Follow TV Tropes


Mercy Kill

Go To
"Close your eyes..."

"Sometimes death is the only mercy we have left."
The Demon Hunter, Diablo III

Something horrible has happened or is happening to Alice. Her pain is unbearable. Even her loved ones look away and cover their ears, trying to block out the sights and sounds of her agony. There is nothing they can do to ease her pain or save her. But they can offer one last mercy to their friend: they can end it all for her now, before it gets any worse.

Whatever is afflicting Alice is usually in the category of a Fate Worse than Death (thus making the death a kindness). There may be a Body Horror that nobody can figure out how to destroy. Or Cold-Blooded Torture has left her horribly maimed and screaming incoherently. Maybe she's being Eaten Alive. Or perhaps she's about to succumb to The Virus or The Corruption, and she wants to Die As Herself. It may be that she could survive, but they have no access to medical care; or that Alice, if she lived, would be reduced to a shell of her former self. Whatever the reason, this trope implies that death is the merciful option, even if Alice is begging for her life (or is so overcome that she cannot speak at all).


Instant Death Bullet is likely, and justified in this situation: the killer has no difficulty getting to a position and attacking in a manner that would cause quick death. There is usually a moment when a glimmer of self-awareness allows Alice to show her gratitude through a tearful smile or the like. This is usually easier when the shooter is Cradling Their Kill.

When several people could do it, it is likely that her closest friend will insist on being the one to give the fatal blow; compare Dying Alone.

The Medic, even if holding to Thou Shalt Not Kill, may make an exception for these.

Note that in Real Life, euthanasia is extremely controversial. In either case, it is usually an incredible Tear Jerker.

Not to be confused with Put Them All Out of My Misery. Very common in zombie stories, for obvious reasons.


Contrast Cruel Mercy, which aims to do the exact opposite. Compare the combat-ending Coup de Grâce, the villainous Thwarted Coup de Grâce, and the assisted-suicide I Cannot Self-Terminate. See also Staking the Loved One, where this is usually the motive. A subtrope of Shoot the Dog, whose trope namer was a Mercy Kill.

As a Death Trope, several if not all spoilers will be unmarked. You have been warned.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In 7 Seeds, Gengoro sees it as his duty to kill all the animals he had previously taken care of in Animal Class, after they had been let loose in nature where they are confused, perhaps with stunted survival instincts or were flat out infected with rabies. Especially hard was Gengoro killing the tiger Tango, whom he had practically raised.
  • In Aldnoah.Zero, a flashback reveals Lt. Marito shot and killed his friend and fellow soldier Humeray at his request, as he was trapped in his tank and was burning alive. This is explained to be the cause Marito's PTSD, as well as Captain Magbaredge's initially hostility towards the Lieutenant. (Magbaredge is revealed to be Humeray's younger sister.)
  • In the anime series spinoff of Arc the Lad, the hero Elk encounters his long lost childhood friend, changed into a barely sentient womb for the terrible monsters the bad guys are using as mooks. He strangles her to end her suffering.
  • Attack on Titan deals with this on several occasions, primarily with people considering the option when faced with being devoured by Titans.
    • The ritualized inheritance of the Titan powers combines this with elements of a Human Sacrifice. When a previous holder begins dying from the Curse of Ymir, a successor is chosen to kill them and inherit their powers. A flashback shows that by the time Uri Reiss passed on his powers to his niece, he had begun to waste away from the Curse.
    • When they are reunited after the 4-year Time Skip, Reiner begs Eren to kill him rather than continue living with the trauma and guilt of his actions. Eren refuses to do so, expressing sympathy for his former comrade.
  • At the end of Black Butler's Circus of Fear arc, Ciel orders the destruction of the villain's lair, including all the surviving children whose minds have been broken.
  • Black Jack's rival, Dr. Kiriko, is a physician whose medical practice consists entirely of euthanasia. This is due to his nihilistic outlook, developed as a military doctor, which stipulates that resisting death is an exercise in futility.
  • Killy destroying the eternal cloning machine and it's sole occupant in Blame! could be viewed as a mercy kill.
  • In Canaan, Alphard has Liang Qi killed after she goes into a full mental breakdown that concludes with her trying to give herself synesthesia and suffering a Super-Power Meltdown... sort of.
  • Towards the end of Chrono Crusade, Fiore offers to do this for Satella after she's badly wounded in a battle with each other (the alternative being to leave her to be killed by the feral demons they're surrounded by). Satella Takes a Third Option and uses her "jewel witch" powers to freeze them both in crystal.
  • Routinely done in Claymore when a titular Claymore exceeds their Yoki limit and transforms into a Youma. They are then typically beheaded by another Claymore out of mercy while some of their humanity is still intact.
  • Code Geass:
  • Daily Life with Monster Girl includes a surprisingly lighthearted variation: In one chapter, a Dullahan becomes friends with a terminally ill girl at a hospital and doesn't know how to cope with her impending death. Her solution? Kill her... and re-animate her as a zombie, as in this setting zombies are fully sentient and are basically just humans with a few biological quirks.
  • This is one way to view Light's death in Death Note. Only in the anime, though; in the manga, it's made clear that Ryuk has gotten bored.
  • In Detective Conan, one case has the culprit Ryouta Shimizu kill his girlfriend and partner in crime Fumie Ozawa because she took the blame of the embezzling acts they both committed by herself and he didn't want to see her in prison for the rest of her life.
  • Dokuro: Takeo does this a few times.
  • At the end of Elfen Lied:
  • In the last episode of From the New World, Saki does this to Squeala/Yakomaru after he's sentenced to a Fate Worse than Death and she realizes he is technically human.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Noble Demon Scar does this to Nina Tucker, whose father had transmuted both her and her dog Alexander into a pitiful chimera. His comments beforehand make it clear he does this not out of disgust for Nina herself, but rather because he pitied her and thought that death was a kindness for her.
    • In order to escape from Gluttony's stomach, Ed has to use some of the souls attached onto Envy in order to open the gate. One of them even thanks Ed for being put out of his misery.
  • Fushigi Yuugi:
    • This is truth behind Takiko Okuda aka Genbu no Miko's death in the original Fushigi Yuugi: Miaka's brother Keisuke and his best friend Tetsuya found out that Mr. Okuda killed her to stop her being devoured by Genbu and then killed himself. Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden shows how it happened towards the end - Takiko was already dying from tuberculosis as well as being devoured after summoning Genbu, so Mr Okuda bonds their lives together note  and commits suicide to ease her suffering. Takiko explains this to her Senshi as she lays dying and has no bitterness towards her father, as she says he wanted to help her.
    • Averted in Fushigi Yuugi: Byakko Ibun, where Reipin begs her Only Friend Nirusha to kill her and use her bones in his protective charms after she both reveals herself to be a Shapeshifter and destroys her village. Nirusha refuses and tells her that she's a human, and she returns to her human form in tears.
  • In Garei Zero, Kagura kills her surrogate sister Yomi after the latter is possessed by a cursed stone.
  • A variation in Gintama where Hijikata grants one to the dying and disgraced Ito who had betrayed the Shinsengumi in the form of a duel so that the latter could die honorably instead of dying alone as a traitor from bullet wounds.
  • In Goblin Slayer, the Rookie Mage is stabbed in the stomach by a goblin knife, one infected with a poison. Her suffering is so great that she asks the Goblin Slayer to kill her. He obliges with a small blade to her neck. All of this takes place in the first episode, to let the viewer know what they're in for.
  • In Hellsing, when a human is turned into a ghoul, there is no turning them back, so the Hellsing organization agrees that it's best to take them out quickly as a mercy kill.
  • Shapor in The Heroic Legend of Arslan is captured by Lusitanian soldiers and will be brutally tortured to death as part of the psychological warfare for the sieged capital city. He begs his allies to end of his life as he would rather die at the hands of a friend. Soon-to-be-revealed character Grieve is the one to makes the shot.
  • At least Twice in High School Of The Dead. The first time, Hisashi wasn't killed until after he turned (despite asking to be killed so he wouldn't, and Takashi considers this as his personal Moral Event Horizon crossing), but the second time went over without a hitch.
  • Subverted in Hunter × Hunter's first anime adaptation. Killua wants to mercy kill a bear cub that was mortally injured by a sniper, thinking that there's nothing they can do to for the baby, but when he's going straight for the kill Gon's aunt Mito extends her hand and blocks the lethal blow. She then convinces Killua to not do it, saying the cub hasn't given up on life, and Gon convinces Killua to heal the cub through Nen. They do; the baby is soon saved and returns to his family.
  • Il Sole penetra le illusioni: This is basically the role of Elemental Tarot users. The magical girls have no way to purify the Daemonia-possessed humans, so they have no choice but to kill the human to destroy the Daemonia. Protagonist Akari's first kill was her own cousin Fuyuna, who was unknowingly infected by a Daemonia.
  • In K, Reisi is forced to do this to Mikoto to prevent the latter's Sword of Damocles from falling and kill thousands of innocent people.
  • In King of Thorn, Ron decides to mercy kill the child Tim, believing there is no hope of rescue and that a quick death by bullet is better than being eaten by monsters or petrified by Medusa. Katherine isn't ready to give up hope, however, and just barely manages to prevent him from shooting the boy. Tim, asleep, doesn't even realize what almost happened.
  • In Juuni Taisen, this happens more than once and always in relation to Rabbit's powers. Ox performs a mercy kill at the request of Tiger, to prevent her from becoming one of Rabbit's zombie minions, and is later himself killed by Rat to escape the same fate. A flashback later reveals that Monkey requested that Rat do this, if she were going to be killed by Rabbit. The information she gave him allows him to finish off the zombies of Rabbit and Monkey once and for all.
  • In the anime version of Linebarrels of Iron, KATO-KIKAN member Nakajima Soubi, after his defeat at the hands of Hayase Kouichi, is revived by the real Big Bad and used as part of its invasion force of hive-minded man-machines. In a final act of clarity, during the actual invasion of Earth, he asks his former teammates to put him down while he retains the lest vestiges of his consciousness. They comply.
  • Gundam
  • Reg in Made In Abyss eradicates Mitty at Nanachi's request due to the character's situation from having been forced to ascend the Abyss's sixth layer.
  • In Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, Kazusa is trapped and being swarmed by BETA, and begs to be killed by gunshot before she can be Eaten Alive. The trope is averted. Yui empties her gun trying to comply, only to miss every single shot. Kazusa remains visibly alive, jostled as her body is eaten free of the wreckage. She doesn't die until they finally tear her disemboweled upper half out of it.
  • Certainly Tsunayoshi viewed her death at the hands of Yoshiyasu as this in Ooku: The Inner Chambers: she had long believed that she became The Wrongful Heir to the Throne and would welcome someone to kill her. It's unclear though if Yoshiyasu killed her to fulfill this trope or if another trope motivated her murder.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Kyouko sacrifices herself to kill Sayaka after Sayaka turns into a witch.
    • In one of the attempts for Homura to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, she's forced to shoot Madoka before she can turn into a witch. Earlier that same timeline, Mami does this to Kyouko after realizing what's going to happen to them. She was going to do this to Madoka, Homura, and herself. The only reason she doesn't succeed is that Madoka does it to her first.
    • In a way, dying from battling a witch and getting your soul gem destroyed seems like a fate much kinder than turning into one. In fact, this is what the witches are trying to do by killing humans — sparing them from a life of slavery to the Incubators.
    • Madoka does this in a world wide scale in the Grand Finale. Her wish says that she wants witches to not exist anymore, so she spreads her power all over the world helping magical girls in need. In the case of magical girls whose Soul Gems are completely corrupted so they're about to become Witches, she can't save their lives, but at least she can make sure they'll die painlessly and peacefully while their energy is collected to save the world. (This includes Sayaka, who can pass on in peace now.) And in a sense, she also does this to herself: since she's destined to become the most powerful witch right after becoming a magical girl, Madoka ends up erasing herself outta existence when done, after a last talk with Homura.
  • Attempted in Rosario + Vampire, where Tsukune became a ghoul. Thankfully, Moka was stopped before she could land the finisher.
  • This almost occurred in School-Live! when Kurumi was bit by a zombified Megu-nee. Her friend Rii was panicking over the prospect of having to kill her however Miki came just in time with the Magic Antidote.
  • In Speed Grapher, Suitengu did this to his little sister, Yui, after discovering that years of abuse and degradation in a brothel had destroyed her mind.
  • Street Fighter II: The Manga has this happen with Charlie, who was one of Bison's first test subjects and went insane from the Doll drug. Guile intercepted him as Charlie was attacking unarmed villagers, and was forced to kill his best friend to prevent more lives from being endangered.
  • In Vinland Saga Askeladd tries as such for his fatally wounded friend Bjorn but he screws up the blow, missing the man's vitals. He rectifies this mistake shortly after a few last words between himself and Bjorn.
    • After another failed assault on London, a viking is walking through the camp with the wounded, asking if anyone needs a finishing blow to both die less painfully and, according to their beliefs, go to Warrior Heaven. One warrior in the picture is even calling over to him to take up his kind offer.
    • Askeladd himself offers to let Thorfinn Mercy Kill him after he's stabbed fatally by Canute, more for Thorfinn's benefit than his own since he knows he's bleeding out anyway. Thorfinn is too messed up to do it.
  • It's a sign she's all grown up when Witch Hunter Robin delivers a Mercy Kill to the witches being "processed" into Orbo.
  • This happens to Hige in Wolf's Rain.
  • When he was sent to Earth, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman had specific orders to use an Extinction Bomb, an artificial plague that would wipe out every form of life on the planet, if it turned out the alien he was sent to kill was an adult and thus too strong for him, as mankind would have been annihilated anyway but the effects of the Extinction Bomb would have been much quicker and less terrible. The moment he identifies the alien as a Saiyan from Planet Vegeta, the reader understands that his orders were fully justified.

    Comic Books 
  • In 100 Bullets, Wylie Times does this to Gabe, a dimunative, ugly Butt-Monkey, who only has his uncanny talent at playing the trumpet going for him. Gabe's jaw had been destroyed by a bear trap while running away from a gunfight, putting an end to his musical prospects.
  • In the first Alien vs. Predator miniseries, one of the human survivors suddenly dies to a chest-burster. Another immediately realizes he's in for the same fate because he was cocooned and left unconscious in the hive with the first victim. Machiko Naguchi offers him a mercy kill, and the Predator in the group even offers to do it for her. Machiko insists on doing it herself since she's already promised to, but accepts when the Predator loans her a plasma cannon to make it quick and painless for the host.
  • One of the many "Commando" pulp comic war stories, "Sunderland Ahoy", turned on an RAF fighter pilot taking pity on a trapped Stuka gunner and acting on the German's signal to shoot him. Since his fellow officers and superiors alike didn't see exactly what happened, they are scandalized by his bloodthirsty conduct and he is transferred to the highly unglamorous flying-boat patrols. Eventually, though, a chance meeting with the brother of the man he killed — who did hear the whole story, and is grateful — sees his name cleared.
  • An issue of The Savage Sword of Conan saw him attempt the rescue a young maiden from the stronghold of a bunch of monsters. The maiden tells him that he arrived too late and the beasts had already started to turn her into a brood mother (one of which Conan had already encountered and slain). She begs him not to let her become one of them. Conan does so, with the closest thing he has to a prayer for her soul.
  • After tagalong nobody Ugly John is mortally wounded by a Sentinel, Cyclops puts him out of his misery — at Wolverine's insistence.
  • Doctor Strange was forced to kill his own mentor, the Ancient One, to prevent Shuma-Gorath from using his mind as a conduit to enter their world. Said mentor was dying anyway, and after death he became one with Eternity, sticking around as a spirit adviser to Strange (who was understandably upset over what he'd had to do).
  • In a Dungeon Twilight one-shot story, the protagonist Noyeuse saw her friend being raped by one of the Great Khan's officers. Since she can't blow her cover and can't fight every soldier in the room, she decided to kill her friend. The officer barely cared and just kept going.
  • In Elfquest, Skywise ends his mortally-wounded wolf's suffering after its throat is torn open by another wolf. After Tyldak was mortally wounded by humans, Kahvi slit his throat to end it at his request.
  • In A History of Violence, the protagonist Joey finds his childhood friend Richie in the hands of the mob that they'd attacked and ripped off decades earlier. Richie had been caught early on and tortured the entire time. When Joey finds him, he is barely recognizable as human. Richie pleads for death, and Joey hesitantly grants it.
  • In the Justice League tie-in story to the Legends (DC) event of 1986, the second Commander Steel, Henry Heywood III, has most of his flesh burned away by an android built by Professor Ivo. His grandfather, the original Commander Steel, puts him on life support but euthanizes him after recognizing that he will never wake up.
  • Subverted in Knights of the Dinner Table. After Windel the hireling is wounded by a dragon, Bob thinks he's begging him for this, and kills him.
    Sara: “Actually, I think Windel was pleading for not to kill him, Bob. His wounds weren’t really that serious.”
  • In the first story arc from the anthology series Marvel Fanfare, after being transformed into the Man-Spider Spider-Man begs Kazaar to kill to him while he still has some of his mind left. Kazaar complies, but in the end it's averted as Karl Lykos absorbs the mutated energy from him and turns him back to normal.
  • Morbius the Living Vampire's ex-fiancée Martine tracks him down with the explicit intent of curing him or killing him if that fails. "One way or another, I'm not going to let him suffer anymore."
  • Preacher
    • Subverted when Jesse Custer, in his final confrontation with the Meat Man (who is making out with a woman made of raw meat), says that he has seen many fucked up-things in his life: "If this is not a mercy killing, then I do not know what is."
    • The Meat Man was also already painfully dying after being struck by lightning.
    • During the Saint of Killers' arc, he runs into a destroyed caravan. One of the settlers was still alive, only able to repeat "Kill me".
    • Cassidy ends up inside a Serial Killer's apartment, where the still-living victim has had his face peeled off and nailed back upside down.
      "Kuh muh."
  • Providence set in an Alternate Universe of Lovecraft Country features Robert Chambers' "Lethal Chambers" built in public parks, where suicides can walk into a park in a relaxing room and self-euthanize themselves.
  • The Punisher: Born: During Frank Castle's last tour in Vietnam, his squad captures a Vietcong soldier who turns out to be a woman. As the squad is about to gang-rape her, Frank shows up and shoots her in the head, later sneaking up on the Sociopathic Soldier who had the brilliant idea and drowning him. After another soldier who witnessed both events asks him, Frank justifies the former by saying that if he'd kept the girl alive, she'd have been put on a helicopter and interrogated by intelligence, who'd rape her anyway, not to mention losing the rest of the squad's trust.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws: The Talon in the Night of the Owls tie-in asks this of Jason.
  • Red Sonja lands one on a bear mortally wounded in Kalayah's arena.
  • In The Sandman, Morpheus' son Orpheus was torn apart by the Maenads and reduced to an Oracular Head. He begged his father to kill him, but Morpheus (who was a pretty cold-hearted jerk in the past, even more so than in the present) refused since he was offended that Orpheus had ignored his advice to let go of Eurydice. Two and a half thousand years later, Morpheus and Orpheus reconciled, and Morpheus finally gave Orpheus the death he wanted. This Mercy Kill dooms Morpheus, since killing his own son made him a viable target for the Furies. That, and he wanted to be punished for what he had done to Orpheus.
    • In the issue "Facade", Element Girl is depicted as having become a washout as a superhero and a shut-in too ashamed of her appearance to ever leave her apartment, with her depression having grown to the point that she wants to die but can't, due to the nature of her powers. When Death happens upon her (she was there for someone else, but heard Element Girl's distress), she takes pity and gives advice on how to beg Ra to take away her powers, which results in her body disintegrating, finally killing her.
  • The World War II comic Sgt. Rock has an interesting variant on this: One of the Easy Company soldiers is trapped in a burning barn after a skirmish, screaming for someone to put him out of his misery. The sergeant and other men hesitate over what to do, before the barn collapses into a ball of flame, along with the man's dying screams, and his soul is snatched up by the Devil. Seems he'd made a Deal with the Devil that he'd never die by gunfire...
  • At the end of Siege, The Sentry, having been pummeled back to his senses by The Avengers, begs the heroes to kill him lest his Super-Powered Evil Side the Void came back. Thor, at first, refuses as he wants Sentry to pay for his crimes against Asgard. However, the Void starts to manifest once more and Thor is forced to strike him down.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Happens after Morit pushes his own sister into a lava pit after Aiolin had just saved his life, resulting in an able to relate Vader of all people, pulling her out and killing her quickly instead of leaving her to burn.
  • Occurs in Strikeforce: Morituri where the heroes find four people who were secretly subjected to the Morituri Effect and were accidentally turned into super-powered deformed monsters. The "mutants" were euthanized at their request.
  • Amanda Waller does this to Duren after he is mutated by Regulus's bomb in Suicide Squad #0. It was this act that made her determined that any future special ops team she commanded would be composed of disposable operatives.
  • 2000 AD:
    • Judge Dredd:
      • Dredd's former academy classmate, Raider, does this to his wife when she gets fatal radiation poisoning.
      • Dredd and a squad of judges in radiation suits shoot some civilians who wander into a radiated zone in "The Apocalypse War" at their own request.
      • Dredd gives his horribly mutated clone Nimrod a mercy kill after Nimrod saved his niece Vienna's life during the Total War atomic bombings.
    • Fiends of the Eastern Front: Hans kills his friend Karl at his request so that he won't be turned into a vampire.
  • Sideswipe does this to captured, tortured, and mutilated human companion, Hunter O'Nion at the end of The Transformers: All Hail Megatron.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • In Ultimate X-Men, Wolverine does this for Jesse, a boy whose mutant power is to generate radiation that kills everyone around him. There are other factors at work, including the fact that the U.S. government had sent Wolverine to do this and how bad the truth would be for the mutant community, but it's presented as sparing a boy from a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Ultimate Wolverine: Zoe had to get one after her Mothervine mutation started.
  • Played for rather dark laughs in one Willie And Joe panel: a Cavalry sergeant standing over a Jeep with a broken axle, about to shoot it like a horse with a broken leg.
  • When X-23 was a child, her handlers gave her a puppy to kill. After an hour, she hadn't killed it. They said they would kill it in the most painful way possible and make her watch unless she mercy killed it. Later during X-Force, the team comes across an alternate universe version of her friend Kiden Nixon, who is being used by the Big Bad for her time manipulation powers. Laura is ordered to do this as there's no other way to help her or stop the villain, but notably can't bring herself to do it and someone else has to do it for her.
  • In canon X-Men (as in, Earth-616), Wolverine tries to do this to Jean. Both were in a spaceship hurtling towards the sun (very, very long story) and Jean was terrified of being burned alive, likely because she'd gone through that before. Wolverine decides to do it quickly, impaling her with his claws. Of course, who should show up then but the Dark Phoenix Force, who heals and rescues both of them.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: In chapter 8 Shinji and Asuka find an alternate Shinji who had been tortured to the point he was dying, forcing Asuka (who had gone to rescue him) to give him a swift death (and then he got better. Long story).
    "We got to Shinji, but he was, was...” Tears began to drip onto their joined hands. “...dying. We gave him mercy... He died in my arms. Don’t let yours go."
  • In Chapter Seventeen of Tiberium Wars, Brother-Captain Alvarez of the Black Hand is torn between engaging in a Last Stand to evacuate a small number of wounded troops, or saving his men by ordering a retreat and leaving the wounded to be captured by GDI, who he believes will torture and kill them. He instead chooses a third option: executing his own wounded to keep them out of GDI hands.
  • A Tear Jerker moment in Aeon Natum Engel: Two persons consider doing this to their dying 5-year old half-sister, neither of them is able do it, and break down in tears.
  • A Feddie Story has one of the tanks brew up after getting hit by a Zaku. The driver gets out safely, but the commander is on fire by the time they bail out. They roll on the ground for a moment before the gunner of one of the other tanks machineguns them rather than watch them burn to death.
  • Happens to Brock and Ash during the course of Carnage Necropolis, after they're infected.
  • Night of the Shy: Birostris Oswaft, the last of the Sand Mantas, begs Twilight to do this to him, as he wants nothing more than to join the rest of his people in death.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In chapter 20 Asuka did it to Kaworu at his request.
  • The Pony POV Series: This comes up during the Final Battle with Princess Gaia/ Nightmare Whisper. Both Rarity and Rainbow Dash decide they have to kill her, not out of hate, but because they both figure Fluttershy would rather die than see what she's become.
    • During the Epilogue/Dark World timeline, Apple Bloom apparently ended up subjected to the same curse as Sunny Town. After eventually helping the entire town free themselves from the curse and move on, she begs Liarjack to do the same for her so she can be with her family; reluctantly, LJ agrees, and Apple Bloom dies.
    • This rationale is how his allies comfort Shining Armor for having killed one of Makarov's Alicorn cyborg Co-Dragons, by pointing out that the poor soul was in a living hell.
    • Apparently one of Entropy's, the Elder God of the End, jobs is to do this on a cosmic level to universes that have been abandoned by their Shadows Who Make before maturing enough to exist on their own (which basically results in them continuing what they were last doing for eternity, unable to die or change what they do), as it's a mercy compared to that fate.
  • The Fall of the Fire Empire: When Ozai descended into senile madness, Azula smothered him with a pillow. Qing Xi describes it as the only merciful act of her life.
  • The Powers of Harmony: After Eclipse fatally poisons him, condemning him to a slow and painful death, Strauss requests that Granny Smith put him out of his misery. She reluctantly complies.
  • In Cheerilee's Garden, after Cheerilee submerges Pinkie Pie into a container full boiling hot water, she convinces Rainbow Dash that it would be better to put her out of her misery rather than to let her go on living.
  • Discussed in the Berserk fanfic "The Entire World is a Battlefield" when Guts is met by a spectre of pre-Eclipse Casca. While the real Casca is not dead, she is mentally gone, and Guts wonders if the current Casca is better off dead after what she experienced.
  • The Fall of Cleveland has Marshall find a hideously tortured fluffy pony in the chapter "The Facility". It begs for help, but it's so horribly maimed that Marshall can't think of a way to help it. So he does the only thing he can and breaks its neck. The fluffy's last word is "Ffffffffffannnnnnkkkkkkkk..." (Fluffies can't pronounce "th" sounds.)
  • Mammoth does this for Plasmius/Otto von Furth in Consequence of Misunderstandings after Slade makes it impossible for him to sleep (and thus stay human). Gizmo mentions that while Raven's healing powers do prevent most of them, the team has had to perform mercy kills before.
  • In Constant Temptation Light does this for his father, he writes his name in the Death Note after his father has been kidnapped and tortured to breaking by Beyond Birthday before Beyond was finished hacking pieces off of him.
  • Played with in the Left 4 Dead fic Acts Of Mercy. Originally, it's implied that the titular 'Act of Mercy' is Marcy saving Den from the barbed wire fence; later on, it's when she is forced to kill Denver after he tries to attack her. Ultimately subverted, though, since the CEDA intervenes before she does the deed.
  • In "From Bajor to the Black, Part II", Eleya guns down a shipmate who's in the process of being assimilated by the Borg.
  • The Second Try: Shinji and Misato stop Ritsuko from activating the control that destroys the soulless Rei clones in the Dummy Plug system, so Rei does it herself.
    Rei: These are not human beings. Their official purpose is to serve as core for the Dummy Plug system, but even that is only secondary. As Dr Akagi explained, they are mere vessels to hold my soul. That was the only reason they were created for, just like the body I possess now and the ones before. Without a soul, they can not become aware of their feelings. They notice the feel of the warm LCL around them, of this glass holding them; they can see us, the world outside of theirs. But... it does not matter to them. All they are doing is existing, blissfully unaware of everything. They cannot understand the difference between pain and joy. They do not know the vast variety of human emotions. They do not feel hope or fear for the future. I always wondered whether to pity or to envy them. (pushes the button)
    Shinji: Rei... What have you done?
    Rei: I have... set them free...
  • In Sean Bean Saves Westeros, the "real life" Sean Bean is transported into the land of Westeros of A Song of Ice and Fire. Now living as Ned Stark, not just playing him on TV, Sean Bean sends Westeros Off the Rails. In the aftermath of the Battle of the Green Fork, Sean has to give a Mercy Kill to a mortally wounded Tyrion Lannister.
  • Tails's death in Episode 77 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos is this after he sacrifices himself to stop Dark Tails and suffers And I Must Scream because of it.
    • Eggman and his robots terminate Beelzebub's "test subjects" in the Episode 67 rewrite.
  • In My Little Pony Crossover MLP Trinity, Sweetie Finemare administers a fatal overdose of opiates to her dying husband Rich Greentree, to spare him further agony.
  • In the Ask Serious Rainbow blog this is the real reason Green Eyes (Pinkie) had killed Serious: in her old universe Twilight went insane and tried to kill her friends, and it was too late to save Serious. She asked Green Eyes to put her out of her misery before she died of blood loss.
  • At the end of a trilogy of walfas Touhou shorts titled Regret, we find out that Reisin performed this on a younger moon rabbit soldier to spare her from being killed and eaten by mohawk zombies (it isn't clear as to exactly what they are) when she is almost out of ammo and while they take shelter in an abandoned bunker while the horde closes in. However, had she held out a little longer, both she and the younger rabbit soldier could have been saved.
  • Discussed, but ultimately averted, in the Thunder Cats fanfic "A Right to Death". A deadly disease, the main symptom of which is unrelenting pain, breaks out on Third Earth. Panthro, struck down by the disease, becomes so desperate for relief that he asks Lion-O to take his life-force using a rarely used (and non-canonical) power possessed by the Eye of Thundera. (According to the story, this power may be used if a Thundercat is about to suffer a painful and protracted death.) However, a cure for the disease is obtained just in time to prevent Lion-O from having to resort to such desperate measures.
  • In Elements of Harm, each of the Mane Six becomes an "Element" of a different aspect of warfare; Fluttershy, of all ponies, is the Element of the Mercy Kill, "quieting those in agony and making sure they stay down."
  • In Child of the Storm, during HYDRA's assault on the Ministry of Magic, the Winter Soldier kills Arthur Weasley via Neck Snap in order to spare him being captured and tortured by HYDRA, or worse, handed over to Gravemoss. It's rather deconstructed, since even though killing him instantaneously was much kinder than anything HYDRA or Gravemoss would have done (in the sequel, Alison Carter, a woman who's been a spy and involved with the supernatural pretty much all her life, mentions that Gravemoss took a Fate Worse than Death to new depths), the fact is that he's still dead, which becomes rather awkward once the Weasleys have to interact with Bucky Barnes on a regular basis, even if they don't know at first that Bucky was the Soldier.
  • Code Geass Megiddo: After killing his father to save the life of his best friend, only for said best friend, years later, to start a revolution in his country, culminating in not only the death of said country but also the death of the woman he loved and the tarnishing of her good name, and then betraying said now-former-best friend to the father he hated, having his memories wiped, and then having to play the part of best friend with him, one really can't blame Suzaku Kururugi for going full-throttle with the Sanity Slippage. It's for this reason that numerous characters state that if Lelouch truly does still care for Suzaku (which he does), this is the kindest thing he can do for him. Both Lelouch and Todoh acknowledge this, but state that if there's still the slightest possibility it can happen, they will both try to save Suzaku from himself, and even make pact over it.
  • In the Magical Girl Crisis Crossover Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Alph is effectively euthanized by her master, Fate, after succumbing to the effects of a Hate Plague which destroyed her sanity and rendered her feral.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This appears frequently in the Alien franchise, often by victims of facehuggers, although in a deleted scene from Alien Ripley finds her crewmates (who have all been attacked and either killed or dragged off by the titular alien) cocooned to the walls of its lair and the line is uttered as a request for euthanasia rather than to prevent the alien from reproducing.
  • Black Death:
    • Wolfstan gives one to Griff when he reveals that he's got the plague. Characters also discuss the use of misericorde at the battlefield.
    • Osmund does this to his lover Averill when he finds her insane and suffering. It is later revealed by Langiva that Averill's appearance of insanity was merely a temporary effect caused by drugs, rather than the result of being unnaturally brought back to life... maybe. This pushes Osmund over the edge.
  • Played for laughs in Black Dynamite, when the titular characters asks a friend who has consumed tainted malt liquor that shrinks a man's genitalia whether he wants to keep living. The friend says no. Boom, Headshot!.
  • In Blade II, one of the Blood Pack is bitten by a Reaper, and is quickly mutating into one of them. The others demand he be put out of his misery, so he's shot twice in the chest. However, he's mutated far enough that the silver bullets won't do the trick. Then a guy cuts half his head off, which also fails. Blade finally shoots a hole in the ceiling so sunlight will do the job.
  • Coupled with Fridge Brilliance in Cleopatra. One of Cleopatra's ladies-in-waiting serves her a poisoned drink and begs for forgiveness. Cleopatra says "I forgive you" and orders her to drink the poison. It's a Mercy Kill because being poisoned is likely to be a much more quick and effective death compared to what the servant might have gotten as punishment for trying to assassinate the Queen.
  • BJ does this to Tucker in the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake.
  • Done in The Dead 2 when Nicholas Burton is unable to save a mother and her daughter from the approaching undead horde.
  • Dead Presidents: Anthony gives D'ambrosio an overdose of morphine after he's been disemboweled by the Viet Cong and begging to die.
  • In the German Holocaust drama Der letzte Zug, a severely dehydrated Erika Friedlich stops lactating, and suffocates her baby son rather than allow him to slowly starve to death.
  • In The Descent Sarah finds Beth with an open wound in her throat (caused by an ice-pick) and ends her pain by smashing her head with a rock rather than leaving her to the Crawlers. She is understandably reluctant to kill her friend, but tearfully relents after Beth begs her to do it.
  • Invoked in Edge of Tomorrow, where the heroine insists that the hero should kill himself (or let himself be killed by somebody else) if he is K.O., crippled, or otherwise incapacitated. This is because doing otherwise might result in him being given a blood transfusion or just bleeding out, which would rob him of the time-warping power.
  • Tragically used at the end of David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986). The only thing Brundlefly can do is crawl miserably along the floor and point the end of the heroine's gun at its own head.
  • The hero of The Fly II had no choice but to mercy kill a poor dog. Why? The condition of the dog was a result of an experiment that turned the dog inside out, thus deforming it both physically and psychologically.
  • In Full Metal Jacket when the sniper girl has been shot and is begging the soldiers to shoot her again.
  • Parodied in Funny People, when Adam Sandler's character tells Seth Rogen's, who is working for him at the time, that he has an almost certainly fatal disease and asks him to shoot him, for a fee. When Rogen replies that he needs time to think about it, Sandler replies that he was just kidding and that Rogen is sick for even considering it. He DOES still have the deadly disease, though, so that part wasn't a joke.
    • Chevy Chase is offered a similar deal in Fletch, although the man who requests it doesn't really have bone cancer and is trying to use Chevy as an Unwitting Pawn.
  • In the 2002 Korean Film "H", a police officer executes her kneeling partner on the beach in front of their hire up. He had solved a serial killer case and the knowledge he gained tormented him.
  • Neil in Heat mercy kills one of his partners in crime after the guy has been tortured and is dying.
  • The Hunger Games: In the film, Cato actually screams "Please!" to be mercy killed by Katniss. And his ordeal didn't last 20 hours, unlike the book.
  • Nonhuman case in I Am Legend: After Neville's dog Sam is infected with the vampire virus, Neville chokes her to death. Borderline in that it's also self preservation, because Sam is already becoming hostile.
  • The French film I've Loved You So Long is about a woman who was in prison for murdering her son. In the end it is revealed that he had terminal cancer, and he got so sick and in pain that she killed him out of mercy, after spending one last day with him doing everything he loved.
  • In Land of the Dead, the protagonist shoots a woman who's being bitten in the neck by a zombie right between the eyes to spare her either being eaten alive or reanimating as a zombie.
  • The Last of the Mohicans: Hawkeye gives one to Heyward towards the end.
  • Lust, Caution: When we first see Mr. Yee, he orders an underling to now finish off a prisoner who he has just finished interrogating, on the grounds that the Japanese didn't specify they wanted him alive. He says "give him a quick one" implying that by killing the man now they are saving him from more torture at the hands of the Japanese, who would eventually kill him themselves.
  • Monsieur Verdoux: It is hinted that the titular anti-hero, a fired banker who marries and murders wealthy widows in order to support his invalid real wife and their toddler son, may have mercy-killed his loved ones after losing everything in a stock market crash.
  • The events in Morgan are set up by Morgan coming across a badly injured deer while out in the woods with one of the scientists and breaking its neck.
  • The Ninth Gate: After Balkan's deal with the Devil goes horribly wrong and he catches on fire, Corso shoots him to put him out of his misery.
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chief Bromden smothers McMurphy with a pillow after the latter is lobotomized.
  • In One True Thing, Kate (Meryl Streep) requests this to her daughter Ellen (Renée Zellweger), because she has terminal cancer and is in excruciating pain.
  • Pan's Labyrinth: The army's doctor, who is supposed to heal a captured rebel for another torture session, kills him instead.
  • As the Kraken attacks the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Mr. Gibbs delivers an offscreen mercy kill at the request of a pirate who was grabbed in one of its tentacles.
  • Purgatory: Blackjack's brother is wounded in the initial shootout. Blackjack wants to just leave him to die slowly once he can't stay ahorse, claiming he can't spare the bullets to put him out of his misery. Sonny does it for him.
  • An unusual modern film usage features at the climax of Quantum of Solace when Bond prepares to shoot Camille, as they are trapped in a burning building and she is reliving her childhood trauma of being trapped in a burning house. Subverted when he finds a way of escaping their situation.
  • Double Subversion in the first Resident Evil movie. Rain gets infected by the zombie virus and tries to get the rest of the group to kill her before she turns, but they refuse and try to find a cure. Later on she becomes a zombie anyway and has to be killed.
  • Averted in The Return of the Living Dead, when two survivors are cornered in an attic. Knowing these zombies can't be killed by bullets, the male survivor covertly aims his pistol at the back of his teenage companion's head, rather than let her be eaten alive by her own undead boyfriend. Averted because the place gets nuked before he can pull the trigger.
  • In Ring 0: Birthday, when Akiko and Etsuko are cornered by Sadako with no chance of escape, Akiko shoots Etsuko through the head before turning the gun on herself.
  • Frank from The Rocky Horror Picture Show tries to brush off his murder of Eddie as a mercy killing. The audience may feel free to call him on this.
  • The Sand Pebbles: Holman shoots Po-han to spare him being tortured to death.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, they give The Medic an overdose of his own morphine because he cannot survive his wounds. Inverted earlier in the movie, when an unnamed soldier orders the others not to mercy kill Germans who have been doused in flames.
    Soldier: Don't shoot! Let them burn! note 
  • In Saw III, Amanda does this to Adam as shown in a flashback. Adam was left in the bathroom to die at the end of the first movie, and Amanda, unable to detach herself emotionally like Jigsaw does, suffocates Adam with a plastic bag so he dies quickly instead of starvation or disease. It may have been more guilt on Amanda's part. In the flashback where she and Jigsaw are setting up the bathroom trap, it shows she failed to secure the key that would have freed Adam properly (Jigsaw told her to tie it around his ankle — she just placed it in the tub and it wound up going down the drain). If she had done what Jigsaw told her, Adam would have survived.
  • In a French 1974 film Les Seines de Glace (Icy Breasts), adapted from Someone Is Bleeding by Richard Matheson, Marc shoots Peggy, an incurable psychotic man-murderer he is in love with, to spare her from the asylum. This is decidedly different from the original novel, where they just elope together... only for her to perform Off with His Head! on him.
  • Serenity:
    • Mal shoots a man he had pushed off his hover-jeep who then gets dragged away by Reavers. Later, Zoe acknowledges it: "That was a piece of mercy."
    • In the same film (minutes after the Mercy Kill described above), Jayne gets skewered in the leg by the Reavers, and is hanging off the back of the mule, prompting him to make Mal promise to shoot him if the Reavers take him. Mal quickly takes aim, prompting Jayne to shout, "Don't shoot me first!" before Mal shoots through the rope tying him to the Reaver ship instead.
    • Also attempted (as seen on tape) by a woman on herself as the Reavers are breaking in. She fails. The tape continues to record.
  • In Sister Cities, the sisters' ailing mother Mary, who's suffering from ALS, asks her second-oldest daughter Austin to do this by crushing up pills and putting them in her applesauce and drowning her in the bathtub.
  • In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the protagonists come across Shangri-La in the Himalayas, but find out that it has been taken over by Totenkopf, and its inhabitants used as slaves and test subjects in the irradiated mines. They find this out from the last survivor of Totenkopf's experiments, a disfigured old man who asks but one thing for all his answers: "Kill Me." It is unknown if they fulfilled his wish.
  • Nathan Fillion is no stranger to the Mercy Kill. In Slither, he doesn't hesitate in delivering a headshot to a friend whom the mutated Rooker-beast has infected.
  • In Solace, this is actually the modus operandus of the killer. His victims are all terminally ill people to whom he grants a painless death. This is subverted by John Clancy who points out that most terminally ill victims would prefer to live just a little bit longer. However it turns out he's a hypocrite for saying so because he performed euthanasia himself on his terminally ill daughter, who was in great pain.
  • Starship Troopers:
    • In the film, Lieutenant Rasczak shoots one of his men who is badly wounded and captured. He then tells his troops that he expects them to do the same for him if it is ever necessary. It is.
    • In the book when a man who went AWOL during basic training murdered a little girl the rest of the recruits had to go and make sure he was hanged, because he was their man right or wrong. Rico begins to think whether or not they should try to cure him of his insanity, in his mind one would have to be crazy to kill a child for no reason, but then decided that living with the knowledge of what he did would be worse than death. So he kinda views hanging the guy as a mercy killing, or at least mercy for every other little girl he might have come in contact with.
  • Star Trek: First Contact:
    • When the Borg start assimilating crew members, it's Picard who takes it upon himself to vaporize, Tommy gun, or otherwise euthanize every affected crew member he can, because he knows what it's like.
      Picard: You may encounter Enterprise crew members who have already been assimilated. Don't hesitate to fire; believe me, you'll be doing them a favor.
    • Of course, when he got turned, they certainly had to save him. Picard believed that the only reason it was possible for him to be rescued at all was because the Borg Collective deliberately left him some degree of autonomy, to act as an interlocutor, while he saw the redshirts as being unsavable.
      Picard: There was no way to save him!
      Lily: You didn't even try!
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Bones relives one of his most painful moments, where his father is dying and suffering from an incurable disease. He begs Bones to stop treatment so that he can finally die. Bones does so. What makes the memory especially terrible is that a cure was found three months later.
  • Averted in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan leaves Anakin's mangled, triple-amputated, horrifically burnt body on Mustafar. Killing him would've been a mercy at that point, though we know that, logically, that could never happen. The novelization makes his thought process on why he doesn't do it explicit.
    He was not feeling merciful. He was feeling calm, and clear, and he knew that to climb down that black beach might cost him more time than he had. Another Sith Lord approached....In the end, he was still Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he was still a Jedi, and he would not murder a helpless man. He would leave it to the will of the Force.
  • Stonehearst Asylum: It turns out this was Lamb's motivation in the "incident" which landed him at the asylum.
  • In Street Fighter, Guile's first reaction on seeing his friend Charlie mutated into a beast is to try a mercy kill. Dhalsim is able to talk him out of it.
  • In the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) remake Erin comes across a dying Andy in Leatherface's "workshop" she puts him out of his misery by stabbing him with a knife.
  • According to the director, Harry Lime's death in The Third Man is one of these.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Loki uses this to snark at Odin during an unpleasant conversation with him at his trial.
    Loki: If I'm in for the axe, then for mercy's sake, just swing it. It's not that I don't love our little talks, it's just...I don't love them.
  • Discussed in Tora! Tora! Tora! when Admiral Kimmel, watching the attack on Pearl Harbor, gets hit with a spent and harmless shell casing: "It would've been merciful had it killed me."
  • Happens in the horror film Train. Alex and Willy find their friends Sheldon and Todd locked in a torture car, both horribly mutilated. Sheldon can still walk, but Todd is barely alive, missing his eyes and unable to move. He begs his girlfriend Alex to finish him. When she tearfully refuses, Sheldon does it, cutting him with an axe.
  • Subversion in Transcendence. Martin, the first victim saved and hybridized by the nanomachines, is captured by RIFT so they can gain access to Will's code and engineer a virus to shut him down. In the process, they have to shoot him several times and isolate him in a Faraday cage so Will can't network with him. His wounds are severe enough that he dies on the table, since without the network connection the nanites can't heal him. They later rationalize this to Evelyn as giving him back his humanity, even though the whole time he was begging them to let him go so he could survive.
  • The Western Ulzana's Raid has a brutal example. Hostile Apaches menace a white woman and her child on a stagecoach. A cavalry officer arrives and, fearing the woman's about to be raped, shoots her in the head. Then, when the Indians turn on him, shoots himself for good measure.
  • In WarCraft, Llane orders Garona to kill him so that he might avoid getting his soul sucked out by Gul'dan, and so that she may gain respect among the orcs, which would give her a chance to forge peace between them and humans.
  • In The Whisperer in Darkness, Professor Wilmarth encounters the disembodied brain of Henry Akeley, who asks him to do this. In a subversion, Wilmarth cannot bring himself to carry out the request.
  • Done multiple times in The Wild Geese — the mercenaries don't have the time or resources to carry their incapacitated comrades, lest the Simbas arrive and overrun the whole company; given the Simbas' notorious reputation for brutality and butchery, a shot to the head is kinder than being captured.
  • Logan, to an injured and poisoned grizzly bear in The Wolverine.
  • You Don't Know Jack follows the career of assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, otherwise called "Dr. Death", who helped dozens of people with incurable diseases painlessly kill themselves, and eventually euthanized a disabled man at his request, leading him to be incarcerated (after winning numerous acquittals before).

  • On this less permanent level, many sports leagues and organizations have mercy rules in place where a game ends early if one team attains a presumably insurmountable lead after a defined point in the game. Usually, these are recreation and youth leagues, and to a somewhat lesser extent, high school and other sub-professional levels. Examples:
    • Baseball and softball: From youth leagues through semi-professional, a common rule is for the winning team to have a 10-run league after the end of the fifth inning, although some leagues end games before that (usually, the earliest is the third inning) if the winning team has an even larger lead, such as 15 runs after four innings, with the home team, if they are trailing, having a final at-bat. This is a rare aversion to post-secondary teams having a mercy rule in place, as the college level and many semi-pro leagues often have some sort of mercy rule in these sports (although professional does not have this rule).
    • Basketball and football: Many state high school athletic associations use a "continuous clock" after a score differential is achieved after halftime. In this instance, the clock doesn't stop for things that it would normally be stopped for, such as going out of bounds or moving the down markers in football, or fouling in basketball, although the clock would stop for such things as time outs. States with continuous clock rules still often have the discretion to end a game early, provided that it is halftime or later.
    • Combat sports: technical knock-out, by which the referee can end the fight early if he deems one of the combatants cannot continue without risking permanent damage or worse. The act of throwing the towel and forfeiting a match is based on the same principle, only done by a fighter's cornermen even against his wishes.
    • Soccer: Most youth leagues and a number of state high school athletic associations have rules ending games at halftime or later if a certain goal difference is reached; usually, this is the leading team ahead by 10 goals.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Anathema, technically every murder is this. Either you murder your victims or they, and everyone else, will suffer a slow, horrible, death as the planet becomes uninhabitable.
  • It's a common joke about the legendarily terrible game FATAL that the spell of the same name, which kills absolutely everything in the world, is this. Oh, and it's possible to cast it by accident when you miscast an entirely different spell.
  • Mage: The Ascension has the Euthanatos, an entire splat of mages (player character mages, no less) who use this as their hat.
  • In the Ravenloft setting, where lycanthropy is even more virulent and dangerous than in most D&D settings, this is the standard and expected outcome if an attempt to cure the affliction fails. As such a failure generally indicates an afflicted person is coming to like their condition, it's as much mercy for everyone else as for them.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has Salubri-antitribu with their special Discipline Valeren. One of the abilities of that Discipline is to give instant and painless death to person, actively willing it.
  • The humans of Warhammer40000 refer to mercy kills as "The Emperor's Peace."
    • Space Marine Apothecaries carry a special pistol for just this purpose...and then they chainsaw open the chest of the fallen to get at his genetic material. With the utmost respect, of course; without those "gene-seeds", the many chapters of Space Marines wouldn't be able to replace their losses.
    • Similarly, but without the chainsaw, psykers carry what they call "Mercy Blades". When the Warp is trying to get into your head, a quick stab through the heart is vastly preferable.
    • The Commissar's (and formerly the Sanctioning Officer's) special rule "It's For Your Own Good" evokes this on psykers when their own hands cannot be trusted.
    • This is the standard Imperial response to any human infected by Genestealers. Since the infection is incurable by normal Imperial medicine, and causes the infectees and their children to be subordinated to the Tyranid Hive Mind, it's considered better for everyone to end it quickly.
    • Exterminatus could be considered this. When a world has been overrun by xenos or chaos forces and is beyond saving, Imperial forces will order the planet's biosphere wiped clean through orbital bombardment, cyclonic torpedoes, virus bombs or other methods of destruction, sparing the inhabitants of the planet from further suffering.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Amethyst wizards have a spell for Mercy Kills. It can be used on any enemy who has taken Critical Damage. This makes it very handy for dispatching that one beastman who has Tzeentch's own luck on the Critical Hit table and goes 3+ rounds without actually taking a Critical Hit that will kill him.


    Visual Novels 
  • In one of the routes in Tsukihime, Akiha is succumbing to her demon blood and begs Shiki to kill her if she loses control. When she does, if you don't keep your promise and keep her alive, you get a depressing "Normal Ending" where she's basically become a mindless, bloodsucking doll under Shiki's care for the rest of her "life". If you do kill her, you get a Bad End. No, to get a decent ending you have to Take a Third Option. Also, Shiki killing Satsuki after she became a murderous vampire, earlier on.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • In Heaven's Feel route, Shirou is forced to do this to Saber after she is hit by The Corruption and turned into Saber Alter. Especially bad, as Saber had been a symbol of purity throughout the game, and had been your primary love interest in the first route, as well as a possible love interest in the second route.
    • In one bad ending Shirou is reduced to a torso and head suspended in a liquid that has left him drugged into insensibility. When Rin finds him she shatters the container, letting Shirou die.
  • Kerkan from Sekien no Inganock is a serial killer who believes everyone is eligible for a mercy kill, but tends to only pick the truly hopeless.

    Web Comics 
  • And Shine Heaven Now:
    • It's revealed that Walter and Alucard did this to Jeeves when he was mortally wounded in World War II, since he could not fall into the hands of the Nazis and Jeeves refused to be turned into a vampire. Officially, he's listed as MIA, presumed dead.
    • Walter himself ended up mercy killed when he was brainwashed by the I-Jin of Jeeves to work for Millennium. His brainwashing could be broken only temporarily, his choices were death or being forever binded to Integra. He chose death. To make it even sadder, his own daughter had to do the deed.
  • In The Beast Legion , upon defeat Gorgorath pleads to Xeus to free him from his cursed existence.
  • The Sovereign of Sorrow, from Captain SNES: The Game Masta, apparently wants to do this to everyone.
  • In Cuanta Vida, BLU Medic does this to BLU Sniper after Sniper is Driven to Suicide after losing his lover and then his eyes. He claims to have done this at the Sniper's request, but a little while after that he tries to do it again when the BLU Scout gets a crippling injury on his leg; "a Scout that can't run is a dead weight". The Scout was not consulted about this beforehand, and fortunately the BLU Spy is able to intervene.
  • Deep Rise: In a civilization of immortals, this is more often than not the way to go.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage mentions that he killed his own brother, who was blind. When questioned about it, he responds that it was an act of mercy, and it would've been far more cruel to let his brother live after what BM had done to his eyes. Black Mage gets points for the most sadistic and needlessly elaborate "mercy kill" of all time; he trapped his blind brother in an uneven room filled with sharp corners and tiger pits. Then pushed him into one of the tiger pits when it looked like he was going to make it across.
  • Parodied in Exterminatus Now, Alien Shout Out ahoy.
  • Mr. Rovainen from Girl Genius does it preemptively.
  • Goblins:
    • When an owlbear savages several prison guards working for Dellyn, he orders his men to capture it alive, intending to subject it to several months of torture as punishment. When none of the guards are looking, one of the prisoners reaches out of his cell and Neck Snaps the beast.
    • Done unintentionally by Saves-A-Fox. In an attempt to Screw Destiny, she killed the fox she was supposed to save, and later found out it was actually suffering from a disease that sounds suspiciously similar to rabies.
  • In Homestuck, in the Troll's session, this situation comes up between Tavros and Vriska. Vriska is beaten within an inch of her life by Aradia, and Tavros manages to get her to her Quest Bed, which will ensure her resurrection and ascension to higher power. She then asks Tavros to kill her himself, doing it quickly so that she doesn't have to die a slow, agonizing death of bleeding out. Tavros, however, is unable to bring himself to do it, and runs away crying. Vriska never really forgives him for this "moment of weakness".
  • Subverted in ''The Last Halloween. It turns out that Robert is a monster who killed his human only after being asked to do so to end his human's suffering. The problem is, the aforementioned suffering was Robert's fault in the first place.
  • In Men in Hats, Aram uses this as an analogy to justify shredding Beriah's report:
    Aram: See me shredding the papers? This is the only humane way to deal with them. Like putting a dog to sleep instead of letting it run around with a tumor in its brain.
    Beriah: ...Is that why Scruffy's gone?
    Aram: No, that dog was just ugly.
  • This strip of The Order of the Stick.
  • Spoofed in Paranatural. When Mr. Spender is attacked by a bat monster, it digs its teeth into his shoulder. A teary-eyed Isabel attempts to put him out of his misery, prompting Spender to scream "ISABEL NO MERCY KILLS!"
  • Penny Arcade"A Ring And A Prayer".
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • After hearing that Zoe is supposedly spending her days with torturous wounds that will never heal, Riff states that he is going to do this to Zoe.
    • Gwynn gets revenge against a cruel zombie named Jane, and Jane is eventually reduced to nothing but a disembodied head. Torg eventually recovers her head and uses it for his usual pranks, causing Jane to beg for death. After a Heel Realization, realizing that zombies are tormented souls and not playthings, he finally decides to give her one.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn's horse Ember has been gutted and had its back broken by a dragon, and cannot be saved, only spared.
  • Thunderstruck offers a straight example, with a good ol' Neck Snap being the method used.
  • In The Zombie Hunters, the "Mercy" zombies perform arguably the creepiest Mercy Kill ever. They only approach sick, wounded or dying humans, and follow them, protecting them from other more violent breeds, until they collapse. Mercies then deliver a single bite to a vital artery, and hold the dying victim, gently stroking their hair and cooing softly. They'll even remain with their victim for hours after they turn. Website materials state that some traumatized survivors seek them out as a form of suicide, hence the name. These same supplementary materials recommend that human rescuers euthanize many survivors of Berserker zombies, who love to torture and beat their victims before biting them.

    Web Original 
  • Ruby Quest:
  • Sailor Nothing combines this with Enemy Without. It doesn't work, however - Himei has come to believe that there's hope for her to have a life that ISN'T poor, nasty, brutish, and short after all, and manages to muster the Heroic Resolve necessary to activate her Unstoppable Rage and kill her Yamiko.
  • In Survival of the Fittest version one, after having gotten separated from the Intrepid Six and tortured by Cody Jenson, Marcus Roddy finally stumbles across his group again at the river, and after some of his wounds have been treated he goes to rest while everyone else continues their business. However, unknown to them, he had been given a severe concussion, and eventually fell into a coma. After they notice that he had somehow slept through everything that had happened since his arrival, including a few gunfights, they check up on him and discover what has happened. This leads to some debate, but eventually Adam shoots him instead of leaving him to be eaten alive by animals.
    • Another instance happens in version three, between Will and Christian. Christian had been severely wounded by Bobby Jacks earlier, and even though they escaped his injury became steadily worse over the time they spent travelling, and eventually a large rat-like creature appeared when they stopped to rest and attacked him, viciously tearing into the wound before Will kills it. Unable to take the pain any longer and knowing he's lost too much blood to survive even if the wound were treated, Christian asks Will to shoot him. He does.
    • Further examples include Serenity Halos, who suffered a grievous gunshot wound at the hands of Blood Boy, which eventually got worse and worse until, when she finally was reunited with her boyfriend Steve Digaetano, she begged for him to kill her. And Jimmy Trejo, who was fatally wounded in a fight with Harry Tsai and asked for one of his travelling companions, Laeil Burbank, to kill him rather than let him die slowly and painfully. In V4, Adrian Staib begs Samantha Ridley to finish him off after he falls down a hill and paralyzes his arms and legs.
  • Warcraft Dressing is infamous for frequent mercy kills. The Lich King is a bad, bad man.
  • Many, many items contained by The Foundation can require this. In some cases, you can't even do that.
  • The trope comes up more than once in Worm:
    • When Skitter sees what Bonesaw did to Grue, Ballistic offers to kill him, but Skitter refuses, wanting to find some way to avoid it.
    • At the end of Noelle's rampage, after Noelle has almost completely given in to her Superpowered Evil Side, the last thing Sundancer does before returning to Earth Aleph is burn her to death with her sun.
    • The protagonist herself shoots Aster Anders, a toddler, to prevent her from suffering a Fate Worse than Death at the hands of the Slaughterhouse Nine. This is debatable however as her paranoia and fear about the coming end of the world could just as easily be the reason why she killed her, as it was a possibility Aster might end up being the cause. She's not.
    • Later, Contessa does this to Khepri, after her mind has degraded to the point that she can no longer think in terms that don't imply her planned conquest of all possible Earths, and she is briefly able to signal her approval through refusing Contessa's offer of help. Subverted in the epilog, which reveals that Taylor survived and was somehow restored to sanity, albeit with her powers seemingly lost forever.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is on the ground, sobbing and begging for the Devil to kill him in Son of the Mask. Nothing painful is happening to him, mind you, he just wants out of life again.
  • In the Hitman (2016) Patient Zero campaign, there's a level where you need to eliminate people infected by a terrible virus in order to prevent it from spreading. When Outside Xbox had a go, Jane Douglas dubbed the resultant instances of mass murder as "mercy sprees".
  • In Void Domain, Eva comes across a woman who has been tortured constantly for potentially centuries. She puts her out of her misery. However, her motivations were less pure. She needed the woman as Human Resources and had previously passed by a number of other torture victims, leaving them alone.
  • The above picture, "Last order" is from DeviantArt and revolves around this trope. Tear Jerker and Visual Effects of Awesome are so abundant, DeviantArt users were awestruck with this and said it deserves to be this trope's picture.
  • Petscop: Toneth's description has a story about a person whose dog gets hit by a car and survives, and they end up being the only person who still wants to put it down. This story ends up going off the text box because of how long it is.
    It makes me think about the dog actually. Because when the car hit him I thought "at least it will be over soon." He survived it, and I was the only one who still wanted to put him down.

    Western Animation 
  • In the episode "Trouble in Lumpy Space" of Adventure Time, there's a conversation where Finn thinks Jake (in the throes of the Lumps) is about to request this of Finn, should he go completely Lumpy. Yes. They actually got away with referencing this. It's never actually stated, and it turns out that Jake just wanted Finn to still be friends with a Lumpy Jake. "What did you think I was saying?"
  • Ruthlessly parodied in Animaniacs, when Yakko, Wakko, and Dot have lassoed a Jerry Lewis-style comedian into filming their movie Old Screamer, with the comedian playing the dog. When Yakko sadly explains that they have to put the dog out of his misery, Wakko seems sad for a moment, and then (Once Wakko has been given a puppy to replace Old Screamer), to the comedian's horror, cheerfully pulls out a Hyperspace Mallet to do the job...
  • Shayera does this for the resurrected (but now an Empty Shell) Solomon Grundy in a Justice League Unlimited episode in what is one of the most tear jerking scenes in the series.
    Doctor Fate: The beast knows only rage and seeks only Oblivion. Your mace may be the one object on Earth that can grant him peace.
    John Stewart: What are you saying?
    Shayera: Your favorite movie's Old Yeller, you know exactly what he's saying.
  • In episode X of Samurai Jack, a Viking chieftain is victimized by Aku, having his family and village destroyed, and afterwards, imprisoned in a jewel and cast into a mountain. Now turned into a monster of stone and lava, he requests this from Jack after he eludes the traps he put forth to achieve a warrior's death to enter Valhalla and greet his comrades and loved ones.
    • The penultimate episode has Ashi begging Jack to kill her as Aku's evil begins to overwhelm her. Jack can't bring himself to do it and surrenders, Aku taking his sword in triumph.
  • Parodied in the Robot Chicken sketch "Toy Story 4'' where Woody smothers Buzz with a pillow after he's effectively lobotomized when a now college-aged Andy turns him into a bong.
    • Similarly parodied with Gary the Stormtrooper, who attempts to give one to an Ewok he'd run over on a speeder. Key word being attempts.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons, where a flashback shows grade school-age Homer and Chief Wiggum playing Cops and Robbers; Homer, the robber, is wounded, and begs Wiggum for a Mercy Kill.
  • The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode, "Yesteryear," had this trope as the critical decision Spock as a child had to make concerning his mortally wounded pet, I-Chaya. When Spock decided that putting him down was the most humane and logical choice, that was the moment he embraces the traditional teachings of Surak of logic and emotional control.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In the first episode, the latest Monarch henchman Speedy is caught in a chokehold by Brock Sampson as he is put into a temporary coma, since they can't get him to let go and that Speedy is suffering badly one of them performs a mercy kill on him by shooting him in the neck.
    • Discussed in another episode when Hank drinks Goliath serum and believes he will eventually explode. Hank asks Brock to kill him before that happens, and Brock assures that it won't be necessary since they'll find a cure. Hank is comforted, but he can't help but ask Brock how he would kill him if it ever became necessary. Brock immediately tells Hank he'd snap his neck and that it'd be a quick and painless death. Hank is a little unnerved by how quickly he got an answer, since it means Brock's thought about it before.

    Real Life 
  • "I made the effort, and it was possible for me, to shoot only children. It so happened that the mothers led the children by the hand. My neighbour then shot the mother and I shot the child that belonged to her, because I reasoned with myself that after all without its mother the child could not live any longer. It was supposed to be, so to speak, soothing to my conscience to release [erlösen] children unable to live without their mothers." - (Reserve) Order Police Officer Friedrich M. note 
  • In 1942-3, Sicherheitspolizei (Si'po) and Ordnungspolizei (Or'po') police units in Poland were ordered by regional Police authorities to dispose of their Jewish 'Hiwis' (non-German 'helpers') to render those regions ''Judenrein'' (non-Jewish). Since many had grown very attached to their Jewish helpers, more compassionate squad members went out of their way to kill them quickly and totally unexpectedly. In one instance they got the best shot in their company (100 men) to shoot their Hiwi ('Harry') in the head from several hundred metres away while he was tending to the garden. In another, one engaged their Hiwi ('Mary') in conversation in the kitchen and another moved behind her and shot her in the head. The alternative was leaving them to the tender mercy of armed Hiwis ('recruited' from Soviet POW and civilians given the choice of volunteering or death), who were often so drunk that they failed to shoot straight and their victims were merely wounded and so buried alive, or deportation to one of the extermination camps wherein they would suffocate over the course of several panicked minutes in a gas-van or gas chamber.
  • Captive bolts were designed to kill an animal with as little suffering as possible, but as the documentary Earthlings shows, it does not always work as intended. The unbiased fact is that the bolt's operator has to be very well-trained for the bolt hits to be consistently suffering-free.
  • The original concept of Coup de Grâce, French for "strike of mercy." Nowadays it just means "finish off."
  • The knightly short sword or dagger was called misericorde, from misericordia (Latin for "mercy") for exactly this reason. It was intended to give the Coup de Grâce for a mortally wounded soldier who would otherwise linger on his wounds in agony. It was thin enough to penetrate mail and go between armor plates.
  • Similarly, records exist of Horny Vikings on their deathbeds who asked their friends to "speed the process along," so to speak. Beyond I Cannot Self-Terminate, this practice was associated with the kind of honorable death favored in the Martyrdom Culture of The Viking Age — a bit like seppuku in Japan. See, according to Norse Mythology, dying outside of battle wouldn't get you into Warrior Heaven, but if your friend finished you off, then you technically "died by the sword."
  • There are examples and anecdotes from all over the world in everything from the aftermath of disasters to wars to hunting accidents. So this trope is very much Truth in Television.
  • After the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, a lot of wooden frame buildings had collapsed with people inside, and many caught fire due to either broken gas mains, upturned stoves or furnaces, or some combination of the two. Many of the people trapped were pinned under debris, but the admittedly few first responders often didn't have the strength to drag them out before said fire could kill them. There are stories of people begging to be shot if they couldn't be freed. There is a story of at least one person who complied before the victim could burn to death, who then went immediately to the nearest police he could find to turn himself in. After listening to his story, the police told him he had done the right thing and let him go.
    • Similarly, in the Alpatacal tragedy (a huge train crash in the Chilean/Argentinian border that killed several Chilean soldiers), there's the urban legend about a recruit who had survived the crash but found his friend badly injured and about to burn to death under the debris. The dying guy begged the other to shoot him dead with his service gun and spare him the upcoming Family-Unfriendly Death, which the survivor did. Then he turned himself in, but was absolved by the military tribunal since the victim would've died anyway.
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Memorial Hospital in New Orleans was surrounded by ten feet of water and did not have enough supplies to maintain their patients. Four of them were killed by hospital personnel and the District Attorney brought murder charges. A grand jury refused to indict them.
  • Standard practice for terminally-ill pets, and almost totally uncontroversial (though always heartbreaking).
    • Also for many large animals, especially horses, with broken or badly injured legs. A horse with a broken leg, even if given the best care known to veterinary medicine, is almost always better off euthanized.
  • Self-inflicted during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The building caught on fire, trapping many workers on the top floor of the factory. The workers decided to jump to their deaths through the windows instead of being slowly burnt to death or suffocating from the smoke.
    • Also done by people trapped in the burning World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Supposedly, when an older woman found out she had Alzheimer's, she asked her husband to do this if she ever went too far gone. One night, he went to the hospital she was in, shot her in the head, and waited for the police outside.
    • There was also the sad case of Carol Carr. After watching her mother-in-law and husband succumb to Huntington's disease, she saw her two oldest sons develop it as well. She ended up killing them to spare them the pain. This led to controversy in the state of Georgia as to what to try her for...
  • Much of the Terri Schiavo controversy dealt with just how much this was the case. Schiavo had an accident that left her clinically brain dead. Terri's husband wanted her taken off of life support, but her parents wanted Terri kept alive.note  In the end, her life support was pulled.
  • During the Spanish Inquisition, "heretics" who were condemned to burn at the stake would often, if they confessed, be strangled first to spare them the agony of death by fire and/or asphyxiation.
  • This is how Magda and Joseph Goebbels saw the killing of their six children during the last days of the Battle of Berlin in 1945. Hitler also persuaded (or possibly tricked) his wife to take a cyanide pill out of fear she'd be tortured by the Russians. He even fed one to his pet dog, Blondi. Given the record of the army surrounding Berlin, and the entirely justifiable level of revenge said army would want on the Nazi High Command, they may not have been wrong.
  • An American paratrooper during the Battle of the Bulge witnessed this first hand. Following a skirmish with a German squad, a great majority of the enemy soldiers surrendered, most of them wounded. However, the American's squad did not have the supplies, nor the manpower, to guard or feed the prisoners (like the Americans, the Germans were badly low on supplies and food, and it was one of the reasons they surrendered, to get aid for their wounded.) Finally, the American squad leader grabbed a German machine pistol, gathered just enough ammo for it, and disposed of the rest of the weapons and ammo, telling the German squad leader (who spoke English) the cold hard truth that they could not take them prisoner, and that he was leaving the submachine gun behind for those who wanted to end it quickly. A few minutes after the Americans left, they began hearing single gunshots behind them.
  • In the Pacific Theater during World War II, an American pilot managed to get his badly shot-up plane back to his base, but had the landing gear give out on landing, flipping the plane. When the plane came to rest, the pilot was still alive but badly injured, and the plane caught fire. A Marine officer was the first person to reach the plane, and upon seeing the cockpit engulfed in flames and hearing the screams of the trapped pilot, immediately drew his pistol and shot the man twice in the head, killing him instantly. There was very low level talk of court-martialing the Marine, until Admiral Nimitz found out and promptly went ballistic, wondering why the fuck they were thinking about court-martialing a man who had the balls to do something that had to be done. Because situations like this happen all the time during war, there are specific sections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that deal with it directly and absolutely forbid hindsight or Monday-morning quarterbacking, holding that only the conditions at the time of the incident can be taken into account.
  • Battlefield medics and surgeons in the past were traditionally "unarmed" but usually allowed to carry pistols, both for self-defense and for providing a quick death to those who were beyond their help.
  • It was the role of the Kaishakunin designated to assist a samurai during his suicide by Seppuku: he has to behead the samurai with a katana to spare him a long agony due to evisceration; it's considered bad form to show pain while ritually disemboweling oneself.
  • This is the reason behind the voluntary euthanasia laws in Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, three US states, and the Canadian province of Quebec beginning in 2015, becoming legal across the rest of Canada from June 2016. Obviously, as stated above this remains very controversial.
    • One of the unexpected consequences of the euthanasia laws in Switzerland has been suicide tourism of terminally ill patients seeking for euthanasia. Needless to say that the locals have not been very amused.
  • The case of Betty Williams is regarded as this: a "fast", imaginative young woman is said to have been suicidal and asks her ex-boyfriend to kill her.
  • Often used as an excuse when parents murder their disabled children. Mostly a subversion, as the child practically never wants to die.

Alternative Title(s): Mercy Killing