"That's because you're basically good," said Magrat. "The good are innocent and create justice. The bad are guilty, which is why they invent mercy."
Sometimes when the heroes defeat the Big Bad, he goes down gracefully. Sometimes he realizes he's doomed and demands you stop fooling around. Sometimes he tries to take the heroes with him. Sometimes the villain is so badass he just won't stop fighting until he's Deader Than Dead. This trope is not about those villains.
Smug Snakes, Dirty Cowards, and bad guys who suffer from Villain Decay rarely go down with their heads held high. They're much more likely to get on their hands and knees and beg for mercy. This also serves to contrast them with the hero, as heroes usually don't beg for mercy from the villain in the opposite situation, at least not for themselves. Very rarely, it's the act of a Noble Demon who is consistent about offering his foes mercy, and expects the favour to be returned. Depending on where the hero is on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, they might call the villain out on how many people they've denied mercy before sparing them anyway. Others may deliver a "Reason You Suck" Speech and leave the villain alive just to spite him. Or they might just shoot him.
If the hero does grant them mercy, they may perform a Heel–Face Turn out of gratitude. However, it's very common for the villain to attempt to attack the hero one last time, usually while their back is turned. This will rarely work.
In popular works, such as James Bond and such, where killing the villain is considered standard operating policy, you will rarely, if ever, actually see someone begging for mercy and then be killed by the hero as the resulting Mood Whiplash would be too great and might result in the audience turning against the hero. Of course, there are always Darker and Edgier exceptions, such as with 24 and its licenced-to-kill lead character Jack Bauer.
When the hero does this, it's Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Also see Please, I Will Do Anything!. Compare I Surrender, Suckers if the villain uses the surrender to trick the hero. Contrast a version of Embarrassing Rescue where the hero offers or attempts to help the villain of his own volition and the villain refuses, preferring to die rather than accept help from his enemy.
- Attack on Titan: Right before being Eaten Alive by a transformed Armin, the Colossus Titan begs the Survey Corps, who he had just tried to kill, to save him.
- Berserk: Wyald tries to murder Griffith, the one and only person he is absolutely not allowed to kill under any circumstances due to the Godhand's orders, and is promptly attacked by Nosferatu Zodd, who plans to kill him for it. Wyald begs for mercy, pointing out that he was just following the Godhand's law of "do as thou wilt." Zodd turns that logic against him by declaring that very law to be his reason for killing Wyald, and rips him in half.
- In Death Note, part of Light Yagami's Villainous Breakdown is calling out to someone, anyone to save him; despite having slaughtered countless innocents (alongside the criminals he initially set out to punish), he's absolutely terrified at the thought of dying himself.
- Digimon Savers, in the dub, at least: After Marcus and ShineGreymon manage to achieve Burst Mode, they completely manage to turn the tide against the fused Kurata and Belphemon, the former of whom begins begging Marcus to have pity on him. Marcus replies that "pity's the only thing he has for (Kurata)" before having ShineGreymon finish Belphemon off.
- Dragon Ball:
- During the Red Ribbon Army Saga, once Mercenary Tao realizes that Goku is too much for him, he begs for mercy, promising to leave and change his ways. The minute Goku lets his guard down, Tao throws a grenade at him... only for Goku to kick it right back at him, resulting in Tao being blown up by his own grenade.
- Raditz pulls this on Goku after being grabbed by his weak point, his tail. After Goku lets him go, however, he hits him in the stomach before pinning him down and ruthlessly breaking his ribs, all while mocking Goku for falling for it. Once Goku has him physically restrained while Piccolo prepares the Special Beam Cannon, Raditz begs for mercy again; fortunately, Goku isn't dumb enough to fall for the same ploy twice.
- In their second fight on Namek, as soon as Vegeta punches a hole through his gut, Zarbon frantically starts pleading for mercy, even offering to team up with him to overthrow Frieza. Vegeta just fires an energy beam right through Zarbon after outright demanding to know why he should show him mercy, considering the fact that Zarbon had done nothing but insult him and push him around for years.
- After being cut in half by his own attack, Frieza begs Goku for mercy. Goku gives Frieza some of his own energy so he could escape Namek before it exploded, but not before calling Frieza out on expecting mercy when he didn't show any to the countless people he's killed. Frieza then uses the energy for one last-ditch attack, but Goku just turns around and blasts him, outright calling Frieza a fool for not heeding his warnings and just walking away when he had the chance.
- King Cold tries this when he's mortally wounded by Future Trunks. It doesn't work, as Trunks is savvier (and much more ruthless) than Goku about these matters.
- During the Buu Saga, Piccolo has Babidi at his mercy and is about to kill him. Babidi desperately begs for his life, stating that without him, Majin Buu will be completely uncontrollable and destroy everything. Piccolo nonetheless slices Babidi in half, pointing out that Babidi intends to have Majin Buu destroy everything anyway, so the end result would be the same.
- In Dragon Ball GT, Eis Shenron pulls this on Goku the minute Goku has him at his mercy; despite having every reason to just kill Eis considering the fact that among the dirty tricks Eis pulled during the fight was using Pan as a Human Shield, Goku decides to let him go on the grounds that he give him the three-star Dragon Ball and never show his face again. The minute Goku lets his guard down, Eis forms a set of icy Wolverine Claws and uses them to blind Goku, bragging about how easily Goku fell for it; unfortunately for Eis, Goku, unhindered in the slightest by the loss of his eyesight, punches a hole through Eis' gut before completely obliterating him with a Dragon Fist.
- Mooks in Fist of the North Star are prone to this, some even planned to put out "I Surrender, Suckers" trick against Kenshiro. Of course, they are already dead.
- Jirobo in Naruto, after spending his whole fight against Choji insulting and making fun of him, shamelessly tries to beg for his life when Choji has him pinned to the ground and is about to deliver a Megaton Punch to his chest. At this point, having been pressed his BerserkButtons one too many times and way past the Rage Breaking Point, Choji is having none of it.
- Team Rocket of Pokémon frequently beg and snivel once an attack goes wrong. It rarely prevents a comical beatdown from the vengeful heroes.
- In the Laboon Arc of One Piece, the Big Bad Duumvirate Mr. 9 and Miss Wednesday beg for mercy from the Straw Hats and ask them to take them to Whiskey Peak. It's later subverted when it turns out they were never really evil, and one of them was even a Reverse Mole.
- Several criminals in Impel Down begged one of the guards to not kill them; he responds by saying they deserved it, asking how many people they had killed before they arrived.
- Rosario + Vampire:
- The minute Keito realizes that Inner Moka is way out of her league, she starts pathetically begging for mercy and trying to bargain with her, offering to keep her "transgressions" secret from the rest of the Security Committee if she lets her go. Inner Moka bluntly tells her to piss off (yes, those are her actual words) before Megaton Kicking her into next year.
- As San Otonashi finishes him off, Kanade Kamiya freaks out and begs for someone to save him; no one does.
- Gyokuro Shuzen, big time. Upon discovering that she was wrong about Moka's rosary having the power to control Alucard, she begs Moka not to take the rosary back, as it's the only thing keeping Alucard from eating her. Moka does so, spitefully telling Gyokuro to beg Akasha for mercy if she wants it; Gyokuro's final moments are spent flipping out and screaming Moka's name in rage and fear right before Alucard eats her alive.
- Rurouni Kenshin:
- As soon as Kenshin manages to bypass his gatling gun, Kanryu goes from gloating about the power of money to desperately begging Kenshin not to kill him. Kenshin proceeds to whack Kanryu across the face so hard that it breaks his jaw and knocks a tooth loose, after giving Kanyru a particularly fitting Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner:
- A variation occurs during the Kyoto arc during Kenshin and Shishio's showdown. As Shishio's body is reaching its limits, Yumi, unable to bear the sight, throws herself between Kenshin and Shishio and tearfully begs Kenshin to have mercy. The minute Kenshin lowers his guard, Shishio uses it to his advantage by stabbing through Yumi to get to Kenshin; either way, Yumi dies happy, because she was finally able to aid Shishio in battle.
- Dub-induced example in the Sailor Moon anime: As Telulu's giant plant is trying to eat her, she screams for the Senshi to help her. Strays into Nightmare Fuel when she lets out a desperate "I'LL BE GOOD, I PROMISE!!!" as the plant explodes, killing her.
- Played more straight with her predecessor Mimete, who begs Telulu not to disconnect the dimentional machine she's currently in. Telulu, of course is more than happy to do it, thus dooming her to a Fate Worse than Death, trapping her in a dimensional void forever.
- One episode of the Squid Girl OVA involves Mini Ika confronting a version of herself with black clothes that had entered the window to the house. A brief chase scene ensues that ends when the black Mini Ika fires rubber bands at Mini Ika. When she tries to do it with a ruler, it flings her out of the window. After Mini Ika saves her, the black Mini Ika begs for forgiveness, revealing she wanted food. In the end, all is well, and Mini Ika and the black Mini Ika say farewell to each other, now being friends.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: During the Battle City arc, Weevil Underwood convinces a kid, who he later double-crosses, to sabotage Joey's deck before dueling him, giving Weevil a pretty serious advantage. When Joey proceeds to win anyway, and demands Weevil's two Locator Cards and Insect Queen, Weevil begs for mercy, to which Joey remarks that he should've thought of that before he cheated.
- Paperinik New Adventures issue 11: "Trauma". The titular villain puts Donald Duck as Paperinik through physical and mental hell, but when Paperinik fights back through sheer courage, turning the tables AND terrifying Trauma, he instantly begs the hero for mercy◊... which he grants... only after snarking how pathetic Trauma's being.
- At the end of the first arc of the second volume of The Darkness, villain Cousin Paulie uses various attacks and manipulations to get Anti-Hero Jackie Estacado as his superhuman enforcer. Once Jackie figures out a way to remove the threats, he promptly blasts his way through all of Paulie's minions before trapping him in his room. When the lights go out and Jackie's darkness-based powers come to full bear, Paulie begs for mercy. Jackie's response?
Jackie: It all happens in a bad dream. Paulie's life collapses like a house of cards in a tornado. The Darkness shows it to me in detail. I see dead pigs an' bloodstains. I see mass suicide and bubonic plague and Ebola and SARS and Russian roulette. I see dead people hanging by a thread and screaming for a lifeline. And Paulie Franchetti, he sees it a million times before he dies.
- All-Star Superman, Superman vs. Solaris:
Superman: You'll live. (Megaton Punch)
- A lot more ambiguous in the cartoon adaptation. "I don't think I have any left."
- At the end of Who Is Superwoman?, Supergirl and Superwoman square off. The latter gloats over framing the former for her own murders after killing her. When the Girl of Steel proceeds to pummel her, Superwoman pleads for mercy. Supergirl replies -rightly- that she doesn't deserve any and keeps bashing her.
Supergirl: You're asking for mercy? Like Agent Liberty got?! Like poor Mister Henderson!? Like my father!? You don't deserve mercy, you deserve a beating!
- In 2003's Apokolips Now, Superman went solo against Darkseid to save John Irons (Steel). This Superman had his power limiters removed and is a little closer to his Silver Age days, so he crushes Darkseid and blinds him with a single punch. Darkseid asks for an end to the beating:
Darkseid: Quarter. I am blind—I can no longer resort to the Omega Effect...You have blinded me.
- All-Star Superman, Superman vs. Solaris:
- Spider-Man goes through this a lot, with villains who want - but don't deserve - to be spared:
- Prior to The Clone Saga, Spidey went gunning for the Chameleon, who had used synthetic androids disguised as his parents to find his identity, causing him to sink into a horrible Heroic B.S.O.D. when he found out. When he finally cornered the victim and was about to crush him (ironically, with the tombstone Kraven had placed on the grave where he had been buried alive years earlier) the Chameleon begged for his life. For a few tense seconds - for both of them and the readers - Spidey paused, then tossed it aside, clearly deciding he wasn't worth it.
- When Spider-Man first fought Morlun, an immortal who fed on the life force of Animal Themed Superbeings like Spidey, Spidey eventually gained the upper hand against him by injecting himself with a massive dose of radiation, which only weakened him due to the radiation already in his blood, anticipating that Morlun couldn't feed on it. Indeed, Morlun absorbs the radiation with every punch Spider-Man throws at him, and when he starts to disintegrate from it, he frantically begs Spidey for mercy, insisting that he was only doing what was necessary for his survival and it was Nothing Personal. While Spider-Man debates on whether or not to let Morlun walk free, the choice is taken from him when Dex, Morlun's former minion, arrives and shoots Morlun dead.
- During the climax of the "Grim Hunt" arc, Spidey has embarked on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Kravinoff family for everything they put him and his "spider family" through, at one point using his Wall Crawling powers to tear a handprint-shaped mass of flesh clean off of Sasha Kravinoff's face. When Sasha frantically begs him to wait, Spidey hatefully asks her if she "waited" when she killed Kaine, Mattie Franklin, and Madame Web.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: D'Hoffryn, having been elevated to Big Bad status, gets hit with this when Buffy and the Scooby Gang corner him and are about to kill him for his actions throughout the series, including killing the Magic Council, stealing their powers, and nearly killing Xander using the spirit of Anya as a slave. He begs them for mercy, offering to grant them all one wish if they let him live, but the Scoobies refuse, knowing that there will always be a catch; Buffy proceeds to chop his head off.
- In Horror Classic after Shadow Puppet was left to die by her former allies she tearfully begs them for help reminding them of there past friendship. It doesn't work.
- the Mortal Kombat Fanfic In with the Old, Out with the New has Kano beg for mercy after Sonya beat the holy high cap out of him. Seeing as how Kano had kidnapped, tortured, and raped Cassie as payback for what had happened in the Refugee Camp, Sonya opts to kill Kano instead.
- Mortality A criminal does this after playing a part in Holmes's whereabouts. Guess who doesn't listen and is pissed off about what happened? Yeah, that's right. Watson doesn't listen and coldly murders the idiot.
- In The Immortal Game, both General Esteem and Nihilus end up begging for their lives when defeated. Twilight Sparkle doesn't listen.
- Queen of All Oni: When Left and Right rescue Jade from Lung's fortress, Right chases him as he tries to flee, and cuts him off (rather literally) just before he can get to his escape boat. Lung begs for mercy from the Shadowkhan and doesn't receive any.
- During the Final Battle of the Pony POV Series Chaos Verse, Nightmare Phobia begs for her life when the tide is turned against her. The heroes know it's a trick and she'll just stab them in the back if they do, so they finish her off.
- Time Lords and Terror: Hydia fakes doing this when the Doctor and Mane Six confront her, in order to activate her backup plan for summoning the S'Muz. The S'Muz itself ends up begging and pleading with the Mane Six not to destroy it. They do it anyway.
- Earlier, Draggle pleads with Twilight — infuriated over Zecora's death — to stop pummeling her to near death. When the Doctor steps in and saves her, Twilight is horrified at what she almost did.
- In the sequel Mines of Dragon Mountain, Tirac frantically pleads with Gabbro not to drag them both into a lava pit. Gabbro doesn't listen.
- In A Gun to Love's Head when Mello threatens L and Light, Light is the first to crack; mostly because L believes Mello won't really shoot them and Light (with his healthy aversion to guns) has no such illusions.
- The Pony POV Series:
- Film Critique from Patch's 7 Dreams/Nightmares chapter, after Patch takes his Rainbow Shard and leaves him to his Karmic Death at the hooves of his now unbrainwashed harem. He's last heard screaming how he doesn't deserve it and begging them to stop.
- Another example from Dark World: As Derpy is beating him to death, the Valeyard begs her not to kill him, even trying to appeal to her friendship with the Doctor (who he explicitly made sure she knew he wasn't an incarnation of in an attempt to Break the Cutie) in an attempt to stop her. It doesn't work. Justified as the Valeyard's Regeneration Template was just destroyed and he'll be Killed Off for Real and replaced with a new incarnation of the Doctor if he dies one more time, something he's terrified of (hence the insane lengths he goes to trying to prevent it from happening).
- Also from Dark World, after having a Villainous Breakdown from realizing she really was Not So Different from Discord and being depowered by the Elements of Harmony, Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox is left a pathetic shell of her former self, desperately begging Twilight not to absorb her — the same fate she bestowed on Twilight who knows how many times.
- At the climax of the Shining Armor Arc, Makarov finds himself facing down the Blank Wolf, which seeks to erase him for screwing up the timeline so much. Terrified, he breaks down and begs Shining to save him. However, since he's long since passed the Moral Event Horizon at this point, Shining has no mercy left for him, and lets him be erased.
- Near the actual end of the arc, Minutte holds off the Blank Wolf to keep if from going after Shining, by offering it the fobwatch containing her Enemy Within, the Master. When he realizes she's actually going to go through with it, the Master breaks down and begs her not to erase him. She does anyway.
- At the climax of Chrysalis' Origins Episode, the defeated Queen Cocoon begs Chrysalis not to kill her, in vain. Though she does end up trying to take Chrysalis with her as her last act.
- In The Dear Sweetie Belle Continuity, Feather Duster consistently goes very quickly from Evil Gloating to begging his would-be victims to spare his sorry hide. It only actually works once, but he turns out to be very hard to get rid of.
- Ace Combat: Wings of Unity's eighth chapter ends with four unnamed Exile pegasi (who are the only survivors of an entire army group that was wiped out by Celestia and Luna) getting brutally Curb-Stomped by a mysterious grey pegasus. The last one frantically begs for his life—and gets a Neck Snap in response.
- At the end of the Judge Dredd short fan film Judge Minty, the last member of the Cursed Earth outlaws who tried to take Judge Minty's head begs Minty to spare his life, claiming that the gang leader forced him into it. Minty dispatches him anyway.
- Tirek Gets A Righteous Beatdown: By the end of the titular beatdown, Tirek is literally begging to go back to Tartarus.
- In the end of Book Three of The Last Son, Superman and the rest of Earth's heroes are forced to make a very elaborate plan to take down General Zod. When Zod loses control of Battlestation Sentrius and Fort Rozz, Superman is still willing to offer him one last chance to turn himself in peacefully. Instead, Zod goes into a full-blown rage that forces the heroes to lead him into a trap to cut him off his supply of yellow sun energy to depower him. At this point, Superman has had enough and seems willing to finish off Zod himself, but before he can follow through with it, General Lassider of S.H.I.E.L.D. sends out a Kryptonite-loaded nuke towards them (even after the President himself orders him not to). When the other heroes escape, Superman remains behind and has Sentrius open up a Phantom Zone singularity. Zod tries to plead with him on the grounds that he's his godfather and one of his people. Superman coldly replies that Zod is not his godfather or one of his people, and gives him the choice: either he returns to the Phantom Zone to survive, or stays to let the nuke kill him off. Superman then flies off and leaves him to his fate.
- Referenced in How the Light Gets In, Damien Darhk murdered Laurel. Dean, her husband, admits to her after her resurrection that he tortured Darhk and made him beg for his life before executing him. He also muses it was disappointingly easy to do so.
- In the Sword Art Online fic Blazing Revolution, Sugou and his associate Yamato kidnap Dan and lure Kirito, Asuna, and Alicia into a trap for revenge. Among other things, they subject Dan to Electric Torture that leaves him on the brink of death, and when their showdown comes, Sugou gleefully attempts to murder Kirito, boasting that he'll take good care of Asuna after killing him; once the tables turn, Sugou freaks out and begs for mercy, promising to leave and never bother him or his friends again. Kirito, disgusted that Sugou doesn't even have the guts to die with dignity after all the pain he's caused, tells Sugou that he's "fresh out of mercy" for him and cuts him down without hesitation.
- At the climax of Loved And Lost, the Big Bad Jewelius is cornered by all the heroes. He pathetically begs to be spared, making promises and claiming that he was brainwashed to commit his villainous actions. The heroes aren't fooled, knowing fully well from his previous Evil Gloating that he did everything by his own choice. Then Queen Chrysalis appears with her Changeling army, and Jewelius begs for help from the Changeling Queen he used and double-crossed to claim Equestria's throne. Chrysalis laughs and takes her revenge by having her Changelings eat Jewelius whose heart has no love for them to feed on.
- The New Adventures of Invader Zim: At the climax of Season 1, Norlock is impaled against Project Domination, which starts to self-destruct from the damage. As everyone is fleeing, Norlock begs Zim to save him. Obviously bitter over being betrayed, Zim refuses, and leaves Norlock to be vaporized in the resulting explosion.
- In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Joker angrily calls Batman crazy when the bat grabs hold of Joker's jetpack causing them to fly out of control, and if he doesn't let him go they'll likely both die. And shortly after that, he tries to surrender to the ruthless vigilante killer who wants revenge on him, personally, after Batman had beat him up and the bombs in the base are still of the verge of going off. But when they do go off, the Joker, being The Joker, starts gleefully Laughing Mad as everything explodes all around them in a fiery inferno while the vigilante killer teleports them both away to kill him. She lets him go, offscreen.
- The Lion King: The minute Simba corners Scar, the latter pathetically starts begging him for mercy, going to such lengths as pulling the family card and blaming the hyenas for his own actions; Simba doesn't buy any of it for a second, but ultimately decides not to kill Scar because he doesn't want to stoop to Scar's level, instead opting to banish him. Scar starts to walk away, but then flings burning embers into Simba's eyes and attacks him. When he loses the fight and is thrown down to the hyenas (who heard everything), he desperately tries to reason with them and insist he didn't mean what he said, but the hyenas are far less merciful than Simba and attack him en masse, mauling and eating him off-screen.
- Beauty and the Beast: During the showdown between Gaston and the Beast, the Beast eventually gets the upper hand and is dangling Gaston off of the roof of the castle, threatening to drop him to his death. Despite having personally attacked the Beast and egged him on to fight, Gaston panics and desperately begs the Beast not to hurt him; the Beast ultimately gives in and spares Gaston, ordering him to Get Out. As the Beast is going to reunite with Belle, Gaston sneaks up behind him and stabs him In the Back... only to lose his footing and fall to his demise.
- Peter Pan: During the final showdown, Peter steals Captain Hook's sword and threatens him with it. In response, Hook tearfully begs for mercy, stating he'll do anything Peter says. Peter agrees to let him live, on the grounds that he admits to being a "codfish" and agree to leave Neverland forever, which Hook does. As soon as Peter's back is turned, however, Hook goes for one last attack, but Peter jumps out of the way, causing Hook to lose his footing and fall into the sea, where the crocodile promptly chases him into the horizon.
- Toy Story 3: Lotso begs Woody and Buzz to help him survive at the trash dump after he had been actively screwing them over for most of the movie, as well as being responsible for them being there in the first place. How does he repay them? He proceeds to leave them to die at the hands of the incinerator after he is given an opportunity to stop the machinery carrying them down there, taunting Woody in the process with the pivotal line "Where's your kid now, sheriff?" Fortunately, karma catches up to him.
- The Transformers: The Movie: After losing the fight with Optimus Prime, Megatron spots a gun just beyond his reach and begs Prime for mercy. Optimus calls him out on it ("You, who are without mercy, now plead for it? I thought you were made of sterner stuff.") Unfortunately for Prime, Hot Rod runs in and distracts Prime long enough for Megatron to grab the gun and shoot Prime repeatedly, ultimately providing the fatal wound that would kill him.
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World: During the final showdown, John Smith manages to overpower Ratcliffe and pin him down, to which Ratcliffe begs Smith not to hurt him and claims he was just doing his duty. Smith orders Ratcliffe to sheathe his sword, and Ratcliffe does... only to pull a flintlock pistol on him. Before he can kill Smith, however, John Rolfe uses the mast to knock him overboard. Ratcliffe survives and makes it back to shore, only to be met by King James and his guards, who, now knowing that Ratcliffe tricked them, promptly have him arrested.
- In Robin Hood: Men in Tights Prince John tries to beg his way out of trouble with King Richard.
John: It's not my fault. I got a lot of bad advice from Rottingham.
Merry Men: (cough) BULLSHIT!
- Dr. Frank N. Furter tries to desperately to get Riff Raff and Magenta to take pity on him in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It doesn't work, and Riff Raff kills him.
- At the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and Koba's duel ends with the latter hanging from the top of a skyscraper, begging Caesar for help by reminding him "Ape Not Kill Ape" (which a shocking bit of hypocrisy given what he did to Ash earlier). Ultimately, Caesar decides to drop Koba to his death, telling him "You are not ape."
- Both Megatron and Sentinel Prime try this on Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Doesn't work that well, as Megatron was carrying a loaded shotgun while asking for "truce" which would have consisted of him ruling over the remaining Transformers. Seeing right through him, Optimus Prime denies the offer with his trusty axe. Immediately afterwards, Sentinel, who had killed Ironhide, ordered the deaths of thousands of innocent humans and cut off Optimus's arm, get's executed by Optimus with the aforementioend shotgun.
- Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters: Muriel begs Hansel for her life when he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after she killed his Love Interest, Mina. Needless to say, it doesn't work.
- The fight between Sonya and Kano in Mortal Kombat ends this way; after a brutal fight where Kano actually kicks her in the ribs after knocking her down, she has him in a leg-hold and pleading for his life, begging her to "give me a break!" (And she obliges, snapping his neck.)
- The Belko Experiment; the Voice has the nerve to plead for his life when Mike has him at gunpoint. (Mike is the only survivor, meaning the Voice is responsible for the murders of 79 innocents) Mike gives him what he deserves.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Wormtail begs Ron, Hermione and Harry to protect him from Sirius and Remus (after he's already begged for mercy, to no avail, from the latter two).
- J. R. R. Tolkien rather liked this trope.
- Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings begs for mercy when his plot with Saruman is discovered and defeated, claiming that he was working for the greater good of Rohan. He's allowed to live, a decision that costs quite a few lives and considerable grief.
- Also, Gollum begs for mercy from both Frodo and later Sam. Thankfully for Middle Earth, they both grant him it.
- At both of his defeats in The Silmarillion, Morgoth begged for mercy from his fellow Valar: the first time he was simply imprisoned for three thousand years, the second time he... wasn't so lucky.
- Tolkien also suggested that this is what Sauron would have done if the Valar came for him, however his actual surrenders to Eönwë and Ar-Pharazôn are less this and more I Surrender, Suckers. To be more precise: Sauron was perfectly willing to surrender and reform after Morgoth's final defeat but Eönwë said it wasn't within his powers/abilities to do so. Only Manwë himself could've given Sauron pardon and that's what made Sauron leave.
- In the Stephen King short story "The Deathroom", the protagonist thinks that "in the end there might only be one way to tell the thugs from the patriots: when they saw their own death rising in your eyes like water, patriots made speeches. The thugs, on the other hand, gave you the number of their Swiss Bank Account and offered to put you on-line."
- In the last installment of D. J. MacHale's Pendragon series, the Big Bad Saint Dane—who is a completely ruthless, coldblooded, genius, immortal, superhuman teleporting shapeshifter—is defeated in a fistfight by the hero. He then proceeds to annihilate all his character development of the previous nine books by dropping to his knees and sobbing for the heroes to spare his life.
- In the Paladin of Shadows book A Deeper Blue, an interrogated terrorist attempts this. Mike chews him out majorly, reminding him that he never offered his victims mercy and did not deserve any.
- In the Sword of the Stars novella The Deacon's Tale, this is the Deacon's reaction to getting a Care-Bear Stare.
- A very rare example in the James Bond franchise occurs in Colonel Sun when the titular big bad has been defeated and rendered helpless, and Bond kneels in front of him, knife in hand. The villain gives a silent appeal for mercy, but Bond pushes his knife into the man's heart anyway. Notably, this Bond novel was not written by Ian Fleming (who, like the writers of the films, chose to avoid Mood Whiplash), but by another author.
- Leodes, one of Penelope's suitors in The Odyssey begs for mercy at the last, but the only mercy Odysseus grants is a quick death. Two other people present (a herald and a bard) are spared (and the bard does beg mercy in much the same way Leodes did), but only because they did not abuse xenia like the suitors did, and indeed were not there to court Penelope.
- In The Dresden Files fifth book Death Masks, the Knights of the Cross and Harry corner an elite mook of the villain. The Knights, as their job isn't meant to kill these villains but offer them a chance of redemption, must give a pass when the mook surrenders himself and his magical item, and asks for mercy. They won't touch him, even knowing without him talking, the Big Bad's plan will go off. The Knights begrudgingly walk away. Harry, being neither a Knight nor hero in his mind, takes a baseball bat to the man's limbs until he talks. He also leaves the guy a quarter to use on a pay phone to call for help.
- It should be noted that Harry knows full well that, at the time the book takes place, payphones cost 35 cents to use. (Of course, he should probably also know that 911 calls are free, but, hey.) Also, the knights are human enough to laugh about the quarter.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Buffy: You're a god. Make it stop. [proceeds to beat Glory into a bloody pulp]
- At the end of the season 5 finale, Glory, having finally met her match thanks to Buffy using a magic hammer, starts begging Buffy to stop. Considering all of the hell Glory put her through, up to and including kidnapping Dawn and openly threatening Buffy's loved ones and friends, Buffy will have none of it:
Willow: Bored now.
- In the season 6 episode "Villains," as soon as he realizes that Dark Willow really does intend to kill him, Warren freaks out and starts frantically begging for mercy, pointing out that Willow isn't a "bad person" like him. His pleas fall flat, and Willow skins him alive.
- Doctor Who
Solomon: Whatever you want, I can get it for you. Whatever object you desire.
- At the conclusion of Season 32/Series 6, The Silence decide that their agent Madame Kovarian has outlived her usefulness and trigger a device in her Eyepatch of Power that begins electrocuting her. She knocks it loose and then has the gall to beg Amy for help, but after all she's done to Amy and her family, Amy refuses to help her and actually puts the eyepatch back on her, leaving her to die.
- And in the Series 5 finale "The Big Bang", a Dalek of all things asks for mercy from River Song. It doesn't receive it. Shooting the Doctor right before this probably didn't help its case.
- In "Genesis of the Daleks," after tricking the Thals into nuking his own people and eliminating the handful of Kaled scientists still opposed to his work, Dalek-creator Davros loses control of his creations and pleads with the Daleks to "have pity" on him and his acolytes. "Pity?! I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!"
- In "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", episode villain Solomon asks the Doctor to save him right after the Doctor redirects the missiles targeted at the Ark at Solomon's ship. Since he spent the whole episode being a bastard of a level usually reserved for Big Bads, the Doctor leaves him to be blown up.
Doctor: Did the Silurians beg you to stop?
- In "Dalek", the eponymous creature wanted pity from the Ninth Doctor. It wasn't coming (at least, not at first).
- In the final season of Heroes, Sylar's doozy of psychological issues comes to a head and he seeks out Parkman to have his mind wiped clean again. Parkman, having been tormented by Sylar for most of the season and still reeling from the actions that led Sylar to him, refuses to fall for it a second time. He instead traps Sylar inside an empty shell of a city inside his own mind to wallow in his issues for the rest of his life and then seals up the physically comatose man inside his basement. Then Peter shows up and frees Sylar because of a vision he received of his archnemesis playing a pivotal role in defeating Samuel.
- True Blood: Debbie Pelt begs Sookie not to kill her in the season 4 finale. Right after shooting Tara (Sookie's Black Best Friend) with a shotgun. And the shot was intended to hit Sookie. Did she really think begging was going to save her in that situation?
- In the final episode of Breaking Bad, Jack is the last of his gang left alive after Walt's machine-gun trap. As Walt stands over, ready to finish him off, Jack tries to negotiate, saying Walt will need him alive if he wants to know where his stolen money is. However, Walt no longer cares about the money and shoots him in the head before he can even finish his sentence.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Two examples in the first season finale, "Beginning of the End": first, when Ward finds himself nailed to the floor by May, he tries to plead with her, only to get punched in the throat, crushing his larynx. Then, when Deathlok breaks free of Garrett's control and turns on him, he pleads with Coulson to make Deathlok stop, only for Coulson to stand by and watch.
- Arrow: Malcolm Merlyn usually only shows two emotions — smug superiority and violent rage. But when he's captured by the League of Assassins and brought before Ra's Al-Ghul, he pathetically begs for his life and a chance to serve again. Ra's is less than impressed, and tells Malcolm to at least try and die with some dignity.
- In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two", after Jake is lying on the ground with Sam aiming his gun at him to finish him off, Jake says, "Please... don't. Please." Sam, having only just come Back from the Dead after Jake betrayed and murdered him, is not moved.
- In Kamen Rider Drive, Gou defeats Banno, leaving the psychopath damaged and helpless with his body destroyed leaving only his Driver laying prone on the ground. While remaining smug and sure of himself, the moment Gou moves in to deliver a Coup de Grâce, Banno breaks down begging for his life. Unfortunately for Banno, Gou doesn't have any mercy left after everything Banno had done, and obliterates him with a Finishing Move from the Signal Axe.
- Dr. Wily does this after being defeated in nearly every classic-series Mega Man game. Mega Man's strict adherence to the Three Laws of Robots is likely the only reason Wily has survived so long. It's the current page image.
- At the end of Mega Man 7, Mega Man clearly showed he was tired of Dr. Wily's games, and was considering killing Dr. Wily himself before Bass intervened.
- Gloriously lampshaded at the end of Mega Man 9. When Wily begs for mercy yet again, Mega Man puts on a slideshow of Wily begging at the end of each of the previous games in the series.
- It's so iconic that in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, his trophy depicts him begging for mercy! In the Wii U version, this pose is different, changing that to a pose from one of Wily's artworks.
- Marvelous Chester of Dark Souls begs for you mercy right after you killed him.
- The Wand of Gamelon: Duke Onkled.
Duke Onkled: Please your omnipotence, have mercy.note
- The Ripper in MediEvil 2 begs for mercy from Sir Fortesque when defeated. He gets a bullet to the face instead.
- Happens often in FTL: Faster Than Light as pirates, slavers, and rebel ships will offer resources in return for survival.
- Ridiculously common in Star Wars games, especially the Old Republic series. Of course, it's up to the player if you go for mercy, Cruel Mercy, or Finish Him!
- Theodore "Teddy" Lagerfield Jr., the Psychopath representing the Deadly Sin of Sloth in Dead Rising 3, tries to kill Nick with a swarm of helicopter drones when the latter demands he return the armory key he stole. Once Nick manages to break into his basement control room, Teddy immediately begs Nick not to hurt him. Not that it matters anyway, as he dies of a heart attack brought on by fear and his poor health seconds later.
- Frequently happens with the computer-controlled empires in Star Ruler. When they realize they are losing, and losing badly, they will begin to beg for a cease-fire while bribing the attacking party with all their remaining resources as tribute. Depending on the AI personality, they'll sometime declare war again once they think they've been built up enough, though.
- Hyrule Warriors: After being beaten by Cia in a failed attempt to betray her, Wizzro is reduced to shamelessly begging for his life. It works the first time, but not the second time.
- Happens in random battles in the Shin Megami Tensei main series, where enemy demons will offer Macca, items, information, or themselves (as a new party member) in exchange for their lives when they're near dead. Of course, it's also possible for them to run away without giving you anything or even pull an I Surrender, Suckers and get a free turn out of it.
- In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Skull Face, after being trapped under rubble after Sahelanthropus is suddenly activated by Eli, is left at the mercy of both Snake and Miller and begs them to finish him off. Snake and Miller decide instead to shoot off both Skull Face's right leg and left arm as retribution for taking Miller's, using Skull Face's own Mare's Leg, and then leave it and a single bullet just out of his reach, telling him if he wants a quick death, he'll have to do it himself. Of course, soon after they turn their backs, Huey finishes Skull Face off.
- Toyed with the bosses of Undertale... to a degree.
- Averted by one of the bosses, Asgore, actually DESTROYS the "Spare" command that you normally use to give mercy, which prevents you from sparing them normally. While Asgore eventually accepts mercy after being beaten on long enough, He would rather have you kill him.
- Another boss, Flowey, zigzags the trope, demanding outright you kill them, and that they'll kill everyone you know if you don't. If you decide to spare Flowey anyway, he's driven to panic. However, in the Genocide ending, they do actually beg for their life due to your overwhelming malice.
- And the rest of them are either not really villainous or won't accept mercy, averting the trope.
- Body Harvest: After Adam's Evil Twin changes back to human once his Final Boss form has been defeated, he tries to convince his brother not to kill him. Adam ignores him.
- A reoccurring issue in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bandits will drop to their knees, plead for mercy... and then attack you again as soon as their health recovers a bit.
- Batman: Arkham Knight: In the Red Hood DLC pack, the Red Hood takes on Black Mask and his gang. Upon defeating him, Black Mask desperately begs for his life, offering him money, drugs, weapons, and swearing to leave Gotham and go wherever the Red Hood wants him to go. In response, the Hood tells him to "go to Hell" before kicking him out a window to his death.
Red Hood: Say hi to Joker for me.
- Fallout: New Vegas has the main antagonists of the Honest Heart DLC: Salt Upon Wounds, a ruthless warchief of the White Legs, who slaughters anyone in his way, wether they fight back or not. But by the time you get to him, you find out he's already been defeated and captured by Joshua Graham who's preparing to execute him. If you talk to Salt Upon Wounds, who'll pathetically before you to talk Joshua into sparing him, leaving his fate in your hands.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: Kalinda, the villain of Peebee's loyalty mission, begs for Peebee to save her even after having been an abusive partner to her, stolen her stuff, been an astoundingly smug jerkass, and not ten minutes prior told her minions to kill and loot Peebee's corpse. Whether she lives or suffers a lava-y death is up to the player.
- The Disney's Magical Quest series features the Big Bad being King Pete, an alternate reality of Pete as a king. King Pete disappears in a puff of smoke after defeat in the first two games. Does he do that again in the third and final game when Mickey/Donald defeat him? No, after the character that was not used enters, (with Mickey even congratulating Donald for defeating King Pete if Mickey was not used in the final battle) King Pete instead begs for mercy. Donald doesn't believe King Pete, but Mickey and the fairy convince Donald otherwise, revealing that King Pete is upset at always being the Big Bad in the stories. The fairy has King Pete promise to be a good king, but King Pete says the people of Storybook Land will never forgive him for his actions. After being told that he must give an honest apology for the people to understand, King Pete thanks Mickey and Donald and turns good, as shown in the epilogue after the credits roll.
- In the Ben 10: Alien Force episode "Vendetta", Ragnarok begs Kevin to save him from the collapsing spaceship. Considering that Ragnarok killed Kevin's dad, you can imagine the outcome.
- An episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers had Dr. Blight beg the title hero to save her from being trampled to death by a genetically altered steer (that she created) stating, "You have to save me! It's in your hero code!" Cap admits she's right and does save her.
- In an early episode of Batman: The Animated Series, The Joker is hanging over a pit of molten metal:
Joker: Batman! You wouldn't let me fry, would you?
Batman: (considers it)
Joker: BATMAN! (Batman pulls him up)
- In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Duck to the Future", even with everything she's done to him all episode, when Magica runs out of time-warping magic sand on a soon-to-explode airship, she still begs Scrooge to let her come along.
- In one episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), Skeletor is dangling from a cliff and begs for He-Man to save him. He-Man does, and Skeletor immediately gets a cheap shot in.
- Qilby, the season 2 Big Bad of Wakfu does this twice. In his true backstory, he begs for mercy when Yugo's past incarnation seals him inside limbo. In the finale, he does it again when Yugo banishes him to the same void.
- Starscream did this all the time. Usually a matter of seconds after trying (and failing) to stab Megatron in the back, although he did beg for it from the Autobots a few times.
- The Urpneys of The Dreamstone do this over everything, sometimes even when there isn't anything threatening around. It still rarely works however.
- In Spider-Man: The Animated Series when Spidey acquires the black suit, he ends up fighting Rhino and, later, Shocker. He becomes straight up ruthless and has both of them begging for mercy. With Rhino, Spidey runs off upon realizing what he was about to do, while with Shocker, he refrains from throwing the villain from a bell tower, but then the suit throws Shocker off for him, and Spidey is only narrowly able to save Shocker from becoming a stain on the lawn.
- ReBoot: At the end of season 3, Matrix has successfully defeated Megabyte and is seemingly about to finish him off with AndrAIa's trident, to which Megabyte insists that he can't do it because it "goes against everything he stands for." Matrix hatefully reminds him that Megabyte ruined his life, destroyed his home, and caused all manner of pain to his loved ones... but ultimately decides to let Megabyte go on the grounds that he's not worth it.
- In The Smurfs episode "Smurphony In 'C' ", Gargamel disguises himself as a fairy, and gave Harmony an enchanted horn ( the "Shazalakazoo") claiming it will cure his tone-deafness. Of course, it's a trick, and Harmony realizes his mistake when it sends the other smurfs into a deep slumber that they can't wake up from. When Harmony goes to find the fairy and Gargamel reveals himself, he tries to use the horn against the wizard, but Gargamel merely covers his ears and tries to stomp him - until he unwisely chases him across a log bridge over a chasm and falls. Gargamel is now holding on for his life, unable to cover his ears, and Harmony is right in the position to finish him off. He's about to do it too, but Gargamel pleads and begs for his worthless hide, and Harmony changes his mind, realizing not good to kick somebody when they're down; so he just simply blows his foe a raspberry and runs off. (And would likely regret it later.)
- The Simpsons: At the end of "Raging Abe Simpson and His Rumbling Grandson in The Curse of the Flying Hellfish", Mr. Burns is cornered by Grampa Simpson (whom he had been trying to kill throughout the episode to claim a collection of German paintings) and screams "Don't kill me!". Fortunately, Grampa wasn't going to kill him anyway.
- Gravity Falls: After Bill Cipher is tricked into entering Stan's mind and about to be erased from existence he frantically begs Stan to let him go and offers him anything he wishes. Stan's response is to punch him in the face, destroying Bill for good.
- Batman Beyond: In the episode "Sneak Peek," when Ian Peek loses control of the Intangibility belt he used to get dirt for his TV show (including Batman's Secret Identity), he calls in Bruce, begging for medical aid in exchange for the only unedited video footage of Bruce and Terry's secret. However, when Bruce discovers that Peek stole the belt from Dr. Taka, who was one of his associates at Wayne-Powers, and started the fire that killed him, he just walks away, fully prepared to leave Peek to his fate.
Peek: You can't leave! You've gotta help me!
Bruce: Give me one. Good. Reason.