[[quoteright:348:[[http://cap-ironman.livejournal.com/390898.html http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tony-starks-suicidebingo_copy_3503.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:348:Why is [[ComicBook/IronMan Tony Stark]] sacrificing himself today, folks? We're taking all bets! [[note]]1. I was ''sure'' my breastplate/cyborg heart had at least another hour's worth of power.[[/note]]]]

->''"You Optimuses ''do'' love to sacrifice yourselves, don't you?"''
-->-- '''Megatron''', ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars''

[[ChronicHeroSyndrome Heroes are heroic]]; it goes without saying. So it shouldn't come as a surprise when one makes a HeroicSacrifice or [[TakingTheBullet takes the shot]] to protect a friend or loved one; even his allies might form a HeroSecretService to protect him before facing the BigBad.

Then, there's heroes who seem to have a near [[DeathSeeker suicidal]] insistence on being the one to die... [[StupidSacrifice even if the situation isn't all that dire!]] They'll put the OverprotectiveDad and MamaBear to shame in their zeal to ensure no one around them but themselves is in any risk. They'll discourage alternate plans for a given threat if any friends have to be in the slightest danger, even if they increase the odds for success and their own survival, and said friends are willing to take the risk. If someone gets hurt (or his little sister forbid, ''dies'') he'll be [[HeroicBSOD eaten up with guilt]]. This is often the Character Flaw of a MessianicArchetype, and often combines with ChronicHeroSyndrome.

Expect friends, family, and loved ones to scold him repeatedly on this risk-hogging behavior, and villains to use FlawExploitation to make the most of it by engineering threats. If it's [[AnAesop that kind of show]], expect an episode or two about how the hero needs to learn to trust his [[TrueCompanions teammates]], and realize he can't control fate and protect them from all harm.

Generally, this is also part of the motivation for why a hero will give themselves up without a fight when a [[LoveInterests love interest]] is [[PutDownYourGunAndStepAway held hostage at knifepoint]] and [[ItsNotYouItsMyEnemies give said love interest up afterwards]], to save them from any perceived danger.

Occasionally, such a character may be a member of a MartyrdomCulture for whom death is not necessarily a bad thing, potentially resulting in misunderstandings when dealing with those with different backgrounds.

See HonorBeforeReason for the idea behind this trope, and compare SuicidalPacifism. For the more depressing and less heroic version of this, see DeathSeeker. Characters like this with combat skills may also be TheBerserker. This may be the fate of a SmallStepsHero if they can't rescue an innocent without sacrificing themselves.

Compare InspirationalMartyr when they do have a clear cause. Also compare SenselessSacrifice.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Umi and Fuu (well, mostly Umi) in ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'' are constantly yelling at Hikaru for this. She wants to [[TakingTheBullet intercept every attack]] and scout for danger on her own rather than in a group, and will always insist she's fine when she is ''not''.
* [[GrumpyBear Haruka and Michiru]] in ''Anime/SailorMoon S'' were notoriously this.
** And Usagi, though her non-causes were often more dire. The other senshi repeatedly call her out for offering herself or the crystal to the enemies for the other soldiers' lives.
* Watanuki from ''Manga/XXXHolic'' has more than a few elements of this, though it is brought up eventually, and even more eventually justified into a backstory-defining plot point. As early as volume 8 of the Manga, he offers to give up his left eye to a spider demon if she'll release a friend, the Zashiki-Warashi, who was trying to recover his stolen ''right'' eye, leading to the monster deconstructing this trope and giving him an epiphany.
-->'''Jorō-gumo:''' [...] The Zashiki-Warashi went to these lengths to get back your right eye, and you'd throw that away like it was nothing?... In other words, you consider her an absolute fool who would try to protect worthless trash such as yourself.\\
'''Watanuki:''' That isn't it!!\\
'''Jorō-gumo:''' It '''is''' it. [...] You hold in disgust those who would hurt others... and yet you do it yourself. Looking at the scars you've allowed to be inflicted on yourself, I can't imagine the amount of scars your actions have inflicted on others.\\
'''Jorō-gumo:''' It's that particular attitude... [[StepfordSmiler that I just loathe.]]
* It's hard to say which of the Bronze Saints in ''Anime/SaintSeiya'' suffers the most from this. There's Shiryu, who blinded himself to save his friends; there's Hyoga, who allowed a ForgottenChildhoodFriend to [[EyeScream injure one of his eyes]] to settle a score; then there's Shun, who takes self-sacrifice to such an extreme that even ''Shiryu himself'' [[LampshadeHanging commented on it]].
** In the case of Shiryu, it is hard to tell if that's a ''bad'' trait of him; he seems to [[DisabilitySuperpower become more powerful/skilled whenever he starts getting disadvantages]], like being blinded or losing his armor off (though in ''Saint Seiya'' universe, warriors can still be a deadly threat as long as they are alive, and losing perceptions ACTUALLY allows reaching enlightenment, as Virgo Shaka vs Ikki lampshades). There's even a running-gag between fans that say "if Shiryu isn't blind or naked, the battle isn't done yet". Hell, he only managed to perform Excalibur the first time after his enemy pointed out he was hiding behind his resurrected Bronze Cloth (with protective ability nearly on par with Gold Cloths), and him accepting that he was unconsciously relying on his armor to protect him, and consequently casting it off. He was too immature (this gets lampshaded at several times in the series, too) at this point to channel his full power normally, so he HAD to put himself in a truly desperate situation, to bring out the power level necessary to activate Excalibur. He has to become a Martyr to get the proper motivation.
** Averted with Athena, who puts her life on risk while ''fully'' knowing that the Saints will fight for her sake ''and'' the worlds. They're the one who fight her battles, but it's thanks to her that they even have time and chance to do that too.
* Negi, the protagonist of ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', is repeatedly scolded by Asuna for that.
** [[spoiler:Kurt Godel]] may be one of these too. [[spoiler:According to Nodoka's artifact, he himself was not involved in the attack on Negi's village, however Godel says that he has no intention of running from his sins and promises, once everything is over, to let Negi beat him to death if that's what it takes to satisfy Negi's desire for revenge.]]'
* The title character of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' leans in this direction occasionally, especially during the Pain arc, telling everyone else to stay the hell away. When [[spoiler:[[LivingEmotionalCrutch Hinata]]]] doesn't and [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice almost gets killed]] [[ForcedToWatch right in front of Naruto]]... [[BerserkButton needless to say]], [[SuperpoweredEvilSide it's not pretty.]] He is better most of the time though, trusting his teammates, but he'd rather fight the most dangerous enemies himself.
** Considering that [[PersonOfMassDestruction Pain]] was slaughtering everyone, {{Red Shirt}}s and [[MauveShirt Heroes]] alike, and that Naruto was literally the only one who had a chance of beating him, it is understandable for all of those other characters that CantCatchUp to get the heck out of the way. MartyrWithoutACause would have been if he submited to Pain for Pain's twisted idea of Peace.
** Naruto later gets [[WhatTheHellHero called out on this behavior]] by [[spoiler:Itachi, of all people,]] who points out that trying to do everything by himself is disrespectful to his friends, and that it's egotistical to think that only he can solve all the world's problems.
* Chrono from ''Anime/ChronoCrusade'' '''constantly''' feels the need to do this. Almost every time there's an attack on his group, he'll push away his comrades and jump in front of the attack. Arguably this is [[JustifiedTrope justified]] since Chrono is a demon with the ability to heal himself, but he still seems almost ridiculously obsessed with being the only one to take any damage.
* Nagi Kirima from the ''LightNovel/BoogiepopSeries'' sees herself as a vigilante meant to clean up the world, and often goes to great lengths to deal with things herself. At one point she even [[spoiler:temporarily gets killed by Manticore]] but [[spoiler:Echoes' intervention saves her life]]. Notably, in her backstory her dying father's request for her was that she ''not'' be normal, and she seems to have taken it to heart (perhaps a bit too much).
* Miaka from ''Manga/FushigiYuugi'' does this every single time she and her friends are attacked. "This is all because of me!"
* [[Manga/{{Trigun}} Vash The Stampede]] takes this to ludicrous levels. His body is covered with scars he's suffered while protecting others -- including his enemies. He'd rather die than allow ANYONE around him to get killed, and the people who are shooting at him are not exempt from that. Good thing his ImprobableAimingSkills are just as overpowered as his morals...
** In a rare subversion of the trope, both his ImprobableAimingSkills ''and'' his near-immortality are completely justified by the story.
** When finally, near the end of the series run, he's forced to [[SadisticChoice choose between]] killing an enemy or [[spoiler:letting the two girls he has befriended (and he might well be in love with one of them) die instead]], he [[spoiler:pulls the trigger, kills the guy, and saves the girls -- and then [[HeroicBSOD promptly breaks down crying.]]]]
** Vash also subtly deconstructs the trope, with many subtle arguments being presented that this is unhealthy behavior and stems from Vash's root psychological issues.
* ''Anime/DaiGuard'': Akagi Shunsuke's salaryman ethos extends to piloting [[HumongousMecha Dai-Guard]]: during the competition with [[UsefulNotes/{{JSDF}} Kokubogar]], he's the only one even trying despite being delirious with fever. He's also willing to tear his robot apart for impromptu "rocket punches" when nothing else seems to be working.
* In ''Manga/PandoraHearts'', the fact that he cares nothing for himself is both Oz's strength and weakness. [[strike:Hell]] The Abyss holds no fear to one who doesn't give a damn what happens to himself.
* In ''Anime/PrincessTutu'', Mytho is a prince from a fairytale that destroyed his own heart to seal away an evil raven. Because of his heart being missing, he's emotionless, but one key part of his personality remained intact--his desire to protect others. Because of this, he mindlessly throws himself into danger in order to protect anything and everyone: jumping out of a window to protect a baby bird (which can fly, by the way), running into a burning building to save a bird in a cage, throwing himself in front of a little girl in danger... for the people that care for him, it's one of the things that makes them love him, but many of them also express frustration with it.
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'''s Jacuzzi Splot has regularly demonstrated that he is willing to risk (or even hand over) his life for someone he's known for hours at most. His VictoriousChildhoodFriend has this to say about it, "He comes out on the losing end a lot but he's got a lot of friends."
* In ''LightNovel/{{Bakemonogatari}}'', Koyomi Araragi's defining flaw is a hidden lack of self worth, which leads him to always try to sacrifice himself, even when he doesn't have to or it would even make things worse.
** In Kizumonogatari, the chronologically first story, he becomes a vampire because he knowingly chose to die for a complete stranger simply because he believes it's a virtue to die for someone else. It only occurred to him much later that ''vampires eat people'' and what he did was insane. His first instinct is to try to die again.
** When it comes to Hanekawa's issues, before he thinks of anything else, he comes up with a plan that depends on her ripping him in two and accidentally touching the sword he hid inside his body. It works, but nearly gets her killed and requires someone else to bail them both out. Even if it had worked, he completely fails to realize the effect his death would have everyone.
** For Kanbaru Suruga, he goes into a fight he has no real chance of winning believing that if he just dies everyone else will be happy. He survives, but in the process he convinces her that deep down she's a murderer who only avoided killing someone because of blind luck, which leaves her mentally scarred for some time.
** In the end, it's when he ''averts'' this trope that he has the greatest success with helping people: He brought Senjogahara to a genuine specialist, he decided to risk his life for his sister because he genuinely loves her and does not care [[spoiler:that she's some kind of body hopping parasite spirit]] and when he chose to talk things out with a con man rather than doing anything stupid.
* Allen Walker in ''Manga/DGrayMan'' wants to save ''[[MessianicArchetype everyone]]''. He usually forgets in the process that he's one of only about 20 Exorcists fighting off ''millions'' of Akuma. At one point his friend Lenalee had to BrightSlap him to get him to act remotely rational about it.
* Touma of ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''. He helps anyone who comes to him with trouble, and inevitably ends up in the hospital after helping. He even helps his enemies, refusing to hold grudges against people who tried to violently murder him and his friends for no good reason. He's also completely unaware that this tendency [[MagneticHero lands him lots of powerful friends]] ([[CluelessChickMagnet not to mention dozens of admirers]]). It comes to a head in the Magic God Othinus arc, where it turns out he feels he has so little self-worth that when Othinus alters reality so the world is perfect and everybody else is safe and happy, and all he has to do is die, he agrees. It takes The Will of the Misaka Network interfering and telling him he deserves to live as well for him to fight back.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' franchise, the heroic death of heroic ProudWarriorRaceGuy Leomon has become a RunningGag, happening at least once every season, even in different continuities. It's usually a sign of [[CerebusSyndrome things getting dark and serious]], even.
* Ash from ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' has a major habit of doing this as one of his first options rather than a last resort, usually to protect pokemon. Examples include, but are in no way limited to: throwing himself between the death blows of Mew and Mewtwo to stop the life-threatening fighting going on between all the pokemon in the ring; trying to make his pokemon go into their balls to protect them from the cold while stranded in a blizzard and leave him to freeze to death outside without the protection of their body heat; and leaping off the roof of a skyscraper after Pikachu is knocked off it, catching Pikachu in mid-air, and then trying to put himself beneath Pikachu to shield him from the impact with the ground. In skirmishes outside of formal battles, he will also often block attacks on his pokemon with his own body, even though pokemon are almost invariably tougher and less hurt by physical attacks than humans are.
* In ''Manga/PokemonSpecial'', Team Galactic once trying to kidnap Platinum aside, Pearl tells Diamond that there's no reason to put themselves in danger by being involved with them after Diamond nearly gets himself killed stealing a camera from Cyrus. Diamond states that he refuses to standby and do nothing when there's an obviously evil and dangerous group running around.
* In ''Manga/DoubleArts'', the apparently cheerful and playful [[spoiler:Sister Heine]] turns out to be one of these. She [[spoiler:gave up all her hobbies and became determined to keep healing people until it killed her, [[TheAtoner to atone]] for arriving too late to save a Troi-infected patient]], even ignoring the advice of her superior Sisters to slow down.
* Ryou Bakura of ''Anime/YuGiOh'' fame has a couple of moments like these.
* ''Manga/KimbaTheWhiteLion'' acts like this at times.
* Krista Lenz from ''Manga/AttackOnTitan''. Her friend Ymir chews her out for it, telling Krista that her subconscious need to prove her morality to people is going to get her killed.
* Explored in characteristically dark fashion in ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'' via the protagonist [[ShrinkingViolet Ken]] [[ExtremeDoormat Kaneki]], who's lived his whole life by [[MommyIssues his mother's]] advice: "Rather than a person who hurts others, become the person getting hurt." Unfortunately, his unwavering adherence to these words starts to cause real problems when he [[HorrorHunger transforms into a man-eating ghoul]], and after [[spoiler: [[BeingTorturedMakesYouEvil his torture at the hands of Yamori]]]], he begins to question the philosophy he's lived his life by.
-->It's all right to lose out with love and warm feelings, Ken. Nice people live perfectly happy that way.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan's'' Ai Haibara will repeatedly put herself in harm's way if she feels it will protect someone she cares for. Early on, she was prepared to remain on an exploding bus because she felt she was endangering those around her because of the organization hunting her. CharacterDevelopment helps with the worst of this but still shows itself when, during the Mystery Train arc, she is so confident she will die she resolves to do so only after temporarily undoing her FountainOfYouth so her grade school friends won't kick up enough of a fuss at her death to catch the organization's eye.

* ''ComicBook/LegionOfSuperHeroes'''s post-''Zero Hour'' continuity gave Leviathan (Colossal Boy) something of this mentality, resulting in tragedy when Shrinking Violet attempts to use the Emerald Eye of Ekron to give her teammates their "hearts' desires". Leviathan's heart's desire turns out to be "to die a hero".
* Yorick from ''ComicBook/YTheLastMan''. He had an actual death wish for a while, being the last man on earth and all, but he got over it after a session of good old-fashioned [[EpiphanyTherapy S&M-themed psychiatric assistance.]]
* Tony "ComicBook/IronMan" Stark's third answer to everything appears to be "Electrocute/asphyxiate/experiment on myself" right after "[[BeamSpam Build more guns]]" and "[[TakingTheBullet Jump in front of the thing being aimed at my]] [[HeterosexualLifePartners better armoured teammate]] [[ComicBook/CaptainAmerica famous for his use of a shield.]]" Given the amount of awful shit he's been subjected to it's quite possible that [[DeathSeeker another trope]] is at play here.
** Interestingly, the ''Avengers'' film makes this part of his CharacterDevelopment: Captain America initially calls him out on his ''un''-willingness to sacrifice himself (while Stark claims he can always TakeAThirdOption), making [[spoiler: his (almost) sacrifice to save the city from a nuke at the end]] a pretty big turning point for him.
* ComicBook/{{Cable}}. He made himself a giant target to prove to the world that things could be better if everyone put aside their differences and worked together-- to kill him. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that meddling {{Deadpool}} and his [[CrazyAwesome pesky insanity]]! (Well, the dying part anyway.)
* It seems that, following the ending of ''ComicBook/AvengersVsXMen'', [[spoiler:ComicBook/{{Cyclops}}]] seeks to be this way. Why? Because he wants to be the martyr for the reborn mutant race
* This is actually a symptom of a personality disorder known as [[http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Primus_apotheosis Primus apotheosis]] in the ''ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW''. The affected individual ends up idolizing [[BigGood Optimus Prime]] ''way'' too much and instead of being merely willing to risk their lives for the sake of others in need, as Prime would, they go out of their way to find even the most minor of 'noble sacrifices' which would cost them their lives. This problem is widespread enough to affect 1 in every 50 Autobots (and the occasional Decepticon).

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Averted in ''Fanfic/AVeryPotterMusical'': As in the original ''Literature/HarryPotter'', Voldemort asks Harry whom he will be using as a human shield this time. Harry has already told everyone not to interfere, but Ron steps forward to volunteer before Hermione yanks him back.
* ''FanFic/{{Destiny Is A Hazy Thing}}''. One of Naruto's {{Internal Monologue}}s points out that Sakura's obsession with Sasuke might lead her to this.
* ''Escape from The Hokage's Hat'': Naruto natch. Due to his crappy childhood, NoSocialSkills and ChronicHeroSyndrome the kid is so messed up he feels the need to save EVERYONE and being unable to do so means he's useless (in his mind). When Hinata calls him on this and points out she protects him because she ''WANTS'' to and Shizune says they care and are trying to fight ''with'' him not ''for'' him, he has a hard time processing these facts because he doesn't consider himself worth it.

* In the ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanTheCurseOfTheBlackPearl'', the hero Will Turner seemed to have a curiously puppyish eagerness to sacrifice himself if that was at all likely to help matters. Jack even congratulates him as their fortunes take a dire turn, "And you get to die for Elizabeth...!"
* In ''Film/SecondhandLions'', Hub [=McCann=] expresses little interest in waiting to die of old age, and it is strongly implied that he possesses a severe death wish, as his only love died years before [[DeathByChildBirth while giving birth]]. However, he is old and retired to a ranch with his brother, and those impulses cause him to risk his life for no reason. [[spoiler: Eventually he gets his wish, dying with his brother in a reckless plane crash.]]
* In ''Film/LettersFromIwoJima'', the main (Japanese) characters' platoon is ordered to fall back and fortify another position after the American troops have broken through the first line of defense. Their Lieutenant disobeys and orders his men to take their own lives instead. The main characters refuse and instead fall back, reasoning that it makes sense to go down fighting rather than kill themselves pointlessly, especially since those were their orders anyway. This was because of the heavy tradition of honor in the Japanese military. Although suicide to avoid dishonor was a respected gesture, any general worth his salt would consider it a waste to make his officers commit suicide for their failures - however much of a good incentive for avoiding failure it may be.
* ''Film/RedPlanet'' seems to have a spaceship full of people only too happy to sacrifice themselves for no apparent reason. You'd think NASA would pick astronauts who wanted to, you know, come back.
* PlayedForLaughs with ''Film/ForrestGump'''s lieutenant. One of Lieutenant Dan's relatives died in each war since the American Revolution and he wants to live up to that. [[spoiler: He doesn't. Die, that is. When he meets Forrest again after the war he's extremely bitter about it, though he eventually gets better]]. Although, in the original book's sequel ''Gump and Co.'', [[spoiler: he gets killed by friendly fire in the first Gulf War]].
* ''Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse'':
** Steve Rogers has quite a bit of this in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', desperate to join the army because he can't stand the idea of not risking his life along with other soldiers (even though he was rejected 4F for a laundry list of perfectly valid health reasons) and diving on a (dud, but he didn't know that) grenade to protect his squad when it wasn't exactly out of the question to just flee along with everyone else. However, it's explicitly pointed out by Bucky, who sarcastically remarks "sure, you have ''nothing'' to prove" that he takes stupid risks and it's partly because Steve has self-worth issues due to his frailness.
** Taken further in the sequel ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', where he [[spoiler:tells Agent Hill to blow up the helicarrier with him in it, and making no attempt to even ''try'' to escape. And let's not forget that he is perfectly willing to die by the Winter Soldier's hands once millions of lives are no longer in jeopardy.]]
** In ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'', this is outright discussed as Captain America's FatalFlaw. For all his heroism and valor, he feels he needs to be fighting for something in order for his life to have meaning. Tony Stark even accuses him of opposing peacekeeping initiatives such as Insight, Ultron and [[spoiler: the Vision]] out of fear they'll render him obsolete (though in fairness to Cap, he ended up being right about the first two).
** And by ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'' Stark points out to Steve that he's not going against the Sokovia Accords because he fears that they will be used against the Avengers and they will risk having bad people being their overseers and thus they will turn into tools of opression, but because that means he will have less fights to throw himself at hoping to martirize himself.
* Jean Grey in ''Film/X2XMenUnited'', who sacrifices herself while holding back a giant wall of water to allow the rest of the team time to escape. There were at least three other team members (Storm, Iceman, and Nightcrawler) with powers that would have been useful in this situation, and with all four of them working together, they at least stood a chance of getting everyone out alive. She never gave them the chance to try. [[WhatCouldHaveBeen In the original script]] she just does it from inside the jet.

* Literature/HarryPotter has elements of this, sometimes exasperating his friends.
** Making it worse is that Voldemort quickly figures that out. In one of the few times he shows any savvy, he uses Harry's willingness to rescue loved ones by [[spoiler: sending fake memories of capturing Sirius Black in ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix Order of the Phoenix]]'']]. By the time of ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows The Deathly Hallows]]'', Voldemort accuses Harry [[spoiler:of letting others die protecting him in order to guilt-trip Harry into sacrificing himself during the Battle of Hogwarts]].
* All ''Creator/TamoraPierce'' heroines have this as a defining quality, to the exasperation of their various comrades.
** So far, [[spoiler:none have succeeded.]]
* In Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', Rand al'Thor suffers badly from this, at least if it's a woman on the line. He {{wangst}}s on endlessly if even a single woman is killed and he is sort of to blame -- regardless of whether said woman was trying to kill him and everyone else around him. This is much to the reader's chagrin, since most women in ''Wheel of Time'' are {{jerkass}}es [[StrawFeminist whom no reader would miss]].
** Much of this is due to Rand's growing insanity over the course of the series; once he [[BoredWithInsanity clears that up,]] he stops discriminating by sex and becomes much more pragmatic, although he still insists on focusing as much risk onto himself as possible to keep others safe. It isn't until [[spoiler: Egwene's dying spirit]] convinces him that this is selfish that he finally relents.
* Bella in ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' is a variant--it's not that she wants to be a hero, it's that, as other characters sometimes lampshade, she blames herself for anything and everything that goes wrong. This leads to the same type of self-hatred (if not the same quantity) as TheAtoner, and while she doesn't often have the opportunity to risk her life, she clearly considers herself [[MoreExpendableThanYou more expendable]] than those around her, particularly Edward, but also her mother, father, unborn baby...
* The title character from ''Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'' does have the tendency to put the deaths of his friends right on his own head. In fact, he's explicitly told that is his fatal flaw, that he will always do anything to save a friend. Percy doesn't get how that's a flaw.
* Timuscor of ''Literature/SpellsSwordsAndStealth'' desires above all else to be a paladin and strives to live as one would, even if no gods will accept him as theirs. To this end, he is very quick to risk or even sacrifice his life for the greater good or to protect his friends, as he views the act of HeroicSacrifice the highest calling of a paladin. In the third book, it is implied that he may yet have hope for becoming a paladin, but not before he realizes this ''isn't'' the way to go about it.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/{{Buffyverse}}'': Angel. If there's no evil around to throw himself in front of protecting innocents, he will either run out and find some more or he will wind up defending ''lesser'' evils while tormenting himself for doing so. It's a complex.
* The three Winchesters in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' are all quite prone to this. It's even gotten to the point where when one dies, another family member will make a DealWithTheDevil (and they ''know'' they'll pay a [[EquivalentExchange high price]]) to bring them back to life. The Yellow Eyed Demon even comments that they make it "too easy". In all three cases, however, the motivation hovered somewhere between this and that of the DeathSeeker -- (Sam's death-wish stemmed from the loss of his girlfriend, John's from the loss of his wife and the realization of the damage he'd done to his sons, and Dean's from... oh, everything.)
** Dean is particularly gifted in this area. In Faith, he willingly doesn't fight back against a Reaper who came to kill him in exchange for another (because he thinks she deserves to live more) and then seems disappointed and upset when the Reaper is stopped, he tries to sacrifice himself to stall the Seven Sins in 3x01 (much to Sam and Bobby's displeasure), deliberately uses himself for bait to catch the [=MotW=]'s attention, and so on. All of the Winchesters run the fine line between this and the Deathseeker but Dean's is even finer than most.
** Castiel displayed this as well through his whole stay on the show, made worse the more he sees himself as expandable and thinks risking his life, dying, [[spoiler:Being possessed by Lucifer on season 11]] are the only ways to help and make himself worthy because he is [[spoiler:not as powerful as he used to be after metatron took his grace and damaged it.]] On season 12 [[spoiler:He deemed that giving the Winchesters 3 minutes of distracting Lucifer by offering himself to be beaten up then killed is a fair enough sacrifice.]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The Doctor is known to get so passionate so as to put himself right in the face of death to save someone or something he cares about, be it a group of people he's barely met or one of his companions.
** The Tenth Doctor does this the most, [[spoiler: daring the Daleks to go ahead and kill him]] in ''Evolution of the Daleks'' after they [[spoiler: impassively murder a man who made an honest heartfelt plead for mercy]]. He also does this in ''The Poison Sky'', when he is prepared to [[spoiler: destroy an entire Sontaran Fleet, which is about ready to end all human life. But being so determined to give his enemies a chance to make a better choice, he insists that he goes up with the bomb to give the Sontarans a chance to surrender. The Sontarans themselves point out how stupid this is.]]
** This fact is even addressed in a Fourth Series episode, "Turn Left", where the Doctor dies before he can regenerate. Earth is then pretty much shot to hell, the Torchwood team all dies, and various other happenings occur that weren't supposed to.
*** The episodes does show the Earth could survive without the Doctor for a while, but only because he was able to teach former companions what they needed to know to save the world. Even then the world took substantial damage before it finally ended.
** The Doctor's tendency to do this is parodied in one of the comic strips, wherein in order to defeat the monster he steals a helicopter equipped with canisters of nerve gas and plans to make a suicide crash-run into the beast itself. After his farewell speech to his friends, one of his friends points out that the helicopter comes equipped with an ejector seat, which he then sheepishly uses.
** In the finale of the "Silence in the Library" two-parter, the Doctor explains that he'll have to hook his brain up to a computer and fry his brain to save the day. River Song then [[MoreExpendableThanYou knocks him out and handcuffs him to a pole so she can sacrifice herself instead]]. He proceeds to throw a fit about someone ''else'' sacrificing their life for the good of others, without any apparent irony.
** There are MANY instances of this in the classic series as well, though the most egregious might be in "Mawdryn Undead" when he's willing to sacrifice his life so the villains can succeed in their plan (which happens to be their own deaths), in order to save two companions from extreme aging/de-aging (depending on which direction through time the TARDIS travels). Luckily [[ItMakesSenseInContext the Brigadier touches himself]] (not in THAT way)...
* [[spoiler:Zhaan]] does this in an episode of ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. Somebody had to activate the separate-the-ships sequence, so of course the [[spoiler: one person too weak to even bother trying to cross back into Moya]] is the one they choose to do it. Given the twenty-minute before-death speech, why couldn't they just get a ten-foot pole and press the buttons from across the room?
** Because the writers needed to find a way to write Zhaan out of the series, due to the fact that her actress's health was being severely damaged by all the blue body paint she had to wear. You'll note that in the season leading up to her death, Zhaan tended more and more towards full-body clothing whereas in the first season she'd been seen mostly (sometimes entirely) naked. Virginia Hey's kidneys were reacting startlingly badly to something in her makeup. One might call it Executive Meddling, if one considers her doctor to be an executive. In any case, the ''character'' was already dying, so, as she reasoned, why ''risk'' anyone else's life if she was going to be dead in a few weeks at most anyway.
* In ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** [[TheCaptain Commander Jeff Sinclair]] actually gets called out for this by the fourth episode of the first season.
** Delenn's willingness to sacrifice herself at the drop of a hat is one of her defining characteristics.
*** Paradoxically, it was Delenn's willingness to die that saved her and Sheridan from the Vorlon's inquisitor. He expected Delenn to simply be another "I'm the one to do this because I was born for a special destiny"; instead she flatly states that she's just doing what she can in the circumstances she's in, and it ''doesn't'' matter if she dies in the process (and even if she fails miserably) because someone else will just step up and take her place. Turns out the Vorlons were more interested in making sure they had a ''cause'' than a hero/martyr.
* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'':
-->'''Sheppard:''' It's not like it's the first time. How many suicide missions have I flown?\\
'''[=McKay=]:''' I don't know. I lost count.
* Jack from ''Series/{{Lost}}'' always insists on personally going on the most dangerous missions, despite being the doctor and unofficial leader of the survivors, and thus arguably the most indispensible one. He especially insists that Kate never ever risk ''her'' life by coming on these missions, despite the fact that she's handy with a gun and a skilled tracker.
* Malcom Reed on ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' is obsessed with dying heroically, moereso than other security chiefs in Starfleet. He apparently got this from an great-uncle in the [[UsefulNotes/BritsWithBattleships Royal Navy]] who sealed himself in the engine compartment of his crippled nuclear submarine to allow the rest of his shipmates to escape.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' Faith is a firm believer in redemption by death, particularly in ''Series/{{Angel}}''. It comes to a head in "Orpheus" where its revealed she was a little too willing to go along with Wesley's dangerous plan.
* One episode of ''Series/ThisIsWonderland'' involved an ex-cop, played by Ron White, who was caught in a self-destructive cycle after someone shot a gun at his face. The gun didn't go off, but he seems to have felt that it should have.
* Kryten of ''Series/RedDwarf'' is practically made of this trope. Whenever danger threatens he offers to kill himself and save the crew, this being the only logical solution. (Such as suggesting he be loaded into the reverse-thrust tubes so that his body be used as decoy fodder for a pursuing spacecraft.) Rimmer will then agree immediately.
--> '''Lister:''' Sit down, Kryten! I'm not doing me own smeggin' laundry...
* Stefan from ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'' fits this trope. He constantly offers himself up to be sacrificed in the place of others or puts himself in the most dangerous situations in order to protect others from getting hurt or killed.
** Elena as well. She wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice herself in order to protect the people she loves.
** Bonnie could also classify as well. She often puts her life in the line of fire for everyone.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' has a Legacy called the Tamers of Void, who train themselves to be martyrs, then spend the rest of their lives ''looking'' for a cause to die for. If they become powerful enough and are still alive, they can get the ability to bring someone back to life, in exchange for their own death.
* [[TheEmpire The Imperium]] in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' has this trope as ''official government policy'', with phrases like "it is better to die for the Emperor than live for yourself" as their mottos. Naturally, considering [[CrapsackWorld the setting]], {{Senseless Sacrifice}}s abound. May be justified, as [[WeHaveReserves there's plenty more where that came from]].
* TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness game, ''TabletopGame/HunterTheReckoning'', has the aptly-named Martyr creed. Their abilities all aid others at the cost of damage to themselves, and they tend to be pretty short-lived because of it. The book mentions that at least some Martyrs, if not all of them, have egotistical ideas of martyrdom, and it isn't fighting the good fight or the salvation of mankind that drives them, as much as it is the desire for sympathy, attention, and praise; they tend to make good vehicles for the deconstruction of MarySue tropes.

* ''Theatre/CyranoDeBergerac'': This trope is Lampshaded, Deconstructed and justified with Cyrano. ''Lampshaded'' by Le Bret when Cyrano fights against one hundred men when all Ligniere asked was to ''sleep at his house''. Later, Cyrano will rescue De Guiche's white scarf from enemy lines… ''just so he can boast to De Guiche''. Cyrano is badass enough to survive and win, but then the play ''deconstructs'' this trope showing how this attitude arises not only in perilous situations, but in all aspects of the life of a person: [[MartyrWithoutACause Cyrano throws away every chance of glory]] or [[LoveMartyr love he has]]. [[OnlySaneMan Le Bret]] continuously scolds Cyrano about this attitude. Cyrano simply [[JerkJustifications says that he is trying to live without compromises]], but the sad truth is that this trope is ''justified'' because Cyrano's attitude is the logical conclusion of a [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy badass]] without [[MommyIssues any self esteem]] raised in a MartyrdomCulture.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Lenna in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'' will commit any act of self-poisoning or self-injury on herself in order to help dragons, even when it's unclear why hurting herself will help them. This is taken to extremes that even Bartz finds himself rolling his eyes about. Very late in the game, when obtaining the Phoenix Summon, the player will discover that this is caused by extreme guilt over an abortive attempt to kill the last dragon.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', the resident Cid's first instinct when presented with any problem seems to be "catastrophically crash the airship into it". Other characters treat this with a mixture of humor and exasperation.
** Rikku Lampshades this when they learns Guado and fiends have infiltrated the airship:
-->'''Cid''': Fiends! There's nothin' to do but-
-->'''Rikku''': (in a mock Cid-accent) -but to destroy the ship and all go down together! You gotta learn a little restraint, Pops.
** All of [[CorruptChurch Yevon]] is based on this. Not only do the martyrs' sacrifices not work, they [[spoiler:give the local EldritchAbomination a new host body.]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn]]'', both the heroine Micaiah and the king Pelleas display definite traits of the trope; Pelleas is quite happy to discover his death means freeing his country from the DealWithTheDevil he unwittingly signed, and Micaiah can [[TakeAThirdOption prevent this]] by [[TakingTheBullet throwing herself]] in front of the weapon meant for him.
-->'''Micaiah:''' No, I'm fine, really. I'm just confused... Is the goddess telling me that I'm not worthy to become a martyr for Daein?\\
'''Pelleas:''' Or maybe she is saying that you're just too important to lose... But this is my fault! It was all because I signed that blood pact! I can only amend my mistake by giving my life!
** It doesn't help that Micaiah's special ability is Sacrifice. She can take her own HP and transfer it to an ally. For a mage character with low HP and defense, this doesn't work too well...
* In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'' Azama accuses [[spoiler: his potential girlfriend Effie]] of being this in their [[spoiler:''Revelation'']] supports. It's not helped by how they met when she shielded him from a enemy attack so [[AfterActionPatchUp he has to heal her]], and in their A support [[spoiler: protects an ''enemy'' almost at the cost of her own life, after she realised he was a very young kid who had been borderline ForcedIntoEvil.]]
* One of the biggest strikes against ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' is that [[spoiler: you inexplicably turn into one of these in the ending by going into an irradiated room, instead of sending in one of your radition-immune companions to do it instead.]] ''Broken Steel'' remedies this, in addition to adding a PlayableEpilogue quest line (though choosing the option to [[spoiler:let a radiation-immune character do the job]] is considered a cowardly option by the narrator rather than a practical one).
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', Axel will sacrifice himself during a cutscene to save you from hordes of Dusks, even though they aren't much of a threat and you could continue fighting for hours. This is a consequence of GameplayAndStorySegregation because all the characters act as though the nobody 'horde' was incredibly dangerous even though they're small fry as far as the player is concerned by that point.
* In the second ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'', Gepetto accuses Yuri Hyuga of being this.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Turgor}}'' [[spoiler: Sister Death becomes this halfway through the game.]] Partly justified as it's a HeroicSacrifice / DrivenToSuicide.
* Alicia of ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles''. As soon as she realizes she has a SuicideAttack up her sleeve, she goes and tries to put it to use against an enemy vehicle that she had almost crippled with a ''regular attack''.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Shirou Emiya of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', to an intentionally [[DeconstructedTrope infuriating degree]]. Many characters call him out on this, and it comes back to bite him in more ways than simply being smeared across the pavement. [[spoiler:Archer, and by extension Shirou himself,]] is a walking deconstruction of this trope, as is most clear in the Unlimited Blade Works route in the VisualNovel. The big reason this comes across as stupidity is because [[AdaptationExplanationExtrication the first anime never explains Shirou's behaviour like UBW does]]; In one rather disturbing example, Shirou is stabbed in the arm, and he's more concerned that Rin is now covered in his blood than the fact that he's got a ''giant stab wound in his arm''.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Rikk Oberf in ''Webcomic/{{Fans}}'' has an obsession with ensuring that the people he cares for come to no harm in his adventures, and seems inclined to do this at times.
* Torg of ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' will literally sacrifice himself at the first hint that any one of his friends might be in danger if he doesn't. This actually puts his teammates in a lot ''more'' danger because every time he tries this, they (duh!) have a mad scramble to rescue him. Then he yells at them for putting themselves in danger while he was trying to die, but is too stupid to take the hint that they're going to keep saving him. [[DysfunctionJunction They're all messed up that way.]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', after achieving [[CameBackStrong God Tier]], it's become a RunningGag that John repeatedly tries to sacrifice himself to save people on the basis that he's now immortal, even though he's repeatedly reminded that a HeroicSacrifice would invalidate his immortality.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Transformers}}''. Optimus Prime (in various incarnations) has heroically sacrificed himself [[http://tfwiki.net/wiki/The_many_deaths_of_Optimus_Prime so many times]], it's become a running joke. Of course, given that he's guaranteed to come BackFromTheDead...
** This was [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructed]] in the text story ''Prime Spark'', where, after dying in the show, [[Anime/TransformersArmada Armada]][[CharacterizationTags !]]Prime meets the ghosts of his ''[[Franchise/TransformersGeneration1 Generation 1]]'' and ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines'' counterparts; both tell him that it's more important for a leader to lead his troops than to sacrifice himself for some perceived mistake.
** This tendency may have hit its limit way back in the 1980s Marvel comic in which the big red truck sacrifices himself after discovering he has ''[[http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Afterdeath! accidentally cheated in a computer game]]''.
*** To make it worse, here's how he "cheated": Megatron dodged one of his shots, which hit an opaque, featureless structure in the background. This structure happened to be a building in which some civilian models were. That's right! Despite winning and ''Megatron admitting defeat'', Prime found out he accidentally hit some non-sentient non-people inside a video game, and that prompted him to forfeit for "cheating" and TEAR HIS OWN HEAD OFF IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.
** It should be noted that the situation that inspired the page quote was an aversion. While Optimus ''was'' going to attempt a near-suicidal mission by ramming a KillSat with an exploding stasis pod, but he had every intention of bailing out before he could die. Megatron sabotages the pod, which turns this into an unintentional HeroicSacrifice. (Don't worry, Optimus got better.)
** In the Japanese exclusive series ''The Headmasters'', Optimus sacrifices himself to bring a berserk Vector Sigma (the supercomputer at the heart of their home planet of Cybertron) back under control. Again, this situation was an aversion, as throughout the episode the Autobots are desperately trying to bring him the Matrix of Leadership so he won't have to use his own lifeforce (Optimus is TouchedByVorlons from carrying the Matrix for years, and so his lifeforce can act as a key to Vector Sigma). It unfortunately fails due to Decepticon interference: despite the Autobots successfully bringing him the Matrix, Vector Sigma begins to go nova before he can actually use it and Optimus is forced to sacrifice himself once again.
** This is played with in the IDW comics. Optimus is a lot more pragmatic there (to the point where the destruction of planets during battles with Decepticons is chalked up as acceptable collateral damage), but is still prone to doing things like throwing himself at the biggest, baddest threat on the battlefield. It turns out that he was once a super cop and did that sort of thing anyway, since he really could handle just about any situation. When he's depressed or despondent (e.g. after the All Hail Megatron storyline) he acts like this, giving himself up to the humans in the hopes they'll forgive the other Cybertronians for the Decepticon invasion.
** IDW Optimus is a lot better about this in the Death of Optimus Prime oneshot, where he symbolically dies (i.e. gives up the name Optimus Prime) so his Autobots can remain on a restored Cybertron while he is exiled for being a living symbol of the now-ended war. He takes his old name of Orion Pax and immediately begins wandering space, doing good wherever he can like a knight errant. He's actually quite happy, since he is no longer weighed down by the TheChainsOfCommanding.
* In ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'', Aelita is always ready to sacrifice herself when the situation becomes too much to handle for the heroes. Somewhat {{justified|Trope}} in that, throughout seasons 1 and 2, she's the only reason Team Lyoko keeps the Supercomputer on instead of just [[CutTheJuice cutting the juice]] to finish off XANA -- and also, Aelita believes she's an artificial being and not a human. She actually makes the HeroicSacrifice in the episode "Just in Time", although Jérémie manages to bring her back. Even after learning she's human after all, she ''still'' tries to cut off the Supercomputer in the season 2 finale "The Key".