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Surrender Backfire

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So, The Hero and his team are cornered by enemy forces on all sides. Do they fight their way out or at best make a Last Stand? No. Somebody in the group suggests they willingly surrender, claiming that this way, they'll live to fight another day. But what's this? Rather than being locked in an easily escapable cell, the heroes are either executed on the spot, brainwashed into new minions for the Big Bad, or suffer a Fate Worse than Death, or in this case, a fate worse than if they had fought back.

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The reason this can happen varies: the villain could either be wise to how dangerous the heroes are, they could find this too good an opportunity to do away with the heroes for good, they might despise those who won't fight to the end, seeing them as Dirty Cowards, they might promise to agree to the heroes' terms of surrender, only to reveal they lied later on, or are just plain cruel and want to Kick Them While They're Down.

Needless to say, this is a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! moment for the one that suggested surrendering, usually the Cowardly Lion. To rub salt in the wounds, it could be revealed later on that the heroes actually had a fighting chance, and in rare instances, could've possibly won if they hadn't given up.

This can also apply to Hostage Situations such as Put Your Gun Down And Step Away, Hostage For Macguffin, and Friend or Idol Decision, where the hero gives into the villain's demand, only to find the deal had some details that weren't mentioned and the villain didn't intend to honor his half of the bargain anyway.

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In some cases, the person who suggested surrendering was actually The Mole for the other side who had tricked the heroes into giving themselves up.

In rare moments, a villain can be on the receiving end of this. In this case, it shows that the heroes have become just as bad as the villains, especially if the villain in question wanted to defect to the good guys. The heroes may justify this as I Did What I Had to Do or that A Real Man Is a Killer.

Unfortunately has the Family-Unfriendly Aesop where it is better to fight to the end rather than give up. Similar to Pacifism Backfire where trying to avoid a fight causes a confrontation to intensify. A rare moment where Honor Before Reason is actually in the right. Not to be confused with I Surrender, Suckers or Poisonous Captive where the one surrendering is doing so as part of a plan, though the two can mix if the enemy sees through the scheme. Not the same as Stupid Surrender, where one surrenders without realizing they didn't have to. Can be the karmic fate of a Dangerous Deserter who tried to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, resulting in Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Can go hand in hand with Leave No Survivors. Compare Run or Die. Contrast Defiant to the End, Last Stand, and Stand Your Ground. You Said You Would Let Them Go is similar where one makes a deal with the villain for the safety of their friends, only for the villain to pull a double cross. For those who protest the notion of surrendering turn out to be in the right, see Strawman Has a Point. See also Violence Really Is the Answer.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • In Con Air, the plot is triggered when Cameron listens to his stupid lawyer's advice to plead 'Guilty' to his Crime of Self-Defense, on the grounds that the judge would show Cameron mercy. The judge then turned out to be a Hanging Judge who decided to deem Cameron a "lethal weapon" because of his training and punished him to the fullest extent of the law.
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales has a scene where a squad of Confederate rebels have surrendered, and a Union officer has them recite an oath renouncing their allegiance to the Confederacy, and also confess to being murderers. This proves to be meaningless, as a Gatling gun hidden in a covered wagon mows down the unarmed rebels on the spot.
  • In The Patriot, Colonel Tavington locks some people who've been supporting the revolutionaries into a church, demanding they reveal where Benjamin Martin is. At first no one says anything. Finally, one guy rushes forwards and blabs everything, believing the British will let everyone go if they get what they want. Tavington then burns the entire church down with the people inside.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, after Steamboat Willie attacks The Squad and loses his men, he surrenders to the squad. Upham murders him in cold blood—because Upham was the one who insisted he be released before and this allowed him to rejoin the marching Nazi army... and back then he was going to be executed in cold blood after surrendering because the squad believed he was the one who killed Wade.

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    Western Animation 
  • In Blinky Bill's third season, the titular koala himself faces this dilemma when he has to choose between putting his friends and family in danger by staying in Greenpatch, or performing in the circus unwillingly under the orders of Basil Circus. He tries to get him to put out the fire he had started, but he lets it burn toward his home while Blinky is stuck in a cage. Thankfully, his step-sister Nutsy comes to the rescue.
  • In Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24th and One Half Century, after coming face to face with Gossamer, Dodgers willingly surrenders to Marvin the Martian. Unfortunately, Marvin isn't allowed to take prisoners (especially cowardly ones), and attempts to blast Dodgers if not for the Cadet.
  • In the first Wakfu OVA, Count Harebourg captures most of the Brotherhood of the Tofu, but orders them left unharmed as a favor to Amalia. Flopin and Elely attempt to rescue them, but their effort runs out of steam while attacking the mercenaries left as guards, and surrender on Evangelyne's advice. The mercenaries decide Harebourg's orders do not extend to the two siblings, despite being them being children, and attempt to throw them into a furnace.


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