Red Dead Redemption: John Marston knows that there are thirty-five men outside his barn with guns. He also knows that he has to die to save his family. His pistol holds fifteen rounds— sixteen men (if the player is quick enough that is), counting John, die.
Usually Ganondorf in every Zelda game he's been in has a profound effect. Most notable are his death scenes in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where Link impales his forehead with the Master Sword, he says his final line, then turns to stone. And The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where Link stabs him through the torso where the Sage's Sword had impaled him, Ganondorf stands back up, then dies on his feet, Master Sword stuck straight through him.
Also Mikau from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, who is mortally wounded and lying on the beach. He asks Link if he will hear his last message. After Link agrees to this, Mikau stands up, sings his last song, and falls down, dead.
The back-story part of the manual for Wolfenstein 3D says that you will either have a great story (about escaping Nazi prison) for your grandkids, or go out in a blaze of glory.
Archer gets one in the Fate route, being able to kill Berserker several times even though he was still exhausted from fighting Saber. He kills Berserker over and over again even without his Reality Marble.
Berserker himself gets one in the Unlimited Blade Works route, taking on Gilgamesh to defend Ilya, before being restrained by chains specifically fashioned to hold back godly beings and killed. When Gilgamesh then goes for Ilya, Berserker comes back once more and breaks the chains just so that his Master wouldn't die alone before finally dying himself. Ilya herself described it as her favorite scene in the omake.
Lancer's death in Unlimited Blade Works definitely counts. After he saves Tohsaka from being raped by Shinji, Kotomine suddenly appears and orders Lancer to kill Tohsaka. Lancer refuses, causing Kotomine to force Lancer to kill himself via Command Spell. However, before Kotomine is able to kill Tohsaka, a very much living Lancer stabs an unsuspecting Kotomine, killing him in the process. Shinji, thinking of both Kotomine and Lancer as dead, attempts to force himself on Tohsaha again, but Lancer reveals that he still hasn't died yet and scares Shinji off. Then he sets the room on fire and tells Tohsaka to go, which actually saves everyone from being killed by Gilgamesh (who leaves, since he doesn't want to get "dirtied by the ashes") a little later on.
Shirou gets two in Heaven's Feel. In the Sparks Liner High Bad End, he takes on and wins against Saber Alter by utilizing multiple copies of Kansho and Byakuya to perform a chain of simultaneous and ultimately unavoidable attacks, he then dies having earned Saber's respect and acknowledgment and having been able to give her one last goodbye. In the Normal End, Shirou survives the fight against Saber Alter (as Rider was there to help), and goes on to face Kotomine alone. Shirou's mind and body is steadily being corrupted by his 'own' power given from Archer, turning him physically and mentally into a sword (the player can hear the metal in his body grinding against its self with every step. He can feel it.) He and Kotomine fight fist to fist, both running on borrowed time. Kotomine finally expires before Shirou, who, having saved Sakura and done everything he set out to, just stops... but not before tracing Excalibur and destroying the Great Grail. Made even more impressive by the fact that Shirou actually died shortly after his fight against Kotomine but kept on going through sheer force of will even as his mind collapses and he starts forgetting who he is, he is still forcing himself forward.
Even if he is the Big Bad of the game (and a true bastard to boot) Luca Blight's demise in Suikoden II in which he battles practically your entire army almost single-handedly while covered with arrows and finally dueling the main character after all of this. Then he rubs it in your face with a Badass Boast.
Subverted in Modern Warfare 2. Soap is stabbed in the chest, which puts him out of action while the Big Bad beats up Captain Price. Then Soap yanks the knife out of his own chest and chucks it into the Big Bad 's eye. The subversion is that he's still alive when he's loaded into the chopper at the end of the game.
Though, at first, it seems that way. After Soap sends Shepherd to hell using an Eye Scream technique, his arms just drop as his vision steadily fades away. And just at the last second, when it seems Soap's gonna lose consciousness, Price comes to and it able to start patching Soap up.
All of Zero's various Heroic Sacrifices throughout the Mega Man X and Zero series qualifies, particularly the last one. Going out in a literal blaze of glory, taking a villain of the highest order with him, leaving behind a legacy of humans and Reploids working together for a more peaceful world. Said peace wouldn't have even come into fruition if the humans didn't see firsthand Zero's selfless acts throughout the series (up to and including the aforementioned Heroic Sacrifice). It's Zero, for crying out loud. They have to make his death one of the highlights of his life/lives.
And then the remains of his soul breaking Master Li's hold on your mind to allow your victory.
Shandra Jerro's impressive death two thrids of the way through Neverwinter Nights 2. Seeing the whiny farmgirl teleporting around freeing her grandfather's collection of bound demons before being taken down was quite satisfying.
Final Fantasy XII Reddas at the Pharos. Face-to-face with the Sun-Cryst, the instrument by which the gods manipulate history and which (indirectly) led to the destruction of a country by his hands, which he believes to be his own Moral Event Horizon, he takes a crystal-cleaving god-blade and...
Reddas: I, Judge Magister, condemn thee to oblivion!
Final Fantasy II has, like, three. First is Josef sacrificing himself to stop a boobytrapped boulder from crushing the party. Then there's Minwu giving his life to break the seal on the Ultima tome, and finally, Ricard attacks the Dark Emperor so the rest of the party can get away with their lives, sacrificing himself in the process. Concentrated Badass.
Final Fantasy IV: Tellah, driven by revenge, gives everything he has to take down Golbez in his final moments and casting the ultimate spell that fazes him. Said ultimate spell took him to him to his grave because, at his old age, he overtaxed himself or in game speak... MP too low. (His max MP isn't even enough to cast the spell.) Golbez may not have died, but that spell hitting him left him so weak that he dropped his control over Kain AND made him beatable later in the game. Bravo, Tellah...
To give those who haven't played the game a better feel for it. Meteor (the last spell that Tellah casts) uses 99 MP. Tellah only has 90 MP. He casts it AFTER using Firaga, Blizzaga, Thundaga (all of which use 30 MP each) AND Bio (MP cost 20). MP too low indeed.
In the Final Fantasy VII prequel Crisis Core, "Embrace your dreams... and whatever happens... protect your honor... AS SOLDIER!!" And at the end of the ensuing final stand, Zack, fatigued and battle worn, falls to the remaining THREE troops of the ARMY that he just faced...
In StarCraft Tassadar sacrifices himself to destroy the Overmind.
For those that actually haven't played the game: Tassadar is/was the commander of the Protoss forces until he committed the treason/heresy of not only talking with the Dark Templar but embracing them and sharing in their learning. Cue Zerg invasion of Aiur (Protoss homeworld) that reaches such a stupendous scale that they even manifest the physical body of the Hive Mind there. In the climax of the battle, Tassadar takes it upon himself to finish the job; namely flying his damaged and deteriorating flagship dead at the Hive Mind's physical shell, while channeling every ounce of his legendary psychic power using both Khala AND Dark Templar techniques throughout the ships hull, turning it into a psychically-charged kamikaze nuke so strong it (more or less) KILLS THE HIVE MIND of the entire Zerg.
Also, arguably the Overmind itself, which was tainted with an overriding directive to destroy the Protoss, and, after creating a replacement and keeping her safely occupied, made its own death (which would free the Zerg from the pesky directive) possible by manifesting in physical form on Aiur before its "enemies" were completely defeated. It could've worked better, but also a lot worse.
Killzone 2:after being shot in the chest at point blank three times and left for dead, captain templar crawls to the command console and deactivates the New Sun's altitude control system, and laughs weakly to himself as the giant warship plummets into Tharsis Refinery, disabling Pyrrhus' advanced defence grid.
Dragon Age: Origins has Duncan going down by climbing up an ogre's chest with sword and knife to deal the killing blow. Later, potentially the Warden, Alistair, or Loghain can be killed while offing the Archdemon.
In fact, the Grey Wardens seem to have this trope as one of membership benefits: those Wardens who aren't lucky enough to die killing the Archdemon or go out in a blaze of glory before getting too old leave for the Deep Roads to kill as many Darkspawn as they can and die fighting. This trailer says it all.
Riordan attacking the Archdemon in midair and slashing its wing before falling to his death, grounding it for the final battle with the other Wardens.
In Baldur's Gate, Keldorn's epilogue has him finally retiring from the Order of Torm and settling down with his family, only for a horde of giants to invade Athkatla. He then proceeds fight off the entire horde single handedly, despite numerous fatal wounds, and doesn't die until the last giant has been defeated. His actions were so heroic (and badass) that Torm himself came to personally guide Keldorn's soul to the afterlife. Wow. Not only that, but his 'afterlife' is to be the right hand man of the God of Justice!
If he isn't romanced and successfully passes his trials, Anomen will go on to have a great heroic career that ends with him going down in a blaze of glory while singlehandedly stopping an Evil Sorcerer.
Wild ARMs 4 has Gawn go down destroying a missile barrage while keeping himself aloft in the air with a pair of handguns, and after he runs out of ammo he takes down the last one by punching it. He follows this up by somehow giving a last speech before the detention destroys him. The laws of physics may weep at that scene, but it's still a way to go out.
Grom Hellscream in Warcraft 3 has one of the most epic deaths of any major character in the game. To save his clan from their demonic bloodlust and free them from Mannoroth's control, he and Thrall track down the demon. Grom's axe splits the demon's armour and chest in half, killing him in a burst of flame.
Grom: "Thrall... the blood haze has lifted... the demon's fire has burnt out in my veins. I... have... freed...myself..." Thrall: "No, old friend...you've freed us all."
Thus proving that Grom Hellscream was such an ultimate badass that the following statement was coined: "The only thing badass enough to kill Grom Hellscream was, in fact, killed by Grom Hellscream."
Jorge manually detonates a slipspace 'bomb' while aboard a captured Covenant Corvette, and the ensuing space-time rift destroys a massive Covenant Supercarrier, costing the Covenant a rare & powerful vessel and the (likely estimate) 100,000+ personnel aboard it. Then the restof the Covenant fleet arrives.
Carter disposes of a Scarab blocking Six & Emile's path by ramming the badly-damaged Pelican he's piloting into the walker. "You're on your own Noble. Carter out."
Emile gets impaled through the chest from behind by an Elite Zealot. Not missing a beat, he draws his huge-ass knife, spins around in the Elite's grip, and stabs the Elite in the neck with it, taking the Zealot down in his final act. "I'm ready, how about you?"
Six fights off an impossibly large never-ending swarm of Covenant soldiers, eventually being taken down by an elite team of Elites, and managing to kill about half of them before succumbing.
Kat gets shot by a sniper. Through and through, dead on arrival.
Six's predecessor grabbed a bomb from the wounded Kat, jumps into a covenant carrier with his jetpack and throws it into the troops assembling there seconds before detonation. Thus the "footsteps we rather not see filled."
And in the books, we have Kurt. After weeks of fighting Onyx Sentinels and then Covenant Elites and Hunters, and watching many old friends and students die, he stays behind while the survivors escape into the micro-Dyson sphere. Facing off against an army of Covenant soldiers, he sees every one of his deceased friends and students giving him a thumbs up. The following dialogue occurs:
Fleetmaster Elite: One last fight, Demon. You will die and we will open the silver gate. Kurt: Die? Don't you know? Spartans never die.
Then he detonates a nuke, killing the entire army, and leading to the planet breaking apart into trillions of Sentinels. These Sentinels then destroy the massive Covenant fleet in orbit, making his death even more awesome.
Also from the books, the Master Chief and his team have rigged a Covenant space station to blow, hoping to damage the 500 strong fleet around it. Admiral Whitcomb and Lieutenant Haverson realize that too many ships will survive for Earth to stand a chance, so they crash a ship into the station and lure the entire Covenant fleet in close. Thanks to them, about twelve Covenant ships survive the explosion.
Whoever gets sacrificed on Virmire in Mass Effect 1 gets this. Anybody who dies on the suicide mission, including Shepard himself in the non-canon bad ending in Mass Effect 2 gets this as well, unless they died on the Normandy.
Commander Shepard's death at the start of Mass Effect 2 counts as well, their last act is to save Joker, even though Shepard is fairly sure they're about to die. Don't worry, Shepard gets better.
In Mass Effect 3, Thane Krios takes on Cerberus assassin Kai Leng and takes a sword through the gut while preventing Leng from killing the salarian councilor. The fight is badass enough to qualify on its own - but Thane pulls it off in spite of the fact that he has a terminal illness that interferes with his ability to breathe, and was given three months to live nine months ago.
Thane also asks Shepard to tell the assassin that he should be ashamed at having been prevented from killing his target by a terminally-ill opponent.
Also Mordin Solus, who calmly sings to his Karmic Death or crawls, bleeding, toward it after Shepard betrays him. All to save a race that wanted him dead.
Also Lieutenant Tarquin Victus, who rips the detonation charge out of a massive bomb and is either crushed or killed when the charge explodes.
Also, Rila, one of Samara's daughters. Fighting off Indoctrination and a horde of Banshees (Husks of Ardat-Yakshi Asari), she survives being impaled through the chest by one long enough to set off the huge bomb that's right behind her, obliterating the Banshees.
Rila: "We... are not your slaves!"
Also, Legion, who willingly sacrifices himself to give the Geth true sentience.
And lastly, Shepard themself. Having barely survived a direct attack from a Reaper, Shepard continues fighting their way to the Crucible, ultimately confronting the intelligence controlling the Reapers and putting an end to the cycle once and for all before dying. Played the most straight in the Synthesis Ending, where Shepard performs a Heroic Sacrifice to bring about The Singularity and unite the galaxy in a new form of life. Potentially subverted however in the Destroy Ending, as with certain conditions fulfilled, Shepard is shown to survive the explosion on the Citadel. The Control Ending likewise has Shepard's essence survive as the new controlling intelligence of the Reapers, benevolent or otherwise.
Asch's death gets it's own little video. Unarmed at first, he manages to fight off dozens of soldiers but then ends up stabbed in the back. The sword goes through him, another three swords get stabbed through his body. He kills the last remaining soldiers, remains standing and pulls one of the swords out before his strength leaves him and he falls to the ground. Also contains a Go Out with a Smile seconds before he slides down the wall.
Bill's death in Left 4 Dead. In the campaign The Sacrifice, the survivors are trying to get a boat to get out to sea and hopefully to an island somewhere the infections hasn't reached yet. In order to do so, they have to operate several generators in order to hoist the noisy drawbridge. In the process of doing so, one of the generators powers down, leaving the drawbridge shut, and the survivors exposed. Louis begins to volunteer to be the one to go back to turn it back on, as he had a busted leg (canonically at least, gameplay wise it doesn't matter who), but before he does Bill goes back a guns a blazing. He manages to get the generator fixed, but is trapped in the generator room by no fewer than THREE Tanks. Because you -need- that many tanks to take out someone like Bill.
Selvaria blowing herself up along with a whole freaking city and most of Gallia's main army in Valkyria Chronicles is a villainous example.
Takeharu Kirijo of Persona 3 gets one in the PSP remake. After Ikutsuki shoots him, leaving him fatally wounded, Takeharu pulls out a gun of his own and fires back at Ikutsuki. (In the other versions of the game, Koromaru attacks Shuji, which is awesome in its own right, but it's not a DMOA.)
The Protagonist him/herself, transforming his/her own life into the Great Seal that will seal Nyx, the universal embodiment of Death itself, away once more. And managing to hold on for the next two months to Graduation Day on the sheer strength of a promise made to his/her friends.
The ending of God of War 3 sees Athena demanding the power of Hope back from Kratos so she can use it to remake the world. In a last act of defiance, Kratos impales himself with the Blade of Olympus, releasing the power of Hope to all of mankind.
In Metal Gear Solid, in the middle of the battle against Metal Gear Rex (piloted by Liquid Snake), the cybernetic ninja Gray Fox leaps into the action and attempts to destroy Rex's radome. At one point he is pinned down by Rex with an arm sliced off, and Liquid taunts Gray Fox by remarking that "in the middle east, we don't hunt foxes, we hunt jackals". Despite his predicament, he still has the strength to lift his one remaining arm and shoot at Rex's radome while proclaiming "A cornered fox is more dangerous than a jackal!" This destroys the radome, and before being crushed to death, he turns to Snake and delivers one final message to his former friend/foe:
Gray Fox: Snake, we're not tools of the government, or anyone else! Fighting was the only thing, the ONLY thing I was good at. But, at least I always fought for what I believed in. Snake, farewell...
And this is just the end of it. When the Barrier Trio loses all of their health, they charge up an attack. Next turn, they use PK Starstorm, the strongest attack an enemy can use, for the first time in the game. They try to do it again, but they're too weak. Then, they flash the last pose spectacularly and finally die.
In Gears of War 3, Dominic Santiago heroically sacrifices himself to save the rest of Delta Squad by crashing a truck into a massive fuel tank. This scene was particularly shocking and heartbreaking because not only was Dom a very likable character, but he was also the one character that nobody expected to die.
THE ENTIRE CAST of Digital Devil Saga 2. Heat's death begins it all as he chooses to go by Heroic Suicide against Serph. Argilla and Roland stay behind to lure the Nigh InvulnerableEldritch Abomination Meganada to an exploding reactor core and give the others the chance to reach the Airport. Gale confronts Jenna Angel at the Airport, giving the other three the time to reach a plane capable of reaching the last functioning HAARP facility and escape Karma City. Cielo dies taking down a squadron of Karma Society fighters to allow Sera and Serph to reach the facility. Serph and Sera give their lives to activate the facility one last time to speak with God / Brahman to halt the already ongoing Apocalypse.
Planescape: Torment has this regardless of which way the player ends the game. The Nameless One is determined to either destroy or reclaim his mortality, even though the former means instant death and the latter means death fairly shortly, as centuries of life suddenly catch up to him. He also knows that death means an eternity in Hell. So does he back down and remain immortal? No, he either destroys his very mortality in a battle of Physical Gods or he overwhelms the being of superhuman intelligence and wisdom with logic and force of will and pulls it back into himself.
This also applies to the Nameless One's companions who travel with him to the Fortress of Regrets. Upon arrival, they are separated and flung across the massive fortress, where each one is approached by The Transcendant One and offered the choice to abandon their companion and go home or die. Each of them chooses to fight, and though they accomplish nothing, they put up a struggle.
Fall-From-Grace likely takes the cake. Not only does she calmly verbally spar with him, completely unafraid, she also is the only one of your companions to actually hurt the Transcendant One before she bites it. And this is from your healer.
Nodrom challenges the Transcentdant One knowing full well that his chances of winning are slim. Not bad for an apparently soulless construct.
Stern and Levi of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny. As the already immense power of the Nigh Invulnerable Unbreakable Darkness continues to increase, Stern realizes that the only way to stop the Eldritch Abomination is to devise a way to stop her growth. She then volunteers herself for the Suicide Mission despite knowing that the Unbreakable Darkness could destroy her system to the point where even her regeneration program couldn't save her, and binds her Lord Dearche and fellow minion Levi to make sure that they don't try to take her place. However, her binds prove to not be strong enough to stop Levi from brute forcing her way out, and Levi convinces her to let her join the suicide mission since there'd be a better chance against the Unbreakable Darkness with the two of them. As expected, the two go down fighting the Unbreakable Darkness, but not before they manage to seal the Unbreakable Darkness' Healing Factor and hand over the last of their powers to Lord Dearche with their dying breath, paving a path to victory for the rest of their allies. They do get better in the end though.
Eliwood's father Elbert in Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. What's not awesome in severely wounding the same Big Bad who fatally injured you, drastically slowing his plans and being this close to get him done for, thus forcing the Big Bad to retreat while mumbling about how he almost kicked it?
Shadow the Hedgehog at the end of Sonic Adventure 2. After preventing a Space Colony from crashing into the Earth with the assistance of Super Sonic, Super Shadow ended up draining his power too quickly, fell to Earth, and supposedly burned to death in the atmosphere, wondering if he had fulfilled the promise he made to his dead best friend: To give the people of Earth a chance to be happy.
However, this didn't stop him from coming back to life in the next game, having been resurrected by popularity.
Following that, SEGA in sense went through this during its Dreamcast Era. This would be the company's swan song as a First Party developer and player in the console wars before reviving itself solely as a Third Party. Considering this was the period they had a massive surge of great new output with IPs that would live on today (like Skies of Arcadia, Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Samba de Amigo, and many many more) and the Dreamcast itself was accepted very well in sharp contrast to its immediate predecessor; critics, fans, and some non-fans would agree that they went out with a bang. To this day, although still successful, SEGA hasn't hit a home run quite like they did back then.
His rescue of Ben is pretty amazing as well. Ben's indirectly responsible for both the suicide of Kenny's wife and the death of Kenny's son from a zombie bite. For much of Episode Four and Five, Ben is the target of Kenny's wrath. But when Ben falls from a balcony and finds himself impaled by some of the mangled metal, what does Kenny do? He rushed to help the kid, locking the gate behind him so that Lee can't rush in.. Walkers are closing in from both sides of the alleyway he and Ben are in. Kenny fights them off with pistol whips and punches saving his last bullet for Ben to prevent the kid from being bitten and reanimated. His resolve is amazing. He doesn't even give Lee a chance to dissuade him from his actions.
Suikoden Tierkreis has Second Royal Consort Rizwan, the head of the Janam Arcane Academy. When The Order uses their plan to wipe out Janam using a world fusion, Rizwan uses the Chronicle to attempt to stop it. She manages to save the southern port town of Salsabil, as well as Prince Shams, who was visiting there at the time. She also manages to keep the city of El-Qaral intact.
Later, Dirk manages to do the same thing by using two Chronicles at once, one of which had already been expended in such a fashion, and should have been normally impossible.
K'Valk in Star Trek Online really goes out in a blaze of glory. Seeking to redeem himself for a failed mutiny in trying to stop B'Vat's mad scheme to continue the Federation/Klingon War, he hops into a shuttlecraft and sends it into the mouth of the Doomsday Machine, singing a Klingon War Song the entire way.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has Emperor Titus Mede II at the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline. While in-game he's considered a rather controversial figure, when you finally confront him, Titus faces his assassin with remarkable grace, refusing to show fear (at worst simply being annoyed if you act like a psychopath). He calmly accepts his fate, with his final request simply being to consider killing the one who ordered the hit on him in the first place.
Even in the very start of the game, we have that one Stormcloak soldier headed to the chopping block, and a priestess is giving him his final rites. He responds by making her hurry up with it.
Soldier: "For the love of Talos, shut up and let's get this over with."
Although if he waited, he might have lived...
Also, if you side with the Empire during the Civil War questline, Ulfric Stormcloak gets one. He accepts his defeat and has one final request: at least have the Dragonborn kill him so that it would be a better story.
Tullius: "Well, Ulfric, you can't escape from me this time. Any last words before I send you to... to wherever you people go when you die?"
Rikke: "Sovngarde, sir."
Tullius: "Right. Well?"
Ulfric: "Let the Dragonborn do it. It'll make for a better song."
Fallout 3 has whoever you let trigger Project Purity, at least without the add - ons. In the vanilla game, either you or Lyons can do it, and you can be assured that whoever walks in that room isn't ever getting out, dying from immense amounts of radioactivity in order to create a supply of clean water for the Capital Wasteland. Basically, you die so that everyone else doesn't. Broken Steel does change that though if you choose to do it.
The pre-Broken Steel awesomeness was somewhat hampered by the fact that it was partly (it wouldn't necessarily be an issue depending on who you had with you) achieved by having those of your companions who would not run a risk of dying refusing to do it for no good reason.
The Lone Wanderer's father, James, ends up performing a similar Heroic Sacrifice earlier during the Enclave's takeover the Project Purity, flooding the chamber with radiation in an attempt to take down Colonel Autumn and give their child and the other scientists a chance to escape. Unfortunately, Autumn ends up surviving, due to being Crazy-Prepared with some advanced Rad-X.