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"Wipe this pathetic planet from the face of the galaxy!"

The Stock Phrase of a villain that signifies a Kick the Dog, especially if the victims are (comparatively) helpless. If the villain isn't the one directly causing mass murder or ordering his Mooks to do it, then he's shown giving this instruction to a Psycho for Hire or Hitman with a Heart. The naval expression for this is No Quarter. In Real Life, it's a warcrime.

Of course, if a Doomed Hometown suffers this fate, then it's more likely than not that the hero escapes such a culling and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

Sink the Life Boats is the subtrope dealing with killing enemies who were alive after being left defeated and helpless.

Compare, contrast with Kill'Em All, Shoot Everything That Moves, and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. If you have to kill everyone because they saw too much, that's Leave No Witnesses.

Examples of Leave No Survivors include:


Anime & Manga

  • The stock phrase 一人残らず ("hitori nokorazu," lit. "Don't leave even one (alive)"), is used very commonly in manga, anime, and movies.
  • In End Of Evangelion, the JSDF raid adopts this policy as they attempt a violent takeover of NERV.
  • The first episode of Code Geass R2 demonstrates the cruelly brutal efficiency of Britannian special forces by having them burn the bodies of the people they slaughtered (both Japanese and fellow Britannians)... even as some of the "bodies" are screaming, as they are not quite dead.
  • Colbert receives orders to do this to Agnes's Doomed Hometown in Zero no Tsukaima qualifies as this. She initially thought her town was destroyed for heresy ; whereas Colbert was instructed to burn the town to the ground because of plague. Roaring Rampage of Revenge ensues for Agnes, My Greatest Failure for Colbert.
  • In Claymore, we have one the Big Bad ordering his Dragon to "annihilate Pieta. Basically, a place where no lifeforms exist whatsoever. That is what I want Pieta to become."


Comicbooks

  • In the G.I.Joe one-shot "Special Missions; the Enemy", a squad of Cobra goons kill every living person in a hospital while looking for the Baroness' baby. The squad leaders even kill two of their own when it looks like they have reservations
  • Ildomir the Evil Sorcerer from Nodwick makes a note to himself to have this phrase tattooed on the back on his hand after being foiled by our heroes shortly after leaving them alive in a bad situation.


Film

  • Iron Man: Stane, just after paralyzing Raza and his goons with some experimental technology outlawed by the government, orders his personal bodyguards to clean up the mess.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: NO PRISONERS! ... NO PRISONERS!! By the titular protagonist, no less.
    • In real life, he usually had his men take prisoners, but on one occasion, when really pissed off, told them, "The best of you brings me the most Turkish dead!"
    • The guys they weren't taking any prisoners of did just slaughter a village, so it's not entirely an out-of-nowhere What the Hell, Hero? moment.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

 The White Witch: I have no interest in prisoners. Kill them all.

  • In the film version of The Lord of the Rings, this happens twice. Saruman orders his Uruk-hai in the second film to "leave none alive!" in the battle of Helm's Deep, and the Witch-king orders his minions to slay everyone in Minas Tirith.
    • Also, Aragorn himself tells the men to show no mercy, "because the enemy will show none"
      • "Release the prisoners"
    • Also done by Durza in Eragon in a very similar scene.
  • From the Pirates of the Caribbean films:
    • In the first film, of course, the cursed crew of the Black Pearl is famous for leaving no survivors.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

 "What about the survivors?" "There are no survivors."

    • Also in At World's End:

 Beckett: Signal Jones to give No Quarter. That should brighten his day.

  • The Princess Bride: The standing order of the Dread Pirate Roberts, though with a condition: Only those who attempt to fight back are killed.
    • Not to mention the threat the heroes use to clear out the men guarding the castle gate on their way to rescue Buttercup.
  • Spartacus. The phrase is not uttered, but all of the surrendered slaves are crucified (except for the Hero and his second in command, who are ordered to fight to the death to see which one of them doesn't face the grislier execution).
  • In Star Wars Episode I, upon being told that the Gungans were massing for battle, Darth Sidious orders the Trade Federation to "Wipe them out. All of them."
    • Episode III has the same guy ordering the newly christened Darth Vader to wipe out Viceroy Gunray and the other Separatist leaders.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, the number of survivors from the sinking of the British frigate reaching the villain's ship very neatly matches the number of dead he reports as washing up on the beach.
  • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, after Saavik goes through the Kobayashi Maru test, Kirk tells her that the Klingons don't take prisoners. Since they do take prisoners in several Star Trek: The Original Series episodes as well as several TOS era movies, this is probably based on a faulty memory of the "Romulans don't take captives" quote from TOS.
    • Although the earlier instances are contradicted by the later and more consistent representation of Klingons as Proud Warrior Race guys who consider being taken prisoner a fate worse than death. Death in combat is a notably DESIRABLE thing for a Klingon Warrior, such that any who do not fall IN BATTLE must have a victory won in their name in order to enter the Klingon Heaven (Valhalla Sto-Vo-Kor). Given all that, it seems unlikely they would engage in such "dishonorable" conduct as TAKING prisoners.
    • The "prisoners" line probably stems from the opening scene featuring Romulans instead of Klingons. The KM test is in Gamma Hydra near the Neutral Zone -- near the Romulan Empire in TOS. Also, the Klingon Bird of Prey in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock was originally designed as an update to the TOS Romulan ship (Klingon didn't use Birds of Prey until that point). The decision to switch from Romulans to Klingons was apparently made by the writers at the suggestion of Leonard Nimoy, who felt they made better bad guys.
    • Or Kirk was just being dramatic.
  • Red Dawn. The protagonists are seen shooting Soviet prisoners and wounded, because they're fighting a guerrilla campaign and can't take prisoners even if they were so inclined.
  • The same occurs with German soldiers in Defiance.
  • In Animal House, while wrecking the parade, Bluto shouts "Take no prisoners!"
  • This was Blackout's intention in the opening scene of Transformers. He attempted to hack into the military defense network in order to obtain any information about the whereabouts of Megatron and the All Spark, but was cut off by the base commander. When Epps manages to take a digital snapshot of him, he dispatches Scorponok to eliminate the escaping soldiers, whilst he deals with everyone else on base. The investigation conducted in the aftermath reveals that he killed every single person on site. Scorponok however, whilst succeeding in killing/wounding two soldiers, failed to eliminate the rest of the group before they could call for help.
    • Strangely enough, the commander of the base is in charge of NEST in the sequel.
  • It Happened Here ends with La Résistance massacring captured members of the British SS, as part of its deconstruction of heroic resistance tropes.
  • In Judge Dredd, Judge Griffin says this in so many words to his people who are investigating the shuttle crash.

  Griffin: You are in error, Capture Team. No one survived the shuttle wreck.

  • We Were Soldiers: The Viet Minh commander gives this order after defeating a French column during the film's prologue.

  Nguyen Huu An: Kill all they send... and they will stop coming.

  • In Red Tails, "Pretty Boy", the German fighter ace, typically opens the fight with some order or another. By the final battle, he has lost all pretense of gentlemanly chivalry and simply orders his men to show no mercy.


Literature

  • Ciaphas Cain[1], despite being (more or less) a good guy, orders this done to what he himself calls "a virtually defenseless ally" in For The Emperor. To his credit, he's very disturbed by the need for such Dirty Business, and they would have revealed his position and endangered a very important mission if he'd let any escape.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, the US wonders what to do with the crew of Red October, who don't want to defect- rejecting the option of killing them all as morally wrong. The reason the sub's destruction is faked is in order to allow the crew to go back to the USSR and claim the sub sunk.
  • Keladry of Mindelan has to give this order twice at the end of the fourth book while sneaking a band of people into enemy territory, and neither time does she like it. But they don't have the luxury of keeping prisoners and they can't let them go to warn the enemy where they are.
  • In Changes, the Red Court strike teams like to operate this way to send a message to their enemies.
  • The Dark Elf Trilogy puts this to use by making it completely unspoken. Klingon Promotions are a cornerstone of drow society: noble houses move up in rank by slaughtering the house above it. However, by their definition of "justice", if even one survivor is left to accuse them, their house will be exterminated as punishment. So there's no need for those in command to order their soldiers to kill anything that moves and then comb the compound afterward for any secret rooms where others may be hiding; to them, it's just common sense.
  • Narrowed averted in Echoes of Honor. When the combined Grayson-Manticore fleet with the new podnaughts rides to the defence of Basilisk, Earl White Haven nearly has a heart attack when he thinks Admiral Yanakov ordered no quarter. Fortunately, the latter only called for no mercy. While any ship in range conceivably capable of fighting is blasted to pieces, the escape pods are left alone.
  • In the Confederation of Valor series, the Others are well known to not take prisoners. Which confuses the characters intensely in Valor's Trial: They're in a POW camp. The Reveal? It isn't run by the Others, a.k.a. the Primacy.


Live-Action TV

 President John Sheridan: Hit-and-run attacks, very efficient. No survivors, no warning.

    • Minbari policy during the Earth-Minbari War was to destroy any and all combatants, regardless of their ability to fight back or if they surrender.
      • They did leave many core colonies untouched as they made a beeline for Earth. However, it's likely they would've gone back to mop up every surviving human after Earth was no more.
  • Battlestar Galactica Classic TOS.

 Imperious Leader: There can be no survivors. So long as one human remains alive, the Alliance is threatened.

  • In Deep Space Nine, upon having the Cardassians rebel, the female Shape Shifter gives the order to kill every last one of them. Her only response to being told "That's going to take some time." is "Then I suggest you begin at once." Fortunately, our heroes manage to prevent it being completed (in part because most of the guards at Dominion HQ were sent out to kill Cardassians), but over eight hundred million are still killed during the attempted genocide.
  • Comedic version: In one episode of Red Dwarf, a shuttle crashes and most of the gear on board is wrecked. While trying to find something worth salvaging:

 Kryten: At least Mr. Lister's guitar survived intact.

(Cat smashes the guitar to smithereens against the wall)

Kryten: Not even Mr. Lister's guitar survived intact!

  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, the Romulans are noted to not take captives in the 2nd season episode "The Deadly Years". However, they try to do exactly that in the 3rd season episode "The Enterprise Incident".
    • Possibly they do take prisoners but they don't ransom them, they keep them and refuse to acknowledge that they do. Certainly Saaviks Vulcan parent was a prisoner as was Tasha Yar.
  • There's a heroic version in Stargate Atlantis. After repeatedly failing to kill Michael, and now dealing with his latest scheme which has taken control of the city, Sheppard orders the soldiers to give no quarter.


Music

  • In the video for Lady GaGa's song "Telephone", featuring Beyonce, the two of them kill off an entire diner full of people. Well, except for their backup dancers.


Videogames

  • Every game that requires the player to eliminate all enemies to advance to the next level/unlock a new area/complete a mission falls into this trope. (Aversions fall under Instant Win Condition.)
  • Command and Conquer: Red Alert
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Kefka gives an order to this effect in one of Terra's flashbacks during a training exercise (for her, not the helpless troops being cut down, but it still comes off as unnecessarily callous).
  • The player character in the Free Space expansion pack Silent Threat gets to do this in the first two missions, in order to protect a fragile alliance with an alien race after a friendly fire incident (the second mission: one ship was scripted to escape the first mission, so you went to its destination and killed everything there).
  • Skies of Arcadia's Big Bad would have done this when he doomed Vyse and Aika's hometown if the Air Pirates had resisted capture. Luckily, they didn't, so the non-combatants were spared and you got to rescue everyone else later.
  • Drek'Thar gives this order with his buff in World of Warcraft.
  • Warhammer 40000 in one of the Dawn of War Imperial Guard campaigns, you get to witness the fate of captured Chaos Cultists.
  • As indicated by the opening quote, Darth Malak in Knights of the Old Republic orders to destroy the entire planet of Taris. Yes, Star Wars's Sith like this trope.
  • Referenced by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, World at War and Modern Warfare 2 at the beginning of multiplayer matches as Russian forces - the first and third have their announcers say "Take no prisoners, comrade.", World at War has Gary Oldman say "Show courage, show pride, but show, no mercy!" On the other hand, there is no gameplay mechanic to take prisoners anyway...
    • And in World at War's single player, Gary Oldman's character encourages you to kill a group of surrendering Germans. If you don't do it yourself, he'll just kill them anyway.
    • Then there's No Russian from Modern Warfare 2, which is the inciting event of the game's entire story.
  • Having won the ultimate victory in Starcraft:Brood Wars, Kerrigan denies the defeated Earth admiral a chance to surrender his troops and mockingly offers his fleet a head start before sending her Horde of Alien Locusts after it. They devour every last one of them.
    • In the Episode 0 Starcraft campaign Loomings (which got released as free shareware), a Confederate magistrate sends you, a lieutenant in Alpha Squadron, off to take care of a Sons of Korhal uprising by saying in your mission briefing: "There are to be no arrests, Lieutenant. I hope you understand what I mean. I want this problem solved once and for all."
  • Dawn of War 2 has "NO MERCY!" amongst the random battle dialogue of the Space Marines. Naturally, there are no mechanics for taking prisoners in the game.
  • In Patapon, one of the things your Patapons can say is "Take no prisoners!" (And indeed you're committing Waddling Head genocide.)
  • In Homeworld and even more so in Homeworld 2, setting a vessel to agressive tactics is usually met with the ship captain responding "Weapons set to full power. Show no mercy."
  • While not specifically mentioned in the Total War series, starting with Empire: Total War, it is no longer possible to take prisoners in battle. In Medieval, Rome, and Medieval 2, any enemy struck from behind was knocked out instead of killed and taken prisoner if you win the battle. You could then free, execute, or attempt to ransom (execution as backup) them back.
    • This is probably an aversion, however, since it was about this time that rules about taking prisoners started to be enforced. The likelihood is that the winner is taking prisoners, but since you have no legal choice about whether to kill them or not it's just being quietly taken care of behind the scenes.
  • This is a favorite habit of Suikoden II's resident Complete Monster Prince Luca Blight when ransacking random towns throughout the game. If fact, he takes it a step further by personally and gleefully butchering all of the inhabitants individually while they beg for their lives.


Webcomics


Web Originals

  • Said by Jax and Sonya to Hanzo Hasashi Scorpion in Mortal Kombat Rebirth regarding the underground tournament. Apparently, even the cops are too fed up with the crime spree to bother arresting people.


Western Animation


Other


Real Life

  • Since ancient times, there was a bit of an unspoken rule that if a city's defenders surrendered early and averted a siege, they would be treated relatively nicely. The alternative was that once the attackers broke the siege, they pretty had the right to completely destroy the city in order to "encourage" the surrounding cities to surrender.
  • The Alamo, The Battle of Thermopylae, and several other Last Stands where the defenders were so effective (and/or annoying) that the victorious attackers finished off whatever survivors, wounded, or captured noncombatants they got their hands on afterward.
  • The Massacre of Glencoe was ordered by King William of Orange with the line:

 "You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds (sic) of Glenco (sic), and put all to the sword under seventy".

    • The part about leaving those over 70 was not mercy; in those days it was rare to find anyone much over 50 and the understanding was that anyone 70 or over would probably die on their own without someone to provide care for them.
  • This is frequently applied by a force that manages to defeat one much larger than them - they can't maintain so many prisoners, so the logical thing to do is to kill them all.
  • Famously happened during the Albigensian Crusade against Catharism in southern France. Asked by a soldier how to tell the difference between Cathar heretics and good Catholics, the Papal legate Arnaud Amalric replied:

 "Kill them all. The Lord will recognize his own."

    • Though it's debatable if he said any such a thing, as there doesn't seem to be any record of him saying those words until about 50 years afterwards.
  • Arguably the result of any protracted siege in history. The soldiers, after watching their mates getting killed in various horrific fashions over a period of weeks or months, work out their frustrations on the defenders and civilians inside.
  • The Jolly Roger. In real life, the Jolly Roger was a good thing (assuming you were being attacked by pirates), as it meant that the pirates would accept prisoners. However, a blood red flag meant "No Quarter".
    • Both flags and their respective meaning are used in the flashback segment of the Tintin book The Secret Of The Unicorn.
  • In Roman Conflicts, once the battering ram was deployed, it was the signal that no prisoners would be taken, even as slaves. The Rome episode The Ram Has Touched The Wall explains this.
    • To extend the explanation: when a (Roman) army approached a hostile city and the city surrendered before arrival, the city's inhabitants and possessions were sacrosanct, and there would be no (official) looting or pillaging. If the city held out, but surrendered before the siege engines were in place, the citizens who fought (those of fighting age) were taken as slaves and the city looted, but no (official) rape or other destruction would take place. If the siege continued to the full, and the city overrun, the invaders could do as they pleased, and the commanders either looked the other way or actively encouraged their troops. This even applied to Roman cities, such as those on Sicily, after they rebelled. There are accounts of Legionaries who expressed the hope that the city would not surrender, so they could get some good looting and rape in.
    • The city of Carthage was completely destroyed by the Romans at the climax of the Third Carthaginian War. The Carthaginian citizens were either slaughtered or captured as slaves; none were spared.
    • Roman deserters were always killed if captured by Rome. There were accounts of ex-Roman soldiers at Carthage building a great bonfire in the Basilica before it fell, and leaping into the flames to avoid mandatory crucifixion for their desertion.
      • Shown in ~Spartacus: Blood and Sand~: The Thracians who deserted the Roman forces were killed or taken into slavery, along with those of their villages.
  • The Battle of Little Bighorn.
  • Most of World War II in the Pacific Theater was this, especially after the tide turned and the Americans began their slow advance towards Japan. The Japanese refused to surrender in any significant numbers, preferring one Last Stand after another, while at the same time refusing to take any prisoners when one of their counterattacks was successful.
    • The Rape of Nanking had an official order to kill all prisoners.
    • In the European Theater, during particular battles, both Allied and German troops were sometimes ordered or "encouraged" not to take any prisoners. However, often times these orders had practical motivations. During Operation Neptune, Allied paratroopers obviously had no rear echelon or base of operations to send prisoners of war to since they were operating behind enemy lines. During the Battle of the Bulge, taking prisoners would slow down the German advance, which was on a time critical mission. Naturally, since the Allies won the war, the Germans that were caught doing this were tried for war crimes.
  • This is the modus operandi of the Mexican drug cartels.

Notes

  1. HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!
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