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[[caption-width-right:350:Not even Heaven saw this act coming.]]
->''"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s 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 Heroic Sacrifice:
* 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 Heroic Sacrifice leads to new heights of BadAss, or new depths of depression, in the characters who are affected by it (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" Heroic Sacrifice 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 Heroic Sacrifice 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. There's also the case where SomeoneHasToDie, which takes this UpToEleven.
For specific subtypes, see [[HeroicSacrifices this index]].
Compare and contrast ZeroApprovalGambit (where the hero sacrifices his good name instead of his life), SacrificialRevivalSpell (where the character uses a spell to save another), DeathIsTheOnlyOption, MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning, InspirationalMartyr (who may not be that heroic, but their deaths may inspire others to become heroes) SenselessSacrifice, SuicideMission and StupidSacrifice.
'''This is generally a DeathTrope. Expect SPOILERS.'''