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"Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!"
So the hero has a chance to kill the Big Bad, or some other villain, but the villain actually wants this. He practically goads the hero into doing so. Often it's because My Death Is Just the Beginning, or the villain is invoking If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him and wants to push the hero off the Slippery Slope. The latter motivation is pretty much exclusively the province of The Corrupter.
Of course, this is often more than a Thanatos Gambit—the villain doesn't necessarily intend to die. In these cases it's enough that they provoke the hero into making the attempt. Once the hero has turned on them with intent to murder, the villain has already proven their point.
Whether this works or not depends largely on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, but it does make for great dramatic tension no matter what. Heck, at least part of the time, the villain is taunting the hero because they know he won't do it. Of course, this also means that the success or failure of this gambit hinges on whether or not the hero has any preexisting qualms about killing. Said villain might try this on an Anti-Hero (especially with more extreme cases) and get his ass handed to him, due to the hero's lack of such moral restraints.
Anime and Manga
- In Monster, it turns out Johan did this to his sister Nina during the first episode, killing their foster parents and enticing Nina to shoot him. Obviously, she did. It eventually turns out he wants the protagonist Dr. Tenma (since he saved Johan and allowed him to continue being...who he is) to shoot and kill him to prove that human lives aren't equal.
- Kurt Godel in Mahou Sensei Negima.
- Later, Dynamis.
- Noir had Altena doing this. She seemed to think the titular duo killing her would result in them becoming The Scourge of God. It's not clear if what happened "counts."
- Aion does this to a weakened Chrono after the latter is hit with a blast from Rosette's gun. Aion believes Chrono has grown soft.
- In Trigun, Legato Bluesummers tries to goad Vash the Stampede into killing him. Vash is a Technical Pacifist who believes "no one has the right to take the life of another"; Legato knows that forcing Vash to betray his beliefs and kill him is the single most abhorrent thing he can do to Vash.
Legato: It's alright, kill me. It's simple. All you need do is pull the trigger. Once you've killed me, this will all be over. Come on. Time to choose. You have free will.
- Used in Lost Universe very much like Star Wars, with a twist. Just as Kain Blueriver is about to use a newfound ability to supercharge his Psychoactive Powers with Unstoppable Rage to slay Darkstar, Millie arrives just in time to reveal that's exactly what Darkstar wants, as part of a Thanatos Gambit in which Kane's fury and self-loathing will unleash Darkstar's true form. Because of this, the only way to beat Darkstar is to kill him without an ounce of hatred.
- Naruto inverts this: Naruto is willing to let Sasuke kill him if it will turn him to the side of good. Barring that, he's Taking You with Me.
- Explicit in Fullmetal Alchemist's final showdown between Envy and Mustang. While not part of Envy's plan at all, the normally icy cool Mustang's allies are so horrified at the sadistic glee with which he's torturing Envy to death that they beg him to stop until he can realize what he's doing and cool off. This ultimately acts as something of a wakeup call that saves the character from the nihilistic death spiral he'd been in to that point.
- Envy actually gets very frustrated about this and tries to start him up again, because he knows he's not surviving this time and wants to bring Mustang down with him. And then Ed sympathizes with him, which disturbs him so much he commits suicide then and there.
- Uttered by Yomi to Kagura at the end of Ga-Rei Zero. By that point, everything that Yomi cared about was destroyed, some of them by her own hands while being Brainwashed and Crazy, so she believed that death by the hands of her own adopted little sister is the only way she can retain some dignity out of the whole mess.
- The Joker does this to Batman a lot. There was also one story where he did it to Superman - not just goading him, but making Clark believe that killing him was the only way to save Lois.
- He aims for this in The Dark Knight as well,
Joker: "Tonight you're gonna break your "one rule"."
- There was a Superman story arc where Manchester Black, a "superhero" from waaaaay down the cynical end of the scale messes with Superman's life in an attempt to get him to admit that idealism has its limits. Culminates with him (apparently) killing Lois Lane right in front of Superman, willing to accept the consequences because if Superman snaps and kills him that means he was right all along.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic Difficult To Fight Against Anger, Warren Mears taunts Willow by suggesting that, when he was raping Tara, he got the impression that she isn't all the way gay. This is completely intentional, to get her to lash out at him with magic, so he can absorb her spells. He even says "Strike me down with all of your hatred!" at one point. This is Warren, after all.
Films -- Live-Action
- Named for Palpatine doing this a lot, including saying the exact trope name, to Luke in Return of the Jedi. Given he had years to work on Anakin and mere minutes with Luke, he must have been damn good to almost succeed too. In fact, he would have succeeded, if he had shut his mouth for just five minutes. It's worth noting that this is explicitly not a Thanatos Gambit; the real plan is to get Luke to kill Vader, giving The Emperor a fresh, young apprentice rather than a crippled (and dangerously ambitious) Dragon.
- The end of Se7en: John Doe uses the head of Mills' wife to provoke Mills into killing him in order to complete the seventh sin, Wrath.
- Invoked in a way similar to Se7en in Jim Haggerty's The Slasher, wherein the titular slasher tries to goad the officer hunting him into executing him once caught. The detective refuses, leading the slasher to mock him mercilessly about how he'll get off easy with a good lawyer. Before his trial, however, the detective organizes a group of the families of the slasher's victims to have their way with him instead.
- Possibly played with in 8mm. Eddie Poole taunts Tom Welles, who has him at gunpoint, telling him he doesn't have the guts to pull the trigger - and he's right. Until Tom whips out his cell phone, calls the mother of the girl Eddie and his fellows killed for their Snuff Film, and lets her talk him into doing the deed.
- Done by Nitti to the protagonist Eliot Ness in The Untouchables. He's really just playing a Batman Gambit to toy with him, except it backfires. Badly.
- The Joker in The Dark Knight, as mentioned in the comic book section.
Joker: "Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. Hit me!"
- There are occasional hints in the original film of The Hitcher that the title character is trying to get Jim to kill him in order to fulfill this trope.
- The entire plot of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown deals with this trope.
- In Changes Martin arranges that Susan learn he was the one who revealed her daughter's existence to the Red Court, so that she'll kill him and complete her transformation into a Red Court vampire. Very unusual in that Martin is a Well-Intentioned Extremist making a Heroic Sacrifice by doing so. This happens in a room where a bloodline curse has been prepared - when a person is killed as the focus of it the curse will destroy everyone who came before them. Since Susan's transformation happened seconds before she's the youngest of the Red Court, meaning that if she's killed this way the entire Court will be destroyed. He's trusting Harry to finish the job, and he does.
- A thug called Roddy McGristle does this to Drizzt Do'Urden in Sojourn, but only after finding that a) he can't beat Drizzt and b) Drizzt can't kill him, leading to an impasse. Then Bruenor confronts him and he sees that he'd have no qualms about killing him. Or eating his dog's leg, apparently.
- in an early episode of Supernatural, Dean does this to a very pissed-off Sam who's had his head messed with by a ghost. Dean even hands Sam a gun and tells him to do it. Sam does. The gun isn't loaded. Dean's not stupid. In season 4, Lilith pulls this with Sam when he'd rather reunite with his brother than kill her like she wants him to so he'll inadvertently start the apocalypse.
- A wily serial killer who Gibbs caught years before NCIS started asked to see Gibbs again days before his execution date, taunting and teasing that he'd tell where the bodies are kept. This is the guy who turned Gibbs from a jovial jokester like DiNozzo into the jaded guy he is in the show. He wants Gibbs to kill him in attempt to ruin Gibbs, since he's not even a day away from execution.
- Inverted in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle by Travis right before the last part of the final battle.
Travis: Come on, prez! Unleash your hate! Your anger! Everything! I'll take it all, and fucking kill you with it!"
- And before then by Pizza Batt.
- Terumi quotes the Trope Namer verbatim to Noel in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Unlike Palpatine, he succeeds. Noel gets Drunk on the Dark Side and becomes Mu-12.
- In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the Light Side Ending has Starkiller defeat Palpatine in a boss battle. Palpatine groans and says, "You were destined to destroy me. Do it. Give in to your hatred!" When Kota manages to talk Starkiller down, Palpatine gets really pissed and blasts Kota with Force Lightning for interfering.
- In the second game, Darth Vader dares Starkiller to kill him when Vader is defeated. If you try it, Vader's Dark Apprentice will jump in and kill Starkiller.
- In the final chapter of Baldur's Gate 2 you face Sarevok, the Big Bad of the previous game, as one of hell's trials. He tempts you to use your Super-Powered Evil Side on him. The good path is to not give in.
Sarevok: Yes! Stoke that infernal wrath of yours!
- In Dawn of Sorrow, Celia attempts this on Soma Cruz, in a gambit to make him the Dark Lord. Whether she succeeds or not depends on if Soma has a certain amulet equipped. If she does, it leads to a Bad End and a new game play mode where Soma is the final boss.
- In The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night, Gaul tells Spyro to finish him after being defeated. When Spyro doesn't attack, Gaul calls him a coward and laughs at his "weakness". Unfortunately for Gaul, while Spyro might not have finished him off, Dark Spyro is more than willing to and completely obliterates him.
- In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, after being defeated by Ragna, a delighted Terumi laughs and calls out to Ragna to "strike him down with all of his hatred". Ragna has a tough decision, and finally refuses, deciding that there are plenty of things that can make killing Terumi a bitch.
- In Order of the Stick, Belkar (a Chaotic Evil protagonist) tries to get Miko (a nominally Lawful Good antagonist) to do this, just so she'd lose her paladin powers. (And then Belkar could get resurrected). Vaarsuvius later points out to Belkar that the Order of the Stick lacks the resources to resurrect Belkar, anyway.
- Lex Luthor does this to Superman in Justice League Unlimited, taunting Supes to kill him for apparently causing Flash' death so he will become like his Justice Lord counterpart.
- Megatron does this to Jack in Transformers Prime in the episode "Rock Bottom", daring Jack to kill him while he's trapped after a cave-in.