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Literature: Lone Survivor
The Real Life story of Marcus Luttrel, and the disaster known as Operation Red Wings. A film adaptation was released on December 27, 2013, starring Mark Wahlberg.

Not to be confused with the 2012 video game.


This work contains examples of:

  • Badass: It's the Navy SEALs. Nuff said.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: Pashtun, in this case.
  • Being Good Sucks: Luttrel directly attributes the everything-went-to-hell events of the novel to the team's decision to let some goatherders live.
  • Blatant Lies: That's right, the seven-foot tall, mortally wounded Texan with the satanic-looking tattoo who fell into your village directly after that horrific gunfight, wearing a uniform with a Liefeldian number of pockets, carrying a Mk12 sniper rifle and enough computer technology to launch the space shuttle is from...wait for it...Doctors Without Borders. It's implied that the villagers knew Luttrel was full of shit but let it slide since they'd already decided to save him anyway.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Luttrel has no idea why the villagers are so hell-bent on defending him against the Taliban, and simply comes to accept that their motivations as different from his own, without really understanding. His explanations in the text are actually post-facto intelligence from cultural experts.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Well, this is Real Life.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: The friendly Pashtun villager offers to save the injured and understandably suspicious Luttrel.
  • Despite The Plan: What seemed like a well-devised and researched operation quickly collapses on itself as more and more unfortunate, unpredictable factors get thrown into the mix.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The story starts off with introducing the audience to four Navy SEALs, their lives, backgrounds, and the close friendship they share. Keep in mind that the book is called Lone Survivor.
  • Dwindling Party: The SEALs are killed one by one.
  • Edible Theme Naming: Checkpoints and codewords during the operation were named after alcoholic beverages.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Zigzagged, but ultimately played straight. Luttrel's account of the indignities of BUDS just makes it that much cooler in the end.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Has Luttrel mentioned he's from Texas today? Because he's from Texas.
  • Friendly Sniper: Well, they are friendly to each other, anyway.
  • From Bad to Worse
  • Heroic BSOD: Luttrel has one. Justified since he's just seen his three teammates die in a hail of gunfire, he's been shot, battered, and blown up, and now he's stuffed in a hole while his enemies scour the countryside for him and he's slowly dying of thirst. Since the ordeal he's suffered from PTSD and insomnia.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: LT Michael Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor for the action described in the book. Posthumously.
  • Honor Before Reason: It's kind of the Pashtun Hat. See The Other Wiki entry on Pashtunwali.
  • I Gave My Word: Closely related to Sacred Hospitality. Once the village offered Luttrel asylum, they were honor-bound to defend him to the last man. As Luttrel points out, the members of the Taliban that sought to kill him were likely Pashtun themselves, possibly originally from that very village, and relatives of his protectors.
  • Implacable Man: The Taliban forces are this to Luttrel's team. It quickly becomes clear that direct victory is impossible and escape is the only option.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Four men held off AN ARMY... for a while.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Lt. Murphy, after sparing the shepherds, quickly chooses to cancel the mission on account of this unexpected factor, but by then it was already too late.
    • The four sailors also spend a great deal of effort and pain fleeing from the overwhelming Taliban forces.
    • The Taliban forces, realizing they are outnumbered by the Pashtun villagers, leave and do not return to fight.
  • Made of Iron: As a rule, the Navy SEALS are required to be this. Special mention goes to Axelson, who continues to gun down insurgents even after being shot in the head.
  • Mighty Whitey: Averted. The rural and supposedly unsophisticated village is already supplied with a full-fledged doctor and plenty capable of defending itself. Luttrel's considerable martial and medical skills are entirely redundant.
  • More Dakka: The Taliban bring it, in the form of long lost Kalashnikovs and cold-war era artillery.
  • Ninja: If the SEALs aren't, nobody is.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: But conversely, sometimes a good deed is also rewarded.
  • Not So Different: Despite the rampant Values Dissonance, the Navy SEAL is impressed by the villagers' honor, courage, and commitment. That's a pretty big deal.
  • No Woman's Land: The only women who appear in the story are Luttrel's mother and the widows of SEAL Team 10. If he ever saw a Pashtun woman, he doesn't mention it.
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted, when the "dog" isn't interested. The SEALs try to offer an Afghan boy an MRE, but the boy just glares at them and ignores the offering.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Most cultures of the Middle East take hospitality very seriously, but the Pashtun take it Up to Eleven.
  • Sole Survivor: As expected. Luttrell is the only survivor of his SEAL team.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Taliban ally the SEALs chose to spare.
  • Worst Aid: The SEALs have no choice but to resort to very crude methods of sealing and treating their gruesome wounds.
  • You Can Barely Stand: All four men end up riddled with bullets, but keep fighting to the last.

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