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The Hero Doesn't Kill the Villainess

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Duncan MacLeod: Do you think it's easy killing a woman that you've held in your arms, a woman that you've made love to?
Methos: Take it from me, it's easier than dying!
Highlander: The Series, "Chivalry"

When a cast of villains includes a woman, chances are The Hero is not going to kill her despite doing the same to all the male villains. She'll either survive, be let go, get taken alive, or die in a way that has no involvement from the hero.

Note that this only applies for when male villains are killed by the hero but the female villain is not; if none of the villains die, the other villains die by other means, or the female is the only villain, it doesn't count.

This trope is usually a result of dumb luck on the villainess's part, but there may be instances where the hero outright refuses to kill her for their own personal reasons i.e. they might have feelings for her or they may feel killing a woman, no matter how evil, is against their own personal code.

See also Men Are the Expendable Gender, High-Heel–Face Turn, Wouldn't Hit a Girl and Double Standard. If the villainess suffers no consequences at all, she will be a Karma Houdini.

Over time, aversions of this trope have become more common. Especially with modern works with modern sensibilities being far more comfortable showing women reap what they sow. Even if that means a violent end at the hero's hand.

As this is a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • In the Hueco Mundo arc, the Amazon Brigade quartet of female villains all survive. Their leader, Halibel, is defeated by the Big Bad during a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment, and not the heroes.
    • In the Lost Shinigami arc, the female members of X-Cution (Jackie Tristan and Riruka Dokugamine), are two of only three to survive, along with another member who is a small child.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball: Goku storms the Red Ribbon Army's headquarters, killing most of their remaining leaders and troops. Besides the few soldiers who manage to escape with their lives, the sole female officer Colonel Violet decides to steal as much cash as she could from the vault and flee, making her the only higher-up member to escape Goku's wrath.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound: Bojack, Bujin, and Bido are killed by Gohan, while Kogu is killed by Trunks. Zangya, the only female villain in the movie, is killed by Bojack when he uses her as a shield in his battle against Gohan.
  • Naruto: Konan, the only female member of the villains group Akatsuki, survives their long series of battles with the heroes. She is killed by the leader of the group, Tobi.
  • Ninja Scroll: Benisato isn't killed (or even defeated) by Jubei; after Kagero takes her captive, Yurimaru kills her remotely due to failing too many times. Jubei kills every other Devil of Kimon except (ironically) Yurimaru, who is killed by Zakuro, the other female member of the team.note 
  • Sailor Moon: Inverted. In most arcs, the Big Bad is female and is the only major villain to get directly killed off by the Senshi. The others mostly turn good or kill each other off.

    Films — Animation 
  • Fire & Ice: Darkwolf attacks and slays Nekron, a wizard that used his icy powers to expand his realm. Hot lava released by Firekeep begins to dissolve Nekron's ice palace, which shudders and crumbles as though experiencing an earthquake. Nekron's mother, Queen Juliana, can't keep her footing and tumbles off a ledge to her doom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Con Air: Spoofed. Cameron Poe kills several of the criminals during the plane crash (and afterwards, Cyrus the Virus) until he runs into Camp Gay inmate Sally-Can't-Dance, who has been referred to and treated as female the entire time. Poe just knocks "her" aside with a simple slap to the cheek, leaving Sally as one of the few crash survivors.
  • Deadpool: With the exception of Bob, all the male villains are mercilessly killed by Deadpool. Angel Dust, the only woman, is spared.
  • James Bond:
    • From Russia with Love: Bond kills two primary male villains — Grant and Morzenzy. Col. Rosa Klebb is shot by Tatiana.
    • A View to a Kill: Max Zorin and most of his male cronies are killed by Bond. May Day's Amazon Brigade are killed by Max when he decides he no longer has use for them. As revenge, May Day helps Bond foil Zorin's plans and dies in the process.
    • The World Is Not Enough: Played straight and later averted. The nameless female assassin working for Renard chooses to kill herself rather than get captured by Bond or face Renard's wrath for her failure. On the other hand, Elektra King tries to invoke this trope by using Bond's feelings for her against him; it doesn't work and he shoots her dead. He later kills Renard, telling him that Elektra is waiting for him.
    • Die Another Day: The Big Bad, The Dragon, and The Brute are all male; all three are killed by Bond. Miranda Frost, the sole female villain, is killed by Jinx in a Designated Girl Fight.
    • Casino Royale: Bond is shown killing no less than three male villains throughout the film, though none of them are the main villain. Said main villain and his accomplice girlfriend are killed by a representative of the Greater Scope Villains for their screw-ups.
  • John Wick: John kills every male who slights him in any way during his quest to avenge the murder of his dog. Yet, when Ms. Perkins sneaks into his hotel room, attempts to assassinate him in his sleep, and intentionally re-injures his recently sutured side during their fight, John merely subdues and leaves her restrained with his friend Harry, to be released later in the day. This bites John in the ass when she kills both Harry and John's other friend Marcus.note  John shows no such restraint in John Wick: Chapter 2 or John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum after he's been excommunicated from the Continental.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: In the final battle, Ronan, Korath and all the male Mooks are killed by the heroes. Nebula, the only female villain in the movie, manages to escape with her life.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Out of the three major villains (Ego, Taserface, and Ayesha), the female one (Ayesha) is the only one who doesn't get killed. Justified as the Sovereign use remote ships instead of sending out actual flyers.
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation: Mileena is the only one of the three female villains who is killed by the heroes. Jade is killed by Shao Kahn for failing him, while Sindel is merely defeated and freed from Kahn's control.
  • Once Upon a Warrior: The evil Snake Cult is led by their Sorcerous Overlord, Irendri, whose two Co-Dragons are the ruthless bandit leader Sundigundam and Irendri's personal henchwoman Chitra. Yodha kills over a hundred Cultists with ease throughout the film and fatally impales Sundigundam in a one-on-one battle. However, Chitra and Irendri are disposed of by Yodha's love interest Priya, who kills the former and seals the latter in an amulet.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Blackbeard is mortally wounded by Barbossa and tries to save himself by drinking from the Fountain of Youth and sacrificing his daughter Angelica. However, Jack tricks Blackbeard into drinking ordinary water instead, resulting in Blackbeard's death and Angelica surviving.
  • Wonder Woman: Dr. Poison is the only woman among the villains and the only one who is spared by Wonder Woman.

    Light Novel 
  • Played with in This Villainess Want a Divorce. The story is from the genre where someone dying in the real world is reborn in another, in this case a 20-something woman is reborn in the world of a fantasy romance novel. The problem is that she had the bad luck to be reincarnated as Carnelia, a secondary villainess in the story, who was put in an Arranged Marriage with the hero Prince Caesar, where Carnelia operates as a spy and pawn for Caesar's stepmother the Empress, who wants nothing more than either get Caesar killed or have him fall out of favor with the Emperor so her own son will inherit the throne. In the original version of the story Carnelia is eventually sentenced to death by Caesar when he comes to power, but the reader hopes that by becoming Caesar's ally and working for him as a Double Agent she can avoid that fate, and hopes that she can get him to amicably divorce her instead when he inevitably meets and falls in love with his Love Interest from the book.

  • Belisarius Series: Link used autistic girls as avatars and destroyed their personality. The first of these was destroyed by Belisarius' wife, the second by herself (because Link was stranded inside) and the third was executed by Belisarius' bodyguard.
  • Elenium: Played with. All of the male villains have been killed by the heroes. Princess Arissa, the lone female conspirator, is still alive and, it is implied the heroes would have been spared her life, but she drinks poison instead. When she realizes that the heroes don't plan to kill her, she begs the sorceress Sephrenia to save her. Sephrenia refuses and the heroes leave her to die.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: The magical sword Need will protect a warrior from all hostile magic, endow a sorceress with absolute expertise with the sword, and heal anything short of a death-wound. She also places a geas on the woman who bears her to protect other women (sometimes even if said women don't WANT protecting) and will not permit herself to be used against a woman, no matter how wicked.
  • Warrior Cats: The two main female villains, Mapleshade and Sleekwhisker, both survived their conflicts to continue plotting revenge on the Clans. Meanwhile, their male counterparts like Brokenstar, Tigerstar, Scourge, Hawkfrost, and Darktail, all get killed off at the hands of protagonists in their confrontations. Mapleshade is already dead when she first gets introduced in the main series (she dies in the prequel novella detailing her origin story) but she doesn't get killed again to be Deader than Dead like her male allies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • The female vampire villains Drusilla and Harmony are either repeatedly spared or not pursued by the heroes by the heroes. This is somewhat understandable for Harmony who is an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Not so much for Drusilla who has killed numerous people, including Buffy's friends and fellow Slayer Kendra.
      • Maggie Walsh is not only responsible for creating the monster Adam, but she also tries to have Buffy killed. Walsh is killed by her own creation rather than dying at Buffy's hands, though it is likely Buffy would have spared her anyway for being human. Adam, of course, is killed by Buffy.
      • Glory is female and the first Big Bad Buffy doesn't kill. This is somewhat justified by the fact that her human host, Ben, is an innocent person. That doesn't stop Giles from killing Ben to be rid of Glory when Buffy refuses to do the deed herself.
    • Angel:
      • Justine Cooper slashes Wesley's throat and steals Angel's baby son so Holtz could take him away to a Hell dimension. She is last seen abandoned by Wesley to start a new life.
      • Eve helps Lindsey McDonald in his plan to demoralize Angel. While Lindsey is killed by Lorne, Eve is last seen fleeing to an uncertain fate as Wolfram & Hart collapses.
      • Angel also lets Harmony go after she betrayed him even though in the same episode he orders Lorne to kill Lindsey because he's not trustworthy.
  • Kamen Rider:
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers in Space: In the season finale, Andros shatters Zordon's containment tube, releasing an energy wave that kills some of the villains and purifies the others. With the exception of Lord Zedd, all the male villains are killed. On the other hand, every female villain except for Queen Machina is purified.
    • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder: Mesogog, Zeltrax and the White Ranger clone all die in battle against the Rangers. Elsa, the sole female villain, is not killed by the Rangers and is merely reverted back to being a human.
    • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: Miratrix and the Fearcat Crazar are the only female villains among the Big Bad Ensemble. While Crazar is killed by Tyzonn, Miratrix is imprisoned in a jewel by her master Kamdor in "Two Foes Down". Every male villain on the show is killed by the Rangers, with the exception of Moltar who dies at his brother Flurious's hands.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Battle Fever J: Salome, the female commander of Secret Society Egos, is killed when Egos's base is destroyed, being left to die by Egos.
    • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Candelilla, the sole female of the Deboss Knights, survives after defecting from the Deboss Army along with Luckyuro.
    • Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger: Naria, assistant to Ginis and sole female of the Deathgalien, ends up being used as a meat shield by Ginis during his fight with the Zyuohgers and is ultimately killed by him when she finds out his secret, that he is a conglomeration of Moeba, and shows him sympathy.
  • Highlander: The Series: Duncan is very reluctant to kill off evil female Immortals. It happens every now and then, but usually only after he's given them far more chances than he tends to give male Immortals, and he's just as likely to let female Immortals go in situations where he would stop at nothing to bring down a male Immortal. The most pointed case was the episode "Chivalry", which revolves around Kristen, a villainous female Immortal and a former lover of Duncan's. Centuries earlier, Kristen murdered a woman MacLeod had started to fall for as their relationship was falling apart, and in the show's present day she tries to do the same to Duncan's apprentice Richie when he appears to reject her in favor of someone else. Despite this, MacLeod cannot bring himself to kill Kristen because his code of chivalry rejects the idea of taking a woman's life for any reason and the fact that he still has feelings for Kristen despite her vile actions. In comes Methos, an Immortal who's survived for 5000 years and is the most critical of Duncan's views. Unlike Duncan, Methos has no issue with killing a woman who is a threat to him or his friends, and he takes Kristen's head in short order after letting her know that he comes from a time before chivalry.

    Video Games 
  • Asura's Wrath: Although she does suffer his eponymous wrath in spades when he wipes out her entire fleet in revenge for killing a girl that reminded him of his daughter, Olga is the only villain who Asura doesn't kill. Instead, she's sliced up by the Golden Spider.
  • Dark Forces Saga:
    • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: Kyle Katarn spares Tavion, Desann's female apprentice, but kills Desann. Played with, in that Kyle actually seemed more willing to kill Tavion (sparing her out of frustration and disgust), but genuinely offered clemency to Desann before Desann made it clear he was not going to surrender. This bites him in the ass in Jedi Academy when Tavion becomes the leader of a new Dark Jedi cult.
    • Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy: The game averts this trope with Alora, Tavion's own Dragon, since she will always die at Jaden Korr's hands, but plays it straight with Tavion: if you stay on the Light Side, Tavion will be possessed by the spirit of Marka Ragnos after beating her the first time, only to be killed by Possession Burnout once the Ragnos-possessed Tavion is defeated. Jaden Korr will kill Tavion if they turn to the Dark Side, but at that point they hardly qualify as a hero.
  • Devil May Cry: Even before she pulls a High-Heel–Face Turn, Dante refuses to kill Trish after discovering her treachery because she looks like his mother. The only other two demons whom Dante doesn't kill are Griffon and Mundus. Mundus is too powerful for Dante to kill and Dante has to settle for simply sending him back to the demon world, while Griffon is killed by Mundus for failing to kill Dante.
  • Devil's Third: The School of Democracy's leadership consists of three men and three women. While all of the men are killed by Ivan, the women manage to survive; C4 pulls a Heel–Face Turn, Ivan spares Jane Doe but leaves her blind, and Ludmila survives the explosions in the control center through dumb luck.
  • God Hand: After defeating Shannon, Gene lets her tortured prisoners finish her off. Every other baddie is male and gets punched to death by Gene.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: The villains of this game are a branch of the Ancient Conspiracy known as Trinity. Lara kills every male member of Trinity she comes across but leaves the sole woman Ana alive to interrogate her about who killed Lara's father. Unfortunately, Ana is killed by a Trinity sniper before she can reveal any vital information to Lara.
  • Shadows of the Damned: Justine is spared by Garcia after he defeats her. While technically Garcia doesn't kill any of the previous bosses (they get executed by a Sister Grimm, presumably on Fleming's orders, and Justine only escapes this fate because Garcia has killed all three Sisters by that point) it is odd that he spares her when he was swearing to kill her just a few minutes earlier.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Pronyma is killed by the Big Bad for calling him by the wrong name, although the heroes did defeat her first and she may have already been dying from that. All the other Grand Cardinals are killed by the party in battle.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Of all the villains Neopolitan ends her arc entering the Tree in the Ever After to find her new path. All other villains have ended their arcs dead, though most were not directly at the hands of the heroes.


    Western Animation 
  • Blood of Zeus: In the climactic battle of season 1, Heron kills his evil brother Seraphim and uses the Cauldron of Darkness to absorb the Giants' souls. Hera, the Big Bad of the season, escapes before this happens, though not unscathed.
  • Castlevania: All of the male villains in the series are killed by the heroes or other villains. This is not the case for the Council of Sisters; Lenore commits suicide via sunlight, Striga and Morana opt out of the conflict with the humans after realizing how futile it is, and Carmilla chooses to kill herself, going out on her own terms rather than dying by Isaac's hand.