In Batman: Arkham Knight, Poison Ivy sacrifices her life force to transfer power to her plants to combat Scarecrow's fear toxin that had just engulfed Gotham City. She utters her last words 'Nature always wins' as her body disintegrates in Batman's arms..
The first is Scooter, who, when trying to disengage an unstable rocket booster from the ship, accidentally gets his arm trapped in a malfunctioning sliding panel. He tells Fiona to disengage the booster from the rest of the ship, so she and the rest of the gang can fly far enough away to avoid the explosion about to occur. He dies shouting his catchphrase as the booster rapidly descends towards Pandora and explodes.
The second is Gortys, who upon getting her final upgrade and summoning the Vault, realises that the Vault cannot be closed and the monster sealed back inside unless she is destroyed. She instructs Fiona and Sasha to destroy her with Vallory's rocket launcher and they reluctantly do so, meaning that she is blown apart and seemingly killed. Thankfully, being a robot, she can't really die in the traditional sense and Loader Bot later rebuilds her.
Finally, Sasha attempts this after she and Fiona have just planted an explosive device inside the Traveller. Fiona attempts to detonate it, but realises that they are out of range and the device won't go off. Sasha quickly takes the detonator and jumps out of the caravan so that she can be close enough to detonate it, apparently dying in the process but allowing the rest of the crew to defeat the monster once and for all. However, she gets better thanks to a healing device gifted by Felix.
Until Dawn has Mike or Sam potentially doing this in the end.
Sam will do this if the player distracts the Wendigo so that the others can escape, but fails to keep the controller still.
If Mike gets gored by the Wendigo and Sam dies, he will pull off a heroic sacrifice instead, lighting a lighter and igniting the gas, setting the cabin aflame.
In Resident Evil 6, Piers sacrifices himself to save Chris, at the end of the campaign. After injecting himself with the C-virus to save Chris from the Haos, Piers' arm was mutated beyond return. After defeating the Haos, or so they thought, Piers shoved Chris into an escape pod and locked him in. Despite Chris yelling at him to open the door, Piers refused. This turned out to be for the best (well, arguably, because Piers' death was sad) as the Haos was not yet dead and as Chris's escape pod was rushing to the surface, Piers used one last electrical bolt from his mutated arm to destroy the Haos before it killed Chris, and presumably wreaked havoc on the world. There's also the fact that Piers injected himself with a virus that would have eventually destroyed his mind and made him into a mindless killing machine like all the other monsters he and Chris had encountered. Could be considered a Heroic Suicide.
Another example in Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares. When Chris and Jill unexpectedly find Wesker in Spencer's mansion, a badass fight ensues. Towards the end of it, Wesker has got Chrisby the neck, and is about to deliver a final, fatal blow before Jill tackles Wesker out the window, saving Chris but supposedly falling to her death. Somewhat subverted by the fact that she doesn't actually die, but it was still a massive sacrifice with big personal repercussions. Chris ends up saving her towards the end of Resident Evil 5 proper, with an emotional reunion and another of their Just Friends moments.
Resident Evil 2 has the most famous example of the trope from Ada Wong during the Leon B scenario where she lures the Tyrant monster away from Leon and takes a fatal blow from the monster before it falls to its apparent death. Leon shares one (and only) last kiss with Ada before she "dies" in his arms. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles reveals that Ada never actually died from her injuries, but she was seriously hurt as she fought her way out of the city and escaped.
Fable II. Taking a page from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, you can choose the needs of the many, the needs of the few, or the needs of the one (which is no sacrifice at all). The Needs of the Many is particularly sacrificial in that you lose your family, dog, and everyone you love so that the rest of the city can live, happy and prosperous.
Super Paper Mario features not one, not two, but three heroic sacrifices of the other characters just before the final boss, leaving Mario all alone — temporarily, anyway. They are revealed to have survived their sacrifices (saving the villains at the same time), though at least one was saved by Dimentio.
The game does have genuine heroic sacrifices on the part of Bleck and Tippi AKA Blumiere and Timpani.
In World in Conflict, you can see Captain Bannon and his subordinates doing this during an epic last stand against an overwhelming Soviet invasion force (large numbers of enemy tanks and infantry) with his already decimated forces long enough to let the main bulk of the U.S. defenders escape and get the Soviets concentrated in the area of effect of a nuclear tactical strike, more points for him since the sequence was neither corny nor cheesy.
After using the Dominus Glyph Union to seal away Dracula in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Albus gives up his soul to save Shanoa, who he had secretly loved all this time.
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Ace stays behind to let the others access the other two rooms. The party winds up back in the starting area, and Ace did it to make sure the others wouldn't check door 3.
Snake in the "Safe" ending, in a combination of this and revenge for Clover's death.
Final Fantasy II has three separate Heroic Sacrifices. Josef holds off a falling boulder so the others can escape, Minwu gives his life to unseal the Ultima magic, and Ricard pulls a one-man You Shall Not Pass against the resurrected Emperor.
Final Fantasy IV has so many of these it gets ridiculous (two of them are within 5 minutes of each other), even if all but one are Disney Deaths.
Deliberately avoided in Final Fantasy VII. Tetsuya Nomura and Yoshinori Kitase, the game's character designer and director respectively, found the idea of "heroic sacrifice" repellently artificial and gave Aerith an abrupt death which achieved nothing for the good guys (arguably the game would have ended with them victorious if she had survived at this point) to show how awful death actually is. Although they were highly successful, a certain subset of the fanbase was having none of it, with Japanese gamers going so far as to organise a petition, and one notable Internet hoax claiming her comeback was programmed in as a secret plot branch but not activated in certain versions of the game. The 3 original members of AVALANCHE (Biggs, Jessie, and Wedge) all died because they were left behind on the pillar as the Plate fell and crushed them. However, they went into battle defending the Pillar knowing they would probably die.
A less debatable example is the warrior Seto, Red XIII's father, who raced off alone to ward off the Gi Tribe. The spirits within the cave are the multitudes of warriors he bested while slowly turning to poisoned stone after being pierced by several petrifying spears. That Seto's statue sheds tears implies he was still alive and would eternally guard Cosmo Canyon.
In Crisis Core, Zack fights against a not-so-moderately sized army of Shinra Grunts (complete with artillery and air support) to protect a barely-functional Cloud, knowing that he's most likely going to die.
In Final Fantasy X, it quite soon becomes pretty obvious to the player that this is what Yuna's quest is all about. Decoy Protagonist Tidus never has the slightest clue until someone finally manages to speak out the terrible truth aloud.
The above case is ultimately avoided when Yuna learns that her sacrifice would not permanently destroy Sin and would in fact provide it with the means for its eventual return. However, Tidus ends up having to be the one to make the sacrifice when it's revealed that he's a dream projected by the Fayth, and that permanently destroying Sin will involve ending the dream, and his existence along with it.
Final Fantasy X-2 defies this, with Yuna rejecting a plan to destroy Vegnagun that involves this trope. Having seen her loved ones die in order to bring about the Eternal Calm, she aims for a solution where nobody has to die in order for peace to be achieved. Which is exactly what happens. Even better, should you achieve the Golden Ending, she ends up bringing Tidus back.
At the end of Final Fantasy XIII, Fang and Vanille become Ragnarok and save Cocoon from falling, creating a large crystal pillar that holds it up. In the process, they go inside the pillar and turn to crystal themselves.
Several characters sacrifice their lives in Final Fantasy XV. The prequel film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV has King Regis stay behind to fight General Glauca so that Lunafreya and Nyx can escape. Later on, Nyx also sacrifices himself to allow Lunafreya to escape. In the game itself, Lunafreya uses the last of her energy after summoning Leviathan and being stabbed by Ardyn to heal Noctis and protect him as the city crumbles around them. At the very end, Noctis sacrifices himself in order to rid the world of Ardyn for good and to put an end to the eternal night that had fallen.
In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Squall is performing a drawn out, non-lethal variation: turns out his standoff-ish "lone wolf" persona is a Jerkass Façade, and he really does care about his comrades in arms, he just thinks he'll be better able to protect them by acting alone, deliberately drawing the villains to attack him so his friends won't have to deal with them. Don't worry, he can handle it. When Ultimecia and Garland ambush and double-team him, he's happy, as he explains that he'll be able to make things easier for his friends if he brings one of them down with him — thankfully, Zidane arrives just in the nick of time to give him backup before he can pull off a real one. Also, in the prequel Duodecim, all the new Duodecim heroes — Lighting, Kain, Yuna, Tifa, Laguna and Vaan — die permanently in a Bolivian Army Ending to seal away most of the Manikins and give the other heroes a better chance.
In Jade Empire, Sagacious Zu pulls a spectacular one to give the PC enough time to escape the Lotus Assassins' fortress. He gets Death's Hand to attack him, and dodges all of his attacks in such a way that they hit the pillar they are fighting around, and lets himself get hit finally and hits the pillar, collapsing the cave on himself and the bad guy.
A similar scenario happens with Uncle Wolfgang in Gabriel Knight 1. If his sacrifice actually did what he thought it would, the heroes would have won right there and then. Unfortunately, the Big Bad is too Genre Savvy for that to happen.
Played straight in the same game with Malia Gedde, who in the good ending refuses to let Gabriel save her and sacrifices herself to ensure Tetelo can never influence anyone again.
In the Xbox remake of Ninja Gaiden, formerly villainous Alma does a Heel–Face Turn and puts herself in the way of a blade to save her twin sister Rachel.
Inverted in an interesting way in God of War II... at the end of the fight with Zeus, when you are about to deliver the final blow, Athena rushes in and tries to defend him. Athena, the only god who showed any form of compassion to Kratos. Kratos overpowers her, and tries to stab Zeus — but Athena takes the blow, and is killed. As she was doing it to save Olympus, this is probably the only heroic sacrifice for the sake of the enemy.
Played straight in God of War III. Kratos impales himself on the Blade of Olympus to release Hope, undoing all of the damage he had inflicted on the world during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the gods. Kratos then dies for the last time, his final words being the names of his wife and daughter.
And I say to thee: IT SHALL NOT COME TO PASS THAT TASSADAR'S SACRIFICE SHALL BE FORGOTTEN! EN TARO TASSADAR!
Raynor and Fenix pull one in Brood War, or would have done if Kerrigan hadn't been so intent on capturing them alive.
Grom Hellscream in Warcraft III. He redeems himself for allowing his clan to become corrupted by demons again by fighting (and killing) the very demon whose blood corrupted them. And in an interesting variation, the Night Elves sacrifice the World Tree in order to trap and defeat the demon general Archimonde. And with it, their immortality. Okay, the tree itself wasn't evil, but the Night Elves were responsible for bringing the demons to the world the first time.
It mustn't be forgotten that Grom Hellscream inflicted the blood curse on his people in the first place, just like how the Night Elves' ancestors were corrupted and tricked into bringing the demons to their own world. Corruption is a big thing in the Warcraft storyline, doubly so for Orcs and Night Elves.
World of Warcraft has one at the end of the final battle against the Lich King. Arthas (the old Lich King) is defeated, but Tirion Fordring knows that "there must always be a Lich King", and so he prepares to take up the sword and helmet that contain the Lich King's power, believing himself to be the only person in the world able to resist the inherent corruption, even though it will incur the cost of his own life and personality. He's stopped by Bolvar Fordragon, who'd been killed, captured by Arthas, and tortured for months (in that order). He takes the sword and helmet himself, in order to control the undead Scourge and stop them from running (even more) amok. Fordring tells Fordragon that his sacrifice will be remembered; Fordragon insists that he must be forgotten, and tells Fordring and the player characters to "go — and never return!" as he seals himself inside a glacier.
There's also Hand of Sacrifice, a Paladin spell that transfers 30% of all damage taken by a target to the paladin, and the same class had a now-removed spell that killed the caster while putting a three minutes long shield on the target, leaving him invulnerable but unable to do anything unless he removed the shield. It also nullified the threat level of any creature attacking the target, ending the fight. You'd generally use it on a healer or someone with a resurrection spell when the fight became clearly impossible to win, to avoid lengthy corpse-runs, or for the lulz.
Questing in post-Cataclysm Badlands revolves around the red dragon Rheastrasza attempting to free the Black Dragonflight of the Old Gods' influence. She eventually succeeds, creating a purified egg that will hatch into the first untainted black dragon born since the flight's corruption. Realizing that the egg will never be safe as long as the tainted black dragons know of its existence, she secretly swaps it with one of her own eggs before being cornered and killed by Deathwing, sacrificing her own life and that of her unborn child to ensure the egg's survival.
Velen, Maraad, and Ga'nar in Warlords of Draenor: Velen's dying act is to purify the DarkStar, returning it to an ordinary Naaru, which then aids the Draenei in driving off the Iron Horde. Ga'nar holds a crucial pass to buy the shaman Drek'thar enough time to collapse it so the Iron Horde cannot get through, holding off a small army alone in the process. Finally, Maraad, in Talador, uses a shield of light to save his comrade Yrel instead of himself.
Varian in the Broken Shore scenario. He sacrifices himself to take down a giant Fel Reaver that is preventing the Alliance airship from leaving. He gives Genn Greymane a note and says "take this to my son", then jumps off the ship and destroys the fel reaver, only to see the ship flying away (saving your player character in all the NPC's), while he's surrounded by demons. Gul'dan says "you will be remembered as the king who sacrificed himself for nothing", Varian says "for the Alliance", then Gul'dan disintegrates him with a fel explosion.
In the Antorus, the Burning Throne raid, Illidan Stormrage sacrifices himself to imprison Sargeras and permanently end the Burning Legion.
At the end of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the King of Hyrule floods his kingdom with the waters of the Great Sea, sacrificing himself to give Link and Zelda/Tetra a future, as well as to drown Ganondorf, further sealing him away.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess — in the final battle against Ganondorf, Midna summons her pieces of the Fused Shadow and teleports Link and Zelda out of the castle. She becomes the Twili Arachnid and attacks Ganon, then outside, Link and Zelda see the castle explode. Ganondorf appears on a black horse, holding Midna's helmet, which he crushes in his hand. It is assumed that Midna had been killed, but she later is revived in her true form.
And earlier in the same game, Midna is near death after Zant exposes her to intense light. Link, trapped in wolf form, brings her to Zelda, who performs magic to save Midna's life while fading into nothingness herself. She gets better... in time to become the first stage of the final boss fight. Fan theory is divided as to whether she passed her life essence into Midna, or the Triforce of Wisdom, or did something else entirely. Whatever she did, it worked.
In Spirit Tracks, Byrne is killed by Malladus while stopping it/him from possessing Princess Zelda's body again. Don't worry, it isn't permanent.
The Walking Dead Season 1: Kenny's both possible deaths in Episode 5 are this. However, Season 2 Episode 2 reveals that he managed to survive charging into a wave of walkers.
If nerdy Nice Guy Doug survived the events of Episode 1, this is how he perishes in Episode 3, via Taking the Bulletfired by Lily and meant for Ben.
It's also a good way to build up dramatic deaths in Super Robot Wars. Ouka Nagisa did this to kill Agilla Setme for good. Later in Original Generation Gaiden, Altis Tarl covered Folka from a deadly shot that would otherwise kill him. And thus he's killed for good. Heroic B.S.O.D. occurs for Folka for several minutes, until Sanger snaps him out.
Subverted, however, early on in the first Original Generation. In an attempt to prove to the heroes that his Face–Heel Turn is for real, Sanger attacks your mothership with enough force to destroy it. An otherwise normal mechanic with an interest in gambling manages to get a larger-sized mech working just in time to intercept Sanger and takes the hit instead. Thankfully, said mech has Super Toughness and ends up crippled but salvageable, and it breaks Sanger's sword taking the attack, forcing Zonvolt to call it a day.
Balthier: Vaan. A word. If something untoward should happen to me, you're taking the Strahl. Vaan: Untoward? What's this about? Balthier: I am the leading man. Might need to do something heroic.
"I, Judge Magister, Condemn you to OBLIVION!"
In Tales of Symphonia, Botta and a couple of nameless Renegades sacrifice themselves to let the heroes escape a flooding dungeon. Later on, all of the party members appear to do this in order to let Lloyd reach Yggdrasill in time to save Colette. They come back, though, because an RPG without a party to support you is useless.
Honourable mentions include Colette, although she's really more a sacrificial lamb who's been brainwashed into the whole thing, Sheena, who attempts one in the 'Otherwordly Gate' scene, wherein her childhood friend Kuchinawa turns out to be a traitor and holds a huge grudge against Sheena for failing to control Volt as a child, as well as joining the Chosen instead of killing her. However, when Sheena offers to sacrifice herself to save the group, saying, "I'm the one you despise, right? Then I'm the only one you need to kill." Zelos gets pissed and pulls her through the Otherworldy gate that convieniently activated at that moment and everyone escapes. Also Corrine.
Also seemingly done at the very end of the game by Tabatha, who becomes the vessel for Martel.
Honourable mention for Kratos, as well, who fully expects to die releasing Origin's seal. Being a Death Seeker, he actually seems kind of disappointed when it doesn't happen. It's kinda funny.
If Shadow survives and is in the ending of the game, it is also implied that he commits a similar heroic sacrifice.
It can be done on command in battle. The Pep Up/Transfusion blue magic restores the HP and MP of one target and Sabin's Spiraler/Soul Spiral Blitz restores the HP and MP and heals most status effects for the rest of the party. Both abilities remove the caster from the rest of the battle in the process.
In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Gig performs a Heroic Sacrifice in the "good" ending by going critical and destroying three gods with his full power, saving the world in the process. Subverted because, being The Grim Reaper, he simply has himself reborn afterwards in a new body. He just needed access to his full powers to be able to do it — which the main character gave to him like the sucker he/she was.
Alys Brangwyn from Phantasy Star IV took a dark blast from Zio meant for Chaz. Interestingly, she doesn't die immediately and the group's White Mage specifically mentions the game's healing spell doesn't work on her.
Super Metroid: In what is still considered one of the defining video game examples of this trope, the Metroid larva sacrifices its life during the final battle with Mother Brain. Exhausted and near-death due to being continually pummeled by MB's beams, Samus has nowhere to run. Mother Brain charges up for her final blow...and the larva swoops in, sucking the life out of the bigger creature before restoring Samus's health and weapons. Mother Brain comes back to life and attacks the duo, but not before the larva charges at it. The larva sacrifices itself to give Samus a fighting chance (and her Infinity +1 Sword in the Hyper Beam).
Subverted in Metroid Fusion.At first, it looks as if the only way to destroy the SA-X is to destroy the Biologic Space Labs, which would necessarily mean Samus's death. When Adam points this out to her, she simply says "... I know," showing that she is completely ready to give her life in order to get rid of her Evil Twin. However, Adam reveals that there's a way for her to escape — and in the process, utters a phrase that opens her eyes.
In Metroid: Other M, Adam Malkovitch shoots Samus in the back before she can enter the section of the Bottle Ship containing the genetically-altered, cold-immune Metroids. He does this so she can't stop or join him when he goes in there himself to make that sector detach and self-destruct in order to get rid of the Metroids, saying that she has to be the one to survive since she's the only one who can take care of the other threats.
Possible subversion in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain: at the start of the game, Kain is resurrected as a vampire to avenge his killers, and after the deed is done, he must find a way to rid himself of his vampyric curse. It is heavily implied to him that by murdering the nine Pillar guardians of Nosgoth, he might be able to restore balance to the land and rid himself of his vampyric unlife. Yet, in the end Kain pieces together the puzzles and figures out that he himself is the last pillar guardian, and that his aides meant for him to sacrifice himself so that the pillars may be healed and he be released from his curse — in death. Surprisingly, according to canon, he chooses to rule Nosgoth as its vampire king instead.
That's because he had become the last vampire in existence due to his own actions in the game, set in motion by one of the now-dead pillar guardians. It turns out that if vampires, the original makers of the pillars, become extinct, the pillars fall too. The choice was, in fact, no choice at all, so Kain chose to take the longer route and try to find a way to beat the odds.
"There are only two sides to your coin." "Ah, but suppose that one day... the coin lands on its edge?"
Played straight in Defiance with Raziel, who tricks Kain into absorbing him into the Reaver, an act that purifies Kain's sight, allowing him to see the Elder God and gives Kain the weapon that can defeat it. Raziel's Final Speech is a heartfelt vow of renewed loyalty to Kain.
Pokémon. You can actually invoke this in gameplay in several ways, such as using Follow Me to buy time for one of your stronger Pokemon to heal or the move Healing Wish, which makes the user faint but completely heals the Pokemon that replaces it, including status conditions.
To be fair, Axel is not really a villain to begin with. In fact, it is debatable if most of the Organization XIII members are true villains or not. A few of them are, obviously, like Xemnas, but some, like Axel, and, hello, Roxas, are not really.
Also, Axel technically died to save Sora, but really, he was doing it to save Roxas.
Xion may also qualify. True, she doesn't technically "die", but sacrificing your independent existence and any record of your existence in order to wake up the Messianic Archetype has to qualify.
In the back-story for Icewind Dale, the hero sacrificed himself to close an open gate to hell, his blood somehow locking the gate. The Big Bad destroys this seal. The priest of the temple that was later built on the site then repeats the sacrifice, earning the heroes time to confront the Big Bad.
This is notable in that Pelleas's sacrifice is a Senseless Sacrifice if he succeeds, as he was operating with incomplete information. The only thing his death is successful in bringing about is only more despair to the Daein chain of command, so it was a good thing that Micaiah can prevent his needless death.
A rather odd example occurs at the end of Part I. The Dragon Alder sacrifices himself to protect Arc Villain Jarod from the Black Knight, despite both of them otherwise being unrepentant scumbags. Micaiah lets Jarod go to honor his sacrifice, which royally bites her in the ass.
In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Frey sacrifices himself as a decoy in order for Marth and company to escape. In the Easy version this can be any of the Cavaliers, but in Hard mode, Frey is absent, making him the canonical sacrifice.
In Fire Emblem Awakening, there's an example that bleeds over with Heroic Suicide. The Big Bad and God of Evil, Grima, cannot be destroyed by the Exalted Falchion, nor can Naga herself do anything about it. The best they can do is seal him away for a thousand years. Grima can only meet his end by his own power — that is, "Grima will die only if he is killed by Grima". However, the Avatar has the ability to kill Grima, because s/he IS Grima. Due to Time Travel shenanigans, there's two Grimas at once in the same time period: the Avatar, who houses Grima's soul and was destined to become him (reluctantly), and the one from the Bad Future, who willingly became Grima. Because of this, Grima can be killed through Loophole Abuse of those Exact Words. Because the Avatar wants to permanently put an end to the threat of Grima, s/he can opt to finish him off, saving everyone from his darkness for good. But killing Grima means erasing him/herself from existence, as they share a connection and the death of one means the other's if done through his method. Furthermore, because they are the same being, this is in fact an act of suicide. Thus, an act that allows the Avatar and his/her friends to truly defeat the enemy, which results in his/her death, and also an attempt on his/her own life for the sake of his/her friends — a simultaenous Heroic Sacrifice and Heroic Suicide that only came about because of the Timey-Wimey Ball. If it weren't for the future Grima travelling back in time, this wouldn't have been possible in the first place. To add insult to injury, if the player does opt to kill Grima, The Stinger reveals the Avatargetbetter.
In the present, as the Avatar returns to Hoshido, their mother Mikoto pulls this as well: when the Avatar's Cool Sword Ganglari is stolen by a mysterious attacker and used against him/her, she blocks the attack with her own body and dies in her child's arms, accidentally triggering his/her Traumatic Superpower Awakening.
In the Birthright route, Princess Elise throws herself in between Prince Xander and the Avatar, getting fatally injured by Xander and dying in his arms. It's both this and a Senseless Sacrifice: while the Avatar is saved, Xander plows through the Despair Event Horizon and insists on fighting him/her to the death, dying few later.
In the Hidden Truths DLC, which takes place some time before the actual story begins, Human Anankos (the Avatar's biological father) realizes that his sort-of daughter Lilith does not truly want to kill him in their fight, so when the Real Anankos intervenes, he sacrifices himself to save her and dies in her embrace. This prompts Lilith to go search for the Avatar and devote herself to him/her.
In Azura's backstory, it's revealed that her mother Arete (the aforementioned Mikoto's older sister) died like this. She was perfectly aware that no one from the Invisible Kingdom of Valla (like herself, Mikoto and Azura) should mention Valla itself outside its lands, or a curse would cause them to dissolve into water. She did it anyway, telling her very young daughter everything she knew about it when they both were in Nohr, hoping that Azura would use said knowledge wisely later. Which she did.
In the Heirs of Fate FLC, taking place in alternate universes, the fathers of the Second Generation characters (and mother, in the case of a Male Kana) did this when Anankos and his tropes invaded the Deeprealms.
Heavy Rain gives us a beginning-type one, where Ethan basically pulls a stunt that looks exactly like the picture for this page and throws himself in front of a car to save Jason. (It doesn't work, Jason dies and Ethan lapses into a coma for six months, presumably coming out with some sort of brain damage — or PTSD, at least. Setting grim tone: check.)
Abused to the point of incurring head banging in Tales of the Abyss, where first Ion willingly goes with Anise and Mohs to read off the Planet Score, knowing that it will kill him, but not wanting to put Anise's parents in danger. It ends up working in the player's favor, as he is able to save Tear and give the party one last clue before dying, but it's still a blow to the player. And then there's Asch, who may as well be suicidal, between the many times he's been stabbed, shot, and otherwise mutilated and didn't seem to care. His initial sacrifice is subverted by Luke at the Tower of Rem, but he ultimately meets his end buying the party time in the final dungeon, the animated cutscene driving the point home. Lastly, there's Luke himself, who spends most of the game thinking that his death would be some sort of redemption for his stupidity, and eventually succeeding in supposedly dying at the end of the game. Geeze.
The World Ends with You has these out the wazoo. Before the game even happens, Beat tries to push his sister Rhyme out of the way of an oncoming car, and just four days thereafter, she pushes him away from a Shark Noise — and it's even implied that she briefly regained her lost memories. Then, in the second week, Joshua takes the full brunt of Minamimoto's attack, saving Neku; however, this is then subverted when Joshua turns out to be The Composer, who simply warped into another dimension and prevented the blast from touching Neku simultaneously; plus, he had ulterior motives. Even a few Reapers get one: 777 as well as Kariya and Uzuki lend Beat and Neku their keypins after being defeated; 777 is killed for mutiny, and the other two soon get sucked into the Assimilation Plot. And finally, everyone gets absorbed by Megumi, and once Megs is offed, Neku gets shot by Joshua in a game, which it turns out was what saved Shibuya from total erasure in the first place. Yeesh, that was convoluted.
At least two cases of it in Fallout 3. The player's father gets one first, when he sacrifices himself to protect Project Purity by sealing the control room and flooding it with radiation while inside. The player (if they take the good karma route) sacrifices him/herself to activate Project Purity (the control room for which is still flooded with radiation, from the father's sacrifice).
Alternatively, Sarah Lyons sacrifices herself in your place.
Broken Steel makes a third option possible if you have one of the right followers.
You can also go in yourself and survive in Broken Steel; you wake up 2 weeks later, back at the Citadel.
The main character in Persona 3. Doesn't get much more sacrifice-y than cutting the Goddess of Death off from the world... using your soul to form the seal on the the Can o' Evil.
Also, Chidori sacrifices herself to revive Junpei after he's shot by Takaya... though given that she was fighting, and cursing, the player characters a few minutes before, her motives might have been slightly less than heroic. Or maybe she's just crazy.
Unlikely, as she clearly stated her love for Junpei beforehand, in that she confessed her being afraid of losing him. Also, the movie adaptation showed that she was distraught after Junpei was shot.
Shinjiro, in a completely badass fashion. He had already been shot by Takaya once, but rushed in front of Ken to save his life...also fulfilling Redemption Equals Death.
Can be subverted in the Portable version of the game: if you max out Shinjiro's Social Link as the female protagonist, his pocket watch will slow the bullet enough to keep from hitting anything vital. He falls comatose instead, waking up for graduation.
In Persona 4Golden, Marie/Kasumi-no-Okami attempts to kill herself to ensure the fog of deception will never plague the real world again. Thankfully, the investigation team comes to save her.
In the series' primary Creation Myth, Lorkhan, one of the et'Ada ("original spirits") convinced/tricked some of his fellow et'Ada into creating Mundus, the mortal plane. However, doing so cost these et'Ada a large portion of their divine power. For his perceived treachery, the other et'Ada "killed" Lorkhan, tore out his divine center ("heart"), and cast it down into the world he made them create where his spirit is forced to wander. However, according to some tellings of the myth, Lorkhan submitted to this punishment voluntarily. It has been his plan all the long to be "killed" and have his spirit "impregnate" the mortal world.
In Online, the Vestige is able to gain Akatosh's Blessing, which allows them to challenge and battle Big BadMolag Bal, after one of the Vestige's companions gives their life. (It seems to be a bit of a theme for Akatosh to grant aid after someone performs one of these.)
In Chrono Trigger, Crono sacrifices his body, if not his spirit, to protect his friends from Lavos in the Ocean Palace.
Gremio sacrifices himself in order to save the hero and the rest of the party from General Oppenheimer's flesh-eating spores trap. Can also be considered a You Shall Not Pass as he prevents them from reaching the party.
Odessa dies protecting a child, and begs the hero that her death remain a secret to keep the morale of the rebel army up.
A potential sacrifice occurs when Teo and his Armoured Cavalry absolutely trounce the Liberation Army in battle. The hero, Mathiu, Pahn, and Cleo are fleeing when Teo catches up to them, along with his two lieutenants Alen and Grenseal. It looks hopeless until Pahn volunteers to try and hold Teo off while the hero and the rest of the group escape. Pahn then duels Teo, and if he loses, he's executed as a traitor. However, this sacrifice can be avoided if you've trained Pahn up enough to the point where he can defeat Teo in the duel, who then allows Pahn to leave.
Later on, Ted does this to save the hero from Windy and to keep the hero's rune away from evil's hands.
In the end, Mathiu dies, after abandoning his desired life of pacifism and solitude to help the army save the kingdom.
In Suikoden V, when the Armes forces are laying siege to the player's castle, Roy disguises himself as the hero to go out and fight a duel that he knows is a trap and defeats the enemy commander, Childerich. Childerich promptly orders his entire army to fire a storm of arrows at Roy, and Roy deflects most of them before being finally punctured. Jidan Guisu and Childerich mock him for getting himself killed for nothing, but then he hears a noise and turns the mockery right back on Jidan and Childerich. Immediately thereafter, the camera pans to show the newly-arrived Dragon Cavalry, who promptly attack and relieve the siege. Most players will never see it, as the game beats you over the head to keep you from taking the action leading to this, but it's still the character's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
In Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge, if you run out of health during the Final Boss fight, your co-pilot Michael will give you all the energy from his end of your mecha, sacrificing himself to give you one last shot at winning.
Subverted in the Soul Series, where Siegfriedexpects to die in the process of redeeming himself, but survives in his good ending in Soul Calibur 3. As the scene fades out, he remembers Nightmare's comment "You have no right to live," and replies (though Nightmare is ''theoretically'' dead), "It doesn't matter. I will live on. To live... that is my redemption."
SoulCalibur 4: In his own ending Siegfried does indeed commit a Heroic Sacrifice that in turn gets subverted by Soul Calibur's extremism, but in Hilde's ending, he confesses to having created and once been the Azure Knight, and tells her he wants her to kill him. Instead, Hilde declares him to have atoned for his sins and that he can now live in peace.
There's a real one in Ivy's (non-canon) ending in 4, although it does not involve one of the fighters, but her Empathic Weapon. After defeating Nightmare, Soul Calibur turns on her, starting to seal her in a Crystal Prison (the most likely reason is, her blood carries Soul Edge's taint); deciding that it is for the best after all she has done, she simply accepts her fate and waits for death, but then, her own sword destroys itself to save her. She realizes that she may have a purpose beyond this, and the closing narrative suggests that she eventually found peace.
Gray Fox destroys Rex's sensor array, rendering himself vulnerable in the process. He is crushed into paste shortly after a cool monologue.
Peter Stillman in 2.
The Boss was sacrificing herself for her country all along in part 3.
This was probably the worst, as her sacrifice would go all the way into history books and she would be remembered as one of the worst traitors in American history and a vicious war criminal in Russian history. It gets even worse than that when you realize that her death was actually planned by a deviously cunning strategist who wanted her offed.
A non-lethal example in 3 has Snake throwing himself at Ocelot just as he's about to shoot and kill EVA. Snake is successful in knocking his aim off and saving EVA's life, but the gun still fires and grazes Snake's right eye, permanently damaging it. EVA expresses nothing but gratitude for it.
Subverted in 4, when Snake can't quite bring himself to suicide.
Not completely subverted in 4. Raiden seems bent on doing this, fighting a legion of Gekkos twice to let Snake escape, slicing off his own arm and stopping a submarine larger than an aircraft carrier to save Snake again. It seemingly ends with him crushed and dead...Only to reveal in the next chapter he's still alive, he just lost his other arm. He's still bent on being a sacrificing himself to save Snake, without his arms (yet ironically still armed with a sword), he fights off a group of soldiers to buy Snake time...again. And after all this, he gets a Happy Ending.
Big Boss in 4, in a way. He knew going to see Snake would kill him due to the new FOXDIE strain, but still chose to do so, knowing he and Zero had to end it to prevent the same events from repeating again.
Surprisingly, Ocelot in 4. He subjects himself to And I Must Scream by implanting himself with a fake copy of Liquid's mind to trick the Patriots and motivate Snake to hunt him down, thus causing the eventual defeat of the Patriots. However, he also knew that the Liquid persona would lead to his death, as it would mean he would face Snake in combat at the end and be killed, dying with the whole world believing that he was truly evil and never meeting the revived Big Boss, the man he sacrificed everything for. It was only revealed to Snake (and thus the Player) that all along he was one of your greatest allies in the fight against the Patriots after his death, when Snake finally met Big Boss.
Jonathan in Portable Ops.
Quiet in V. Venom is bitten by a cobra and falls unconscious. Quiet (due to her vocal cord parasites that would activate if she spoke English) attempted to contact Pequod in Navajo but he doesn't know the language. So she speaks English to guide Pequod to their position. When Venom comes to, he tries to find Quiet but instead only finds a cassette tape with her final message.
Ash from Vandal Hearts sacrifices himself at the end to stop the Flames of Judgement from spreading.
Super Mario Galaxy. Bowser's star reactor sinks into the sun after Mario beats him one last time. This causes the sun to implode and create a massive super black hole that is sucking up everything in the universe. All the Lumas then jump into the hole to prevent it from destroying life any further. Although this may fall under Disney Death since Rosalina mentions that the Lumas will eventually be reborn.
In Dragon Quest Monsters 2, there's actually a spell that does this: Farewell. When the monster uses it, it instantly dies in exchange for fully reviving any other fallen allies. However, sometimes the user gets lucky and survives, albeit with only 2 hp.
The final mission of Hostile Waters consists simply of escorting the Cool Ship, turned into a walking (well, floating) bomb, into the heart of the enemy installation. It seems to work, too. Though the ending and The Stinger suggest otherwise.
Sometime betweenX and Zero: sealing himself, and surrendering his body to begin the study of The Virus, enabling the means to ultimately destroy said virus.
Zero 4: (a real big one, and arguably the best of all his efforts): opting to stay on board a falling space satellite instead of allowing it to crash on the last free colony of humans. On top of that, his actions finally bring about the peaceful era for humans and Reploids that he had been fighting for for a very long time. This does not bode well for those closest to him, especially Ciel, who was closest to him more than anyone else.
Mega Man ZX Advent: as Model Z, in an echo to the above, staying behind in Ouroboros to stabilize the Quirky Miniboss Squad while Ouroboros was collapsing, so his allies could escape. His current fate is unknown.
Mega Man X's final fate, as hinted in Mega Man Zero. X used his body as a living conduit to seal off and contain the power of the Dark Elf. He somehow separates his core conciousness from his body as a Cyber-Elf, presumably using some of the Dark Elf's power to appear before Zero several times. In Zero 2, it's cemented: An ego-blinded Elpizo strikes down X's body and destroys it — take into consideration he never knew the original, but the deranged Copy X. Elpizo believes it to be poetic justice, seeing him as the source of all his misery after X's twisted copy laid waste to thousands of Reploids. Without a body to return to, X no longer has the energy of the now-freed Dark Elf to maintain his Cyber-Elf form, and loses what little was left by the end of Mega Man Zero 3, fading away altogether. Given the existence of an afterlife for Reploids, it's implied he lives on in spirit.
In Fate/stay night, Heaven's Feel route, either Illya (for True End) or Shirou (for Normal End) have to do this. The first is a Bittersweet Ending, as Saber and Archer don't make it either and Shirou gives up on his ideals, but otherwise good. The second is a real downer.
The second one may be a Tear Jerker, but it's very impressive, as Shirou actually diesbefore he can complete it... only to complete it after he's died.
First, Boomerang, one of the villains, impressed by the party's strength, decides to give his life to protect them from rampaging demons (or from a newly revived Berserk, in the remake). He comes back as a bonus boss in the arena, though, claiming to have fought his way out of hell for another chance to fight the party.
Then, at the end of game, Asgard, a Golem befriended by the party, saves them from Ziekfried's final attack, but is destroyed in the process.
In Overlord II, during an Enemy Mine between the Elven Sanctuary and the Overlord to defeat The Glorious Empire, Queen Fay offers her own energy to the Overlord to power the Tower Heart. This doesn't kill her, however, instead corrupting her and making her a Fallen Hero who serves the Overlord. If you're REALLY evil, you can kill her after her corruption, upon which her ghost becomes your mistress instead.
Midway through Cave Story, the protagonist and the Guest-Star Party Member Curly Brace are trapped in a flooded room. Curly gives up her air tank, drowning in the protagonist's place. If you're on-track for the good ending, it's possible to strap her to your back, carry her out, and save her life.
In the endgame of Dragon Age: Origins, the PCs learn that the only way to defeat the archdemon is for a Grey Warden to kill it and sacrifice his or her own life in the process. As there are a grand total of three Grey Wardens in the country of Ferelden, this means that either Alistair, the PC, or Loghain must die. An alternative is offered by one of the other party members, but may or may not be worse than the other options.
Sometimes there are still only two options, and by the time you realize that, it's already too late. If you don't take the third option and keep Alistair, that leaves the choice of the main character sacrificing him or herself or sacrificing Alistair to kill the Archdemon. If playing a female who romances Alistair and your relationship survives to the end, he makes the decision for you.
Also, in the Redcliffe story, you discover that Redcliffe's problems are being caused by the demon-possessed son of the arl. Rather than let her son be killed or let the demon continue to prey on the town while you get proper magical aid, the arl's wife offers to be the sacrifice in a blood magic ritual that can send someone into the Fade to kill the demon without harming the boy.
In the human noble origin, Ser Gilmore, high-ranking knight in the employment of your family, stays behind the hold the castle gates against Arl Howe's men, even though he knows that it won't keep them out forever and that staying behind means certain death. He willingly goes to this fate to buy his lords time to escape.
In the first game, during the Endar Spire level, Trask Ulgo sacrifices himself so you can escape. A deleted ending for a female Revan who completed the romance sidequest with Carth and then turned to the Dark Side has the PC kill her apprentice Bastila and die on board the Star Forge with Carth.
In the second game, it is possible to persuade Visas to sacrifice herself in order to defeat Darth Nihilus. In the cut content, Atton, given high enough Relationship Values, would have a one-on-one battle with Darth Sion. If he loses, he would be brutally tortured and left to death by Sion. Eventually, Atton dies in the Exile's arms. In addition, if the Exile has Hanharr in the party and Malachor V is being destroyed, Hanharr would throw the Exile onto the Ebon Hawk. Hanharr would then die with Malachor V. This is likely an easily overlooked Shout-Out to the similar death of a certain Wookie in the New Jedi Order.
At the end of the game, Kreia predicts that Mira will die this way.
Kreia:"Her death will occur in many years' time on a forgotten planet, saving the lives of others. But it will be her choice, and she will have no regrets."
In the end of Xenosaga Episode III, it's implied that chaos, KOS-MOS and everyone who remained on Mictam died, which is shown by KOSMOS floating out in space. Whether or not this is actually the case, we'll probably never know because the series has been cancelled. However, before this, it's played more by the book when Jin decides to go back (after almost escaping with the surviving party) and help chaos and the others try and get to Lost Jersaulem by fending off the relentless Gnosis attack. Long story short, he self destructs his Humongous Mecha (for good reasons), gets stabbed clean through the back and leg (at the same time) by a Gnosis with two BF Ss, takes the first one out of his body, and then along with his katana, kills the Gnosis that stabbed him with both swords whilst getting stabbed again by the Gnosis's other sword. Only then does he die.
In Breath of Fire III, Garr opts to stay behind on the crumbling Station Myria while the rest of the team escape. This is less of a Heroic Sacrifice, and more of a And Now I Must Go: Garr receives his power and long life from the Goddess the party just defeated. He could follow them out of the station, but he wouldn't last long. Having achieved the quest he set out on, he decides that it's time for his life to end.
An unintended parody occurs in Guild Wars. In the mission 'Ice Caves of Sorrow', Sairdra rushes at the incoming Mursaat to delay them and give the party and Evennia time to escape. However, the cutscene where she says she will do so, prepares for it, and the 'Let her sacrifice not be in vain'-speech takes roughly 1 minute. Only after all this can the player's party start running, while you can see Sairdra attack and die in under 10 seconds. It takes some imagination to see this as a dramatic moment.
Left 4 Dead has an appropriately named campaign called The Sacrifice where a player must sacrifice themselves by restarting the generator after the bridge stalls so that said bridge can rise up all the way so that the rest of the survivors will be out of harm's way. The Sacrifice is the only campaign in the entire series where a player's death is required to succeed. While anyone can sacrifice themselves, Bill is the one who canonically sacrifices himself according to the comic that was supplemented with the DLC. Bill's sacrifice was also revealed in The Passing DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 (which came out before The Sacrifice DLC) where his body can be found in the campaign's finale and is still clutching his trusty M16 assault rifle. Originally, instead of Bill dying, a random survivor from the first game would be the sacrificed one for The Passing. However, Bill's voice actor couldn't provide voice lines due to time constraints, so Valve settled with having Bill being the dead survivor.
Nia Lochlain dies after trying to stop Eremon from pursuing Yuri's ship. And shortly afterwards...
Bastian fires the exalaser cannon to blast a star, causing a supernova that effectively stalled Lugovalian's invasion of LMC for ten years, but he also gets swallowed by said supernova. His brother, Dietrich, pulls the same act ten years later while trying to buy some time for Yuri to reach SMC.
Kira gets Ret Goned after she successfully hacked the Overlords' system. She gets better at the end of the game.
In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Volunteer sacrifices him/herself in the final cutscene in order to pilot the exploding Temple Ship away from Earth, saving the planet. He/she also uses a telekinetic blast in order to force the rest of the team to get back to the Skyranger and escape.
Deconstructed in Wild ARMs 2, where a major theme is that heroes have to perform sacrifices. They're apparently not heroes unless they give up everything so that other people don't have to fight. The Sword Magess made that sacrifice in the backstory, and, ultimately, her descendants Irving and Altaecia do the same. The protagonist defies this trope moments later, and the final battle consists of spamming a Combined Energy Attack while he and all of humanity deliver a "World of Cardboard" Speech on the subject.
Ashley: We don't need a "hero"! There's no value in a world protected by such things. If everyone's hearts become one, then we can rise and stand together. We can support the world without sacrificing a "hero". Miracles can happen!
Gabriel Knight: The sins of the fathers features this in a BIG way, when Wolfgangrips out his own heart to give the hero access to the Plot Device.
Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse features TWO in its final episode. Sal, after accomplishing an important task in a radiation-filled room. Then, later, Max, through his spore-heads and optical sensors, tells the rescue team in his head to save Sybil instead of himself. Once they leave, his head is about to explode from the psychic energy in his head and the nuclear bomb in his stomach; so he teleports himself out into space before exploding to save New York. Later, when Sam meets Max from an alternate universe, Alt!Max explains that, in his world, it was Sam who performed the identical sacrifice.
First, Callum, the noble Dwarf who you befriended during the events of Old Owl Well and was instrumental at the Ember Trial, holds off a Shadow Reaver that was assaulting Highcliff long enough for the party to arrive and destroy it, at the cost of his own life.
Second, if the player is male and had romanced Elanee, then Mask of the Betrayer reveals that she gave her life to save the player from falling debris in the aftermath of the King of Shadow's death.
Sergeant Forge from Halo Wars. The UNSC officers devise a plan to destabilize the miniature star within the Dyson sphere world by converting their ship's faster-than-light drive into a bomb. The troops transport it to the elevator that would place it nearest to the star, but a group of Elites led by the Arbiter attack, and in the battle the bomb is damaged. The option of remotely detonating it gone, Forge volunteers to stay behind with it so that Spartan-II Red Team escape, knowing that the UNSC will need all of the Spartans they can get.
Halo: Reach has three: Jorge staying behind to manually detonate a slipspace bomb, destroying a Covenant Supercarrier; Carter, flying a badly-damaged Pelican into a Scarab to clear a path for Six and Emile; and Noble Six, staying behind to man a mass driver and provide cover fire for the Pillar of Autumn to escape, and then being overrun by a swarm of Covenant. Even the backstory for Noble Six being transferred in includes one, as one of the trailers for the game reveals that your predecessor dies planting a bomb on a Covenant ship when no one else could make it.
Ultimately borders on Senseless Sacrifice, as Abigail dies a few years afterwards and his son Jack begins to live the sort of gunslinging, lonely, violent life his father lived; the very life his father tried to save him from.
Fai Dan, the colony leader from Mass Effect, is under the control of the Thorian, a plant creature that infects other organisms with spores and causes intense pain when its orders are disobeyed. As Dan approaches Shepard, who's trying to reach the Thorian, he draws his pistol and says that you can't imagine the pain. He tells you that the Thorian is forcing him to stop you, but in a burst of willpower, shouts "I won't!", puts the gun against his head, and pulls the trigger.
Later in ME1, we get a sacrifice on Virmire that has a much greater impact on the game. Either Ashley or Kaidan has to stay behind, defending the nuclear device at Saren's base right up until it detonates. That's some dedication to duty.
Mass Effect 2 begins with the SR-1 Normandy coming under attack from an unidentified but vastly superior warship. It isn't long before the crew is abandoning ship, but Shepard stays behind to force Joker to come with them. S/He gets Joker in an escape pod, but before s/he can enter him/herself, one of the massive energy beams cuts through the hull and sends the commander hurtling away from the pod. So Shepard does the only thing that s/he can do: Shepard hits the emergency launch button, sending the last escape pod out of the ship and condemning him/herself to certain death.
"Go on. Make your noise. Try to scare us. You want to see how a human dies? At ramming speed. <SIGNAL LOSS.>"
Mordin on Tuchanka. If he died in ME2, it's Padok Wiks that makes the sacrifice.
Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.
Similarly, if Shepard manages to make peace with the quarians and the geth, Legion will disseminate its personality to complete the upgrade that gives all geth true sentience.
Either Grunt or Dagg has one of these when investigating the presence of rachni. If Grunt was loyal in ME2, he'll live, but Dagg can't be saved.
There is also Lieutenant Tarquin Victus, who is ordered to defuse an ancient turian bomb planted on Tuchanka. Were it to be detonated, it would cause heavy casualties among the krogan and destroy any possibility of making an alliance with them. Victus succeeds, but at the cost of his own life — a price he was willing to pay.
Victory... at any cost.
And ultimately the ending, in which Shepard is presented with up to three options: sacrifice him/herself to combine all synthetic and organic life into a new framework, thus ending the Reaper cycle; sacrifice his/her body to control the Reapers directly; or destroy them all together along with all synthetic life. The first two options invariably result in Shepard's death, though if the player gathered enough War Assets, Shepard can live through the destruction of the Reapers.
The penultimate cutscene of Mass Effect 3: Omega involves Nyreen sacrificing herself via grenade-belt to save a group of civilians from a cluster of Adjutants. Unlike the other examples in this entry, she makes no big speech of production of it, simply accepting it as a necessary move, because that's what it is to be a turian.
Even Conrad Verner, of all people, can give his life to save Shepard from a gunman in the third game. Although, if you had saved the girl working undercover in Chora's Den all the way back in the first game, she will subvert the scene by sabotaging the gun beforehand. She's still impressed by Conrad's bravery and willingness to sacrifice his life for Shepard.
In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, Chopper dies crashing his aircraft into the middle of a stadium in order to protect civilians. To be more specific, Chopper's plane was mortally damaged by a missile strike. Rather than eject immediately and risk his out-of-control plane falling into a populated area of the city, he chooses to wait until the football stadium below him has been successfully evacuated so he can let his plane fall into the field without causing collateral damage. The stadium is soon evacuated; however, by that time Chopper's plane's condition has deteriorated so much that his electronics systems, and by extension his ejection seat, won't work, so he goes down with the plane.
Emil of NieR has one of the most heartrending one in all of gaming, with his last words being how he wants to see his friends again and how truly afraid of dying he really is. Depending on what ending you choose, Nier himself will do this, erasing himself from existence (along with your save file) in order to save both Yonah and Kainé.
NieR: Automata takes the concept of the latter case and brings it to a whole new level: In order to achieve Ending E which allows 2B, 9S, and A2 to be rebuilt with their memories intact with the war finally over, you need to complete a Bullet Hell minigame in the Creative Closing Credits that becomes actually unwinnable at a certain point, until a bunch of real life players come to your aid and give you the strength you need to complete the minigame. You find out at the end that such a feat was only made possible because those players sacrificed their save files, and you are given the choice at the end to do the same to help other players.
Deconstructed in Date Warp — in many paths, a Heroic Sacrifice will appear to resolve the immediate problem, but at far too high a cost, and the True Ending requires looking past this sort of thing to find another solution.
A certain supervisor A. Dallas in Dead Space has a particularly nasty variant of this. He leaves an audio recording saying that he knows what the necromorphs do to corpses, how they turn them into weapons...
At least if I don't have any limbs... I won't be able to kill anyone when I'm infected... (Gun charging in the background)
Depending on your judgment of the character's "personhood", the Neutral ending to Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has one. Arthur, the Red Sprite AI, decides that his knowledge of the future (given to him by Gore) cannot be kept if humanity is to truly be free. Therefore, he orders his personality component be left with the part of the ship being sacrificed to destroy the Schwartzweld. The crew treats it as the same as a living person sacrificing themselves.
In Ōkamiden: Kurow lets himself get possessed by Akuro so that Chibi and Kuni are able to kill it, thereby sacrificing his own life as well.
In Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, after you defeat the final boss, Pigsy volunteered to stay behind in the Leviathan during the self destruct countdown and died with the rest of the enemies in the explosion in order to pave the way for Monkey and Trip to reach Pyramid.
In Alan Wake, Alan has to remain in the darkness beneath Cauldron Lake to save Alice and the town of Bright Falls, as a straight Happily Ever After would break the internal logic of the story — it's a dark horror story in which victory cannot come without great loss and sacrifice. The DLC concerns his escape from this sacrifice.
In The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, Ignitus throws Spyro and Cynder through the Destroyer's Ring of Fire to safety, leaving himself to perish in the flames.
In the True Ending of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Lambda performs one to save Ragna from getting killed by Terumi and mentions that Nu was never lonely and will always be by Ragna's side, and Ragna apologizes for the way he treated Nu. Lambda dies in Ragna's arms and Goes Out with a Smile, in the process giving her power to Ragna, which allows him to engage Lambda's Idea Engine and unleash the true power of the Azure, which he uses to defeat Terumi, but spare him for that moment as he afterwards goes to save Noel from her current world-hating state as Mu.
Not to mention in the story mode, Jubei is very grateful towards Bloodedge, who sacrificed himself to the Black Beast during the Dark War to buy a year's worth of time for the 6 heroes to defeat it. Bloodedge is actually the protagonist Ragna, who time traveled to the past.
Bang tries this in one of his Story Mode endings. Said ending is confirmed as canon, and hesurvives.
In RosenkreuzStilette, Freudia freezes Graf Sepperin's throne room to save Spiritia when Iris attempts to kill her for having outlived her usefulness. Her area-freezing attack freezes Iris' attack with it to Iris' surprise, and Iris leaves for her palace to let the organization of RKS prepare itself for a final showdown. After she leaves, it is revealed that Freu had overdone the attack a little and used up some of her power to use the attack, but hey, it's a non-fatal sacrifice she made, so she's definitely alright, she's just shaken up a little bit.
TCT RPG: Kyle tries this when he realises it's lose his memories, powers, and his relationship with Alex, or leave his sister to die from the lack of medicine. Alex manages to think of a third option.
Homefront: "You see my flare? Drop the biggest fucking bomb you got on it!"
Septerra Core. Doskias and Selina stay behind to fire the Doomsday Device in the ending.
inFAMOUS 2, In the canon (Hero) ending of the game, Cole fires up the RFI, which drains and kills The Beast, thus saving New Marais. However, the RFI kills all Conduits, including Kuo, Nix, and Cole himself, as well as conduits all over the world. After the showdown, Cole is made the patron saint of New Marais and is given the much earned respect he needs.
In Gears of War 3, during the chapter "Brothers To The End," Marcus, Dom, and their friends are trapped between an endless horde of Locust and an ever-expanding mass of Lambent. Dom then sees a way out by detonating the huge fuel bowser they'd been filling up by crashing a truck into it, creating a massive explosion that wipes out both enemy armies.
At the end of the game, Adam Fenix reveals that he had been playing Professor Guinea Pig on himself in order to develop his Lambent-killing weapon, knowing that it would also kill him when activated.
The Masked Man, aka, Claus in MOTHER 3, seems to have actually pulled a Heroic Suicide.
It's implied that Hinawa died in this fashion in order to save her sons from the Mecha-Drago. Bronson speculates this in an attempt to comfort her grief-stricken husband, Flint, but to no avail.
In Baten Kaitos Origins, Sir Rambari leaps in front of a blade to save Ladekahn from Shanath.
In the final cutscene, a berserk machina seizes Sagi and crushes his heart. Milly prepares to give herself to Tarazed to release him, but Guillo dashes into the machina before she can.
In Knight's Contract, Minukelsus chose to stay behind to open the portal for both Gretchen and Heinrich to escape the villain's crumpling portal. What Gretchen and Heinrich didn't know is that the sword "Paracelsus" that Minukelsus wields absorbs its wielder's life force and eventually Minukelsus succumbed to it.
Shadow the Hedgehog in Sonic Adventure 2. He goes beyond his limit of power to prevent the Space Colony ARK from crashing into the Earth. Out of respect for his dearly-departed friend Maria, he does what she would have wanted him to do and protects the innocent people below, leaving no trace but one of his power-supressing cuff links. The characters take a few moments to mourn his loss in the ending cutscene of the game. Eventually, Shadow comes Back Fromthe Dead in his own appropriately-named sequel, Shadow the Hedgehog.
Maria also applies this for she sacrificed herself by staying behind as letting Shadow initiated his escape pod, as she begged him to protect all the people on Earth.
Synonymous in the respective anime, Sonic X, though plot lines and characters present differ slightly regarding his apparent death and return.
Hanako's parents from Katawa Shoujophysically protected her from the fire ten years ago, explaining her scars, her trauma, and her being an orphan.
In Demon's Souls, the Good Ending has the hero rejecting the Old One's offer of power and replacing the deceased Monumental as a living sacrifice to keep the Old One in check.
In Dark Souls, the "Linking the Fire" ending has the Chosen Undead rekindle the First Flame to prolong the Age of Fire while burning for the rest of his/her existence as fuel for the flame. Though this one is arguable since the Chosen Undead may not have been aware of what "linking the First Flame" actually meant until it was too late.
If you follow Siegmeyer of Catarina's sidequest, he will eventually do this for you, and jump into a pit full of Chaos Eaters to distract them and allow you to get to safety. Of course, you can stick around and help him, ensuring his survival. But he'll go Hollow if you do, because you just had to keep helping him by showing off your superior skill and making him lose all faith in himself. You Bastard.
The ritual used to keep the continent from turning into a wasteland requires a Heroic Sacrifice from a member of the Granorg royal family who's died and been resurrected. The last Sacrifice, Heiss, was less than pleased with this, leaving Stocke as the only candidate. He agrees. However, in the True Ending, he basically gets shoved out of the way by Heiss, who, in a last burst of bloody-mindedness, decides that if someone's going to get their soul ripped out, it's not going to be his nephew.
Just a few levels later, in Down the Rabbit Hole, Team Metal has a mass Heroic Sacrifice in the lower levels of the mine when they find themselves severely outgunned and with RPG fire closing in on the chopper evacuating President Vorschevsky. Their actions to defend the leader of the country that attacked and completely wrecked the Eastern Seaboard are what spur on peace talks between all the warring parties, stopping World War III in its tracks.
The very next (and last) level, Dust to Dust, has Yuri keep his word to Price regarding taking out Makarov. After being impaled on a section of rebar, Yuri still manages to attack Makarov. Despite being fatally shot by Makarov for his trouble, he still manages to make enough of a distraction for Price to go in for the kill.
In I Miss the Sunrise, when the Inquiry is being destroyed, Virgil stays behind and uses the last available backup power to get Ros to safety.
Neff, Chac, Cassidy, Cole, and Ivoronus are shot down while fending off the Lesser Horde in the optimist ending.
PossiblyRos, as well. The last we see of them, they are dragging the Core towards a black hole. Other characters say that it's not certain whether or not they will actually have to pass the event horizon, but it is a possibility that they don't make it back.
The first is Yasha, who chooses to give Asura his own Mantra Reactor so he can unlock the full potential of his Wrath Mantra affinity, allowing him to stand up to Chakravartin. Doing so guarantees his death when his own reserves of Mantra run out.
In the final chapter, Asura has defeated Chakravartin, and is poised to deliver the killing blow. He is interrupted by his daughter Mithra, who begs him to spare Chakravartin, because if he dies, then the Mantra will be gone and Asura will die as well. After considering her warning, he replies that "But you will survive." and finishes Chakravartin off. Asura dies a few moments later, after telling his daughter to not cry for him, as he is at peace and his titular wrath has finally gone.
In the Swan Song, some of the Daichi give up their lives for other followers to escape.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron in the biggest way at the end of one late chapter, Metroplex sacrifices all his remaining energon to allow the Ark to launch. He falls to his knees as the ship launches, and falls over unconscious/dead as it blasts away.
In the first two routes of Duel Savior DestinySelbium pulls one of these in order to help save the day. The next two routes switch him for Princess Crea, though apparently she was dying anyway.
At the end of Perfect Dark Zero's first act, Jack and Joanna are pinned down by Mai Hem and her minions, and Jack is forced into a suicidal charge to allow Joanna's escape.
In Little Busters!, Kengo and Masato risk their lives to protect Riki and Rin from danger when their bus drives off a cliff during a field trip. In one timeline, this kills them. Kyousuke also risks his life to stop the oil from exploding and so allows Riki to save several people in the meantime, which can either result in his death or everyone being saved depending on your choices at the very end.
In Xenoblade Chronicles, Fiora is killed after she comes in with a Giant Mech and saves Shulk, Dunban and Reyn, who are currently paralyzed and about to be killed by Metal Face. She gets better though.
In the first game, provided you go for the good ending, Jack ends up heavily mutilating himself (including tearing out his own vocal cords) in order to defeat Fontaine and liberate the Little Sisters.
In BioShock 2, after being mortally wounded by Sofia Lamb, Subject Delta uses the last of his strength to save his daughter from a literal army of Splicers.
In BioShock Infinite, Booker realizes that the Big Bad is in fact himself from an alternate future where he turned into a fanatical Knight Templar following his baptism. He realizes that the only way to destroy the Big Bad for good is to allow himself to die during said baptism, and he does so. However, The Stinger suggests that there's at least one universe where Booker survives, never becomes Comstock, and is able to live happily with his daughter Anna (who never becomes Elizabeth).
Elizabeth herself, or rather the Elizabeths from the mulitiverse drowned Booker despite knowing that they'll be erased from existence.
Burial at Sea gives another: Daisy Fitzroy, whose threat to murder a young boy in Infinite is revealed to have been a ploy (one that she was reluctant to make due to her own aversion to harming a child) to make Elizabeth kill her and, in so doing, harden Elizabeth into the woman who could bring down Comstock. Then Elizabeth does this at the end, knowing that her death will eventually lead to the downfall of Atlas/Fontaine.
Angry Birds uses this trope as part of its gameplay, in which birds launched from a slingshot break glass, stone, and wood along with taking down pigs using variable corresponding levels of brute force as well as their character-specific abilities.
In Star Trek Online, the Klingon K'Valk decides to pull this when the Doomsday Machine goes haywire. This is mostly because he had dishonored himself in failing a mutiny in trying to stop B'Vat's mad scheme and decides to go down fighting... by hijacking a shuttle and slam it down the gullet of the machine while singing a Klingon War Song.
Failing to unlock the True Final Boss in a 1-player game causes your character to do this to destroy the Medallion.
In a 2-player game, 3 character combinations show both characters alive in the normal ending, but for 3 others, one character is alive and the fate of the other is ambiguous; it's not sure if they died, went MIA, or left alive without bidding farewell.
In Project X Zone, at the aftermath of stage 17, the party only needs to plant one more bomb to the last statue so that they can get out of the dimension. They then find Alisa's head intact, which prompts Arthur to go retrieve it. Unfortunately, the dimension then starts to crumble, which then forces Alisa to activate the bomb in her head. By doing so however, Arthur would get caught in the blast, but still insists that Alisa activate the bomb. Both get better (and very quickly too).
Canadian web series Watch Mojo has a video devoted to this trope in video games, including James in the third Fallout game, Dominic Santiago in the third Gears of War, and the top one going to Baby Metroid from the Metroid series.
In Left 4 Dead 2, this frequently occurs in levels amongst the survivors, whether it's luring off a horde or special infected to allow the others to get to the safe room/escape or rescuing another survivor at the cost of the rescuer's own life. A canon example is Bill, the survivor from the first game who is the canonical one to die in the Sacrifice campaign so that the others may live, though any of the four original survivors can do this and/or die in the final rush. His corpse can be found in the Passing as well, confirming it.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, Pegasus sacrifices himself to seal Reshef away, asking the player character to perform the ritual since he can't do it himself.
In no-one has to die., this is invoked if Christina and Steve are the only characters remaining. Steve will plead to sacrifice himself in order to save Christina. You can choose to let him do so by sending him to activate the sprinklers while hiding Christina behind a fire door, or you can ignore this plea and do the reverse.
In Die Reise Ins All, the hero Von Mackwitz has one, when he gave his friends some time escaping from the exploding martian spaceship.
In fact, he hasn't. The game makes the player think that Mackwitz died to save his friends, even getting some parade. It's then revealed that he survived (the player will play this part then), and was just late for the parade.
At the end of the second Age of Empires III campaign, John Black realizes that the Circle of Ossus has allied with Russia to secretly bring in an army through Alaska and take over the New World colonies, while the British and the French are busy fighting one another. Furthermore, he knows that the Circle will never stop hounding his family in search of the Fountain of Youth. With the help of some miners, he collapses the rock bridges, forcing the Russian army to go through the canyons and then plants gunpowder charges to bury the army under an avalanche. He is confronted by the Circle's leader and makes a split-second decision to detonate the charge right next to him, killing the leader and defeating the army, but also dying in the process.
This is the premise of Ketsui: The United Nations chooses four pilots to undergo a covert operation to take down the massive war-generating Mega Corp. EVAC. However, in order to prevent the operation from being traced back to the UN, the pilots have to be executed afterwards, but in exchange, the UN will fulfill their dying wishes.
In the finale of Wasteland 2, one of your party members will have to stay behind to manually detonate the Davy Crockett nuke and destroy Cochise before it can activate its Assimilation Plot. This results in their death, but you can allow your other teammates to run to safety first. Or alternatively your party member can be a colossal tool and set it off straight away, dragging their buddies down with them.
Shield Knight at the end of Shovel Knight holding off a powerful attack from the Enchantress while telling Black Knight to save an unconsious Shovel Knight. Subverted since the stinger shows that she survives the attack and go resting along Shovel Knight.
Minecraft: Story Mode: At the end of Episode 4, Reuben dies from a long fall after recovering Jesse's enchanted weapon so they can destroy the Command Block. He holds on just long enough for Jesse to say some final words.
The researchers who put together the TALOS Project spent time that could have been spent with their families and personal pursuits, knowing the end of the world was encroaching and they'd never have another chance, in order to complete what may have been the best chance to preserve the essence of humanity. Special note goes to Alexandra Drennan, who spent her last days feverishly working on the project, and died not knowing if it would succeed.
Shepherd stays in the Tower and helps the next generation reach the top, countering the contrary efforts of Samsara, not knowing whether anything of him will be preserved when the simulation ends.
In Road to Gehenna there are 19 units in the simulation underworld, but only enough bandwidth for 18 to be ascended. Two of the endings involve either Uriel or Admin staying behind to allow the other to ascend, although in Admin's case it's less heroism than reluctance to leave behind the only home he knows.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes has two character endings with this trope being played. In the Hulk's ending, Captain America will perform Hyper Charging Star to destroy Onslaught's psychic form, seemingly destroying Cap's body and leaving behind his shield, which Hulk, Gambit, Wolverine and Professor X mourn near, while Ryu's ending has Jin Saotome performing the Bloodia Typhoon to destroy Onslaught and we're shown Ryu holding Jin's scarf.
The opening mission to Saints Row IV ends with the Boss ostensibly committing a heroic sacrifice to set off a nuke in midair before it reaches its target, as Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" plays in the background and all of the characters tearfully say their goodbyes. Of course, this being Saints Row, the Boss simply jumps off the missile at the last second before it blows up, freefalls back to Earth, crashes through the roof of the White House, lands directly in the President's chair in the Oval Office, and puts their feet up on the desk as they recline in the chair. For this amazing display of badassery, they are immediately elected President.
A later mission has the Big Bad give the Boss the option to surrender themselves for immediate execution, and in exchange he promises to free everyone else he has captured. Picking this option immediately rolls the credits, then gives you a Non Standard Game Over informing you that he was lying.
This is a recurring theme with Laharl in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. His mother sacrificed her life to save him from an incurable illness (condemning herself to become a Prinny and eventually reincarnate). Flonne lets herself be turned into a flower to spare him from Seraph Lamington's wrath. He attempts to sacrifice himself to restore Flonne (and actually goes through with it in one of the endings). This even carries over to the sequel, where his little sister Sicily tries to sacrifice herself for him in a manner similar to that of their mother (and when she goes through with it in one of the endings, he crosses the Despair Event Horizon).
The sequel also revealed that his mother would have originally become an angel when she died due to the truly noble nature of the sacrifice, but she pulled a second sacrifice and passed on that right to Sicily (whom she was pregnant with at the time).