Shirou, despite his initial thick-headedness, gets a great many awesome moments when he goes up against various Servants and Big Bads. The final battle against Kotomine Kirei exemplifies his sheer force of will; facing the literal manifestation of "all the evils of the world", billions of curses powerful enough to become physical, all directed at humanity, and he gets completely covered by it, melting his clothing and eventually his skin. He breaks through.
His fight against Rider's Master, Shinji, is pretty awesome, charging the guy, slamming him against the wall and breaking his arm, and informing him that he has been trained to have no problems killing another magus if he doesn't do what Shirou says.
Hell, every time that Shinji gets put in his place is very satisfying.
Saber, facing Rider and her overwhelmingly powerful Pegasus on the roof of a skyscraper, finally reveals her identity by unleashing her Wave Motion SwordExcalibur. It not only kills Rider in one blow, but the single sword slash reaches the sky and divides the clouds (think airborne version of the parting of the Red Sea).
In her last battle with Gilgamesh, who has already proven that he can outmatch whatever she does, pulls an Eleventh Hour Superpower, and walks through an attack which ruptures space-time itself to deliver a killing blow.
Archer, a mysterious and fameless hero, when abandoned by Rin to buy time for her, Shirou and Saber to escape, facing an indefeasible and unstoppable foe (a berserk Herakles with twelve lives), has only one question: "You don't mind if I kick his ass, right?"He dies, but still kills Berserker six times over, shocking Ilya so much that she could only wonder, "Who was he?"
And the icing on the cake? He is not shown to have used Unlimited Blade Works(and, it's implied that he did not).Meaning ,that Archer bested Berserker 6 times in close quarter combat. Which is VERY GAR.
Not only that. Part of God Hand makes Berserker unable to be killed by an attack that's killed him before. Meaning Archer killed Berserker in six different ways. Just adding to the Awesome.
To top it all off, Archer was still injured from his fight with Saber previously. Which means he wasn't even at full power!
Plus, the narration implies that, were Berserker not constrained by his Mad Enhancement, would have enjoyed his fight with Archer, and would've seen him as a Worthy Opponent. Yes, Archer, the nameless Servant with only skill to his name, was able to earn the respect of Hercules.
...A dim light grows in Berserker's eyes. If he had been summoned as a normal Servant, he would have grieved that this battle "deserved better". No matter who he really was, Archer was a rare great enemy. If he had not been mad, he could have had matched sword techniques with Archer to his heart's content and passed a satisfying time.
The anime's Adaptation Expansion of that battle implies that he did the above with only one freaking arm because the other one was broken by the mere aftershock from one of Berserker's attacks. Yes, that effectively implies that he could've actually won that fight if he had both arms in working order by the time he managed to activate Unlimited Blade Works (double his attack rate?). That is how awesome Archer is. While the anime battle is deemed non-canon, The Overedge forms of Kanshou and Bakuya used there impressed Nasu enough to grant them Canon Immigrant status.
Following that, why the HELL has this one not been mentioned yet? After having been kicked around by Berserker for far too long, Shirou and Saber make Archer's sacrifice count: Shirou manages to project Saber's Caliburn and he attacks Berserker with it. But since he's too weak, Saber grabs the hilt alongside him and they deliver the fatal blow together, killing Berserker seven times in one blow. And if that wasn't awesome enough already, Hercules regains his mind just for a brief time to praise them before fading away.
Gilgamesh absolutely destroying Caster. He randomly shows up on Shirou's rooftop, standing there and staring at Saber so hard that Caster becomes nervous. Yes, he actually intimidated someone by looking at someone else. Then when she starts yelling "who the hell are you?!", he tells her to shut up before annihilating her, even seeing through her escape plan before she even puts it into motion. Everyone, especially Caster, iscompletely frozen in fear.
Gilgamesh: What's wrong with you? Your prey should be those mongrels over there!
Lancer: I changed my mind.
Saber: Lancer... you...
Lancer: Don't get me wrong. I'm not siding with you or anything. I'm just siding... with my own beliefs!
Realta Nua's epilogue for this route, amongst the melancholy beginning and middle and beautiful ending, manages to sneak in an awesome moment for Shirou when you think about it long enough. Humans in the modern era are stated to not have what it takes to become Heroic Spirits, so when they die, they just get reincarnated and have no afterlife of their own. Shirou, after a lifetime of heroic deeds and fulfilling his dream of championing justice even though it wasn't easy, not only avoids reincarnation by becoming a unique existence, but becomes special enough to earn a place in Avalon. Now that is awesome.
Unlimited Blade Works
Shirou's impossible victory over Archer, where his determination to defend his impossible dream pushes him forward and reminds Archer of the beauty of the dream he abandoned.
Let it sink in: He looks Gilgamesh in the eye and mocks him, to his face. That takes giant steel balls.
Don't forget the way it's presented. He gives that line... Emiya starts to play.
The epic GAR of Shirou vs. Archer and Shirou vs. Gilgamesh is multiplied about 300 times over in The Movie.
For Your Viewing Pleasure: vsArcher and vs Gilgamesh. Epic doesn't even begin to describe the results of Shiro's powerleveling.
Not to forget that he manages to take Archer's depressing invocation and turn it around into an affirmation of his principles by changing a few words ("and thus my life has no meaning" becomes "and thus my life needs no meaning", for instance).
After Shirou gets remote-controlled by Caster to the Temple, just as Caster was about to take him, Archer drops in. Caster teleports away and launches her Death from Above (Ancient Greek Laser Beams) and Archer dodges a bombing run, picks up the gaping Shirou, throws him off when Caster froze the space around him, but not before managing to throw his twin swords at her. Caster barely avoids death because Archer warned her himself because he was already planning on betraying Rin at that point.
Also, the battle in front of the Church between him and Lancer: "spear of sure kill" vs. "shield of no loss." Lancer's spear was moving so fast Archer's eyes couldn't even see it, and Archer holds him off by leaving openings on purpose so he knows where to block. Then, after Lancer fully unseals the curse of Gae Bolg to use it as a javelin, Archer pulls out Rho Aias, the Noble Phantasm of Telamonean Ajax that was supposed to be completely impervious to projectiles. Gae Bolg drills through six layers in two seconds, barely pierces the last layer and only stops short of actually piercing Archer's heart.
After backstabbing Caster, he turns on Kuzuki as well, who at this point is not a threat as he lost Caster's Reinforcement. Just to prove the point, Archer takes Kuzuki's "Snake" head-on, shrugs it off, and kills him.
It should probably be noted that Gilgamesh wasn't actually trying to take Shirou with him. He was trying to use Shirou to pull himself out, then kill him himself.
Shirou: "Damn, are you trying to take me with you...!"
Gilgamesh: "Hah, I have no intention of dying...! Stay right there until I pull myself out, you lowlife!"
Shirou: "You..." He's arrogant even in this situation...!
Lancer gets a definitive Crowning Moment Of Awesome in this scenario: first pulling off a Big Damn Heroes moment, saving a tied up Rin from Shinji (who was about to rape her) by backhanding him across the room. Kirei arrives and commands him to kill himself via stabbing out his own heart, which he does... and just when Rin was about to submit to her fate as Kirei moves in for the kill, Lancer gets back up and stabs Kirei to death. And just when Shinji starts thinking Lancer couldn't do anything else, Lancer gets up again and scares off Shinji with another stab. And then for good measure, he sets fire to his dying place after Rin escapes. And he does all that with a smile. A lot of fans cheered on that scene, and his popularity skyrocketed.
"I might be almost dead, but I could still easily kill a thousand of you."
By the way, the fire he lit needs a bit of elaboration as for how awesome it was - it was cool by itself, but it quickly turns out to be important - when Gilgamesh is about to basically kill everyone with his Gate of Babylon, the fire spreads to the lobby, and Gil's massive ego results in him deciding he doesn't want to get soot on himself, and postpones the inevitable fight, giving the good guys time to work out a plan to take him down. Lancer did all thatin his dying moments. What a trooper.
The antagonist Kuzuki has one: Saber has always been the best overall Servant and especially in melee, which just proves how unpredictable his technique was when even she was overwhelmed by "Snake." Catching an invisible, sound-barrier-breaking sword in midair between an elbow and a knee, then punching Saber in the back of the head when they were facing each other at arm's length, and proceeding to get past all her defenses, culminating in a single-hand neck hold and launching her like a baseball at a nearby wall, almost ripping off her head completely against the concrete.
In one of the game's more disturbing "bad ends," he punches off Rin's head and punches a hole in Shirou's stomach, killing them both.
And the following Tiger Dojo is one of the funniest in the game.
Assassin's duel with Saber is worth a mention, if only because of Assassin's incredible Tsubame Gaeshi ("Swallow Reversal") technique, a single sword attack that launches three separate sword swings because it actually refracts dimensions. Assassin's not even a real Epic Spirit, just a nameless phantom, and he still forces Saber into a fair duel of swordsmanship. And Saber only won because he damaged his weapon, clashing it against Saber's invisible sword to lure her into his technique.
Every single one of Assassin's appearance is a CMOA, if for no other reason than because of the narration. With such comments as the fact that it is fortunate that the moon is hidden while Assassin is practicing his strike, else it would feel ashamed before the beauty of his movements. Also, the fact that both Saber and the narrator agree that the things that Assassin use casually are completely impossible. The Tsubame Gaeshi mentioned above? It doesn't involve magic. It's simply a series of movements that an unnamed swordsman practiced so often that reality gave up so that it now strikes three times in a single moment. Remember, THIS Assassin is NOT a true Heroic Spirit.
He's also such a cool guy, to the point that he let his opponent and her master go because their match is interrupted, then proceeds to fight the person that's chasing his opponent. Oh, and he practically lost to Saber on purpose on the second match, actually blocking Saber's strike, not parrying it, bending his sword in the process, as parrying to just drag on the battle and he knew Saber doesn't have time. Not to mention that all his death quotes are very awesome.
Rin's duel against Caster. With the help of her limited supply of gems, Rin matches Caster evenly for a while, but realizes her limitations and gives up. Cue Caster gearing up a fatal shot...long enough for Rin to leap and start beating the snot out of her. Mages have gotten weaker since the ancient times, but turns out they're a helluva lot less squishy.
Her tactics in detail. First off Rin plans the cancelling of all magic in the area with her spell this makes Caster essentially useless as a fighter. Second It shows how much better of a magus Rin is than Caster, as Caster has no physical defense other than maybe Rule-Breaker. Lastly Rin's using the martial arts that the progenitor of her family, Tohsaka Nagato, used. Fuyuki-land wasn't the only thing he has left to his family; he gave them the ability to fight with no magic.
Berserker's epic final stand against Gilgamesh. One of the most badass moments of the scenario.
Breaking Enkidu might be a Shout-Out to the original myths, where he snapped the god-proof adamantine chains that were used to hold Prometheus, especially since its been shown that the ability to defeat a similar object can give you anti-ranks toward that object. Kind of like how Saber is weakened by Servants/Noble Phantasms with ranks in Dragon-Slayer. Which means Herakles is a demigod that can surpass Gods (which was also somewhat true in the myths as well).
Made even more awesome in Fate/Unlimited Codes. In his arcade mode story Berserker fights his way through every opponent, only to confront Gilgamesh at the foot of the Greater Grail beneath Mt. Enzo. He proceeds to do the impossible and actually win the battle, finally finding peace and helping Ilya obtain the Third Magic.
The entirety of "Panic SonicRoller Coaster", which is a pretty cool name by itself, but the scene is basically Shirou and Rin playing a rather deadly game of cat and mouse, as Rin chases Shirou through the school halls, attacking him with a bullet-like curse at increasingly rapid-fire speeds. He merely gets nicked by the 'bullets', and eventually is forced to barricade himself behind a reinforced chair when Rin traps him in a classroom and unleashes Bullet Hell. She eventually corners him, but then Rider shows up. It's impressive that Shirou actually managed to last so long against the much more experienced Rin.
Early on, when Rider is defeated by Saber, Shinji loses his shit and begins violently scolding Rider for being defeated, although she's been literally chopped open. Zouken then shows up and basically tells Shinji to fuck off. It's yet another moment when Shinji gets put in his place, and once again, it's awesome.
Rider's Big Damn Heroes moment when saving Shiro from True Assassin in Ryudo Temple, if that at least is the beginning of the proof that she is not a weak Servant that is surely to be eliminated first from every routes. She completely matches his speed, then accurately stabs him with her chain... then completely throws him out of the temple effortlessly. She could've been awesome from the beginning, if it's not that pathetic Shinji holding back her true power.
Shirou facing Berserker in the Einzbern forest; with nowhere to run, he projects Berserker's sword, replicating his strength and technique, and manages to kill him nine times before Berserker finished his charge. Berserker still doesn't die, and takes a last swing at Shirou, stopping only when he saw Ilya watching them. Shirou promptly gives a final blow. That's right. Emiya Shirou overcame his limits and defeated Berserker.
And in a parallel scene, Kirei pulling out Black Keys to fight True Assassin.
He didn't just fight True Assassin, he beat True Assassin. In case you didn't catch that: A normal albeit well trained human, with nothing but pointed sticks, defeated a magically empowered super being of legend that possesses the Hand of Freaking Satan.
Not only that, he wins because his opponent possess the Hand of Freaking Satan. As in, the curse of True Assassin's Zabaniya fails to work against Kirei's heart, which is itself constructed of curses from Angra Mainyu, and Kirei uses his opponent's surprise to pin him to a tree with a Black Key. Had True Assassin just fought from a distance with his throwing knives, he'd have won. Which means that Kotomine's strategy was built around his unique ability to shrug off having the hand of Satan shoved into his chest.
The entire sequence in the Einzbern forest where Kirei and Shirou cooperate to save Illya is one long Crowning Moment Of Awesome for Kirei, who uses this to suddenly reveal himself as prime example of Badass Normalin the most awesome way possible. From carrying Ilya and parrying swords at the same moment while running at full speed and being chased by both Dark Berserker and True Assassin, to beating True Assassin later and casually giving Shirou advice beforehand (which becomes more meaningful once we find out how he speaks from experience), to exorcising Zouken to death while the guy gives him a brutal Breaking Speech in regards to his past, completely deconstructing him — and not even paying any attention to it. The latter in particular is also incredibly satisfying because of the monster Zouken has previously proven himself to be.
Rider and Shirou work together to defeat Saber Alter in the underground cavern near the end of the route. By combining Shirou's Rho Aias and Rider's Pegasus, they manage to break through a full attack from Excalibur. Shirou finishes her off with the Azoth.
An alternate ending ("Sparks Liner High"), if Shirou does not cooperate with Rider, will have Shirou facing Saber Alter alone. He manages to defeat her in one-on-one melee by drawing on Archer's "ultimate attack" using Kanshou and Bakuya. However, at this point, Shirou's mind was fading from overexertion, and by using Projection so many times against Saber to keep drawing multiple swords, he destroys his mind completely. Saber, defeated but regenerating, praises his skill and Heroic Sacrifice while Shirou lies beside her, conscious but unseeing.
This alternate scene is one of the most awesome things ever written down. Your head may explode. It is so awesome, in fact, that Realta Nua adds an entire new (awesome) battle theme, for this scene and this scene alone.
Rin's magical duel against Sakura most certainly qualifies. A magically drained Rin faces an infinitely large army of noble phantasm strength shadow creatures and wins.
The sheer genius of the plan though: She fights off someone with near limitless magical energy by connecting to an infinite number of alternate universes and having channeling magic from there. Oh, and while it was thought to be a one-off thing the ending reveals that she knows how to pull that off again. (although she needs the money to duplicate the MacGuffin)
The very last duel between Shirou and Kirei before the corrupted Grail, about to be born; a fistfight between two walking corpses. Then Shirou, on his last breath, recreates Excalibur to kill off the Grail once and for all.
While Dark Sakura is waiting for the completion of the Grail, Zouken is still there and still plotting to make her his next body. By now, though, she's more than sick of his abuse. He may think he's got one up on her by having his control worm in her heart, but not only is she onto him, she decides to get rid of him by reaching into her own chest to rip the worm out and squishing it while he tries to cover his ass. Smiling. About time, Sakura!
The 'Conclusion' scene of the Normal End. Oh so very much. Two reasons.
First, it's said that Shirou'll die if he just takes off the Shroud of Martin. He takes it off, survives and beats Dark Berserker. Then he says that one more use of projection will damage him, the second will have very serious effects and the third will instantly kill him. By the end of 'Conclusion' he's projected a full fivemore times - the Jeweled Sword, Caladbolg, Rho Aias, Rule Breaker and Excalibur. That list includes an item capable of True Magic without even physically seeing it and Excalibur perfectly enough that he can use it at a power level high enough to kill an almost actualised Angra Mainyu.
Secondly, Shirou's absolute determination (although that really counts just from him entering the cavern). He helps kill Saber, but is drawing on his/Archer's magic to an extent that causes blades to keep on materialising inside him and through his skin. He creaks like a rust iron gate when he walks, but moves on into the final cavern. Then, to get at Sakura, he staggers forward, taking attacks from the all-devouring Shadow on his new sword-skin. Then, after his fourth projection, he keeps on going. His mind is being destroyed inside him, he haemorrages memories and brain functions, and he still has the determination to project Excalibur. There's nothing left of his physical mind at that point, but the resolve in the remnants of his soul still allows him to activate it. It's one hell of a Heroic Sacrifice. This scene is also the home of one of the most fantastic fights in the series, which can be best described as a half-dead suit of swords and a half-dead heartless priest beating the holy hell out of each other until one of them falls over.
The best part? Shirou's memory gets to the point where he can't remember Sakura's name, and he still keeps fighting. You heard right: Shirou can't even remember Sakura now but he still keeps on fighting for her, because he still knows somehow that Sakura is important to him. Determinator indeed.
The Tiger Dojo where Ilya rocks up in a tank... which Taiga blows away in a single strike from her shinai.