Created By: Olaf_Merchant on May 11, 2013 Last Edited By: Quag15 on June 8, 2013
Troped

Battle Chant

The troops or team start chanting before a battle or competition.

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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 games.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Film
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Tabletop Games
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • Done in Ralph Bakshi's Lord of The Rings, when the Orcs from Isengard assault Helm's Deep.

Real Life
  • The New Zealand All Blacks (rugby team) do the Haka War Chant before their games.
Community Feedback Replies: 62
  • May 11, 2013
    aurora369
    In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Mandalorians and the Clone Troopers had the chant "Dha Werda Verda", which was accompanied by a ritual dance based on the Maori haka.
  • May 11, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    ^ Would this fall under Books?
  • May 11, 2013
    StarSword
    Yes. The specific work is the Republic Commando Series.

    Also, this trope may overlap with Battle Cry.
  • May 11, 2013
    DunDun
    I like how it keeps saying "troops" in the draft; I keep picturing the tropes are chanting for the death of snowclones or whatever. It's funny.

    Anyway:
    • In 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.
  • May 11, 2013
    DracMonster
    Related: Rousing Speech.

    Maybe Cheering Chant for alliteration, and this wouldnt just apply to combat, but sporting events or any time a team needs to tackle a task. Their fans could do it too.
  • May 11, 2013
    jatay3
    The Klingons sing this in Deep Space Nine: Soldiers of the Empire.
  • May 11, 2013
    jatay3
    Related to Battle Cry.
  • May 11, 2013
    dvorak
    Anime and Manga
  • May 12, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • 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.
  • May 12, 2013
    chicagomel
    Literature: Guardians of Gahoole-Twilight, the Great Gray Owl, loves to yell chants and war poetry as he's flying into battle. (btw, I forget whether it was in the movie or not)
  • May 14, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    Anybody willing to lend a hand with the description, or is this good to go?
  • May 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • 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 Cyrano De Bergerac the Gacony Cadets have a chant/song they do for Christian to demonstrate their togetherness.
  • May 15, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • 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.

    I would support expanding this trope to include all speeches that result in a crowd chanting, not just in the military. Sports teams would be a natural example.
  • May 15, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    ^ Made some minor alterations to the proposed text for the trope to accommodate sports and such. Any and all suggestions for improvement are appreciated. Wondering the relation to Team Spirit and Losing The Team Spirit, respectively.

    I was rather fond of the original title of 'Battle Chant', but expanding the trope might call for changing it to the suggested Cheering Chant or Crowd Chant, although I'm not big on the whole Added Alliterative Appeal trend.
  • May 16, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    Up for Grabs, people.
  • May 17, 2013
    Quag15
    I can't think of any examples at the moment, but, if you don't mind, Olaf_Merchant, I can take it from here.
  • May 17, 2013
    kjnoren
    See Crowd Song, Sound Off, and Music For Courage. I think there might be room for this trope, but it needs to be quite specific.
  • May 17, 2013
    Chernoskill
    There might be some examples in The Lord Of The Rings (particularly Saruman's army)
  • May 17, 2013
    Quag15
    ^I'll check LOTR to see if that scene is valid.
  • May 17, 2013
    JonnyB
    ^ The Rohirrim chant "Death! Death! Death!" before their charge on the orc army at the battle of Minas Tirith. (In the movie, anyway. Not sure about the book.) Just after King Theoden's Rousing Speech, if I recall.
  • May 17, 2013
    jatay3
    In the book they don't say "death" until the end of the chapter just before the captured corsair ships arrive.

    They do say "arise arise riders of Theoden, etc" in both the book and the movie.
  • May 17, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • 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.
  • May 18, 2013
    Quag15
    Thanks, Jonny B and jatay3. I'll write an example with those two bits later.
  • May 20, 2013
    Bisected8
    • Warhammer 40 K has quite a few (to the point 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!"

    • 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").
  • May 20, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • The Columbia-Tristar production of Peter Pan from 2003 has the scene where Pan finds Tinkerbell lying dead, and begins repeating the mantra "I do believe in fairies! I do, I do!" Pan's passion and conviction are so strong that the Lost Boys take up the chant, then the Darling children, then other children in London, even spreading to Hook's own pirate crew. This results in Tinkerbell coming back to life.
  • May 21, 2013
    Quag15
    @oneuglybunny, I don't know if that example is the most appropriate. Does that scene take place during the fight between Peter and Hook (and, of course, the Lost Boys and the pirate crew)?
  • May 23, 2013
    Quag15
    Bump.
  • May 23, 2013
    Quag15
    Which one do you think it's better? Battle Chant or Morale Chant?
  • May 23, 2013
    randomsurfer
    @Olaf ^x15: There's already a Crowd Chant trope, which isn't the same as this.
  • May 23, 2013
    jatay3
    Battle chant is better. It has a more poetic sound.
  • May 23, 2013
    Quag15
    ^Agreed. I'll change from time to time, though, just to see its appeal, if you don't mind. Thanks!
  • May 23, 2013
    AFP
    I'm just not clear on how it's different from a Battle Cry.
  • May 23, 2013
    Quag15
    ^In a Battle Cry, it's mostly the hero doing the vocal bit, whereas here it's the army or group that The Leader or The Hero is commanding that's doing the major part of said vocal bit.
  • May 23, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Stanley Kubrick's film Two Thousand One 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.
  • May 26, 2013
    LordGro
    The description describes Rousing Speech as a necessary preliminary to a Battle Chant, which is too narrow. I don't think a Battle Chant has to be coupled to a Rousing Speech. Otherwise, it looks OK to me.
  • May 26, 2013
    Quag15
    I might change the description. Thanks for the suggestion!
  • May 26, 2013
    AFP
    Quag15: The description on Battle Cry doesn't specify anything of the sort though. I'm pretty sure any example of a Battle Chant could just be included under Battle Cry.
  • May 27, 2013
    Quag15
    ^I stand by the argument I said above as important to distinguish both. The other possible main difference is that, unlike the Battle Cry, the Battle Chant is usually uttered in a constant way for a while, almost like a mantra. The Battle Cry is usually uttered by the Hero once, whereas the Battle Chant is uttered by the whole army/team constantly and with an increasing volume/emphasis.
  • May 27, 2013
    AgProv
    Film:

    The battle chants of the Zulu warriors in Zulu would qualify; perhaps the full-throated rendition of Men of Harlech by the Welsh soldiers also fits.
  • May 29, 2013
    Quag15
    Bump.
  • May 29, 2013
    rgeminas
  • May 30, 2013
    hummingbird
    A great example is Admiral Adama leading the troops in a chant of "So say we all!" in theBattlestar Galactica miniseries. In fact, I think "So Say We All!" might be an appropriate name for this trope, given its focus on building enthusiasm and unity.
  • May 30, 2013
    rgeminas
    Not sure if it fits, but Manowar's Battle Hymn (from the not-quite-eponymous album) reminds me of this.

    "The time to strike is now... Kill! Kill! ... Kill! Kill! ... Kill! Kill!"
  • May 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Porkys II: The Next Day when the reverend is demanding that the school put a halt to the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, he has a call-and-response with his followers:
    Reverend: So sayeth the shepard!
    Followers: So sayeth the flock!
  • May 31, 2013
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • 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.
  • May 31, 2013
    Quag15
    rgeminas, I'll consider if it's a valid example. However, please don't edit the main text/part to include your example. I'll do it, since I'm the one responsible (alternatively, you could have asked me).

    hummingbird, it could be a nice trope name, but Battle Chant is more direct and unequivocal. Also, not everybody knows that bit about Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica, so it's doubtful that people would get it or imagine it from just reading the title. Nonetheless, good example.

    randomsurfer, I'll see if your example is valid. Seems to be a good one, but I'll compare it with similar tropes.
  • May 31, 2013
    rgeminas
    @Quag15 - Oh, I was not aware of that. Still kinda new to editing here. Sorry bout that.
  • May 31, 2013
    Spyboticsguy
    Quag, mind if I add some commas and such? I don't want to change the description, just clean it up a little.
  • May 31, 2013
    surgoshan
    • Also on Doctor Who, you have the Sontarans, who chant "Sontar-ha!" while punching one palm with the other fist.

    • The New Zealand All Blacks (rugby team) do the Haka War Chant before games.
  • May 31, 2013
    Quag15
    surgoshan, I'll check if the DW example fits. Good example on the All Blacks, by the way. I'll put it later (however, I'll put a video with better quality, if you don't mind.

    Spyboticsguy, since you asked, you can go ahead. If you do any changes other than commas, other punctuation or typos, write what you did here in the comment section.

    No problem, rgeminas.
  • May 31, 2013
    Spyboticsguy
    I edited some things past basic punctuation, such as correcting grammar and attempting to make things more clear without changing the meaning of the description.

    I also edited the laconic to (hopefully) more closely reflect the trope. Take a look, if you don't like it, I won't mind if you change it. :P

    EDIT: Is the title still being worked on?

    EDIT EDIT: How is this different from Crowd Chant, again? I assume this is specific to chants before some sort of conflict. If so, might want to clarify that (and maybe make it a subtrope).

    EDIT^3: If the above is true, some of the examples don't really fit this (such as the 2003 Peter Pan chant).
  • May 31, 2013
    Quag15
    ^ Thanks for the editing, apart from one thing. The laconic looks ok.

    The title seems to be the best one, seems it's kinda poetic.

    It's different in a sense of being only a select group of people, rather than community/society at large. I'll check if the subtrope thing is worth it.

    As for the Peter Pan, I put it because the one thing that makes it valid is that which you edited out, which was the thing about the first paragraph not being a necessary prerequisite (hope I'm saying the right words). Although I didn't see the movie, I assume it came in the middle of the battle, rather than at the beginning. Could you put that thing back again, or shall I put it myself?
  • May 31, 2013
    Spyboticsguy
    I thought the 'but not always' in parentheses would have substituted for the 'not a prerequisite.'

    As far as I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), this trope is about some sort of chant before a battle, competition, etc. Because of this, the Peter Pan example is an example of an invalid example. If this trope is about just a specific group of people, is that even a distinct trope from Crowd Chant? If it is Crowd Chant for just a specific group, that doesn't seem like it's distinguishable from Crowd Chant.
  • May 31, 2013
    Quag15
    ^Sorry, didn't see that 'but not always' bit.

    It's not simply Crowd Chant for just a specific group. And, like I said Crowd Chant is applied to society and communities, not teams or armies. Different backgrounds and purposes, I suppose.

    Nonetheless, I'll reflect on the Peter Pan example and will say something about it tomorrow. Thanks for the help.
  • May 31, 2013
    Spyboticsguy
    Not a problem.
  • May 31, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    As a matter of reference, I ventured the Peter Pan example for its timing and its effect. Namely, the Darling children and the Lost Boys had been captured by Captain Hook. Hook has told them that Pan is dead, and they have no choice but to join Hook's crew, or walk the plank. Heroic morale is at its nadir, when Pan's "I do believe in fairies" belies Hook's claim, and puts fresh heart into the children to resist Hook. Moments later, Pan and Tinkerbell arrive in person to begin the overthrow of Captain Hook. Is this not the raison d'etre of a Battle Chant?
  • June 1, 2013
    Quag15
    ^^/^ Well, I think we can assume that it's a valid example. Do you agree, Spyboticsguy?

    Thank you for the help, oneuglybunny! If you don't mind, I'm gonna rewrite the example based on what you said, ok?
  • June 2, 2013
    Spyboticsguy
    Agreed. A little more fine-tuning and I think it'll be ready to go.
  • June 2, 2013
    TheAnswer
    The Rangers Apprentice, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja has the Kikori chanting "Isho ni!" as heir chant.
  • June 4, 2013
    jatay3
    bump
  • June 4, 2013
    Quag15
    ^Thanks, jatay!

    If no one's gonna complain, I'm gonna launch this. Thank you all for the help, on behalf of me and Olaf_Merchant!
  • June 8, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    Cheers, Quaq15- thanks for seeing this trope through.
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