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This Is Not My Life to Take

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The villain is at the hero's mercy but taunts him for being too cowardly to take his life and the hero's response is along the lines of: "It's not mine to take", as he sheathes his weapon (or hands it to another character). The motive is usually The Only One Allowed to Defeat You (because the speaker recognizes they are not the "Only One"), though Anti Heroes may be prone to Throw 'Em to the Wolves instead. Expect this to be said during a Sword over Head moment.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight near the end of issue #15 ("Wolves At The Gate, Part IV"), where Dracula cripples the leader of the vampire army, who screams at Dracula to let him die with honor. Dracula tells the crippled vampire that he knows nothing of honor, and that he is not Dracula's to kill—after which he hands his sword to Xander, whose girlfriend the vampire leader had murdered. Xander delivers the coup de grace, then breaks down as Buffy comforts him and the battle continues.

    Fan Works 

  • In the 2008 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Miraz, Caspian's uncle, who murdered Caspian's father, and was planning to do the same to defeated in a duel by Peter. Miraz wonders why Peter won't kill him. Peter nearly says the trope word for word before handing his sword to Caspian.
    Miraz: What's the matter boy? Too cowardly to take a life?
    Peter: It's not mine to take.
  • Although not a death, something similar to this is subverted in McLintock!. John Wayne's character is thoroughly pissed at another character who almost hung an innocent man, and after giving him a good chewing out, says, "Somebody ought to belt you in the mouth. But I won't. I won't. (beat) The hell I won't!" and slugs him.

  • In Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Black and Lupin give Harry the choice of whether the man who was responsible for giving away Harry's parents' location to their murderer should live or die.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry gives Gryffindor's magical sword to his best friend Ron to destroy a plot-important locket, which has part of the soul of the Big Bad inside of it, because Ron had suffered the most from the locket's emotional manipulation. Though notably, it isn't meant to be any sort of kindness, rather Harry intuitively feels that Ron needs to be the one to destroy it due to his ties to it.

    Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: In "Battle of the Bastards", Jon comes close to beating Ramsay to death, but he stops when he realizes that Sansa, who has suffered far more at Ramsay's hands, is watching. Jon lets Sansa execute Ramsay instead.
  • In an episode of Grimm, Nick and Co. manage to lure and trap the Volcanalis, freezing it with liquid nitrogen. Nick then hands a sledgehammer to a Wesen whose wife was killed by one of these creatures.
  • Inverted in "Redemption" from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gowron gives Worf the life of Toral, son of Duras, so Worf can take revenge for the wrongs done to his family by Duras. Worf chooses not to kill Toral since he has not done anything himself, and when Gowron then tries to have Kurn kill him instead Worf stops that as well. Worf points out that Gowron gave him Toral's life, and he has chosen to spare it.
  • Early in Merlin (2008) Nimueh puts Arthur in a dangerous situation but doesn't just kill him, saying that he was never meant to die by her hand.
  • A variation in Supernatural. A hunter couple walks into a bar that turns out to be full of demons. One of them possesses the husband and forces him to drink something that melts his insides. Later, Sam and Dean work with the wife. They capture one of the demons. After he tells them what they need to know, Dean hands the book with the exorcism spell to the wife to perform the ceremony. She does it gladly. While this doesn't actually kill the demon, it sends it back to Hell (and no, they don't like it there).

    Video Games 
  • In Alpha Protocol, Mike has the option to leave Surkov to Brayko if discover Surkov betrayed you, leave Brayko alive, and then take the final mission and chase Surkov all the way to the helipad. In this case, it's an intentional case of sadism, as his death will become infinitely much more painful than if Mike just puts a bullet through his head — how sadistic? Mike has the option to watch and enjoy seeing what Brayko does.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Upon defeating Loghain in single combat at the Landsmeet, you have the option to either kill or spare him. If you choose to kill him, you can choose to do it yourself, or hand it off to Alistair on the grounds that It's Personal for him.
    • Similarly, at the end of the Leliana's Song DLC, Leliana may refrain from killing Harwen Raleigh, leader of the Hard Line mercenaries. Instead, she can allow her comrade Silas, who was tortured for several months in Raleigh's dungeons, to finish him off.
  • In Fallout 4 there's a side quest to hunt down and kill a notorious gangster with one of your companions. You earn more karma by sitting back and letting that companion have their revenge.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the protagonist leaves Admiral Karath to Carth, since It's Personal, and may or may not (depending on morality) encourage Juhani to take revenge on the man who bought her as a 'pet'.
  • Can be played straight or averted with Mass Effect 2. Pretty much every loyalty mission that comes with a distinct "Kill this person" ending, can have the player's Shepard kill the target, have Shepard convince their team-mate to kill the target, or not kill the target at all.

  • In Escape from Terra, a family is killed by invaders, leaving one survivor (a teenage girl), and the man who gave the order captured. When he taunts the man in charge about whether he has the balls to kill him and face the consequences from his superiors, the man explains that it's not up to him and gives his gun to the girl.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Belkar, after he has the realization that he has to fake Character Development to stay alive, spares two people so that the people they've personally wronged can kill them instead.
    Belkar: I'm not kill-stealing today.

    Western Animation