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Suicide for Others' Happiness

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"A boy once said, 'I don't want to see people dying. Could it be possible,' he wondered, 'to save everyone in the entire world from suffering?' But what he was really trying to eliminate was himself, and he took up his sword for what he believed."
Archer, Fate/stay night

This is essentially I Want My Beloved to Be Happy but in this case, a character wants to erase themselves from existence/kill themselves because they think that it will make the one they love/care about happy.

Heroic Sacrifice is when a character trades their life for something they honestly and reasonably believe is clearly worth more than their life, such as the lives of two people or to spare another a Fate Worse than Death. In other words, the decision is based on valuing the lives of others over their own. This is when a character kills themselves or deliberately does something likely to result in their death because they believe others will be happier with them out of the picture. They're valuing the happiness of others over their own life.

For example, if we put our characters onboard the Nostromo in Alien, and Bob attacks the alien, knowing he'll probably be killed but it will give Alice and Carl a chance to escape, that's Heroic Sacrifice. If he then discovers the alien has been killed by a falling piece of equipment but decides not to rejoin Alice and Carl because he knows Alice will be happier married to Carl than him, even though he knows the escape pod is his best hope at survival, it's this.

Compare It's a Wonderful Plot, where (as a Shout-Out to It's a Wonderful Life), a character gets to see what would have happened if they had never existed. As such plots usually prove, this sort of thing rarely makes anyone nearly as happy as the person doing it thinks it will (but see "Better if Not Born" Plot for the usual Black Comedy subversion).

Failed attempts at this often result in the would-be suicidal person getting a What the Hell, Hero?, both for trying to kill themselves and for believing that the people they love would be happier if they were dead.

Those left behind by a successful attempt will almost certainly not be made happier by it, as suicide is a tragedy and tragedies tend not to make people happy. If anything they will likely suffer Survivor Guilt or even blame themselves.

Compare/Contrast Driven to Suicide, Undying Loyalty, Death Is the Only Option, Spurned into Suicide. Suicide Dare is when another person tells the character to do this (And That's Terrible).

Truth in Television unfortunately and let's just leave it at that.

Contains Death Tropes so watch out for spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach Shishigawara is utterly devoted to Tsukishima and is willing to throw away his life for him. The implication being that he would do so if it would help Tsukishima in his plans and make him happier in the long run.
  • In Code Geass, something like this happens when Lelouch plans a Zero-Approval Gambit, all so that the hate of the world will be focused on him and hopefully die with him, leaving his sister Nunnally a better world. As he dies, Nunnally tells him she would rather have remained with him in exile.
  • Happens in Destiny of the Shrine Maiden: Chikane plans to die and be erased from Himeko's memories in order for Himeko to live on and be happy. It doesn't really work out, because even without her memories, Himeko's love for her remains ingrained into her very being, causing her anguish. So Chikane comes back from the dead for her.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • After realizing the pain she caused Meredy, Ultear tries to kill herself to atone. Despite Meredy's anger, she forgives Ultear and prevents it.
    • When Jellal is revived with no memories in the Nirvana arc, and Erza angrily throws all of his past atrocities in his face, he attempts to kill himself with a self-destruction spell because he believes that Erza won't be free while he's around for her to hate. She doesn't actually hate him and talks him out of it. Post-Time Skip, having remembered his actions and becoming The Atoner, he considers that he would be better off dead before Erza gives him a Get A Hold Of Yourself Man.
  • Future Diary: Yuno eventually goes this direction in regards to her love for Yukiteru.
  • Koharu no Hibi: Koharu in regards to Akira. She stalks him, obsesses over him, and devotes her whole life to him. In chapter 21 she even told him she would die if he asked her to if she thought it would make him happy.
  • In Monster Johan's whole "perfect suicide" plot was an attempt to eradicate his own existence in order to make his sister Anna happy. As Anna puts it, this "suicide" was the "only expression of love" that Johan could convey.
  • In Nabari no Ou Gau is so devoted to Raikou that he is willing to kill himself to make Raikou happier.
  • In PandoraHearts Vincent is so obsessed with his older brother Gilbert that he wants to do this in regards to him.
  • In Reborn! (2004) Gokudera is implied to have a crush on Tsuna and was prepared to sacrifice himself for Tsuna's happiness during the battle with Belphegor but stops when Tsuna tells him he wouldn't be happy if he sacrificed himself.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: Lain once gives Alice a confession of love. The anime ends with Lain deleting herself from existence for Alice's peace of mind, arranging things so that she can marry her junior high school crush, and spending eternity watching over her from the Wired.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul re Kaneki/Sasaki thinks dying in a cool way will make others love him and that they'll be happier if he sacrifices himself to protect them. He wants to die in the same way he perceives Hide had done for him when he goes to battle Arima. However, a hallucination of Hide steps in to strengthen his resolve to win as he meant that he just wanted to survive together with Kaneki.

    Comic Books 
  • Journey into Mystery (Gillen) concludes with young Loki discovering he wasn't really a reincarnation of the original Loki, only an innocent clone of sorts, whom the original intended from the start to eventually erase from existence and take the body of, with his good name restored, in order to get back to backstabbing everyone whose trust Kid Loki had re-earned. Kid Loki is horrified- but Loki had also manipulated him into creating a MacGuffin currently causing a multiverse-endangering civil war that will only exist as long as Kid Loki does. Kid Loki ultimately agrees to be erased from existence so that his family- particularly Hela and Thor- don't get dragged down in the war and are allowed to be happy.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Butterfly Effect: One of the endings has Evan Treborn go back in time to strangle himself with his own umbilical cord while still in the womb, resulting in a stillbirth. The people Evan cares about, for whose sake he does this, do in fact go on to lead better and happier lives, even if his mother has to go through another miscarriage. Fortunately, while it's implied this has happened with every one of Evan's parents' sons, the next one is a girl, who has none of the powers that drove Evan to do it.note 
  • Cruel and Unusual: Doris believed she was just a burden to her family, being an alcoholic that could barely function, so she hanged herself. Instead, it made her family suffer greatly (one of her daughters blamed herself) and leaves Doris still reliving the suicide in the afterlife decades after this.
  • Donnie Darko: Donnie allows himself to be killed by the falling plane turbine to allow the various people in his life to live/be happy.
  • In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is on the point of jumping off a bridge after Mr. Potter cruelly tells him "You're worth more dead than alive!", figuring that at least his wife and kids will be able to collect his life insurance. Fortunately, George's guardian angel is there to intervene.
  • In the 1996 movie Kissed, a young man falls in love with a seriously disturbed girl. She has been attracted to dead things since childhood and took a job in a mortuary to give herself access to comely dead men. The young man tries to lead her into a (marginally) healthier relationship with him, and the girl tries but is revolted by sex with the living. The young man eventually commits suicide in front of her so that she will finally love (and make love to) him.
  • Lights Out (2016) had this as some Unfortunate Implications, as (due to a Focus Group Ending), the climax concludes with Sophie committing suicide in order to stop Diane from killing her children, as it's a case of Can't Live Without You. The audience didn't like the initial cut in which it was a Senseless Sacrifice, but the result comes across as this trope because Diane was intended as a representation of depression by the author, who also suffers from (and has lost friends to) the ailment. Suffice to say, this was not the intention, and he plans to address it further in the sequel.
  • Looper: Younger Joe kills himself right before his future self kills Sara, which would have in turn caused her son Cid to become the evil Rainmaker 30 years from then.
  • The alcoholic main character in the 1937, 1954, and 2018 versions of A Star Is Born kills himself so his wife won't have to sacrifice her career to care for him.
  • In the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, Renard, the Big Bad (or possibly The Dragon, you could make a good argument that he fits either role) is willing to die in order to further Electra's plan to irradiate all her competitors' oil by blowing up a nuclear submarine. The fact he's slowly dying from a bullet wound to the head probably helps though.

  • Jude the Obscure: Jude's son, nicknamed "Little Father Time" for how somber he is for his age, commits Murder-Suicide on himself and his two younger half-siblings because he believed that his father Jude and his pregnant adoptive mother Sue would be better off without their children; the family was poor, and Jude being shut out of the house they were granted shelter in for the night because there wasn't enough room was the nail in the coffin for his abysmally bleak outlook on life. The note he leaves behind simply says, "Done because we are too menny." Sue's grief causes her to miscarry less than a few days later and she takes the children's deaths as punishment from God for marrying her cousin; she soon leaves Jude to remarry her ex-husband (who she didn't really love) as a form of self-flagellation, and Jude remarries his ex-wife (who he also didn't really love) in a drunken stupor — he later falls ill and dies in misery. Safe to say that Little Father Time did the opposite of what he intended.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien once remarked that this could have happened in The Lord of the Rings if the character development had taken a different turn: If Gollum had been redeemed, he would probably have stolen the ring and thrown himself into the mountain with it to save Frodo.
  • Gregor Samsa, the suddenly-insectile protagonist and Author Avatar of The Metamorphosis. Already in poor health from a crippling injury he'd received from his own family, he overhears them complaining of what a burden he is and wishing he would go away. A heartbroken Gregor retreats to his room and allows himself to die, which greatly pleases the Samsa family and allows them to move on and prosper in their lives. Author Franz Kafka was not a very happy soul.
  • The Night Circus: Because the Challenge only ends when one of the competitors kills themselves, and the intimacy of the competition typically leads to the two competitors falling in love, both challengers go through a period where they contemplate suicide to relieve the other from continuing the game. It's implied that Tsukiko's opponent may have ended their competition this way.
  • This is done in the Danielle Steel novel A Perfect Stranger when an ailing elderly man overdoses on his medication to allow his much-younger wife the chance to get on with her life. Unfortunately, she thinks he did it out of despair and her Survivor Guilt is yet another obstacle she and her lover have to overcome. Not until she finds a letter giving her his blessing is there a happy ending.
  • Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts: Joey is a troubled teenage boy who is depressed, suicidal, and has dabbled in alcohol and the occult as attempts to cope with his depression, stemming from his mother's divorce from his alcoholic father and the fact that his father apparently doesn't want anything to do with him. His mother has remarried, the stepfather is basically the opposite of Joey's father, and the two of them have a baby. So on Thanksgiving night, after dinner, he sneaks out of the house, goes to a bridge, and jumps off it, convinced that his mother and stepfather will be happier without him and that they have the baby who can just replace him. He dies in a hospital, leaving his mother, stepfather, and the psychiatrist who tried to help him in tears.
  • In The Twilight Saga, Jacob threatens to do this, but Edward says it's just a ploy to get Bella to kiss him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI:
    • A guy makes it appear that he's been stabbed in the back so his family will get his insurance money. Unfortunately for them, the CSIs are too good at their job.
    • A husband shoots himself while hunting by a lake and throws the gun in the water to make it look like a hunting accident so his wife can collect his life insurance. Unfortunately for her, Catherine and Nick figure it out.
  • In Day Break (2006), Chad suggests this as a possible solution to Hopper's failure to end the loop and the misery he causes to his loved ones.
    Chad: I've got a solution. If everyone you care about is in trouble because of you, why don't you take yourself out of the equation?
    Hopper: What are you talking about?
    Chad: Kill yourself. Seems to me if you die, everyone else will be fine.
  • Leverage: A hockey player is pretty much doing this: not only does he pick fights with the opposing team for a bonus, his own manager pays the opposing players to fight him. By the time the Leverage team meets him, he's one concussion away from death and he knows it, but he loves his son too much to pass up the extra money.


    Video Games 
  • Mother 3: In the final boss fight, Claus, Lucas's brother, finally comes to his senses. Then he fires an attack that he knows will be deflected back at him and kill him. He apparently did it because he thought his family would be happier without him, and that he should be with his dead mother.

  • Miriam Calibur attempts this during the "Scaredy Fox Training" roleplay of White Dark Life after Ne attacks her in a panic. She's only stopped from going through with it by knocking her unconscious, then clearing up her misconception about a curse after she comes to.

    Western Animation 
  • In a Tom and Jerry short, a duckling thinks Tom is his mother, so Tom takes the opportunity to try and eat him. Eventually the duckling figures it out, and so decides that "if eating me will make my mama happy, then go ahead." It is then that Tom has a change of heart.
  • A variation happens in The Fairly Oddparents—when Timmy wishes he had never been born, Jorgen von Strangle shows him a world where he never was. Everyone, from his parents, to his babysitter, to his crazy teacher are far better off in this timeline, angering Timmy into trying to undo the wish. When he realizes he'd be dooming everyone to a life of unhappiness, Timmy sadly resigns himself to be deleted from existence to make everyone else's lives great. This turns out to be a Secret Test of Character, and Jorgen himself reverses the wish after proving Timmy is not a selfish kid.