from Goblins is the only one allowed to defeat Thaco, something that his guards recognize as a Fatal Flaw.
- Girl Genius pulled this one out during a short: See it here.
- Defied Trope in Erfworld. Prince Sammy, on Charlie's orders, cuts through the lines of Gobwin Knob forces in an attempt to kill Ansom. After sighting Ansom, Sammy challenges him to one on one, man to man combat. Ansom simply responds by ordering his spearmen to skewer Sammy multiple times, then cuts off Sammy's head.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang and the others are being chased by Azula and her Quirky Miniboss Squad and split up.
Azula: You two head in this direction and keep your eye out for the bison. I'll follow this trail.
- This blows up in her face, and she's definitely learned her lesson by the season finale, given that her plan for taking on the Avatar involved tag-teaming him with her brother Zuko and at least a platoon of Earthbending minions.
- Toph gives us an heroic example in "The Blind Bandit", when she declares that the seven professional Earthbenders keeping Aang prisoner are hers. The professional Earthbenders are then victims of the Worf Effect.
- In an Aladdin: The Series episode, when Mozenrath is tricked into believing Aladdin is dead, he's disappointed and says "I wanted to finish Aladdin!" He then responds to the titular hero's actual entrance with "Aladdin! I'm so glad to see you're alive! For the moment."
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers: near the end of "Summit to Save Earth, Part 2", two characters declare this in regards to Zarm:
- First, Commander Clash swoops in and protects Ma-Ti from Zarm's killing ray, saying "Out of the way, kid. This one's mine".
- Soon after, when the battle moves to the outside of Zarm's spaceship, Gaia gives the Planeteers the time they need to make their rings work again, saying: "I'll take care of Zarm".
- In the second season of Exo Squad, Phaeton has standing orders that Marsh and Marsala are to be captured so he can kill them personally. Interestingly, his minions tend to ignore this where Marsala is concerned.
- In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Storm Shadow has made a vow to kill Snake Eyes himself.
- Justice League:
"Green Lantern is mine."
- A heroic example in episode "War World", where the gladiator Draaga insists on fighting the despotic ruler Mongul on his own. Superman and Green Lantern actually don't object (seeing as they've destroyed the Doomsday Device he was using to blackmail Superman), GL simply telling him to watch out for Mongul's right hook.
- At the climax of "Starcrossed", Green Lantern is fighting his way through the Thanagarian command ship. Hro Talak orders his soldiers not to interfere, as he wants to Murder the Hypotenuse personally.
- The Castilian civil war of 1366-1369 ended with this. After the would-be Henry II rooted out Peter the Cruel's last army at the Battle of Montiel, the two claimants to the throne met in Henry's tent and fought in single combat under the close attention of three supporters of each. According to some, Peter was about to win when French mercenary and Henry's supporter Bertrand du Guesclin tripped him, enabling Henry to slay and decapitate his half brother. Du Guesclin commented then that he wasn't deciding who was king, just serving his lord. Peter's "supporters" were surprisingly OK with this.
- Arp Arslan, second Seljuk sultan, used this trope when a man tried to stab him to death during a surrender and ordered his bodyguards not to interfere. The fact that Arslan lived just long enough to proclaim his successor demonstrates that this trope is a really stupid idea.