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"Will it be no joy to think of hereafter in the silence of the night when sleep is not, 'It was my hand that sent her to the stars. It was the hand of him that loved her best, the hand that of all she would herself have chosen, had it been to her to choose?'"
Van Helsing, Dracula

One of the occupational hazards of Demon Slaying involves the death of your friends and family out of vengeance from the monsters you hunt. But sometimes the monsters don't just kill your loved ones. No, sometimes they turn them into one of their own. This puts the protagonist in the awful position of having to kill someone they truly loved.

Expect this trope to crop up in Vampire Fiction, almost always when the monsters are Always Chaotic Evil. Usually averted with the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire. This situation can also crop up with other monsters, the most common variations being werewolves and zombies.

See also And Then John Was a Zombie. May be a case of Van Helsing Hate Crimes when the monsters are not Always Chaotic Evil. Related to Transhuman Treachery, as this is what the newly turned are feared to commit. Often the only "good" way What Happened to Mommy can end up. Frequently a Tear Jerker.

See also I Cannot Self-Terminate, Mercy Kill. Sub-Trope of Kill the Ones You Love. Not to be confused with stalking the loved one.

Examples of Staking the Loved One include:

Anime and Manga

  • Second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ends with everyone defeating the Self-Defense Program of Reinforce, the former Book of Darkness. She's grateful, but the next day informs them that they have to finish the job with her too or else her programming will be forced to regenerate the SDP. Nanoha and Fate do, because it would be too cruel to make Hayate do so.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyouko is forced to kill Sayaka, who turned into a Witch. And it wasn't the first time it happened...

Comic Books

  • Cassie Hack in Hack Slash had to do this to her deranged undead mother. It ended up as a recurring Flashback Nightmare for her. She's actually done it three times so far. Delilah Hack just doesn't seem to want to stay dead.
  • The last act of Dmitri Mishkin, in House of Mystery's "I... Vampire" series, was to stake his own mother. Kind of an odd encounter, given that she'd been turned when Dmitri was a small boy and he'd been hunting her for decades, so his mom looks a good fifty years younger than he does.

Fan Fic

  • Done with a twist in The Return when one character is forced to shoot her sister who has been turned into a demon, so that she can be given an Emergency Transformation to save her.


  • I Am Legend featured the main character's dog being bitten by the "vampires" and he must put her down when it becomes obvious that the antidote he's been trying to develop didn't work. Worse than a lot of examples because the main character is the last human left in a city full of monsters, and the dog was his only companion.
  • From Dusk till Dawn. Seth has to kill his brother. Kate has to kill her father and brother after her brother found himself unable to kill the father and was infected as a result.
  • Parodied in Dracula: Dead and Loving It, where Van Helsing (played by Mel Brooks) invokes this trope as an excuse to not have to stake Lucy:

 Van Helsing: It must be done by one who loved her in life!

Jonathan Harker: But I only liked her!

Van Helsing: Close enough!

  • Subverted in the first Count Yorga film, one of the protagonist is given the chance to stake a female friend of his that been turned by the title character (she actually stands there and waits on him). He considers it but ultimately can't do it and leaves her in her undead state.
  • In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun has to kill his zombified mother. Subverted in the case of his zombified best friend; Shaun locks him in a shed in his back yard and they play video games together.
  • Blade has to stake his own mother in the first film; he believed she had died giving birth to him after a Vampire bite.
  • In Night of the Living Dead (1990), Barbara is forced to shoot her friend Ben after he dies and turns into a zombie.
  • Resident Evil (2002). Matthew Addison has to kill his ally Rain Ocampo after she turns into a zombie.
  • Non-fantastic example in The Searchers: Debbie Edwards's own family expect her uncle to kill her after they learn she's been indoctrinated by the Comanches who kidnapped her into becoming their squaw - and they have hardly any regrets, because after all Debbie is now the enemy. Of course, since said uncle is a fanatical Indian-hating psychopath, Debbie's blood tie to him never even enters the picture until he actually has the opportunity to do it, and he experiences a Heel Face Turn.
  • In Zombieland, Columbus and Tallahassee come across Wichita and her zombie-bitten sister, Little Rock. They hand her the gun to do the mercy kill, but things don't go quite as they plan because they're faking the zombie bite just so they can get a hold of Columbus and Tallahassee's guns and truck


  • In I Am Legend, Neville must kill his reanimated wife when she returns.
  • The Gardella Vampire Chronicles.
  • Subversion in Shattered Mirror. The main character herself is a vampire hunter and witch who is turned into a vampire. Her sister, another hunter, wants to do this, but ultimately can't bring herself to do it.
  • In one Anita Blake book, the parents of a dead girl ask Anita to do this for them before their daughter rises as a vampire.
  • Happens to several characters in Salems Lot.
  • Doing this to fellow werewolves who can't control their "wolf side" is the single saddest duty of the Merrok, Alpha-in-chief of all North America's werewolf packs, in the Mercy Thompson novels.
  • In the fourth book of Vampire Academy, Blood Promise, Rose has to do this to Dimitri.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, similarly to the above film example but without the comic relief, Van Helsing has the dead Lucy's husband be the one to stake her for this reason.
  • In Baltimore, or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, Baltimore has to do this not only to his wife, but his father, mother, and sister as well.
  • Invoked in-universe in Dream Park, when the casualties of the South Seas Treasure Game are sent back in make-up to "attack" their former comrades as part of a zombie horde. Gwen, acting under the Game Masters' orders, winds up in a duel with her out-of-game boyfriend Oliver, and he's so shocked that she has to whisper "Kill me, Ollie, please" before he'll play out the scene properly and strike her down with his virtual weapon.
  • In the Discworld novels, Angua has specifically requested that Carrot do this if she ever ends up becoming as monstrous as her brother Wolfgang.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry is forced to kill his vampire girlfriend Susan when she turns fully. The situation was further complicated in that the Red Court vampires that sired Susan were about to kill their daughter to activate a spell that would kill her family line, and by killing Susan, Harry could use the spell against the villains, destroying all members of the Red Court.
    • Made even worse when one realizes that Harry knowingly manipulated the situation so that Susan would lose control and kill, thereby turning into the youngest Red Court vampire. He hates himself for doing it and will never forgive himself, even though it saved their daughter.
      • Note that Susan had regained control for the moment when he killed her, and knew exactly what he was doing and why. The fact that she realized it was the only way to save their child, and didn't struggle, arguably made it even harder for Harry to cope with this trope.
  • Buffy having to stake the vamped Giles in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel "The Lost Slayer".

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, many times. Most notably when she had to kill Angel to stop Acathla.
    • The first episode also featured Xander staking one of his best friends. Giles has to explain there wasn't anything of his friend left.
    • In "Phases" Angelus turns a schoolmate of Buffy's into a vampire, knowing that she'll be forced to stake her when she goes to examine the corpse.
    • Spike had to stake his newly-sired mother after it was made clear that she was a completely different person. And evil. And trying to shag him.
  • On Angel Gunn staked his sister and Holtz was forced to throw his daughter into the sunlight.
    • Subverted with Illyria and Spike: he didn't care if she had Fred's body, even though Fred was his buddy.

 Illyria: You held affection for this shell, and yet you strike at its form without remorse.

    • None of them really showed any hesitation over trying to kill Illyria. Even Wesley tried, though Illyria's resemblance to Fred got to him later. They were just totally incapable of achieving it.
    • A Running Gag is that whenever Angel warns a friend to be ready to stake him if he turns into his evil self Angelus, they agree a lot more readily than he's comfortable with.
  • Sort of done in Being Human. Lauren begged Mitchell to stake her and he did. Only counts as a "sort of" example as Mitchell was the one who turned her into a vampire in the first place.
    • Done totally straight by George to Mitchell. He even makes sure to tell him "I'm doing this because i love you."
    • Now in the US version, Aidan is forced to stake Bernie, his ten year old neighbor, because as a child he cannot control his emotions or appetites. A little later on, Aidan again stakes Rebecca at her request.
  • Javier did this to his girlfriend on Blood Ties.
  • The failure to do this quickly enough, when his infected friend hands him a silver-loaded pistol and begs him to end his suffering, is what set Eric Cord on his quest in Werewolf.
  • On Supernatural, the second season episode "Heart" forced Sam to do this for Girl of the Week Madison, who had become a werewolf.
    • Gordon beheaded his sister after she became a vampire, a fact which disturbs Sam and Dean. Part of this was probably because he tracked her down and killed her (in an episode showing that Friendly Neighbourhood Vampires, or at least non-murderous ones, existed too) instead of her attacking him.
    • Invoked by Meg when she possessed Sam and tried to convince Dean that his Psychic Powers had turned him evil, knowing that killing his brother would cause him the most pain and that what he tried wouldn't kill her, just Sam's body.
  • Krista in Blade the Series does it to her mother after her plan to turn her into a vampire goes awry.
    • Subverted in the case of Krista's uncle after he is bitten by Krista's newly-turned mother. Blade beheads him as a precautionary measure.
  • A vampire hunter in a Sliders episode does this after finding his wife in a coffin, before the other vampires swarm him. Quinn is ready to do this to Wade, except she hasn't been bitten and was just sleeping in the coffin.
  • On Forever Knight, La Croix has to stake his daughter for much the same reason Spike staked his mom on Buffy. (wanting to shag him)


  • The Sound Horizon song Koibito wo Uchiotoshita Hi ("The Day I Shot Down My Lover").

Video Games

  • Saber in Heavens Feel route of Fate/stay night, though in this route she's not a love interest so much as a very close friend. Quite a downer when the Taiga Dojo for not doing points out if you want to save her you can go play another route, because it's not happening here (assuming the resultant horrifically Bad End didn't floor you already).
  • Akiha makes you promise this in Tsukihime when her demon blood is taking over. Averted in the True End, though, when you Take a Third Option by returning your life force to her. The Normal End is actually worse than if you had killed her. Also barely averted in Kohaku's route with Akiha again. Not Satsuki though. She was just a classmate, so Shiki is just upset he had to kill someone at all.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time, the Prince finds himself having to fight his father as a Sand Demon.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, when Ramza has foiled the Lucavi's plots once too many times, Folmarv abducts his older half-brother, Zalbaag, and turns him into an undead monster. Although Zalbaag is perfectly conscious and aware of his condition, his body will relentlessly pursue Ramza and try to kill him, at which point he begs the younger Beoulve to put him out of his misery. Granted, Zalbaag was a bit of a jerkass throughout the game, but he was on the path of redemption and actually cared for his family, making this a Tear Jerker.
  • In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Zack has to kill his mentor, Angeal, who actually makes himself monstrous to make it easier for Zack to kill him.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, your love interest (if you have one) gets turned into a vampire and you have to kill them. There's a way to bring them back to life though.
    • And if you didn't, don't spend ages trying to figure out what you're supposed to do with Bodhi's heart.
  • Pretty heart wrenching in Parasite Eve when the police dog, Sheeva, goes berserk from Eve's influence. Ben, who is only 8 years old and is the son of Daniel, Aya's partner, chases after the dog and almost gets caught by monsters along the way. Once Ben catches up to Sheeva in a big empty room, he clings to the dog, wondering what is wrong with his new friend. Police chief Baker arrives and takes Ben away from Sheeva, telling Ben that Eve turned the dog into a monster. Within that moment, Sheeva mutates into a 3-headed beast, wounding Baker off-screen. Once Aya arrives, Ben tells Aya that Sheeva is already dead. Cue Boss Battle. The next day, Catherine informs you that Baker worked with Sheeva when he was a rookie (that's an old dog...) and that it must have been painful for him to shoot at her.
  • In Final Fantasy Adventure, The hero is forced to kill Amanda, a fellow gladiator, after she gets bitten by Medusa.
  • Resident Evil 3: Though it doesn’t actually happen, Jill Valentine informs Carlos that he should put a bullet through her head in the event she isn’t cured and turns into a zombie.
  • Resident Evil: Code: Veronica, Steve is forced to kill his now-zombified father, causing him to have a brief Heroic BSOD.
  • Resident Evil 6: Adam Benford (who was a friend of Leon, as well as the president) ends up turning into a zombie. Leon puts him out of his misery.
  • Ending C in Nie R has the protagonist killing his Love Interest Kainé after the Shade part of her takes over.
  • Played with in Golden Sun Dark Dawn when Sveta realizes that activating the Apollo Lens required to end the Grave Eclipse will kill her brother, who was transformed into a monster of darkness by the games main antagonists. Made worse by the fact that she is the only one who can do it.

Web Original

  • Vamp You has included a few instances of people trying this trope, but it generally never works out. Usually, there just ends up being two vampires.

Web Comics

  • In the Penny Arcade three part story, the Cardboard-Tube Samurai is forced to kill an old ally who has been possessed by a cursed sword.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has an arc where Mitzi is rather quick to do this to Dark Smoke Puncher when he gets possessed by a ghost. She's got good reason, though; for all she knows, the thing has outright killed her son and is using the body as a puppet, and she's being practical. Gordito, however, manages to drive the ghost out before that's necessary.

Real Life

  • This can happen to anyone who grows up good friends with someone from a foreign country whose government goes to war with the government of the first person's country, or who has a friend who switches sides in any war or gang dispute. (Compare and contrast with Star-Crossed Lovers.)