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Mercy Kill / Literature

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Mercy Killing in literature.

  • In the books of The 100, Clarke injects Lily with a deadly dose of medication to save her from a slow and painful death by radiation poisoning.
  • In the first Age of Fire novel, Dragon Champion, when AuRon makes his way back west on his mission to infiltrate the Wyrmmaster's forces, he finds that they have already attacked the headquarters of the Chartered Company of dwarves that he once worked for. And worse, he finds that his friend Djer has been mortally wounded, having literally his entire face covered in burns, and even had his lungs damaged. Djer manages to croak out a request to be put out of his misery rather than wait in agony to die, and AuRon doesn't hesitate, crushing Djer's skull and killing him instantly.
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  • And the Mountains Echoed has Parwana doing this to the paraplegic Masooma, and Nabi doing this to the paraplegic Mr. Wahdati.
  • Animorphs: At the end of The Return David begs Rachel to do this for him rather than force him to live out the rest of his life as a rat. The book ends with Rachel crying in front of David, and whether or not she killed him is never revealed.
  • In Jo Graham's Black Ships, the narrator is forbidden from seeing blood shed. Nonetheless, when she and her companion Xandros come across a man whose insides are... not so inside anymore, she gives Xandros the go ahead, and he slits the man's throat.
  • At the end of Calculating God, euthanasia is given to relieve pain for the terminal main character.
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, Zul tells Troy to help him kill the Uplifted Animals, because the alternative is the patrolmen getting the truth out of them and then killing them.
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  • In PC Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Kencyr Lords and officers have a duty to walk the battlefield and cull the wounded, identifying those who should survive with ''dwar'' sleep and medical care and those who will die; if the latter cannot end their own lives, it is their duty to use a suicide dagger to dispatch them. Lords in particular feel a compulsion to aid those who are bound to them who are in distress.
  • Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: In The Illearth War, one of the Ranyhyn (sapient horses) stumbles into an acid swamp and suffers horrific and incurable burns. The lead stallion of the group, after evidently obtaining its permission, beats its head in with his forehooves to kill it instantly.
    • Elsewhere, after Lord Verement has been enspelled by Fleshharrower and is being forced to worship Lord Foul, his Bloodguard Thomin kills him where he stands before making a spirited attempt to kill the Giant-Raver with his bare hands.
  • The Circle Opens: In Cold Fire, the villain of the story is sentenced to be burned at the stake. Daja decides that no matter what he's done, she can't stand there and watch that, and uses her magic to incinerate him instantly. Several other mages present join in to help.
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  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera: In book one, Furies of Calderon, Fidelias snaps the neck of a girl that was going to be eaten alive by the Marat he and his cohorts were allied with.
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space", a visitor to the blighted farm finds the ruined, half-disintegrated remains of Nahum's wife dying in the house. When he exits, nothing living is left behind him, and the narrative state that it would've been an atrocity to leave her alive.
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, Bruce, the Starflyer Assassin, has a brief moment of clarity where he asks Gore to Mercy Kill him.
    Bruce: Do it. Kill the alien.
    Gore: Good for you, son.
  • A particularly horrid (and ultimately futile) version takes place in the Ambrose Bierce story "The Coup de Grace".
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship Thieves, Thena urges this on Kit after she's burned by radiation.
  • In Earle Birney's poem "David", a mountain climber is injured badly, and is pushed off a cliff by his friend.
  • In The Death Cure, Newt gives a note to Thomas, telling him not to read it until the time was right. The note begs for his death. Finally, Thomas shoots a desperate Newt on his request.
  • Deryni: At the climax of High Deryni, this resolves the four-on-four duel arcane between Torenth and Gwynedd. After Stefan Coram reveals he's poisoned Wencit and his colleagues with an incurable and slow-acting toxin, Kelson is advised this is a good idea. Bishop Arilan claims to recognize the substance Coram took to speed his own death, and it's said that the others will take at least a day to die. Also, the terms of the duel will keep all of them there in the circle until all of one side are dead. Wencit himself asks for death. Morgan offers to do it, but Kelson insists on doing it himself and all but commands Morgan to show him the means: the same spell Charissa used to murder King Brion months earlier.
  • In the second Dexter book, on encountering a "yodeling potato" (a truly horrific Fate Worse than Death), Doakes tries to shoot him. His fellow cops stop him. This is one of very few instances in which Dexter and Doakes agree on something. Dexter considers Doakes's solution quite reasonable given the circumstances.
  • In Dies The Fire, some of our heroes happen upon a group of Eaters (cannibals), some of whose victims are still alive but in horrible, and thankfully undescribed, condition. One of the protagonists asks them if they want to die, and since none of them are mentioned later, we can assume he kills them.
    • In a later book of the same series, a mortally wounded woman asks her commander to kill her quickly.
  • Several examples from Discworld, in keeping with Terry Pratchett's views on the matter:
  • Dragonriders of Pern:
    • In Dragonseye, part of the preparation for the return of Threadfall is a medical conference on treating Thread injuries. Some of the medics get into a discussion on the ethics of giving "mercy" to a Thread-injured patient.
    • In Dragonsdawn, the first generation of Pern settlers (some of whom are war veterans) wind up giving "mercy" to Thread victims. One old soldier reflects "he had given mercy several times, too many times."
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, the basic purpose of the Gatherers is to allow a peaceful death to those who are too old or too sick to be healed and who do not want to be a burden to their family and society.
  • The Dresden Files: In Changes, Harry sacrifices Lloyd Slate, who had been tortured into insanity and a lot more by Mab. Harry, however, refuses to use this as an easy way out of the guilt, acknowledging that he's killing him for power, not out of mercy.
  • E.C. Tubbs's Earl Dumarest had to do this more than once in the series. In one book, a man was taken by giant spiders which laid eggs in his flesh. Dumarest went into the spiders' nest to find him, and the narrative states, "There was no cure and only one mercy. Dumarest administered it..." Another character commented that the dead man was lucky because "'Sometimes that's what a friend is for—and he had one of the best.'"
  • In Fate/Zero, following Emiya Kiritsugu's Exact Words contract with Kayneth Archibald, he personally is forbidden from killing Archibald... but the contract neglected to include his partner, Maiya. Following this, the semi-immune to bullets and surprised Archibald requires a mercy kill from Saber.
  • George R. R. Martin gives a memorable one to the Big Bad's Dragon, Sour Billy Tipton, in his novel Fevre Dream. Tipton has earnt a partial redemption by attacking his deceitful boss, but received further terrible wounds in so doing (he's already been damaged so badly prior to this that he's been hauling himself along the floor by his fingertips, biting on his knife to dull his pain). Afterwards, Joshua York quietly breaks Tipton's neck. "There was no hope for him."
  • In Frostflower and Thorn, Frostflower speeds up a condemned warrior's time to help her die faster.
    • Later on Thorn threatens to kill them both unless Frostflower uses her powers, believed to have been lost due to her rape earlier in the story. The threat backfires when Frostflower agrees it's probably for the best.
  • A recurring theme in The Gargoyle: Francesco asks his brother to do this for him when he is dying of the plague that killed his wife, by shooting an arrow made from their wedding rings into his heart. Later, the 13th-century version of Marianne does this for her husband when he is being slowly tortured to death.
  • In the world of The Girl from the Miracles District, this is a sadly common occurrence, as local magical instabilities can cause people to mutate into mindless monsters, which are impossible to cure.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts: Dillon shoots another soldier who's being ravaged by the hungries. Later Parks begs Melanie to shoot him before he becomes one, and she does.
  • In Plague, the fourth book of the Gone series, Sam does this to Hunter to save him the slow, agonizing death that would come with the bugs eating him from the inside out. Dekka wants Sam to do the same for her, but he figures out a way to save her.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape kills Dumbledore. Next book, it's revealed that Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him,note  revealing that moment in Half-blood Prince to be euthanasia instead of crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
  • In the Hawk & Fisher series, the titular cops use a magic-nullifying stone to end the anguish of several still-conscious dissection specimens, human and animal, in an evil sorcerer's house.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' Hexwood, Mordion has a very nasty example in his backstory: he's forced to kill his only remaining sibling, who's been horribly tortured, to spare her further pain. The torturer then informs Mordion then if he ever shows any reluctance in his job as assassin, the same thing will be done to his target; in a sense, everyone he kills from then on is a preemptive Mercy Killing.
  • His Dark Materials:
    • In The Subtle Knife, Serafina Pekkala mercy kills a fellow witch who's being tortured for information by agents of the Magisterium about the prophecy regarding Lyra.
    • Later, in The Amber Spyglass, Lyra's group finds a badly injured frog on the road, missing several legs so it can only hop in a circle. The trope is then discussed: the Gallivespians suggest mercy killing the frog to spare it further pain, while Will counters that, in spite of everything, the frog might still prefer life to death. Since they can't ask the frog for its opinion, they end up leaving it alone.
  • In Hive Mind, the man who kidnapped and partially brainwashed the main character as a child has finally been captured. He's in the middle of a catastrophic mental meltdown, and will soon be turned over for incredibly painful and inevitably fatal "destruction analysis". The main character opts to shoot him instead.
  • Jarlaxle stabs Braelin in the heart after the latter was turned into a drider in Homecoming.
    Jarlaxle: Ah, Braelin, my friend. I fear this will prove my greatest gift to you of all.
  • Honor Harrington, The Service of the Sword: At the climax of the running battle on Refuge, Sergeant Gutierrez checks his pistol in preparation for giving Abigail one of these. Captain Oversteegen pulls his Big Damn Heroes before it's necessary.
    Mateo Gutierrez had cleaned up behind pirates before. And because he had, there was no way Abigail Hearns would be alive when the murderous scum at the foot of that hill finally overran them.
  • In The Host an old man in the human community is painfully dying of bone cancer. Jared steals enough painkillers for Doc to give him an overdose.
  • In The Hunger Games (novel and film), Katniss mercy kills Cato to put him out of his misery when he's being ravaged by mutations.
  • Hurog: Oreg wanted to die hundreds of years ago, and tried everything in his power to get a Mercy Kill but his father, who had made him the soul of his castle deliberately avoided killing him. Ward later does kill him at his request.
  • At the very end of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream Ted realizes that death is the only way out of AM's suffering; he quickly kills Benny and Gorrister, while Ellen kills Nimdok. Ted manages to kill Ellen, but is unable to save himself from AM's wrath.
    "Surrounded by madness, surrounded by hunger, surrounded by everything except death, I knew that death was our only way out. AM had kept us alive, but there was a way to defeat him. Not total victory, but at least peace. I would settle for that."
  • Johnny Got His Gun: Joe asks for this, but is denied. The film has a nurse try to do this, but she's stopped.
  • Journey to Chaos: Basilard is willing to do this when necessary.
    • When Zettai was in agony from Bladi Poisoning, he was going to cure her and then let her die. Tasio twists his arm into truly saving her.
    • When Eric mana mutated, he was explictly going to "put him down". Kallen intervened and said she could reverse his mutation.
  • The King in Yellow: "Government Lethal Chambers" are introduced in "The Repairer of Reputations" so that any citizen who desires it can end their lives.
  • Knowledge Of Angels: Palinor is killed with a material that emits deadly yet painless fumes to spare him from being burned alive.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom", Kull and Brule promise each other this, in event of their being mortally wounded — because the Snakemen can enslave the souls of those they kill.
  • In The Last Full Measure, one nameless soldier shoots a wounded man so he doesn't have to burn to death after the Battle of the Wilderness.
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, the bear-cows kill their wounded. The humans come to suspect that it's a means of keeping them from being kept alive as prey.
  • This occurs at least twice in the Madgie, what did you do? series. Once, in "It looked like falling snow...", Toki mentions having to euthanize a badly burned Stinky (Bunny's cat) and, the second occurred in Broken Wings, with Doki and a badly burned Madgie, however, the latter is more subtle as it isn't outright stated but she was mentioned to have become Madgie's "angel of mercy".
  • In Metro 2033, Artyom is forced to kill Daniel, when the latter is ambushed in the library by a librarian and is fatally injured by being disemboweled by it. What makes it even worse is that the librarian's hand is feeling around in Daniel's stomach/torso, and mimicing both Artyom and Daniel whilst they talk.
  • Averted in My Enemy, My Ally. While Tafv tr'Rllaillieu was already mortally wounded, his mother Commander Ael isn't acting out of mercy when she kills him in his sickbay bed. She's exacting vengeance for him betraying her.
  • In Stephen King's Needful Things, Ace Merrill does this to his partner, "Buster" Keeton, after he's shot in the stomach.
  • Happens to several characters over the Newsflesh series, when they're facing viral amplification. This is also a safety measure for those around them.
  • In the Nightside books, John Taylor is forced to kill his friend Razor Eddie in a possible future, because Eddie — as an immortal — is suffering through being used as an insect incubator. Over and over again, since the insects, the last surviving things on a ruined Earth, lay eggs in his flesh. Then the larvae hatch and eat their way out. Then they lay eggs in him again. The cycle has been repeated for eighty-three years.
    • Also in the Nightside series, Suzie Shooter invokes this trope for a woman who's in the process — the slow process — of being eaten piece by piece by demons.
  • Of Mice & Men:
    • A dog is shot for being too old and 'no use to anyone'.
    • And later, Lennie is shot in the head just like the dog by George, because George considers that the fate that would await him at the hands of the other farmhands would be worse, and also because Lenny was basically too dangerous for society. The Film of the Book makes it seem less like a Mercy Kill and more like a I'm Fed Up With You kill.
  • Literary/film example: Old Yeller is a classic example. Due to an earlier fight with a wolf, the dog develops rabies and has to be put down.
  • The WW2 potboiler Operation Stalag, by Charles Whiting, opens with the commander of the Destroyers being shown a mutilated British officer who has gone insane from torture. After the Destroyers are given the assignment to kill the person responsible, the briefing officer waits till everyone else is out of the room, then gives the man a lethal injection of morphine.
  • In The Powder Mage Trilogy Adamat asks Bo to do this to his eldest son, who was kidnapped and subsequently turned into a Warden- a mindless Human Weapon designed specifically to combat the titular Powder Mages.
  • The Power of Five: Present!Matt is killed this way by Richard, after being captured and tortured by the Old Ones.
  • A variation occurs in various swashbuckling novels — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Refugees for instance — the hero and heroine find themselves facing a Fate Worse than Death from which the heroine requests the hero to save her by shooting her (usually The Cavalry arrive just in time to prevent this). Usually takes place before the Fate Worse than Death can occur and while the suicidee is still undamaged. Not I Cannot Self-Terminate as the emphasis is on dying by the hand of someone who loves you rather than being functionally unable to do it oneself.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard provided this to his own mother, after she lost her mind and was still being used as a prostitute. A lot of other people end up going with her.
  • A potential motive for one of the murders in Sad Cypress. The accused, Elinor Carlisle, is suspected of her aunt's murder. The strongest possible motive is said aunt's huge inheritance, but another is the Mercy Kill; the aunt was an invalid who just had a second stroke and couldn't stand the thought of being helpless.
  • Safehold:
    • Referred to as "Pasquale's Grace" in the series in the context of euthanasia. At least one Temple Loyalist commander has ordered it done to wounded Reformists since it's more merciful than taking them alive so that the Inquisition can torture them to death instead. Later, a savage naval battle features the Dohlaran navy giving no quarter to several Charisian sailors and multiple characters ponder how much of it was fury at their enemies in the Holy War, and how much was sparing their Charisian counterparts from being taken alive and sent to the Inquisition.
    • It was also done by a captured captain to one of his midshipmen after spending a lengthy period as the Inquisition's prisoners, again to save him from yet more torture.
    • Another book has Dialydd Mab sniping a priest who had been sentenced to the Punishment, a horrific death by torture, for providing decent food to suspected heretics who hadn't been convicted of anything yet. Mab makes a point of killing the man quickly. He also snipes some of the priests who ordered the Punishment be done in the first place, for less merciful reasons.
    • In book 9, Merlin arranges for everyone in a notorious Inquisition prison in Zion to be killed with the use of nanotechnology that will kill them very fast. Regarding the prisoners, it's a mercy killing. For the Inquisitors, on the other hand...
  • The titular protagonist of Sarny describes seeing horses torn to bits during The American Civil War. Even in their poor shape they try to get up until they're shot. The humans aren't so lucky. Soldiers are abandoned to die if they are mortally injured.
  • Shannara: In Antrax, Quentin Leah and Elven Hunter Tamis spend the entire book trying to perform one on their Mentor, Ard Patrinell, who has become one of Antrax's brain-controlled wronks, something that is acknowledged in-universe as a Fate Worse than Death (the victim remains alive and aware but subjected to Antrax's will). Given that the wronk in question is an Implacable Man, this is not easy and ends horribly for all involved with Patrinell and Tamis both dying and Quentin completing his transformation into a Failure Knight.
  • The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold:
    • Dying Lakewalkers are supposed to be killed by other Lakewalkers with special knives made from Lakewalker bones because that is the only way to create the magic knife needed to kill a malice. This is more like a Heroic Sacrifice in practice, as the killed Lakewalker is usually aware and willing to die for the cause.
    • After a malice is killed, the mud men {animals twisted into human-like forms} revert to their animal minds, but are still trapped in their twisted bodies which they don't know how to use, so it's best for them to be put out of their misery to save them a more lingering death.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: One of the rebels, Amitan, has Tansen end his life when he's dying slowly of a stomach wound, sparing him a long death in agony over several days.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Fingon almost kills his cousin Maedhros, who is being tortured by hanging from a cliff and is out of reach; but at the last moment he is given a way to reach his cousin...who cannot be freed and again begs to be killed. Then Fingon has another idea.
  • In Someone Else's War, Ruth kills her baby daughter so she won't grow up to live the same life her mother did.
  • Whenever a wounded soldier asks for mercy in A Song of Ice and Fire, they're usually referring to this kind of mercy.
    • In a variation, Ned kills the direwolf Lady himself because she deserves better than a butcher.
    • Daenerys Targaryen's killing of her husband Khal Drogo when he's left an Empty Shell by a Blood Magic spell.
    • Maester Lewin asks Osha to finish him off when he's been stabbed in the gut.
    • Sandor Clegane comes to mind as a frequent dispenser of such mercy, and helpfully teaches little Arya where the heart is so that she can do it, too. Ultimately, he, wounded and feverish, ends up begging mercy of her. She refuses, saying that he doesn't deserve it.
    • Lord Manderly identifies the death of Little Walder as one of these. Because, had he lived, he would have grown up to be part of House Frey.
    • Joffrey Baratheon sent an assassin armed with a Valyrian steel dagger to kill Bran Stark after he is left crippled and in a coma. Joffrey overheard his father Robert make an off-hand remark that living as a comatose cripple is a fate worse than death. Joffrey being a somewhat twisted "Well Done, Son!" Guy arranged the "mercy kill" hoping to follow his father's example.
    • Although there were many factors involved in it, Jaime Lannister's Bodyguard Betrayal and murder of King Aerys "The Mad" has a huge wedge of this to it, combined with putting down somebody hell-bent on Put Them All Out of My Misery before he, you know, could deliver on it. Aerys was a mess, and needed help he didn't get long before he hit his nadir.
  • In Andre Norton's Star Guard, every Terran soldier carries a special dagger whose sole purpose is to "give Grace" to a direly wounded comrade. The main character uses it ... at the specific request of a severely burned man.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Young Jedi Knights: Shadow Academy, Luke Skywalker, after seeing a herd of wild rancors, expresses regret that he had to perform one on Jabba's pet rancor. He considers the species to be fine animals, but notes that Jabba's one was so badly damaged by years of mistreatment and imprisonment that rehabilitating the creature would have been impossible, and considered it far kinder to put the animal out of its misery.
      Luke Skywalker: The Keepers forced Jabba's rancor into a dungeon where it could barely move. It was half-starved. Though I didn't have a choice, I'm still sorry I had to kill it.
    • Stunningly enough, this occurs in the X-Wing Series novel Mercy Kill. It transpires that the reason Piggy is such a Shell-Shocked Veteran is that he was forced to personally mercy-kill his Fire-Forged Friend Runt.
  • Being set in feudal Japan, Tales of the Otori is all over the various "a good death is better" tropes. Early the first book, Takeo climbs a castle wall to finish off members of a persecuted religious group who have been hung there to die. Later in the same book, he does the same for his adopted father, Shigeru.
  • The title of Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? derives from the practice of shooting injured horses to put them out of their misery. After the novel's protagonist is arrested for shooting another character — who'd been Driven to Suicide, couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger, and begged him to do it for her — and the cops ask him why he did it, he recalls seeing his grandfather euthanize a horse in this manner as a boy, and utters the phrase.
  • A variation occurs in The Thin Red Line, where a sergeant delivers morphine to a mortally wounded soldier so that the latter can overdose on it.
  • In Those That Wake, this is done to Brath in the first book, as hopelessness has corrupted him beyond help.
  • Tigana: Sandre brings poison to his captured son Tomasso, to save him from being tortured and killed by the Sorcerous Overlord in the morning.
    Sandre: This is the last thing I can do for you. If I were stronger I could do more, but at least they will not hurt you in the morning now. They will not hurt you any more, my son.
  • Happens a few times in Timeline-191, most notably when President Evil Jake Featherston is forced to kill his secretary and Morality Pet, Lulu.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Xhea mercy-kills Shai to save her from her And I Must Scream fate of being used as a Living Battery to power a Tower.
  • In Vampire Academy, when discussing what one would want if turned into a Strigoi, killing them could be interpreted as this, because if there was a shred of that person left, they would most likely want to be killed. Becomes a foreshadowing when Rose has to do this to Dimitri.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga: Averted in Shards of Honor, where Cordelia refuses to allow Aral to mercy-kill one of her junior officers who is horribly and irreversibly brain-damaged. He is much confused, as this is standard procedure for his military and they're in a desperate situation even without the soldier as a liability. In a much later book, she apologizes to the ensign's memory; it's ambiguous whether this is because she feels she made the wrong decision or because she can't bring herself to do the same for Aral.
  • Comes up a few times in the Warcraft Expanded Universe book Wolfheart. The orcs consider this a way of honoring a Worthy Opponent who would otherwise have a slow and agonizing death from battle wounds. Early on an orc looks for a night elf courier they stopped to confirm her death or offer her this. Another orc does it for a defeated night elf foe later. On the Alliance side, Jarod Shadowsong uses the threat of not doing this to get information about one of the book's antagonists.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, when Uriel and Pasanius want to rescue some captives, the renegade Space Marine Vaanes shows them the prisoners and explains that freeing them would be pointless and death a mercy. They do not actually kill them but leave them to certain death. On the other hand, this foreshadows Vaanes's willingness to leave people behind. Later, Uriel looks at a Chaos fortress they destroyed and sees that all the victims of their experiments have been granted the Emperor's peace.
    • In The Killing Grounds, when the Lord of the Unfleshed was the only survivor of being possessed with the souls of the dead, and that with dreadful wounds, Uriel stays with him while he weeps, reassures him, and kills him quickly.
    • In Dan Abnett's Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, when Space Marines are invading a church to put down insurgents, one dying man begs Loken for a blessing because the otherworld will shun him without it. Having Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions Loken refuses, and when the man asks for help again, kills him, regarding it as mercy.
    • In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, Voyen says they should give it to Decius. Garro bitterly accuses him of wanting to destroy the evidence of what the lodge (which he belonged to) had done.
    • Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts:
      • In Only In Death, Mkoll finds mutilated victims of the Blood Pact and Mercy Kills them. One is explicitly described as recognizing it and being grateful; Mkoll feels like a priest bestowing a final blessing. (Until he finds Gaunt. Him, he saves alive.)
      • In Ghostmaker, when a shuttle crash-landed in wilderness and two troopers are injured, Rawne says they should be "merciful." Gaunt refuses. Fortunately, rather than put four troopers to carrying them, they have Bragg carry them both. In the same novel, a soldier is impaled by debris from his vehicle and his teammate has to shoot him.
      • In Straight Silver, uninjured soldiers are screaming in agony because their psionically linked mounts are dead; the troops who come to rescue them end up mercy killing them.
      • In Traitor General, when it appears Feygor will not recover and carrying him costs them too much, Rawne attacks Gaunt, thinking he intends to leave him behind; Gaunt assures him that he always intended to be merciful. When Ezsrah's attempt to treat him causes Feygor to go into a frenzy, Rawne stops Gaunt on the grounds that he would do it himself; fortunately, when Rawne approaches with drawn gun, Feygor asks, coherently, what it is for.
    • This shows up a few times in the Ciaphas Cain series:
      • The Last Ditch: Cain doesn't know if the first crewman targeted by a daemonhost is alive or dead, but takes time (in a life-or-death battle) to put a lasbolt through the guy's head just in case.
        It was too late to save his life, but I might still have been in time to preserve his soul.
      • Later in the novel, Corporal Magot pauses to "grant the Emperor's peace" to a soldier critically injured by a tyranid.
      • Old Soldiers Never Die: It's mentioned at one point that if Jonas Worden hadn't been the Planetary Governor, he would have been granted the Emperor's Peace as soon as Cain learned Jonas had contracted The Plague. Political concerns meant they had to keep him alive as long as possible ... but at the end of the novella, with a cure found, Jonas was either killed or allowed to die.
    • In Dan Abnett's Xenos, Eisenhorn is running through a building full of people being prematurely roused from cryogenic sleep and dying. He explicitly says that he could have mercy killed one of them, but did not in order to prevent even more suffering — if he had, the local authorities would have buried him in inquiries and court cases for years while the Big Bad roamed free. He assures us he suffers Bad Dreams as a consequence.
  • In Warrior Cats, ShadowClan medicine cats use deathberries to save dying cats from pain.
  • The above entry also applies to The Wars, only with a horse instead of a dog and the man was shot for refusing to help when he should have. Or something.
  • In White Wing by Gordon Kendall, the eponymous fighter squadron is pretty much all that's left of the human race after Earth is destroyed. The other species don't like them much, especially the "barbaric" custom where a badly wounded pilot requests "the Mercy of the Wing" - the other fighters form up and solemnly blast him and his ship to atoms. Public opinion does change a bit by the end of the book, when two facts have come to light: humans are immune to the enemy's Brainwashing, and Earth was actually destroyed not by alien invaders but by humanity, in a Defensive Feint Trap that invoked the same principle of "Mercy" on a much larger scale.
  • Subverted in World War Z.
    • A group of neighborhood protectors come under attack by what they think are zombies and one is bitten. He asks the others to kill him so he doesn't turn. Then one of them notices that the "zombie" bleeds red blood. He was just a human whose mind snapped.
    • Performing this "service" became standard practice for chaplains in the Russian armed forces, a task they embraced in order to avert bitten soldiers' church-condemned suicides. Unfortunately the government later uses this as a cover for death squads killing political dissidents on the pretext that they have been infected.
  • The last verse of Kipling's poem "The Young British Soldier".
    When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.


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