Prior to a major engagement on the battlefield (or, in more modern settings, a sports game), The Leader
or The Hero
riles his troops (or team) with a stirring speech (but not always).
Suddenly, the troops (or team) burst into a chant, usually repeating the name of their glorious leader, their motto, or, if they happen to be particularly religious, their God. Alternatively, they may repeat a phrase or a single word (e.g. 'Victory!') over and over again, building in speed and volume as they continue to psyche themselves up for the upcoming battle.
Another variation occurs when the troops in question sing a battle chant as they march into the field of battle (or are preparing to defend themselves behind walls, forts, or other barriers), accompanied by horns, drums or bagpipes. Soldiers without musical instruments may substitute with shield bashing or shooting into the air.
Related to Battle Cry
and Rousing Speech
. Compare Crowd Chant
, Crowd Song
, Music for Courage
and Sound Off
Not to be confused
with the recurring ability in the Final Fantasy
Anime and Manga
- In Red Cliff Cao Cao's troops are dying of typhoid- in a rare, villainous example of this trope, he gives a rallying speech to his men, who gather around him and together with the rest of his troops begin chanting 'Victory!' over and over again.
- The Last Starfighter. When Ambassador Enduran gives a pep talk to the personnel of the Starfighter base, he concludes by saying "Victory or death!". They all start chanting "Victory or death!" in unison.
- A non-military version appears in Meatballs. The Camp North Star summer camp is losing badly to their rivals Camp Mohawk. Head Counsellor Tripper Harrison gives the Camp North Star members a rousing speech including the slogan "it just doesn't matter", and by the end they're all chanting it.
- When star Rollerball player Jonathan E scores the winning goal in the final game, despite rules changes meant to destroy him, the crowd begins chanting his name in a building crescendo. This portends a social revolution in which the corporate masters lose control of their formerly docile populace.
- In Return Of The King, just before the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Théoden gives his "arise, arise, riders of Théoden". The entire army begins then chanting "Death" over and over (even Merry chants it).
- In the book, the "Death" chant appears only at the end of the chapter, just before the corsairs' ships arrive.
- The Columbia-Tristar production of Peter Pan from 2003 has the scene where Pan finds Tinkerbell lying dead. The Darling children and the Lost Boys had been captured by Captain Hook. Hook had told them that Pan is dead, and they had no choice but to join Hook's crew, or walk the plank. With the heroic morale at its nadir, Pan's "I do believe in fairies" then belies Hook's claim, and puts fresh heart into the children to resist Hook. With the repetition of the mantra "I do believe in fairies! I do, I do!", Pan's passion and conviction became so strong that the Lost Boys took up the chant, then the Darling children joined them, then other children in London joined as well, eventually spreading to Hook's own pirate crew. This results in Tinkerbell coming back to life.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey subverts this with the hominids. When Moonwatcher's group first encounters another group at the waterhole, the two groups shriek and howl at each other until Moonwatcher's group retreats. Soon after, Moonwatcher's group has contact with the monolith. When the two groups meet again at the waterhole, the second group makes a cacophany, while Moonwatcher's group is silent. The second group mistakes this for weakness, and their leader charges. Moonwatcher easily clubs his foe to death, causing the second group to quail and retreat. Silence, in this case, proved more unnerving than bluster.
- The battle chants of the Zulu warriors in Zulu (which also include shield bashing) before the final battle; perhaps the full-throated rendition of the song Men of Harlech (made in response to the Zulu chants) by the Welsh soldiers could fit as well.
- Doctor Who, series 6 introduces us to the Headless Monks. During the season finale, they begin chanting their "battle chant" as they close in on the Doctor and Co.
- The Klingons sing this in Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Soldiers of the Empire.
- In 24:Redemption Child Soldiers are persuaded that an opposition leader (whom they have trussed up in front of them) isn't human and therefore can be killed by making the kids chant "kill the cockroach!"
- In Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Miri", at one point, the Long Lived children get together and start chanting the word "Bonk" repeatedly (as in "Bonk on the head") as an indication of what they plan to do to the Enterprise crew who have beamed down to their planet.
- In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), Admiral Adama leads the troops in a chant of "So say we all!" in one episode.
- In Guardians of Gahoole- Twilight the Great Gray Owl loves to yell chants and war poetry as he's flying into battle.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Republic Commando Series the Mandalorians and the Clone Troopers had the chant "Dha Werda Verda", which was accompanied by a ritual dance based on the Maori haka.
- In Cyrano de Bergerac the Gacony Cadets have a chant/song they do for Christian to demonstrate their togetherness.
- The Ciaphas Cain novel ""The Traitor's Hand" parodies the Khornites' catchphrase by having someone (mainly Cain) snark back at them whenever they show up (e.g. "Harriers for the Cup!", "Well, he can't have mine" "I'm getting really sick of hearing that").
- In The Rangers Apprentice, the Emperor of Nihon-Ja has the Kikori chanting "Isho ni!" as heir chant.
- Warhammer 40K has quite a few (to the point of that they're practically the catchphrases for some factions). The most well known comes from the Chaos forces, more specifically Khorne's worshippers: "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!"
- Magic: The Gathering has the Battle Hymn card, which provides an interesting variation of this trope.
- Done in Ralph Bakshi's Lord of The Rings, when the Orcs from Isengard assault Helm's Deep.
- The New Zealand All Blacks (rugby team) do the Haka War Chant before their games.