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"I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn't screw to save its species."

Narrator, Fight Club

Thanks to Applied Phlebotinum, two characters are in a situation where they have to have sex in order to save their lives. Frequently used in Fanfic, especially Slash Fic.

A variety of Deus Sex Machina, with a bit of Intimate Healing thrown in. Compare with Aliens Made Them Do It. If saving the species is the reason then it might be an Adam and Eve Plot.

And not to be confused with You Need to Get Laid either where sex is just thoroughly recommended to get socially inept persons more laid back.

The inverse of this is Death by Sex.

No real life examples, please; this is a rape trope, and All The Tropes does not care to squick its readers.

Examples of Mate or Die include:

Anime and Manga

  • In a yaoi called Animal X a race of reptile like people need to breed to save their race, the only problem is there are zero females and they don't want to mix blood with humans, so when one of them does find a guy who turns out was a girl at birth (even though no one told him) and he has their blood, well the whole thing turns into this guy who didn't even know he was a girl being nearly raped (eaten in one occasion where the guy was hungry and forgot he what he was suppose to do) by every other guy he encounters, plus he is slowly turning back into a girl.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series, episode 16:

Tristan: He wants a virgin sacrifice! Quick, Téa, have sex with me! It's the only way to stop him!
Téa: Hell no, I'm saving myself for Yuugi! ...I mean marriage.

  • Ninja Scroll gives us Jubei, poisoned and seeking the antidote. As it turns out, the only way to stop the poison is with more poison. Good thing his partner is a sexy ninja with a Kiss of Death.
    • Interesting subversion; She offers herself — naked — to him. He refuses the sex, seemingly on principle. Insult to injury, before she dies, she confesses she loved him,and wished they could have made love before she died.
  • An inversion in the Hentai anime Dvine Luv, in which an Adorable Shrinking Violet Nice Girl noblewoman was already cured of her lifelong illness due to an elixir obtained by the Lovable Sex Maniac hero Hyde: the catch is the medicine renders the imbiler to be in a permanent state of arousal and orgasm, resulting in crippling discomfort irrefutably worse than the original illness. The only way to stabilize the side-effects is for her to have a man; cue The Hero to the rescue once more, in one of the few Hentai scenes in contemporary anime gentle and tender enough to qualify as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • In Tentacle Lovers, the protagonist is accidentally turned into a (cute!) tentacle monster by a princess from a magical kingdom. If he doesn't regularly come in contact with women, he'll "dry out" and die.
  • The World God Only Knows: Possibly the only g-rated example. The protagonist must seduce other girls to exorcise the evil spirits possessing them, and fulfill his contract with hell. An Explosive Leash makes sure he does not skeedaddle out of it. The catch? We're talking about a Celibate Hero who Hates Being Touched by girls. He barely manages the kiss needed to seal the deal without collapsing every time.

Comic Books

  • Elf Quest has Recognition, a telepathic mating urge that forces elf couples with good genetic matches to mate and have children. Elves who try to resist become sick and will eventually die.
    • It should be noted that (1) these elves are almost always overjoyed with the opportunity to have a child, and (2) there is no such thing as cheating in the Elf Quest world, and more often than not Recognized mates are instantly welcomed into their new family, forming bisexual three-way relationships. Only two cases of elves being unwilling to mate are at all relevant to the plot: the main characters Cutter and Leetah, who are both just being stubborn and end up Happily Married; and the young wolf-elf Dewshine with the old bird-elf Tyldak, because Tyldak was a villain at that point. (Ironically, Recognition allowed them to see each other's "true selves", which caused Dewshine to be somewhat attracted to Tyldak - seeing his original body, not his flesh-shaped one - and Tyldak to be absolutely repulsed by Dewshine - seeing her wolf heritage instead of her regular pretty elf face.)
    • Also a case of Mother Nature Knows Best. The result of a Recognition-forced mating will always (1) successfully come to term as a healthy baby (unless an outside force prevents it), and (2) be a genetically superior child who has all of the parents' genetic advantages and few, or any, of their weaknesses. Often, the offspring will manifest entirely new abilities or powers, as well. E.g., if one of the parents is a genius who possesses extremely high psychic ability at the expense of physical frailty, while the other is a half-witted, psychically inept world-class bruiser, the resulting child is pretty much guaranteed to have similar psychic ability to that of the first parent (if not more), tremendous physical strength and endurance, and a genius IQ. The drawbacks will simply never manifest.
    • Also, in the New Blood series, Dodia and Door were Recognized, but the ex-Blue Mountain elf soon crossed the Moral Event Horizon as a villain, such that she had to bash him over the head with a club to end his crimes. Whether or not she could've done this before they'd had sex is unclear.

Fan Works

  • In the Harry Potter fandom, the Snape/Lupin ship saw a great number of fanfics using this trope, where Snape and Lupin were imprisoned together right before a full moon. This would mean Snape's death as soon as Lupin took upon his werewolf form, but if Lupin considered Snape as his "mate", the werewolf would spare them. Therefore...
    • A particularly horrible fanfic featured a once-in-1000-years event where Hogwarts ghosts would compulsively kill anyone who was innocent (i.e. a virgin). Hermione didn't quite get out, so Snape had to go in to rescue her... yes, that way.
    • It was also a particular favorite of Harry/Draco writers, who invented the Male Veela fic, where poor Draco had to bond (sexually, of course) with his Soul Mate, or perish. Naturally, his worst enemy was his destined Soul Mate.
    • The fandom has an Epileptic Forest involving the sex lives of werewolves, with (mostly Slash Fic) writers coming up with new ways of justifying Lupin shagging anyone in the cast.
  • A Chrono Crusade fanfic used this trope explaining that Chrono needed to give some of his legion to turn Rosette into a demon so she could feed him astral energy and apparently digestion would dissolve the legion and blood transfusion would kill her. In this trouper's opinion, it's executed a lot better than it sounds.
  • In Star Trek fandom, Vulcans go through something similar called "Pon Farr." The very origin of Slash Fics comes from corny situations where Spock had to mate with someone (Kirk) "or else." The various shows themselves found loopholes to get out of the implications.
    • It was 'Mate or Die' originally, but turned into 'Mate, Fight or Die' to give the writers an out in the ST: Voyager episode 'Blood Fever'. The idea in TOS 'Amok Time' was that if anyone challenged a Vulcan's right to his wife while he was in the throes of the blood fever they'd literally have to kill him to stop him. Later writers missed the point (perhaps intentionally) that Spock was snapped out of Pon Farr by the shock of thinking he'd killed his friend. His line "It must have been the combat" was a cover for this (embarrassing) emotional reaction.
  • Frequently done in The Lord of the Rings fanfic, often though not always with Elves. This site debunks the idea.

"This is a fanon invention that has Elves, who are dying either of wounds or grief, "bond" with another Elf or man, by mingling their blood, having sex and thus getting new strength; sort of leeching life off the other and forever living like that. In this case, if one of the Elves "bonded" dies then the remaining Elf must find someone else to bond with or also die. I found no explicit or implicit grounds for this in Tolkien's writing. Still a very interesting concept. Once again Laws and Customs of the Eldar, History of Middle-earth: Morgoth's Ring holds the most information regarding elven relationships."

  • A Darker and Edgier Redwall fanfic used this to explain Veil's conception. Swartt had apparently no interest in Bluefen in canon, yet they had a kid. The characters involved are anthropomorphic ferrets, and the females have a tendency to develop diseases of the bone marrow if they don't mate at the appropriate time. Sooo ...
  • There's a Doctor Who fanfic, A Feline's Fancy, with a subplot where a female human pet of the Catkind wants the Doctor to get her pregnant so the Venemor, a race of aliens with spiky heads, can't get her pregnant with their spiky-headed babies, which would kill the slave girl in childbirth (yeah, a definite ouch and Squick). The Doctor doesn't go through it, but saves her later from dying in childbirth.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: There's Bound, where Shinji and Asuka are kidnapped by SEELE and put into a meat locker naked as punishment for Shinji aborting Third Impact. Naturally, Asuka comes up with an idea how they could make more heat before the dropping temperature kills them. Cue this trope.
  • Naruto: There is an Ita Saku one-shot floating around in which Sakura had ingested nightshade, and the fastest way for her to burn it out of her system long enough to make an antidote is to have sex with a certain Uchiha.
    • ...I can't even begin to describe how stupid this is...
  • This trope comes up fairly often in any given fandom. Often takes the form of, essentially, something akin to this: a character afflicted with a poison/drug/substance/aphrodisiac/etc that for whatever reason amps up their sex drive times eleven. Not only does it make them virtually crazy with lust, their partner is confronted with the knowledge that if the afflicted is not satiated they'll suffer horrible consequences ranging from extreme discomfort/injury, to insanity, to actual death. Mate or die, truly. Oh and having sex once isn't good enough. It's going to last for hours.
  • A milder version comes up in quite a lot of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Lemons: Ponies have a mating season just like real horses (or as similar as the author's knowledge of horses allows). While they don't die if they don't have sex, they become quite obsessed with it and it makes anything but trying to get laid very hard, justifying OOC behaviour and the like. The end results vary: In Why Didn't Ah Stay At The Farm, Big Macintosh makes the mistake of going into town during that time, while in Fun Bus to Manehattan [dead link] the Mane 6 decides to counter the lack of eligible males in Ponville by just taking the bus to Manehattan for some quick sex tourism (NSFW, though the mood of the stories for each of the Mane 6 is actually quite different).


  • Once Bitten: In the (very early) Jim Carrey comedy, the ancient vampire played by Lauren Hutton has to feed on the blood of teenage male virgins to renew her youth. Carrey's girlfriend saves him before the third (final) bite. No, not by killing the vampire, smart guy.
  • Film example, Stephen Chow movie Royal Tramp 2. A villainness is hit with a poison that will kill her before dawn unless she mates with a man. The lucky man turns out to be, you guessed it, Stephen Chow.
    • Actually, she was the villainess for the first movie and about half of the sequel, until the aforementioned scene took place. After that, she's basically part of Stephen Chow's harem.
  • The Invention of Lying: Invoked when Ricky Gervais' character discovers lying for the first time in human history. To test his new-found ability, he stops a random attractive woman on the street (Stephanie March) and tells her that unless they have sex "right now" that the world will come to an end. Never realizing that he might not be telling the truth, she agrees in an instant.
    • "Do we have time to get a hotel room?"
    • There is a certain irony in the fact that Ms. March played the ADA on Law and Order: SVU for a number of years.
  • In History of the World Part One Mel Brooks' character of King Louis during the French Revolution offers this choice to an attractive young courtesan. If she doesn't have sex with him, he will kill her father as a political prisoner.

King Louis: It's up to you: hump or death? Come on, tick, tock. Hump, death, hump, death, hump, death ...
Courtesan: Okay, okay! Hump!



  • The book The Mote In God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle invokes this without the Applied Phlebotinum. The plot of the novel involves First Contact with a species of aliens who literally die if they don't mate and get pregnant due to their Bizarre Alien Biology. The resulting overpopulation hasn't been very good for their long-term prospects as a civilization.
  • In the novel Innocence by Jane Mendelsohn, the main character believes that her stepmother will kill her to drink her virgin menstrual blood. She conveniently has a boyfriend, so she cures herself of this virginity thing, much to the anger of the stepmother, who really was after her blood.
  • Kathleen Morgan's narmy romance novel Heart's Surrender featured a race of vaguely feline Human Aliens...who were at very least unlikely to survive the night if they didn't have sex when their planet's three moons were aligned.
  • Used in the Dragonlance short story Raistlin's Daughter, in which a mysterious woman accidentally forms a painful magical connection with the titular character that can only be severed if she bears his child. When she finally tracks him down and gets him alone so she can explain, Raistlin is less than pleased. Of course, they're conveniently alone in a cave in the middle of a blizzard with no reliable source of heat.
  • Played straight in Sherman Alexie's short story The Sin Eaters, where the narrator is twelve years old and all the American Indians are rounded up and placed in facilities where they are forced to donate blood and marrow. This is because American Indians have an immune gene of some kind that protects against a virus, or something. They talk about antibodies, and that's all I know. Anyway, the government forces him to breed with a thirty-year-old woman who has already been with several men because the more men she's with, the stronger the child will be. That last one, despite failing biology forever, is actually congruent with the myths of some Native American peoples.
  • The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross has Ramona Random, an assassin from the CIA's occult equivalent with a succubus bound to her soul. The thing is regularly "fed" by consuming the souls of people Ramona has sex with... and when it gets hungry and Ramona's mark dies of a heart attack before climaxing, she's in a rough spot, as "if it doesn't get the little death, it'll go straight for the big one."
  • Inverted by Stationery Voyagers: Lamdock poisons the Voyagers in the hopes that he can invoke Death by Sex after transforming them into their human selves. Liquidon, who is not-yet paired with anyone, desperately tries to clear the air of Eros gas so his teammates cannot be ambushed while in a Mantithian wizard-induced trance.
    • And Subverted: Neone Washingtip knew she had to fulfill Pentacko's orders; but if only she'd known: Consto wasn't even interested in sex! So even if she did get to get it on with him, he'd've killed her anyway.
    • And Deconstructed: Neone Delft must Mate or Die because if she ever says no to her client, she'll get pumped full of lead. The client could always lie and cover things up with her; but then she begins to want his company and comfort. And he's too scared that Pentacko will begin spying on him to verify that the two are actually doing it.
  • Mike Resnick wrote a parody of "The Cold Equations" called "Catastrophe Baker and the Cold Equations", in which the spaceship's pilot and the stowaway keep the temperature up by generating their own heat.
  • In Women of the Otherworld, Karl tries desperately to stay away from Hope, but ultimately is unable to because his inner wolf has chosen her as his mate and he can't bear to be away from her any longer. It gets to the point where he practically jumps her in her apartment (though he does let her know that at any point she can tell him to gtfo and he'll comply).
  • Jory and Kol in S.L. Viehl's Blade Dancer.
  • Lisanne Norman's Sholan Slliance series features Leska pairs who live and die by this trope.

Live Action TV

  • One of the most common examples is, of course, the "we're trapped somewhere really cold" situation, where there's only one logical way to get warm . . . This is partially Truth in Television, because the most effective way to warm up a hypothermia patient in the wilderness is to share a sleeping bag with them, but both the warmer and warmee can keep their underwear on.
    • That exact fact was used as an innuendo in The X-Files episode Detour. Scully tries to keep Mulder warm after he goes into shock from being attacked by a wild animal. Mulder quips "I've heard the best way to generate body heat is to crawl naked into a sleeping bag with someone else who's already naked." Scully replies "Well, maybe if it rains sleeping bags, you'll get lucky." Unfortunately, this never happens.
    • One example of this was an episode of Taxi, with Latka Gravis and some random female cabdriver. They do it, and it almost destroys Latka's marriage.
      • Well, technically it does destroy his marriage. They then remarry 30 seconds later swearing to "really try to make it work this time"
    • Played for laughs in Boy Meets World when Eric and a rather attractive female co-worker with a good deal of outdoor-survival knowledge get trapped in their car. She does this once Eric begins to succumb to the cold (off screen of course, as this is Disney) and explains how they survived later. Eric is mortified that she didn't wake him so he could enjoy being under the cover of a sleeping bag naked with a girl. She does seriously point out that they were in a little more danger than casual sex would permit.
  • This is — no, really — canon in Skins, with bonus incest: in retaliation for a vicious prank, Josh Stock kidnaps Tony's sister Effy, overdoses her with heroin, and tries to force Tony to have sex with her before he'll call an ambulance, although he inexplicably (very likely for real-life reasons having to do with Kaya Scodelario's age) backs down rather than make them go through with it.
  • The writers of Red Dwarf wrote a script "Identity Within", where the Cat has to breed with a female of his species or be killed by a growing poison sac in his body (a reading of the script by Chris Barrie is available on the Series VII DVD). Unfortunately it proved too expensive to film, which means (ironically) that Red Dwarf's resident ladies man is the only member of the crew who never gets laid.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series in the episode "Amok Time" Spock must return to Vulcan and mate or he will die. Apparently all Vulcans go through this process (known as Pon Farr); fanon claims it's on a 7-year cycle. The situation is subverted when Spock believes he has killed Kirk and finds he's no longer in the mood. (This episode probably launched more Slash Fic than you can even imagine.)
    • Try just "launched Slash Fic in general". Hmm, Spock suddenly didn't need teh sexxorz after he thought he'd killed his best friend? Gee, I wonder what the implications of that are?
    • On Star Trek: Voyager they solved Tuvok's pon farr with the holodeck, though he was interrupted the first time.
    • And in Star Trek: Enterprise, an alien virus caused T'Pol's Pon Farr to manifest early. A cure was found before she could convince someone to do the deed. In the Mirror Universe, however, Tucker does make reference to "helping" her with that problem.
  • In an episode of Tracker, one of the aliens has a build-up of poisons that must be "released" daily, in order for him to survive. To that end, he becomes a pickup artist, sleeping with women and leaving before they lapse into a coma. Needless to say, he gets very upset when he is just about to do it with yet another woman, and she suddenly changes her mind, as he doesn't have time to go look for another.

Oral Tradition

  • This trope is the basis for an old joke: A doctor and his residents are making the rounds when they discover a man masturbating in one of the examination rooms. One of the residents asks why he is doing this, and the doctor explains: "This man has a rare condition where he must have an orgasm every hour or he will suffer a fatal hemorrhage." Several rooms later, they come across a man receiving a blowjob from a gorgeous blonde nurse. Again the residents ask what's happening and the doctor responds: "Same problem, better insurance."
  • In one instance of Celtic mythology, a goddess has heartily recommended that a hero surrender to her advances for his own health. He doesn't, but she orchestrates his death years later.
  • This happened to Gilgamesh, too. He turned down Ishtar (for the excellent reason that her lovers die quickly and horribly), and she killed Enkidu.

Video Games

  • Tsukihime plays this literally; making sexy time is the only way to hold back Roa in Ciel's route. She likes it in the ass, though, so it may not exactly be mating.
    • And then there are Hisui and Kohaku's routes, as the two girls are "Synchronizers" and can boost the energy and healing of anyone they have sex with. Hisui's first time with Shiki, Lord of Bedroom Jackassery, is used to save him from energy drain and Kohaku's poisons. Kohaku does it to recharge Shiki in her route, as well, and Makihisa's rationale for raping her when she was a little girl was that if he didn't use her power, he'd go insane.
    • Completely averted in another route: Akiha's, as she and Shiki have sex when she's barely got a grip left on her humanity. Shortly afterward, she becomes the Crimson Red Vermilion, which to Akiha is, for all intents and purposes, equal to death for her, as once a Tohno has lost to their inversion impulse they're no longer human.
  • In the visual novel of Fate/stay night people can share their magical energy by having sex. This paves the way for Shirou and Saber having sex before confronting Berserker and Gilgamesh on two separate occasions, and Shirou having sex with Rin before fighting Archer in the UBW section of the novel.
    • This also holds for HF, due to the fact that the worms in Sakura's body and the strain of maintaining Rider are burning up her prana like crazy, which makes her clamor for anything that can restore it. Largely meaning sex. It starts out embarrassing for her and Shirou, but they're in love, so they don't mind. Rather squickily, this is also the reason why Zouken had Shinji regularly rape Sakura and was implied to have done so himself--training her with Crest Worms massacred her prana supply.
  • In Dragon Age, Morrigan will make an offer for either you (if your PC is male) or Alistair/Loghain to sleep with her in order to save either of you from having to make a Heroic Sacrifice to kill the Archdemon.
  • Leisure Suit Larry contains an in-game time limit which kills off the main character at dawn. Any sexual activity (even with a paid sex worker) stops the clock.


  • Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire: In a rather ... controversial flashback, Stonewater rescues Melna, while they're both children, from execution by claiming her as his wife. Unbeknownst to Stonewater, Melna's tribe holds to the tradition that claiming a wife requires immediate physical consummation. As Melna just witnessed both her parents die, she is emotionally hysterical and unable to give effective consent, so Stonewater is forced to rape her. This is shown to be a deeply traumatic experience for both of them.
  • In Homestuck, the Alternian trolls have a Bizarre Alien Reproduction and brutal reproductive system involving genetic material collection by IMPERIAL DRONES. The brutal part comes in when the drone finds someone who refuses to, or simply cannot, fill the FILIAL PAILS; it simply kills him/her.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has comic 1194 and comic 2078
  • Inverted in Grant: it's pretty much Mate Or Kill (in actual fact, simple oral contact with skin will satisfy his Horror Hunger, but it never ends at just smooching).
  • In Doctor Voluptua, one patient is in this situation thanks to his sentient singing penis, which will eventually take over if not... satisfied.

Web Original

  • This trope is the premise of the Livejournal based roleplaying game Amat Omnes (generally referred to as "Amat"): a Goddess kidnaps characters from their homeworlds, plunks them on an island from which there is no possible escape, and puts on them collars that will gradually choke them to death unless they have sex at least once every two weeks. Luckily for all involved the definition of "sex" is loosely defined to "as long as two people, inappropriate touching, and mutual orgasm is involved".

Western Animation

  • In Duckman, an ancestor of Cornfed ate a poisoned berry that messed with his DNA, causing all his descendants to die if they wait too long before losing their virginity. Or something.
  • In one episode of Futurama, Leela and Zapp are forced to have sex by a censorship death star/V-ger homage. It thought they were Adam and Eve, and decided that them mating was the only way to redeem Earth's for its sexually promiscuous sins. If they didn't mate, it would have destroyed Earth.
    • Inverted with the Decapodians (Zoidberg's species), who are instinctively drawn back to their home planet to mate, and then die.