One person or group considers another person or group as their rival, and will not allow anyone else to be the one to defeat them. This can sometimes lead to them helping their rival against other enemies, justifying it with a lame excuse, to make sure that they survive until the final battle between the rivals. Sometimes, this trope can become the basis of a HeelFace Turn. It also frequently leads to Not So Different and Antagonist in Mourning.
Compare Only I Can Kill Him, for where the character in question really is the only one who can defeat the rival. Also compare Leave Him to Me, Hypocritical Heartwarming. Sometimes this is the reason behind Secret Identity Apathy.
- When Superman is killed by Doomsday, Lex Luthor (disguised as his own son; long story) starts attacking the corpse of Superman-killer Doomsday in a rage with a chair. The people present assume it's because he's angry at Superman's murderer. He is, but not for the reasons they think.
- He reacts the same way (and for the same reason) when he thinks the Silver Banshee has successfully killed Superman.
- The film adaptation of the Doomsday storyline, Superman: Doomsday, has a similar reaction from Lex. He's pretty ticked off that an "intergalactic soccer hooligan" robbed him of the chance to defeat Superman with some sort of brilliant Evil Plan. Of course, Lex was responsible for releasing said hooligan, but even then he can't take credit because Mercy Graves destroyed the evidence. So he kills Mercy instead.
- One more for the road: Early on in Post-Crisis history, Superman's first battle with the Kryptonite-powered Metallo goes badly for the Man of Steel. Just as the villain is about to finish him, Lex's agents arrive and take Metallo away. In Superman Villains Secret Files, Lex explains the issue to his infant daughter with "Well, I couldn't allow a fool like Corben to enjoy the killing blow, could I?"
- In Doctor Strange, Dormammu is so obsessed with destroying Strange himself that he practically gave up godhood just to fight him. What's more, he has fought Strange hand-to-hand, rather than obliterating him with his superior power and subsequently lost. (Of course, Strange is enough of a Guile Hero to exploit this weakness.)
- The Joker extended this trope to Robin (Tim Drake) at the end of the mini-series Robin: Joker's Wild. After being defeated by Robin while Batman was out of town, Joker sat angrily in his cell at Arkham, warning the other inmates, "No one touches the boy, d'ya hear? He's mine! The little bird is mine. Do you hear me? None of you touch him. Hes the Jokers property from now on. And next time hell stay dead."
- And of course, The Joker to Batman himself. He has, on numerous occasions, proclaimed that his only reason to live is to kill Batman and throws mad rages (or even completely snaps and turns sane) when he thinks somebody else did the job. Furthermore, he proclaims the self-imposed parallel as well where all he wants is to drive Batman to the point where Batman will kill him, thus crossing the line.
- Before the New 52 reboot, Joker had taken it upon himself to kill anyone who tried to kill Batman; only he can kill Batman & only Batman can kill him. Nothing more romantic than double homicide & hate is just another kind of love.
- Death of the Family: Interestingly enough, Batman has taken this attitude towards Joker, and is even turning down the Batfamily's offers to assist him. This may come back to haunt Batman....
- Batman used this trait as a Batman Gambit in Mad Love to save himself from Harley when the latter tries to win the Joker's affections. While the clown is furiously driving to the spot where Batman is being held captive, he imagines the reactions of other members of Batman's Rogues Gallery, who all make fun of the thought of the Dark Knight being defeated by his girlfriend.
- In Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds, Joker won't let Carnage kill Batman.
- Bane took this attitude with the Joker. While they didn't meet during Knightfall, Bane disliked the idea that the Joker and The Scarecrow might kill Batman before they fight and in Batman: No Man's Land, he gets into it with the Joker over who should confront Batman.
- Megatron uses this trope to his advantage in the Transformers: Shattered Glass comics. He knows full well that an Autobot would never kill him out of fear of what Optimus would do to them later for destroying Megatron before he got the chance. They're even afraid to tell Optimus that Megatron MIGHT be dead. For those unfamiliar with Shattered Glass, it's a universe where the Autobots are evil conquerors and the Decepticons are heroic freedom fighters.
- In an early Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu story, the title character was captured by a gangster who intended to kill him. At the last second, Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi's Archnemesis Dad, arrived and had his troops slaughter the gangster's henchmen. Just before departing, Fu Manchu stated that he intervened because only he may decide when and how Shang-Chi will perish.
- Blaze of Glory: The leader of the nightriders AKA Kid Cassidy shoots one of his henchmen for seemingly killing Reno Jones, telling him that "No one kills Reno Jones but me!"
- This is something of an inversion of their relationship in the Marvel Generation 1 comic. In a story by Bob Budiansky, Optimus and Megatron agree to settle their differences by video game tournament, and Megatron wins (by cheating). Thus, the ref blows up Optimus, and so Megatron slides into depression and insanity due to not being the one that struck the fatal blow. In fact, he is so obsessed over the matter, that when Brawl tries to console him, Megatron crushes his head; and when Brawl, the most Ax-Crazy of the Combaticons, is trying to be the voice of reason, you know Megs has gone over the edge.
- Daken has this with his father; he fought Deadpool when it seemed he was about to kill Logan. Of course Wolverine set the whole thing up.
Daken: He's my father. And I'm going to kill him for it, not you.
Deadpool: So you're not going to kill me? Awesome!
- Incredible Hulk:
- Skaar has this for his father the Hulk, and it's why he protects Banner while he waits for the Hulk's return. Granted, Skaar isn't a bad guy (He's mainly angry because he thinks he abandoned him) and Banner is training him for when the Hulk returns.
- The Leader has this for the Hulk as well. He even got a bit depressed when he found out Hulk was shot into space.
- Betty and Veronica would clearly rather Archie choose the other, rather than Cheryl Blossom.
- Doctor Doom is perfectly willing to save the Fantastic Four from certain death at the hands of anyone else, just so that he can kill them himself later. However, he only gets involved if Reed Richards is with them if only the other three are in danger, he couldn't care less.
- During the Onslaught crossover, Doom was at his embassy in New York City, and dispassionately listening to reports of the devastation Onslaught was inflicting on the city. It was pretty obvious he had no stake in the fight and was planning on staying out of it...until one of his people informed him that Onslaught had kidnapped Reed Richards' son Franklin. Saying that Doom was seriously pissed off is an understatement. "This mutant upstart dares to kidnap the son of my greatest enemy? It's apparent this Onslaught individual is going to require my personal attention!"
- In a storyline where the original Fantastic Four were killed and their positions taken up by Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and Ghost Rider, Doom stepped in and killed the enemies threatening them, saying "None may defeat the Fantastic Four... save Doom." Evidently being stand-ins count.
- This is Dr. Eggman's attitude toward Sonic in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. In the 2010 Free Comic Book Day issue, one of the badniks created by the original Eggman/Robotnik is about to kill Sonic...and he proceeds to destroy it so it wouldn't "ruin his time-table", much to Snively's immense frustration.
Eggman: I could carpet bomb him any day! That's not enough - that's not the point! I have to beat him! I have to prove I'm superior!
- This is also the case in Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW), where Eggman views Sonic as such as a Worthy Opponent that he's determined to crush him utterly before killing him, and won't let anyone else interfere in that. When his new ally Dr. Starline tries to kill Sonic in a bombing during their first encounter, Eggman is furious, reading Starline the riot act for trying to eliminate Sonic for him, and in such a simple way.
- In the Marvel Adventures remake of the Iron Man storyline, "Armor Wars", Doctor Doom appears halfway through as a Doombot, allowing Tony to use the armor to aid in his quest to recover his armor. At the end of the story, Tony talks to Doom, revealing that he wasn't going to let some "stale, Cold War leftovers" kill Tony when he would be the one to do so.
- Averted with tragicomic consequences in an issue of What If? where The Punisher succeeded in killing Spider-Man during their first meeting. His various villains throw a party and invite the Punisher as the guest of honor. Unfortunately for them, they've misunderstood Frank's motives, and he takes the chance to mow them all down.
- Also, Frank had been duped into thinking Spider-Man was a villain. After Spider-Man was dead, he had a What Have I Done moment when he slowly realized Spider-Man was actually a hero. What drove it home was a bunch of Spider-Man's enemies throwing a party for him and seeing what a bunch of psychotic lunatics they were, while all of Spider-Man's friends (i.e. practically every superhero alive) tracked him down and beat the crap out of him. Hell, the Fantastic Four was so pissed each one of them came after Frank individually. Part of the trigger for Frank's rampage killing of all the villains was his own rage at himself.
- Aquaman's archenemy Black Manta is psychotically obsessed with killing Aquaman for some reason or another (originally his motives changed often and were suggested to simply be made up to justify his obsession, but the New 52 retconned it into him wanting revenge for his father's accidental death at Aquaman's hands). This goal is the only thing that Black Manta lives for and when Manta thinks Aquaman is dead in Forever Evil, he vows revenge against the people who claim to have killed him, the Crime Syndicate.
Black Manta: The Syndicate killed Aquaman. They took the only thing I wanted from me. So I'm going to take everything from them.
- In one run of The Punisher, Frank is seemingly executed in an electric chair, only to have his death faked by a mafia family who have their own plans for him. Frank's arch nemesis Jigsaw dresses up like him and goes around killing anyone who had anything to do with the sentence. When he finds out that Frank's alive, he's initially overjoyed. Then he realizes that he killed all those people for no reason, and rages at Frank for making a fool out of him.
- Both of Spider-Man's archenemies, Green Goblin and Venom, believe this about Spider-Man. Venom in particular, as he blames Spider-Man for ruining his life (it wasn't Spidey's fault, but Venom would never admit that). Whenever he teams up with other villains he always betrays them, as he doesn't want them finishing off Spidey before he can; this actually led to the defeat of the Sinister Six on the one occasion they let him join. Surprisingly, the two have never met and clashed over this conflicting goal, though Green Goblin was "dead" during Venom's period of ascendancy as the premier Spidey villain.
- Something like this happens in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, when The Incredible Hulk rips Deadpool apart.
Hulk: YOU KILL HULK'S FRIENDS! YOU KILL HULK'S ENEMIES! ONLY HULK GETS TO KILL HULK'S ENEMIES!
- Batman '66: Heroic example. Alfred beats up his evil cousin because he feels like, since they're family, he'd not be able to face himself if he let others decide his cousin's punishment.
- Subverted in Star Wars: Darth Vader. Vader has secretly discovered that Luke Skywalker is his son, but lets everyone think this trope is the reason why he's dedicated to tracking down the pilot who destroyed the Death Star.
Garfield: Hey, nobody gets to mistreat my dog like that except me.
- Garfield likes to stomp spiders and hates when Jon beats him to it. However, when Liz did it, he told Jon to marry her.
- Likewise, Garfield won't let anyone beat up on Odie. In the strip pictured above, Garfield saw another cat punch Odie on the top of his head, then Garfield pounded him a good distance away and announced, "Nobody beats up Odie but me!" In the 2004 movie, Garfield states a similar phrase when he sees Happy Chapman is using a shock collar on Odie to force him to dance on TV.
- In Power Girl fanfic A Force of Four three Kryptonian criminals who had been imprisoned by Superman for decades are released. When they learn Superman is dead, they feel furious and cheated out of their revenge.
Mala: We have not forgotten the thirty years we spent in the Kryptonite globe because of him. Nor have we forgotten being cheated of our revenge by his death.
- Queen of All Oni: When Ikazuki selects Tohru as his new host, Jade lashes out at him, since she views Tohru as her Arch-Enemy and doesn't want anyone else to harm him. Unfortunately for her, Ikazsuki is more powerful and forces her to do things his way.
- Dr. Brainstorm takes this attitude towards Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
- Jewel of Darkness: Midnight finishes off an Eldritch Abomination that the Titans were fighting, telling them that she'll only let them be destroyed when she decides.
- Subverted by Slade when the Titans are captured by Mad Mod during the second arc — he states that whether or not the Titans succumb to Mod's brainwashing, it doesn't affect his plans, so he doesn't care.
- Firefly from Ace Combat: The Equestrian War won't let anypony else, but herself take Black Star down. This is because she promised herself to avenge her parents by defeating their murderer.
- A rare heroic variant occurs in the Super Smash Bros. based One Last Smash. In it, the Nintendo Universe is protected by the characters from the first two games. Eventually, someone starts murdering all of their enemies. While most of them are unsettled by this, Donkey Kong is outraged that someone killed K. Rool and his army, feeling that he was denied a final confrontation.
Donkey Kong: Gonna smash guy who smash K. Rool without tellin' Donkey.
- Turnabout Storm: While Trixie apparently took on the case's prosecution to settle a score with Twilight, as the case unravels she starts getting personal with the defense, Phoenix. Eventually, when a witness gets too aggressive with him:
Trixie: Leave him alone! You're the one who's dead meat if you lie again!
Phoenix: (How cute, she's sticking up for me.)
Trixie: Besides, Mr. Wrong is Trixie's! He shall feel the GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie's wrath before this trial is over!
Phoenix: (Or not...)
- In Substitute Harmony, after Pinkie Pie is falsely implicated for the disappearances of her friends, Trixie shows up and wants to kill her... because she wanted to defeat Twilight Sparkle first. Gilda shows up for similar reasons, as (she believes) Pinkie has robbed her of her last chance to patch things up with Dash.
- In Mega Man Reawakened, Bass is this to Megaman.
- Crash Man also tries to be this, which ends up taking out some of his fellow robots.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, ProtoMan is like this towards Mega for a good while.
- Bass is also this to a much more frightening degree.
- In Mega Man Recut, Proto Man is slowly becoming this towards Mega Man.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Android 16's Berserk Button is pressed when Cell claims he'll be the one to kill Son Goku.
- Friendship Is Magical Girls: When Eskarrg recruits the Infestation to serve as his Mooks during the Loyalty Arc, he makes it clear to them that he won't allow anyone but himself to fight Spike.
- Trixie also has this towards the mahoushojou, twice pulling off a Villainous Rescue to save them from other villains, because she doesn't want anyone else to rob her of the privilege of defeating them.
- A Powerpuff Girls story, "My Buttercup Runneth Over," has Blossom and Bubbles trying to bring Buttercup out of a depressive funk by getting the Amoeba Boys to put them in a dire strait so she'll come to the rescue. When Mojo Jojo and Him see Blossom and Bubbles being imperiled by the witless Amoebas, they arrive and begin fighting with each other over who should be the one to defeat the girls.
- In The New Adventures of Invader Zim, Zim makes it clear to Norlock that he won't let anyone else kill Dib but him. He later extends this attitude to Tak as well, but he's not as strict towards it as he is in regards to Dib.
- Season 2 gives us an intense reminder of how strongly Zim holds to this view on Dib. When he finds out that his new Psycho Supporter Nyx has tried to do him a favor by putting a hit out on Dib, Zim is enraged, assaulting her and threatening to kill her if she ever pulls a stunt like this again, before storming off to fight off any bounty hunters who show up.
- Transformers Animated: Cybertronian Genesis: Megatron's obsession with defeating Optimus Prime grows to the point that he assaults a heavily fortified fortress, resulting in heavy casualties for both sides, solely so he can defeat Optimus.
- In The Return-Remixed, when each team strategizing before the big battle royal that climaxes the story, Kelly Kelly declares that no one eliminates Victoria but her, as Victoria had put Kelly's best friend, Eve Torres, in the hospital by repeatedly powerbombing her on the exposed arena floor. Kelly further says that anyone else in the Diva Army eliminates Victoria, she will eliminate them.
- Code Geass Megiddo: Suzaku admits he's willing to wait an eternity for the day he can finally kill Lelouch.
- Fates Collide: Penthesilea is obsessed with defeating Achilles. When Yang Xiao Long manages to beat Achilles in a fight, Penthesilea gets angry and vows revenge on her for taking her dream.
- In Don't Haze Me, Shego tells Kim that she aims to kill her and that she won't allow anyone else to kill her. When Kim eggs Shego on to try and kill her then and there, Shego ends up kissing her instead.
- In the Professional Wrestling series The JWL, once their feud started, The Undertaker and Rhyno became this, for each other.
- At the start of Anything's Possible, Shego gets offended when Kim comes to fight her already covered in bruises. Only she can toy with Kim.
- In Once Upon a Time in the West, Harmonica is the only one allowed to defeat Frank. When several of Frank's own men are paid to kill him (Frank), Harmonica shoots one of them. When he is accused of saving Frank's life, he defends his actions with, "I didn't let them kill him, and that's not the same thing."
- The Purge:
- During the assault on the Sandin family, the family's neighbors enter the house and dispatch their attackers, saving them from violent deaths. However they then reveal that the only reason they intervened was so that they could kill the Sandins themselves as their own Purge targets.
- Also, the attackers make it clear the Sandins have to give the homeless man to them alive so they can kill him. The Sandins killing him and turning over his body is unacceptable.
- In The Dark Knight, just after Batman has saved the Joker. Earlier on, Joker had also prevented Coleman Reese from revealing Batman's identity (claiming he didn't want Reese "spoiling everything") by issuing his infamous "Either Reese dies or I blow up a hospital" challenge.
- The Neverending Story inverts it: G'mork, the servant of the Nothing, claims that Atreyu is the only one who can defeat him. Saying that wasn't a smart move, because it gives Atreyu the Heroic Resolve to kill him.
- In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as Weapon XI is about to decapitate Logan, he is tackled away by Victor Creed. "Nobody kills you but me!"
- In the aftermath of the climatic battle at the end of Gangs of New York, Bill the Butcher is mortally wounded by shrapnel from a random cannon blast. Amsterdam is furious that he wasn't able to kill Bill himself and properly avenge his father.
- In Enemy at the Gates, the Nazi sniper tells one of the characters, "He isn't dead. Do you know how I know that? Because I haven't killed him yet." It should be mentioned that the line is rendered extra-creepy by the fact that it's Ed frickin' Harris.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Megatron blasts Sentinel Prime just when he's about to finish off Optimus.
- Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Wez decides Max is his target. "No, no, he's mine."
- Luke and Vader in Star Wars. Yoda even says "You must confront Vader."
- An interesting example occurs earlier in A New Hope when Vader senses his old master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is aboard the Death Star. When Tarkin suggests they make moves to prevent his escape Vader informs him that "Escape is not his plan" and that he must face him alone. Vader believes his master has come to confront him and desires to finally defeat him. Kenobi is not only aware Vader will come to face him, but is counting on it to ensure Luke escapes while Darth Vader's attentions are elsewhere.
- In Circus, protagonist Leo incurs the wrath of Moose, who wrongly accuses Leo of murdering his mistress, as well as a pair of Loan Sharks that he owes a serious debt to. This leads to a scene where Leo is being threatened by the Sharks, Moose arrives and beats them up... then announces his intention to kill Leo and chases him down the street. The scene ends with Troy, one of the sharks, recovering from the attack:
Troy: "He can't bloody kill him... I'm gonna be the one to kill him!"
- The movie Bullet has this going on between Tupac's character and Micky Rourke's character.
- Tangerines: Ahmed and Nika are enemy soldiers, Ahmed fighting for the Abkhazians and Nika for the Georgians. Both are laid up in Ivo's house recovering from battle wounds. Ahmed says "No, I have to kill him myself" when Ivo asks if Ahmed will turn Nika in to the Abkhaz soldiers lingering out in front of the house. The real reason of course is that after getting to know him, Ivo doesn't want to kill Nika at all.
- A more reasonable example occurs in Skyfall. Silva's actual grudge is against M, and he tells his men that only he can kill her. He doesn't care who kills Bond. When he sees that M has already been mortally wounded, he practically breaks down.
- A curious subversion in The Hobbit. Azog the Defiler has no problem having one of his underlings collect Thorin's head. Presumably he thought he was already dead.
- Played with in The Chronicles of Riddick when the Lord Marshal uses every means at his disposal to try and kill Riddick, before deciding to fight him personally. It's a Double Subversion. In the backstory, he heard a prophecy that a Furyan could kill him, so he slaughtered pretty much the entire planet.
- Blink and you'll miss it in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End- Davy Jones bodily shields Ian Mercer from cannon fire moments before slowly and gruesomely tentacling him to death.
- Barbossa has this attitude towards Jack Sparrow during the entire series.
- Godzilla usually steps up to the plate in a "heroic" role and defend the world and mankind when there is another giant monster or an Alien Invasion threatening the Earth. Otherwise, only he can rise and destroy human civilization when he wants to. Some of his movies however establish that Godzilla attacks both mankind and other giant monsters because he's pissed off at both of them for attacking him, and that he prioritizes going after adversaries the same size he is before getting revenge on the humans.
- In Die Hard, Karl tells this to his fellow henchman regarding John McClane, as he wants revenge for the death of his younger brother.
Karl: No one kills him but me.
- By the end of the movie, even if the mastermind Hans Gruber is not so attached to his henchmen, the trouble Mr. McClane has caused him brings him to say something similar when the matter comes up at the eleventh hour. "NEIN! This is mine."
- In Freddy vs. Jason, just as Freddy is about to make his first kill after coming back, Jason kills his would-be victim to which he yells, "No, she was mine!" and realizes Jason is taking away potential victims from him.
- Constantine: Lucifer believes this in terms of the entire world. He will win the gamble against God and destroy the Earth, but it must be his machinations that do it. Even when the bad guys are seconds away from unleashing Lucifer's son on Earth so he can raze it to the ground, Lucifer stops them effortlessly, making the Angel helping his son human, and sends his son back to hell because it isn't Lucifer's plan. Hero John Constantine guesses this mentality to purposefully summon him to the final confrontation so Lucifer could do something.
- The Kurgan at the start of Highlander has made a pact with the Frasers - only he is allowed to fight Connor Macleod. All the Frasers avoid him, leaving the unsuspecting Connor befuddled.
- The Iliad: In an early occurrence of the trope, Achilles orders the other Myrmidons not to attack Hector, so that he alone may have the satisfaction of killing his foe and avenging Patroclus. This is jarringly inverted in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida in which Achilles does the opposite: actively ordering his men to slaughter Hector for him.
- Harry Potter:
- A prophecy made before Harry was born foretold his rivalry with Voldemort, and that one of them will end up killing the other. The exact terms could have referred to someone else (Neville) born the same month, but Voldemort chose to go after Harry first — and created a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy thanks to Lily's sacrifice. Years later, Voldemort remains obsessed with killing Harry personally.
- Subverted when Harry returns to Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows when he invokes something like this — Neville points out that while Harry was off chasing Horcruxes, he'd been fairly effectively leading the resistance in his absence and Luna points out that she'd worked out how to find the penultimate Horcrux before Harry (or even Hermione) had.
- In The Wheel of Time, Black Sister Elza Penfell destroys one of her superiors (though she is unaware that he is her superior because he is in disguise) who is trying to kill Rand al'Thor, because she believes Rand must stay alive long enough to face (and be destroyed by) the Dark One.
- In one of the BattleTech novels, Phelan Kell gives a speech that typifies this trope: "I saved him because if Vlad is going to die, it will be at my hands."
- Sandor Clegane in A Song of Ice and Fire gets particularly irritated when anyone apart from him expresses an interest in killing his brother, the pathologically nasty Gregor Clegane, who permanently disfigured Sandor in his youth. As Littlefinger explains to Ned, "Gregor was his to loathe, not yours to kill."
- In Stardust, all the heirs of Stormhold are trying to kill each other and this is right and proper. But when an outsider kills one, the victim's ghost demands his remaining brother avenge him. The brother immediately sets out to do so. And gets killed in the process.
- Inverted: In Charles Stross' The Jennifer Morgue a villain sets up a geas making him vulnerable to only one hero, one who suffers under the handicap of being (in the novel's universe) fictional.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts short story "In Remembrance", Rawne tells the unconscious Gaunt that he can't die, because Rawne wants to be the one to kill him.
- In Greg Rucka's second Perfect Dark novel, the Big Bad does this in concern to Joanna Dark, the hero. Joanna points out that she herself is ill, mainly because of a barely-healed gunshot wound to the stomach. The Big Bad pulls a gun, reverses and blam. Now both have a gunshot wound to the stomach. Now nobody can say the fight was unequal.
- Agrus Kos from the Ravnica Block Magic: The Gathering novels is an unlucky police officer chosen by the Guild-master of the hidden guild Dimir to be the only one who can defeat him, by making him the only one who can defeat him, which would nullify the guildpact, essentially making him a Quantum Immortal... until Agrus finds YET ANOTHER LOOPHOLE and instead of killing him, merely arrests him.
- In the epic Mahabharata, Karna after The Reveal vows to his mother that either he will kill his half-sibling and eternal rival, Arjuna or he would be killed by him. For Karna, Arjuna is the only one allowed to defeat him.
- Happens all the time between Canim and Alerans in Codex Alera. In Canim culture, a respected enemy is considered more valuable than a friend. Many times in the fourth and fifth books, if certain situations were taking place entirely between humans or even if the roles of humans and Canim were reversed, characters would justify their actions to rivals or authority figures by calling an Aleran a friend or ally who needs their help. Since they're Canim or talking to Canim, though, they go to great lengths to make it clear that they don't like helping the Aleran, but neither another rival nor the Big Bad can be allowed to kill them, so...
- Another interesting aspect of the concept of gadara (sort of a combination of this trope, Worthy Opponent and Friendly Enemy) is that once you have declared that you are the only one who is allowed to defeat someone, you have to defend your claim on your gadara's life from any other, less friendly enemies your gadara might have.
- Redwall's Marlfoxes are a Big, Screwed-Up Family with no problems killing each other off at the drop of a hat. However, they have a strict "blood for blood" rule if an outsider kills one of them, and they will enthusiastically enforce this rule.
- When the Phoners in Stephen King's Cell tell you not to touch one of their enemies, they mean that if you kill one of them, they'll make an example of you.
- Exploited in Pact, during Blake Thorburn's fight with Conquest, when Blake is near-fatally injured at the hands of a third party. Knowing that what Conquest wants more than anything is the victory of truly defeating him, and that killing him at this point would be more of a Mercy Kill instead of a victory, Blake successfully bargains for three days for himself and his allies to rest and recover, at which point Conquest can say that killing Blake was his doing.
- In The Traitor Son Cycle, Gavin is hell-bent on being the one to slay Jean de Vrailly, doing his hardest to replace the Red Knight in the duel where the two are supposed to duke it out. Gabriel still ends up killing de Vrailly, leaving Gavin furious.
- In And I Darken, a very young Lada saves Radu's life and promises him that she is the only one who is allowed to kill him. When alone in Constantinople after the breakup of their BrotherSister Team, Radu privately hopes she's right, since it means he won't die in the siege.
- In The Villains Series, Eli and Victor both have this attitude towards each other. They both hold extremely deep and personal grudges against the other, and the emotionally charged nature of their relationship probably doesn't help.
- In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, Kyousuke scoffs at any efforts to fight the Queen that don't involve him, because they conflict with his idea of justice. In his mind, he's the one who's suffered most at her hands so he has the right to decide how painful (or not) her end should be. People who lack his knowledge of the Queen either go too far like Max Layard, treating bystanders as collateral damage, or fall victim to her charm and join her army of loyal minions. Kyousuke wants to murder the Queen, but he also wants her to understand why she has to die. Thus, his sister's death will get the recognition it deserves.
- Rayaten Leusa in Shadow of the Conqueror was obsessed with killing Dayless the Conqueror, and felt dissatisfied and empty when Dayless apparently died on his exploding flagship, wishing he could have gotten the final blow himself. When he finds out that Daylen is Dayless, he comes to believe that it's divine providence that he would find him and have the opportunity to finally take his revenge, though he's more than happy to have Lyrah—possibly the only person who hates Dayless more than he does—as his wingman.
- Dark Shores: Even though giants are traditional enemies of Mudamora, they decide to help them fight Derin.
A giant: You are our favorite to cross swords with, and we would not care to see you fall to another foe when we have long wished for you to fall to us.
- Doctor Who:
- The Master, despite often trying to kill the Doctor, agrees to try and save his life in "The Five Doctors", because (in his words) "the cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about."
- This is actually a recurring trait with them. During "Trial of the Time Lord", the Master actually flat out says he'll help defeat the Valeyard because he wanted to defeat the Doctor himself. Even in "The End of Time", the Master sacrifices himself to save the Doctor from the Time Lords (and get revenge on Rassilon). Add in the epic amounts of Foe Yay between these two, and it might just be that all the Master wants is to "keep" the Doctor all for himself, which he actually does in "Sound of the Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords"!
- When The Doctor refers to Davros as his Arch-Enemy, The Master, now "Missy", is visibly offended.
- This causes the title character in Dexter to save the Trinity Killer's life which comes back to bite him hard in the end. He also, at least once, plants evidence to steer the police away from a criminal whom he wants to kill.
- In A.P. Bio, Jack Griffin the AP Bio teacher regularly bullies his own students always forcing them to work hard to build up his career into becoming a best-selling book writer and philosopher who is very popular with women or else he'll give them F's. Though when his own students get bullied, he goes after those bullies himself.
- In Married... with Children, Peg often begs Al not to give away his own money on their children Kelly and Bud who keep hounding Al for money to go out and eat at restaurants. That way, Peg can hog all of Al's money for herself so she can keep shopping for luxuries (such as perfume, make-up, clothes, Bon Bons). Peg will even shoo away Kelly and Bud if they're beseeching Al for money because then she can have Al all to herself to beg him for money. In addition, despite Peg being a terrible, negligent and selfish mother to Kelly and Bud, she occasionally steps up and intervenes if Al himself is being a terrible father to them i.e. strangling Kelly in the neck or threatening to throw them out of the house to cut expenses in favor of affording his TV Guide subscription.
- Inversion: Lindsey seemed to think that Angel had to be the one to kill him, as his last words, after being shot by Lorne, were "You kill me? A flunky?! I'm not just...Angel...kills me. You don't... Angel..."
- This is a common Joss Whedon technique: a character may think that only one person is able to defeat them, but Joss delights in pointing out that unless they're supernaturally powerful (and sometimes not even then), they die just the same from one gun as another.
- The reason Connor defended Angel from Linwood's commandos in "Tomorrow".
- When Tio Salamanca has a heart attack in Better Call Saul Gus Fring works desperately to keep him alive. This, we already know, is because he doesn't want Salamanca to die before he can exact revenge on him.
- Kamen Rider
- In Kamen Rider BLACK villain Birugenia decides that he will be the one to defeat Kamen Rider and constantly gets in the way of his allies plans when it seems possible they might actually defeat Kamen Rider.
- In Kamen Rider Decade, Kaito refers to this trope by name in the last episode, expressing his feelings towards Tsukasa's decision to go and fight Apollo Geist, and something a little more if you see him as such.
- Damon of the series The Vampire Diaries has this attitude toward Stefan in the show. He saved Stefan's life because he didn't want anyone else to have the pleasure of killing him. Given the arc of their relationship over the course of the series, it seems this was really an excuse; he actually didn't want his little brother dead, but was keeping up the "I hate you so much" schtick.
- The intellectually vain Detective McNulty of The Wire has this attitude towards Stringer Bell, his Worthy Opponent on the other side of the law, to the point where he's all but brokenhearted when Stringer is killed by rival gangsters before he can bring him down.
- A version of this shows up in the Babylon 5 episode "The Coming Of Shadows", in which G'Kar was about to assassinate the Centauri Emperor at a reception, but was interrupted when the Emperor keeled over from illness. He later complains about this to his contact back home, and hopes that the Emperor will recover so that he'll have an opportunity to try again later.
- Another version comes from Londo stating early on that, due a prophetic dream, he knows that he and G'Kar will strangle each other to death. In a moment of rage Londo tries and defy that by grabbing a gun to murder G'Kar, and later G'Kar tries and kill Londo by not saving both of their lives in a dangerous situation, but both times external factors make sure the prophecy will come to pass.
- In Stargate Atlantis, Ronon wants to be the one to defeat a Wraith bruiser, telling Sheppard that he'd kill him if Sheppard killed the Wraith before Ronon. The Wraith beats the living crap out of Ronon until Rodney and Carson hit him with a missile. They're both profoundly apprehensive about it...until Ronon gives Carson a big hug and thanks him instead.
- In Power Rangers in Space and its Super Sentai origin, Denji Sentai Megaranger, the Psycho Rangers/Jaden Sentai Neziranger had this attitude towards the real Rangers, which is no surprise, seeing as each one was programmed to defeat his or her counterpart. It was, in fact their greatest weakness in more ways than one; the hate that each of them showed towards their counterpart kept them from cooperating with each other at all (as opposed to the true Rangers, who were very good at doing so), and they were so obsessed with defeating the Rangers that when Astronema (or her Megaranger counterpart, Dr. Hinelar) truly had them at their mercy by turning them all into computer chips, they ruined the plan by turning them back to normal simply so they could fight them. This ultimately lead to their downfall.
- However, Psycho Pink actually seemed to succeed in killing one of the Pink Rangers in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy; she turned up alive in the series finale, but it was still a victory.
- In Power Rangers Samurai Deker has this attitude towards the Red Ranger Jayden, considering him to be the ideal opponent in the Ultimate Duel therefore he even goes as far as reviving Jayden from poisoning to make sure he is fit enough for a fight between them. He even lampshades it to Jayden at one point.
Deker: Saving you has become an increasingly annoying habit. Though, it is one I intend to sub break.
- In an interview with William Campbell, the actor who played the Klingon Koloth in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", Campbell revealed that the original plan was to make Koloth a recurring villain, sort of the Klingons' opposite number to Kirk. He saw Koloth as someone who respected Kirk as an adversary, and would even protect Kirk from other assailants on occasion, explaining that "No one can kill you but me."
- Lucifer has this view about Michael in Supernatural. Going so far as to blow up Castiel for throwing a Molotov Cocktail of holy fire.
- This is Patrick Jane's attitude about Red John in The Mentalist, but not to the point of helping him out of other scrapes.
- The feeling is mutual, and Red John is willing to extend his own efforts to protect Patrick from those less worthy.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Crixus expressed this sentiment towards Spartacus during and after the Segovax incident.
- In Castle, a conversation between Beckett and Senator Bracken, the man who, years earlier, hired a hitman to kill her mother, upon being forced to defend the man against an unknown sniper:
Bracken A shooter... on the loose... me in the crosshairs... must be a dream come true for you.
Beckett In my dreams, I'm the one who gets to pull the trigger.
- Zamusha, an Alien Swordsman in Ultraman Mebius came to Earth solely to fight Tsurugi (semi-formerly, Ultraman Hikari) despite having endangered the planet while fighting two rogues. After being beaten by Mebius and Tsurugi in battle, Zamusha vowes to carrying out his plan to kill Mebius and Hikari someday. Towards the series finale, Zamusha returns to save GUYS from a rogue Imperializer (and latter Alien Emperor,) from killing them simply because a weakened Mirai was amongst them.
- In "Identity", China White is glad to see that the Arrow didn't die in the earthquake at the end of Season 1, as it would have deprived her of the chance to kill him herself.
- Slade enforces this throughout Season 2. He warns Brother Blood not to go after Arrow yet, so that when the time is right, he can be the one to finish him, after destroying everything he cares about.
- The Doctor from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is obsessed with getting his revenge on Whitehall for killing his wife. When Coulson kills him just as the Doctor is about to begin their fight, the Doctor has a Villainous Breakdown and shifts all of his anger to Coulson.
- Moriarty feels this about Sherlock. Sherlock is a unique and interesting player against Moriarty. Sherlock's actions have garnered some respect and unique feelings in the criminal mastermind. This extended to Moriarty calling off two assassins in the cabal from harming Sherlock. When one goes rogue and wants to hurt Moriarty, he goes after Sherlock to kill him which forces Moriarty to kill the assassin in front of Sherlock and reveal herself to be Irene Adler.
- Watson also gains this view from Moriarty. After the events of the first season finale where Joan Watson "solved" Jamie Moriarty and identifies a weak spot that allows her capture and later Watson proving her intelligence by avoiding Moriarty's mind games, Moriarty doesn't like other criminals trying to hurt Joan. So when the leader of a drug cartel in jail tried to poison Joan and only managed to kill her boyfriend, Moriarty had the woman killed and left no evidence leading back to her. Only in a letter to Joan does she even subtly hint at her involvement in removing this danger to Joan's life.
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: After being badly wounded, skekVar is saved from being killed by Tavra when his rival the Chamberlain comes to his rescue. SkekVar believes that he misjudged the Chamberlain and calls him a true friend... not realizing until far too late that the Chamberlain only saved him so he could kill skekVar personally when the time is right. Which he does.
- CG5: In the music video for "Let Me Through," Funtime Foxy is shown dismembering/killing some of the other animatronics. The lyrics make it clear that he's doing this because he really wants to be the one to get the security guard.
- On an 1987 edition of Saturday Nights Main Event, Randy Savage interfered in an Intercontinental title match between Ricky Steamboat (the one who defeated Savage for the title at WrestleMania III) and Hercules Hernandez, helping Steamboat win and then attacking him after the match.
- At the 1994 King Of The Ring tournament, Jim Neidhart interfered in the WWF World title match between Bret Hart and Diesel, getting Bret disqualified when he was on the verge of losing. Later in the card, Neidhart helped Owen Hart win the King Of The Ring tournament finals. It was later revealed that Neidhart saved Bret from losing the title so Owen could be the one to defeat him for the title.
- In a fight between Laeil Burbank and Melina Frost in Survival of the Fittest, Madison Conner suddenly appears and attacks Laeil to keep her from killing Melina before she can. Laeil also swears to be the only one to kill Melina, as well as kill anyone who tries to beat her to it. She fails on both accounts as Melina and her killer kill each other. She doesn't take it well.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, this is suspected to be why Asmodeus keeps Mephistopheles around. All devils are by their nature plotters and backstabbers, but Mephistopheles is a bold enough Starscream to tell Asmodeus, to his face, that he will be the one to topple and supplant him. The Lord of Cania is so set on this, in fact, that Mephistopheles will interfere with his rival archdukes' own schemes to take over the Nine Hells. Who better, then, for Asmodeus to put on the layer between his capital of Nessus and the rest of Baator?
- In Warhammer 40,000, the daemon hordes of Khorne have a special hatred of the Blood Angels Space Marines and all their descendants for resisting the lure of the Blood God for thousands of years. When the extragalactic Horde of Alien Locusts descended on their homeworlds and the Blood Angels were on their last legs, a massive daemon army fell upon the Tyranids and destroyed many of the leader beasts until Imperial reinforcements arrived to finish off the swarm. The daemons promptly disappeared back into the Warp, waiting to claim the Blood Angels' skulls another day.
- A Subverted Trope in CLANNAD. For some reason, Sunohara adamantly believes that he and Tomoyo share this dynamic, but he's quickly proven wrong with a kick into the sky and nothing else, not even a passing glance from her. Ouch.
- Fate/stay night:
- As an odd example of this trope, Gilgamesh seems to believe that he's the only one allowed to defeat anybody. He considers the world and everything in it his property, which means that he is allowed to do anything he wants to anybody he wants, but if someone else starts killing people en masse he becomes infuriated and will hunt them down for attacking his 'subjects'.
- In the Unlimited Blade Works route, as Archer's identity and motives are revealed, it can be inferred that this trope is the reason why, earlier in the route, he saved Shirou from Caster only to attempt to kill him afterward. Archer believes that the only way to free himself from his contract as a Counter Guardian is to personally kill his past self, engineering a large enough time paradox which will erase him. It won't work if somebody else kills Shirou before he can.
- Used in Hatoful Boyfriend, brought up in a bonus chapter of Holiday Star. An assassin hired to target Sakuya will defend Sakuya from other assassins, because he has to be the one to kill him in order to fulfill his contract. So Sakuya hires the assassin himself to kill him upon a predetermined signal, so in the meantime the assassin will act as his bodyguard.
- Red vs. Blue: Sarge holds this opinion about the Blue Team. While the thought of Blues dying is a joy to him, realizing that Red Team won't get credit for it means he'll order the Reds into battle to save their eternal nemesis.
- In Antihero for Hire, Wizard to Dechs, Dechs to Hector.
- Seen here in Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire, but subverted over the next three strips, which make it clear that Jacob's motives for killing the Chosen were purely selfish.
- In Adventurers!, when Big Bad Khrima (a Harmless Villain) saves the heroes from Eternion in a Big Damn Heroes moment, he does it because he doesn't want another villain upstaging him.
- In The Order of the Stick, Belkar helps rescuing Elan from bandits who've captured him, because "if anyone is going to get XP from him, it'll be me."
- Also lampshaded when Crystal is more than willing to let Haley go so that she can take another level of Assassin from all the free XP she gets in order to be at exactly the same level as Haley whenever they meet.
- Elan's father Tarquin inverts this. Elan is the only one he will allow to defeat him — a fair chance anyway — since that would make an epic story. Tarquin is pretty savvy otherwise and takes precautions against letting anyone else get close enough to even try to kill him — especially not The Unfavorite, Nale.
- Speaking of Nale, his girlfriend Sabine won't let anyone except her kill Haley, and gets extremely mad at him when he (posing as Elan), seduces Haley with the intent to kill her. Notably, being a succubus, Sabine is more upset about the attempted murder than the seduction, and is only placated when Nale ensures her that he was only going to capture Haley so they could "romantically" kill her together.
- Speaking of Nale and Sabine... Nale has made it clear that he wants to be the one to kill Elan, but Sabine is so sick of Elan "making things complicated" that she's willing to go against Nale's wishes if it gets Elan out of the picture. When Elan brings up this trope in an attempt to dissuade her, she just says "I know lots of tricks that will help him get over it. Maybe we'll do some of them on top of your corpse."
- Malack insists that Durkon be left for him to "handle" when it looks like their parties will be fighting each other, though primarily because he considers Durkon a friend. It's not clear whether handling him means removing him from the battlefield, killing him, or turning him into a vampire like himself, which is what he ends up doing.
- Narbonic: When Helen hears that the Dave Conspiracy has hired Mell to kill Dr. Narbon, she exclaims, "I don't care if they are a powerful top-secret conspiracy! No one takes out a hit on my mother! Her head is mine, darn it!"
- Parodied in Looking for Group when Benny heals the mortally wounded man who killed her lover, just long enough to smash his head with a mace.
- In Brawl in the Family, Meta-Knight has Kirby cornered when Dedede attacks him from behind, saying "This is MY battle." To his dismay, Kirby hugs him in gratitude.
- Last Res0rt has Jason Spades filling out this role to a tee:
- Taken to an extreme in Spacetrawler: Growp won't allow anyone else to kill Emily. So when his teammates fire at Emily, he shields her from the energy blasts—with his own body.
- In Goblins, Dellyn knows Thaco has some sort of trickery planned when Thaco challenges him to a duel, but still accepts when Thaco points out that Dellyn would rather kill Thaco personally than let one of his men do it for him. Later subverted when Dellyn believes Thaco feels the same way, but Thaco refuses to kill Dellyn or call him his nemesis.
- Shicmuon from Black Haze is positively obsessed with the Black Magician Blow, AKA Rood Chrishi, to the point where he stalks every mission Blow could possibly go on just for the chance to fight him to the death. Hilariously, Rood has absolutely no idea who Shic even is outside of "that crazy guy who stalks me" and so goes to extreme measures to stay hidden and refrain from engaging him. This gets exaggerated to the point where Shic has gone out of his way to rescue Rood just so that he can kill him himself at a later date. Like the rest of the series, it's played up with a blend of drama and comedy.
- Near the end of Marvel/DC: After Hours, the Green Goblin turns on and beats the hell out of Lex Luthor.
Lex Luthor: You fool, this was never about you!
Green Goblin: The hell it wasn't! You threatened to wipe out Spider-Man and everything he stands for! That's my job!
- At the end of Season 2 of Stupid Mario Brothers it is Wario's reason for killing Nox Decious
- On Atop the Fourth Wall Mecha-Kara attacks Cable for this reason, as he was out to kill Linkara after he teleported him away and stole his gun.
- The Joker Blogs: The title character, unsurprisingly. While his priority in this series is stalking Doctor Quinzel, he doesn't appreciate another character taking a shot at Batman. "You do NOT get to do that!"
- Pat the NES Punk is saved by R.O.B. in the "M82 ftw" video. When Pat asks why he bothered, R.O.B. says that if anybody's going to kill Pat, it will be him.