In Fairy Tail, Erza Scarlett and Master Makarov try to go through this several times throughout the story but haven't quite managed to pull it off. Erza actually stops doing this after the Tower of Heaven arc. Makarov will try this any time the guild as a whole is at stake, even against Acnologia.
Also with Ur in Gray's flashback in the Galuna Island Arc. Ur casts the spell "Iced Shell", knowing it would ruin her body to seal Deliora as well as save Lyon and Gray.
As well as her daughter. As everyone is getting their asses killed by dragons, Ultear casts a spell to rewind time at the cost of her life, but is only able to turn back a minute, much to her horror. She dies thinking she died in vain, not knowing that one minute actually ends up saving most of the heroes' lives and turning the battle in their favor.
Averted in Inuyasha, but not for lack of trying on Miroku's part - trying to ensure that Sango's younger brother will not have to die, he makes a valiant effort to suck Naraku's heart into the Wind Tunnel in his hand, steadfastly ignoring the poisonous insects and massive amounts of toxic miasma that he's consuming in the process even when it causes him to start bleeding from the mouth,nose, and eyes. He only stops when Inuyasha forces his hand closed.
Although it illustrates the main article, it's somewhat subverted in YuYu Hakusho. Yusuke saves a small boy from a moving vehicle and dies. However, it turns out that not only was the boy going to survive being hit, but he actually would have been less injured than had Yusuke intervened. This turned his Heroic Sacrifice into a Senseless Sacrifice. Ironically, this worked out in Yusuke's favor as normally they would just give the boy's place in the afterlife to Yusuke. However, as the boy wouldn't have died and Fate hadn't expected Yusuke to intervene, there was no place for him, which lead to his Redemption Quest.
Humor aside, it was the intention of the act that counted, and earns Yusuke a chance to come back to life. The true sacrifice comes shortly after when Yusuke gives up this chance by failing the test to save his girlfriend's life. However, this proves to be enough to convince Koenma that Yusuke deserves to live, and he gets revived.
Played closer to straight when Kuwabara goes to his death at the hands of Toguro in the Dark Tournament, looking to unlock Yusuke's true power. As it turned out, Toguro missed his heart and Kuwabara didn't die (He might have meant for it to miss, but we'll never know for sure), so Kuwabara played dead instead.
Actually Yusuke had attempted this up to EIGHT times. Car crash, egg in the fire, life mirror, explosive shuriken, shotgun the whistle, fight against Jin then Sensui. All subverted.
In Angel Sanctuary there are many heroic deaths, though some are more 'I'll die as a hero' by characters who'd die anyway but want to show off a little.
Zaphikel, after his wings are cut off - the most cruel torture and death sentence to an angel - uses the last of his strength to kill the warden endangering a big part of the main cast and his then-revealed son, Raziel.
In front of Heaven's gate, Kato gives his life when stopping the nearly closed gate to the highest sphere so Setsuna can slip through, leaving him to be vaporized by a giant meteor he himself has summoned to kill Lucifer minutes ago. He was about to die anyway, because his 'biomechanical' body was about to decease. He had sacrificed himself twice before when saving Setsuna, and both times had to be resurrected from the brink of near-afterlife existence.
Zig Zagged in the final episode of Guilty Crown. (Since this is a Death Trope, spoilers will not be hidden in this entry.) At first it seems that Shu is going to sacrifice himself to absorb the Apocalypse Virus and finally free the world from it's horrific take on Body to Jewel, only to find that Inori, whose consciousness was originally thought to have been destroyed when victimized by a case Grand Theft Me, is still alive. It looks like Shu and Inori are going to be Together in Death, but Inori completely gives herself up to the virus and mysteriously vanishes. Then the fortress they're in begins to collapse. Shu's fate is left ambiguous, but the post-credit epilogue displays that he is alive and healthy, but blind, yet still living happily.
Mazinger Z: ... Just one too many. The most remembered was made by Professor Morimori in episode 79. It is subverted by Boss at an early stage, though. He self-destructed the Boss Borot, but showed up a short while later asking: "Why do I have to die for you, Kouji!?"
And in another episode the wife of a secondary character saves their daughter's life at the cost of her own.
And in episode 74 Sayaka sacrifices Aphrodite-A to save Kouji.
And in Great MazingerKenzo Kabuto pulled a kamikaze attack to save Tetsuya. In one of the manga versions, Tetsuya's reaction was self-detonating Great Mazinger and himself to kill all commanders of the Mykene army.
And see the whole bloody time in Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, two notable examples being Capricorn El Cid finally killing the four Dream Gods and saving Athena and the protagonists at the cost of his own life, and with Sagittarius Sisyphus' quite frankly terrifying Heroic Sacrifice, in which he ripped out his own heart. Nice.
No, wait a minute, there's MORE! PiscesAlbafica pulls this killing Minos with his life's blood, Wolf Junkers and the other four Bronze Saints do this in a very moving way to get the Ship of Hope to fly, AquariusDegel pulls this saving the world (very quietly) from Posiedon and that was only after ScorpioKardia did it for him first to give him the chance, VirgoAsmita gives his life to remove the Spectres' immortality (resulting in less Oh Crap and Senseless Sacrifice moments), Cancer Manigoldo pulls this in a Crowning Moment of Awesome when he takes on a God and wins (ish)...it'd be quicker to name the characters that didn't die this way.
In Code Geass, The ScrappyRolo Lamperouge redeems himself by overloading his Magical Eye to carry Lelouch to safety, fully aware that the strain from using it for so long with so much range would be too much for his heart to endure.
Also, earlier in the season, one of Toudou's lieutenants, Urabe, sacrifices himself to distract Rolo and buy Zero time to escape.
Also, Gilbert G.P. Guilford believed he was sacrificing his life to save his princess, Cornelia, but he was actually saving Zero, his mortal enemy, who had hypnotized Guilford into thinking Zero was Cornelia.
C.C. pulls a subversion in the first season finale, using the Gawain to drag Jeremiah's Siegfried into the ocean, but it isn't a sacrifice since she can't die. She even says (in the Japanese version) "I have no intention of committing lovers' suicide with you!"
This one's doubly ineffective. Jeremiah doesn't die either.
In the same episode of Brave Express Might Gaine, Guard Diver dies protecting a child and Battle Bomber dies taking a fatal blow for Maito and Great Might Gaine
Merged with Crowning Moment of Awesome and Kick Them While They Are Down in Air Gear when Yoshitsune fully activates his Rumble Regalia to repel the slug of an AT-powered railgun back into its barrel, simultaneously annihilating his enemies and saving his territory from certain destruction. However, moments later, Nike shows up and delivers a one-hit knockout.
Played with in Death Note. Done straight with Rem sacrificing herself to kill L and Watari for the sake of Misa's life and happiness. Less traditionally, Souchiro accepted the Deadly Upgrade to gain the power to stop Mello, was killed before he could write the name...but in the end, Takeda did use the name to finish off Mello.
In D.Gray-Man, Fo fights against the Level 3 Akuma, instead of Allen, adopting his form, and getting seriously damaged, until Allen awakes his Innocence and defeats the akuma.
Every heroic Digimon who dies in Digimon Adventure does so in a Heroic Sacrifice, including the very Leomon whose death kicked off the Running Gag. The biggest Tear Jerker of them all would be Wizardmon, who takes a deadly attack from Vamdemon to protect Tailmon and Hikari, and unlike normally dead Digimon, he simply cannot be revived.
Which leads to Impmon become The Atoner, manage to enter the D-Reaper, almost get Jeri,and then get nearly fatally impaled by it
In Digimon Frontier, Kouichi sacrifices himself to save the kids from Lucemon. This was the first time this befell any of the protagonists, and as usual, his forms were lion-based. Others present include Sorcerymon and and Ophanimon.
In Digimon Savers, BanchoLeomon (surprise surprise) and Suguru Daimon, though both were the same entity at the time. Mercurymon also did this, again completing a Heel-Face Turn.
In Digimon Xros Wars, Deckerdramon sacrifices itself to protect Kiriha and the rest of Xros Heart from Gravimon's gravity attack.
Subverted in the most mean-spirited manner possible in Neon Genesis Evangelion, where Kaji rescues Fuyutsuki, and is later shot, and in End of Evangelion, where Ritsuko tries to blow up the Geofront in front of Rei and Gendo, but fails, and is then shot by Gendo. Then Misato escorts Shinji to EVA-01, but shortly dies from a fatal wound and an explosion. Finally, Asuka makes a superhuman effort to defeat the Mass Production Evas, but is apparently killed in a brutal fashion after running out of power, while Shinji is stuck inside the EVA-01 launching bay, it having been filled with an adhesive bakelite as a security measure attempting to stop the military from fully infiltrating the base. All of this is in vain as the Human Instrumentality Project and Third Impact occur anyway.
Rei II and Kaworu played this trope straight in the show.
The ocean incident was actually Kittan's second attempt. Remember that stunt with the Mugann and the shotgun?
Jorgun and Balinbow successfully saved Gimmy and Darry while destroying an enemy fleet, even though they were destroyed in the end, and Makken rams his Moshogun into an Anti-Spiral missile to save the Chouginga Dai-Gurren.
Cedie, and his successor Carris, in Soukou No Strain. One could argue for Ralph, too.
Melchi attempts one of these but ended up getting rescued before the ship can explode.
In Houshin Engi, during the Sennin war, Fugen ordered an attack from all of the other Juunisen on Bunchuu all at once. This gave him the chance to slip in behind Bunchuu and use the explosive power of his Paopei, destroying him and the other Juunisen. Unfortunately, this attack barely hurt Bunchuu.
In One Piece, during a life-or-death (well, life-or-exile) game of dodgeball, Chopper takes a ball to the face to prevent Luffy from being knocked out of the game. The opposing team is so impressed by his Heroic Sacrifice that they demand that the referee not declare him out, because "the face is safe". The ref is reluctant at first, because Chopper is in a spherical form at the time, and it's difficult to tell where his face begins and ends, but eventually succumbs to the pressure. And then declares Chopper out anyway, because he was knocked out-of-bounds.
For examples that aren't exclusive to the anime, see Alabasta Arc, which has several:
Chaka taking on Big Bad Crocodile, knowing he can't even wound him, to buy time for Vivi and Kohza.
Pell grabbing a giant bomb intended to level the entire city and flying high into the sky with it, thus saving thousands of lives at the cost of him losing his in a colossal explosion.
The Duck Claw Squad all took a poison that gives the imbiber an immense boost in strength before killing them, in hopes of beating Crocodile. Unlike everyone else who's ever made a heroic sacrifice in One Piece, they actually die. The worst part is that it was a Senseless Sacrifice as they don't win against Crocodile. They don't even get to fight him. Crocodile just stands on a rooftop and lets the potion kill them.
In Thriller Bark, Zoro offers to let Kuma have his head to prevent him taking Luffy's. All that happens, however, is Kuma making him take all the damage Luffy has sustained on top of his own injuries, in exchange of sparing the rest of the crew.
That was hardly an act of mercy: Kuma expected Zoro to die horribly from this. It's a testament to Zoro being a complete Badass that he survived.
2/3 of the Strawhat Pirates have flashbacks in which someone close to them sacrificed themselves heroically to some extent. And of those 6, only 2 of them ended with his mentor surviving...albeit with a lost limb.
This trope is often subverted by Luffy, who adamantly refuses to let any of his crewmates sacrifice themselves for the sake of the crew. As he famously told Vivi, "YOU THINK RISKING ONE LIFE IS ENOUGH?! WHY DON'T YOU TRY RISKING OUR LIVES TOO?! I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS!!"
The Impel Down arc ends with Mr. 2 Bon Kurei staying behind to ensure the prison breakers gets past its final obstacle.
The guy has a special talent for this trope. You may recall that at the end of the Arabasta arc, Mr. 2 saves the Straw Hats by having himself and his crew act as decoys, then taking on the pursuing Marine fleet in a clearly hopeless battle in order to buy said Straw Hats time to escape. All we know is that he survived, only to do it again in Impel Down against even worse odds...and he still somehow survives. I don't care how he acts or dresses, I can't possibly imagine how anyone cannot admire the guy.
He was jailed into Impel Down: Saving some former Baroque Works fellows from Hina's execution.
Portgas D. Ace pulls one of these off in order to save the life of his adopted younger brother, Luffy from an attack by Akainu which ultimately breaks Luffy down completely. Unlike most other examples from One Piece, Ace actually dies. This whole situation finally gives Luffy the heroic sacrifice of a family member that had been lacking from his previous history in relation to the other characters.
Igaram getting himself blown up to give Vivi and the Strawhats a chance to safely escape Whiskey Peak.
Igaram, however, had a duty to protect Vivi's partner, Mr. 9, had no such obligation. And yet when faced with the chance to escape, leaving Vivi at risk, or attacking a man who has the Devil Fruit power of exploding, and even then only buying Vivi a few seconds at most, he takes the latter without hesitating, and immediately dissapears in a ball of fire.
Mobile SuitGundam SEED's Mu La Flaga pushes this to a near limit when he flies the Strike Gundam into the path of a positron cannon blast aimed at the bridge of the Archangel and blocks it with his shield, despite the beam being nearly as big as the Gundam. The Strike is destroyed in the process, and Mu's helmet is seen amongst the rubble. Ironically, the Special Edition of the series would edit that detail out, in a Retcon to prepare for Mu's eventual return as the brainwashed Neo Roanoke, though he eventually got his memory back by the end of the series.
Natarle also performs one, locking terrorist leader Muruta Azrael inside the bridge of the Dominion with her and refusing to open the door for him, even as he repeatedly shoots her.
Considering how she was one of the more morally ambiguous characters in the show this comes across more as an example of Redemption Equals Death.
Nicol as well performs this, when he reveals himself to attack Kira head on while Kira was about to finish Athrun, and ended up taking the BFS instead. His last words telling Athrun to run away while he had the chance.
Subverted in Gundam SEED Destiny, when Mu La Flaga, finally remembering who he is, performs an identical act to his prior sacrifice with a superior mobile suit, and survives unscathed.
In the manga Konjiki no Gash!!, the former badass Vincent Bari puts himself in a mortal situation to allow the protagonists to enter Big Bad Faudo's innards. To avoid killing him, Umagon burns his book to send him back to the demon world.
This is just one instance among way too many to count.
Subverted by Ryoko in Tenchi Universe, albeit with a particularly sadistic flare on the part of the writers. Having failed to convince Tenchi to abandon Ayeka to her fate and run away with her instead of heading into a seemingly hopeless battle with Kagato, Ryoko dedicates herself to making sure Tenchi arrives there alive. An elaborate space battle follows as the space pirate does anything and everything in her power to accomplish this. Only she's still grievously injured from her previous attack on Kagato, and the strain for her to just stand upright is noted by at least three characters (neither of whom tell Tenchi, naturally). After dropping Tenchi off at the palace, Ryoko reminisces about how the previous events have been really fun, even if it's just her and Ryo-Ohki again. She then closes her eyes, her arm slips off the armrest limply (complete with blood flowing down along it), and her head slumps forward with a small smile on her face. Ryo-Ohki presumably tries to wake her with her yowling, and the scene fades to black with one particularly mournful sounding howl. This continues into the wrap up episode, where Tenchi notes that no one had seen or heard from Ryoko since that battle, and includes an Antagonist in Mourning moment with Ryoko's rival, Nagi to boot. All this culminates with Ryoko popping up, none the worse for wear, in the last ten minutes of the series, ready to try again to win Tenchi's heart. No explanation as to how she survived is given.
In Planetes, Tanabe carries a wounded former associate across the lunar surface after crash-landing in an escape pod several miles from the nearest place with air. She runs out of oxygen before reaching their destination; however, her associate has plenty of oxygen left as a result of her being carried while nearly unconscious. Frenzied, Tanabe almost decides to take the oxygen tank from her colleague, but changes her mind at the last second, unwilling to kill at any cost. She begins to convulse in a painful Break the Cutie moment, and the viewer is left to wonder what happened to her until halfway through the next episode. She suffers terrible nerve damage and is wheelchair-bound, gradually recovering with physiotherapy.
In the same episode, Pai is killed while protecting the rest of the Mew Mews from the energy blast unleashed by Deep Blue when the latter starts to lose control over Aoyama's body and the Mew Aqua inside him.
Masaya and Ichigo in the last episode. Masaya lets himself be killed in order to get rid of Deep Blue for good, and Ichigo later revives him at the cost of her own life, requiring a True Love's Kiss to bring her back. In the manga version, Masaya disposed of the evil alien personally, by stabbing himself with his sword.
Even Tart gets this - he charges forward in an attempt to stall (or kill) Pai so Ichigo could Save The World, but is killed by him.
At the very beginning of DBZ, Goku pulls this off successfully with Piccolo's help against Raditz. Goku grabbed him from behind and told Piccolo to shoot. The attack went straight through Raditz and Goku, killing them both, and Raditz stayed dead for the entire series. Of course, Goku fully expected to be revived later. It may have been a last resort, but hardly permanent for him.
Tien and Chaozu both used life-ending attacks on Nappa, and the latter did so knowing he couldn't be revived (as he had already been once before). The best that could be said of their attempts is that Tien did some minor Clothing Damage.
In a straighter example, Piccolo saved Gohan from one of Nappa's attacks at the cost of his own life, knowing his death would also kill Kami and thus render the Dragon Balls inert. Luckily, there was another set on Namek which Kami knew of.
Piccolo does it again in the fight against Frieza, knocking Goku out of the way of Frieza's attack after Goku's Spirit Bomb failed. In this case, his death would have not only killed Kami (again), preventing the use of Earth's Dragon Balls, but also prevented the revival of the Namekians and their currently-inert Dragon Balls. Had he actually died, every death would have been permanent. It was sheer luck that he lived long enough for the necessary wishes to be made to save everyone, himself included.
Goku sacrificed himself to stop Cell from blowing up the Earth. It did save the Earth, but Cell regenerated not long after and nearly blew it up again.
Vegeta blew himself up to try and take out Buu, who regenerated. Krillin also tried to fight Buu knowing he was hopelessly outclassed so 18 could lead everyone else to safety. Krillin was turned into candy within seconds, followed by 18 and their own child Maron. Everyone else save Dende met the same fate.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Al sacrifices himself towards the end to bring back Edward's missing arm so he can defeat Father. It's subverted, however, in that his sacrifice actually made it easier for him to come back alive and whole.
Greed does this to protect Ling from pointlessly dying in the latter's futile effort to save Greed from being absorbed by Father. Greed also manages to severely weaken Father in this act. Unlike Al, however, Greed doesn't subvert it.
After being severely wounded, Lan Fan severs her own arm with her kunai when Ling refuses to leave her behind in order to spare him from death.
The reason Scar is alive when the main story begins is because his brother sacrificed his own arm to replace the one that Scar lost to Kimbley.
During the endgame, after Major Bucanner & veteran shinobi Fu both fail to take down Wrath and are mortally wounded in the process, Buccaneer uses his last breath to stab Wrath through Fu's body. The old man thanks him for allowing his death to cripple (or at least harm) Bradley, who throughout the entire battle hadn't taken so much as a single hit after taking out multiple opponents.
Buccaneer: "Alright old man, maybe you are going to hell, but you're not going alone. I'll keep you company on the ride down."
Fu: "Thank... you."
A rather strange example from the manga, but the souls of Xerxes trapped within Hohenheim. Over his long life, Hohenheim has personally spoken to every single soul trapped within him, and explained his plan for thwarting Father. This plan necessitates using their souls as fuel for a massive alchemic reaction, essentially sacrificing them. The souls are compliant with this, though, happy to be used for the sake of defeating the one who did this to them.
Wrath pulls one in Conqueror of Shamballa during his fight with Gluttony. Punching his automail arm into the ground, he allows Gluttony to bite him. As the monster chews on him, he tells Al to transmute both of them so that the Gate can be summoned. After a moment's hesitation, Al obliges.
Also from the movie Conqueror of Shamballa: Alfons knew he was going to be killed for a traitor if he helped Ed reach his world and stop the Nazis from invading it, but he did it anyway (albeit against Ed's own will). He is shot to death right away and dies with a smile on his face as he watches Ed go.
The basic premise of Naruto, wherein the Fourth Hokage gave his life to seal the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox into the titular character. Said sacrifice was later noted to involve his wife, Kushina Uzumaki, and that their sacrifice had much more of a reason than protecting the village.
The Third Hokage sacrifices himself when fighting Orochimaru so that Orochimaru's quest to obtain all the world's jutsu would be temporarily halted.
One of the earliest examples is Haku, aka "chidori to the chest to save Zabuza".
Subverted with Sasuke, when it turns out Haku didn't actually kill him during the battle at the bridge.
Subverted in the first Shippuden movie when Shion almost succeeds in sacrificing herself to destroy the demon, though Naruto pulls her out of it at the last second, and destroys it through a different method.
Chiyo sacrificed her remaining Life Energy to resurrect Gaara, redeeming her part in the sealing of the Ichibi.
Before this, Sakura and Lady Chiyo played self-sacrifice tennis. First Sakura takes Sasori's sword thrust to protect Lady Chiyo, then insists that Chiyo take the poison antidote (they had both been poisoned). Two nil. Then Lady Chiyo counter-attacks by jabbing Sakura with the antidote syringe and using part of her life energy to sort-of-resurrect her. Two all. But Lady Chiyo got the last move, and so won the game.
Hinata pulls this off when she attempts to protect Naruto from Pain by buying him time, via an Anguished Declaration of Love, only for Pain to respond by brutally trying to fridge her. Fortunately, she gets better.
Jiraiya had the chance to escape from Pain but sacrificed himself in order to get and relay crucial intel on the enemy that could not be obtained by anyone else.
During Pain's attack on Konoha, Papa Wolf Chouza Akimichi and Kakashi Hatake both do this to save Chouji. The former takes a hit from Pain in order to save his son, while the latter sacrifices himself by using his Mangekyo Sharingan to prevent a missile from hitting Chouji, using the last of his chakra in the process, so that Chouji could deliver vital information to Tsunade. Like Hinata, Chouza survives. Kakashi isn't so lucky...until he gets better.
And from later in the same battle, Pain managed to pull this off, earning himself Redemption at the same time. Having acknowledged the folly of his earlier actions, Pain activates a kinjutsu which resurrects all of his victims in Konoha at the cost of his own life}}.
Kakashi himself was once saved in childhood by his Naruto-like teammate Obito Uchiha. When their teammate Rin was kidnapped during a mission, Obito called him out on his callous choice of leaving her behind, choosing instead to save her. When they did, the enemy caused a cave in, where all of them would have been chunky salsa had Obito not pushed them away though he himself would be crushed. As a last gift, he gave Kakashi his Sharingan eye to replace Kakashi's own injured left eye.
Itachi Uchiha, notorious S rank child prodigy turned criminal, killed his own clan (including his Mother and Father), in a single night to protect Konoha (his home village) from going into war with other countries due to a coup de'tat planned by the Uchihas against the village.. He spares his little brother because he means more to Itachi that the village.
His best friend, Shisui, the guy who he supposedly killed in order to gain the Mangekyo Sharingan, also did this as well. Shisui was tasked by the clan to keep an eye on Itachi, who they suspected was feeding information to the village. However, it turns out that he was with Itachi on this one, having the same Undying Loyalty to Konoha as Itachi did. He was originally planning on using his Mangekyo Sharingan to place the entire clan under a genjutsu (the most powerful in the world) to prevent the coup and simultaneously prevent a significant loss in military power. But then Danzo stole one of his eyes. Unable to go through with the original plan, he handed his other eye to Itachi and had him help him commit suicide in such a way that Itachi would gain the Mangekyo Sharingan to aid him with the massacre. Thus, Itachi's strange behavior prior to the massacre was not just because he had to kill his entire family, as he was also legitimately mourning his best friend.
Lockon Stratos in Gundam 00. And another one from season 2, Patrick Colasour (he got better).
Even better is the ending of season 1 which chained Lichty and Christina Sierra's moment of Unrequited Love Switcheroo as he's dying from his heroic sacrifice with Chistina reporting in to the relieved survivors of the attack, before they realize something isn't right. She gives what is slowly revealed to be her last words trailing on until she is finally Killed Mid-Sentence, coughing up blood by a massive piece of shrapnel that was in her back the whole time.. It might just bring you to tears.
The Movie gives us two more, for Andrei Smirnov and Graham Aker. Patrick tries again, bless him, but it's subverted. Hilariously.
In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex the Major takes the Tachikomas out of service because they start to develop too much of their own personalities. Because of their increasingly subversive behaviour she no longer trusts them to reliably follow orders in combat situations, which could be deadly for members of the team, hostages, or bystanders. When the members of Section 9 are hunted by soldiers from a rival government agency and Batou is about to be crushed to death by a soldier wearing a mecha suit, three Tachikomas who escaped from their new civilian assignments come to his rescue at the very last moment, jumping at the heavily armed walking tank with nothing but a single mortar round. One is instantly shred to pieces by an anti-tank machine gun and the mortar round doesn't properly fire and gets stuck in the barrel. Desperate to save Batou, one of the remaining Tachikoma holds the mecha suit in place by tying itself to it with liquid cables, and the other one charges at them to crush the gun barrel with the mortar round against the attackers chest armor. This leads the Major to change her mind and recommision the remaining Tachikomas for service and keep their developing personalities intact.
Which turns out to be a very good idea, as the Tachikomas exhibit an extremely strong compulsion to sacrifice themselves if there's no other way to save someone. At the end of the second season a rocket containing an nuclear warhead is fired at a city scale refuge camp as a staged terrorist attack. To save the people and their friends in the city, they hijack the satellite that contains the servers for their own controls and memories to crash it into the rocket before it reaches it's target. Singing children songs about all people and little animals being alive and happy. Doubles nicely as one of the strongest Tear Jerker scenes in the series.
Fortunately, after the first sacrifice, the Tachikomas were Genre Savvy enough to leave behind backups of their memories on the internet. The Major eventually finds them and they make a return in Solid State Society where they were thankfully not asked to lay down their lives for the third consecutive time.
The entire cast of GaoGaiGar (or at least the mecha cast members. The robots make up at least half the cast!) do this at least once. Possibly the most memorable is during a turning point in the original series, where Choryujin grabs a meteor that was hurtling towards Earth, and gets sent back in time, where he is rendered inoperable for millions of years. (Although this one was later reversed when the mech in question is eventually brought back online.) Even more tend to happen in FINAL during the final episode in order to defeat their Evil Counterpart. As a matter of fact, even the EVIL CLONES of the characters sacrifice themselves to stop GaoFighGar from killing J. To list each one here would be to ruin some great examples of Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Cosmo does this in the last two episodes of Sonic X by undergoing what in her species seems to equate to puberty and growing into adulthood — she turns into a tree. Her entire species does this, apparently, and her own development was merely sped up by a Magical Amulet because it was her destiny to save the galaxy from the beginning. She attaches herself to the giant evil seed which is about to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy, therefore weakening it, requiring our heroes to shoot her, killing her and the Big Bad at the same time.
The real Tear Jerker of the scene is the fact that Tails was falling in love with her at the time and he was the one who had to fire the gun. And also, Sonic and Shadow were the ammo.
Defied in The Battle of Aces, where Reinforce intends to take the Dark Pieces into herself and sacrifice herself to stop the Book... In Signum's path, the pink-haired Lady of War will have nothing of it and they fight. After Signum wins, she chastises Rein for thinking of doing so. Vita and Hayate have similar reactions.
In Macross Frontier, Micheal sacrifices himself to save Klan's life during a Vajra attack on the Frontier. What this even more painful was that was one of the more popular pairings in the series.
To put it into perspective, Lt. Kinryu, in episode 26, got out of his hospital bet, took an armored Valkyrie out into battle, saw that the Battle 7 was in the middle of transforming, and therefore defenseless, and that one of the Protodevlin ships was about to fire at the Battle 7, had his Valkyrie jettison its armor and charge into the Protodevlin ship (singing along to Fire Bomber's Totsugeki Love Heart), his Valkyrie lost An Arm and a Leg, and just as he got to the core of the Protodevlin ship, his Valkyrie seemed to run out of power. In frustration, he yelled out the first part of the above quote as his Valkyrie powered up again, and he said the second part as a Pre-Mortem One-Liner just before firing his Valkyrie's Gunpod. Doubles as a Dying Moment of Awesome, without a doubt. You can watch it here
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: first Red Impulse aka Ken's long-lost father sacrifices himself to foil a Galactor plan, causing Ken to have a Heroic BSOD of the RAAAAAAGE variety. In the last few eps, Joe is told that thanks to a terminal brain injury he only has a few weeks left to live, so he takes on Galactor by himself in order to go out with a bang. His final speech to the team is a Tear Jerker that redefines the concept of True Companions for this series. He does come back as a cyborg later on, and in the second series he sacrifices himself again to stop Big Bad Sosai X. He doesn't die this time, though. Finally, Dr. Nambu in final installment Gatchaman Fighter.
Memorably parodied in The Prince of Tennis. During a filler chapter/episode featuring an eating battle between several teams, Hyoutei's Shishido Ryoh noblely volunteers to drink the disgusting Inui juice (knowing full well he'll pass out after doing so) in order to allow his team to move forward. He gets a sunset-y "death" scene, his partner Ohtori pulling a Big "NO!" on him and everything. And it was hilarious.
Heroic Sacrifice is one of the central themes of Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still. No surprise then that the series involves a huge number of mind-blowing yet touching sacrifices from both heroes and 'villains' alike.
Musashi from Getter Robo, naturally, who is required to die in every incarnation, most of the time via Heroic Sacrifice. Given that he's appeared in 3 anime series, a manga and every Super Robot Wars game bar a few (there are dozens of them), that's a whole lot of awesome deaths.
Two examples turn up in Figure17. First off, early in the series, DD's first "Figure" unit sacrifices itself in order to move him away from fatal attacks that would have killed him had it saved itself by deactivating — this appears to be something of a standard for the semi-sentient bio-armour. The second is a bit curious: Hikaru attempts to do exactly the same thing to save Tsubasa from a similar attack, but Tsubasa somehow overrides her and forces them to keep fighting. This might, however, be the reason Hikaru's energy suddenly started to drain so fast later on, leading to a heroic sacrifice at the end where she burns the last of her power to participate in the final battle, and subsequently protect Tsubasa during the fall from orbit.
Twisted upside down in the final episode of the second season of Sailor Moon. A large chunk of the season had been spent finding a Heroic Sacrifice in tangible form: a jewel that grants any wish but kills the wisher. It turns out that Sailor Moon had it, but unfortunately a Brainwashed and Crazy loved one from her future had a time-shifted version of it as well. It is expected that the future gem will be used to destroy everything, so our Hero has to use hers to destroy the loved one before she can do any harm. The other breaks off from her brainwashing, so both end up wishing that the other will make it out of this somehow. The gems cancel each other out, the evil is destroyed, and everyone can go home. Aawww..
In the manga version of this season, Sailor Pluto does this. She stops time itself in order to prevent the Black Moon Clan from destroying the world by bringing the two Silver Crystals together, knowing full well that she will die as a result. (Stopping time, as Neo Queen Serenity explains, is a taboo punishable by death.) She uses the same move in the anime when the Outer Senshi's helicopter is swarmed by daimons and explodes, buying time for Sailors Uranus and Neptune to escape.
One of the major parts of the ending of the series Mahoromatic. Foreshadowed HEAVILY by the countdown at the end of each episode, showing the exact date that Mahoro will stop functioning (hint: it's the same day as the death of Suguru's father, June 20). Events in the series force her to use a superweapon that shortens her lifespan each time she uses it; at the very end she uses it one last time to protect Suguru, destroying herself and her opponent in a blast that can be seen FROM SPACE. Naturally, this twists Suguru into a very bitter person as seen in the epilogue episode, which deals with how Suguru met his end.
The Galaxy Railways has a number of these, such as Manabu's father near the beginning and Vega Platoon near the end.
Also speaking of the ball; several secondary characters take the bullet to save members of Ala Alba; Mama Bear for Natsumi, Aisha and Craig for Nodoka, Emily for Yue, and Tosaka for Ako. Soon after that, Jack Rakan himself does a point blank attack on Fate, even though he knows he's about to be erased from existence.
Not quite as "spontaneous" as you'd think; after all, Dawn did ask Palkia to restore everything that had been destroyed by the fighting between it and Dialga. One of those things was Darkrai.
Tommy's parents crash their helicopter into Jessie and James's metal Kangaskhan replica in order to save their son, Ash and his friends, and all of the Kangaskhan in the Safari Zone.
They survive and live with their reunited son and the Kangaskhans.
Scryed has one of these with Sherice, whose ability involves sacrificing her life for someone else's. This is also an extreme example of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy considering that Ryuho is in love with someone else.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Bakura does one of these. Whilst his body is under the influence of Dark Master Zorc, and the rest of the gang (bar the Pharaoh) are trapped as miniatures, Bakura seals part of his soul into the dice that Zorc was using, and then makes it shatter, which helps free the others. But, he gets better.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is pretty big on the heroic sacrifices both in the anime and the manga. A good number of characters get one, but Yugi in particular seems to thrive on them.
Yugi pulls one in the anime after having to fight a Brainwashed Jounouchi in a loser-dies-by-drowning duel staged by Malik. Yugi turns an attack on himself so that he'll lose and Jounocuhi will survive, which also breaks Jounouchi's brainwashing. And Jounouchi pulls the same stunt on Yugi in the same episode - not long after Yugi loses and is pulled into the water, Jounouchi grabs Yugi's own key, follows him down and pushes him back to the surface - while not taking his own key. It takes his sister Shizuka's Big Damn Heroes, as she retrieves Jou's key and jumps into the water to save him.
Yugi pulls another later on when the pharoah has a What the Hell, Hero? moment and loses his own soul to the seal of Orichalcos as a result. Calmly stating that the seal can only take one soul, regular Yugi shoves the pharoah out of the way and lets the seal take him instead.
To a lesser extent, Kaiba gives up one of his Blue Eyes-White Dragon to protect Yami Yugi during the duel with Lumis and Umbra. Too bad he expected the favor to be returned with one of his monsters. (He also told his Battle Ox to Take the Bullet for Yugi in the same duel. Kaiba had simply gotten into his head at that point what Yugi was trying to drive into it, that as much as he didn't like it, lack of teamwork would lead to both of them losing.)
Jounouchi vs. Mai in an Orichalcos duel where he effectively lets her win despite knowing it'll cost him his soul.
A far less serious example is Anna Kozuki from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, who has done this on two seperate occassions, making a move in a duel that has taken her out in order to help Yuma. (Neither duel had any lethal stakes involved - for her at least - so she survived both times. Of course, given how reckless Anna can be, it may just be only a matter of time where she does this and it has far worse consequenses.)
Her defeat during the Barian Emperor Onslaught arc may have counted as a real one, as far as is known right now, but she wasn't the only one it happened to.
In the manga version of Zexal, Princess Cologne is a doll who was brought to life and given a soul by Dr. Faker, but warned that she only got to keep that soul if she succeeded her mission as a Numbers Hunter. Despite the fact that she failed and was defeated by Yuma, she avoided this dark fate when her friend Grandpa Demetto gave her his soul, sacrificing himself in the process. (Exactly who or what he was isn't clear, as no origin was provided; presumably, he was another creation of Faker who had made a similar deal.)
In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Ange Ushiromiya does a spectacular Heroic Sacrifice after Battler goes through an epic Heroic BSOD. In order to restore his faith in truth besides red text, she grabs him from behind so that he can't see her and declares her identity, thus breaking the rule that she could only exist in the past as long as Battler didn't know who she was. She then proceeds to beg him to continue the game and come home to her... as her body is being torn apart. Even when he comes home, it won't be to her, since You Can't Fight Fate, but another her who doesn't have to experience the future without him.
Beatrice does the same thing at the end of the third arc before Battler acknowledges and revives her. Subverted a few minutes later, though.
Lambdadelta pulls a spectacular one in EP8.
In the anime version X/1999, Kamui in his showdown with Fuuma allows Fuuma to kill him in order to create the ultimate barrier field that would protect the world from the destruction of humanity. In the process his sacrifice touches Fuuma and restores him to his normal self.
Also, Sorata's reason for existing is to die in place of the one he loves, which turns out to be Arashi.
In the manga version, Nataku does this for Karen, and in the anime he does it to heal Fuuma.
Seishiro and Subaru each want to die for the other, or, rather, be killed by the other. Are we seeing a pattern here?
Subverted in Welcome to the NHK when Sato hallucinates that there is a giant 'final boss' monster standing by the cliff which he has just stopped Misaki from jumping off of. He tries to defeat it and end the (imagined) NHK conspiracy by holding onto his cellphone, which he hallucinates is a bomb that will destroy the monster, and taking a running leap off of the cliff. Not only is he prevented from dying by a safety net installed along the side of the cliff to prevent suicides, but the show also strongly implies that his hallucination and attempted heroism were just another failed attempt to give his life some kind of meaning beyond the existential uncertainty that characterizes real life in contrast to fictional stories.
A particularly meme-tastic example occurs at the end of F-Zero: Falcon Densetsu. After having his Dark Reactors prematurely destroyed and his plans for destroying and remaking the galaxy ruined by Ryu Suzaku, Black Shadow tries to escape from the destruction so he can lick his wounds and plot anew. However, his escape is prevented by Captain Falcon, who FALCON PUNCH!!!es Black Shadow back into the radius of the explosion, incinerating the both of them while at the same time saving the galaxy.
Kurogane slices off his own arm to save a certain angst muffin... (His initials are Fai Fluorite)
There's a special irony to this, as Fai's been playing fast and loose with his own life through the series up to this point (in particular trying to put himself between Cloney and Syaoran Jr. in Acid Tokyo), preferring a Heroic Sacrifice—or at least a death with honor—to the betrayal he knows he will eventually have to commit against his traveling companions.
Also, Sakura Li, who pulls off a human shield act when the two Syaorans are to slice each other to pieces.
And, before this, she gets a self-sacrificial quest when she goes out into the wasteland of Acid Tokyo to retrieve a magical egg, which serves as Yuuko's payment for saving Fai's life. Shall it be mentioned that this involves fighting off giant bloodthirsty worms with nothing but a pistol?
Commander Penwood and the whole of the command base, during the London Invasion.
Arguably Lucy towards the end of the manga adaptation of Elfen Lied. Lucy realizes that Kouta is dying of multiple gunshot wounds and decides to use her vectors to help heal them, despite the knowing that using her power to that extent would cause her body to become unstable and deteriorate.
A girl is mortally wounded Taking the Bullet for a young Lucy when she's finally tracked down. Lucy, in turn, submits and allows herself to be captured on the condition the girl is saved.
In the reboot of the Rozen Maiden manga, after setting in motion a long and convoluted Batman Gambit to resurrect Souseiseki and defeating Kirakishou, who had possessed Souseiseki's body, Suiseiseki manages to finally get the plan in motion when Jun kisses her ring, which is linked to Souseiseki in some odd fashion. However, the plan gets hindered from completion when Suigintou refuses to give back Souseiseki's Rosa Mystica to complete the process. Leaving her with no other option, Suiseiseki decides to insert her own Rosa Mystica into Souseiseki instead, killing herself to let her twin sister live, thereby completing the process of banishing Kirakishou from her body.
Taliesin in Tears to Tiara. In the middle of a blizzard with a magical army bearing down on the heroes, he urges everyone else to go on ahead and stays behind to sing the Song of Creation. It stops the blizzard and causes an avalanche, which takes out the enemy but also Taliesin himself. Subverted slightly in that he gets better, though we don't find that out until several episodes later.
In Pita-Ten, as a young child, Kotarou's mother pushed him out of the way of an oncoming truck costing her her life.
In the anime Misha helps bring back Shia by helping restore people's memory of her knowing full well this will cause her to fail her angel exam which will result in her disappearance.
The character Judeau from Berserk definitely earns this one. When the Eclipse goes into full swing, he grabs Casca, the newly made acting Commander, and does everything he can to get her to safety—including shielding her from attacks and being fatally wounded in the process.
Pippin also qualifies. He steps in to save the Commander from a demon, and willingly stays behind against insurmountable odds in order to buy her and Judeau time to escape.
Guts' Heroic Sacrifice is of the non-fatal kind. When Femto rapes Casca, Guts brutally hacks off his own trapped arm with a broken sword so that he can get to them.
Spoofed in episode 8 of Angel Beats! when the group decides that the best way to get past the clones of Angel is to impale themselves on the enemies' blades (since they're already dead, they eventually get better) and use the difference in size and weight to pin them down so that the others can move on. While the first instance is treated seriously, each successive sacrifice gets faux-dramatic music, a Bond One-Liner, anguished Say My Name from the survivors, until it gets to the point where it's treated as slapstick.
At the end of Char's Counterattack, Amuro Ray sacrifices his own life in his desperate push against the Axis drop which is about to destroy Earth.
Madoka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica does the heroic sacrifice big. With her wish, she is granted the ability to destroy all witches before they are born. She effectively becomes a god. The sacrifice portion is that she is written out of existence, unable to be known to or interact with anyone. The only person who remembers her is Homura.
More accurately, She re-writes the rules of the world so that witches don't exist. It's a long story that has a bit to do with screwing with causality.
Kyouko Sacrificing herself to kill Sayaka's witch form so Sayaka won't end up Dying Alone.
In Gunslinger Girl, this is how Jean goes out. When used as a Human Shield by Dante, he orders Rico to kill them both with an anti-material rifle.
In the penultimate episode of Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy H-10 that's very similar to Goku's in the battle against Raditz. It doesn't stick, however - it's revealed in the finale that he just passed out from the pain.
In Heartcatch Precure, Yuri's mascot partner Cologne jumps in front of a blast meant for her. The event helps cement her Heroic BSOD and 10-Minute Retirement for most of the series. What's even worse? In the episode Yuri returns to action as Cure Moonlight, it looked like Cologne would come back, only for it to be revealed that he was Killed Off for Real.
Four Murasame of Zeta Gundam pulls double duty Heroic Sacrifices! The first time (and the one used in the movie) has her being shot in the head after allowing Kamille to use a Space Booster to escape into space. The second time, after she got better, was using herself and the Psyco Gundam to block an attack meant for Kamille
Subverted memorably in Mawaru-Penguindrum. In episode 18 Himari is kidnapped by the maddened Tabuki and put in a construction cradle that is about to fall off several stores and Kanba is about to get himself killed to save her. When Himari sees Kanba gravely injured and about to pass out from pain and blood loss, she decides to throw herself off the cradle not just so Kanba will survive, but to wash all the Sins of Our Fathers off her siblings and finish the vicious cycle of hatred. However, her Final Speech actually makes Tabuki have a change of heart, so he rescues Himari and returns her unharmed to Shouma and Kanba.
Also played straighter by Momoka, in different degrees. She's a Reality Warper who suffers bodily harm when using her Destiny Diary, but still uses it to change destinies if she sees it fit. To save a bunny, she suffered a cut on her hand; to rescue her and Tabuki's best friend Yuri from her abusive father, she suffers a backlash that sets her on fire... and to stop the "Survival Strategy" set by the terrorist cell that the Takakuras belonged to, she either died or was ret goned. (Which is the reason why her ex-boyfriend, Tabuki, was actually so pissed at the Takakuras in the first place.)
And later? Tabuki is the one that attempts this, as in episode 22 he shields Yuri with his own body from someone attacking both of them with a knife and gets stabbed in the stomach. He bleeds to almost death, but ultimately survives.
If Endou Mamoru from Inazuma Eleven is in his down time or if things goes out of control during a soccer match, expect the rest of his team to cover him and take some (usually powerful) shots for him just to pull their captain back to a fight. The shots sometimes even knock them out cold.
THE iDOLM@STER - The Producer pulls saves Haruka from falling into the stage pit, but falls himself.
Sword Art Online in episode 14, Asuna, with her ridiculous speed stat and The Power of Love, overcomes the game's paralysis status (something even the game's creator didn't know was possible) to dive in front of a killing blow intended for Kirito, and she falls in his arms as her health bar hits zero.
The death of Rin's mother Aki in Kodomo no Jikan technically qualifies as this. She has lung cancer, but decides the money for expensive treatment to prolongue her life for a short while would be better used to raise Rin as well as possible. She hides it as long as possible; by the time it becomes inescapably noticeable, it's too far gone, and Aki herself dies a relatively quick wasting death.
Mobile Suit Gundam has numerous Heroic Sacrifices, at times with both the Federation and Zeon.
Ryu Jose is one of the first to die, slamming a Core Fighter into the Dopp piloted by Haman, Ramba Ral's grief-stricken lover.
Matilda Ajan is a major, hard-hitting one, using her Medea to distract the Black Tri-Stars and their Doms, only to have her cockpit smashed and destroyed
Matilda's fiancee, Woody follows soon after, attempting to distract Char using a normal fighter plane.
Sleggar Law is another, slamming his G-Fighter/Core Booster (depending on the continuity) into the Big Zam, disabling its powerful I-Field
The hardest-hitting one of all is the death of Lalah Sune, saving Char from getting skewered by the Gundam's Beam Saber
In To Aru Majutsu no Index, Kamijou Touma in the end of the Third World War fought against the Archangel Gabriel in the Star of Bethlehem, for the sake of the world which was going to be destroyed if the archangel absorbed the ice of the Arctic Sea, with this Kamijou experienced a near death incident.