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Ordered to Die

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A leader demonstrates their authority by ordering one of their followers or underlings to kill themselves. Perhaps the lieutenant has failed one too many times. Perhaps it's a sheer demonstration of their own power and their followers' Blind Obedience. Perhaps it's just to Kick the Dog.

A key point is that the victim obeys of their own free will. If they don't have a choice, it's Psychic-Assisted Suicide. If they have a choice between suicide and something worse, see Suicidal Sadistic Choice. If the victim doesn't realize their action will kill them, see Tricked to Death.

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A variant is the leader ordering their people to do something obviously suicidally dangerous but not directly deadly, such as stand between him and The Hero.

Subtrope of Murder by Suicide. Supertrope to Walk the Plank, a specific version of execution by suicide; Seppuku can also be one.

Compare Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You, where it's the character volunteering to die, and Leave Behind a Pistol, for when they are allowed to kill themselves as a way out. Telling someone to kill themselves without having the authority to expect them to obey is a Suicide Dare, and can end in Driven to Suicide.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Vanilla Ice cutting off his own head to give Dio his blood out of Blind Obedience might count, as he had no idea he could be revived and become a vampire. Might - maybe he's just too dense to realize decapitation is a fatal sacrifice.
  • At the start of the No Game No Life movie, Riku orders Ivan to sacrifice himself to allow Riku and Alei to escape. Ivan accepts unquestioningly, asking Riku to look after his daughter, and Riku later reveals that he's done this dozens of times before.
  • One Piece
    • The personnel of the military group Germa 66 are expected to become a Human Shield for their commanders if they are ordered to. In particular, their supreme leader, Judge, during his fight with Sanji, ordered his men to form a wall in front of him and then he tries to strike Sanji through his men, impaling one of them with his spear in the process, to distract Sanji.
    • Earlier on, Don Krieg, infuriated by his lieutenant Gin's decision to spare Sanji, orders Gin to throw away his gas mask immediately before bombarding the area with poison gas. Gin complies, and when Luffy throws him and Sanji gas masks (forgetting to keep one for himself), Gin throws his back to Luffy, resulting in him being (possibly fatally) poisoned.
    Films — Live-Action 
  • Babylon A.D.. In an extra included in the DVD, an animated scene called The Genesis of Aurora shows the Back Story of how Darquandier met the High Priestess of the Neolite cult. The latter has the two acolytes accompanying her take poison, just to show off her power.
    High Priestess: If one will die for a religion...
  • In the movie The Beastmaster, High Priest Maax orders two of his underlings to kill themselves as a show of his power by hanging themselves. They immediately obey.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982). Thulsa Doom does this merely to demonstrate An Aesop that flesh is stronger than steel. He points out one of the Children of Doom standing high above him on a cliff, and gently encourages her to come to him. She fearlessly leaps off the edge, her impact smashing her through the floorboards.
    Thulsa Doom: THAT is strength, boy. THAT is power!
  • In Enemy at the Gates, when Kruschev arrives in Stalingrad, he immediately hands his predecessor - who had lost almost all of his command - a pistol and tells him he's on orders from The Boss and it will spare the paperwork.
  • Defied in Flash Gordon. Ming orders Prince Thun to kill himself for providing inadequate tribute. Thun attacks Ming instead, and Ming kills him.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian: "We are the Judean People's Front Crack Suicide Squad! Suicide Squad, attack!" (they all stab themselves)

    Jokes 
  • Joke - During World War 2 a Japanese officer tells some Australian soldiers he's taken prisoner that the Japanese will win because their soldiers are braver. To demonstrate, he orders one of his men to commit hari-kari. The Japanese soldier rips open his belly with his sword. Not to be outdone, the Australian officer orders one of his men to do the same. The Australian soldier tells him to f**k off.
    Japanese officer: Aha! You said your men were braver!
    Australian officer: They are. Your man wouldn't have dared answer you back like that.
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    Literature 
  • In Alamut, Hassan-i Sabbah of The Hashshashin demonstrates his power over his acolytes by ordering two of them to commit suicide, which they do without hesitation.
  • In the Conrad Stargard series by Leo Frankowski, a delegation sent by the Mongols does this as psychological warfare when demanding the Poles submit to the Mongol Empire. The protagonist realizes he's got to take charge of matters or the battle will be lost before it's begun. So Conrad asks the Mongol ambassador to order another member of their delegation to kill himself. He hesitates (because it's his son, as it turns out) but complies. Then Conrad asks for yet another demonstration. When the ambassador demands to know why, Conrad says if all the Mongols are stupid enough to kill themselves, they won't have to fight them on the battlefield.
  • In Quo Vadis, a Roman nobleman Petronius is ordered to commit suicide by Emperor Nero. It's clear that if he doesn't do it, he can expect a Fate Worse than Death. Petronius cuts his wrists and dies in a warm bath of water, which is supposed to be relatively painless. His beautiful slave and lover voluntarily joins him to invoke Together in Death.
  • In Fredric Brown's short story "Rebound", a person discovers he has the power of Compelling Voice, and ends up shouting "Drop dead!" during a night walk. Next morning, he is found dead atop Echo Hill.
  • At least two examples in the Sword of Truth series:
    • Confessor magic enslaves a person's mind completely, to the extent that powerful ones can order a person to drop dead, and he will. Kahlan had demonstrated the ability several times over the books.
    • Jagang demonstrates his power to the captive Sisters of Dark by ordering a previously captured one to die... and showing them what it means to die when still formally serving a most displeased Keeper
  • In the Pocket Books Star Trek novel Here There Be Dragons, the Enterprise is attacked by a ship that clearly has no chance of defeating them; the attacking crew trigger the self-destruct rather than be captured, as per their standing orders. An odd example in that the crew aren't soldiers, Proud Warrior Race Guys or religious fanatics, but regular human criminals who are Only in It for the Money; possibly their superiors have promised to ensure that blowing themselves up will be the less painful option, but it's not elaborated on. In any case, the flaws of this system rapidly become apparent, as one of the crew decides he'd rather live and ejects in the escape pod — but rather than simply turn himself in and provide state's evidence, he attempts to lead the Enterprise into a trap, figuring he can sweet-talk his way back into his superiors' good graces. It turns out badly both for him and his superiors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the pilot movie of Lexx His Divine Shadow orders a guard who failed to prevent the protagonists from escaping with the titular superweapon to execute her partner, and then herself.
  • Supernatural: Dick Roman, leader of the Leviathan monster race, orders a minion who failed him to eat himself. Since they have a built-in Healing Factor, this is a ridiculously cruel punishment even by the standards of other Bad Bosses featured in the show.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE: Roodaka demonstrates her authority over the Visorak to Vakama by ordering a few Visorak to jump off a cliff.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed I: Al Mualim has Altair and two other assassins jump to their deaths to prove to Robert they do not fear death. It's really a ploy to get them to circumvent the Templars and activate Masyaf's defenses.

    Real Life 
  • This was how Socrates died. Due to how his influence corrupted the Athenian youth, the Athenian government forced him to kill himself by drinking hemlock.
  • Supposedly there was a Real Life incident that inspired this trope, variously attributed to any of the below. As with all such tales they should be taken with a grain of salt, as they may have just been exaggerated horror stories for the benefit of Western audiences.
    • Shaka Zulu (who marched an entire impi off a cliff to impress visiting Europeans)
    • Alexander the Great (to frighten a city into surrendering)
    • King Henri Christophe of Haiti at the cliff castle of Sans-Souci
    • or The Old Man of the Mountain (that's the guy who led The Hashshashin, not the Dirty Old Man who chased Betty Boop.)

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