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Left for Dead

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Troy: We kind of... left her.
Annie: Left her for dead!?
Abed: It sounds bad when you put it that way. Can you put it a way that sounds good?

A character is so obviously dead that the attacker just walks away instead of putting one in his brain and making him Deader than Dead. Conversely, the attacker may have shot him, stabbed him, or otherwise inflicted what he thought was a lethal wound upon the character before deciding to be extra sadistic and leaving him to die instead of taking the few seconds to finish him off.

Inevitably the character is Not Quite Dead and will come back to seek his vengeance on the original attacker, who will say "You're alive?!" in shock.

If the heroes left someone behind because they believed they were dead, then this may result in Abandonment-Induced Animosity (and usually a Face–Heel Turn).

One of the lowest degrees in the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness. However, an en masse version of this is sometimes used as a build-up to a Zombie Apocalypse, in which people begin dying due to a strange new disease... only to come back from the dead.

Closely related to Not Quite Dead and No One Could Survive That!. See also Unexplained Recovery. If the villain leaves the victim bound, then it becomes Execution by Exposure.

For the video game, see Left 4 Dead. For the 2007 western-horror film, see Left for Dead.



Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Midway through Arachnid the protagonist of the then new Caterpillar prequel, Imomushi, comes to the school where the battle royale is happening and after a brief scuffle with heroine Alice Fujii walks off to wring information out of yakuza front man Suzumebachi. He orders another antagonist to kill Imomushi and then backstabs her with a needle while she was busy fighting, seemingly but not explicity killing her instantly. The idea of Imomushi dying like that feels unbelievable because both her and most of the cast can endure much more punishment, but the plot completely forgets about her from that point on.
  • Bleach:
    • This happens a lot. The problem stems from hollows and shinigami only being confirmed dead by cutting off the head. As a result, they can potentially (but not always) survive ridiculous injuries if this step isn't taken. More often than not, antagonists and protagonists will not take this last step, causing this trope to kick in. Lampshaded in-universe by Zommari who was a firm believer in cutting off heads to avert this trope and Hitsugaya who lectured Luppi on not following through when Luppi assumed he'd killed Hitsugaya. Aizen himself wasn't a fan of following through except on three occasions where he really did want his opponents dead and even then, one of his targets still survived (Yamamoto). Most of the time it seems that Aizen is just too egotistical to care; he's already proved that these people are no threat by curbstomping them, so what difference does it make if they manage to survive?
    • This is invoked as a Cruel Mercy by Nnoitra, who critically injures Neliel in a sneak attack and throws her out of the Espada, but he doesn't kill her because she would always leave him alive when they fought, which to Nnoitra was the ultimate insult, so he returns the favour by refusing to grant her a quick death and instead leaves her defenceless, amnesiac child-form to die in the desert. Had her fraccion not also survived the attack, she probably would have.
  • What Gin and Vodka do to Shinichi Kudo in the first chapter/episode of Case Closed. Not wanting to make noise due to police being close by, they opt to force feed Shinichi an untraceable poison to kill him. Because they left him to die, they never knew it instead shrank him to the size of a six year old.
  • In the rebooted graphic novel retelling of Cyborg 009, Joe uses this phrase exactly to describe what Kai's goons did after severely beating him for planning to elope with his sister. It's implied that the only reason Joe survived was because the Black Ghost abducted him not long after.
  • Frieza in Dragon Ball Z survives an exploding planet after being left for dead by Goku. Though Frieza was sliced in half with his own energy disk and then utterly fragged after trying to blast Goku In the Back, he survived the explosion of the planet and can breathe in space. He comes back to Earth (with a mechanized body) to exact revenge. In the end, however, he is easily killed by a super powerful Kid from the Future, who makes extra certain that he won't be returning by slicing him to pieces and disintegrating them. He's so dead at this point that it takes wishing him back with the Dragon Balls and reassembling his pieces for him to truly return in Dragon Ball Super.
  • Lampshaded in Fate/stay night with Kotomine. He doesn't come back and finish off Caster himself, but her anxious reaction when Tohsaka flatly disbelieves that she could have killed Kotomine was amusing.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Lust stabs Roy and Havoc through their lungs and leaves them to bleed to death. Roy is able to burn their wounds closed and returns to totally curb-stomp Lust. It was awesome.
  • At the end of Higurashi: When They Cry's, Watanagashi and Meakashi chapters, Shion stabs Keiichi and runs off laughing, only watching them collapse. They recover, but then...
  • During a Flashback taking place before Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind begins, Polnareff's investigation of the Stand Arrows' locations leads to an encounter with Diavolo in Italy during the 1990s. A Curb-Stomp Battle ensues as Polnareff is seemingly killed, falling off a cliff with grave injuries. With Diavolo's paranoia, one would think he'd make sure Polnareff was actually dead, but he assumed that with how badly the latter was beaten, his "corpse" would be washed away by the sea. Ultimately, Polnareff survives and starts a revolution against Diavolo within the shadows, becoming one of several factors to Diavolo's eventual defeat in 2001.
  • Happens twice in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, first when the Archangel is blown up just as it goes underwater and Kira's Freedom is run through by the Impulse and dumped in the ocean, second when the GOUF that Athrun and Meyrin were escaping on is sliced in half by the Destiny and also dumped in the ocean.
  • Played two times in One Piece by Crocodile:
    • In his first fight with Luffy, he impaled him in the chest with his hook and buried him in quicksand. Luffy survived thanks to the help of Ms. All-Sunday.
    • And in the second fight with Luffy, he drained all the moisture of Luffy's body, leaving him as a mummy. He still survived thanks to having shot water to Crocodile before, falling into his dehydrated body and saving him.
  • Shishio's backstory in Rurouni Kenshin had him stabbed, shot, and set on fire by the Meiji government after he outlived his usefulness at the end of the revolution. He then turned up ten years later, covered in third degree burns and pissed off.
  • Subverted in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. Metal Robotnik shoots a bridge out from under Sonic and Tails. They grab bridge girders just out of sight, and make gurgling sounds to convince Metal Robotnik that they're drowning. Metal Robotnik isn't fooled, and mocks them for thinking that the ruse would work. And resumes shooting at them.
  • In the American version of Transformers: Armada, Wheeljack was pinned under rubble during a fire on Cybertron. His best friend, Hot Shot, ran off, saying he'd get help, but his superiors pulled this trope, saying it was too dangerous to go back in. In the Japanese version, Hot Shot ran off scared, and only tried to go back when he realized that no one else was going in after Wheeljack. In both versions, Wheeljack's Spark is saved by Megatron. Believing that the Autobots (especially Hot Shot) betrayed him, Wheeljack defects to the Decepticons and renounces his friendship with Hot Shot.

    Comic Books 
  • In Barracuda, Flynn made the mistake of assuming that Morkham was dead after their first duel. It was only when he realised that he had lost his pistol and returned to look for it did he discover that Morkham was gone, along with his pistol.
  • In Dark Reign: Lethal Legion, Tiger Shark talks about how Norman Osborn had him tossed off a tall building, but didn't even bother to have anyone check to see if he was dead. That, he feels, was uncalled for - adding insult to injury by making it clear that he's not important enough for Osborn to care whether he's alive or dead.
  • In Invincible, Thragg warns Oliver that he and his children Onaan and Ursaal are going to attack Invincible and his family to punish his perceived treason. It was actually a Secret Test of Character to see if Oliver would have interfered to protect his brother and his family or if he would have proved his loyalty by doing nothing as required. He decides to intervene, and the ensuing fight ends with Oliver and Onaan dead, Mark ripped in half but still alive, Eve with her back broken and her mandible crushed, and little Terra with just a broken leg thanks to her uncle's Heroic Sacrifice. Thragg stops Ursaal from finishing them so that Mark and Eve will die knowing that their daughter will soon follow as she can't fend for herself or look for help on a desert planet. However, Thragg doesn't know that Eve's full power activates when she is on the brink of death: shortly after their enemies leave, Eve's mental block gets disabled and she instantly restores herself, Mark and Terra back to full health and stronger so that they can fight alongside their allies and defeat Thragg once and for all.
  • The Punisher MAX:
    • At the end of the "Up is Down and Black is White" arc, Frank catches up with Nicky Cavella, a mafioso who desecrated his family's graves for the express purpose of pissing him off. Frank shoots him low in the stomach, leaving him in the woods to slowly bleed out or die of infection. In a subversion of the usual course of this trope, Cavella does indeed die.
    • Later in the Series, Punisher and Bullseye both end up in the same No One Could Survive That! situation. Frank ends up in traction and prison, but Bullseye isn't mentioned. Punisher seems to realize that if he survived, so did Bullseye, so the first thing he does after escaping prison note  is to track down the comatose Bullseye and shoot him in the head.
  • Sherwood, Texas: Rob Hood is shot, dumped in an abandoned mine, and has the mine collapsed on top of him. He comes back.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Starfire's Revenge, the titular queenpin's gang shoots Supergirl as her powers are fading and then they leave her lying on the ground instead of putting one bullet in her head just in case. However, Kara survives thanks to her healing factor returning.
    • The Death of Luthor: After taking Supergirl out with a piece of Kryptonite, Lex Luthor and his gang drive off rather than staying and making sure that the radioactive rock finishes the job. Hence, they are absolutely shocked when a few minutes later she is swooping over them.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Night Unfurls:
    • Chapter 4: Hugh is left to bleed out after being stabbed in the eye by an orc. Luckily, he survives thanks to Kyril's help.
    • Chapter 8: Seeing that one man he eviscerated is still alive, Kyril squeezes his head with his tendrils to obtain info about Beasley and leaves him to die in pain after the deed.
  • Paradoxus: Played straight two times and, predictably, a mistake that later came back to bite the perpetrators in the ass.
    • Diaspro never bothers to check if kid!Trisha and Bloom are as lifeless as Stella. Sure, she does check if the queen of Solaria got a free ticket to the afterlife, but that was because she is her primary target. Trisha and Bloom, on the other hand, are simply collateral damage.
    • Eudora not bothering to check if Altalune is dead only serves to show her overconfidence. It's justified, though, since Altalune didn't even manage to scratch Eudora during their fight, proving herself as not being a menace to the Demon Lady. Guess whose time travel shenanigans manage to change the future from a Crapsack World to a World Half Full?
  • Exploited in The Secret Return of Alex Mack when Riley Finn gets stabbed in the back by double agent Jo Lupo. Not only does this "prove" Jo's loyalty to the Collective, it also gives Finn more freedom to act. In fairness, the wound would have been mortal on an ordinary person.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Frozen (2013), Hans leaves Anna to die from a curse turning her into ice by locking her in a cold room.
  • The Lion King (1994): Simba is Left For Dead in the middle of a burning desert, only to be later saved by Timon and Pumbaa. Simba was supposed to have been finished off by the hyenas, but they blundered this (as usual) — and weren't going to tell Scar about their failure.
  • In The Secret of Kells, Abbot Cellach is so badly wounded in the Viking attack that they don't bother finishing him off. He survives to live to old age.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Against a Crooked Sky: Cut Tongue used to be a member of the Crooked Sky tribe, until his rival for the position of chief cut his tongue out and left him to die in the desert. Some Apaches caught him trying to steal their food and took him in.
  • Big Driver: After brutally assaulting and raping Tess, Lester dumps her her body in a drainage pipe: assuming either that she is dead or, if she isn't, she will soon drown. He is wrong on both counts.
  • Danny in Blondie Johnson, leaving one to wonder how he could've survived.
  • In The Book of Eli, the hero is left to die in the desert with a gut shot... but he got better.
  • The Boy Who Cried Werewolf: Paulina is left to burn alive in the sun (she's a vampire). It wasn't a good idea to do this, either.
  • In Crime Doctor, Emilio slams Phil Morgan over the head and throws him out of a moving car, leaving him for dead on the side of the road.
  • The Dark Knight:
    Wuertz: Dent! I thought you were dead!
    Harvey Dent: Half.
  • When five of the cast in Day of the Animals find their way into a lumberjack outpost, the peace they think they have reached is broken by a pack of dogs. They take shelter in one of the cottages, but the dogs' attack is so relentless that two of them is left behind to be mauled by them as the other three flee for the river.
  • In Dick Tracy's Dilemma, Sam and Fred find the Claw passed out in the cab of truck: bleeding out from the gunshot woud Pat gave him. Deciding he is as good as dead, they abandon him and plan to sell the loot and split the take only two ways. However, they underestimated the will to live of a man who survived being sliced up by the prop of a Coast Guard cutter.
  • GoldenEye: In the pre-credits sequence, 006 was shot point blank in the head by Ourumov, so Bond was really only leaving a dead body behind in the explosion. Or so he thought. 006 had Ourumov fake his death, a plan which almost went off the rails when 007 not only escaped, but set the timers on the planted explosives for three minutes instead of six, nearly killing them both. In the end, 006 was only Left for Dead by accident and unknowingly on Bond's part.
  • In Gun Fury, Ben Warren is left for dead by the Slayton gang after he is shot and falls off the runaway stagecoach. Ben survives and sets off in pursuit of the gang.
  • In Interstellar: Dr. Mann, who has gone mad from the isolation, does this after admitting to Cooper that he lied about the planet being habitable and plans to hijack their ship and maroon him and the other two scientists there in favor of finding the next Earth on his own. He discards Cooper's radio to keep him from calling for help, then cracks his helmet so that he'll eventually die from the poisonous air. Luckily, Cooper manages to get his radio back and call Brand. Also, though Mann does manage to kill the third scientist on the team, Romilly, his attempt to steal the spaceship—and leave Cooper, Brand, and the robots stranded—fails when he accidentally blows himself up due to docking improperly.
  • Kill Bill has the Bride being Left for Dead after a truly vicious No-Holds-Barred Beatdown courtesy of her four former partners, followed by a bullet in the head from Bill himself. She survives the entire thing, though it takes her four years of lying in a coma to recover from the ordeal. Then Kill Bill 2 features the Bride being Left for Dead — literally, by being Buried Alive in an actual grave and coffin... apparently many, many more than 6 feet underground; but she is somehow able to break out of her coffin and burrow upwards through apparently 20-30 feet of solid earth, to come back and Kill Bill.
  • In The Film of the Book of The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn plunges off a cliff during the warg battle in The Two Towers and is left for dead by his companions since No One Could Survive That!.
  • In the original fake trailer of Machete in Grindhouse, the narration says about the titular character: "Set up, double-crossed, and left for dead."
  • Inverted in The Matrix. Smith empties more or less an entire magazine from his Desert Eagle into Neo's chest before checking he's dead and leaving. THEN Neo gets back up and hands Smith his ass, marking the point at which he becomes the one.
  • In Man in the Wilderness, trapper Zach Bass is mauled by a bear, and his wounds are deemed unsurvivable. Two other trappers are ordered to Mercy Kill and bury him, but they're afraid the gunshot will attract the attention of hostile Indians, so instead they just leave him in a shallow grave. He survives and follows his former companions through the mountains to confront them.
  • In The Mummy (1999), Ardeth leaves Rick to die in the desert. He's impressed when Rick makes it out alive and the two eventually become friends.
  • Nightmare at Noon: Riley shoots the scientist in the leg, forces him to eat some of the substance he created that turns people into mindless killers, and leaves him in the desert as he starts to lose his mind.
  • In Pagan Warrior, the Vikings ambush King Rollo and his party and brutally stab the king and queen before leaving their bodies in the woods. However, they cling to life and are discovered by a pair of sisters who nurse them back to health.
  • In Parker, Parker is shot by the gang, thrown out of moving car and then shot again (twice) before being kicked into a water-filled ditch and left for dead. He survives and comes back for revenge. Melander is furious when he learns that Hardwicke hadn't bothered to confirm Parker was dead before kicking him into the ditch.
  • Playing With Dolls: When the guard who shoots the police detective contacts his boss about him, he's ordered to leave his unconscious body. The guard asks to make sure he's dead, but the boss just tells him to go.
  • In Revenge (2017), Richard shoves Jen off a cliff, and she is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on a tree on the floor of the canyon. Assuming she is dead, the trio go on their hunting trip and plan to return that evening and dispose of her body. However, when they get back, Jen is not there.
  • The Revengers: After Chamaco shoots Benedict, the six examine him and conclude he is dead. They go their separate ways with Job leaving behind money for the saloon keeper to see that his body is dealt with properly. However, when the keeper and his daughter collect the body, they realize he is still alive and take him to Nurse Elizabeth.
  • In Robin Hood: The Rebellion, the Sheriff has Giant Mook Brimstone throw Robin off the walls of the castle, and leaves him for dead at the bottom of the walls. Especially ironic, as the Sheriff had early told off his cousin Guy of Gisborne for assuming that Robin was dead when he hadn't seen the body.
  • At the start of RoboCop (1987) the bad guys dismember officer Murphy in a brutal fashion and leave him to die with a gunshot in his head, believing (quite understandably) he's dead. Even though the quick medical response can't save him in the end, he only dies at the hospital. They do not know that OCP has new experimental technology that can bring him back as the titular cyborg policeman.
  • In Rogues of Sherwood Forest, King John summons four of the barons to his castle where he has his archers shoot them in the back. He then has his men dumped in the forest in an attempt to frame Robin Hood for their deaths. However, one of the barons, Fitzwilliam, survives to clear Robin's name and rouse the remaining barons against John.
  • In Smokin' Aces, Hollis is shot by the Tremor brothers and then tossed into the lake alongside his partners. He later crawls his way out of the lake and comes looking for revenge.
  • Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith: Clone troopers shoot at Obi-Wan — who falls into water and is left for dead (despite knowing that Jedi can both fall any distance and breathe underwater). The clones simply remarked (literally): "No One Could Have Survived That." Their Genre Savvy commander told them to continue searching. In the novelization, said commander at the same time laments that the order to kill Obi-Wan hadn't come just one minute sooner, before he'd returned Obi-Wan's lightsaber.
  • In Ten Dead Men, Garrett and Parker put two bullets in Ryan, wrap his body in plastic, and dump him in the ocean. They really should have checked to make sure that he was dead first.
  • El Topo: Desconocida shoots El Topo and leaves him for dead in the desert and the end of part 2.
  • The Wild Child: Based on a scar on Victor's throat that seems to be from a knife rather than an animal bite, a doctor concludes that Victor's parents cut his throat, then left him to die in the woods. Leaves stopped up the wound and saved Victor's life.

    Literature 
  • The Japanese novel Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse follows a Hiroshima family who were victims of the nuclear bomb. At one point they encounter another family who, panicking and unable to free their nine-year-old son from their burning house, flee and leave the boy for dead. Eventually the kid manages to free himself, and, in what must surely be the Understatement of the year, his reunion with his family is described as "rather awkward".
  • The Bridge Kingdom Archives: In her Back Story, king Silas Veliant of Maridrina killed Zarrah's mother and left her tied under the woman's dead body in desert heat, presumably to die of dehydration.
  • The Calf of the November Cloud: Upon seeing his loathed cousin Konyek lying unconscious on the ground after being stabbed with a spear by an enemy warrior, Parmet leaves, assuming that Konyek will simply bleed to death under the blazing sun of the savannah.
  • Daystar and Shadow Robin was left in the desert at age three to be killed by fireworms, as was his hometown's policy for autistic children.
  • Dune: Paul]] and his mother Jessica are left for dead after flying right into a sandstorm that should have carved the flesh off their bones and then destroyed the bones. Justified, as the Baron has to maintain Plausible Deniability in case he's questioned by a Truthsayer. So rather than kill them on the spot, he orders his soldiers to abandon Paul and Jessica in the desert where they'll die of exposure or be swallowed by a sandworm. Being killed while trying to escape is the next best thing.
  • Fractured Stars: Shortly after the protagonists arrive on Frost Moon 3, someone manages to escape from the underground prison and onto the landing pad. The four guards all shoot him with blazers, then leave him to die in the subzero temperatures on the moon's surface.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • As a result of hacking an entire enemy battlecruiser, Horace Harkness sends out a decoy shuttle ahead of their actual escape shuttle, which is destroyed with a nuclear warhead. Between the sensor blindness of the nuke's EMP and the fact that after they leave, Harkness arranges for the Tepes to tear itself apart when he activates a nearby pinnance's gravity wedge inside the boat bay remotely, Haven notably assumes that he, his fellow captives, and most importantly his commanding officer Honor Harrington are all dead. The Peep tactical officer on the scene, Shannon Foraker, is good enough that even this doesn't fool her entirely. Both she and her commander, Vice-Admiral Tourville, simply fail to voice any suspicions to their superiors, and delete the data in question that might lead to a more in depth investigation.
    • Haven's leadership as a whole has a colossal backfire from this when not only does Honor come back, but comes back after they broadcast her faked execution over every major network. It's hard to say whether the people she rescued or her own survival hurt Haven more.
  • Lost Voices: In Waking Storms, Nausicaa tells Luce the story of the Unnamed Twins, who were born to a Greek shepherd and his wife 3,000 years ago. They were sickly, and as girls not worth saving, so their father left them on the edge of a cliff beside the sea to die. Instead they were rescued by Proteus, who raised them to adolescence before transforming them into mermaids.
  • Mermaid's Song: After Groff stole his Child by Rape Kagor from Kagor's mother Tia, he had his guards put Tia's eyes out with urchin spines and leave her to wander the open ocean until some predator got her. However, she managed to make it back to the Caverns, and now lives as a hermit in the outer caves.
  • Nina Tanleven: The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed has Cornelius Fletcher suffer this after being beaten by a mob. He survives and manages to crawl home, but can’t get into his home because of the stone wall and iron gate around it, resulting in his being trapped outside overnight and consequently losing his legs to frostbite.
  • Parker is left for dead when he is betrayed by his wife and his partner after The Heist in The Hunter. He wakes up inside a burning house. Managing to escape, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In The Place Inside the Storm, Loki and his sister were given brain implants that were supposed to cure their autism, but instead gave them seizures and brain damage. When it became apparent that their implants weren't working properly, they were both dumped on an abandoned street to be eaten by dogs. Aeon found them and nursed Loki back to health. His sister didn't make it and was buried in the sewer.
  • In the novel Relentless, Morgan's lover Payton pushed her out of the way of a cave in. Unable to find help or to free him on her own, she held his hand until it went cold, and then left. When he shows up years later as The Thresher, she is understandably astonished, and he, of course, resentful that she didn't try hard enough to save him.
  • The White Bone: When Mud was born, her mother was bitten by a cobra and collapsed on top of her. The other elephants tried and failed to free her from under the corpse, and eventually gave up, sang their mourning songs, and then went on their way. Later rain softened the ground, allowing Mud to get loose, and she wandered until she was discovered by the family that adopted her.
  • At the end of the Warrior Cats book Shadow, Frostpaw has her throat slashed by an unseen assailant. In the next book, we see that she's still alive after being left for dead, though she would have eventually died - even with the assistance of a medicine cat - if she hadn't been brought to a human veterinarian.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Prophecy Girl", the Master catches Buffy deep in his subterranean vampire lair, drains her, and dumps her face-first in a pool. What more needs to be done? Besides making sure Xander doesn't man up, go into an underground vamp playpen, and perform CPR on the Buffster, that is. The Master lives to regret it. About half an hour. In fairness to the Master, she was dead, just not brain dead.
  • CSI: NY:
    • The robbers of the pharmacy in the season 8 finale do this to Mac after shooting him In the Back. Naturally, he survives, although it's his team that hunts the shooter down since he's unable.
    • The bank robber in the season 5 finale-cliffhanger had done this to him as well. Thinking Mac was dead, he pushed him into the Hudson inside his getaway vehicle. In the season 6 opener, Mac angrily calls the guy on his cell:
    "It's Mac Taylor. That's right; I'm still alive!"
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Smith and Jones": The Doctor is left for dead by an bloodsucking alien after she drained his blood. She was unaware that the Doctor possesses a dual vascular system, so in fact she'd only gotten half his blood, leaving him weakened but ready to pop up and save the day.
    • "Journey's End": At the end, Davros is left on the exploding Crucible, after refusing an offer of rescue. The other character who remains there, Dalek Caan, is totally unfazed by this. Davros, possessing full-blown Joker Immunity, would return in series 9.
  • Heroes:
    • In the season 1 finale, Sylar is Left for Dead after being run through with a samurai sword... and at the very end, no one seems to notice his body has suddenly disappeared, with a trail of blood leading to an open manhole nearby.
    • This happens again in the Volume 3 finale, after he gets stabbed in the back of the head which supposedly nullifies his regeneration powers. Even though there is no sign this time that he escaped, (trapped in an exploding building, after all) No one (in the audience) believed this death would stick. The fact that just seconds before they had just built up a storyline for Sylar to track down his true parents helped reinforce this belief in the audience.
  • Happened a lot on Highlander, by people who didn't know a character was immortal and only killable by beheading. The immortal would then come back to hunt them down. Duncan in 'Bad Day in Building A' is a prime example.
  • In the Lost season 4 finale, the Others, who really ought to know better, leave Keamy for dead, not taking into account the body armor he's wearing.
    • Ben shoots Locke and leaves him in the Dharma pit. In a much later episode, though, he tries to kill him again and that time he makes sure he's dead.
    • It happens with Mikhail. Twice! The first time occurs when Locke pushes him through the sonar fence and the second time he is left for dead in the Looking Glass station. Needless to say, this losties' omission leads to a devastating end.
  • The third season premiere of Merlin had Morgause decide that the best way to keep Merlin from foiling her plan to conquer Camelot was to leave him in magical chains to be killed by poisonous beasts while she went on her way. Of course, the titular character of the show escapes, much to her surprise.
  • Supernatural: In "Born Under a Bad Sign", if Meg!Sam had actually checked that Dean had actually drowned instead of checking and then leaving, s/he could have enjoyed Sam's body for a hell of a lot longer.

    Music 
  • Rob Dougan's song, "Left Me For Dead", is quite naturally an angry ballad from the point of view of a victim of this trope.

    Video Games 
  • An unusual example in BioShock 2's introduction. The baddie doesn't leave the main character alive; in fact, he's quite clearly dead... in a setting with resurrection chambers behind every corner.
  • Breath of Fire IV possibly takes this trope to its extreme in the Trauma Conga Line of attempts by the Fou Empire to kill its King in the Mountain and literal God-Emperor Fou-lu (who has recently come Back from the Dead, a situation The Empire finds as inconvenient because The Emperor would have to give up his throne). In the most extreme example, Fou-lu is explicitly targeted as Ground Zero of a Fantastic Nuke, operated on the theory that Love Hurts, and literally used Mami as a Fantastic Human Nuclear Warhead after torturing her to the point of suicidal insanity first SPECIFICALLY because of her relationship with Fou-lu. This merely caused Blood from the Mouth and shoves Fou-lu across the Moral Event Horizon to full-blown Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds territory, with the King in the Mountain now wanting to conduct a Roaring Rampage of Revenge because he's finally decided Humans Are Bastards after all. (The Fantastic Nuking is, notably, the only bit in this entire sequence where Fou-lu is literally Left for Dead — because obviously No One Could Survive That!...)
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution manages to subvert the trope, but ultimately play it straight. At the beginning of the game, your attacker gets distracted while attempting to kill you by another character. Rather than leaving you for dead at this point, he subdues the other character, picks up a pistol, and shoots you in the head. It is played straight because you do end up surviving, but at least the attacker makes the effort.
    • Note how he shoots you in the head at point-blank range with your own .357 revolver. You do flatline on the table when they're trying to save your life, so he did manage to kill you...it just didn't stick.
  • It is confirmed in Enchanter (Infocom's Interactive Fiction game) that Krill has left the protagonist for dead after stabbing him in the chest with a dagger in a Human Sacrifice ritual. Thankfully, Krill's henchmen are too busy chanting to notice that the OZMOO spell the protagonist has prepared beforehand works wonders on him as an Auto-Revive spell.
  • This happens to the main character at the beginning of Fable II. The rest of the game is, of course, a quest for revenge.
  • During the opening cutscene of Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier is shot in the head and buried in a shallow grave. He is dug up and patched up before tracking down the man who shot him and retrieving his package.
  • Final Fantasy IV places the Not Quite Dead blunder on the heroes' shoulders - when protecting the Dark Crystal in the Dwarven Castle, Cecil and company are taken out one by one from Golbez's Shadow Dragon. Rydia, previously thought dead (not uncommon in this game), appears and takes out the dragon just before it can kill Cecil, allowing them to turn the battle around and fell Golbez. The party is so overjoyed that Rydia is still alive that they start to leave without checking how alive Golbez is or grabbing the Dark Crystal themselves - he manages to get up, grab the Crystal, and warp out.
  • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, you are required to sacrifice one of your units in the prologue, who is then seemingly Killed Off for Real. Much later in the game, you receive a single-use resurrection staff, but the sacrifice is, for no apparent reason, not a valid option. In the sequel, New Mystery of the Emblem, support conversations with Frey (the canonical sacrifice) explain that this trope is why — the enemy army beat him to within an inch of his life and abandoned him, but he managed to survive the experience, and you can't bring someone Back from the Dead if they never actually died.
  • Left 4 Dead was NAMED for this trope. In both games, the setup is that the army had been evacuating survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse, and the two groups of four immune survivors in each game got there too late, and were therefore Left 4 Dead.note 
    • While plot-wise it makes sense, leaving someone for dead in gameplay is one of the worst mistakes one can make, since many situations require a helping hand out of (getting pinned by a hunter, strangled by a smoker, hanging off a cliff, etc.).
    • Depending on the situation, sometimes it is better to defy logic and leave incapacitated survivors to die outside the safe room/rescue vehicle since sometimes going back to help can result in you getting in trouble or getting the whole team wiped out, forcing a restart of the map.
  • Mass Effect 2 DLC party member Zaeed Massani was betrayed by his former partner, who had six mercs hold him down while he shot him in the face and then left him to die. Zaeed got better and has been hell bent on getting his revenge for 20 years. Whether or not he goes through with it is up to you.
    • A less obvious one happens with the main character. At the beginning of Mass Effect 2, your galaxy-saving badass (who by now has a bodycount roughly equal to the Battle of Stalingrad) has their ship blown out from under them, is spaced with multiple suit breaches and undergoes an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere of a deserted ice planet, perhaps to remind you where you lie on the food chain. For two years, Shepard is clinically dead, but the Collectors (responsible for their death) either didn't stick around to find the body or didn't have time to do so (which it is and why is discussed on the work's Headscratcher page), although it is mentioned that they do try to get their hands on Shepard's body, only to be stopped by Liara, who defies them and the Shadow Broker to get said body back. Needless to say, Shepard comes back.
  • Max Payne:
    • In the first game, Nicole Horne leaves Max to die at the Punchinello Manor after injecting him with an OD of Valkyr. He not only manages to survive the overdose (though it takes a journey through a rather messed up mindscape), but tracks her to Cold Steel, which she mentioned just before leaving, and while he doesn't find her, he does learn the crucial clue that sets his Roaring Rampage of Revenge into overdrive.
    • The second game has Vladimir Lem shooting Max in the head with a Desert Eagle (which would be fatal in any other universe) before leaving him. Once again, Max survives through going through his mindscape before going after Vlad again.
  • In the first Overlord game it is revealed towards the end that the player was left for dead in the Tower by his companions, the fallen heroes you've been killing.
  • Amanda Evert in Tomb Raider: Legend. Lara Croft was convinced she was dead... until an antagonist drops her name in conversation.
  • Muradin in Warcraft III was hit by... something (a shard of ice?) when Arthas took Frostmourne despite the dwarf's protests. After that scene, Muradin is left in the snow and Arthas tells his men that he died. In World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, he turns out to have survived with amnesia.
  • World of Warcraft: Lilian Voss gets left for dead by the player in the Scholomance dungeon, but turns up alive in Warlords of Draenor.
    • In Warlords, the player defeats Teron'gor in the Auchindoun dungeon, but instead of killing him, he falls off a ledge at 10% health, leaving a huge puddle of blood behind. Sure enough, previews for Patch 6.2 show that he survived the fall, spent the last few months feasting on the souls within Auchindoun, and will be fought again in the Hellfire Citadel raid as the Monstrous Gorefiend.

    Webcomics 
  • FreakAngels
    • Luke from took a shotgun to the chest at point blank range. Averted when Jack followed this up by putting a bullet directly through his brain before dumping him in an alley and then he came back anyway.
    • Mark also comes back after being shot, dumped in a river, and supposed dead.
    • In fact, it turns out ANY FreakAngel who ever dies will just come back.
  • Kusari leaves Oasis for dead after their first battle in Sluggy Freelance. Oasis actually does die from her wounds, but dying has never slowed her down much.

    Web Original 
  • Campfire Stories: Bradley is a story of a rookie driver ending up being left alone in a Bradley in the middle of Iraq. The gunner and commander moved to a different vehicle in the convoy after hitting one too many IEDs, and didn't bother to check on the driver after it hit another IED, knocking out both the driver and the comms. The rookie survived with a concussion, but unaware of his situation, and the vehicle was spotted going up and down the road by some gate guards. The story is one of the few times Zach sounds genuinely enraged at the parties involved, even for his usual acerbic demeanor; given the sheer amount of command incompetence which allowed this incident play out, it's hard to blame him.
  • Parodied in Homestar Runner. In the Strong Bad Email "origins", Strong Bad says he glued Marzipan to Homsar and "left them for dead" but gives no reason why he expected them to die from this. The scene also cuts to the pair, glued together, and very much not dead, though Marzipan does "hear wolves coming".
  • In the Whateley Universe, evil sorceress Hekate puts an enchanted athame into Generator's chest, and rams it in so hard it goes all the way through her chest and gets stuck in the table underneath. Hekate then has to leave the corpse and her athame, and focus on Fey. Major mistake. Generator has the right powers to recover from this.

    Western Animation 
  • Morto does this after a round with the titular hero in Birdman (1967).
  • A parody of Kill Bill in Drawn Together Season 2, when Wooldor Sockbat is likewise buried in a coffin, and is likewise able to escape ala the video game Dig Dug. One character responds "THAT requires no further explanation!" to underscore how it's never explained how the Bride's feat was possible, since her martial arts training had never involved being a human oil-drill.
  • Peter Griffin's fights with the giant chicken in Family Guy end with Peter finally triumphing over the chicken and leaving. Then the camera zooms in and the chicken opens one eye over a sting. Peter never thinks to wring its neck and make a chicken dinner (though they did make peace and have dinner together at one point, but then they started fighting over the check).
  • The Legend of Vox Machina: During their escape from the Briarwoods, Percy's sister Cassandra is shot multiple times in the back by archers and collapses into the snow. Percy, believing she's dead and knowing he can't carry her body without getting captured or killed himself, keeps running, leaving her behind. Cassandra did survive, and was taken back to Whitestone to be forcibly adopted by the Briarwoods and paraded around as a propaganda piece. She's not happy about this arrangement and spends years secretly feeding information to the resistance, but she very clearly remembers her brother leaving her for dead, and this combined with Sylas's mind control leads to a Face–Heel Turn once Percy finds her again.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the turtles leave Shredder for dead for the good and sensible reason that they had just cut off his head. Unfortunately for them, that still didn't do the job.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan Modula was genuinely believed dead by the king, but Modula considers it abandonment.
  • Transformers: Animated: This happened at least twice:
    • Megatron was thought to be dead by both the Autobots (at least Optimus' unit) and the Decepticons (because Starscream blew him up with a bomb. However, thanks to Sumdac finding his head and Sari accidentally reviving him, Megatron is secretly alive (albeit weak and trapped in Sumdac's lab).
    • This trope was the reason for Blackarachnia's Start of Darkness. While on a planet of giant spiders, Optimus, Sentinel, and Elita-1 tried to escape. In the chaos, Elita's cable timed out and sent her falling to her death, despite Optimus trying to catch her. They believed she was dead, and reported her as such. In actuality, she survived, and upon landing she was infected with the spider's venom and became a techno-organic. She bears a lot of animosity towards Optimus and Sentinel for leaving her behind, and calls them out for it semi-regularly.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Shockwave was left for dead on Cybertron after he was caught in an exploding space bridge. He managed to repair himself and continued his research in isolation until some Decepticons returned to the planet on an unrelated mission. Safe to say, he wasn't happy to see Starscream when he finally came back, demanding to know why he had been left there to scrap and only backing down when Starscream fearfully and quickly explained there was no sign he had survived the explosion so everyone had wrote him off as dead. He accepted the logic behind the statement.

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