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"Wipe this pathetic planet from the face of the galaxy!"

Stock Phrase of a villain that signifies a Kick the Dog, especially if the victims are (comparatively) helpless. If the villain isn't the one directly causing mass murder or ordering his mooks to do it, then he's shown giving this instruction to a Psycho for Hire or Hitman with a Heart. The naval expression for this is "No Quarter". In Real Life, it's a war crime.

Of course, if a Doomed Hometown suffers this fate, then it's more likely than not that the hero escapes such a culling and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

Sink The Life Boats is the subtrope dealing with killing enemies who were alive after surviving the destruction of a vehicle.

Compare, contrast with Shoot Everything That Moves and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. Going one step further from "kill everyone" to organized torture, looting, and massacre of the population is Rape, Pillage, and Burn. If you have to kill everyone because they saw too much, that's Leave No Witnesses. When this fails, it often falls into the category of Genocide Backfire. See also Traumatic C-Section and "Everyone Dies" Ending.

Unrelated to the 1997 game.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In the G.I. Joe one-shot "Special Missions: The Enemy", a squad of Cobra goons kill every living person in a hospital while looking for the Baroness' baby. The squad leaders even kill two of their own when it looks like they have reservations.
  • Ildomir the Evil Sorcerer from Nodwick makes a note to himself to have this phrase tattooed on the back on his hand after being foiled by our heroes shortly after leaving them alive in a bad situation.
  • In the flashback section of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, after being hit by a broadside, the pirate ship hoists the red flag, signaling that they would not take prisoners. They do capture captain Sir Francis Haddock when a golden opportunity presents itself, but plan to execute him slowly the next morning.
  • Joel Kent in Superman & Batman: Generations orders his troops to do this when they lay waste to a village that has been suspected of harboring Viet Cong troops, only to find nobody there but innocent peasants. The troops turn against Joel and shot him, taking his dog tags and leaving him for dead until Mei-Lai finds him and nurses him back to health.
  • Judge Dredd: During "Origins", Anti-Hero Judge Dredd and his team are attacked by a gang of outlaws in the Cursed Earth. When they return, Dredd orders his people "No Quarter" so they kill every one of them. Dredd even shoots a survivor begging for mercy.
  • In one of the Doctor Who Magazine side stories, a Sontaran patrol attacked a peaceful village, and nobody rose to the challenge. The commander was so annoyed at this that he ordered his force to kill everyone. Fortunately, Junior Cyberleader Kroton, freshly torn off from the Cyberman Hive Mind, is in place to give them the fight they crave...
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #5, Gravedigger discovers the Nazis planning to massacre an entire French village: a village that Gravedigger's intelligence had told him was already empty. Even though it is outside his mission parameters, Gravedigger decides that he has to try and save the civilians; especially as he has just planted timed explosives that will bury the village under thousands of tonnes of rock.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Capt. Storm became notorious as a pirate for granting the ships he targeted no quarter and killing everyone on board.

    Fan Works 
  • Absolute Trust:
    • In Chapter 37, when Hakoda's group and the Gaang hijack a Fire Nation ship, they initially planned to take the crew prisoner. But when they hear them laughing about raping and killing a group of colonials, Hakoda changes the plan.
    • In Chapter 44, when Alec leads a small group to attack Water's Wail, the prison for the Southern Waterbenders, they deliberately kill every guard present for the cruelty they've exercised for so long.
  • Blood! Rusty AU: This mindset is a part of what sets BloodClan apart from other cats. When they fight, they fight to kill and do their best to avoid letting stragglers live.
  • HERZ: In chapter 5 Misato orders an assault against a SEELE installation, and she reiterates -regretfully- that her troops mustn't give quarter or take prisoners:
    "You have the coordinates," said Misato, hands folded in front of her face. "Get what we need. Everything else must burn."
    "What do we do with any civilians we encounter?"
    "Everything else must burn."
  • A heroic example in My Hero Academia: Unchained Predator. The Slayer declares war upon the Steel Sabers upon seeing their atrocities via VEGA. By the end of Chapter 16, the Slayer had killed off the entire Steel Sabers organization, making sure that a threat to heroes is permanently removed.
  • In the first chapter of RWBY: Scars, Adam attempts to slaughter an entire train cart full of humans just because he hates humans. This is one step too far for Blake. She was okay with killing the guards because they were armed and dangerous, but killing defenseless civilians is too much for her. She stops Adam and runs away from him for good.
  • In Shell Shock, the captain orders his troops to do this to a large group of freshly captured POW's. It's as much for revenge as it is a sign for just how fucked up things are.
  • When the war against the Reach Interstellar Empire begins in With This Ring, Paul doesn't forbid his Lanterns to accept surrender, if the one surrendering is unarmed and the Lantern isn't needed elsewhere. But it's not a mission objective; if a Reach ship is crippled, that's an invitation for a kill shot, not an ultimatum.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gangs of New York: True to Real Life, an exhausted Union Army which had just fought in a bloody battle are summoned to New York to deal with the out-of-control Draft Riots.
    Leiutenant: Sir, the major general wants to know what to do with the prisoners captured.
    Corporal: Prisoners? Don't take any. The mob isn't taking any prisoners! Put the mob down! Don't take a prisoner till you've put the mob down!
  • Iron Man: Stane, just after paralyzing Raza and his goons with some experimental technology outlawed by the government, orders his personal bodyguards to clean up the mess.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: has the titular protagonist quite pissed off at enemies who just slaughtered a village: NO PRISONERS! ... NO PRISONERS!!
    • In real life, he usually had his men take prisoners, but on one occasion, when really pissed off, told them, "The best of you brings me the most Turkish dead!"
  • The Great Escape: 50 escaped POWs who had already been recaptured were summarily executed by the Germans. note 
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Jadis, the White Witch, gives this order for her troops to attack Aslan's army:
    The White Witch: I have no interest in prisoners. Kill them all.
  • In the film version of The Lord of the Rings, this happens twice. Saruman orders his Uruk-hai in The Two Towers to "leave none alive!" in the battle of Helm's Deep, and the Witch-king in The Return of the King orders his minions to slay everyone in Minas Tirith.
    • "Release the prisoners"
    • Also at Helm's Deep, Aragorn himself tells the defenders to show no mercy to their besiegers, "because the enemy will show none."
  • Also done by Durza in Eragon in a very similar scene.
  • From the Pirates of the Caribbean films:
    • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, of course, the cursed crew of the Black Pearl is famous for leaving no survivors.
    • Davy Jones from the sequels is likewise infamous for this: every man who isn't Eaten Alive by his pet kraken in the inital assault is either press-ganged into his undead crew, or else executed if they refuse to join; though sometimes he'll just execute everyone without even making the offer if he's in a bad mood. This becomes a problem in the third film, when Jones is forced to work for the East India Company; no survivors means no prisoners to interrogate for information. At least until the Final Battle.
  • The Princess Bride: The Dread Pirate Roberts is known for "never taking prisoners," but the wording allows for some Loophole Abuse: for instance, it doesn't say anything about taking captured sailors on as crew, which is how Westley survived.
    • In the book it's made clear this only applies if they fight; if they just hand over the valuables they can go. This was the whole point of building the reputation in the first place; a technique used sometimes by Real Life pirates.
    • Not to mention the threat the heroes use to clear out the men guarding the castle gate on their way to rescue Buttercup. Again, it's technically true; since most of the guards fled without fighting, the heroes didn't take anyone prisoner for longer than a few minutes.
  • Spartacus. The phrase is not uttered, but all of the surrendered slaves are crucified (except for the Hero and his second in command, who are ordered to fight to the death to see which one of them doesn't face the grislier execution).
  • Star Wars:
    • In Episode I: The Phantom Menace, upon being told that the Gungans were massing for battle, Darth Sidious orders the Trade Federation to "Wipe them out. All of them."
    • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith has the same guy ordering the newly christened Darth Vader to wipe out Viceroy Gunray and the other Separatist leaders. As well as, a few scenes earlier, the Jedi at the Temple.
      Sidious: Every single Jedi, including your friend Obi-Wan, is now an enemy of the Republic. Do what must be done. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy.
    • Episode VII: The Force Awakens has Kylo Ren order the massacre of a village on Jakku after Poe is taken captive by the First Order, the purpose of which is likely to Leave No Witnesses who could have told the Resistance what happened to Poe.
      Captain Phasma: Sir, the villagers?
      Kylo Ren: Kill them all.
    • In Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Kylo Ren orders no quarter when the First Order attacks the Resistance on Crait.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, the number of survivors from the sinking of the British frigate reaching the villain's ship very neatly matches the number of dead he reports as washing up on the beach.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, after Saavik goes through the Kobayashi Maru test, Kirk tells her that the Klingons don't take prisoners. Since they do take prisoners in several Star Trek: The Original Series episodes as well as several TOS era movies, this is probably based on a faulty memory of the "Romulans don't take captives" quote from TOS.
    • The "prisoners" line probably stems from the opening scene featuring Romulans instead of Klingons. The KM test is in Gamma Hydra near the Neutral Zone — near the Romulan Empire in TOS. Also, the Klingon Bird of Prey in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was originally designed as an update to the TOS Romulan ship (Klingon didn't use Birds of Prey until that point). The decision to switch from Romulans to Klingons was apparently made by the writers at the suggestion of Leonard Nimoy, who felt they made better bad guys.
    • Or Kirk was just being dramatic.
  • Red Dawn (1984). The protagonists are seen shooting Soviet prisoners and wounded, because they're fighting a guerrilla campaign and can't take prisoners even if they were so inclined.
  • The same occurs with German soldiers in Defiance.
  • In Animal House, while wrecking the parade, Bluto shouts "Take no prisoners!"
  • This was Blackout's intention in the opening scene of Transformers. He attempted to hack into the military defense network in order to obtain any information about the whereabouts of Megatron and the All Spark, but was cut off by the base commander. When Epps manages to take a digital snapshot of him, he dispatches Scorponok to eliminate the escaping soldiers, whilst he deals with everyone else on base. The investigation conducted in the aftermath reveals that he killed every single person on site. Scorponok however, whilst succeeding in killing/wounding two soldiers, failed to eliminate the rest of the group before they could call for help.
  • It Happened Here ends with La Résistance massacring captured members of the British SS, as part of its deconstruction of heroic resistance tropes.
  • In Judge Dredd, Judge Griffin says this in so many words to his people who are investigating the shuttle crash, though as a way of making it clear that he wants the official record to show a specific version of events.
    Mook: Sir, it appears that several prisoners are missing.
    Griffin: You are in error, Capture Team. No one survived the shuttle wreck.
    Mook: The pilot is still alive, sir.
    Griffin: No one survived the shuttle crash!
    Mook: Yes, sir. *shoots the pilot dead*
  • Done legally in Dredd. Attempted murder of a Judge carries the death penalty. Judges can carry out sentencing for crimes on the spot. This confers upon Judges the right to execute almost anyone who participated in a shootout against them. Rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson carries out her first execution of a wounded perp who can barely lift his sidearm. She discovers It Gets Easier to the point where later in the movie she coldly shoots a disabled mook In the Back as she walks over his body.
  • We Were Soldiers: The Viet Minh commander gives this order after defeating a French column during the film's prologue.
    Nguyen Huu An: Kill all they send... and they will stop coming.
  • In Red Tails, "Pretty Boy", the German fighter ace, typically opens the fight with some order or another. By the final battle, he has lost all pretense of gentlemanly chivalry and simply orders his men to show no mercy.
  • Alexander the Great (1956). After being abandoned by the Persians, the commander of the Greek mercenaries who fought against Alexander asks for quarter. Alexander refuses, saying they're traitors (even though they haven't sworn an oath to him) as he's ruler of all the Greeks. The mercenary commander asks again, not for himself but for his men. Alexander refuses this offer also. The commander says in that case they'll fight to the death. None of them escape alive.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • Admiral Marcus has no intention of letting any of the Enterprise crew live even after Kirk pleads that he alone should be punished for his command decisions.
    • Every Klingon who witnesses Harrison ends up dead.
  • Total Recall (1990): When Richter and his men pursue Quaid and Melina into the mutant district, they escape and Richter shoots the first person who refuses to answer him. When they retaliate, he orders the soldiers to kill everyone and barely escapes from the ensuing slaughter himself.
  • Averted in the Soviet historical drama Alexander Nevsky, set in medieval times. After winning a bloody battle against brutal German invaders, Alexander asks what should be done with the prisoners. One of his lieutenants says that the mooks should be set free because "they were forced to fight," and Alexander says that the knights will be held for ransom. He is less forgiving to the Russian traitors.
  • The Patriot (2000): In his opening scene, Colonel Tavington has wounded Colonial soldiers gunned down where they're laying in blatant violation of the laws of war. General Cornwallis later explodes in Tavington's face for refusing to give their enemies of the hour quarter.
    • This comes back to bite him in that not only would Benjamin Martin's militia be less than eager to take captives after that (to the point that Martin himself had to tell those under his command to stop shooting surrendering Redcoats), and absolutely eager to shoot officers first during engagements, but it was the entire reason Benjamin Martin was leading that militia group in the first place.
  • In Viva Villa!, Pancho Villa the bandit and guerrilla fighter has a bad habit of slaughtering all his prisoners. Madero gets him to stop doing this for a while.
  • Kingdom of Heaven: During the Siege of Jerusalem, Balian warns his outnumbered defenders that there will be no quarter when the wall is breached, which motivates them to fight harder. Averted later when he and Saladin discuss terms of surrender, in which Saladin allows the surviving inhabitants to leave the city without further incident (In reality, Saladin only allowed the nobles to leave free of charge, while the rest had to be ransomed or sold into slavery. Though many were later freed).
  • The Postman: During the first battle against the Holnists, the Postman orders his followers to let the last one go, as he's unarmed and defenseless. Others shoot him dead anyway, no doubt wanting revenge after they've suffered so much from the Holnists.

  • The pirates in All Hands all get killed when the Starcougar rams their ship.
  • The Fall of Gondolin: A heroic example. Morgoth's troops are burning Gondolin to the ground, but Tuor has managed to lead several hundreds of people out of the city and towards the hills. He then sees six soldiers have managed to rescue his son and make it out of the city, but are being chased by twenty wolf-riders. Tuor picks up fifty soldiers, surrounds the pack of Orcs and Wolves and orders to kill all of them, lest one of them gets away and informs Morgoth about the refugees.
  • An Outcast in Another World: The Dragon Queen wants to kill all humans out of anger and grief for when they murdered her family. The Elven Seneschal wants to prevent The Cataclysm from ever happening again. Many other people are just grief-stricken and need an outlet for their sorrow.
  • In the Confederation of Valor series, the Others are well known to not take prisoners. Which confuses the characters intensely in Valor's Trial: They're in a POW camp. The Reveal? It isn't run by the Others, a.k.a. the Primacy.
  • Death's Head: The Enlightened make a show of accepting surrenders because a powerful third-party is watching, but when the prisoner transport convoy crosses a storm that conveniently obscures satellite surveillance, all ships but one are "lost at sea".
  • The Dresden Files: In Changes, the Red Court strike teams like to operate this way to send a message to their enemies.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Narrowly averted in Echoes of Honor. When the combined Grayson-Manticore fleet with the new podnaughts rides to the defence of the Basilisk System against a People's Republic of Haven attack, the Graysons are seeking revenge for the judicial murder of Honor Harrington by the Peeps, so their commander, High Admiral Yanakov, orders an all-out attack on the Peep fleet. Earl White Haven, commanding the combined force, nearly has a heart attack when he thinks Admiral Yanakov ordered "no quarter," but then he realizes that Yanakov actually ordered "no mercy" — which means "destroy any ship capable of fighting, but not the life pods."
      Admiral Yanakov: The order is — Lady Harrington, and no mercy!
    • Narrowly averted once again in Uncompromising Honor. In the final Honorverse novel, the Manticoran, Havenite, Beowulfan, and Grayson fleets translate from hyperspace into the Sol System right ontop of a three Solarian destroyers out on a training exercise. Honor orders her ships to open fire with her very, very long-range missiles. The commander of the Solarian flotilla immediately surrenders. Honor ignores his attempts at surrender and ignores her officers when they tell her the Solarians are surrendering. She ends up aborting the missile strike.
    • Invoked in the Echoes' Children Filk Song "No Quarter", based on the book.
  • During the third book of The Hunger Games, Gale Hawthorne suggests a plan to destroy a Peacekeeper Fort by causing an avalanche. Not content to just kill the majority of those inside, he also suggested bombing the escape to ensure they all die. His reason for this is that Peacekeepers destroyed District 12, so he is out for revenge.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, the US wonders what to do with the crew of Red October, who don't want to defect—rejecting the option of killing them all as morally wrong. The reason the sub's destruction is faked is in order to allow the crew to go back to the USSR and claim the sub sunk.
  • Vladimir Vasilyev's No One But Us involves a Space Battle where The Alliance fleet (mostly made up of human ships) conducts a surprise attack of a Shat Tsur-held planet and has successfully made four passes through the enemy forces, dealing enormous damage to the defensive ships and orbital installations. When the defenders start flashing the universal surrender code with their running lights, the fleet commander orders the fleet to continue making passes, realizing that this is a ploy by the defenders to bog down The Alliance fleet with tons of prisoners. Only after two more passes does the fleet commander order the taking of prisoners. This is the only time this happens, though, as they quickly find out that the oppressed planetary populations are more than happy to watch the prisoners for the Alliance, freeing the fleet. The Shat Tsurs, though, don't like to take prisoners, especially where their former masters the Aczanny are concerned. By the time of the novel's events, 70% of the Aczanny race has been wiped out, most of them during the first few months of surprise attacks.
  • In Out of the Dark, Shongairi soldiers attempt to surrender, but when Buchevsky again sees the children they have killed, he is reminded of his own killed daughters and has them all killed.
  • Often called for by the heroes in Redwall. Though given the usual temperament of the vermin villains and their penchant for taking slaves to treat horribly...
  • Safehold:
    • The threat of this is often used by the protagonist Empire of Charis when an enemy is either already defeated or clearly outmatched to try and force a surrender. This tends to be effective, more often than not, because the enemy commanders eventually realize that the Charisian making the offer isn't bluffing. One of the few times the opposing commander refused that offer, the Charisian commander not only followed through, but let Siddarmarkian soldiers, whose nation and people had been damaged horrifically because of the Church's machinations, to lead the charge.
    • The Siddarmarkians have a special marching song, the Pikes of Kolstyr, that announces their intentions to do this. It was written in comemmoration of an old atrocity by the Desnairian Empire and is used to announce their intent to avenge similar atrocities, such as the Church's Sword of Scheuler, which sparked civil war throughout the nation.
    • With the Inquisition's penchant for Cold-Blooded Torture, there are instances when members of the Church's own forces order no survivors as an act of mercy. An Army of God colonel orders his chaplain and healers to do this, and some of the victims even show gratitude as their throats are cut. Later, in a battle that allows the Kingdom of Dohlar to capture a Charisian ironclad, the sheer brutality of the Dohlaran sailors when they finally get aboard is attributed at least in part to this.
  • In one of the Soldier of Fortune pulp novels by Peter McCurtin, the eponymous mercenary Jim Rainey faces off with the Big Bad before the battle, and both agree "no prisoners" as a mutual Badass Boast; in fact it's even used as a Battle Cry for Rainey's army. In the end Jim Rainey uses this to avert the Save the Villain trope. "You forgot our agreement you son-of-a-bitch — no prisoners."
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • One of Boba Fett's targets in "The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett" is Kardue'sai'malloc, who earned his moniker "the Butcher of Montellian Serat" for slaughtering hundreds of Rebel POWs on Devaron. He claims he was forced into it by his superiors: He had been ordered to join up with another force after taking the city of Montellian Serat and not to leave anyone behind to guard the prisoners, and he didn't have the resources to bring them with him either, so...
    • In X-Wing: The Bacta War, Ysanne Isard orders her minions to pick a random rebel target and wipe it out.
      Isard: Find it and destroy it. No warning, no mercy. No question who the true power is.
    • The Han Solo Trilogy: Red Hand Squadron has this policy toward slavers. They offer them no quarter. It's also the source of their name and emblem, a blood-dripping hand. However, as they're slavers, though it makes some uncomfortable this is portrayed as paying evil unto evil.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Sadeas executes a bunch of listeners for the "crime" of trying to surrender to him instead of giving him a proper fight. Aside from the obvious evilness of this action, this meant that the Parshendi would refuse to surrender or offer any quarter to their human opponents in later battles, which just amplified the bloodshed on both sides. This brutality would lead the Parshendi to believe that the only hope for survival was to seek out their "old gods" to gain access to the Forms of Power and summon the Everstorm, which is what Odium needs to advance his plans. If not for Sadeas's actions, the Desolation would have been at the very least delayed and weakened somewhat.
  • The mildly insane royals do this in Tales of the Branion Realm, especially in The Stone Prince where the cold-bloodedness and strength of mind necessary to be merciless is part of the protagonist's training by his mother. She is known for having hanged a hundred rebels at once, calmly discussing tactics with her aides while the sentence was carried out.
  • In the fifth Temeraire book, Victory of Eagles, William Laurence and his fellow Dragon Riders are ordered to attack French raiding parties throughout England and leave no prisoners; this sets off a vicious cycle causing the French to be more brutal, "justifying" Laurence's brutality until another captain refuses to cooperate and snaps him out of it with one pointed question.
    Tharkay: A temporary viciousness may be pardonable in a gentleman, even admirable; but it must brand me forever a savage. Laurence, what are you doing?
  • The Thirty-Six Stratagems:
    • Rule #22 advises at least completely capturing the enemy, if not killing them all.
    • Conversely, Rule #16 suggests you should avoid letting the enemy know this trope is your plan. If they believe they can survive or escape, they may hold resources in reserve for those contingencies; if they realize there's no hope, they are more likely to launch a Desperation Attack or try Taking You with Me, which will cost you more resources.
  • Tortall Universe: In the final Protector of the Small book, Keladry has to give this order twice while sneaking a band of people into enemy territory, and neither time does she like it. But they don't have the luxury of keeping prisoners and they can't let them go to warn the enemy where they are. A rare heroic example.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    President John Sheridan: Hit-and-run attacks, very efficient. No survivors, no warning.
    • Minbari policy during the Earth-Minbari War was to destroy any and all combatants, regardless of their ability to fight back or if they surrender. Granted, they did leave many core colonies untouched as they made a beeline for Earth. However, it's likely they would've gone back to mop up every surviving human after Earth was no more.
    • Sheridan exploited this tendency in the Black Star incident that earned him the moniker "Starkiller". With his ships damaged in a prior attack, he sent a fake distress signal, knowing the Minbari would come back to finish the job. Then he laid a minefield between him and the direction in which the Minbari ships had left, and waited for them to take the Schmuck Bait.
  • In Band of Brothers, Easy company comes across another American company who had just won a battle with a German squad. One of the German soldiers was a German-American (born in the US) who was fighting for Germany, somewhat against his will. For some unspoken reason, the soldier seemed sad about being captured, even after getting American cigarettes from Easy. As they left the area, the men of Easy company heard the gunshots of the other platoon. Seems that the Americans didn't have enough supplies to take prisoners and the American-born had understood the discussion about it earlier.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978): In the original series:
    Imperious Leader: There can be no survivors. So long as one human remains alive, the Alliance is threatened.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • After House Bolton wins the battle against Stannis' forces outside of Winterfel, Ramsay Bolton kills the last wounded enemy soldier who was about to surrender.
    • In the penultimate episode, Daenerys offers no quarter to King's Landing after they failed to surrender and her forces have already breached the gates. Even after leveling nearly the entire city, her general Grey Worm is shown executing surrendered Lannister soldiers.
  • House of the Dragon: Corsair Craghas "The Crabfeeder" Drahar owes his nickname to the fact that he crucifies the captive survivors of his boarding parties on beaches to be eaten by crabs.
  • Red Dwarf: Comedic version: In one episode, a shuttle crashes and most of the gear on board is wrecked. While trying to find something worth salvaging:
    Kryten: At least Mr. Lister's guitar survived intact.
    (Cat smashes the guitar to smithereens against the wall)
    Kryten: Not even Mr. Lister's guitar survived intact!
  • Revolution: The title of the episode "No Quarter" is the same as the alternative name of this trope. This episode features the Monroe Republic fully intending to kill off every single rebel they find. The only reason they left one group of rebels alone was because they exchanged Miles Matheson in return for being spared.
  • Stargate Atlantis: There's a heroic version. After repeatedly failing to kill Michael, and now dealing with his latest scheme which has taken control of the city, Sheppard orders the soldiers to give no quarter.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Exploited (and mixed with a Wounded Gazelle Gambit) by Klingon General Martok and the Defiant (under Dax's command) after full-scale war with the Dominion breaks out. The Defiant and Martok's IKS Rotarran take turns sitting in space faking serious damage (low power, leaking fuel, weapons and engines off) and sending out a distress signal, then wait for the Jem'Hadar to come by looking for an easy kill, whereupon the other ship decloaks and blindsides them.
    • When the Cardassian rebellion becomes a full-scale civilian revolt in "What You Leave Behind", the Female Changeling gives the order to kill every last one of them (the entire planetary population). Her only response to being told "That's going to take some time" is "Then I suggest you begin at once". Fortunately, our heroes manage to prevent it being completed (in part because most of the guards at Dominion HQ were sent out to kill Cardassians), but over eight hundred million are still killed during the attempted genocide.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: The Romulans are noted to not take captives in the 2nd season episode "The Deadly Years". However, they try to do exactly that in the 3rd season episode "The Enterprise Incident". Possibly, they do take prisoners, but instead of ransoming them, they keep them and refuse to acknowledge that they do. Certainly, Saavik's Vulcan parent was a prisoner, as was Tasha Yar.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Phantom Traveler", a demon causing airplanes to crash vows that there will be no survivors.
  • The good guys do this in SEAL Team's 2nd season in the episode "Payback." After completing the usual objective to attack a terrorist stronghold and capture the cell leader, Bravo Team receives word that enemy reinforcements are on the way. Normally, in previous snatch missions, their standard operating procedure would be to take the prisoner and bug out as quickly and stealthily as possible. But because this particular terror cell had earlier seriously injured one of their own, Bravo decides to stay and fight the reinforcements to ensure that every single terrorist in the cell is killed.
  • Wallenberg: A Hero's Story: Eichmann's goal is to transport every Jew remaining in Budapest to Auschwitz. When the trains stop running he starts death marches instead.
  • The Witcher (2019): Nilfgaardians' general policy, as stated in the pilot and shown to be the case. Instead, they slaughter everyone they come across. In the nobles' case, it was said they'd have tortured them first. They do make an exception with Ciri however, as she's heir to the Cintran throne.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Not an uncommon position for player characters to take with regard to enemy NPCs, for reasons ranging from in-game practical considerations to the infamous "they aren't worth experience points alive" (though it's worth noting that the latter hasn't been true for "modern" tabletop RPGs for at least a couple of decades by now). While non-player characters are of course technically not "real", this can still cause friction with other actual people at the table (players and Game Masters both) who might not be as comfortable with the "ruthless killing machine" approach to "heroism".
  • BattleTech: In the First Succession War, the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine was assassinated by a sniper while conducting a campaign on the Davion world of Kentares IV. His heir orders the Draconis troops to "kill them all" and summarily executed the first general that questioned the order. By the end of the massacre, 52 million people were dead and the morale of the Draconis troops was absolutely crushed from being forced to execute helpless civilians with katanas. Even among the countless atrocities of the First Succession War, the Kentares Massacre stands out for its sheer brutality, and the horror helped pave the way for more 'civilized' warfare aiming to avoid unnecessary destruction.
  • Chainmail: Swiss, Landsknecte and Turkish troops do not take prisoners as a matter of policy. In any situation where opposing troops would surrender, they are considered killed instead.
  • Forgotten Realms:
    • Drow nobles have such a nice tradition. The Dark Elf Trilogy put this to use by making it completely unspoken. Klingon Promotions are a cornerstone of drow society: noble houses move up in rank by slaughtering the house above it. However, by their definition of "justice", if even one survivor is left to accuse them, their house will be exterminated as punishment. It's kind of hard to track them all, and hard to tell when they try to disguise, so there's no need for those in command to order their soldiers to kill anything that moves and then comb the compound afterward for any secret rooms where others may be hiding.
    • Later sources elucidated the details. The obvious reason for this tradition is that whenever two parties among the drow are allowed to enter a Cycle of Revenge and others start taking sides, this eventually ends in an open civil war and complete destruction of the city. Naturally, with such prospects the rest of a community prefers to limit the damage to those already involved. Thus if two Houses begin an assassination war or other escalating hostilities, others will push them into an open attack as soon as possible — one side ceases to exist, the conflict ends. This also is applied only to legitimate members of the House, i.e. anyone who officially switched allegiance to another House, mercenary band or merchant clan doesn't belong to the House which gets eradicated/accused; this doesn't happen every day, but one guy survived the destruction of his House with Spider Queen's personal involvement without so much as leaving his city.
  • In Nomine: One of Baal's rites allows his demons to regain essence by making sure that no enemy survivors remain after a battle.
  • Paranoia: While the game encourages the PCs to kill some of their teammates to set up a Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit ("'I speak without fear of contradiction...' is the opening sentence of the ideal debriefing"), it warns against this trope because it looks suspicious. Instead, it suggests bribing or blackmailing the others into going along with your story.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In actual gameplay, wiping out the enemy's force from the table is generally an alternative win condition, as opposed to the point system revolving around battlefield objectives. This is known as "tabling" the opponent.
    • This is functionally or officially standard procedure for many factions. The hateful and xenophobic Imperium of Man often try to wipe out any alien presence on their planets, and routinely try to exterminate them in wars of conquest. They do try to bring human populations under their control, unless a world has become too corrupt or not worth the expenditure of resources and manpower to reconquer, then they resort to Exterminatus. Tyranids will also try to kill everything on a planet, because it's easier to eat them and harvest their biomass in that manner.
    • Orks and mortal followers of Chaos will kill just about anything that doesn't fight back, more often than not just for the fun of it. Still, they will often take at least some prisoners as slaves. Chaos Daemons, however, do not.
    • Eldar, as much as they hate other species, will often kill only as much as necessary to achieve their goals, then they'll usually just leave. Surprising as it would be for those not familiar with them, as much as they like killing, Dark Eldar actually try to avoid this trope with as wide a margin that they can as they prefer to take prisoners. They'll eventually bring this trope into full force on those same prisoners, since they literally feed on suffering. The Tau Empire usually averts this trope, as they prefer to bring other species into their sphere of influence through diplomacy and other nonviolent means before resorting to a military conquest. However, there are sometimes aggressive or embittered commanders who will push for a population to be wiped out, or a species is deemed unfit for peaceful coexistence, in which case this trope is used.

    Video Games 
  • Every game that requires the player to eliminate all enemies to advance to the next level/unlock a new area/complete a mission falls into this trope. (Aversions fall under Instant-Win Condition.)
  • Many instances of this occur in the Command & Conquer series:
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert:
      • In mission 10 of the Allied campaign, General von Esling tells the player during the campaign in Kiev to destroy EVERYTHING in the Soviet nuke base. "Scorched Earth!" Though, when you play the mission, this turns out to be impossible as the Soviets end up launching nukes during the mission and von Esling hastily changes your objective to instead capture the Command Center and send a commando force in to remotely deactivate the nuclear warheads before they hit their targets.
      • In the first Soviet mission, your superiors order you to annihilate a rebel village. The battle itself is a total Curb-Stomp Battle, with dozens of innocent civilians wiped out by strafing Yak fighter planes.
      Gradenko: Let's see how you handle this. Go at once to Torun, destroy everything and everyone. No prisoners, no survivors. That is all.
    • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun: During the first Nod briefing, after CABAL says how to increase the probability of a favorable outcome against the renegade General Hassan's forces, commander Anton Slavik asks CABAL what a "favorable outcome" would be. CABAL's response: "They all die".
    • Command & Conquer: Generals:
      • In the third USA mission of the vanilla campaign, the GLA are intent on wiping out a large American force in full retreat. The mission is to rescue 100 American units from their GLA pursuers.
      • In the fourth China mission of the Zero Hour expansion pack, the tables are turned as it is now the GLA in full retreat while China is on the hunt. The opening cutscene tells us that the Chinese premier has declared that China will hunt down the GLA to the last soldier. Indeed, the mission itself is about cutting off all escape routes and ensuring that not a single GLA unit escapes the map.
      Song Meiying: "This is a wounded animal, declared our leader, but they must not find a cave where they might gather back in strength."
  • Fate/Grand Order has this happen in Lostbelt 6, when an attack is led on the village Tintagel to raze it to the ground. The truth is rather unexpected. While Woodwose did carry out the massacre on Artoria's fellow villagers, they were already planning on selling her out anyway, and had gone completely berserk while doing so. Woodwose was forced to put them down, as they'd started slaughtering each other before he arrived.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Kefka gives an order to this effect in one of Terra's flashbacks during a training exercise (for her, not the helpless troops being cut down, but it still comes off as unnecessarily callous).
  • Fire Emblem has Rout the Enemy (in layman's terms: kill all opposing forces) as the standard stage objective in all games.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses also has this in-story, when the armies of the three nations face each other at Gronder Field after the Time Skip. Prince Dimitri of the Kingdom of Faerghus, who at this point isn't exactly in the most stable state of mind, explicitly yells at his forces to "Kill every last one of them!" before rushing into battle. This doesn't factor into gameplay, however, even on Dimitri's route, as the battle's goal is actually to defeat the enemy armies' commanders, which will make them retreat.
  • The player character in the FreeSpace expansion pack Silent Threat gets to do this in the first two missions, in order to protect a fragile alliance with an alien race after a friendly fire incident (the second mission: one ship was scripted to escape the first mission, so you went to its destination and killed everything there).
  • Skies of Arcadia's Big Bad would have done this when he doomed Vyse and Aika's hometown if the Air Pirates had resisted capture. Luckily, they didn't, so the non-combatants were spared and you got to rescue everyone else later.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Drek'Thar gives this order with his buff.
    • This is one of Sylvanas' quotes if she's ever under attack by an Alliance raid
      Sylvanas Windrunner: Let none survive!
  • In one of the Dawn of War Imperial Guard and Sisters of Battle campaigns, you get to witness the fate of captured Chaos Cultists. Justified, since you cannot take any chances with Chaos.
  • As indicated by the opening quote, Darth Malak in Knights of the Old Republic orders to destroy the entire planet of Taris. Yes, Star Wars's Sith like this trope. Malak does this in order to kill exactly one person who happens to be on Taris at the time. That one person survives.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Referenced by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at the beginning of multiplayer matches as Russian forces - the first and third have their announcers say "Take no prisoners, comrades.", World at War has Viktor Reznov say "Show courage, show pride, but show no mercy!" On the other hand, there is no gameplay mechanic to take prisoners anyway...
    • And in World at War's single player, Reznov encourages you to kill a group of surrendering Germans. If you don't do it yourself, he'll just kill them anyway.
    • The multiplayer announcer for the Cuban Army in Call of Duty: Black Ops will sometimes open up matches by saying "Remember, no survivors!"
    • Then there's No Russian from Modern Warfare 2, a playable terrorist attack wherein Makarov and his group (which you are infiltrating) utterly massacre everyone in their sight at a Russian airport, which is the inciting event of the game's entire story.
  • Having won the ultimate victory in Star Craft Brood War, Kerrigan denies the defeated Earth admiral a chance to surrender his troops and mockingly offers his fleet a head start before sending her Horde of Alien Locusts after it. They devour every last one of them.
    • In the Episode 0 StarCraft campaign Loomings (which got released as free shareware), a Confederate magistrate sends you, a lieutenant in Alpha Squadron, off to take care of a Sons of Korhal uprising by saying in your mission briefing: "There are to be no arrests, Lieutenant. I hope you understand what I mean. I want this problem solved once and for all."
  • Dawn of War II has "NO MERCY!" amongst the random battle dialogue of the Space Marines. Naturally, there are no mechanics for taking prisoners in the game.
  • In Patapon, one of the things your Patapons can say is "Take no prisoners!" (And indeed you're committing Waddling Head genocide.)
  • In Homeworld and even more so in Homeworld 2, setting a vessel to aggressive tactics is usually met with the ship captain responding "Weapons set to full power. Show no mercy."
  • While not specifically mentioned in the Total War series, starting with Empire: Total War, it is no longer possible to take prisoners in battle. In Medieval, Rome, and Medieval II, any enemy struck from behind was knocked out instead of killed and taken prisoner if you win the battle. You could then free, execute, or attempt to ransom (execution as backup) them back.
    • This is probably an aversion, however, since it was about this time that rules about taking prisoners started to be enforced. The likelihood is that the winner is taking prisoners, but since you have no legal choice about whether to kill them or not it's just being quietly taken care of behind the scenes.
      • Maybe, but they're still listed in the "Killed" column.
      • Total War: Shogun 2 also doesn't allow the taking of prisoners.
    • Executing captive troops became an option within the game series from Total War: Rome II and onward. Specific effects depend on the game, but it at least always affects your diplomatic standings by angering your enemy and factions friendly with them while making those who dislike your enemy to like you better. This is contrasted with the options of ransoming the captives for money, or pressing them to join your forces to immediately replenish some of your troops' losses. Total War: Three Kingdoms also allows you to consider executing (as well as ransoming or employing, if they'll allow the latter) generals if you manage to capture them, with executing them giving you their ancilliaries or equipment.
  • This is a favorite habit of Suikoden II's Prince Luca Blight when ransacking random towns throughout the game. If fact, he takes it a step further by personally and gleefully butchering all of the inhabitants individually while they beg for their lives.
  • In Spore, this is the only way to conquer an enemy tribe/civilization/planet if yours is warlike. (It can be subverted if you choose to win over the others with music/religion, or with money.)
  • The objective of the winning team in a Titanfall match during the "Epilogue" is to wipe the losing team off the map before they can make it to their evac ship. The other solution is to destroy the ship itself before it can take off.
  • In Battle Zone 1998's Cosmo Colonist Army campaign, while escorting a team of Soviet scientists in their Awesome Personnel Carriers, a dozen American Black Dogs appear in their Hover Tanks. Realizing that they are completely outnumbered, the scientists radio that they are willing to discuss terms of surrender, only for the Black Dogs commander to say there will be no terms. The mission then turns into a race towards a CCA base before your squadron and the transports are overwhelmed by Black Dogs.
  • In Prey (2017), The mercenary Dahl brings an army of military robots to do this on Talos 1, human and Typhon alike, so the TranStar corporation can rebuild with no witnesses. In a recording his boss William Yu says the trope name when Dahl questions the order because it includes William's two children: Morgan and Alex Yu.
    • In a secret ending, protagonist Morgan Yu can help Dahl by killing every other human on the station. Doing so makes Dahl transport Morgan back to Earth and gives the achievement "Awkward Ride Home".
  • In X3: Albion Prelude's Guilt-Free Extermination War between the Earth State and its Lost Colony, the Argon Federation, both sides will indiscriminately murder any civilian craft that is between them and the enemy defenders, and if the invaders kill the defenders, they will then Rape, Pillage, and Burn, systematically destroying all civilian ships and stations. In previous games the AI functioned the same, but it was limited to small border skirmishes between rival empires (Argon versus Paranid, Boron vs. Split) or repelling invading the Xenon or Kha'ak, without the wide-scale destruction of the Albion Prelude war.
  • In Stellaris, this is essentially the entire foreign policy of Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms and Determined Exterminators summed up in three words. All pops on any planet they conquer are purged automatically, with the player's only option being the decision of how every man, woman and child on those unlucky worlds is going to die. Methods vary by how long they take until completion, and include bog-standard execution squads going from door to door, species-wide neutering, working the victims to death in labor camps, and for especially deranged empires, either processing the conquered populace into food or energy, or cultivating the entire sentient species as livestock. Most of these options are available to regular xenophobic empire as well, but only the three special examples mentioned above have them hard-coded into their play style.
  • Sunset Overdrive: Eavesdropping on the Las Catrinas shows Esperenza setting this as policy, because somehow she learned that one of the Scabs they attacked and left alive, but without legs, got painkillers before his death. Painkillers that they could've raided from the Scabs for the children in the Las Catrinas' care, so survivors are avoided so their enemies don't use up resources that can be raided for later.

    Web Animation 
  • Minecraft Endventures: Wrecker orders the endermen to kill everyone in the Rebel City during his attack on it. Only Colin, Red, Shadow, Clickclack, Nobraynes and Katie survived.


    Web Original 
  • The Evil Overlord List suggests that when one does this, it must be done properly.
  • Said by Jax and Sonya to Hanzo Hasashi, a.k.a. Scorpion, in Mortal Kombat: Rebirth regarding the underground tournament. Apparently, even the cops are too fed up with the crime spree to bother arresting people.
  • Mahu: In "Second Chance", the Dyss and other of the galaxy's most genocidal alien races follow this trope, slaughtering whole planetary populations rather than conquering them.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sozin harnesses the power of a once-in-a-century comet to do this to the Air Nomads. He almost succeeded, had one unhappy twelve-year-old monk not run away from home and accidentally gotten himself frozen in an iceberg shortly before.
  • Played for Laughs in The Simpsons's season 6 21st episode "The PTA Disbands": a Civil War re-enactment shows a Springfield brigade "9th Bearded Infantry" of the Union being offered a unconditional surrender by Confederate soldiers waving white cloths as white flags while entirely unarmed and clearly horribly injured. However, "the Springfield brigade was too brave to accept their surrender...and the Springfielders heroically slaughtered their enemies as they prayed for mercy."
  • Spongebob Squarepants: According to Plankton, the "N" in "FUN" stands for "No Survivors".
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Rising Malevolence": Count Dooku orders this regarding the fleets that the Malevolence has destroyed, as he doesn't want the Republic to find out about the warship or its giant ion cannon. Obi-Wan notes that the Separatists are being "unusually tidy".
      Dooku: We must keep our position secret. Send out the hunters. I want all of those life pods destroyed.
    • It is standard Republic procedure to gun down all surrendering battle droids. Even when they drop their weapons, raise their hands, and scream for mercy. This is frequently played for laughs.
  • Steven Universe: This was the purpose of the Diamond's final attack on Earth during the original Gem War, greatly fueled as a last-ditch revenge act for not only sabotaging their colony but also because the Rebellion leader Rose Quartz shattered Pink Diamond. However, because Pink Diamond was not with them, the attack corrupts all the unprotected Gems still on Earth instead of shattering them. Not that corruption is much better than death.

    Real Life 
  • From ancient times there has been an unspoken rule that if the defenders of a city involved in a siege surrendered, averting the major battles and casualties that results from sieges and siege breaking, they would be treated relatively nicely. The alternative was that once the attackers broke the siege, generally incurring heavy casualties, they pretty much had the right to completely destroy the city and slaughter the inhabitants in order to "encourage" the surrounding cities to surrender. Mongols practiced this to the letter, to the point of killing not only all the people but also all the animals and piling their skulls in huge pyramids. Such massacres were comparatively rare, however, since the frightful reputation of the Mongols caused so many of their enemies to surrender without a fight to avoid such fates. In some cultures though, only the males down to age ten or so would be killed, with the rest enslaved instead (this was common among slave societies, naturally).
    • During sieges, Genghis Khan would begin by setting up a white tent. If the city did not surrender before the end of the day, the tent was switched with a red tent, which meant all men of fighting age would be killed regardless. If another day passed, the tent was switched with a black one, which meant every human and animal within walls would be killed.
  • Littoral and archipelago warfare in general. Islands tend to be defended to the last man, and there are few facilities on tending the wounded and the prisoners.
  • The Alamo, The Battle of Thermopylae, and several other last stands where the defenders were so effective (and/or annoying) that the victorious attackers finished off whatever survivors, wounded, or captured noncombatants they got their hands on afterward.
    • This was especially notable in the Thermopylae example. Persian tradition dictated that the wounded be cared for and for the corpses of nobles and valiant warriors were to be returned if possible and treated with honor. Xerxes was so enraged by the battle, though, that all were killed and the body of Leonidas was crucified and beheaded (at least that's what the order was)
  • The Massacre of Glencoe was ordered by King William of Orange with the line:
    You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds (sic) of Glenco (sic), and put all to the sword under seventy.
  • This is frequently applied by a force that manages to defeat one much larger than them - they can't maintain so many prisoners, so the logical thing to do is to kill them all.
    • Also the case with insurgencies; who when they do take captives, have neither the institutions to put them on trial nor the facilities to detain them, so are left with no choice but to execute or release them back into the regime's forces. If they did have the resources, historically often the rest would be enslaved.
  • Famously happened during the Albigensian Crusade against Catharism in southern France. Asked by a soldier how to tell the difference between Cathar heretics and good Catholics, the Papal legate Arnaud Amalric replied:
    "Kill them all. The Lord will recognize his own."
    • This may be apochryphal, as exactly the same comment is ascribed to the man who captured Jerusalem in the First Crusade and was posed with the problem of sorting good Christians out from pernicious Jews and Moslems. It's debatable if he said any such a thing, as there doesn't seem to be any record of him saying those words until about 50 years afterwards.
  • Arguably the result of any protracted siege in history. The soldiers, after watching their mates getting killed in various horrific fashions over a period of weeks or months, take out their frustrations on the defenders and civilians inside.
    • World War I, with its conditions of troops being subjected to constant shelling and extensive deadlocked trench warfare throughout the Western Front, had some similar results at times when major victories occurred.
  • The Jolly Roger. In real life, the Jolly Roger was a good thing (assuming you were being attacked by pirates), as it meant that the pirates just wanted to rob you, and would accept prisoners. However, a blood red flag meant "No Quarter". Typically, the black Jolly Roger is what would be flown, because it made the pirates' job much easier if a target ship's crew knew that they could surrender and survive. If the target fought back and angered them enough though, the red flag went up.
  • In Roman conflicts, once the battering ram was deployed, it was the signal that no prisoners would be taken, even as slaves. The Rome episode "The Ram Has Touched The Wall" ("Murum aries attigit") explains this.
    • To extend the explanation: when a (Roman) army approached a hostile city and the city surrendered before arrival, the city's inhabitants and possessions were sacrosanct, and there would be no (official) looting or pillaging. If the city held out, but surrendered before the siege engines were in place, the citizens who fought (those of fighting age) were taken as slaves and the city looted, but no (official) rape or other destruction would take place. If the siege continued to the full, and the city overrun, the invaders could do as they pleased, and the commanders either looked the other way or actively encouraged their troops. This even applied to Roman cities, such as those on Sicily, after they rebelled. There are accounts of Legionaries who expressed the hope that the city would not surrender, so they could get some good looting and rape in.
    • The city of Carthage was completely destroyed by the Romans at the climax of the Third Carthaginian War. The Carthaginian citizens were either slaughtered or captured as slaves; none were spared. However, its land was probably not, despite apocryphal belief, salted so nothing else would grow on it as Romans would eventually resettle the area. Not to mention that Rome didn't actually have enough salt destroy the farmland of Carthage, and "salting" of conquered lands was purely symbolic because salt was too valuable to throw away more than the symbolic handful.
    • Roman deserters were always killed if captured by Rome. There were accounts of ex-Roman soldiers at Carthage building a great bonfire in the Basilica before it fell, and leaping into the flames to avoid mandatory crucifixion for their desertion.
      • This is shown in Spartacus: Blood and Sand: The Thracians who deserted the Roman forces were killed or taken into slavery, along with those of their villages.
  • The Battle of Little Bighorn ended with the complete annihilation of Custer's troops. One horse survived, with multiple arrows in it, as did Custer's Crow scouts, who decided to flee once they figured out just how badly outnumbered Custer's troops were.
  • The Battle of Shiroyama in 1877 ended with all 500 Samurai rebels being massacred.
  • Hitler's Commando Order in World War II; any commandos captured by the Nazis were to be shot, even if in uniform and/or attempting to surrender.
    • They also had a similar order to summarily execute any captured Soviet commissars (the Commissar Order).
  • Most of World War II in the Pacific Theater was this, especially after the tide turned and the Americans began their slow advance towards Japan. The Japanese were scornful of those who surrendered, and tended to murder any prisoners they took, while at the same time refusing to surrender in any significant numbers, preferring one Last Stand after another. Japanese propaganda also tried very hard (and with considerable success) to convince not only their own soldiers but also the civilians of the islands they occupied that capture by the Americans would be a Fate Worse than Death. At the same time, Allied troops, either through lack of wherewithal to care for prisoners in some areas, or through paranoia (a well-worn tactic of the Japanese was to secret live grenades upon themselves if wounded or otherwise attack Allied troops coming to render aid) or through out-and-out hatred/reprisal, adopted an unofficial policy of not taking prisoners. This trope was so abused during the war that some units had to offer cash bounties for prisoners so that they could have prisoners from whom they could glean intelligence.
    • The Rape of Nanking had an official order to kill all prisoners. It seems to have been intended as a command to kill all military prisoners (which was bad enough), but by the time Nanking fell the normal Japanese commander was prostrate from sickness, and his replacement took a rather more free-wheeling interpretation of the command.
    • In the European Theater, during particular battles, both Allied and German troops were sometimes ordered or "encouraged" not to take any prisoners. However, often times these orders had practical motivations. During Operation Neptune, Allied paratroopers obviously had no rear echelon or base of operations to send prisoners of war to since they were operating behind enemy lines; the book Band of Brothers makes a point of the Easy Company commander, prior to the D-Day drop, specifically telling everyone that they were not taking prisoners in a somber tone (they did anyway). During the Battle of the Bulge, taking prisoners would slow down the German advance, which was on a time critical mission. Naturally, since the Allies won the war, (only) the Germans that were caught doing this were tried for war crimes.
      • In particular, as Nazi war crimes came to be more widely known, it became common practice among American and British units not to take Waffen-SS prisoners. Among the Soviets this went beyond common practice and was official policy to kill all SS men. Many of the German prisoners who were taken by the Soviets likely wished for death, as they were sent to the gulags (thousands died).
      • After the murder of Canadian prisoners in Normandy and later American prisoners at Malmedy by the Waffen-SS (and before news of the extermination camps was known), the Waffen-SS tended to have markedly fewer prisoners taken by American and Canadian units.
      • After American troops liberated Dachau for the next day or so anyone found wearing a camp guard's uniform was either summarily shot, or left to the mercy of the survivors. At least fifty were killed, it was found. No one was prosecuted for it.
    • One American paratrooper once recounted an event during the Battle of the Bulge, in the aftermath of a skirmish where a large platoon of German soldiers surrendered to his squad; The Germans were tired of fighting, starved, and had many wounded and likely would not survive the frigid night, but the American squad barely had enough supplies to provide for their own people. After destroying every other weapon in the Germans' possession, one of the American soldier's buddies took the last remaining gun, loaded it with just enough bullets for the platoon, and leaned it against a nearby tree, telling the German soldiers just what he left the weapon for, and left. Soon enough, as the squad recovered at camp, they began hearing single gunshots coming from the direction where they left the German platoon...
    • This was also very common in partisan warfare. Reasons are many:
      • Deliberate acts of terror or reprisal killings against civilians led to a Cycle of Revenge.
      • There was no area that was 100% secure, so taking prisoners meant there was a risk they would be set free (this goes double for partisans, who had to constantly move their base of operations, and prisoners would slow them down).
      • Long-standing ethnic or religious tensions between the local populace.
      • Ideological polarization (e.g. communists and fascists often neither gave nor expected quarter from each other).
      • Lack of food or medical supplies meant none could be spared for prisoners.
  • The oriflamme of the French army between 1124 and 1415 was a blood-red standard and thus a signal that no mercy was to be shown. Unfortunately, they had a habit of losing it, once to the Flemish and three times to the English.
    • At the Battle of Agincourt King Henry didn't have enough men to guard the French prisoners of the first wave and simultaneously repel the counterattack of the second wave. So he killed the (unransomable) commoners and spared the knights (this was expected under chivalry rules too, although not always honored).
  • This is the modus operandi of the Mexican drug cartels; unless the person was literally worth more money alive than dead (such as in the case of ransoms, and even then there was no guarantee they would just take the money and kill the hostage anyways), there was no point taking a risk of the prisoner escaping and spilling the beans on their operations to police.
  • During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks briefly considered killing only Tsar Nicholas and his son Alexei to get rid of the heirs and letting his wife Alexandra and four daughters live to not be seen as callous murderers of women. They decided against it when they realized that their relatives in the rest of Europe (mostly Alexander's cousin Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany) would send their armies to get them out if they were alive. Not wanting to get dragged into a power struggle, all seven of them were murdered in July 1918.
  • This was depressingly common in 16th century European warfare — the Swiss pikemen, Spanish tercios, and German Landsknecht were all notorious for it. Pride of place probably goes to the Balkan light cavalry mercenary Stradiots, whose contracts specified that they would be paid a bonus for every enemy head they brought back.
  • During the American Revolution, this was often called "Tarleton's Quarter" on the ground that the British/Loyalist commander Banastre Tarleton had given this order in the Battle of Waxhaws (in 1780 in South Carolina). It's not clear that he actually gave the order, but it's definitely true that his unit—"Tarleton's Raiders," composed of fierce Loyalists with no particular reason to be nice to the Patriot revolutionaries—killed a lot of men that day, many of whom may have surrendered or been attempting to surrender, and irrespective of what they did at Waxhaws, they were noted for being at least a notch nastier than other Loyalist units. Some reports of Waxhaws claim that Tarleton's horse was shot out from under him at the same time the Patriots attempted to surrender, with his Raiders mistakenly thinking Tarleton himself had been shot. Thus the Loyalist forces thought that the rebels had faked surrender and then murdered their commander. Regardless of the exact circumstances, afterwards vengeful Patriots in the Southern theater would sometimes respond to attempts by Loyalists to surrender with cries of "Tarleton's Quarter" before carrying out reprisal killings.
  • Throughout history, this became par the course for more brutal regimes. The reason for doing so though wasn't out of sheer brutality, but more by the 'logic' of: "if they are left alive, they'll only want to rise up against us one day. Better to kill them now and save us the trouble of having a rebellion later." And also "if we take them prisoner we have to guard and feed them, if we kill them we can just dump them in a hole in the ground." To no one's surprise, it's often this level of mindless killing that causes people to rise up against the regime. After all, what have they got to lose?
  • At the Battle of Fort Pillow during the American Civil War, some black Union troops were shot by Confederates rather than having been taken prisoner. The Confederate government had actually declared they would not take black troops prisoner at first, but relented when the Union threatened retaliation by doing the same.
    • Similarly in World War I, Imperial Germany threatened to do this to any captured American soldier found with a dreaded Trench Gun, with the justification that the use of the (incredibly effective) weapon in battle was unnecessarily cruel and thus the captured soldier was being summarily executed for the "crime" of using it. Much like the Confederate example above, Germany wisely retracted this threat after the Americans threatened to do the same to any German soldier found using a flamethrower.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): No Quarter, Take No Prisoners


Chapter 21 Ending

After Sombron gains infinite power from the 12 Emblem Rings after killing off Alear, thanks to his growing power after lifting Gradlon out of the sea, the broken helmet Veyle was wearing reactivates and seemingly expels her regular personality for good. Evil Veyle then summons a horde of Corrupted to finish off the party and leave no survivors. This is made even worse by the fact that the remaining heroes don't have their Emblem Rings, and with Alear - the one person who could summon Emblems - dead, the situation is extremely grim for our heroes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / DarkestHour

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