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"Wait, Go! Please, calm down.. Don't... Stop! Don't do it, Go! Go!!!"—Tenjuro Banno, Kamen Rider Drive
Sometimes when the heroes defeat the Big Bad, he goes down gracefully. 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 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. Depending on where the hero is on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus 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.
Anime & Manga
- In Death Note, part of Light Yagami's Villainous Breakdown is calling out to anybody to help him, because, after slaughtering countless of innocents (alongside the criminals he initially set out to punish) he JUST. DOESN'T. WANT TO DIE.
- Dragonball Z
- Raditz pulls this out on Goku after being grabbed by his weak point. After Goku lets him go, however, he hits him in the stomach and Goku has to sacrifice his life to defeat him.
- Later, when Freeza begs SSJ Goku for some energy after being sliced in two by his own attack, Goku complies once again but not before calling out Freeza on how many people had probably begged him some mercy and he hadn't given them any. Freeza, of course, then uses the energy for one last ditch attack but Goku just blasts him off.
- King Cold tries this when he's mortally wounded by Future Trunks. It doesn't work.
- 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.
- Invariably done by many villains in Berserk when they find themselves at the end of his colossal sword, especially the demonic Apostles in a particularly ironic case of monsters Mugging the Monster.
- 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.
Films -- Animated
- Subverted in Transformers: The Movie. After being soundly defeated, Megatron begged Optimus Prime for mercy, but it was just a ploy for him to reach for a weapon. Optimus even flagged how Out of Character it was for Megatron.
Films -- Live-Action
- 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 Nottingham.
Merry Men: (cough) Horseshit!
- 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.
- In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Wormtail begs the trio (Ron in particular) to protect him from Sirius and Remus (after he's already begged for mercy, to no avail, from the latter two).
- JRR 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.
- 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 Eonwe and Ar-Pharazon 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 Eonwe said it wasn't within his powers/abilities to do so. Only Manwe 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.
- Doctor Who
- 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.
- The Daleks as a whole. They'll exterminate whole civilizations without even the tiniest bit of remorse but the instant they're incapacitated in any way, they'll beg their would-be victim for mercy. It never works.
- And this attitude does right back to the source. 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 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 lead 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.
- In Kamen Rider Drive (quoted above), Go 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 Go moves in to deliver a Coup De Grace, Banno breaks down begging for his life. Unfortunately for Banno, Go 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. 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.
- The Wand of Gamelon: Duke Onkled.
Duke Onkled: Please your omnipotence, have mercy.
- The Ripper in Medi Evil 2 begs for mercy from Sir Fortesque when defeated. He gets a bullet to the face instead.
- 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)
- Though the series wasn't consistent on this. Sometimes the Joker is genuinely afraid of dying and will beg to be saved, while other times he goes to his apparent demise laughing all the way. Then again, it is The Joker. Consistency is not exactly a hallmark of insanity.
- 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 does this all the time. Usually after trying and failing to stab Megatron in the back.
- Happens all the time to Mr. Burns in The Simpsons. The instant he's not holding all the aces, he folds. A good example occurs in "Raging Abe Simpson and His Rumbling Grandson in The Curse of the Flying Hellfish." After having spent the whole episode trying to kill Abe (and nearly killing Bart), Burns has the audacity to beg Abe to spare him.
- Bill Cipher at the very end of Gravity Falls.