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You have a group of protagonists, one of whom has been injured or disabled. Either that person is literally slowing the group down, or Someone Has to Die. Naturally, the "damaged" party member volunteers to sacrifice themselves and/or be left behind: after all, being permanently injured is a Fate Worse Than Death and well..they'll just slow them down.
Makes sense when the character is already mortally wounded, and can be a natural end to Your Days Are Numbered. If they're not it has Unfortunate Implications for the value placed on disabled/scarred etc people (by themselves and those around them) and easily turns into Death by Disfigurement.
Can be a Death Trope, so expect spoilers.
Anime & Manga
- Done rather cruelly in Weiss Kreuz. Birman, one of Weiss' handlers, is captured and subjected to Mutilation Interrogation by La Mort. The boys are ordered to kill her before she cracks and tells them everything she knows; when they protest, Manx reminds them that they're killers, not rescuers. When they find her alive, they decide to rescue her anyway, and she asks Aya for the gun he carries as a backup weapon, saying grimly that she's still got one finger to pull a trigger with. Aya gives it to her, apparently thinking she wanted to help them escape, but she explains the trope and shoots herself instead.
- Main character Seiya attempts to pull this in Saint Seiya when he's under the effects of a poison-based techniques and Shun can't fight his own Evil Counterpart properly, since one of his chains is wrapped around Seiya's arm to keep him from falling off a cliff. Seiya mentions this trope right before he uses his free hand to cut off the already-damaged chain and willingly throw himself off, which sends Shun into an Unstoppable Rage against his enemy. Luckily, Seiya lives to tell. Barely, but he does.
- Done at least twice in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- First, Ran Fan when she is seriously injured by Bradley. Ling Yao manages to help him, but he got tracked and pressed hard by Bradley. She ask Ling to leave her, but Ling won't take shit like that.She ends up cutting her injured arm and using it to elude Bradley's tracking unit.
- After he got paralyzed, Havoc tearfully begged Mustang to leave him, since he won't be much help for Mustang anymore in military. Like above examples, he prove his worth by smuggling weapons for Mustang and his men when the Promised Day is coming.
- Attack on Titan has Eren's mother and Mikasa's Parental Substitute, Carla Jeager, trapped under rubble during a titan attack. She invokes this via ordering a family friend to take the kids away as a Titan looms closer - and then she gets struck by a Primal Fear, realizing that even after this, she doesn't want to die at all. So Carla quickly covers her mouth with both hands to not cry for help... right before the Titan grabs her and eats her alive.
- Played for Laughs in an issue of Planetary, as the crew are racing to recover a man trying to escape from them while The Drummer is under the weather due to info overload:
Elijah: He's getting away!
The Drummer: Leave me behind! I'll only slow you down!
The Drummer: I didn't mean it, you evil old geezer.
- The Guns of Navarone. Major Franklin has a serious leg injury and can't keep up with the team, so he tries to commit suicide to avoid slowing them down.
- Terminator 2: Miles is mortally wounded, but stays behind to trigger the detonator that will destroy his research.
- In The 13th Warrior, one of the 12 Norsemen stays behind in the tunnel to hold off the rampaging horde of cannibalistic cave-dwelling Neanderthals after uttering the tip-off phrase for a wounded soldier: "Well, I think I've gone as far as I can. Today was a GOOD day. Meet me in Valhalla!"
- The Last Samurai. Katsumoto's wounded son Nobutada single-handedly holds off scores of Japanese soldiers at a small bridge behind his father's home in Tokyo, so that Katsumoto, Algren and the rest of the samurai can make their escape.
- Lampshaded and mocked in the film of The Bridge Over the River Kwai, as the would-be victim's reasoning is compared to the ideology of the Japanese soldiers he opposes. "The only important thing is to live like a human being!"
- In the first Starship Troopers movie, a wounded MI trooper asks to take an nuclear RPG round and remain behind. When asked "You trying to be a hero?", he replies "I'm trying to kill some Bugs, sir. Get outta here!"
- Danny Archer, at the end of Blood Diamond.
- Set It Off Queen Latifah draws the attention and gunfire of the police by revving the engine of the getaway car - so her pal Jada Pinkett can escape via the greyhound coach.
- Brendan Gleeson's character in In Bruges.
- Ed in Shaun of the Dead.
- This is the fate of the old robot in The Black Hole after taking a few too many bullets.
- Geppetto in Pinocchio. After Monstro destroys their raft, he tells Pinocchio to "save yourself" as he sinks under the water. Pinocchio gives his life getting him safely to shore, and even then Geppetto, still barely conscious, continues to say it.
- Toy Story. One of the Army Men is squashed when Andy's mon stepped on him.
Soldier: Go on without me! Just go!
Sergeant: A good soldier never leaves a man behind! (pulls him to safety)
- Rockjaw Grang in the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, after being fatally wounded. He manages to kill over twenty Mooks before he finally dies.
- The Captain of the HMS Madrigal, in The Honor of the Queen, says this to let the surviving Grayson ships leave them and escape.
- In Mockingjay, Peeta asks to be left behind because of his personality issues.
- In Wishsong Of Shannara, half of Jair's companions die like this. Garet Jax is technically an exception, because he wasn't wounded when he remained behind to hold off the Jachyra. Jair really was leading a Suicide Mission when you come right down to it.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Cain's Last Stand, cadet Donal and the governor opt to stay behind and delay the enemy after they are wounded. Cain promotes Donal on the spot to Commissar in honor of his bravery. Cruelly subverted when this well-meaning sacrifice allows Varan to uses his Compelling Voice to take control of them.
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere an Autumn Tale, the elderly Matthew sends Lucian on alone because he is too old and would only slow him.
- In Lurlene McDaniel's Angel of Hope, the main group is forced to flee a Rwanda village when Ugandan soldiers attack their camp. One of them is a badly disabled child, whom the caretakers insist must stay behind due to her age and physical limitations, and said child agrees. The heroine, Amber, insists on taking the girl with them anyway, fearing the worst will happen at the village.
Live Action TV
- Subverted in the first season two episode of Stargate SG-1 in which Daniel is badly wounded. Thinking that this will likely kill him anyway, he tells Jack to take the others and go on without him while he plans to stay behind and cover their escape. However he ends up meeting no resistance and instead hauls himself to a Goa'uld sarcophagus to get healed.
- Anders in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined.
- Lost: This is given as the reason Charlotte and Daniel stay behind while the rest of the left-behinds travel to the Orchid. Of the group, Charlotte is suffering the worst effects of time-traveling. This also allows the pair a poignant death scene, which motivates Daniel's actions for the rest of the season.
- In Deep Space Nine, a few examples:
- Injured Kira to Dax after the crash in "The Siege", but Dax takes her along anyway.
- Dax is bleeding to death in "Change of Heart" is left behind by Worf to finish a mission. He ends up abandoning the mission and comes back for her
- Humorous example in "The Ascent", where Quark hauls the injured Odo (during the period when he had become a "solid") up a mountain on a stretcher. When Odo protests, Quark emphasizes his reasoning: Odo's along for emergency rations; if he dies, he's food.
- Worf yells "leave me!" to Ezri when he's shot as they try to escape the Dominion. She just tells him to shut up.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Invasion of Time, one of the savage Gallifreyans to Leela. He then goes for Playing Possum.
- In one episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, Blackadder and Baldrick have been captured by the Germans and sentenced to spend the rest of the war teaching young schoolgirls in Heidelberg home economics. Edmund is far more comfortable with this fate than with being sent back to the front again. When his companions come to rescue him, he attempts to invoke this trope in order to be left behind, claiming to have "splintered his pancreas". It doesn't work.
- In the HBO film Deadly Voyage (based on a true story), Kingsley Ofosu and his brother are trying to escape from the murderous crew of the ship they have stowed away on (who have already killed their seven companions). As they reach the deck, his injured brother, knowing that the two of them will never escape together, pushes Kingsley away from him and staggers off on his own. Sure enough, the crew quickly catches him and throws him overboard, but the separation and the distraction gives Kingsley the precious extra few minutes needed to escape.
- A variation in the Classic Traveller adventure Rescue on Galatea by FASA. During a rescue mission in enemy territory an NPC is wounded. The PCs hear a shot: when they arrive they find the NPC dead, killed by another NPC named Freeman. Freeman explains that he had to shoot the wounded NPC because he would have just slowed them down, or worse been forced to tell about the team's mission if captured.
- Played straight and inverted in Left 4 Dead, where a struggling Survivor may encourage the rest to go on to the next safe room without them. Justified because Death Is Cheap and they'll respawn in the safe room at the beginning of the next map. This is considered a valid tactic on the higher difficulties, since a dozen or more attempts may be needed to finish a campaign on Expert.
- Used along with the exact phrase "I will only slow you down" by the injured Grey Warden Keenan in Dragon Age Origins: Awakening.
- Meryl asks Solid Snake to shoot her in the first Metal Gear Solid after being shot by Sniper Wolf, claiming she promised she wouldn't slow him down and broke her promise. Actually killing her gets you a Nonstandard Game Over.
- In Betrayal at Krondor, whenever a party member gets "killed" in battle, they will tell the others to leave them. No matter how bad it is, they will invariably be told, word for word, that No One Gets Left Behind, and will remain in the party in a state of Near Death.
- In Fable III, when Walter and the Hero first arrive in Aurora, they encounter a creature known as the Crawler and Walter is left blind and injured. Knowing he's too weak to cross the desert in his current state, Walter tells the Hero to leave him behind, saying "I won't just slow you down, I'll get you killed." You're actually forced to leave him behind, but doing so at the first opportunity makes you an evil asshole.
- Hope, suddenly and briefly, in Final Fantasy XIII.
- In Dead Space Downfall, a number of characters end up doing this, though more because they realize that the marker is slowly driving them insane than because of any physical injury.
- Subverted in the episode of The Simpsons 'Das Bus', when the passengers of Otto's bus end up stranded on an island, a' la Lord of the Flies. Bart, Lisa and Milhouse are being chased by the other kids, until Milhouse collapses from exhaustion:
Milhouse: I can't go on... You two go ahead... and carry me with you!
- Played for Laughs in an episode of King of the Hill: The Hills are trying to find their dog Ladybird before she goes nuts in a retirement home. Bobby gets stopped by a couple of old women who start pinching his cheeks and cooing over him. He tells his parents to go on without him, but when one offers to let him play with her dentures, he shouts "I changed my mind! Come back!!"
- In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Omens Part Two", Jaga, wounded during the escape from their invaded castle, uses the line verbatim when telling Lion-O and the other Thundercats to leave him behind.
- In the Halloween episode of The Fairly Odd Parents, Timmy and his friends (which include his godparents as no one would recognize them as fairies with everyone in costume) visit the Buxaplenty Mansion to get candy. Instead they get dogs sic'd on them for not having nice costumes (that and the owner just a snotty jerkass) with Timmy tripping over his costume and telling his friends to go on without him. Without a beat they all yell "Okay" and leave him behind to which Timmy yells he was "being dramatic".
- Completely averted in Freddie W's video "Flower Warfare" where, at the end, Freddie falls and beings to tell his comrade to go on without him, just to see she's already done so, barely stopping to see him fall.
- Said almost word for word in this Goblins strip, but gets Subverted one page later when it's revealed that his spine isn't broken and he can fight Kore briefly.
- Myers in Galactic Maximum
- Captain Lawrence Oates is most well known for committing suicide by Antarctic so the rest of his exploration party could live. He was suffering from a frostbitten foot and injuries he received during service in the Boer War. Unfortunately, this didn't help save his comrades. His last words were written in Robert Scott's diary as: