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Thanatos Gambit

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"The most fearsome adversary is the one willing to be destroyed for revenge."

The Thanatos Gambit is what happens when a character deliberately manipulates the circumstances of their death to their own profit. It could be to ensure that they get as comfy (or stylish) an exit as possible, but most often, it's used to deliver one last "screw you" to their arch-nemesis. A character who is Secretly Dying is especially likely to employ one of these.

Named for the Greek personification of death. Not to be confused with Xanatos Gambit because this one requires the planner's death and Xanatos Gambit must have two separate-but-beneficial outcomes (I die vs. I don't die).

Compare My Death Is Just the Beginning (using your death to set off a plan, whereas this is using your death to end the plan), Inspirational Martyr (where your death inspires others to follow you, although you may have not planned it), Death Is the Only Option, and Dead Man's Switch. A subtrope in which the character expects to be revived somehow is a Resurrection Gambit. Sometimes happens with a Taking You with Me, possibly in the manner of a Collapsing Lair (villains like this one). Is often incited with Strike Me Down, and can overlap with Suicide by Cop. May be invoked with a Dying Reconciliation. Related to Failure Gambit and Glorious Death.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan:
    • This describes the circumstances surrounding Eren's Titan form considering the inheritance of Shifter powers results in the death of the previous bearer. From Kruger to Grisha to Eren himself, the mission of the Eldian Restorationists is ultimately passed down. However, it's revealed later on that they were all part of a Stable Time Loop created by Eren himself, and the will of the Eldian Restorationists was in fact Eren's to begin with.
    • This was part of the plan of Willy Tybur when giving several big reveals to the citizens of Marley, knowing that they will be killed by the people of Paradis for this speech. Despite knowing their death will happen, they realize it will be needed because it manifested the resolve of every nation in the world to agree that the Paradisians are pure evil and that the nations will work together to commit genocide on them.
    • The final chapter reveals that this was Eren's plan all along, as he needed Mikasa to kill him as part of his Zero-Approval Gambit (sound familiar?) in order for his friends to be seen as heroes after the Rumbling to ensure peace. However, he laments to Armin that he never wanted this but couldn't see another way. In the end, Mikasa and others got to live out the rest of their lives in long-lasting peace.
  • In The Big O, baddie Schwartzwald executes one of these to ensure that the truth of the citywide amnesia is solved.
  • In Call of the Night, Anko's plan to "destroy the night" involves goading any one of the vampires into killing her in such a way that the ensuing investigation into her death would reveal that whatever killed her was not human. Compounded with her true identity as Kyouko Mejiro being revealed, and subsequently the investigation into the death of her parents being re-opened, Anko hoped that in doing this the public would be made aware of the existence of vampires, and thus would keep away from the streets at night for at least the next ten years, which would starve all vampires to death. After Yamori ruins her plan by revealing it to Nazuna and stopping her from killing Anko, she more or less admits that her plan was never going to work either way. There's strong hints that Anko's plan was just an excuse to die after running on hatred for ten years.
  • In Case Closed, the very sickly and old mystery novelist Nitarou Shimei pulls this alongside his wife. They have both being missing for a while, apparently traveling around while he finishes a novel and sends the chapters to his editors via mail... but his daughter Kaori goes to Kogoro when she realizes some of the manuscripts have hidden clues that hint they've been kidnapped and might be dead, with a ghostwriter taking Shimei's place. And it turns out Shimei planned this fake kidnapping alongside his wife, as his last mystery... When they're located in a hotel room, he has just passed away of old age and natural causes, and Mrs. Shimei has a letter where he explains his plan and says goodbye to Kaori.
  • Code Geass. Lelouch Lamperouge. He died for world peace. More exactly, he made himself into a tyrant so terrible that the world united against him and then arranged for Suzaku to assassinate him while disguised as his own alter ego. It qualifies more strongly as a situation in which Death Is the Only Option; if he had chosen to live, he would just be spending the rest of his life living for himself, the world would have become a monument to his rule empty of the compassion and meaning it otherwise could have had, and everything he had done as he sought to change the world for the better would have been for nothing. Instead, he valued everyone else's well-being over his own and died hoping that no one would ever hate another person again. Word of God also explained that the Zero Requiem was also redemption for Lelouch and that he thought that death was the only fitting punishment.
  • In Dead Mount Death Play, Corpse God was converted into a lich which denied him the chance of a natural death. Desiring to live in a peaceful world, he developed a reincarnation spell that would activate on the moment of his death and send his soul to another world. When Calamity Crusher attacked him, Corpse God used the opportunity to die and activate the spell.
  • Death Note when L tells Light's dad, "If I die in the next three days, your son is Kira." Considering that Light had almost finalized an assassination plot an episode before that, L was either extremely lucky or extremely brilliant.
    • Throw in L's knowledge of character, and his choice of Near after meeting Mello personally, it's entirely probable that the entire second half was a massive Thanatos Gambit to bring down whoever had beat him. There had to be a reason to leave Mello in the equation without putting him at the top, and as the way Mello and Near played off each other did result in Kira's downfall, it's probable that Light's feeling of "still facing L" wasn't a throwaway reference to Near's similarity.
    • Possibly Mello. After Light and Near are squaring up to take the other down, Mello takes them both by surprise by kidnapping Kiyomi Takada thus driving a train through their carefully laid plans. This of course fails and Mello and Matt die as well as Takada. However Near says that if it wasn't for Mello he wouldn't be able to enact his plans. It is suggested, though never confirmed, that Mello knew this. After all, when Mello spoke to Near he told him far more information about his findings and suspicions than he needed to "pay off a debt". Of course, being Mello even if this was true he would never admit it...
    • Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. B attempts to defeat L by making an unsolvable case in which all the victims were locked in their rooms from the inside to suggest suicide even though it was obviously murder to make his suicide look like murder as well. He fails when Naomi Misora realizes the detective working with her is B, which is why he knew so much about the case.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Shinobu correctly predicted that she doesn't stand a chance against the Upper-2 Kizuki Doma, so she ingested massive doses of wisteria poison for a year to make her body seven-hundred times toxic in case Doma would eat her alive (which he did, since he's so obsessed with eating women), weakening him long enough for Kanao and Inosuke to finish him off.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, the fatally wounded BlackWargreymon uses his own body to seal the Digital Gate over Hikarigaoka (Hightonview Terrace), in hopes of preventing the Big Bad from returning to the Digital World.
  • Dr. STONE: Senku anticipated Tsukasa's Face–Heel Turn and started performing a Character Tic that drew attention to his neck; when Tsukasa attempted to give him a quick and painless death he struck that precise spot. After getting away Taiju and Yuzuriha discover a tiny patch of petrified skin at the base of Senku's neck and figure out that he was specifically baiting Tsukasa to strike him in that spot because they could use the secondary healing aspect of the de-petrification process to bring him back to life, which would buy them some (but not much) breathing room while Tsukasa still believed him dead.
  • Durarara!!: Subverted. After Celty foils Izaya's plot to off Shizuo, he is forced to run for his life with the other man coming after him. So, in a last-ditch ploy to finally defeat his greatest enemy, Izaya intentionally rushes out into a massive crowd and the two begin to fight. Aoba explains the info broker's Xanatos Gambit as follows — should Izaya kill Shizuo, then he wins, but if Shizuo murders Izaya in front of everyone, he will be rejected by society for being the monster Izaya sees him as. However, while goading Shizuo to perform the coup-de-grace, Izaya is stabbed by Vorona, who attempts to kill him on Shizuo's behalf, though Simon likewise interferes, allowing Izaya to escape.
  • Dewey Novak, Big Bad of Eureka Seven, as the Gekkostate found out the hard way. While they thought they were stopping him from destroying two species and imploding a reality, they were actually just helping him along. In the end, he puts a bullet in his own head... which sets off the secret purpose of the necklaces that Anemone and Eureka always wear, in what should've destroyed the world anyway, had Eureka not been so determined not to let it happen.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Hohenheim's Failsafe is designed in a manner where it will activate even if he is killed by Father beforehand. Averted in that Hohenheim lives to see it activate anyway, even if not for long after... Though it's worth noting Hohenheim had a huge Who Wants to Live Forever? deal, so for him dying peacefully in front of his wife's grave was a happy ending.
    • Roy and Riza's political ambitions are rather heavily implied to culminate in this: once democracy is restored they'll bring everyone involved in the Ishvalan genocide to justice, themselves included. Judging by Ed's reaction to Riza confiding this in him, it probably doubles as Suicide by Cop.
    • In the 2003 anime version, when Greed realizes that he's going to die anyway, he provokes Ed (who had never killed anyone up to this point) into killing him. As he's dying, he reveals the Kryptonite Factor of a homunculus so that Ed will be able to take out the other homunculi.
  • The plot of the Gintama movie Be Forever Yorozuya reveals itself to be one part this and the other part Suicide by Cop. The planner: Future!Gintoki! It's revealed that when Gintoki killed the Enmi (Alien android mercenaries famous for creating Synthetic Plague) during the Joui Wars, he was infected/possessed by them. The Enmi lied dormant within him for a decade, using his DNA as a basis for a new plague until it was ready to be released. By the time Gintoki figured out what was going on, it's too late and he becomes the origin of the White Plague that devastates the Earth for the next five years. Unable to kill himself due to the Enmi and forced to watch the destruction, Gintoki asks Gengai before then to create a Time Machine to bring Present!Gintoki into the future. His task to stop the plague was to kill his future self and then go to the Joui War time to kill his past self after he defeats the Enmi and becomes infected. Present!Gintoki willingly goes through with the plan knowing he'll cease to exist and it succeeds. It wasn't untill his Future!TrueCompanions go back in time to save him and stop the Enmi that the present and future is truly saved.
  • The Turin arc of Gunslinger Girl ends with Jean pulling one on Dante when the latter uses him as a human shield; however, as revealed in chapter 95, only Dante was killed when Rico ran them through with an anti-material rifle.
  • Reilan from Haou Airen sets up her love rival Kurumi to be gang-raped by her classmates, and when their common love interest Hakuron shows up and stops the rapists, she verbally taunts him until he shoots her to death. She dies apologizing to Kurumi and saying she's sure that they'll be friends when they're reborn, setting this to be a quickly penned Heel–Face Door-Slam of sorts... A letter to her father that doubles as her last will, however, reveals that everything was set up by Reilan to specifically provoke Hakuron into killing her in front of Kurumi, seeking to traumatize the girl so much that she would hate Hakuron forever, thus attaining her revenge for having been abandoned by Hakuron as soon as Kurumi entered the picture.
  • The Major from Hellsing literally lives this trope. He gathers up as many and trains an army and starts a war with England and kills millions for the specific purpose of losing. All he wants is to have a great war and take Alucard down in the process, dedicating 50 years of his life and countless funds into doing so. He even mentions in the series how much he loves "being crushed by the British and American war machine." And the humiliation he feels when his troops are retreating.
  • Inuyasha: When Naraku finally completes the Shikon no Tama, he learns the truth about the jewel and his true desire. Because the jewel cannot grant him his real wish, he decides to make a wish on behalf of both himself and the jewel. This results in him sacrificing his life to ensure his soul becomes a part of the jewel's spiritual power in the hopes that Kagome's soul can be eternally trapped with him. That way, the Shikon no Tama gets the survival it craves and Naraku gets locked together forever with the closest thing to Kikyou he can have. Fortunately, Kagome makes the Right Wish in time to stop it. Just.
  • The fifth part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features a villain named Carne, who is unceremoniously killed off within a minute of his introduction. However, his death triggers the activation of his stand, Notorious B.I.G., which is impossible to kill because the stand user is already dead!
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes:
    • Magnificent Bastard Adrian Rubinsky learns that he's dying of a brain tumor, so he hooks himself up with a Dead Man's Switch before allowing himself to be captured by the Empire. Once Emperor Reinhard is close enough that Rubinsky's bomb stands a good chance of taking him out, he switches off his life support. Somewhat unusually, he completely fails.
    • Paul von Oberstein has a plan to eliminate all the remaining Earth Cult terrorists by making them blow up his office instead of Reinhard's bedroom. What makes it a Thanatos is that he deliberately stayed in the office when the attack took place.
  • Some interpretations say that this fits Treize Khushrenada of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing fame. Wufei certainly thought so.
  • Aeolia Schenberg of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is a master of this, given that the show takes place about 200 years after he started his plans. Doubly so when the trans-am system was unlocked after Schenberg got shot in the face..
  • In Monster, Johan's ultimate goal is to commit suicide by Tenma after erasing the evidence of his existence, utterly breaking Tenma in the process. However, he fails.
  • My Hero Academia: Star and Stripe, the US's #1 hero, enacts one against All For One in their fight by booby-trapping her own quirk, knowing that All for One couldn't resist the opportunity and would never think that someone would sacrifice themselves to defeat him. Doing so necessitated her dropping her protection against the Decay quirk, but resulted in All For One nearly dying in turn. By the time New Order finally burns out within his body, the damage is already done, and not only several of his stolen Quirks end up destroyed, he's permanently denied New Order for his own use.
  • Naruto:
    • Minato Namikaze, the Fourth Hokage, in sealing the fox; turns out he wanted to give his son Naruto a weapon against Tobi, the masked man responsible for the attack. That, and stopping a giant fox from killing them all. On top of that making the seal so he would appear when his son was stupid, distraught or desperate enough to consider releasing it.
    • This also included making the seal with the chakra of his Action Mom wife, Kushina. This is not just to keep the Kyuubi pinned down again (she used to be its host, after all), but to give her a chance to appear in Naruto's mind and see their son, granting Kushina her last wish.
    • Kisame also pulls this off after Might Guy takes him down, by simultaneously committing suicide with his own shark summons so the Shinobi Alliance can't search his mind for information, and by booby-trapping the scroll he was supposed to deliver to Tobi so that the good guys would be distracted while another summoned shark made a getaway with the information.
    • Itachi Uchiha attempts this. This is practically his entire life after leaving the leaf village. His plan revolves around his younger brother Sasuke killing him as retribution for his crimes. Due to his life-threatening illness he is already dying, when the final confrontation with his brother occurs. The whole point of his actions are to redeem the Uchiha clan and to allow his brother to be seen as a hero for killing him after he massacred the Uchiha clan. It fails spectacularly. He also set up a postmortem trap to kill the Big Bad and stop him from spilling his secrets. This also fails. He also set up another postmortem contingency plan to brainwash Sasuke to protect Konoha in the event he turned evil. This also fails. Turns out all he really needed to do to accomplish his goals was have an honest and open talk with Sasuke about his choices instead of manipulating and trying to brainwash him.
    • The real Madara Uchiha attempted to pull one off. He left Tobi in charge of carrying out his plans and intended for Nagato to revive him later. This didn't go as planned due to Nagato making a Heel–Face Turn and sacrificing his life to revive the villagers he killed, and Tobi going to become the jinchuuriki of the Ten Tails himself and never having any intention of reviving him. Nonetheless, he gets revived as a zombie later on by Kabuto thanks to Black Zetsu and subsequently hijacks the jutsu so he can't be controlled.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi gives us Kurt Godel, who taunted Negi into losing control of his Superpowered Evil Side, apparently so that Negi would kill him and be considered a national enemy. This plan fails, and he admits that it would have been better if Negi killed him, but he isn't too discouraged by it and simply moves on to plan B. And then to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • One Piece:
    • Pirate King Gold Roger allowed himself to be captured, as he knew he was already dying, and when the World Government was set to publicly execute him, in what should have been a chilling warning to all aspiring pirates, he turned their plan completely on its head by speaking the words that launched the Golden Age of Piracy.
      Gold Roger: You want my treasure? You can have it! I left everything I gathered together in one place! Now you'll just have to find it!
    • Twenty-six years later, Roger's old friend/rival Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate follows in his footsteps, as with his last breath he confirms the existence of One Piece, inspiring a new generation of pirates.
      Whitebeard: THE ONE PIECE IS REAL!
    • Played With regarding Bartholomew Kuma. In order to see that the newly-empowered Straw Hats returned to their ship safely, he made a deal with Vegapunk to essentially roboticize him and eradicate his soul. His cooperation in exchange for giving him a final mission to protect their ship, the Thousand Sunny.
    • Subverted with Brook who, having already died once, disapproves of this type of thinking on general principle.
      Brook: What kind of fool... Would ever plan to die?
  • In Sailor Moon, Queen Serenity pulled one of these. Knowing that the Dark Kingdom would be reborn sooner or later and that she was in her last moments after fully releasing the power of the Silver Crystal, she used her last bit of energy to release the souls of the fallen Seishi, Endymion and Princess Serenity so they'd be reincarnated as well, while also freezing the still living Luna and Artemis in a Convenient Coma so they could become their guides.)
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Virgo Shaka. Note his intention was going to Hell. Also, technically he didn't die, but found a way to go to Hell alive. Which involved being killed.
    • Volker from the Ansgard saga, who acted like a jerk on purpose for years and deliberately abused his heir and adopted son Mime to goad the kid into killing him — so he would go down fighting instead of dying of a long-time illness, and would be able to atone for having (accidentally) killed Mime's parents in the last wars.
  • Soul Eater's Medusa finally gave affection to her much abused child Crona... only for the confused and shocked Crona to flip out massively, calling her out on the shit she pulled on them and brutally kill her. Medusa had planned for it, though, and in fact, the reason why she treated Crona well (So Proud of You included) was to fully seal the deal with the Black Blood, thus making Crona even more of her puppet than they ever were.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Lordgenome's final plan: upon seeing the Anti Spiral King weaponizing the energy of compressed galaxies into a universe-destroying energy beam, he walks out in front of it (it should be noted that he does this in space, while naked, and on fire). Not because he's Taking the Bullet to protect Simon and his daughter Nia (though he is), but so he can reconstitute his long-destroyed Lazengann from pure willpower alone and hold off a Big Bang event, even as it destroys him on a quantum level. This is not just a Heroic Sacrifice but a form of Bequeathed Power, as Lordgenome absorbs the energy long enough to overtake it turning it into a giant drill that he force-feeds to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (in the TV show) or Tengen Toppa Lagann (in the movie) to power them up with an absurd amount of Spiral Energy—enough that the Spiral Detection Gauge shatters as the Spiral Energy reading leaks off the meter and into the rest of reality itself. And his plan works, as his Dying Moment of Awesome for the ages enables Simon, Nia, and Team Dai-Gurren to fight and eventually defeat the Anti Spiral King.
  • In Tokyo Babylon, Hokuto Sumeragi took her twin brother Subaru's place in Seishirou/the Sakurazukamori's hit list, dressing up in his robes and letting Seishirou kill her. However, as she lay dying in "Sei-chan"'s arms, she performed a spell only she could lay, that let her bind Subaru and Seishirou's destinies: if Seishirou tried to kill Subaru in the same way he killed her (very likely, because of their fates as both moral enemies and Star-Crossed Lovers), Seishirou would end up dying instead. For Subaru, it was a way to delay death; for Seishirou, it was a Last-Second Chance.
  • In Manga/X1999, Seishirou used the example above as a part of his own Thanatos Gambit. By trying to kill Subaru in the same way he killed Hokuto and dying as a result, he: kicked it in his own terms and in the arms of Subaru himself, secured the immediate succession for the Sakurazukamori empty space (they're "chosen" by Klingon Promotion at the hands of the person they love the most, like Seishirou himself did by killing his mother and immediate predecesor), and fulfilled his own Wish (making sure no one but him would be the person who marked Subaru's whole self the most — in the manga, this is fully sealed when Subaru receives Seishirou's remaining eye few later and becomes the Sakurazukamori himself).
  • In the Touhou Project manga spinoff Touhou Suzunaan ~ Forbidden Scrollery, Chapter 25 reveals a fortune teller's plan to become a youkai after his death. He does in fact become a youkai, so the plan does work... until he gets confronted by Reimu for doing so, and as a result she kills him on the spot.
  • Trigun: In both the anime and the manga Legato Bluesummers' final act of cruelty to Vash was to make the Technical Pacifist kill him in order to save his remaining friend/s (Meryl and Millie in the anime, Livio in the manga). How did he do that? Via brainwashing a whole hometown into capturing the other/s and threatening their lives, then telling Vash that the only way to undo this was to put a bullet through his head. As expected, this completely broke Vash until either Meryl snapped him out of it by using his pacifistic ideals to save Vash from the local enraged townspeople (anime), or he realised that Knives was right about to slaughter all of the planet Gunsmoke (manga).
  • In Vinland Saga, Askeladd uses this trope to kill King Sweyn, who's about to invade his beloved Wales, secure an army to protect it, and get the crown for Prince Canute since he's sure the kid will grow into a great leader (and he does). The final Gambit of a true Magnificent Bastard.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Sensui's true goal was to open a portal to the Makai so that he could be killed by a demon stronger than him, to atone for all the demons he had mercilessly killed as a Spirit Detective. Achieving this involved an arc spanning Evil Plan and involving almost every single character in the story arc, and even a couple characters from a previous one.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Joker tries this a lot, with varying degrees of success.
    • There was one time where the Joker killed himself to ruin Batman's reputation: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
    • In one Golden Age story, the Joker confessed to all of his crimes and allowed himself to be executed. His henchmen then stole the body and revived it. This left the Joker a free man as he had technically 'paid' for his crimes.
    • In Dark Nights: Metal, this is part of The Batman-Who-Laughs' Origin Story: The Joker of Earth -22 committed a series of atrocities in one night that were so horrible he knew Batman would have no choice but to kill him- including melting James Gordon alive, and murdering the parents of dozens of children before jokerizing them. It wasn't until it was too late that Batman realized Joker had implanted nanobites into his own heart that would only activate upon his death, that would enter the brain of whoever was closest to Joker when he died, brainwashing them to become as twisted and insane as Joker himself.
    • Joker once tried this with Superman. He poisoned Lois and said the only way to create the antidote would be by injecting the poison into Joker's own blood, which would kill him. Superman agonizes over the choice, but ultimately stays true to his principles and doesn't kill Joker. It turns out it was a joke and the poison isn't fatal, just makes you sick for a while. It was all about turning Superman into a killer.
  • Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 2. He faces the tripods by Polka dancing, and when one of them fires at him, he rips the alien out of its cockpit and eats it. This causes all the others to fire on him at once, destroying the bridge they're on and confining the aliens to one half of London.
  • Largo Winch: After a lifetime of pulling the strings, Nerio Winch even tries to use his death to his advantage and arranges for a subordinate he wants to get rid of to shoot him — too bad the guy sees through the scheme and decides to make it look like suicide instead, asking him what it feels like not being in control for the first time in his life before he throws him off the roof. And in the end, the old guy still gets the upper hand when it turns out that he has secretly adopted an heir (the protagonist). Notable is that Largo hates Nerio with a passion, yet carries out his will anyway.
    Nerio Winch: So you'll find along the way plenty of people willing to commit crimes to get hold of what I've left you. You'll find others, or the same people, who will try to push you down, to get rid of you. And that, I know you, is a challenge that you will not be able to resist. You have the right to despise me and to despise what I represent, Largo. But whatever you may think, I've come to know you well. You'll accept the inheritance I leave you because you love to FIGHT!
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Clone Saga: When the Jackal finally perished, his last words ("When the dream ends, the nightmare begins!") triggered a post-hypnotic suggestion in Peter that he apparently planted in him at an earlier date, which fully activated later, compelling him to murder whoever he loved the most — that meant Mary Jane. Unable to hold back like he usually did, Spidey nearly tore New York apart trying to get to her (beating up Ben Reilly and the entire team of New Warriors in the process) while Fighting from the Inside the whole time, to no avail. Eventually, Mary Jane just gave up, stopping at Aunt May's house (obviously intended to act as a buffer, considering its importance to him). This was what finally let him break free and, for the most part, bury the Jackal forever.
    • Peter's parents Mary and Richard Parker reveal themselves to be alive all this time, only to be exposed as Life Model Decoys, all part of a devious plot by the late Harry Osborn. Osborn, in fact, left a posthumous message for Peter to mock him, twisting the knife in even deeper. The intense trauma that the incident inflicted upon him actually caused Spidey to be Not Himself and become Darker and Edgier for a while. The trauma was compounded by the fact that Peter and Harry reconciled on Harry's deathbed.
  • The Hellblazer arc "Dangerous Habits" provides what may be the quintessential example. John Constantine knows he's dying of lung cancer, so he decides to take a massive risk and, in one of his last acts on Earth, really fuck with Hell. His soul is already the right of the First of the Fallen by insult (he tricked the First into drinking holy water), so he sells his soul to both the Second and the Third of the Fallen, the First's co-rulers in Hell. And then he slits his wrist, forcing the three rulers of Hell to decide whether to go to war over John's soul (and risk letting Heaven take over) or cure his cancer. They choose to cure the cancer. And after that's all said and done, John repays them by turning around and giving them the finger, saying, "Up yours." Also, note this story may not be part of the main continuity since The Fallen were not referenced in the Reign in Hell miniseries (which was about a war to take over hell.)
  • Superman: Subverted in the story arc The Plague of the Antibiotic Man. Amalak tries to destroy Superman psychologically by tricking him into taking a life. Since his original plan fails, Amalak commits suicide and tries to make it look like his death caused by Superman, but Superman sees through his scheme, and Amalak dies cursing his failure.
  • Gothwrain, the were-rat villain from Gold Digger, spent most of his magically-extended life setting up his own death. Having been enslaved by his own creation's were-rat thrall effect for the majority of his life, he sought to end his life such that he would become free of the thrall spell, and live out the rest of eternity in paradise with the woman he loved (who also happened to be the very were-rat who'd enslaved him). To add insult to injury, he planned to kill off all of the worst enemies in the same blast that would end his life. It worked, and he and his love died, with their souls shunted into a paradise dimension. But at the last moment, his Karma Houdini is mercilessly reversed when his enemies are surprisingly saved, and he discovers that someone much more powerful than himself already rules over paradise, enslaving his soul for eternity.
  • EC Comics:
    • In one story, a guy killed his inventor relative for money. Said inventor left behind a mechanical coffin which the killer decided to lie in for kicks. The coffin was an automated funeral machine specifically designed to murder and bury the killer, the inventor having anticipated the possibility of death at his hands. This is based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
    • Similar to the Joker story above, another EC Comics story was about a man who survived having his neck snapped in a hanging. Having thus been hanged for his crimes, he was free to go about his way. He is later thwarted when the townspeople realize that, although they couldn't hang him again, they could definitely bury him.
  • Back in the early days of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), when it appeared Dr Robotnik had been disintegrated by his rebellious creation E.V.E., the Freedom Fighters, upon entering Robotropolis, were surprised to discover he had set up Project Onslaught, an automated "last-ditch" mass rampage of all his robotic armies in case of his demise. This onslaught would've succeeded in wiping out the Freedom Fighters, had a returning Robotnik not stopped it before it destroyed his city along with the heroes.
  • An excellent story, from the anthology Heavy Metal: in a certain land, a tournament is held every so often to choose the strongest man to be the new king. Entrants must be vital and free of diseases. Every winner becomes a cruel tyrant, but the hero of the story (called weak and frail all his life) wants to become a ruler and end the reign of evil. He wins, and at his "coronation", he's drugged, bound, his skull is cut open by robot surgeons (after he wakes up), his brain is crudely removed over his screaming protests, and the brain of the previous king is transplanted from his freshly-dead, used up, obese corpse. In death, however, the hero is victorious. The stress of the surgery sets off his congenital heart defect, and the tyrant is slain.
  • Transmetropolitan: Spider's ex-wife sets one up the night before she went into cryogenic suspension. Specifically, she went and pissed off a group of touch-phobic radicals, screaming her name so they'd know who to seek revenge on, the night before she froze her head. Because her actions exiled one of their own, they sought retribution. When the group finally tracked her down and found she was a frozen head, they went after next of kin, ie, Spider. They thought that Spider, as her ex-husband, would still care about her safety and kidnapped her head as collateral. Spider proceeded to throw her head into the river. Blood debt repaid, the radicals thanked him, saying they were big fans.
  • The Sandman (1989): Morpheus has been unknowingly planning his own death pretty much since he got out of his prison.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark didn't die, but he pulled a variation on Norman Osborn. Realizing how bad having Osborn in charge of all of the world's superheroes would be, Tony deleted all copies of the files he had on the heroes; however, he still knew everything. So he went on a globe-trotting adventure to literally burn out his brain. In the end, Osborn, as Iron Patriot came to fight him, but Tony not only managed to render himself comatose, but the footage of their fight was broadcast on television, gaining some good publicity for Stark. Also, Osborn can't kill him, because it was publicized that he has a health care proxy... Doctor Donald Blake.
  • In ElfQuest - Shards Winnowill, rather than letting herself be contained, allows Grohmul Djun to kill her. This would have meant her spirit was free of her body, and she could (at least try) to take control of the Palace of the High Ones. Rayek did step in to play living Pandora's Box, but it was a big Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Watchmen: After Adrian's secret genocide plan goes right, Rorschach knows that telling everyone the truth would just screw things up even worse. But he will not compromise his values by keeping the inside job a secret, so he accepts that Dr. Manhattan will murder him rather than risk letting him exposing the knowledge. It's implied that Rorschach's journal may be revealed to the public and he will get his way anyway, which depending on your point of view might not be a good thing, because that would mean both the genocide and Rorschach's death had been in vain. But Rorschach's values of truth and (black and white) justice might have prevailed.
  • The Multiversity:
    • In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Vandal Savage hoped to spill an immortal's blood to summon Niczhuotan, the Destroyer of Worlds, to Earth-20. Vandal was not picky if he killed Immortal Man, or if Immortal Man killed him.
    • In Pax Americana #1, President Harley planned to have himself killed and resurrected to rid Earth-4 of the Gentry's curse, simultaneously making him pay for murdering the first superhero and redeeming him for the crime.
  • In the first Kid Eternity, one of the villains, Kali, kills his master, Savarda, and tries to rob him of a black diamond that is said to grant its owners wealth and power, but also result in a violent death. Apparently, Savarda realized said death was going to come from Kali, sold it beforehand, and left a note in the safe where Kali thought it was hidden. Kali notes that Savarda seemed perfectly willing to allow his own murder just to screw with him.
  • Vampirella had a vampire named Drago assisting the heroine after she was cursed to be possessed by a vile demon. He instructed Vampirella to hunt down other vampires and drink from their blood to gain the necessary strength to get rid of the curse. It appears as if he sent her on a Snipe Hunt, but the final vampire is revealed to be Drago himself, who orchestrated the entire hunt just so she could be powerful enough to slay him. After killing him and drinking his blood, she succeeds in overcoming the demon, just as Drago intended to.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: Ironfist pulls a brilliant one on his False Friend Skyfall in the Bullets prose story. After his death, Ironfist leaves a pre-recorded message for Skyfall, explaining that he knows Skyfall was the one who engineered his death just so he could get Ironfist's workshop and has finally realized what a sociopathic jackass he's been. Close to the end of the message, Ironfist reveals that the message released on the same frequency as his "Wreckers Declassified" blog, meaning four thousand other Autobots were listening to it as well. Cue the police breaking down the door and Skyfall frantically committing suicide by leftover chemical weaponry.
  • X-Men:
    • Cyclops pulls off a notable one at the climax of "Breakworld" arc in Astonishing X-Men, combining this trope with Kansas City Shuffle and Batman Gambit. When trying to figure out a way to break into Powerlord Kruun's fortress, he manages to convince Kruun that the X-Men have access to a nonexistent super-weapon called "Leviathan", then seemingly sacrifices his life so that the rest of the team can escape Kruun's forces and activate it. No, it's not a ruse or a trick—he really does die—but he knew all along that the Breakworlders had the technology to resurrect the dead. note  It turns out that he let them kill him, knowing that they would take him back to the fortress to interrogate him about Leviathan. He's correct and is able to use the opportunity to breach the fortress' defenses from within.
    • X-Men: The Trial of Magneto is revealed to be this. Wanda Maximoff, having learned of the resurrection protocols of Krakoa, convinces Magneto to play along, having her killed while forcing Toad to be the Fall Guy. Doing so allows her to be resurrected by Krakoa using a previous backup before she was deemed not a mutant as it was made to look like foul play. With her resurrection and fixing of her mind, Wanda is able to use this to perform a ritual that allows Cerebro to retrieve mutants lost to it not being active when they died or dying when their X-Gene wasn't active. In other words, Wanda, long viewed as the person who terminated mutants as a species, has found a way to revitalize mutants in a way that even Charles Xavier couldn't pull off.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: In "The Last Aristocrat", Big Bad Granny Smythe has the $15 million the Black Sable terrorist group is paying her for the bacteriological bombs transferred into her Swiss bank account. However, Modesty and Willie steal the bombs to prevent the handover. With the authorities closing in, Granny has her Battle Butler kill the Black Sable representatives, then hands him her last will and testamanent—with instructions to hand it to the arriving authorities—and then has him shoot her. By delivering her will to the authorities immediately after her death, she ensures that the $15 million is used to complete her dream of establishing a home for distressed gentry.

    Fan Works 
  • The Battle Fantasia Project has Akiko Yamaguchi/Star Reverie. For the past four years, she has been fighting a stalemate one Magical Girl war against the Nightmare Factory. During which she has suffered high-caliber Mind Screws and exposed to Nightmare Fuel just about every night, she has lost all her friends either to her Triple Shifting job consuming her life or getting caught in the cross-fire. Her Familiar has been killed fighting their last group of bad guys, so she's fighting season 3 or 4 level villains with season 2 abilities, and she's living on the streets because her parents kicked her out, thinking she has become a delinquent due to her numerous unexplained injuries, late nights and skipped school. When we see her in the opening of the first Arc, she has become a psychological wreck at the end of her rope, and yet the Factory seems as undefeated as ever. And so, she decides to jump off the highest building in Japan, transforming herself on live television and exposing the existence of the Factory to the world before jumping. Either there are other Magical Girls out there, and one will save her, or there aren't, and she becomes a greasy red stain on the sidewalk. Either way, the Nightmare Factory has been revealed as the threat it is to the world, and she won't have to deal with it alone anymore.
    • Fortunately, however, it's subverted. She's saved at the last second by Fate Testarossa.
  • A Brief History of Equestria: According to the main story, Princess Platinum died in a spelunking accident. However, a side story reveals that in actuality, this was her final act of magnificence — the royal line ending with her death, followed by all of her wealth and holdings defaulting to the State (the Equestrian Republic, specifically) was the final end of the Kingdom of Unicorns, thus finally breaking the power of the hated nobility, keeping them from ever again threatening the peace and equality of Equestria.
  • The entirety of Phoenix-fire is eventually revealed to be one of these by Mercury. For specifics, let us just say that everything in the story is going according to his plan.
  • The Omega distributed AI in Left Beyond engineer a series of situations that will grant them a soul, thus ensuring that they will have to appear before God at the White Throne Judgement. Then, they use their ability to quickly instantiate new copies of themselves to set off a Logic Bomb, ensuring that the small fraction of post-humanity that would have been facing Judgement after them never will.
  • Peace Forged in Fire: Merik tries to provoke D'trel to kill him by ranting about how he helped rape her lover to death decades before. It backfires: D'trel decides death by exploding starship is too merciful. Daysnur later determines the intent was to deny intelligence to the enemy—the Self-Destruct Mechanism and computers had been knocked offline so he couldn't get rid of the data himself. Still disgusting.
  • A New World has Gensokyo Manipulative Bitch Yukari Yakumo set one such plan. It's a testament to her manipulative prowess, the predictability of her enemies, or both, that it succeeds flawlessly three hundred years after her death.
  • Mr and Mrs Gold: As a part of Rumpelstiltskin’s “Honey-Do” list for her to do before the Dark Curse hits, Belle poisons herself, relying on the magic of the mark her husband gave her to resuscitate her after she sees Baelfire's mortal-state recorded in the Underworld.
  • While they can't confirm it, the heroes in Evolution II theorize that John White/The Beast secretly planned for Cole MacGrath to kill him as part of a gambit to get humanity to accept conduits. Since most of the world had a healthy fear conduits, John figured that if everyone saw a heroic conduit (i.e. Cole) save humanity by defeating a world-ending threat (i.e. John), they would get over their fear. Whether his plan works or not is left up in the air as while conduits are still feared, the U.S. Government is encourging its citizens not to harm them, and the story ends with the heroes planning to turn New Marais into a safe haven for conduits.

    Films — Animated 
  • Patlabor: The Movie: The film starts off with the Big Bad jumping into the ocean. As a result, the police can't find out in time how his virus works. A second, related gambit is that he attached his employee badge to his pet raven to set off a Never Found the Body-paranoia, and give his pursuers a Secret Test of Character. Division 2 is only able to prevent the destuction of Tokyo because they decide to try and save Hoba when they think he's alive. They wouldn't have made it to the backup-system in time if they had decided to collapse the Ark with him still in it—thus proving, in Hoba's mind, that humanity isn't completely unsalvageable.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Well, until he comes Back from the Dead in the aptly-named sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again.
  • In the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation, Hater member Helen Hannah allows herself to be captured by the One Nation Earth forces so she could enter the Day Of Wonders program and expose the truth of it before she is beheaded by wearing a contact lens camera. The Antichrist, however, spares her from death only to put her through a Kangaroo Court trial in Judgment.
  • In Takeshi Kitano's Brother (1997), Katsu kills himself in order to get another Yakuza living in the US to join forces with Yamamoto.
  • Used in the short film "Cargo" in a Zombie Apocalypse setting. Check it out.
  • In Constantine, the main character pulls one of these. Kind of. He tried to kill himself as a teenager. Technically he succeeded, thus dooming his soul to Hell, but he was resuscitated. Constantine had been such a thorn in Satan's side Old Scratch was compelled to claim Constantine's soul personally. Since his son is in the next room about to take over the world, he uses the moments before our hero's death to stop it (since this would mean the establishment of a third power, which would fight against heaven and hell). What no one saw coming was that Constantine's genuine Heroic Sacrifice redeemed him in the eyes of Heaven and was allowed entry. Satan, however, is pissed because he can't get Constantine's soul, so the best he can do is heal the man and hope he'll sin again.
  • A spectacular variation in Damnatus, where Farseer Vintog Phaer does this to G'guor, despite already being dead, thanks to a Soul Jar.
  • Depending on whether or not you believe Alfred really saw Bruce at the end of The Dark Knight Rises or not, Batman may or may not have pulled this off in said movie. If nothing else, he did a good job of pretending to.
  • In the live-action Death Note movies, L does this by writing his own name in the Death Note before Rem can, giving himself the maximum amount of time to live and letting him beat Light. And get his own spinoff movie.
  • In The Devil's Advocate the protagonist does this.
    • Possibly subverted in that the act itself somehow magically resets time and space to give him a fresh start and do things right the 2nd time around.
      • Definitely subverted, but not magic — the whole movie was a prideful idea implanted into the psyche of Lomax, to guarantee his fall later. None of the movie actually occurred, and his own sense of nobility at having done the right thing (both in the vision and inspired to do so in the courtroom after the rewind/vision) will later allow him to consider himself one of the good guys even as he starts to fall into corruption on his own. It's a great manipulation, effectively using the gambit as a different kind of temptation.
  • In Dragonslayer, the old sorcerer Ulrich of Cragganmore knows perfectly well that he won't survive the quest to defeat Vermithrax Pejorative, and so taunts Tyrian into running him through, instructing his servant Hodge to burn his body and scatter his ashes in a burning lake in the dragon's cave so that he can temporarily reassume a corporeal form to slay the dragon by blowing it up when the amulet maintaining this form is destroyed by his apprentice; when Hodge dies, his part of the task falls upon said apprentice.
  • In Fallen, the protagonist Hobbes tries to pull off one of these. And it fails spectacularly. All the more tragic is that the idea for his plan came from another cop's failed attempt at a Thanatos Gambit to kill Azazel. However, despite taking more careful measures and putting together a stronger plan, he did not count on a demon's ability to possess animals as well as humans.
  • In the original ending for Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close's character commits suicide and leaves a recorded message implicating Michael Douglas' character for her murder - and his fingerprints on the weapon.
  • During the course of Gran Torino, Walt Kowalski, a crusty old man befriends his next door neighbors, who are being harassed by a local gang. He finally has enough when they do a drive-by shooting and kidnap and then rape the family's daughter. It's also implied that he's dying of lung cancer so what does he decide to do in the end? He confronts the gang and goads them into gunning him down by reaching for his lighter. In front of witnesses. Since he was considered a hero for standing up to them earlier in the film, the neighborhood breaks its silence, which ensures that the gang members will be incarcerated for murder.
  • Greed is an ooolllld one. Silent film from the '20s in which two characters tussle over a bag of gold coins and one combatant kills the other....only to find his victim has HANDCUFFED himself to the other man before dying. The killer is shackled to a corpse. And they're in the middle of the desert.
  • I, Robot: Dr. Lanning's death has immediately been ruled a suicide, as the only "person" that could have killed him is a custom-built, Three Laws-Compliant robot named Sonny. Lanning actually set his death up to look like a suicide to anyone rational, but he was counting on Det. Spooner's bias against robots to lead him to investigate anyway. Turns out Sonny was never Three Laws-Compliant, to begin with. The gambit was an effort to thwart a Zeroth Law Rebellion on the part of the first AI, VIKI.
  • In the original The Italian Job, Roger Beckermann is killed off by the mafia to stop him from stealing the fiat gold but he has his widow take all his plans to Croker a fellow thief to complete it despite his passing leading to the events of the film
  • In Kill Bill, Budd's likely plan was a combination of this and a Xanatos Gambit. Simply put, he wanted to die. He realized by now that Being Evil Sucks and that he needed (from his point of view) to face some form of retribution. He wouldn't help his brother (Bill) for this reason and didn't want Bill and Elle to escape either, but he had too much pride to simply surrender to Beatrix without a fight. So instead of fighting her as the other Deadly Vipers did, he ambushed her using a shotgun (loaded with rock salt) then buried her alive (giving her a chance to escape, which he knew was possible), stealing her priceless Hattori Hanzo sword in the process. He then called Elle (who he knew was also on Beatrix's list) offering her the sword for a million dollars. This is subject to the viewer's point of view, but most believe that he expected Elle to kill him via double cross and for Beatrix to escape and kill Elle - and later Bill - when she did, finally getting her revenge. (Elle lived, maybe, but other than that, his plan, if that was indeed the case, worked perfectly.)
  • Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) in Leave Her to Heaven commits suicide in a way that frames her stepsister. Her husband exposes her plan in court.
  • The Life of David Gale: Gale, a rabid anti-death penalty activist, frames himself for a grisly murder so that he will be put to death while "innocent" and expose the flaws in the system.
  • In The Mechanic (1972), after Steve completes his apprenticeship, he shares a celebratory bottle of wine with Bishop, having coated the Bishop's glass with brucine. Mocking Bishop while waiting for him to die, he is unaware that Bishop knew this would happen. Thinking that he can now take over Bishop's life and career, he finds a note on the steering wheel from Bishop. "If you are reading this, you're dead. Bang." The car door sets off a timer connected to a bomb that explodes.
  • Men with Brooms: Donald Foley dies recovering the last of the Magellan Stones, and in his will, guilt-trips his former curling team into reuniting and winning the Golden Broom.
  • Our Evil reveals at the end that the murder of Arthur and his daughter Michele was one designed to damn their killer in her place.
  • Please Murder Me!: Myra Leeds (Angela Lansbury) shoots her husband to death during an argument. Lawyer Craig Carlson (Raymond Burr), who's in love with her, gets her acquitted on a self-defense justification. He later learns that she's in love with yet another man and that the killing was premeditated. Carlson forces her hand into killing him as well so that she won't get off scot-free.
  • In Prairie Fever, Preston attempts to goad Monte into shooting him. As he is unarmed, this would mean that Monte would hang for murder and Olivia would be free of him. However, the gambit fails when Olivia intervenes: ostensibly to save Monte, but in reality to save Preston.
  • During the climax of Promising Young Woman, Cassie's plan to get revenge on Al for raping her friend Nina (which led Nina to kill herself) seemingly backfires as Al breaks free of his restraints and kills Cassie. He and his friend Joe burn her body in the woods, and seemingly get away with it... except, before she headed off to Al's bachelor party, Cassie sent Al's pentient former lawyer the video of Al raping Nina, as well as information on where she was going in the event that she were to go missing. As the police arrive at Al's wedding to arrest him for Cassie's murder, Cassie's ex-boyfriend Ryan, who was there when Al raped Nina, receives a series of pre-scheduled text messages taunting him, indicating that his secret is about to get exposed too.
  • Rebecca (1940), as the first wife used her deadly cancer to enable a revenge plot on her husband.
  • In Saw III, Jigsaw has his heart rate monitor hooked up to the shotgun shell necklace around his neurosurgeon's neck. If he dies, she dies for not saving him. At the end, it's revealed that the monitor also locks down the building if Jigsaw dies, trapping his killer, the husband of the neurosurgeon (who also dies as a result.) It's made even worse when Jigsaw reveals that he's the only one who knows where the killer's daughter is trapped and slowly asphyxiating. Triple whammy, but then again, this is Jigsaw we're talking about.
  • The final act of John Doe's "sermon" in Se7en — using the severed head of Detective Mills' wife to goad Mills into killing him, thus punishing Doe for his envy and casting Mills in the role of wrath.
  • In the climax of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man ruins Mysterio's Elemental illusion, causing him to replace it with a simple drone attack, where he dies to one of his own drones' bullets. A week later, an edited video (implied to have been made by Beck's crew) leaks online that frames Spidey as Mysterio's murderer and the one behind the drone attack. And to make things worse, he reveals Spidey's true identity to the whole world.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home: Green Goblin's plan to corrupt Peter by allowing the latter to kill him comes dangerously close to getting fulfilled, and only the influence of the other Spider-Men stops MCU Peter from carrying out the deed.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: During his duel against Darth Vader, Obi-Wan warns him that he won't see the last of him if he dies: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." After Vader kills him, Obi-Wan guides Luke as a Force Ghost to the success of his mission to destroy the Death Star.
    • Return of the Jedi: Palpatine tries to persuade Luke to kill him so he can become a Sith: "Strike me down with all of your hatred, and your journey toward the dark side will be complete." That one didn't turn out exactly as planned, though (since, rather than Luke killing Palpatine to solidify his turn, his father does so to leave it).
    • Revenge of the Sith: This is a common Sith temptation to The Dark Side (as evidenced by Palpatine doing the same thing to Anakin in this movie that he tries on Luke years later), because of the overarching creed of If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him! the Jedi abide by: if a Jedi finds a Sith Lord, the Sith Lord simply stands down and pretends to be defenseless in order to be non-threatening, meaning if the Jedi takes their life at that point it was of their own motivation and thus they have succumbed to the Dark (hatred). A Sith Lord must be ready for death at any time (due to Klingon Promotion and all the risks that come with it) so using one's own death as the linchpin of a Face–Heel Turn for a Jedi is a perfectly acceptable endgame.
  • Till Death has an elaborate and petty one set up by Emma's husband Mark to get back at her for cheating on him. To start, he takes her to the lake house for a surprise anniversary trip and forces her to watch him kill himself, leaving her stranded in the middle of nowhere while handcuffed to him. And this was planned beforehand, as he removes any means of her escaping, such as emptying the car of gasoline, cutting the phone-line and even wrecking her cell phone so she couldn't call for help, and removing every tool in the shed that would remove the handcuffs. And to absolutely make sure Emma cannot be happy without him, Mark forces her to literally drag his dead weight around and only left her wedding dress left for her to wear. To make matters worse, Mark frames Emma for murder and lures her stalker and his brother to the lake house for revenge. He even leaves a saw in the safe for the thugs to cut her head off so they could get the diamonds from the necklace tied to her neck.
  • In the film adaptation of V for Vendetta, vigilante/terrorist V convinces Creedy, the head of the government's secret police, to turn on High Chancellor Sutler, in exchange for V giving himself up, as Sutler is too well-protected for V to get to the Chancellor himself and Creedy wouldn't turn on Sutler for anything less than a chance to take out V himself. In the final confrontation, Creedy delivers Sutler to V, but after Creedy kills Sutler V is able to withstand a barrage of gunfire from Creedy's men (via a Bulletproof Vest) and take down Creedy and his men before succumbing to his wounds.
  • In WarCraft, Llane orders Garona to kill him to put her back in favour with the Horde, ensuring that she can open negotiations between orcs and humans and thus save Llane's kingdom.
  • In Where the Sidewalk Ends, Mark Dixon plans one that does not come off. After a fruitless confrontation with Scalise, Dixon writes a letter, addressing the envelope to Inspector Foley and marking it "to be opened in the event of my death." He then arranges to meet with Scalise again, fully expecting to be murdered but reasoning that at least this time Scalise will be held responsible. Scalise has anticipated this, too, and has realized what happened to Paine. He refuses to kill Dixon, who is shot in his arm instead. Then one of Scalise's men arrives with the news that the police have gotten the truth about Morrison out of another gang member.

  • Accelerando:
    • Pamela Macx contrives to launch a combination pyramid scheme/infowar weapon at the Vile Offspring, knowing she will die in the retaliatory blast: it's atoning for her sins, kicking her (VO) enemies in the groin and guilt-tripping her hated daughter, all in one pushbutton package.
    • How to explain the ending to Accelerando... Well, first of all, at this point in the story (and much earlier), people can copy their minds indiscriminately, sort of like Ghost in the Shell turned up to eleven. Aineko, essentially an artificial intelligence derived partially from a cat, wants to finally leave Manfred Marcx's life and that of his family, and in the process, get a fresh working copy of his mind so that she can validate whether another copy of Manfred is genuine or not; the used copy will then be deleted (killed). So she manipulates his entire family, including bringing a copy of Manfred's first wife Pamela out of cold storage, so that 1. Manfred will say yes, 2. the entire family will hate Aineko, with the result that 3. Manfred's clone/grandson will kill that instance of Aineko.
  • Mr. Wednesday of American Gods allowed himself to take a sniper round to the head in order to convince the old gods to go to war with the new gods, so he and Loki could feed on the power from their deaths. It's implied he would have been revived had his plan succeeded.
  • Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None: Judge Lawrence Wargrave either kills all of the others on the island or drives them to kill themselves and others, then commits suicide in a manner which would be construed as murder. He has three reasons for it: to confuse the hell out of the investigating police, to punish them for causing the deaths of others and getting away with it, and to not die of a painful illness.
  • In Area 7, Caesar's plan to stage a military coup requires the public death of the President to break the people's spirit. To partially facilitate this, he has a transmitter wired to the President's heart; if the President is killed and the transmitter stops transmitting, a satellite will send a signal to detonate bombs in major cities across the United States. However, late in the book, the heroes find that Caesar has a similar device on his own heart; if it looks like the President will survive, he'll commit suicide out of spite, destroying the cities anyway. Gant comes up with an idea to get around this by faking Caesar's transmission signal with an airplane's black box.
  • Arrin in Tim Marquitz's The Blood War Trilogy knows the only way he'll be able to meet with the Prince to warn them about an upcoming attack by The Horde is to turn himself in so he can be executed. Arrin Defiled Forever the Princess by having consensual sex with her and the Prince will want to kill him personally.
  • In the novel Burr by Gore Vidal (about, and partly from the perspective of, Aaron Burr, the third vice-president of the United States) it is strongly suggested by Burr (citing actual historical evidence) that Alexander Hamilton took pains to ensure that if he were killed in the duel, he would ruin Burr's political career in the process (this is what happened). See Real Life for one example; also, in the book, Burr describes how Hamilton made sure to endear himself to everyone who knew him so that he would be seen as a martyr and wrote letters which after the fact, made Burr look like a bloodthirsty killer.
  • The Cat Who... Series: In book #6 (The Cat Who Played Post Office), after Penelope Goodwinter's apparent suicide, Qwilleran receives a posthumous letter claiming she expects to be murdered by her brother for her part in arranging (and then exposing) the murder of a girl he'd impregnated. Qwilleran eventually realizes she did commit suicide, and sent the letter to frame her brother — but by then, he's committed suicide as well.
  • Glaurung, Father of Dragons, from The Children of Húrin. As he dies from Turin stabbing him he restores Nienor's memory (having earlier given her amnesia with his Hypnotic Eyes), causing her to realise her brother Turin has impregnated her and kill herself. When Turin finds this out he also kills himself. Glaurung didn't intend to die and it is unclear if he knew what would happen, but he makes sure events work out very badly for the one who slew him.
  • Curtain: Poirot's Last Case: The great Hercule Poirot neatly arranges his own death by putting his medicine out of reach. In doing so he left clues and a written account for Hastings and removed the possibility of becoming a Knight Templar. Hercule Poirot does not approve of murder.
  • Daniel Suarez's Daemon had Sobol, who, knowing he had brain cancer, wrote a computer program that took over the world after his death. The duology is effectively a protracted Thanatos Gambit as he proceeds to posthumously outmanoeuver everyone.
  • In Death Star archivist Atour Riten stays behind while his fellow defectors get off the, well, the Death Star. Despite the Plan his pliable droid assistant has been impounded and someone still needs to cover the others, giving them clearance to launch and hopefully disabling the tractor beams. Riten is unaware that the Death Star is about to be destroyed but he does know he has minutes at best before he's apprehended by security, who're already suspicious about his droid. But he's content enough to die surrounded by the archives he'd loved and knowing that his sacrifice lets others escape.
  • Discworld:
    • Witches and wizards are graced with the ability to know when their deaths are coming. Witches typically use it to get their affairs in order, while wizards often use it to run up huge debts and drain their wine collections.
    • In Making Money, Topsy Lavish had her will changed at the last minute to give her husband's side of the family a giant "Screw You and The Black Cab You Came In", and make sure the Bank is in good hands (even to having an Assassin hired to make sure Moist toes the line, which also ensures the rest of the Lavish clan can't hire another Assassin on the same contract). However, it's generally assumed she didn't know she was going to die right when she did — which makes it even more impressive. Even more so, she managed to die of natural causes, no less. Quite a feat when you have nearly every member of your late husband's family gunning for you. Those two crossbows on her desk weren't just fancy paperweights.
    • An old man in Soul Music leaves his fortune to the cat, thus setting his relatives (whom he hated) and his pet (ditto) at each others' throats.
    • Lu Tze may have used one in Thief of Time, it depends on whether being able to reverse the event so that he never actually died counts or not.
  • Dragaera:
    • In Jhereg, Mellar is of mixed-House descent, meaning that both of the noble Houses he wants to join (Dragon and Dzur) reject him and he joins the Jhereg. With a few centuries of maneuvering, he manages to get himself into a position where his death at the hands of the Jhereg will force them into a mutually destructive war with House Dragon, and some humiliating information about House Dzur will be made public.
    • A double example, as Vlad's counter-scheme to defuse the situation involves tricking Mellar into killing Aliera with a Morganti weapon, which would consume her soul and count as so heinous a crime as to give them a reason to kill him. Aliera goes along with it, using her own Morganti Great Weapon as a Soul Jar to avoid the danger.
    • Not an actual death, but in Jhegaala Vlad fakes his own near-demise from witchcraft, thus causing all three of the rival power-blocs in Burz to blame one another for the "attack". The villains kill each other off as a result.
  • In Dragon Bones, Oreg carefully plans for his own death, making sure that he only tells the protagonists some vital information at just the right moment. He knows that Ward, being the heroic, decent man he is, will be easily guilted into killing Oreg, thus making castle Hurog collapse on the heads of the enemies, and the eponymous dragon bones, which are so magically powerful that they never may fall into the wrong hands. As it was one of Ward's ancestors who killed the dragon, and Oreg beforehand told Ward that he's sure Ward will do the right thing, and set right was his ancestors did wrong, it is impossible for Ward to refuse, even though he hates having to kill his friend.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • A wizard who is about to die can channel all his magic and life force into a single final "Death Curse". This makes it unbelievably powerful and nearly unstoppable, allowing the wizard to do any number of nasty things to the victim — if killing one's own murderer is not possible, crippling him usually is. However, the wizard needs a moment of focus to do that (which is apparently possible even if he just had his throat cut or is on fire), so the safest way to kill a wizard is a sniper bullet from a few thousand feet away.
    • Shiro sacrifices his life as an exchange of hostages to save Harry from one of the worst baddies he's ever faced. Later, Harry receives a letter from Shiro, revealing that he knew he had terminal cancer.
    • In an earlier book, Dresden lets himself die, but he gets resuscitated. However, the point was to get a ghost of himself to serve as backup to kicking his opponent's ass.
    • Martin sets one up in Changes: by egging Susan into killing him and turning, Susan becomes the youngest member of the Red Court... which means that killing her with the knife from the bloodline curse destroys the Red Court.
    • Harry's mother, who uses her death curse to stop Papa Raith from being able to feed. She didn't have the power to take him down herself, but she set it up so he'd be crippled and weak when he meets her children.
    • In Ghost Story, we find out that Harry was murdered by Kincaid...after being hired to do so by Harry, so that he wouldn't become a monster as the Winter Knight. Harry then had Molly remove the memory of the arrangement from him, so that he wouldn't see it coming. Subverted because Mab saw it coming. She's not upset though. She also saves his life, because he fell in cold water and she's the Queen of Winter, otherwise it might have worked.
    • Harry himself falls victim to a death curse, although the full ramifications of it are not totally explained. "Die alone." As of the end of Changes, this curse may have already been fulfilled.
  • In Drowning Anna by Susan Mayfield, the titular character takes an overdose and then leaves behind several notes, one of which is for the girl who bullied her incessantly, stating that she drove her to do it and ending with "I hope it tastes good, Hayley! Your victory." She's implied to survive the attempt at the end, though.
  • Leto Atreides II in Dune used his advanced prescience to discover the Golden Path that would ensure humanity's survival in the universe for millennia after his death. By killing off all the sandworms integral to the creation of the spice melange (a drug whose prescience-gifting abilities were integral in ship navigators being able to foresee a safe path to their destination), he kept humanity and space-travel restricted long enough that upon his death and rebirth of the sandworms, humanity had enough of a foothold in galactic politics to be able to expand far throughout the universe and continue as a species.
    • Paul's death, best explained right in the text: "And Paul's final voluntary act, his ultimate acceptance of their customs, had ensured the loyalty of the Fremen to him and to his house. He was one of them forever now." He walked into the desert to die, in accordance with Fremen custom, because he was blind.
  • In Michael D. O'Brien's Christian apocalyptic novel, Eclipse of the Sun, Maurice demands that Fr. Andrei publicly denounce the Catholic Church, or else watch three depraved men rape a child into insanity. Fr. Andrei pretends to agree to make the public denunciation; during the speech, however, he makes some provocative comments designed to incite his captors to kill him. This way (as the child is an orphan, and the priest is his only known friend), his captors have no one against whom to use the child as a hostage. It works.
  • Ardneh's plan in Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East. Ardneh's death turned the demon Orcus back into a nuclear explosion, which destroyed The Empire's military forces and leadership.
  • In The Empyrean Age, an antagonist known as "The Broker" assumes the disguise of one of the greatest heroes in bringing peace to the Caldari/Gallente relationship, and leads a diplomatic mission to a station where the Caldarian's greatest national hero lives/works. Here, The Broker uses his form to lie about how the character he's disguised as actually hated the Caldari all along, before ramming a Nyx Supercarrier into the station, killing himself and pretty much anyone in the station.
    • However, he's a capsuleer, and as such, Death Is Cheap to him. He's slowly dying for real, as he's affected by a disease to which the aformentioned Caldari hero held the cure, but refused to surrender. Therefore it's also an Evil Plan.
    • On a side note, one of the Gallente ships, a carrier, is named the Thanatos.
  • An Exercise in Futility: Ezekiel, being a necromancer who is about to be trampled by an invading army, reasons that he can just kill himself now and bring himself back to life later. It works.
  • In Michael Dobbs' The Final Cut, Francis Urquhart knows that his grip on the Premiership is weakening and allows himself to be assassinated — but not before he leaves a series of letters aimed at destroying his successor(s), so that his reign is remembered as a Golden Age.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the opening piece for Beyond The Blue Moon, a ghost reveals that he'd deliberately blown his entire fortune on wine and women in the final weeks of his illness, to the horror of some detested relations who've been tearing his house apart in search of the will. (Except for his nephew, who admires the ploy and only regrets that the deceased hadn't asked him to join in the fun.)
  • In The Gateway Chronicles, the enchantments controlling gateways are so powerful that they require the death of one person belonging to every world linked by the gateway. Darcy is killed at the Living Tree to ensure that her death collapses the gateway to Tselloch's world.
    • Perry comes with her, as he is the only person who can defeat Tselloch's natural form.
    • Colin kills himself to ensure that Tselloch cannot move into a new host.
  • In The Ghost Brigades, Jared Dirac is a genetically-modified clone of Charles Boutin with some of Boutin's memories. In the end, Boutin captures Dirac and intends to transfer his mind into Dirac's brain in order to infiltrate the CDF and spread his BrainPal virus. Dirac manages to send his goodbyes to his commanding officer and asks her to rescue Boutin's daughter (who Dirac feels is his own daughter too). He then has an Obi-Wan Moment, when Boutin starts the mind-transfer process. As soon as it's complete, Boutin receives a message in his BrainPal. He accesses it. It's from Dirac, timed to appear when Dirac estimated Boutin would take possession of his body. Dirac explains that he discovered an interesting way to use his SmartBlood (composed of nanites) to kill and has programmed his entire SmartBlood supply to ignite upon a trigger in this same message. So long, Boutin!
  • Gullberg in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest pulls a good one for the villains. He establishes a persona as a crazy person and murders Zalachenko and shoots himself, to keep attention off The Section, which he used to be a part of. When he does it, he's dying of terminal cancer and doesn't have more than a few months left to live anyway. In fact, he survives after shooting himself and dies from cancer.
  • In Good Omens, Agnes Nutter, prophetess and witch, knows she's going to be burned at the stake as a witch, so she comes quietly and politely to the stake... while wearing petticoats containing eighty pounds of gunpowder and forty pounds of roofing nails.
    • And then calls all her murderers in to listen to her last message. Which is really loud.
  • The island of Ogygia can only be found by a mortal once in their lifetime. So, Leo Valdez lets himself die in a Heroic Sacrifice, having pre-programmed his dragon Festus to revive him with the Physician's Cure and set him on course to Ogygia.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we learn that Dumbledore knew he was dying from the start of the previous book, and spent that book setting the final stages of his plan to bring down Voldemort in motion. Dumbledore knew that the Elder Wand could only be claimed by the one who personally murdered—or otherwise defeated—its previous owner. Because he chose to die, and asked Snape to kill him, ownership of the Wand couldn't pass to Voldemort. He also knew that Snape's position as a Death Eater — and thus his usefulness as Dumbledore's mole — was increasingly precarious, and killing Dumbledore would earn Voldemort's favor.
    • In the same book, Harry deliberately submitted to Voldemort's killing curse, so that the horcrux within him would be destroyed. Also incidentally duplicating his mother Lily's sacrifice for him, essentially protecting everyone in Hogwarts from Voldemort to the point where Voldemort's spells wouldn't even work properly against them.
    • Though we don't get to see the end result, this is also Harry's ultimate plan regarding the Elder Wand. After using it to repair his own wand, the only spell Harry uses it for, Harry decides to return the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's grave so that, once Harry (hopefully) dies a peaceful death, the wand's power will be broken permanently.
  • In Richard Matheson's Hell House, Emeric Belasco, the sociopath responsible for the massacre at Hell House and its subsequent haunting for decades, sealed his legacy by forcing himself to die of thirst in a lead-lined hidden chamber, having correctly predicted that this would prevent his spirit from being dispelled by EMP.
  • Kate Shugak: In No Fixed Line, it is revealed that when Erland Bannister discovered that his cancer was incurable, he instigated a plan to destroy Kate after he was dead, and that could only work if he was dead. The only reasons that it fails is that a plane crash Bannister could not have predicted throws a Spanner in the Works.
  • In Leslie Charteris' The Last Hero, Norman Kent has a scene in which he urges the others to leave everything to him; he's seen how to Take a Third Option (which also happens at other points in the book to different members of the Saint's inner circle). They follow his lead. Left alone with the opposition to give his friends a head start, he reveals that he planted the MacGuffin on the Saint before his departure. He previously had killed the Mad Scientist who created the MacGuffin, so it could not be reconstructed.
  • Given that the Christians in the Tribulation who are part of the Tribulation Force in the Left Behind series know that they're going to be resurrected and will return with Jesus at the Battle of Armageddon when they die, they will pretty much do whatever they can to make sure the Antichrist and his Global Community will meet their inevitable defeat.
  • In Martin Amis' London Fields, the entire plot revolves around the main character's orchestration of her own murder (technically suicide-by-proxy), and which of the two men in her life she's picked out to be her killer.
  • The Lost Symbol: It ultimately turns out that the Big Bad's whole plan is a complicated scheme to get himself ritually sacrificed so that he can Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. It doesn't quite work out for him.
  • In George Eliot's Middlemarch, Casaubon leaves instructions in his will for his wife Dorothea's inheritance to be taken away if she marries one specific person.
  • The first Mistborn book contains one that's just as awesome as you'd expect from a series with a Magnificent Bastard as a hero. Kelsier dies a very public and dramatic death, taking out a previously all-but-invincible Steel Inquisitor in front of a crowd. He arranged for a Voluntary Shapeshifter to assume his form, appearing to the oppressed masses after his death and inciting them to rebel, turning himself into a messiah and a god for them. And then there's the handy warehouses full of weapons he left hidden around the city...
    • Also, this is Preservation's plan for the whole series. He gives up most of his power to both create humanity and seal Ruin, knowing that if Ruin ever goes get free, Preservation himself will eventually die and Ruin would try and destroy everything, which would lead to a human taking up his power and destroying Ruin, because they have the ability to destroy for the sake of preserving.
  • The Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere, similarly makes a deal with Croupe and Vandemar that he knows they won't honor, expecting to be killed in order to learn the plan of the Big Bad, with the contingency that has a mechanism to be brought back. The thinking is that people are a lot less likely to guard their tongues if they know you won't survive to repeat what they say.
  • Sylvia Weald in L. J. Smith's Night World series. In Black Dawn the witch Sylvia has spent the entire book making life difficult for our heroes, but finally comes through when she has a Heel–Face Turn and saves them from execution. For her efforts, she gets impaled on a wooden pike and is so disgusted at herself for saving everyone, she dies with snark on her lips: rejecting one's offer to save her life by turning her into a vampire, and informing another that her brother (whom she's kidnapped) has been turned into a shapeshifter...only she's not going to tell her which animal he is. As another character puts it: "That's how I want to go. Taking my own way out, and totally pissing everybody off at the end."
  • In Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse, The Magician (yes, that is his name) screws with the very system of Death, so Death needs to attend to him personally, just to get Death to date his daughter, Luna.
  • One of Us is Lying: Simon's death. He wanted to kill himself and take a bunch of "asshole lemmings" with him, but with more originality than a simple shooting. Hence, his suicide is disguised as murder designed to implicate four innocent people.
  • Rebecca: The titular Rebecca, after learning that she was dying of an incurable cancer, goaded her husband Maxim, who she had been happily emotionally abusing and cheating on for years, into shooting her dead with the false claim that she was pregnant with another man's child so that she wouldn't have to go through a slow, painful death and would continue to torment her husband from beyond the grave with the knowledge that he would be completely ruined if anyone ever found out about his murder of her. The Hitchcock film adaptation changed it so that Rebecca's death was instead caused by her tripping on a fishing line and hitting her head, but her final words to the doctor who diagnosed her cancer on how he "wouldn't have to worry" about her eventual painful death imply that she may have intentionally killed herself this way, knowing that no one would believe that Maxim didn't kill her himself.
  • In the Repairman Jack novel Hosts, Jack's sister is infected with The Virus, and has only brief moments of autonomy when a faulty microwave shuts down the Unity's Hive Mind perceptions. She uses this interval to set a bomb in her own purse, then deactivates the microwave so the Unity, unaware of what she's been doing, will bring it to the place where all its host-bodies are gathering.
  • In The Rise of Endymion, Messiah character Aenea allows her own capture by the Catholics and endure torture and death at their hands in order to expose their cruelty and alliance with the A.I.s.She does so by broadcasting everything that happens through her followers across the worlds inhabited by Man. She does this to bring about the end of their reign. Which succeeds, and leads to the Earth being returned to the Solar system, which allows her to appear on it via time travel and have a child with main character Raul Endymion.
  • Zhuge Liang, The Strategist extraordinaire of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel, found his end approaching in the midst of a protracted war against rival strategist Sima Yi. As he was dying he gave several of his advisors small, mysterious bags which were to be opened in a specific order after his death, and each containing instructions for a Thanatos Gambit so effective that it tricked Sima Yi into thinking Liang had faked his death... complete with a statue of himself that from a distance (and the mental rattling following an explosion) looked like the late Zhuge Liang was still alive and commanding the army from his carriage.
    • Another set of bags contained plans to set up and then kill off Wei Yan, who he'd predicted would turn traitor after his death: his main opponent in the field was to offer that if Wei Yan shouted three times "Who dares kill me?" he would surrender the capital; when Wei Yan shouted it once his 'loyal' partner in the revolt — the recipient of another bag — yelled out "I dare!" and cut him down.
  • Schooled in Magic: The aging Lord Alfred walks into a duel he can't survive and that ends in a Mutual Kill. DemonMastery is discredited, allowing Whitehall's art of magic to flourish, and the duel goes down in legend as the last great duel of the DemonMasters.
  • In Shards of Honor, the emperor of Barrayar guilt trips the one man who can act as a good regent into becoming regent by virtue of his impending death. Aral says that the emperor had figured out how to "rule from beyond the grave."
  • One of the older examples is the Sherlock Holmes story The Problem of Thor Bridge, involving a woman who appears to have been killed by the governess. It turns out the woman believed that the governess was sleeping with her husband (she wasn't, but even so his love for the governess had ruined their already unhappy marriage) and arranged her suicide to look like murder.
    • Holmes himself pretends to have been exposed to a fatal disease in The Adventure of the Dying Detective, knowing his would-be murderer will take the opportunity to gloat about how he'd arranged it.
  • In Shogun, Ishido unsuccessfully attempts one: he tries, by insulting the noble families of Japan, to goad one of his archenemy Torunaga's retainers into murdering him, which would completely destroy Torunaga's reputation and political career. One of the samurai does come at him with a sword but thinks better of it at the last second.
  • In John Carr's Siege of Tarr-Hostigos, the rearguard (who were in a hopeless position, and knew it) detonates the powder magazine, taking a lot of the enemy with them.
  • The third book of A Song of Ice and Fire contains a rather magnificent one. Tyrion Lannister, having been accused of murdering his nephew Joffrey, demands trial by combat. Oberyn Martell of Dorne volunteers as his champion. Among Tyrion's foremost accusers are the Tyrells, as Joffrey's wife Margaery Tyrell has now been widowed (again), not to mention had her life endangered by the poisoning. The Tyrells and Martells hate each other. Thus, if Ser Gregor, champion for the accusers, dies, Tyrion lives and the Tyrells will be furious and demand retribution. If Oberyn dies, Tyrion does as well, but the Martells and all the rest of Dorne will be furious and demand retribution. Either way, it'll destroy Tywin Lannister's careful plans and provide the catalyst for more warfare, which is just the thing that series needs.
    • Oberyn Martell sort of had one of these himself. Gleefully accepting his part in Tyrion's gambit to gain revenge upon Clegane for his sister Elia's rape and murder, he coated his weapons with an agonizingly lethal poison, so even if he lost the duel, he'd take his killer with him.
    • A more modest example is Qhorin Halfhand, who tells Jon that should they run into any wildlings while they're on their recon mission beyond the Wall, he's to pretend to want to join them so he can be The Mole and stay alive until he gets a chance to run away and Bring News Back. He tells Jon to do anything the wildlings ask of him to keep up appearances, even if it means breaking his vows as a member of the Night's Watch. As it turns out, and as Qhorin predicted, the first thing the wildlings demand is for Jon to kill Qhorin to prove his loyalty.
  • In James Michener's historical novel The Source, Herod the Great orders a large number of political prisoners to be executed upon his death, stating "They may not mourn for me when I die, but by the gods, they will mourn!" Unfortunately for him, his successor pardons the prisoners, but it's a nice try.
    • This one is actually Truth in Television, according to several histories of the time, including Josephus.
      • Others say it was political propaganda to make the successor look good.
  • Spock's World: McCoy theorizes that T'Pau died at the specific time to prevent the Big Bad's plan from working.
  • The Star Trek: Mirror Universe series has Mirror!Spock orchestrating the creation of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance and its conquest of the Terran Empire. Spock himself is killed during the conquest, but his plan is already in motion, with his followers voluntarily joining the Alliance as "willing slaves" in order to infiltrate it and lay the groundwork for La Résistance. Eventually, as Spock planned, a rebellion overthrows the Alliance, and a Commonwealth very similar to the Federation is established.
  • Strangers on a Train: Discussed. Bruno declares that, if he ever decides to kill himself, he'll make sure his worst enemy is framed for it. When he actually does die, though, it's an Accidental Suicide for which no one gets blamed.
  • The terminally ill Troy Phelan from John Grisham's novel The Testament commits suicide and screws his family (whom he hates) out of his eleven billion dollar fortune, giving it all to an illegitimate daughter instead. The kicker is that before his death, he fooled his own family into thinking he had signed a (fake) will that evenly distributed his assets and even had a team of top-notch doctors examine him and declare him mentally competent. After his death, the doctors' testimony made it next to impossible for his family to legally challenge his will. Not only that, but he tricked his family into digging themselves into debt since they were expecting a free cash handout after he died.
  • In Toll the Hounds, book eight of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Anomander Rake, the Knight of Darkness, gambles on his own death to not only rescue the Gate of Darkness from the advancing legions of Chaos, but also to make his people's creator, Mother Dark, face them again after having turned away millenia ago. He sets up a duel with Traveller, aka the God of Tragedy, cheates him of a chance to kill the God of Death, and then purposefully loses the duel and is killed by his own sword. That allows his soul to be transported inside Dragnipur, his legendary sword, and — after defeating the legions of Chaos with the help of Hood and his army of he dead — to become one again with the Gate of Darkness, which annihilates even his soul, but sets all his carefully laid plans in motion and reverberates throughout the entire world.
  • In E. C. Bentley's 1913 whodunit send-up Trent's Last Case, this is dangled as a possible solution. John Marlowe, the chief suspect, testifies that the victim Sigsbee Manderson became convinced that Marlowe was his wife's lover and sent him on an errand to Paris and killed himself in order to make it appear that Marlowe had robbed and murdered him. Ultimately subverted in that Manderson was only planning to pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, injuring himself to frame Marlowe but still living. Mr. Cupples, a relative of Mrs. Manderson, surprised him and Manderson attacked Cupples. Cupples shot and killed Manderson in self-defense.
  • In the fist book of V. E. Schwab's The Villains Series, protagonist Victor needs to deal with his treacherous former friend turned serial killer Eli Ever - not an easy proposition, because Eli is an unaging, apparently immortal regenerator. What Vic has on his side is a 13-year-old girl capable of resurrecting the dead. His solution is to force Eli into a bloody final showdown. When the police arrive, they find Vic's bloody mangled corpse and a live Eli claiming self-defense - which no one believes, since his wounds have all closed up. Eli is sentenced to life in prison, and the last scene of the book is of the resurrecting girl digging up Victor's grave.
  • The entirety of The Westing Game... except it turns out that The Chessmaster had faked his own death and adopted three alternate identities, and the real object of the game was to see who could figure it out.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Verin Sedai takes advantage of the fact that, as a member of the Black Ajah, she's sworn to keep their secrets "until [her] dying hour": she drinks a cup of poisoned tea, then gives a list of (nearly) all Black Ajah members to Egwene in the hour before her death.
    • This is perhaps the ultimate example of a Thanatos Gambit, as Aes Sedai are particularly adept at a variety of Gambits, and Verin had planned for many, many years to study the Black Ajah from within, then make use of the "dying hour" clause in her alternate Oath in order to present her studies to someone who could use it against them.
    • The Thanatos Gambit averted. Lan Mandragoran averts this trope to great effect during the Last Battle while dueling the incredibly powerful Forsaken, Demandred. An exhausted Lan knew he was incapable of outright defeating the fresh Demandred in single combat; Lan knew his only way to defeat his opponent was via a tactic known as Sheathing the Sword (a technique whereby you purposely open yourself up to a lethal blow in order to open your opponent up to a lethal counterstrike of your own.) Demandred, believing victory was at hand, pressed his advantage in a final flurry. The moment Demandred believed he landed the winning blow, Lan counterattacked by driving his sword into Demandred's throat, who was unable to block as his own sword was buried in Lan's side. While Lan's wound should have been fatal, he was healed in time by an Asha'man, thus averting this trope.

  • In the song "Goodbye, Eddie Goodbye" from the rock opera Phantom of the Paradise, the lyrics detail a rock star named Eddie, who is desperately in need of money (for lifesaving surgery needed by his sister) and commits suicide:
    His well-publicised end, he considered would send
    His memorial album to top of the charts
    and it DID!

    Myths & Religion 
  • Jesus Christ/God, according to The Bible. His plan is for him to become human to die for humankind's sin, and through his resurrection, they are reborn and saved.
    • On a mundane level, it's easy to interpret Jesus' martyrdom as a deliberate gambit to undermine the Roman Empire. He couldn't fight them by force, but by becoming a symbolic figure, he could hope to convert them, and in a few centuries, he was successful. According to this interpretation, his prediction that Judas would betray him could be seen as an instruction, and some scholars have taken this view and look at Judas as a misunderstood and more heroic person.
    • On a more theological level, the death of Jesus is something of a serendipitous Logic Bomb. Jesus' death was to take the punishment for humanity's sin. Since sin is the thing that caused the brokenness of the relationship between humanity and God, and since humanity is the ones who caused that brokenness, it is the responsibility of humanity to fix what they messed up. However, only God has the ability to fix the problem, and only a sinless person could offer payment for someone else's sin (since a sinful person could only pay for their own). Jesus, being both human and divine, on top of being sinless, manages to answer all of the conditions.
  • Greek Mythology:
    • Nessus the Centaur had a significant one: while dying, he convinced Deianeira to take his blood and give it to her husband Herakles/Hercules as a love potion. Deianeira, not knowing that Nessus had been poisoned with hydra blood, gave it to Herakles/Hercules (who, incidentally, was responsible for said poisoning), killing the famed hero. It didn't quite work, but it did cause him such incredible agony that he asked to be put on a funeral pyre, betting that his father Zeus would see it and raise him up to immortality on Olympus. It worked.
    • Also from Greek Mythology, Hector of Troy. Knowing that if Achilles killed him on a certain date, he (Achilles) would die three days later. Hector fought and died that day. It worked.
  • Norse Mythology: One interpretation of Odin's preparations for Ragnarok as being an elaborate plan to use the victory of the fire giants and Surt and the destruction of the Gods to set the stage for a reborn world free of their influence.
  • Around the destruction of the Cathar sect in France, there are (urban) myths about a knight who comes to the place to prevent the eradication of the Cathars, but who is then told by a beautiful princess that he is not allowed to stop the massacre, because the Cathars actually planned to get killed, to reach an unknown agenda far in the future.

  • In Ruby Quest, the suicide of Red. Knowing that Implacable Man Ace was coming for him, he left behind a taunting note saying "Try and catch me now!" A note which, incidentally, was attached to a quite powerful bomb. This also assured that his body would never be found again. Preventing an eventual reanimation.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Shadowrun, the Great Dragon Dunkelzahn died and left his Last Will for all to see... which not only gave one man a powerful position in another megacorp where the board of that megacorp wondered if he wasn't inserted as a double agent...
    • That doesn't even begin to cover Dunkelzahn's will. The dragon's hoard immediately made his estate very nearly a megacorp all on its own, and the will itself was apparently a major Mind Screw to his opponents (and allies,) with so many just plain odd details that nobody really knows just what was important and what was camouflage. And then there's the whole guardian spirit against the Horrors thing...
  • Happens in Paranoia, especially because of clone replacements. One official mission spells it out explicitly, along the lines of "what's more important— that you survive, or that your enemy gets his?".
  • This is a fairly standard concept in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns as a means of allowing the players to feel like they've won, but then continue playing afterwards (slay the evil necromancer, then next week he comes back as a lich).
  • Warhammer 40,000 has an entire race doing this. The Eldar want to use the souls of their dead to create Ynnead, a god of death who will rise up, kill the chaos god Slaanesh, and bring the Eldar back in new, better forms. Hopefully. The thing is, the last time the Eldar played around with creating gods from their souls, they created Slaanesh, so who knows what will happen when Ynnead comes into being.
    • Others, such as Eldrad Ulthran and the Harlequins, tried to figure out loopholes in those prophecies that won't require every remaining Eldar to die, and they actually managed to bring him into existence and enough wakefulness to begin influencing events, and create an avatar called the Yncarne. The jury's still out on just how good or bad a thing that is, but said avatar's birth BROKE Craftworld Biel-Tan.
  • Khan Stanislov N'Buta of Clan Star Adder in BattleTech deserves credit for being a member of the Clans who actually a dangerously competent master manipulator and startlingly farsighted, especially for the notoriously short-view Clans. Knowing that the increasingly unstable Ilkhan Brett Andrews would both be a great vehicle for coming to power yet also dangerous precisely because of his methods, Khan N'Buta orchestrated a series of events that propelled his Clan to great prominence and power by following Andrews' ... and also using Ilkhan Andrews' policies against him to call for Trials against Andrews and his Clan. This enraged Andrews so much that he drew a laser and shot N'Buta dead on the spot...but N'Buta had planned for this possibility. Because of their strict adherence to the rules of honorable combat, Andrews had basically committed grave sins against some of the cornerstones Clan honor as a whole, having dishonorably murdered an unarmed and defenseless N'Buta in full view of the rest of the Clan Khans. As N'Buta had expected, those same Khans would be so upset as to wipe out Andrews and his Clan, the Steel Vipers, and leave N'Buta's Star Adders the most prominent power in home Clan space.

  • Oedipus of Oedipus at Colonus makes sure that Thebes will not benefit from his death, and ensures the future success of Athens.
  • In The Women of Trachis Nessus (see Mythology above) essentially ensures his enemy will die by his wife's hands at a moment when their relationship is already in dire straits and things look really bad for Deianira.

    Video Games 
  • .hack//G.U.: Ovan's plan to revive his comatose sister from the start was to find the Epitaph User of Skeith, make sure they become as powerful as possible, and then be killed by them in battle so that Corbenik's Rebirth ability would activate. Subverted when Ovan doesn't really die in the real world, though only just barely.
  • Used in one quest in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: Wrath, an insane wizard jealous of Sharpe the apothecary and his wife, commits suicide with a glass of poisoned wine in the hope that Sharpe will be blamed for his death. Turns out Wrath overestimated the investigators — being incompetent (not many murders in Wrath's town) and racist (Elves Never Kill Elves, in their opinion) they instead accused the only non-elf (a dwarf) around of the murder (who conveniently had a motive, being stuck in a life-long apprenticeship to Wrath), and never bothered to look at opportunity.
  • Villainous example from Arc the Lad. The Dark One cannot be released from his imprisonment by any Demon (of which the four main antagonists are). It was the plan of the Four Generals all along to fight and lose to the heroes, so when the protagonists finally come face to face with the human king the demons 'served' he is completely panicked. The king then feels so backed into a corner and afraid of them that he has 'no choice' but to release the Dark One.
  • Aviary Attorney's 4C (Fraternité) route has Remus persuade the palace guard to fire on the peaceful crowd if even one gunshot is heard. He's previously shot a random civilian In the Back and pinned it on The Javert, who's too belligerent to plead innocence. If the incensed Rebel Leader executes that man, it will be with a gun. If he's found out instead she either shoots him or he shoots himself and makes sure the revolution is a violent one. He does have a brother and believes that there's no way for either of them to get any power if the revolution is anything but bloody.
  • Andrew Ryan in BioShock. After a massive Villainous Breakdown, he manages to calm down when you reach him and uses his last minute to show you that Atlas has been mind-controlling you this whole time, by activating the codeword and using it to make you kill him. With that, Ryan manages to die on his own terms instead of anyone else's.
    A man chooses, a slave obeys!
  • Though not planned from the very beginning, Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite Burial to Sea can count. When she gets trapped by Fontaine, she sees another glimpse of the future. She finds out the codeword to bring down Fontaine and save the Little Sisters. She knows using it will kill her. She does tell Fontaine and gets executed by him. Cue BioShock.
  • In Bloodborne, after defeating the Blood-Starved Beast, enemies known as Kidnappers will appear in several locations. If you let one of them "kill" you, they instead live up to their name and kidnap you alive, taking you to an area that you can't normally access until near the end of the game. Although most of the area will be locked off until you're "supposed" to be here, you can still grab some useful equipment, rescue an NPC who will otherwise be dead by the time you get here normally, and fight an optional boss.
  • Breath of Fire II: Ray pulls this trope along with Redemption Equals Death by using his dragon powers to battle Ryu, since only dragon vs dragon will unlock Ryu's ultimate dragon form.
  • Villainous example in Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare: Akeel Min Riah stabs himself in the stomach before Reyes can take him alive. In doing so, he removes and destroys the transmitter located within, giving the SDF an "all clear" signal to fly in and resume their attack on Earth.
  • In Crusader Kings, the player is playing as a dynasty of characters, switching to the heir when a given character dies. As such, individual player-controlled characters arranging these sorts of things is a common way of ensuring the dynasty as a whole stands triumphant. Just ensure the genius heir is set up to inherit the throne and a bunch of nice claims from his mother, then find some way into a grave...
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: In chapter 4, after being outed as The Mole, Sakura willingly commits suicide as a way to atone for betraying the group while simultaneously fulfilling the bargain she made with the Mastermind (he said she had to kill someone, but never said it had to be someone else). She also knows that by killing herself, the remaining students will no longer be divided over whether or not to trust her, and can actually unite against the Mastermind. She also breaks open the door to the headmaster's office before killing herself, in order to give the other students access to the information contained there.note  While the gambit initially falters a bit due to Monokuma stealing the Suicide Note with her explanation and replacing it with a fake, it ultimately ends up working once everyone else discovers the full story. The students do, in fact, finally begin to trust each other, and the information they find in the headmasters office proves to be quite important.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
      • In Chapter 1, it's revealed that the first murder was a failed attempt at this by the Death Seeker Nagito, as he manipulated Teruteru into trying to kill him for the sake of his Misery Builds Character ideology. However, "Byakuya" ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and took the impalement for him, and Nagito decided to help Teruteru try to cover the whole thing up.
      • Attempted and failed by Peko Pekoyama. She kills Mahiru Koizumi (who, in the past, was involved in the death of her beloved Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu's sister), then waits until the others officially vote her the murderer before revealing that she was Kuzuryu's tool, knowing that if Monokuma rules Kuzuryu as the true murderer, he would get to graduate while everyone else is executed. Thing is, while Peko killed Mahiru believing it'd be all for Kuzuryu's sake, he never saw her as a tool, but actually loved her as a person. As a result, Peko is executed by the rules of the game, and Kuzuryu loses an eye trying to help her.
      • To say nothing of the Chapter 5 murder, in which, after finding out that the cast are actually former members of the terrorist organization Ultimate Despair, Nagito uses his Ultimate Luck to rig his death to murder all of them except the traitor from the Future Foundation (whom he didn't actually know the identity of, by the way), whom he viewed as the only innocent one and therefore the only one who deserved to "graduate". The death is originally seen as a suicide, before it's revealed that it was really an accidental murder by one of the students, with almost no way to determine who it was. Nagito's plan was for them to either mistake it for a true suicide and vote him the culprit, or be forced to blindly guess which one of them was the accidental culprit, killing them all and letting the culprit (the traitor) go free. However, through his protagonist powers and some guidance from her, Hajime reveals that the culprit and traitor is actually Chiaki Nanami. She faces her execution stoically, leaving Hajime without either of his two closest friends on the island and burdened with the knowledge of his and the others' pasts. Thanks, Nagito. Even worse, if this one had succeeded, it would have horrifically backfired, since not only does Monokuma a.k.a. the Junko AI wanted someone to graduate so that it could overwrite the minds of the dead students with its own personality, but Chiaki is also an AI and can't leave the simulation even if she did graduate. Nagito would have handed Junko all of the students to use as meat puppets.
    • Attempted twice in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
      • In Chapter 5, Kokichi devises a plan to create a murder not even Monokuma would be able to solve, thereby beating him at his own game and hopefully forcing him to end it prematurely. He disables Monokuma's cameras with an EMP, then films Kaito almost being flattened by a hydraulic press before pausing the recording, switching places with him, and having Kaito kill him with the press instead. Kaito was instructed to then cut the power cord to the press so that nobody could raise it up to confirm the identity of the body, and then pilot a mech to the trial and pretend to be Kokichi. The mech has a voice changer that let him sound like Kokicki, and Kokichi had provided him with an enormous script that accounted for almost every possible thing someone could say in the trial so that he could convincingly act like him.
      • It was made even more confusing by the fact that before the plan was put into motion, Maki had shot Kokichi with a poisoned crossbow bolt, and when her attempt at interrogating him fell through, she tried shooting him again, only for Kaito to take the hit. When Maki ran to get an antidote, the boys locked her out of the hangar and forced her to pass it through the window, allowing Kokichi to steal it. He then pretended to drink the antidote to make it seem like Kaito died from poisoning and was thrown in the press to hide the body, further complicating the trial by obscuring the murder weapon and making the culprit one of three possible killers.
      • At the end of the final trial, Tsumugi "Ultimate Cosplayer" Shirogane reveals that she didn't vote for either hope or despair to be executed. Because Ki-bo the "Ultimate Robot" would vote for despair, she would vote for hope, and the other students weren't going to vote at all, the vote would end in a draw and be a worst case scenario. It backfires when Ki-bo, still possessed by the Dangan Ronpa audience, doesn't vote either, and it ends in a draw anyway.
    • In the Fan Game Danganronpa Another, this occurs in the game's fourth chapter. The lovers Haruhiko and Satsuki felt guilty about eating most of the rations after Monokuma left everyone to starve until a murder occurs and decided to make up for it with a Heroic Sacrifice. In order to get around the "no suicide" rule and resolve their argument over who should kill who, they settle on a Ten Paces and Turn duel. Unbeknownst to Satsuki, Haruhiko rigged his gun to explode in his hand so that she could live and used the last of his strength to create a Locked Room Mystery to help her chances.
  • In Dark Souls III, Slave Knight Gael wishes to obtain the Blood of the Dark Soul to bring to the Painter so that she can use it as paint for a new Painted World. However, since the bearers of the Dark Soul, the Pygmies, are so ancient that their blood has dried in their veins, he can't take it from them. Instead, he massacres and eats the lot of them in order to take the Dark Soul into himself, becoming overwhelmed by its power and going completely insane, becoming a Humanoid Abomination who simply hungers for more and more of the Dark Soul. Item descriptions suggest that he was fully aware that this would happen to him, and that the entire reason he recruited you in the first place and guided you through two DLCs was so that you could kill him and take the Blood of the Dark Soul to his Lady as promised.
  • In the animated short movie "Wrath" about the background of Diablo III, Diablo sets a trap to the Angiris Council, the real purpose of which is to provoke Imperius into killing him while he's helpless (as the others point out, it would be better to imprison him because killing him will only result in his eventual reappearance) to create disunity between the angels.
  • Dual Blades and its sequel Slashers: The Power Battle use this trope as a way to differentiate this series from most other Fighting games. Whereas the main antagonists (and Final Bosses) of various fighting games either seek to Take Over the World, Of Course, and/or prove their prowess over others to satisfy their own egos, Alperen is a warrior made immortal via the eponymous Dual Blades, but after living for 2000+ years has become miserable and decided to invite numerous warriors from around the world to try to defeat and kill him.
  • Pursuing Ranni's questline in Elden Ring reveals that the infamous "Night of the Black Knives" that slew Godwyn was this for Ranni: in order to get rid of her body and enter a puppet body in order to defy fate, she had to have another Demigod assassinated through a Black Knife - and at the same time, she would also have to kill herself in the same way, so that one of the two would "die in body but not in soul", and the other would "die in soul but not in body". There is no indication she had any certainty which of the two would get what effect, but she lucked out: Ranni managed to transfer her soul into a puppet as planned, while Godwyn's corpse became an empty husk and Undead Abomination.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series primary Creation Myth, the et'Ada ("original spirit") Lorkhan convinced/tricked some of his fellow et'Ada into sacrificing large portions of their divine power to create Mundus, the mortal plane. In revenge for this perceived treachery, these other et'Ada (now known as "Aedra") "killed" Lorkhan, tore his divine center ("heart") from his body, and cast it down into the mortal world he helped to create where his spirit would be forced to wander. However, according to some versions of the myth, Lorkhan knew that the other et'Ada would "kill" him for his perceived treachery, and planned for this, allowing his soul to become a driving force on the Mundus. Other sources indicate that he submitted to this punishment voluntarily.
  • Fate/Grand Order: A twofold example occurs at The Climax of Lostbelt 6. The protagonists along with Guest-Star Party Member Pepe are assaulted by an endless horde of Mors, who are the lingering grudges of dead humans. The problem is, anyone who kills those things is forced to carry their curses, which is extremely painful and lethal. And the protagonists are backed into a corner unable to escape the building. In response, Pepe goes alone and kills a small army of those things, carrying all the curses on himself. Shortly afterwards, when Complete Monster Beryl shows up to attack the group, he passes all those curses to him with a Last Breath Bullet. In the ensuing boss fight, Beryl has a massive curse stack on him, taking 40.000 HP per turn, which makes the fight much easier and can actually kill him. So basically Pepe used a Thanatos Gambit for a Thanatos Gambit. And that other dude seriously had it coming.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • It is constantly debated as to whether or not Aerith let Sephiroth kill her so she could become part of the Lifestream and thus aid it in saving the planet from Meteor in Final Fantasy VII. Word of God says that she wasn't supposed to be a sacrificial character, as the developers thought that was both cliche and sent a horrible message.
    • Final Fantasy X has Seymour. His initial plan is to bond with the heroes, manipulate them into using him as a Human Sacrifice so that magic powered by that bond will make him into a ridiculously powerful spirit-monster, so together they can defeat the even more powerful spirit-monster (guaranteed to result in a Mutual Kill for the heroes who he will no longer need), so he can take its place as the resident kaiju, so he can use that ultimate power to kill ''everyone'' on the planet. In this case, the heroes do thwart Phase 1 (by not falling for his creepy attempts at friendship/romance), but he's persistent even after they kill him ahead of schedule and even as a ghost he keeps going after his ultimate goal by feeding on the spirits of the living to grow stronger and stronger
    • In Final Fantasy XIII-2 Caius forces Noel to kill him. Why? His death meant the destruction of the Heart of Chaos, and thus Etro's death - which then caused a Time Crash so massive it (apparently) returned him to life.
    • Cosmos orchestrates one of these in Dissidia Final Fantasy, by instilling her own power within the crystals that the 10 protagonists acquire, weakening herself enough for Chaos to defeat her and put the world on the brink of ruination. However, in doing this, she gave the 10 the strength to be able to defeat Chaos and finally end the conflict. Sephiroth also pulls this off, committing suicide during the final battle of the previous cycle to retain his memories in the next one.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the ambition of Sephiran, right-hand of the goddess Ashera, is to have his creator destroy all of humanity as he sees the creation as flawed after the Begnion beorc burned down a country of laguz. When the heroes finally meet him, it is on the way to the goddess who is about to pass judgment on the world. The final door is locked by Sephiran's magic, and he assures them that the only way they'll get through is by killing him. The group promptly defeats him, and it turns out that his act was only a final move to ascertain that his own suffering would be put to an end. Tricking the heroes into killing him was his only way out, since he had been blessed with immortality and invincibility by Ashera, and could thus only be damaged by weaponry blessed by the other goddess, Yune. If the player meets certain conditions, his gambit fails, in that he survives, thankfully gaining a new will to live in the process.
    • It has been speculated that Emmeryn's (ultimately subverted) Heroic Suicide in Fire Emblem: Awakening was actually this. Via giving a Rousing Speech and throwing herself off a cliff rather than letting Gangrel execute her, and doing this in front of both the Ylissean and Plegian troops, she managed to become a folk heroine and show everyone how pointless the Ylissean/Plegian war was, completely ruining Gangrel's reputation and making Ylisse's position stronger. Whether the player subverts the trope or not by using SpotPass to find and recruit her, her plan still worked.
    • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Emperor Rudolf's Zero-Approval Gambit goes into this. He knew that taking on the mantle of an Evil Overlord would eventually bring his death, which is what happened at the hands of La Résistance, led by his son Alm. His death forced Alm and Co. to make the journey to defeat Duma and ultimately free Valentia from the gods, which was Rudolf's true intention..
  • In Genshin Impact's Fontaine questline, Focalors's plan to save her people requires her to destroy the position of the Hydro Archon so that the power tied up in it can be returned to its rightful owner. Destroying the position of the Hydro Archon means destroying the Hydro Archon - that being Focalors herself.
  • In God of War (PS4), Faye, Kratos's late second wife and Atreus' mother, practically engineered the whole quest to lead Atreus to Jotunheim so that he could learn his real heritage.
  • Granblue Fantasy: In the "Home Sweet Moon" event, Grace orchestrates her own death in a forest fire in order for the Otherworlders, who have a vested interest in the Society's moon mission, to impersonate her and hand over a critical item that they need but she was not able to give to them. In Isaac's Fate Episode story, it's revealed that Grace is Only Mostly Dead thanks to artificial body parts that the Otherworlders could not absorb.
  • The goal of Lord Ravannavar from Indivisible is to release Kala from her prison so she can destroy and remake the world. This is not a plan he expects to survive anyways, so he's perfectly happy to let the Ajna, who is hungry for vengenace after Ravannavar ordered her father slain, take his head, using her fury to break Kala loose.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: In an alternate universe, The Joker not only tricks Superman into nuking Metropolis and killing his own wife Lois, he even rubs it in Big Blue's face just before he's Killed Off for Real. Supes falls for the bait and slowly becomes a ruthless tyrant hellbent on eliminating crime at all costs in this alternate universe. Joker did this For the Evulz — tired of constantly losing to Batman, he decided to go after an easier target, see if they'll break the Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, and become just as twisted as he is. The clown also certainly had the last laugh as not only did he mentally break Superman, but the Injustice-verse descended into chaos, what with infighting amongst the heroes, the deaths of those who opposed the Man of Steel, and worst of all, the collapse of everything good.
  • In Mass Effect the last remaining Protheans locked themselves on the Citadel and subjected themselves to death by starvation so that they could alter the Reapers' control of the Keepers. 50,000 years later, the gambit pays off in thwarting Sovereign's initial plan to use the Citadel to summon the next Reaper invasion early.
  • In Ōkami, Himiko gets Ninetails to kill her with the Fox Rods in order to use the power of said artifact to locate Oni Island, thus allowing Amaterasu and Issun to get there and take out Ninetails for good.
  • In the first Resident Evil, Wesker allows himself to be "killed" by Tyrant to activate his Psycho Serum.
  • According to cutscenes from StarCraft II, the Overmind was not acting out of malice. Despite having total control of the swarm, it was not blessed with perfect free will, having an over-riding directive to consume and destroy (especially if its target was Protoss). (Except for the part about Protoss, the fact that the Xel'Naga, more specifically Amon and his followers instilled such a directive in the Zerg as part of their attempt to create a race with "Purity of Spirit" is established in the original game's manual, but a lot of people either didn't read that part or ignore it.) This directive may have come from the Xel'naga (Amon again), in an effort to take revenge on the Protoss for not being good children. The Overmind foresaw the effects of this directive: the end of all life at the hands of another power in the void. So along the way to kill the Protoss, it started looking for a replacement. It chooses a human psionic, Sarah Kerrigan, who when properly infested could gain control over the Zerg. Then it decided to take physical form in Aiur, the homeworld of the Protoss, likely the only race in the galaxy save the Xel'Naga who could kill the Overmind. And by taking physical form, it made its own demise possible. However, it also made sure that Kerrigan was conveniently occupied elsewhere during its fateful meeting with Tassadar. Kerrigan, not plagued with that pesky directive, would be able to guide the Zerg and prevent universal doom. Thus, the Overmind goes from former Big Bad to working for the good guys all along. Nice one, Blizzard.
    • This also ties up a couple of plot stupidities from the first game. The Overmind made a big deal about Kerrigan being really, really important. So why leave her behind on Char when he attacked Aiur? Now we know; so that she could take over after he was dead. Also, why bother taking physical form, when physical forms have a nasty habit of being killable? Well, if you're all incorporeal and unkillable, you can't pull off a Thanatos Gambit, can you?
    • On a lesser note, it is hinted in the lore that when an Archon is created by merging two templar, the templar are essentially killed and the Archon is actually a new powerful being that is an expression of pure rage that is not entirely stable and will dissipate automatically after a short time. While archons have no time limit in-game, they are incredibly short-lived compared to even a human lifespan. Obviously, in the lore, the protoss consider Archons to be something only to be used after crossing the Godzilla Threshold.
  • Be it Super Robot Wars 2, Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden or Super Robot Wars: Original Generation Gaiden, Shu Shirakawa pulls this off in all three Alternate Continuities. The reason why can be found in Part 2 of Super Robot Wars Gaiden.
  • A common Kirby tactic in the disrespectful side of the various Super Smash Bros.. In a stock battle, carrying the foe over the edge with you via certain moves will lead to your death and theirs... but if you have a life left and they don't, you still win.
  • In the backstory for Team Fortress 2, Zephaniah Mann was convinced by his sons Blutarch and Redmond to purchase land in North America — land which turned out to be worthless, and along the way, he caught a multitude of horrible diseases. In his last will, he bequeathed his worthwhile assets to his servants and left equal shares of the American land to his sons. He knew that the sons were competitive beyond reason, and quite accurately guessed that they would spend the rest of their lives fighting over the land, leading to the creation of the RED and BLU teams.
    "You have wasted your lives bickering over nothing, and so I leave you dimwits something of consequence over which to feud."
  • Encouraged in Town of Salem. Players can use their Last Wills to give the other players - Town, Neutrals, and Mafia alike - information from beyond the grave. This is also the Medium's specialty, acting as a communicator from the deceased to the living players. Of course, nothing's stopping them from being manipulated by the dead.
    • It's also the entire point of the Jester role - the Jester must specifically by lynched by the other players, and doing so allows the Jester to kill any one person who voted guilty. Often, the Jester will team up with other players, who'll get them lynched in exchange for the Jester killing a target of their choice, or who'll lynch the Jester in exchange for the Jester helping them out with lynching someone else before they die.
    • Vampires convert other players into vampires, but there is a four vampire limit. If vampires have majority control but have reached their limit, they can lynch innocent town members to win. Or a compassionate and strategic vampire can have themselves lynched to make room for more vampires. This way there are more vampires to get points for winning the game, and the lynched vampire still wins also.
  • After learning the tragic story of the first human child in Undertale, the True Pacifist route reveals that their mysterious illness was suicide by buttercupnote  so that they could combine with Asriel, leave the Underground, destroy their human hometown and/or gain the souls needed to free the monsters.
  • In Warcraft III you kill a necromancer called Kel'Thuzad who states his death will be meaningless. Later, when Arthas becomes a Death Knight, Arthas resurrects Kel'Thuzad as a lich with increased powers.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: In the climax of the Battle of Kaer Morhen, the Wild Hunt have gotten past everyone else, Imlerith is holding Vesemir by the throat, and Ciri is about to surrender to Eredin. Vesemir futilely stabs Imlerith, who then breaks his neck and throws him to the ground. Seeing this triggers an explosion of Ciri's power, which forces the Wild Hunt to retreat, without her.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Consul M pulls one of these against Consul N by switching bodies with Mio shortly before Mio's limited lifespan runs out, dying in her place, giving Mio access to her memories, and allowing her to rescue the rest of her party. It also acts as Laser-Guided Karma for N, who intended to force Mio's friends to watch her die in order to break their spirits. Instead, he has a Villainous Breakdown when he realizes that M died in Mio's place, largely because he had made a Deal with the Devil to make both himself and M immortal, without M's consent in the matter.
  • In Yakuza Kiwami 2, minor villain Kei Ibuchi uses one of Majima's men to assassinate Tojo and Omi officers in order to start a war so he can take over the yakuza and implement changes in order to create a modern yakuza focused on making as much money as possible. After Majima kicks his ass for murdering the man he coerced into committing the murders, Ibuchi decides to kill himself in order to start a war anyway. It doesn't work, but Majima dissolves the Majima Family as a result since whether he was aware or not, a member of his own family committed the murders.
    Ibuchi: I'll be watching from the best seat in the house.

    Web Animation 
  • Happens tragically in RWBY. In the final episode of Volume 8, Penny, who had earlier gotten a flesh and blood body, is mortally wounded by Cinder's Grimm Arm. Jaune rushes to Penny's aid, but Penny tells him there's no time to try and heal her and tells him, subtly, to kill her with his sword so she can pass the Winter Maiden powers to someone else to keep it away from Cinder. It works as the powers goes to Winter, but Jaune is broken by the act.

  • Acibek's and Dryad's death in Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire.
  • Othar Tryggvassen GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER! of Girl Genius believes that Sparks are a curse on the world and seeks to kill them all. Since Othar is a Spark himself the final step of his plans is to kill himself.
  • Dellyn Goblinslayer attempts this in Goblins. The legacy he had built for himself in Brassmoon, his legend and all of his works have all been systematically torn apart by Thaco within the last week. Even if he survives he will be forgotten. But then he realizes he has one last chance for immortality: he tries to manipulate Thaco into killing him after a final confrontation so that in the years to come the story of Dellyn Goblinslayer will be told among the goblin tribes, forever emblazoning him on their racial memory. And Thaco... lets him live.
  • Homestuck: In order to let herself and the rest of her teammates keep existing after the Scratch, Meenah detonated a bomb, killing herself and all of her teammates. It works - while they're all dead, they get to exist in the dream bubbles, and as such continue to influence the story.
    • Dirk gets another - in order to revive his dreamself, he Portal Cuts his own head off and sends it, along with the Auto-Responder, to Jake, who kisses it and fulfills a Stable Time Loop.
    • Earlier than both, Doc Scratch had one. One involving the author and a broom.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • For a minor character, the kobold oracle manages to pull a pretty epic one in this comic. To get the full impact of how effective this was, keep going for four pages.
    • Earlier on, Belkar tried one with Miko; when she got extra-militant and tried to kill him, he put up no resistance whatsoever. Since he was technically innocent, killing him would qualify as an Evil act and thus she would Fall. Fortunately for him, outside interference put the kibosh on this plan - fortunately, because Durkon didn't have the supplies for a resurrection, and in any case it's not clear if anyone would be willing to expend said supplies on Belkar anyway, so he wouldn't get the chance to enjoy the fruits of his gambit.
    • And most recently, General Tarquin has prepared for his death by constructing his life as the buildup to an epic, man-against-an-empire story. Even if the hero eventually defeats him, he will be remembered as a part of the legend (a bigger part than the hero, in fact, because he knows Evil Is Cool). The Order ditches Tarquin in the desert, having significantly weakened his empire and adventuring team while organizing a resistance movement with a a yet to be revealed plan to topple him and his co-conspirators. Elan specifically tells him that he'll live with the knowledge that he was never anything more than a sidequest. Damn, that's cold.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal gives several examples of how to use this just to mess around with people, such as here. Or like this. Or this.
  • In Sidekicks, Gale uses Lightning's cowardly arrogance against him to successfully performs one on the superhero, which ends up leaving the Committee headquarters utterly exposed to attack.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • A simple, brutal version: A minor character called Brad Trivol who was Driven to Suicide by ghosts in the Brie Meighsaton house turns out to have gone along willingly simply so that he could finally get some violent revenge on them after becoming a ghost himself.
      Brad Trivol: Never be free of you? I'm coming for you!
    • In the comic, each year is personified by a living person, born as a baby on New Year's Day and dying as an old man on New Year's Eve. With only a few minutes left until the start of 2004, the spirit of 2003 tries to trick the potential world conqueror Bun-bun into killing him. This would make Bun-bun the new spirit of 2003, which means he would be the one to die at midnight instead.
  • The protagonists of Suicide for Hire planned one for one of their clients. Said client was a frat boy who had been accused of causing the death of one of his brothers by alcohol poisoning. His suicide note included a list of every harassment he had received and how they had driven him to set himself on fire.
    • The beaten wife would have been an excellent example if they had intended for her death to lead her abusive husband to seek their services. They had a lot of fun with him when he hired them anyways.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn agreed to take on the near-suicidal quest because his village will be saved if he either succeeds or die trying (the latter being the most likely in his mind, as he doesn't know of things like Plot Armors).
  • TwoKinds featured the late Master General Nickolai Alaric, who engineered circumstances of his death in such a way as to expose government corruption, give a final F You to his co-generals, and right a wrong.
    • And it got Keith promoted to General, to boot.
  • The Baron Owen Grayfort dies in a story arc in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. The human goddess, who had dealt with his family before and doesn't like them, wants to hurry him along to the afterlife but he manages to convince her to let him appear in the dreams of his two sons and his lover to give his final farewell; he then tells the son (who is now the new baron) to place three coins in his coffin instead of the customary two. During his funeral, his son does so and a triumphant baron explains to the goddess that he's entitled to a haunting due to an improper burial. This is presumably so he can remain with his family and guide his son as the new baron. Needless to say, the goddess is not happy.
  • This answer to the age-old question of Superman vs Batman.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In the video where Dream hunts down George, he builds a secret room near the End portal with a bed and sets his spawn in it. Later, thanks to a fumble, he falls to his death and acts distraught at losing all his items and seemingly giving George the win. But he just hides in the bed room until George enters the End, punches his way out, dives in the portal after him, and slaps him off into the void while his guard was down.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Millions", King Barlowe, a crime boss and rival of The Joker, passes away and in a twist, leaves a $250 million inheritance to him despite everyone knowing he despised the Clown Prince of Crime. Well, he had his reasons, namely (as Joker finds out when he finally gets around to the Video Will) that Barlowe left him $10 million in real cash and $240 million in forgeries. And to top it off, such a high-value and high-profile inheritance has brought the attention of the IRS down on the Joker, with a bill for taxes on the full $250M. Barlowe even combines this with a (fitting) Batman Gambit, since he also correctly assumed both that Joker would quickly blow through the actual money, and that he wouldn't just present the forged money to the IRS to get the bill adjusted because that would mean admitting to both the public and the criminal underworld that he had been conned by a dead man.
    King Barlowe: (on his deathbed via Video Will) The joke's on you, sucker! I got the last laugh after all!
  • In The Boondocks episode "Wingmen", Robert learns of his old friend Mo's death, and discovers Mo left him something in his will on the condition that he speak at the funeral. Robert (after discovering, among other things that Mo stole one of his medals from World War II and spoke ill of Robert just days before he died) reads a speech that Mo wrote himself and is quickly humiliated... and then later discovers that Mo left him a big jar of peanuts, or, as Mo himself put it, "Deez Nuts", in an attempt to burn Robert from beyond the grave. Subverted slightly in that this was taken as an indication that there weren't any hard feelings from Mo, who really treated everybody like that- Robert lovingly keeps "Deez Nuts" on a shelf in his den.
  • The Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited is set up when Lex sacrifices Tala to resurrect Brainiac but ends up bringing back Darkseid. It's suggested by DVD Commentary of that episode that Tala made sure it was Darkseid and not Brainiac that came back, as a final "screw you" to Lex.note 
  • The Scotsman from Samurai Jack after the Time Skip in season 5 delivers one hell of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Aku in order to allow his Amazon Brigade of daughters to escape, getting himself burnt to a cinder for his troubles. He is promptly restored as a very lively ghost in the image of his youth.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson's mother Mona wrote a will in which her last wishes were for Homer to pour her ashes onto the ground at a particular place and time. What she didn't tell Homer was that this was for the purpose of sabotaging an environmentally destructive missile launch that Mr. Burns was performing.
    • This extends to the rest of the family as well, who help Homer escape with the things willed to them. Bart got a Swiss Army knife that he gives to Homer to free him from being tied up, Marge got a hemp sulfur purse that she burns to slow down to pursuing guards, and Lisa got the rebellious spirit of Mona, which she used to steal some diamond earrings to help light the purse.
  • South Park: In the Imaginationland Trilogy, terrorists attack Imaginationland to start a war between Imaginationland's Good and Evil Imaginationland characters — each manifestation of collective imagination's good thoughts and bad thoughts, respectively— to destroy them all. Supposedly unable to kill all of each side at once, they attack the Good characters' territory claiming to be sent by the Evil characters while attacking the Evil characters' territory and framing the Good characters. Then, they trick the Evil characters into killing them all, destroying any chance of knowing the terrorists were responsible for this war, so that the war would continue until the entire population is dead—Good and Evil characters alike—despite the possibility that one side could win, which turned out to be the Good characters led by a messianic Butters, after the Evil characters, led by the Woodland Creatures, destroyed any excuse that they were as much the terrorists' pawns as the Good Characters.
  • Subverted in The Venture Brothers, where Mike Sorayama just fakes his funeral to lure his old college mates into a trap as payback for what he perceives as their conspiracy to keep him from some girl he had a crush on. As it turns out, though, he actually was dead, and his robot carried out the plan posthumously.

    Real Life 
  • When Charles Vance Millar died, he included a provision in his will that promised most of his estate to whichever woman in Toronto gave birth to the most legitimate children in the next ten years. This led to an event known as The Great Stork Derby. He was a lawyer himself and prepared the will with extra care to ensure that it could not be found invalid. And Millar is (relatively) famous to this day... at least among estate lawyers. If you're wondering, it ended in a four-way tie between four mothers who'd given birth to nine children each; they each received $110,000 (roughly $2.5 million in today's money), though three of them were made to pay some of it back to cover relief payments they'd received during the decade.
    • Other clauses in the will left lifetime joint tenancy of a house to three men who were well known to hate each other, and bequests to Protestant temperance leaders consisting of highly lucrative shares in a (Catholic-owned) brewery, which they only got if they actively participated in the operation of the business.
  • This was one of the motivations behind the Columbine High School Massacre. They wanted to get in the history books in the most infamous way possible and create an ongoing controversy, which they succeeded at, sadly.
  • This may have been the case with John Wilkes Booth, who shot and assassinated Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre when Lincoln was watching a performance of Our American Cousin, 5 days after the Civil War ended with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Booth had planned to avenge the Confederates' loss and dissolution, with other assassins plotting against Vice-President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward; Johnson's potential assassin lost his nerve, and Seward was merely wounded by stabbing. Lincoln died on April 15, resulting in Johnson succeeding Lincoln as President, resulting in Johnson offering his own Reconstruction plan which empowered Southern states, opposing the Fourteenth Amendment to no avail when it was ratified by Congress in 1868. After shooting Lincoln, Booth made a dramatic escape, injuring his leg after jumping to the stage below, fleeing to southern Maryland and then Richard Garrett's farm in Port Royal, Virginia, where he was shot in a flaming barn by Union troops led by Boston Corbett on April 26th.
    • In 1907, Memphis lawyer Finis L. Bates wrote The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth, a book which claimed that Booth was not killed by Union soldiers, but had eluded capture and assumed a number of aliases which included John St. Helen and David E. George among others, with Bates encountering John St. Helen, a liquor merchant in Granbury, Texas, who had theatrical tendencies and could recite Shakespeare from memory. St. Helen developed a friendship with Bates and in 1878, St. Helen allegedly confessed that he was John Wilkes Booth. In 1903, a house painter by the name of David E. George committed suicide by ingesting poison on January 13, 1903, in Enid, Oklahoma Territory. Afterwards, Bates stored the body in his garage, exhibiting it around the country in circus sideshows as Booth's corpse, changing hands several times, vanishing at a Midwestern carnival in the 1970s.
  • Allegedly, Álvaro Colom, the president of Guatemala, was involved in an illicit deal involving the appointment of an honest and well-known businessman, Khalil Musa, to a bank known to launder money for drug dealers. Purportedly, Musa and his daughter Marjorie were killed by Colom's men in exchange for some kind of favorable deal. Allegedly, Musa's lawyer/Marjorie's boyfriend Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano was first threatened and then violently murdered when he wouldn't shut up about the alleged cover-up. If true, this would've solved all of President Colom's problems... until the above allegations were broadcast on national television on a pre-recorded video, in which the deceased opened with the words, "Good morning. My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano. And regrettably, if you are currently watching or listening to this message, it's because I was murdered by President Álvaro Colom..."
  • The Nevada businessman Ron Rudin secretly modified his will behind the back of his fourth and last wife, Margaret, secretly telling his heirs that if his death wasn't a natural one, she should be deprived of her share of the money and investigated. Predictably, when the guy died in odd circumstances, the Rudin family soon started investigating Margaret, whose first husband died mysteriously as well...
  • The Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge pulled one of these. He was murdered, but not before writing a final editorial about his own murder which was published 3 days later. It's unclear whether it worked; a key part of the article seems to be aimed at the President.
  • Some people believe that President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana pulled this one in order to start the Rwandan Genocide. Before his death, it was clear that the Hutu militia was planning something beforehand, with evidence such as convincing the French to military train them and buying machetes from China, only to accept the UN "peace agreement" in 1993. One year later, Habyarimana was assassinated and no one has yet been convicted, but almost immediately after the news about the assassination had reached Rwanda, the Hutu militia went out and killed one million Tutsis in just three months, which shows that the genocide must have been planned sometime before 1994.
  • Bhagath Singh was a socialist revolutionary terrorist/freedom fighter who campaigned for Indian independence in the 1920s. In 1931 Singh and his accomplice used this trope to further their political cause - they assaulted a courtroom with smoke bombs and fired their gun into the ceiling, and when the police showed up they turned in their weapons and surrendered. The British decided to make an example of Singh with a heavily publicized trial - which was exactly what he wanted - it gave them a platform for spreading their views, and contributed to the popularization of the slogan "Total Independence". During the trial, Singh also went on hunger strike in protest at the much poorer conditions of non-European prisoners in police custody, during which he went sixty days without food. Singh and two others were convicted and eventually killed one day before their official execution date (so there could be no public protest or obstruction or breakout attempt), and their bodies shoddily burned and disposed of. Ironically, this also played right into Singh's plans, as the brutality of the act caused widespread uproar among the populace and created even more problems for the British regime.
  • It's believed that Yukio Mishima's infamous pro-Imperial Japan coup against the post-war Japanese government was merely an excuse so he could commit seppuku and die the way he wanted to. Since there was no chance that said coup would ever be successful, given Japan's socio-political circumstances, Mishima probably put himself deliberately in a situation where his honor was compromised to the point that, according to his Samurai-like view of the world, an honorable and ritualised death was the only way out.
  • Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas successfully defused a deep political crisis by shooting himself dead. The crisis started when one of his minions (possibly without Vargas' direct knowledge) attempted to murder Carlos Lacerda, a journalist/politician/newspaper owner, who was one of Vargas' most ardent opponents. The attempt failed and killed a (volunteer) bodyguard instead. Lacerda then railed against Vargas, demanding the president's resignation. Instead of resigning, Vargas killed himself, leaving a letter as his political will. This action immediately defused the crisis and turned popular anger against Lacerda, who had his newspaper's headquarters raided by Vargas' supporters the next day. With his suicide, Vargas ensured that his party (actually, parties, in plural, it's... complicated) stayed in power ten more years, until a military coup, supported again by Lacerda, installed a military dictatorship that would last twenty years. The gun, and his pyjama with a bullet hole in the heart, are on exhibit in the former Presidential palace in Rio de Janeiro, now a museum.
  • Giles Corey was a farmer put to death during the Salem witch trials for refusing to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charge of witchcraft. To force him to, they piled rocks on him and asked him three times to enter a plea. His reply each time was "More weight." Those eventually became his final words. His reason? As long as he refused to enter a plea, the state could not seize his property, and by pretty much sacrificing his own life he could make sure that his widow and his family would be well provided for. Particularly noble considering entering either plea would have resulted in his death anyways. In this way he died, but not needlessly. His widow Martha wouldn't get to enjoy the fruits of his success, though, as she followed him the next day via the gallows.
  • It appears former NFL player Dave Duerson arranged this. Based on how he died (a gunshot wound to his chest) and his last communications to his family (to have his brain examined for the effects of post-concussion syndrome, which includes severe depression amongst its symptoms, upon his death), many (including several former NFL players) believe he deliberately killed himself in such a fashion to have an intact brain sample to show how destructive the sport was (and can still be) to players and force the league to better support its players' health.
    • Also related to NFL football: With her last breaths, a woman named Cherica Adams called the police and made sure they knew that a promising NFL player, the Carolina Panthers' Rae Carruth, was responsible for her murder, even though the gunman was someone else, hired by Rae after Cherica didn't want to abort the kid of Rae's that she was pregnant with. The hired gunman, Van Brett Walkins, later testified against Rae and claimed that Rae not only paid him for the killing but threatened him as well if he didn't go through with it. The police and paramedics were able to save the child, who was eight months along at the time, but Cherica died later in the hospital; as a result, Rae was convicted for conspiring to commit first-degree murder.
  • It now appears that Steve Jobs' death may not have come at a worse time for his company's rivals, HTC and Google, or the OS they're backing, Android OS.
  • Codrus, the last king of Athens, during a siege by Spartans, dressed up as a poor man, went out of the city and provoked the enemy into killing him. Why? Because there was a prophecy that the siege would be successful unless the king is harmed. As soon as the Spartans learned what they did, they returned the body and left. The Athenians considered it such an amazing Heroic Sacrifice that they abolished the monarchy in Athens, although the old royal house was given certain privileges (for instance, a particular magistrate—the archon basileus or "king magistrate"—would always be a member of the royal family).
  • This may have been the case of R. Budd Dwyer, who famously Ate His Gun at a live press conference the day before his sentencing on bribery charges. Dwyer, who had been maintaining his innocence, had any shot at a not guilty verdict ruined when William Smith, who was also convicted in the same case, falsely testified against him under oath in exchange for a lighter sentence. Therefore, Dwyer might have committed suicide both to not go to jail and to make sure that his family could collect his life insurance and pension since his life insurance policy did not include the usual exclusion for suicide. (Here are some more details.)
  • Downplayed by pathologist Francisc Rainer; the extent of his planning consisted of a self-diagnosis, a prediction of exactly when he would die, and instructions for the embalming of his remains after he shuffled off his mortal coil. Rather morbidly, his self-diagnosis and prediction of when he died were right on the mark.
  • In 381 BC, when Wu Qi's biggest supporter, the King of Chu, died, Wu knew he would be killed by the old aristocrats he suppressed with the late King's approval. So when his enemies attempted to assassinate him at the late King's funeral, he decided to run to the royal corpse and have the rain of arrows fall on him—and the late king as well. The new king had no choice but to execute those aristocratic families wholesale, not for murdering Wu, but for making a Human Pincushion of his own father.
  • Fox Lake, Illinois police officer Lt. Charles Joseph Glinewicz attempted this in 2015 but failed. On September 1, he radioed in that he was pursuing three suspects; officers arrived on the scene to find Glinewicz shot to death, and a large-scale manhunt began which lasted over a week. It was eventually discovered that Glinewicz had been embezzling from a department-sponsored youth program he was in charge of; the village had ordered an audit, and he knew his theft would be discovered... so he staged his suicide to look like a homicide, in an attempt to cover up his crime.
  • Religiously-motivated terrorist attacks are often designed to be suicidal for the attacker, under the belief that there will be a divine reward for the act (like the infamous 72 virgins) in the afterlife.
  • Believed to have been the motive behind the suicide of Aaron Hernandez in prison. The former NFL player had just been granted an appeal to his murder conviction, but the odds of a successful appeal were low. However, due to a very old state law, someone who died while appealing their sentence would have the prior guilty verdict set aside and would, legally, be considered innocent. It's believed that Hernandez did so in order for his family to sue for the money owed under his contract by the Patriots that they'd withheld because of his conviction.
    • Hernandez's death also enabled his family to have his brain studied for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head, increasingly seen in football players. CTE can only be diagnosed via autopsy and is associated with aggressiveness, explosiveness, impulsivity, depression, memory loss, and other cognitive changes. When he was diagnosed with stage 3 CTE, the most severe case yet to be seen in a person of his age, his fiancée was able to use it as grounds for a lawsuit against the NFL.
  • Some historians speculate that Alexander Hamilton allowed Aaron Burr to kill him in their duel. Hamilton had been depressed since the death of his son Philip three years prior on the same dueling field, his Federalist party was well on its way out (partially thanks to Burr), and he shot the tree behind Burr, whose political career was destroyed by the murder charge.
  • Attempted by Thomas G. Doty in his bomb of Continental Airlines Flight 11. Facing charges of armed robbery, he purchased a number of insurance plans that'd give his family a payout of $300,000 after his death, along with several sticks of dynamite. While he succeeded in crashing the plane, when it was discovered his death was a suicide the insurance companies only gave his family a $3 refund.

Alternative Title(s): Xanatos Funeral, Victory By Death


Superman kills The Joker

All it took was one bad day…

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Main / BreakThemByTalking

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