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[[caption-width-right:350:Even Heaven didn't see this act coming.]]
->''"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."''
-->-- ''[[Literature/TheBible John 15:13]]''
A character does something incredibly brave and is killed, maimed, or otherwise irrevocably harmed doing it.
A bad character who was once good can redeem himself in the last act by TakingTheBullet that was meant for TheHero, thus expunging all his previous evil, avoiding forcing TheHero to arrest or confront him, and avoiding any real life penalties like disgrace and jail. This is like RedemptionEqualsDeath. In this case, the death and redemption come in a single act.
There are essentially three kinds of HeroicSacrifice:
* The one at the beginning of the story, which sets the tone for the rest of the tale.
* The one in the middle of the story, wherein the HeroicSacrifice leads to new heights of BadAss, or new depths of depression, depending on the story. Sometimes both.
* The one at the end of the story which serves as a GrandFinale, an example of "This character is TooCoolToLive", or the kernel of a DownerEnding or BittersweetEnding. The "TooCoolToLive" HeroicSacrifice is the most common type in American movies. Often, TheHeroDies in a heroic sacrifice at the end.
A Heroic Sacrifice usually requires that a character be NotAfraidToDie. If the HeroicSacrifice was pre-planned, it's a SelfSacrificeScheme. Often preceded with a SneakyDeparture from the team, or a MoreHeroThanThou dispute. AFriendInNeed often requires it. Contrast VillainsDyingGrace, when a dying villain decides to save a life. The DoomedMoralVictor fights a battle where the outcome is clear from the beginning. If the character has time to say some last words before dying, they often do so in an ObiWanMoment. Often a DyingMomentOfAwesome.
For specific subtypes, see [[HeroicSacrifices this index]].
Compare and contrast ZeroApprovalGambit (where the hero sacrifices his good name instead of his life), MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning, SenselessSacrifice, SuicideMission and StupidSacrifice.