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Stop, or I Shoot Myself!

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The worst kind of hostage situation.

"Nobody move! I have a hostage. If anyone follows us, I'll kill myself and then her."
Roy Miller, Knight and Day

A Hostage Situation where the hostage taker and the hostage are one and the same.

There are several reasons why this actually works:

  1. Might be because the baddies want the hostage alive (perhaps because the hostage's death would ruin the bad guy's plan)
  2. The user is dealing with a principled enemy who just doesn't want any casualties.
  3. The character is confronting law enforcement officers or other authority figures who'd rather prevent deaths if possible.
  4. They are dealing with a robot that is Three Laws-Compliant.
  5. Rule of Funny, especially if Insane Troll Logic is at play.
  6. Threatening suicide is sometimes a tactic used by an Entitled Bastard to demand (and get) what they want.

Super-Trope to Breath-Holding Brat. May involve a Dead Man Switch. Contrast Spiteful Suicide, which is what happens (in some cases) when the hostage follows through with "shooting themself".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • While he doesn't use a gun, in episode 12 of 11eyes, Kakeru, having foresaw a Downer Ending in episode 11 if he had taken certain steps against Liselotte, instead threatens to commit suicide, which would also kill off the Big Bad's former lover. Luckily for him the gambit worked, which allowed the remaining heroes to take her down.
  • In the manga version of Mega Man X4, the co-protagonist Maverick Hunter Zero gets into a fight with his old friend Colonel of Repliforce, since he was unwilling to cease the Repliforce coup d'etat against the Maverick Hunters and the government. Iris, Colonel's brother and a friend to them both, threatens to shoot and kill herself unless they stop fighting, as she feared one of them would die. She is successful, Zero puts down his saber, and Colonel uses the opportunity to swing his saber at Zero, but he stops at the last moment. Sadly, during their second fight, Zero held nothing back and did kill Colonel by slicing him in half.
  • Ouka stops Kyouka from commiting Grand Theft Me on him in Kyouran Kazoku Nikki using this method.
  • Higuchi in Death Note, after having been cornered as the current Kira, does this to keep himself from being caught. At some point he realizes it is hopeless and tries to pull the trigger. Watari snipes it out of his hands.
  • Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! stands on a very high ledge, such that if Yami Yugi attacks with his monster to deal the finishing blow, he'll be knocked off the ledge and fall to his death. But it's subverted in a way. Yami Yugi doesn't care! He would have gone ahead and knocked Kaiba off of the rooftop if not for Yugi's intervention. The fact that the Pharaoh is willing to go so far to win promptly puts Yugi in a Heroic BSoD.
  • In an early episode of Code Geass, Lelouch threatens suicide when C.C. tries to stop him from walking into an Obvious Trap — he can't threaten her since she has a Healing Factor, and she needs him to fulfill her contract. He's also managed to convince people to follow his orders in a similar fashion.
    Lelouch: All methods of escape have been sealed. If you believe you can get out of here without me, then shoot me now!
  • In the first Vampire Hunter D movie, the female lead threatens to bite out her tongue and bleed to death unless the villains leave her brother and the town doctor alone.
  • In Trigun, Wolfwood seems to do this, to provide a visual example on how someone's chosen action will lead to the death of hundreds. It is quickly revealed however, that he never intended to put himself in any danger, and was using an empty clip.
  • In early One Piece, Kaya threatens to cut her own throat with a chakram if Jango doesn't spare the children he's currently pummeling. Since he needs her alive long enough to write a will naming Captain Kuro as her sole inheritor, it works.
  • Naruto:
    • In the Land of Waves arc (Naruto's first big mission), Inari's mother threatens her captives with biting her own tongue off if they hurt her son (leaving them without a hostage to use as leverage). Later subverted when she tries it again and, having her in their clutches, the bad guys simply knock her out to prevent her from doing so.
    • In the Forest of Death, a variation is used; Ino possesses the body of Kin, one of the Sound Genin, and threatens to commit suicide unless Dosu and Zaku stand down. However, the two know that any damage done to a victim of possession by that technique also hurts the possessor, and not only see through the bluff but attack Kin to injure Ino. Not to mention that the Sound Genin don't like each other and thus don't actually care if Kin dies, so long as they complete their mission.
  • In Speed Grapher, Kagura pulls this, holding an axe to her throat because she knows the villains need her alive.
  • In World Embryo, Amami Riku threatens to slice his own throat if Grown-up!Nenee didn't stop the embryo.
  • In School Shock, the Hao Xuan pulls this off with a mecha to help Liu Li escape.
  • In Ah! My Goddess, the Lord of Terror's last and dirtiest trick is to possess Keiichi. He then demands that Skuld build him a ten-dimensional scythe which he needs to cut the universe's superstring. When Skuld refuses, he grabs a hammer and starts bashing his (Keiichi's) skull. Skuld grudgingly agrees to build the scythe. Later on, Skuld complains that the Lord of Terror could at least help look for building materials instead of sitting around all day. He promptly pulls out the hammer again.
  • A twist on this occurs in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny episode 34. After realizing that the Freedom's pilot has a Thou Shalt Not Kill policy, Shinn Asuka exploits it in their next battle by deliberately putting himself in situations where his attacks would become fatal, which forces Kira to check his swings.
  • During Dragon Ball Z's Cell saga Android 18 is confronted with Cell, a much more powerful monster who wishes to absorb her in order to evolve to his perfect form. Having seen her twin brother being absorbed only a short time before, 18 threatens to blow herself up if Cell continues to pursue her. Since he needs her alive for his plan to work, the threat stops Cell (albeit only temporarily).

    Board Games 
  • This is a classic threat by the desperate in Diplomacy. A given player in a situation will claim that he will move all his forces to face the one he is threatening, so that someone else will have a power vacuum to take advantage of, while the one threatened will get very little.

  • National Lampoon's 1974 LP Missing White House Tapes is a series of vignettes patterned as a standard broadcast day on TV with the "shows" referencing the Watergate scandal. One show The FBI, features this from then FBI director L. Patrick Gray, who was up on some charges from the scandal:
    Gray: [through bullhorn] All right... this is L. Patrick Gray of the FBI. Now, I know I'm in there. If I don't come out with my hands up, I'm coming in after me.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Played with in issue #3 of The Man of Steel: Superman gets to hear about a vigilante called Batman and goes to Gotham City to capture him. Batman holds him off by revealing that somewhere in the city is a man with a bomb strapped to him, and Batman is wearing a device that will automatically detonate the bomb if Superman comes too close. Superman agrees to keep his distance and watch Batman in action, they wind up working together to bring down the villain of the week, and at the end of the issue Superman admits that Batman's not as lawless as he'd heard, and he'd probably be willing to let Batman continue operating if it weren't for that strapping-bombs-to-innocent-civilians thing. At this, Batman explains (what neither Superman nor the audience had known up to this point) that the man with the bomb strapped to him was actually Batman himself.
    • It's played with even more 20 years later. During Infinite Crisis, Kal-L, the Golden Age Superman, gets to relive Kal-El's life from his eyes. During this point, Batman tells Superman about the bomb and is shocked. Moments later, he calls his bluff, gets rid of the bomb on him and the two become friends.
    • In Adventure Comics issue #418, Supergirl gets to stop a terrorist gang. When she corners the youngest of them, the kid points a gun at his temple and threatens to kill himself if she goes a step closer. Fortunately, Supergirl manages to take the weapon away.
    • Mark Verheiden wrote a story where the indestructible Bizarro robbed a bank with a gun pointed at his own head. Luckily he rejected the money they offered him and asked for the contents of their trash cans.
  • In Star Wars: Legacy, Cade Skywalker is being visited by the ghost of his ancestor, Luke, who wants him to stop wasting his life taking drugs, smuggling, and bounty hunting and instead embrace his family's legacy. Cade pulls a blaster, which Luke points out isn't going to hurt him since he's long dead. So Cade points it at himself.
  • In the Teen Titans storyline "Titans Tomorrow", Tim Drake discovers that in this future, the Titans grow up to be evil, led by his future Batman self. To bargain with his future self, Tim places a gun to his own head.

    Fan Works 
  • Sickeningly well-played by America in the lengthy, disturbing Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Seven Little Killers.
  • From Code MENT:
    Lelouch: So you're going to shoot me huh? Well the only person who shoots me is me! (points a gun at his head) Good luck trying to shoot me WHEN I'M ALREADY DEAD!
  • The Ultimate Evil: This happens in the retelling of the ninth episode of Jackie Chan Adventures. When Tohru is about to destroy the antidote against the venom that's turning Jackie to stone, Valerie Payne, aware that the Dark Hand's mysterious employer wants her alive, suddenly takes some of Jackie's blood into a syringe and threatens to inject it into herself and risk turning herself into stone as well. The Enforcers contact Valmont and explain the situation by her prodding, but a fight breaks out when Shendu orders Valerie to be stopped.
  • A variant on this trope is given as the reason why Superman Stays Out of Gotham in the Miraculous Ladybug/Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfic What the Cat Dragged In. Fury specifically notes that neither the Avengers' powersets nor SHIELD's gear and training is particularly suited to subduing the akumatized without permanently harming them, and they have no guarantee that Ladybug's ability to reverse the damage inflicted by the akumas and the Miraculouses themselves will extend to reversing damage inflicted by a third party.
  • Index in the To Aruverse Rewrite Project does this in order to remain in Academy City. Because she made a vow that will kill her through magic if she doesn't get justice for the children who died, she has to remain there to see it through no matter what anyone else wants.
  • Telling Lies? No, Mama has the akuma Facade, formed from two victims being forcibly merged into one when they were simultaneously akumatized. One side of Facade is Fighting from the Inside, and the other half attempts to take that side hostage as leverage against the heroes.
  • Vow of Nudity: When the fey kidnappers attempt to force Gloria to drop her weapon, they make the mistake of revealing they're not allowed to harm her. She instantly presses her rapier to her own throat and dares them to take another step.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blazing Saddles: Bart takes himself hostage to dissuade the townspeople were about to lynch him. Moments later, they are suddenly saying things like "Won't someone help that poor man?"
    Bart: [to himself] Ooh baby, you are so talented — and they are so dumb!
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    Zaphod Beeblebrox: As my first act as president, I am kidnapping myself, and I'm taking the ship with me!
  • Flirting Scholar: The main character's mother and eight wives threaten suicide unless he changes his ways, definitely a Rule of Funny example with Insane Troll Logic.
  • John Q.: A borderline case, in that his death would actually accomplish something — after a more traditional hostage situation where he makes the fairly reasonable demand that the hospital put his dying son on the transplant list, he threatens to kill himself if the hospital is unable to find a donor heart for his son, so they can transplant his heart.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Will puts a gun to his own throat while standing next to the ship's edge, in order to get Elizabeth released from Barbossa's crew. Initially, however, it only really leaves Barbossa and his men confused as to why they should care, and Will has to explain who he is — they need the blood from his living body to lift their curse.
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash: It works because the villains can't afford to have her die before she reveals the information they want. However, it also backfires because she continues to run around the British Embassy brandishing the gun and is mistaken for a terrorist.
    Embassy Receptionist: Do you want a hostage? I've been trained to be a hostage.
  • The opening scene of Murder at 1600 features the protagonist (a D.C. homicide cop) trying to talk down a cracked government bureaucrat who is holding a gun to his own head in the middle of a busy street. Why is a homicide detective filling in for a hostage negotiator? Don't ask so many questions.
  • John Connor tries this in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines against the Terminator sent to protect him. It doesn't work because it has enough programming on human psychology to realize that John's threat was most likely a bluff.
  • Roy Miller does this in Knight and Day just to cause a scene and make a local fireman a hero. "Nobody move or I kill myself and then I kill her!"
  • In the French movie RRRrrrr, the leader of the Cheveux Sales (the Dirty Hairs) takes himself hostage in order to force the Cheveux Propres (the Clean Hairs) to give his tribe the secret of shampoo. When the Cheveux Propres utterly ignore his demands as expected, he actually follows through with his threat to kill the hostage. Yes, it's that kind of movie. Perfectly summarized in a dialog during his funeral:
    New Chief: He said gimme the secret before dusk or I'll kill myself. He said it — he did it: A great man...
    His daugther: Rather more a great nitwit!
    New Chief: [reluctantly, through tears] Yeah ...
  • In Love Happy, the Marx Brothers' final film, Harpo is being tortured for information, but he's too dumb to torture. He is getting hungry though. So when he breaks out he points a gun to his own head and starts eating.
  • In S.W.A.T., the team's first assignment after passing the S.W.A.T. test is to deal with a "Polish hostage" (a forty-something mental patient off his meds, specifically).
    Deeks: So what if he's Polish?
    Hondo: Naw, it means he's one of those "anybody comes in, I blow my head off" type guys.
  • In the Andrei Tarkovsky film The Sacrifice, Alexander is convinced that sleeping with his maid Maria will avert World War III. He gets her to go along with it by pointing a gun at his head.
  • Elysium: Max holds a live grenade to his head and threatens to detonate it to destroy the valuable implanted information in his head, in order to force the Elysium mercenaries to allow him onto their shuttle. They agree... because they have Max's friend and her daughter on board as hostages — if he detonates the grenade, he'll kill them as well.
  • Mel, in Shuttle attempts to escape a White Slavery ring by threatening to cut her face if they don't let her go.
  • Les Miserables: Marius threatens to torch a barrel of gunpowder, blowing up everybody there including himself, in order to get the police to back off.
  • 13 Sins: While wrecking the rehearsal dinner, Elliot keeps the security guards at bay by holding a serving fork to his own throat and threatening to stab himself.
  • At the climax of John Carpenter's Vampires, Father Guiteau kills the evil cardinal Valek needs to complete his ritual (it requires an ordained priest). When Valek demands that Guiteau do the ritual instead, Guiteau just points his gun at himself and dares Valek to try and make him do it. Bear in mind that this is all happening right before sunrise; whatever Valek does, he's screwed.
  • In Pet, Holly takes Seth's knife and threatens to cut her throat if he doesn't release her from the dog cage he's been keeping her in.

  • An acceptable target walks into a bank, holds a gun to his head: "This is a robbery! I've got a hostage!" The manager: "Let me guess, you want <currency of acceptable target's nation>?"
  • A Dumb Blonde finds out her husband has been fooling around behind her back, so she busts in on him and his mistress with a gun that she points at her own head. The husband screams, "Honey, don't do it!" The blonde yells, "Shut up! You're next!"
  • If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill themselves, is it a hostage situation?

  • Dona Lolita, the heroine of the original Zorro novel, does this with a dagger, forcing the Alcalde's guards to let her escape.
  • In Chris Hiemerdinger's Feathered Serpent, part 2, Melody threatens to kill herself if King Jacob kills a few of his men (who made a mess up) seeing as he needs her alive to convince her uncle to help him, he agrees. Granted, she doesn't have a gun, she uses a knife.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novel The Shattered Alliance, Lim-Dul comments on this trope after pulling a Grand Theft Me on Jaya Ballard.
    Lim-Dul: I could threaten her, I suppose, but I would just be threatening myself, and that would be stupid. "One wrong move and I let myself have it."
  • In Shatterpoint, Mace Windu takes himself hostage to coerce his renegade Padawan Depa, referring to himself as "the only hostage a Jedi could legally take". He comments on it, later:
    Depa: Only Mace Windu would think of taking himself hostage.
    Mace: I was the only one available.
  • The Dresden Files: In Grave Peril, Harry gets past Leanansidhe by poisoning himself. His friend has the antidote, which he'll exchange for Lea's word that she'll leave Harry alone for a year and a day.
  • In Harbingers, Jack uses this when the Ally has mortally wounded Gia and Vicky. Since he's the backup Chosen One, his threat to shoot himself if they die works.
  • Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn: Bigman Jones holds a needle-gun to his own head and threatens suicide to manipulate a group of Three Laws-Compliant robots—they are forced to do what he says, because they can't allow a human being to come to harm. Bigman tells them to deliver him to the base commander, Sten Devoure.
  • Parodied in Making Money. Moist von Lipwig broke an insane artist out of jail so he could work on designs for the new paper money, but the artist thinks Moist is there to take him back to jail, so he attempts to commit suicide by ingesting poisonous paint. He does actually get the paint into his mouth, but he left the cap on.
    Moist: Ah. You left the cap on. An amateur mistake.
    Owlswick: There are people who commit suicide professionally?
It speaks volumes about Ankh-Morpork and the Disc in general that the answer to the question is yes.
  • In Honor's Knight, second book of the Paradox Trilogy, Devi negotiates by pointing a gun at her own head. It works, because she's carrying the last surviving strain of the Stoneclaw virus; if she dies, it'll be lost forever. Caldswell later pulls the same trick; he is Reaper's sworn prey, and if he kills himself then Reaper will never have the opportunity to honorably defeat him.
  • In The Girl from the Well, Tark at one point threatens the woman in black to stop or he'll kill himself, as he's realized that if he dies before she manages to break the five seals binding her to him then she'll die along with him.
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Death and Diplomacy, Jason Kane pulls this in order to escape from a potentially-dangerous situation. Includes a Shout-Out to Blazing Saddles itself, with Jason spouting Bart's "Jesse Owens" line before bolting.
  • In the Odd Thomas series, this is the reason Odd Does Not Like Guns. His emotionally abusive mother used to pull this on him when he was a kid.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm Queen of the Dead: Ms. Crate kidnaps five teenagers, puts them on a reality tv show without their consent, and blackmails them into being supervillains to further her show. The kids point out that she's breaking nearly all of the hero/villain rules regarding children. She admits that's true... and counters that if they report her, she'll be executed by the heroes. They don't hate her that much (and she did pay them for their time on her stupid show). She continues being an antagonist/extremely annoying benefactor throughout the book. She didn't consider that the heroes might find out what she did on their own. Mourning Dove kills her in front of the kids with zero warning and even less regret.
  • The Faraway Paladin: In a flashback to the Three Heroes' campaign against the demons' High King, Blood tells Mary that she's staying behind when they go to fight him, because he's in love with her and doesn't want to risk losing her in battle. Mary replies that if he leaves her behind, she'll kill herself. Blood drops that subject and asks her to marry him once the war is over.
  • The Little House sees an example that overlaps with Scarpia Ultimatum — the Marquis Trémicour threatens to kill himself if Mélite refuses his advances.
  • Severin attempts this maneuver in Venus in Furs when his dominatrix Wanda begins to take an interest in Gorgeous Greek Alexis Papadopolis. Fearing he will lose his mistress' attention, Severin goes to her chambers and desperately pleads for her not to dismiss him. Wanda continues to treat him as a plaything (exactly as he had requested) and is entirely unimpressed when he takes her dagger and threatens to kill himself if she doesn't return his affections:
    "Mercy," I implored. "Do not drive me away. No man, no one, will love you as I do."
    "Let me go to sleep,"—she turned her back to me again.
    I leaped up, and snatched the poinard, which hung beside her bed, from its sheath, and placed its point against my breast.
    "I shall kill myself here before your eyes," I murmured dully.
    "Do what you please," Wanda replied with complete indifference. "But let me go to sleep." She yawned aloud. "I am very sleepy."
  • The Dark Forest: Luo Ji manages to scare Trisolaris into calling off their invasion by threatening to kill himself, which would trigger a dead man's switch and send out an improvised dark forest broadcast targeting Trisolaris.
  • In Date A Live, Shido threatens to commit suicide if Kurumi won't release her hostages. She thinks he's bluffing until he throws himself off the school roof. Kurumi immediately rescues Shido, proving that he has value as a hostage. She needs a lot of power to pull off her plans, and Shido is full of it after he absorbed the powers of other Spirits. He promptly threatens to commit suicide again by biting his own tongue. Of course, Shidou knew he could survive those, since he's manifesting regenerative powers (which is later revealed to be Kotori's), but Kurumi doesn't know that.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Legend of Xiao Chuo: Hu Nian holds a knife at her own throat and threatens to kill herself unless De Rang lets Yansage go.
  • Nirvana in Fire: Liyang orders Xie Yu to let Prince Yu's guards into the mansion, and holds a knife at her own throat until he obeys.
  • The Eighth Doctor, in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie. After getting stuck in traffic whilst pursuing the Master, the Doctor walks up to a nearby motorcycle cop and offers him a jelly baby, sneaks his gun away from him and proceeds to hold himself hostage in exchange for the cop's motorcycle. While the television movie is contentious with many fans, most agree that this scene in particular cemented Paul McGann as a credible Eighth Doctor.
  • An old Saturday Night Live skit spoofing Lethal Weapon had Mel Gibson stick a gun in his own mouth whenever one of his requests was denied. It even worked over the radio.
  • Farscape
    • John Crichton, when faced with enemies that want him alive, holds himself hostage with his finger, saying, in a direct reference to Blazing Saddles, "Get back or the white boy gets it!" Moments later, he remarks upon their stupidity.
    • Not the last time he threatens himself, either, since for many reasons a lot of people DO want him alive. He later walks around with a nuclear bomb strapped to himself and tells his adversaries it's set to go off if he gets upset.
    • Much earlier, he used himself as hostage to get an explosive-laden shuttle in position for destroying Scorpius's Gammak base.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael does this in the first season finale. The Organization is trying to take him in but he needs time to save Sam's life so, knowing they need him alive, Michael puts a gun to his head and tells them to back off. It works. It's one of the few times the trope isn't played for humor; it's actually plausible.
  • Stargate Atlantis, Season 3 episode "Sateda": Ronon Dex is captured, along with Teyla and Sheppard, by villagers he previously met during his Runner days. They're planning to deliver him to the Wraith in exchange for their village to be spared. The elder refuses to free them even when Ronon put a knife under the throat of one of his jailers — so Ronon threatens to slit his own throat if they don't let Sheppard and Teyla go. The villagers are forced to yield since the Wraith were already summoned forth — and they wouldn't be very pleased to find Ronon dead, as they want him alive for an ultimate hunt.
  • Done by the title character in The Invisible Man series.
    • The bad guys wouldn't have minded if he wasn't pointing the gun at his head, because they needed the gland intact, and it was hooked into his brain. He ducks around a corner and shoots the gun off, then falls to the floor apparently headless. When the mook leans over the body to examine it, he kicks his gun out of his hand. Apparently nobody told the mooks that he can selectively make only parts of himself invisible, too.
    • Also done in the pilot episode. Darien points a shotgun at his head and threatens to fire if the bad guys don't back off. Since what they're after is the invisibility gland in his brain, they do so. (Bonus points as Darien knows where in his head the gland is located and positions the shotgun for maximum damage)
  • In the episode "7 Men Out" of NUMB3RS, Granger was getting ready to get one guy when the guy put a gun to his own head. Granger ordered him to drop the gun and the guy did. He tossed the gun at Granger and ran for it.
  • Red Dwarf "Body Swap": after Rimmer steals Lister's body and runs off in Starbug, he holds a gun to his head and warns them not to follow "or the body gets it!".
  • In Blue Bloods, done in the Season 1 finale by a dirty cop, when confronted by ESU and the Police Commissioner. The Commissioner's response? "We all have to die sooner or later."
    • A variant appears in one episode where a criminal fleeing from Danny Reagen deliberately jumps out of a window and then accuses Danny of having pushed him out through it, in hopes of using the resultant police brutality scandal to not only get off from the crime he committed, but a sizable payoff.
  • Attempted by Hyde in Jekyll, but the antagonist calls his bluff.
  • In the second episode of Black Mirror, Bing threatens to cut his own throat on live television to prevent anyone from interrupting his speech.
  • In The Secret Circle the ghosts of a coven of witches possess Adam and threaten to kill the "shell" unless they're given Blackwell's amulet.
  • In the final episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Jack and Rex (the latter having had a full body transfusion of Jack's blood), pull this on the Three Families and their Mooks when in the Blessing — the Families can't shoot them, because if they do, their (well, Jack's) blood will be absorbed by the Blessing and undo the Miracle, restoring death to the world. The Family members present try to create a Sadistic Choice to stop them, but they go through with it anyway.
  • In the pilot episode of Cracked Detective Aiden Black puts a gun to his own head in order to get the attention of a schizophrenic Serial Killer who was now trying to kill himself. By drawing attention to the fact that they were similar (Aiden suffers from PTSD after a fatal shooting) Aiden is able to convince the killer to put down his knife and seek help.
  • On Breaking Bad, Walt and Jesse tell Gus that, if he kills one of them, the other will force Gus to kill him as well, as he needs at least one of them alive.
  • On Person of Interest, Shaw's prepared to kill herself to avoid hurting Root when Root tells her if she actually does it, she'll kill herself too, turning the situation into an impromptu Suicide Pact until Shaw stands down. Which, despite running 7,000 simulations of this situation, is something that Samaritan oddly never considered.
  • In the Supergirl episode "Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk", Mxyzptlk tries to force Supergirl to marry him. To stop him, she sets the Fortress of Solitude to self-destruct, pointing out it would be enough to kill her. Since he's not allowed to use his powers to stop someone from killing themselves, he panics and begs her to shut it off. She gives him the deactivation code and he enters it. Since it was in Kryptonian script, he found out too late that it was "KLTPZYXM", his name backwards, banishing him back to the Fifth Dimension.
  • Jessica Jones: Kilgrave takes a police precinct hostage by using his Compelling Voice to order the officers to point their guns at each other, or their own heads.
  • The Man in the High Castle: When the Nazis apprehend Hawthorne Abendsen, he threatens to shoot himself since he knows that they need him alive for their plans. However, John Smith is already holding his wife hostage, so he's ultimately forced to back down.
  • Played for Laughs in the French series Kaamelott. One episode has an overprotective bodyguard assigned to King Arthur's side 24/7, so Arthur tries to get him off his back by holding a dagger to his own throat. The plan fails, as it only causes the bodyguard to freak out.
  • Altered Carbon. On being ordered by Reileen to Shoot Your Mate, Takeshi Kovacs puts the gun to his own head, knowing his life is the only one she values. Turns out It Works Better with Bullets.
  • Into the Badlands: In the season 2 finale, MK is being sheltered/imprisoned by The Widow, who is trying to persuade/force him to get his gift back so she can use it as a weapon. MK doesn't want to do this, so he holds pruning shears up to his neck to force the Widow to let him talk to Bajie.
  • In the 6th season finale of The 100, Clarke pulls this as part of an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight to save her daughter Madi. Madi ultimately takes back control and they both survive, though Sheidheda, who had possessed Madi, manages to escape.

  • The Penumbra Podcast. Juno Steel threatens to shoot himself when Miasma tries to have Peter Nureyev killed. Miasma eventually caves, but takes Nureyev with them as a hostage.

  • Irving Bubbalowe in Too Many Cooks gets out of the final conflict by doing this with a gun to his head.
  • In the third act of The Girl of the Golden West, Minnie stops Johnson's hanging by riding in on a horse and pointing her pistol at both him and herself. (This happens in the opera, but not in the original play.)

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: One of the Militia's captains wears a bomb vest designed to kill him if he falls unconscious; since Batman has a code against killing, this deterrent renders the captain a constant hostage against him. Naturally, Batman disarms the vest while he's busy explaining it.
  • Played for drama in Mass Effect. The Colonist's background mission, "I Remember Me", has Shepard trying to talk down the only other survivor of Mindoir, a deranged, suicidal girl who'd escaped from the same batarian slavers that killed Shepard's family.
  • Also in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The level "The Sins of the Father" concerns the protagonists tracking down the son of the Big Bad, and they manage to corner him on the roof of a building, shouting at him to drop his weapon and come quietly. If you wait around long enough, or move forward to restrain him as Captain Price tells you, he simply puts his weapon up to his chin and blow his brains out (telling you in unsubtitled Russian that "you will all die soon anyway" if you wait around).
  • In COUNTER:SIDE, at the end of the "Frozen Corridors" storyline, Regina MacCready pulls this on Edel Meitner, a nigh-invulnerable Humanoid Abomination, by threatening to freeze and shatter her own brain unless Edel submits to her. Since Regina is the only person Edel has ever cared about on a personal level, it works.
  • Just like in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Will threatens to kill himself in Kingdom Hearts II unless Barbossa lets Elizabeth (plus Sora, Donald, and Goofy) go free. Unlike in the film, this backfires thanks to Pete's presence, and everyone else is left tied up on the Interceptor.
  • Disco Elysium: In order to intimidate the Hardy Boys and get them to tell you what they know about a murder, you can pull out your gun and threaten to shoot, yourself. And depending on how things play out, you may go through with it.
  • In Final Fantasy X, Yuna threatens to throw herself off a very tall building if the villain doesn't let her friends go. Since he needs her alive, he relents. Then she throws herself off the building anyway, but uses one of her Aeons to catch her on the way down.
  • It's possible to play this completely straight, for dramatic purposes, in Planescape: Torment. By taking the right actions, you can acquire a sword capable of killing an immortal (like the Nameless One). With this weapon in your possession, you can then threaten to kill yourself permanently in the last confrontation with the Transcendent One (which would destroy it as well), forcing it to acquiesce to your demands.
  • In Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return, when Kayto is taken captive by the Prototypes, he grabs one of their leader's spider legs and presses the claw up against his throat, warning them that he will kill himself unless they let him go. Since the Prototypes are now Yanderes slavishly obsessed with him due to the influence of his dead girlfriend, they relent, though several of them give chase as soon as he's off their ship.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The villains need Pyra alive since she's the Aegis, the most powerful Blade. So when Malos is about to kill Rex, she threatens to destroy herself with Siren's targeting laser.note  Malos accepts this and takes Pyra without further trickery. Later, Malos' ally Mikhail asks why he fell for such an obvious bluff—Rex has half of Pyra's core crystal keeping him alive, so if she dies then he does too. Malos explains that unlike a normal Blade, the Aegis can operate without her core crystal for a few minutes. She would have transferred the rest of her crystal to Rex, healing him, and had more than enough time to kill herself. This becomes a plot point later when she tricks everyone else into escaping so she can perform a Heroic Sacrifice. She transfers her core to Rex before running off. Luckily, the Architect's blessing lets her revive from the core after.

  • In El Goonish Shive, when Diane realizes that Zeus will be in serious trouble if she gets hurt, she uses this to extort additional information out of him.
    Zeus: Well... I have a theory, but she probably wouldn't want me to...
    Diane: Gonna go hug vampires.
  • Freefall: Doctor Bowman has set up his lab so that if anyone enters without permission it triggers biological sterilization (read: Kill It with Fire).
    Doctor Bowman: Of course, I'll have rushed in to save my work.
    Commander: Doctor, are you holding yourself hostage again?
  • In The Order of the Stick, Serini Toormuck holds herself hostage in a bit of an interesting way. She's brewed up a cauldron of amnesia potion and threatens to immerse herself therewithin unless the Order throws down their weapons. Haley, being a rogue, immediately points out that they hadn’t expected Serini to be there in the first place, so losing her now won’t really affect their plans. Things quickly devolve into a I Know You Know I Know game about who’s bluffing, until Lien just decides to throw a shark at Serini.

    Web Original 
  • Dream SMP: In the Season 2 finale, Tommy threatens to kill himself after he takes Dream's first canon life in the attachments vault, to threaten Dream into coming back to lose his other canon lives. Dream complies, because he is a Stalker Without A Crush to Tommy and pretty much considers him his sole attachment. However, this is a harsher example than normal because Tommy had previously attempted suicide several times earlier in the season.
  • gen:LOCK: Dr. Weller refuses to relocate to the safety of the Anvil until the Colonel approves his candidates' transfers, even though the Union is in the process of identifying his location to capture him. Colonel Marin is utterly flabbergasted at this because it means he is effectively holding himself hostage. Due to the danger he's in, she has no choice but to accept the new recruits in spite of their unique backgrounds.
    Marin: Are you holding yourself hostage?!
    Weller: Maybe..? Yes, yes, I- I think I am!
  • Done to retrieve SCP-105 in this SCP Foundation tale. For context, 105 a.k.a. Iris Thompson can use photos to manipulate whatever object or location the photo is of, literally reaching into the picture to change reality. When she tried to escape and claimed to have lost her abilities, a Foundation agent gave her a photo of the inside mechanics of his gun and shot himself. She deactivated the gun before he fired.
  • In Hunter: The Parenting, Officer Guy Chapman, a man addicted to vampire blood(a "ghoul" as the setting describes them, servants to vampires in exchange for the blood), admits he is willing to go to any lengths to get his fix, to the point where he will take suicidal action to get it from the vampire Big-D has locked in his house. And since Chapman is a cop, his death would not go unnoticed, giving him real leverage in the situation.

    Web Videos 
  • Malk by has its climax where Josh reaches his Rage Breaking Point over his friends shouting about the pronunciation of milk. He pulls a gun on them yelling a Big "SHUT UP!" before turning it on his own head. His friends both proceed to pull guns on him, and when he points out threatening to shoot him if he shoots himself doesn't make sense they both then turn their guns on themselves and demand he put his gun down.
  • Kaiba's suicide gambit in Duelist Kingdom, as mentioned above, is parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Yugi's friends start cheering him on at the idea of killing Kaiba. Tea talks him out of it by saying he might live.

    Western Animation 
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • In the short "The Missing Mouse", Tom hears news of an escaped white lab mouse who has swallowed a powerful explosive. Jerry, who has been painted white when shoe polish falls on him, pretends to be the mouse, trying to hurt himself and forcing Tom to stop him. Eventually, Tom figures it out, and that's when the real lab mouse appears...
    • In the Deitch-era short "Mouse Into Space", Tom tries to prevent Jerry from leaving the house by holding a gun to his head. It doesn't work.
  • Looney Tunes
    • Similar to the Tom and Jerry example occurs, in the short The Unexpected Pest. Sylvester keeps a mouse around to chase every once in a while and keep his mistress from kicking him out. The mouse eventually figures out that Sylvester needs him alive to keep his happy home, and has the poor puddy tat scrambling to keep the mouse from hurting himself.
    • Zigzagged in "Hyde and Go Tweet" where Sylvester is fleeing from a monsterous Tweety, who drank Dr. Jekyll's formula. Sylvester runs to an edge of a building and threatens, "I'll jump!" but then realizes, "Like I have a choice?" and does so. (Fortunately for Sylvester, the whole episode is a Dream Sequence.)
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry goes inside his own body and threatens to destroy his medulla oblongata in order to get rid of the parasitic worms he picked up recently, in a situation that doubles as Taking You with Me.
  • A variation is tried in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Blue Spirit and Aang were trying to escape a Fire Nation base but were surrounded and about to be killed. The Fire Nation commander, Admiral Zhao, warned his soldiers that they needed Aang alive...and the Blue Spirit immediately put his swords at Aang's neck, even though he needs Aang alive too. At first it looked like it worked and Aang and the Blue Spirit left the base, but as soon as Zhao's elite archers were in position the Blue Spirit got an arrow to the face for the trouble (luckily, Aang can run really fast and saved both of them).
  • Played with a little in the Donald Duck short Clown of the Jungle, where the Aracuan bird begins crying and threatening to commit suicide when Donald gets too angry at his actions, causing Donald to back off. Towards the end of the cartoon, Donald finally has had enough, goes into a rage and tries to shoot the Aracuan, who suddenly finds his threats of suicide have completely lost their effect.
  • Eric Cartman from South Park does this to Heidi Turner during his abusive relationship with her to force her to stay with him. The last time he does it, though, Heidi leaves him anyway.
    Cartman: You break up with me, I will kill myself! The choice is yours, Heidi! Come on everybody! "Eric, we don't want you to die."
    Heidi: I'm sorry. You can be the victim. I can't.

    Real Life 
  • In 1968, Ludvik Svoboda, a veteran of both world wars, was the president of Czechoslovakia, which was a completely powerless position because the country was controlled by the Soviet Union. He marched into the office of Leonid Brezhnev, the general secretary of the Soviet Union, and demanded the release of 26 Czechoslovakian political prisoners. When Leonid told him no, Ludvik pulled out a pistol and said: "If I kill myself, my blood will be on your hands, and no-one in the world will believe you did not murder me." Everyone in the room knew he was right, so rather than face the political fallout from his "murder", they released the political prisoners.
  • In 1994, OJ Simpson famously led Los Angeles police in a low-speed chase while fleeing arrest for the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman in a white Bronco driven by his friend, Al Cowlings. Allegedly, Simpson was in the backseat of the Bronco holding a gun to his own head, and had threatened to kill himself if the police got too close. The chase eventually ended at Simpson's house, where he finally surrendered to police.
  • After the emergence of the Omicron COVID outbreak in South Africa that led to widespread travel bans against the country, Tulio de Oliveira — the director of South Africa's Centre for Epidemic Response & Innovation — wrote on Twitter that soon South African biotech companies would run out of reagents used to detect and study the disease that was growing rapidly in the country. When others immediately pledged that flights of critical supplies will be continued, he responded, "Nope, I will not accept reagents without releasing the travel ban!"
  • Threats of suicide and self-harm are a very real form of domestic abuse. Most people are genuinely impacted by the danger of another person dying in front of them, particularly if it's their partner, so backing down in the face of such threats is common.


Video Example(s):


Your bike or my life

To chase down the Master, the Doctor tries to commandeer a policeman's motorcycle by taking his gun while he's distracted and threatening to shoot... himself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / StopOrIShootMyself

Media sources: