The female city elf gets one of these in her origin. The other elves in the Alienage make comments about the character's infamous martial training, which she received from her mother. When cornered by two guards intending to rape the character, now unarmed and in a jail cell, and possibly just wearing her wedding dress...her cousin comes in with a sword. It looks like he's going to try and pull a Big Damn Heroes moment and get slaughtered. Then he leans down and slides the sword to you. The guards' comment? "Oh, sod." Utterly badass, and the game's barely started.
A few other scenes during this origin make all the ass-whupping so much more badass. Walking in on a guard who murdered your betrothed who sneers at you and says he's going to show you "how men fight" and then beheading him a few seconds later is utterly satisfying. Then when you confront Vaughn, one of his cronies will mock you, only to have Vaughn shut him up by pointing out that "They're covered in enough blood to fill a tub!" Afterward, when the city guards come to the Alienage to arrest you, the leader will declare that "The Arl's son lies dead in a river of blood that runs through the entire palace!" Lines like that really drive home both the magnitude of your actions and just how utterly badass you were in the first twenty minutes of the game.
Warden: (to Vaughn) Start talking. You've only seconds to live.
During the infiltration of the estate, the male City Elf has the option to deal with a sleeping guard. You can either leave him, slit his throat in his sleep, or wake him up and then do it! The latter option manages to be both awesome and utterly terrifying in its execution, since if you have thus far played as a Nice Guy, this perfectly conveys how utterly pissedoff you can get!
A city elf can rally his or her friends and family to defend the Alienage during the The War Sequence.
Notice how the origins that begin the character at the lowest of the low also let them rock? The City Elf gets to hear the ruler of his/her city bargain for his life, and may enjoy the opportunity to cut him down. The casteless starts as a vocational scumbag with a crapsack lifestyle, an abusive mother, a sweet sister forced to be a Gold Digger, and an equally scummy buddy, but comes out a champion, massively pissing off the collective ruling class who, because of Duncan, can't do a thing about it.
Contrast the Human Noble origin, which begins with every advantage a character could have, and loses it all in the most Tear Jerker way. But it makes later confrontations with Howe and Loghain pay off with much more satisfaction than any other origin, and far more Crowning.
Something about standing up to Arl Howe and telling him to look you in the eye and see the person you have become, and that what he's done has only made you stronger is so satisfying and powerful.
Human Noble: You lie Howe! To yourself most of all. I am a Grey Warden!
This is aided by Tim Curry's excellent voice acting where you can really hear the (surprisingly subtle) anger in his voice as he can't deny what he sees in the Human Noble.
Arl Howe: There it is, right there. That damned look in the eye that marked every Cousland success that held me back. It seems you have made something of yourself after all. Your father would be proud. I, on the other hand, want you dead more than ever...
Though it's not canon, the Sacred Ashes clip has plenty of these. First, the Warden (after picking up on the darkspawn's presence) blocks a thrown axe with a shield from beneath his cloak and starts shredding his way up the mountain trail. Then Sten pushes a crowd of darkspawn off a cliff, drop-kicking the last one off. Next, Leliana takes down a squad of darkspawn, delivers a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner and shoots an arrow at the darkspawn leader, hitting it in the chest. Following is The Warden and Morrigan acting as Back-to-Back Badasses. After which, Morrigan transforms into a giant spider (while flipping in the air) and takes down another squad. Then there's the dragon fight, starting with the Warden acting as a distraction; Leliana shoots the dragon from atop a pillar, flips off of it when the dragon destroys it, and shoots at the dragon while running, Sten jumps on its side and dragging his sword through the side of its chest, Morrigan (after the dragon notices her) zaps the dragon with lightning, and the Warden finishes it by stabbing the beast in the head.game.
Morrigan Let us end this! *zap*
The glowing eyes may be a hint that the Warden is not a straight-up warrior but an Arcane Mage.
The announcement trailer has the main character looking like a badass in polished silver armor, walking towards a huge door underground while casually butchering darkspawn, and as the doors open the Warden's sword bursts into flames when he sees literally thousands of darkspawn howling at him. He puts on his helmet and proceeds to kick ass. Did we mention that Marilyn Manson is playing while he kills things?
It has a little extra oomph after you learn that Grey Wardens usually only visit the Deep Roads when they are nearing the end of their tainted life - rather than withering away, they choose to take as many Darkspawn as they can down with them."
The armor worn reappears in Dragon Age II as the "Armour of the Fallen", implying that was indeed that Warden's Calling. If so, that was an awesome way to go out.
Shianni braining Bann Vaughn with a bottle in the City Elf Origin.
Though it's overshadowed by the heartbreakingdeaths of Fergus' wife and son, in the room where you find them, you also find a dead soldier, which means that an unarmed woman or an unarmed child killed an armed and armored soldier.
Daveth's little speech to Jory right before the Joining ritual. Sheer unexpected awesomeness from an unlikely character:
I’d sacrifice a lot more if I knew it would end the Blight. You saw those darkspawn, ser knight. Wouldn’t you die to protect your pretty wife from them? The babe she carries? Maybe you’ll die. Maybe we’ll all die. If no-one stops the Blight, we’ll all die for sure.
Duncan killing an Ogre by climbing up its chest with knives,while mortally wounded.
As well as a melee character's slaying of an Ogre, which involves an Achilles-like jump into the air before stabbing the ogre in the chest and bearing it to the ground before stabbing it again in the face, with a twist of the blade to finish.
The deathblow animation for killing the High Dragon or Flemeth is also completely awesome: feint, leap astride neck, stab, get thrown into air as dragon rears in pain, do flip, land on neck again, hack away until dead.
The animation for a two-weapon elven rogue slaying the Broodmother was pretty awesome as well. You climb up on her body to her shoulders, leaving her completely helpless. Then you slash her head a couple of times before slitting her throat with both blades. To top it off, you flip down to the ground.
Also worth noting that the death blow animations are determined by the weapon skill set you're using (two-hander, one-hander and shield, or dual wielding), not by the specific weapon you're holding. This means that these can show you stabbing a mace or axe through an ogre or dragon's skull.
And if you strike the last blow without a weapon equipped (say, accidentally switching to your alternate weapon when you don't have one in that slot), your character will do the animation...empty handed. Yes, the Warden is so badass they can beat an Ogre to death with nothing but their fists.
Defending the village of Redcliffe and ensuring that Everyone Lives. Most of the villagers were convinced they were going to die that night and it's pretty sweet proving them wrong. There's nothing quite like hearing Bann Teagan say "Dawn arrives, friends, and all of us remain!"
Destroying the Anvil of the Void. Epic Hammer Smash.
And it's even more awesome if you betray whoever you were supporting at the last second. Despite the fact that they're both successful dwarven politicians, the new King just gets so flabbergasted.
It becomes a true CMOA if you play a Dwarf Noble, and then support Bhelen. Make it clear you don't like him but believe he's the best choice to get the troops you need for your campaign. Bhelen, who is initially distrustful, finally starts to favor you, convinced that you've put the past behind you and are acting in the best interests of the Wardens, Orzammar, and the surface. Then, at the very end, before the Assembly, tell them that the Paragon chose you to make the decision on who should be King - and choose Harrowmont. Bhelen's reaction is priceless. Turning on your manipulative, backstabbing brother, and turning the tables on him with your own ruthless backstab using Orzammar's politics is just plain awesome.
Equally awesome (and also good for any Dwarf who wants Orzammar to succeed) is allowing Bhelen to become king. Your brother lives with the knowledge that he's only king because of the sibling he had exiled, and then said sibling is named Paragon by the Assembly. It might not be as bloody as the alternative, but you still managed to best your brother at his own game in the end, turning his own actions around to your ultimate benefit.
The Battle of Ostagar, where King Cailan and his men are positioned to crush the darkspawn once and for all. It doesn't work, but the battle cinematic is truly awesome to see, especially on higher graphics and with the Crowning Music of Awesome blaring from your speakers at top volume.
Riordan leaping from the roof of the Fort Drakon tower to ride the Archdemon, stab it a few times, and then tear a huge gash in its wing with his sword...it didn't work, but you can't fault him for trying. And it did do enough damage to the dragon's flying ability that it can't simply take wing and fly away once you're fighting it atop Fort Drakon.
Flemeth: "Come. She will earn what she takes. I'll have it no other way."
If a melee character attacks Flemeth and kills her, the resulting "death blow" animation is truly epic to behold.
Every boss has an epic deathblow animation. Somehow Alistair and Zevran managed to get the final strike at the same time, and both ran the animation together.
During one run-through the Battle of Denerim, both the Female Noble and a romanced Alistair repeatedly got the final strike on multiple Ogres, from various starting directions and ran the animation to take it down together. Made more awesome because during the Landsmeet they'd become King and Queen of Ferelden, proving that with Ferelden's premiere Battle Couple, the country is definitely in safe hands!
Loghain's speech to the Landsmeet.
My lords and ladies, our land has been threatened before. It's been invaded and lost, and won times beyond counting. We Fereldans have proven that we will never truly be conquered so long as we are united. We must not let ourselves be divided now. Stand with me, and we shall defeat even the Blight itself.
Made infinitely more awesome if immediately following this speech, there's a slew of "South Reach stands with the Warden!" "Waking Sea supports the Warden!" "Dragon's Peak supports the Warden!"
The opening cinematic to the endgame. The huge army that you've spent the entire game gathering finally assembles. You arrive at Denerim after a forced march and see the archdemon flying overhead. Before you go into battle, Alistair gives the army a Rousing Speech, saying that you are the greatest Grey Warden in history. The end of the speech tops it off, as Alistair ends it by yelling "For Ferelden! And the Grey Wardens!", after which the entire army charges towards Denerim screaming, easily breaking into the city after dealing with the group of darkspawn that was outside. With the heroic leitmotif playing, no less.
(as a male Human Noble):
"Before us stands the might of the darkspawn horde. Gaze upon them now, but fear them not! The man beside me is a native of Ferelden, now risen to the ranks of the Grey Wardens. He is proof that glory is within reach of us all. He has survived despite the odds, and without him, none of us would be here today. Today, we save Denerim! Today, we avenge the death of my brother, King Cailan! But most of all, today we show the Grey Wardens we remember and honor their sacrifice. FOR FERELDEN! AND THE GREY WARDENS!!"
Being able to call your army into battle to fight beside you. After a whole game of being surrounded by dozens of enemies with only four characters at your disposal, it's great to finally be able to even the odds, such as calling on squads of Elven archers to help defend the Alienage, or a dozen axe-swinging Dwarves to keep mooks off you while battling the Archdemon.
The Final Battle against the Archdemon is pretty awesome too. Your party, reinforcements, and a few ballistae versus the Archdemon and his reinforcements. It's even better when you see the various NPCs you helped in the game, such as Arl Eamon, First Enchanter Irving/Knight Commmander Gregoire, Zathrian/Swiftrunner, and/or Kardol joining the fray.
And keep an eye out for Sandal!
In the ending, whoever kills the Archdemon gets one.
One for the entire Grey Warden order in the game's intro movie: we see the darkspawn rampaging along, massacring the dwarven armies, with Duncan providing the commentary, and then we see the Wardens charging at a massive horde of darkspawn - a half-dozen Wardens, and they tear into the darkspawn, swords swinging, magical fire burning, arrows striking. Then we see the darkspawn attacking a village, and two Gray Wardens are shown holding off virtually the entire darkspawn army by themselves - all while some truly heroic and badass music is playing in the background.
Offscreen CMOA: Anders talks about his cat back at the Circle Tower, a tabby named Mr. Wiggums. Mr. Wiggums, who, upon being possessed by a rage demon, killed three Templars by himself. Yeah, that cat deserves that toast.
And rage demons are the weakest, according to a loading screen.
If you manage to get the normally frail and soft-spoken Irving to enter the Fade to rescue Connor, the way he confronts the Desire Demon behind it all is similar to Gandalf. It shows why he was the First Enchanter.
Near-synchronized Fatality: Oghren and Zevran each killed an Ogre at the far end of the Dead Trenches, within a second of each other. Each of them rode their kill in slow-mo slaughter, and the Ogres fell one across the other, landing in an 'X'.
A Mage possesses the ability to pull off one of these on their own if they have Master Coercion - after performing the blood magic ritual at Redcliffe to enter the Fade, and confronting the Desire Demon, if you have that skill, it's possible to not only browbeat the demon into leaving Connor's soul alone forever, but also get the demon to cough up one of the 'favors', whether that's the Blood Magic specialization or an extra spell, free of charge. How's that for being persuasive?
Especially in light of Irving's warning that one should never make deals with demons because they never end well. This one does end well.
Mage Warden: How about you leave and I do not destroy you?
Mage Warden: On the contrary, I think you can offer more.
Desire Demon: *Sighs* I see. Name your price then.
In the Mage's first trip into the fade, during the Harrowing, they can already prove they have the willpower to dominate a Spirit through words only. Early on during the Harrowing, you'll run into the Spirit of Valor, who values honor highly. You can ask him for a weapon to use against the demon waiting for you and he will give you a staff on one condition: you have to beat him in a duel. You can fight him, of course, but you could also point out that there isn't much honor in challenging an unarmed mage. He begrudgingly admits defeat and gives you the staff, completely free of charge.
If your PC kills the Archdemon and dies in the process, Sten travels back to Par Vollen. He's asked if there was anyone honorable outside of Par Vollen. Sten replies that in all his travels, he only ever met one.
Dragon Age II reveals that the Qunari term for this is "Basalit-an: An Outsider Worthy of Respect" and is the highest form of praise that they can bestow upon on someone outside of the Qun.
Killing the high dragon with only your Dog left in your party. It's about 7 minutes of biting its ankles to death.
Ser Otto the blind templar. Going into the Alienage to solve a problem with no real help, fighting demons in a haunted orphanage, all pretty damn badass. But his ultimate crowning moment has to be when in mockery a rage demon throws a book at him, Otto simply swats it away in a manner that makes you question how powerful templars can really be.
There's two subtle ones that happened in the Deep Roads, long before the Warden got there and only revealed in the Codex.
The first is the 'Crosscut Drifters' a group of renegade dwarven miners who tell the assembly to piss off and go hunting for lyrium veins in high-risk areas. They break through a wall and find a cavern where a huge mass of darkspawn about to surprise attack Orzammar. What do they do? Blow the entire cavern up, burying the darkspawn... and they did this knowing that it would bury them in there as well.
The second is an offscreen one for Willem Trialmont, an elf who came down to the Deep Roads to fight the darkspawn. There's no record of him being a Grey Warden, so this elf was essentially a Badass Normal. He made enough of a name for himself that the dwarves gave him a full burial with honors and considered him one of their own when he finally fell in battle. What longtime Wardens regard as a suicide run, Trialmont walked into willingly.
The Stone take this topsider as she would welcome her own. He was born to air and sky, but has served the Deep Roads better than a native son. Many will see another day because he fought at their side and fell in their stead. We don't know his rites, and I fear the loss of his family blade may cause unrest on whatever journey he faces, but we know him as brother in blood and extend that which is sacred to us. Willem Trialmont, if the path home is dark, the Stone is honored to have you in the foundation.
Jowan in the mage origin. A timid, soft-spoken and somewhat pathetic guy, but the second his girlfriend is threatened with imprisonment he bellows with more force and rage than we ever see before or after: "NO!! I WON'T LET YOU TOUCH HER!", and then proceeds to stab through his own hand, raise his arms, and knock out the First Enchanter, Knight-Commander and an entire roomful of Templars with the sheer, brutal force of his own blood.
You yourself, a comparatively much stronger mage, will have to go through about three-fourths of the game before getting even remotely strong enough to solo so many enemies of that caliber, and Jowan has yet to go through his Harrowing. That's how angry and desperate he is.
The mage Warden can then follow it up. After spending their entire life in the Tower, being told that mages must be controlled, you can tell the First Enchanter and the Templar Knight Master that you don't care if Jowan is a blood mage, you're glad he escaped and that if you had to do it all over again, you'd still help him.
And for those who were sick of Jowan's manipulation and immaturity in the Origin, it's just as satisfying to track him down and punish him for all the damage he has done.
Leliana gets one in her DLC, where her final confrontation with Raleigh ends with him mocking her that no matter what she does, he'll always "remember that little scared girl in my cell". Leliana calmly tells him "I remember her too. This is for her." And then kicks him off of a cliff.
She gets a fairly awesome This Is Not My Life to Take moment if another option is chosen. Leliana tells Raleigh, "I'm not going to kill you. I'm not that selfish." and turns and walks away from him. Raleigh looks like he can't believe his luck... until Leliana motions to Silas, who spent months being tortured in Raleigh's dungeon for a fairly minor offense. To cap it all off, once Silas throws him off the cliff, he grins at Leliana and says: "Thanks for that."
This gem from the Dwarf Commoner Origin, when the real Everd wanders into the Proving Arena and blows your cover.
Announcer: Remove your helmet, Warrior, and let all who watched you see your face!
Warden: I will not! My victories have earned me your respect!
Announcer: Your skills are impressive, but you are one man. Show yourself, lest I call the guards and have them do it for you.
Warden: Very well. Look, and see who I am.
*Removes helmet and reveals themselves to be Casteless*
Made even more awesome if you're playing as a female Dwarf, as every other female Casteless in the game is depicted as a Noble-Hunter. It's a testament to the Female Dwarf Commoner's skill with a blade that even Beraht recognises that she's more valuable to him as a Sellsword than if he were to force her to be a Gold Digger like her sister, Rica.
Duncan's summation of why he chose to recruit the Dwarf Commoner in the first place;
Proving Master: This wo/man is not a Warrior! They are Casteless! Rejected by the Ancestors! His/her very footsteps pollute the stone! S/he has no place here!
Duncan: Except as your Champion...
Bann Teagan gets one near the beginning of the game right after the battle at Ostagar. When Loghain gets back to Denerim and is trying to set himself up as regent, Teagan is the only one out of the entire Bannorn to stand up to him and point out that his retreat at Ostagar was pretty convenient. Though the entire Landsmeet must have been thinking the exact same thing, Teagan is the only one with the courage to call Loghain out directly. When Loghain basically tells him to shut up and fall in line, Teagan hits him with the following.
Teagan: The Bannorn will not bow to you simply because you demand it!
Keep in mind, Eamon is sick at this point, meaning Teagan is standing up to the most powerful man in the country, completely by himself, simply because it's the right thing to do. There's a reason some fans have dubbed him the Bannhammer.
Note that all of the other nobles at the Landsmeet are wearing their expensive finery. Teagan, though? He's clad in heavy chainmail. He's expecting a fight when he calls Loghain out.
He gets a second, quieter one during the Battle of Denerim. Eamon specifically tells Teagan to stay behind and look after Redcliffe while everyone else marches off to Denerim to fight. Nope. Teagan sneaks along - you see him fighting right at the moment when the Archdemon is slain.
Having a Mage Warden unleash the spell combination "Storm of the Century" while defending the Alienage, effectively wiping out every single darkspawn attempting to Zerg Rush across the Bridge. Considering how neglected, mistreated and powerless the Alienage Elves often seen to be, having the Warden Hold the Line in their defence and go tactically nuclear with one of the most powerful spells in their arsenal is incredibly satisfying. Even more so if playing as an Elven mage unaware of where they were born, as they were likely Alienage-born themself.
Getting rid of Caladrius and his goons as an Elven Arcane Warrior. The Tevinter blood mage came to Ferelden to take advantage of its dire situation and take as many Elven slaves as possible, only to end up meeting the first Elf in centuries to master the Elvhenan's forgotten branch of magic, one that was specifically tailored for war and the bane of the Ancient Tevinters.
Better yet, sinking enough points into Willpower that you can use that spell as an opening move in a fight to hammer home how utterly screwed anyone who fights you is moments before they're reduced to their base components.
If you pick Alistair as your champion in the duel with Loghain at the end of the Landsmeet, he gets a rather epic moment before executing Loghain:
Loghain: So it seems there's some of Maric in you after all. Good.