Big Guy Fatality Syndrome
A specification of the Heroic Sacrifice
. Things are going really well for our heroic party: the infiltration in the Big Bad
's evil fortress of doom
is advancing steadily and without a problem. Then, suddenly, things take a turn for the worst: the villain turns some phlebotinum-powered device on the heroes, or a dangerous foe long thought dead has reappeared and is endangering not only the quest of our heroes but their very survival. What happens then? "Not to worry, you go ahead, Iīll deal with this inconvenience
!" Famous words... and usually the last
. For reasons unknown, the largest man of the crew will usually be the one who does the sacrificing.
Whenever there are characters in a show, book, etc., the biggest/ strongest/ most massive one will be, against common sense, the first to die, usually saving the rest of the crew so they can go on and finish their epic quest.
Similar to The Worf Effect
, only in that trope a) it's the tough one who's affected (often The Lancer
or a Sixth Ranger
instead of The Big Guy
), b) he usually survives, and c) the Big Guy Fatality Syndrome
normally goes at the end of a book, series, whatever, while The Worf Effect
goes at the beginning. If they're The Big Guy
in the Five-Man Band
, or female, or both, they're less likely to die. When this happens to a Husky Russkie
, it is a clear indication of Russian Guy Suffers Most
at work. Also can overlap with Black Dude Dies First
if the big guy is a Scary Black Man
See also Vasquez Always Dies
, a related Always Female
trope where the more badass
of two leading female characters will always be the first to go. Since strength is associated with masculinity, see Men Are the Expendable Gender
Often an early step in a Dwindling Party
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- Happens to Musashi Tomoe in Getter Robo over and over again.
- AND his sucessor, Benkei Kuruma. By the end of the manga, only Ryoma and Hayato amongst the original team survives, until Ryoma himself may or may not bite the dust as well.
- Hilariously spoofed in Angel Beats
- Mobile Suit Gundam's Ryu Jose combines this trope with Black Dude Dies First. Or rather, Ambiguously Brown Dude Dies First.
- Hayato Kakizaki (Ben Dixon) from Super Dimension Fortress Macross was The Big Guy on Hikaru/Rick's team and the only wingman he ever lost.
- One Piece: Zoro tries this at the end of Thriller Bark, but can't manage to die from mere lethal damage.
- The towering, hulking Gold Saint Taurus Aldebaran of Saint Seiya is usually hit with the Worf Effect just to prove a point how serious the menace du jour is. But while he was revealed to have survived in the anime Filler Asgard Arc, he went and bought the big one in the Hades Saga. Though not without making his death a Crowning Moment of Awesome due to a time-delayed Taking You with Me for the opponent who did him in, and who didn't even realize he was already a corpse until it was pointed out to him that he hadn't survived Aldebaran's final attack.
- Sailor Moon:
- Sailor Jupiter is the first Senshi to die at the end of the first season of T He Nineties anime. Like all the others, she gets better.
- Inverted in Stars's initial mini-arc, where she was the second-to-last Senshi to go down and be captured by Nehelenia. She's later released by Sailor Moon.
- Ryoma from Tenkuu Senki Shurato isn't the first chara on the good guys's side to die, but he is the first member of the Five-Man Band to kick it. He gets better, though.
- Subverted when Hal Jordan goes on his mad rampage and kills Kilowog. Though heīs the last Green Lantern he slays, it marks Halīs point of no return.
- Thunderbird, one of the new X-Men's two big guys along with Colossus, was killed on one of his first missions with the team, attempting to bring down the jet of Maggia leader Count Nefario.
- This trope is probably why they Dropped A Bridge On Dozer in The Matrix.
- While he's not the first to die in the invasion of the Black Fortress during the climax of Krull, Rell the Cyclops is the first to die when they actually get inside the Fortress. He holds open a closing wall just long enough for his companions to get past, before it crushes him to death.
- Dagonet (Ray Stevenson's character) in the Clive Owen King Arthur film.
- The Farscape finale movie featured the death of D'argo in a bit of a Tear Jerker Hold the Line moment.
- Buck the gorilla in Rise of the Planet of the Apes dies taking down a helicopter.
- Ironhide, likely the most powerful Autobot on the team bar Optimus, is the first Autobot casualty of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, leaving the Autobots without their signature heavy-hitter. It takes the three Wreckers to equal the amount of ass-kicking that Ironhide had.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot performs a Heroic Sacrifice by using himself to shield the rest of the team when the villain's ship crashes with them inside. He gets better.
- Averted in The Goonies when Sloth remains behind to hold up the boulder so the kids can escape, but then later makes it out (with his Ma, like a good son, even though she had been bad).
- Porthos, in The Vicomte De Bragelonne: when a massively enormous rock threatens to crush the entire party, guess whoīs the one to hold it, sacrificing his own life in the process? Obviously, Big Guy Porthos. The writer goes one for about half a page then explaining how no other living human before or after could have managed such a feat.
- In Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf novel Wolf's Honour, itīs Big Guy Haegr who takes the blunt of the Thousand Sonīs attack, obviously making a heroic sacrifice in the process.
- In Buttercup's Baby, The Princess Bride's second part (at least in theory), it's Big Guy Fezzik who throws himself over an enormous cliff to save Waverly, who is Buttercup and Westley's daughter.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe: Chewbacca dies fighting the Yuuzhan Vong. Although when they drop a MOON on you it might not really be this trope.
- In the Star Wars universe, do not be a chubby starfighter pilot, especially if your name is a fat joke like "Porkins."
- Subverted later in the Wraith Squadron series. Voort "Piggy" SaBinring, a Gamorrean who was experimented upon to increase his intelligence to living tactical computer levels, is described as a large and somewhat portly pilot (and porcine besides), but in spite of his role as a Genius Bruiser, he manages to stop an assassin after taking a blaster shot to the gut... and not dying like normal people should have. Notable for sharing a callsign with Jek Porkins, mentioned above.
- In the Legend of Drizz't: Legacy, Wulfgar dies bringing the roof of a tunnel down on a monster that was attacking the group.
- Sword Of Shannara: Keltset the Troll, messiah of the Troll nation, and Genius Bruiser, dies holding up the roof while his best friend Panammon Creel, and Shea Ohmsford make their getaway.
- In The Wishsong Of Shannara it is Helt, the gigantic Borderman, who stays behind to raise the drawbridge after his companions. Justified, as Helt had already been poisoned in a battle against an earlier monster, and knew his time was short.
- The Redwall books in general have a surprisingly high casualty rate on the good guys' side. The trope is played straightest by the death of the massive Northlander hare Rockjaw Grang in The Long Patrol holding off a band of vermin alone.
- In the third A Song of Ice and Fire book, Small Paul, a minor character who is described as being one of the biggest members of the Night's Watch, is the first and only person to be killed when an Other attacks Sam's group.
- Almost played straight in Watership Down, but ultimately averted. Richard Adams originally intended for Bigwig, the biggest and best fighter among the heroes, to die in his fight against General Woundwort, but the author's daughters pleaded otherwise.
- At the climax of the Malloreon, the Gentle Giant Toth is killed by a Demon Lord-possessed dragon in a last-ditch effort by Zandramas to keep Belgarion away from the final confrontation between Light and Dark. It was also intended to leave his Platonic Life Partner Cyradis too emotionally vulnerable to arbitrate. It fails miserably on both counts and Toth gets a crystal tomb for his trouble.
Live Action TV
- Chopper in Ace Combat 5 is the only member of Wardog Squadron to die under Blaze's command.
- Jorge in Halo: Reach dies when he heroically activates the slipspace bomb in the Covenant supercarrier, after throwing the player down to Reach.
- Feels a little invoked if you consider the value of a SPARTAN II (Cost as much as a naval battle group to create, UNSC's biggest of few assets) and the presence of comparatively worthless Marines and designed to be disposable Spartan III in Noble Six.
- Sergei from Call of Duty: Black Ops.
- An interesting case of this occurs at the end of Starcraft II. It's "revealed" that Tychus was working for Arcturus Mensk all along as a mole, and has been given the task of killing Sarah Kerrigan. Tychus, whose Power Suit has been rigged to kill him on Mensk's command if he fails, forces a Sadistic Choice on Raynor between him and Kerrigan. Ultimately Raynor picks Kerrigan, blocks Tychus' shot at Kerrigan with the shoulder of his armor, and shoots Tychus before he can react.
- Fear Effect plays with this trope. Deke gets killed off in the first game, and it was not even a Heroic Sacrifice. (In the true ending, he gets better.)
- Mareg's death in Grandia II comes fast and hard. During the escape from Valmar's Moon, he uses his huge frame to block off a chokepoint, buying his friends enough time to get back on the ship. An insectoid flies at Mareg from behind and impales him with its stinger. When one (beast)man stays behind to hold off a million demons, there's really only one way it can end.
- Dom crashes a truck into a tanker full of flammable fuel in Gears of War 3 to destroy the Locust and Lambent surrounding the group.
- Grunt stays behind to give Shepard and his team time to escape from Reaperized Rachni in Mass Effect 3, killing over a dozen of the walking alien tanks with his shotgun, fists and alien limbs wrenched from their owners before tackling one final foe off of a cliff. A rare subversion in that if the player had gained his loyalty in Mass Effect 2, he can live through sheer badassery, limping out of the cave covered in gore and asking for food.
- Basilio of Fire Emblem Awakening is killed by Walhart on the battlefield despite being warned ahead of time by someone from the future that he would die there. Actually subverted; it's later revealed that Basilio was Playing Possum. He did die in the original timeline, but because of the warning, he knew to play dead this time around rather than give into his pride and fight to the death.
- Attempted by Rand in Breath of Fire II. At the last moment his mother takes his spot.
- In Tales of Xillia, Jiao ends up being the first member of the Chimeriad to perish when he decides to stand alone against the Arknoah group to buy the others time to escape. He manages to wipe out their ground forces, but ends up being done in by a cannon shot from one of their airships.
- In Our Little Adventure, Pauline was more or less considered the main Big Guy in the adventuring group, despite being female. She dies at the end of 'The First Book' and since she's female and the biggest badass female of the group she also qualifies for Vasquez Always Dies.
- Looking for Group: Krunch is killed when fighting against King Tavor.
- In Goblins, K'seliss is liquefied by an undead horror. (In his last moments, he bites its head off.)
- The Order of the Stick - Played straight for the Precursor Heroes, who permanently disbanded after their muscle (Kraagor) died sealing the last rift. Played with for the Order themselves - their leader has already died and been revived, but the two most obvious "Big Guys" both have ominous prophecies over their heads. Belkar is scheduled to take his last breath before the in-universe year ends, while Durkon can only return home posthumously. Then Durkon dies protecting Belkar and is brought back as a vampire.
- Justice League Unlimited: Grundy, from the Most Definitely Not The Defenders group in "The Terror Beyond."
- Played with in Titan Maximum: Spuds dies falling off his ridiculously high balcony while partying.
- Transformers Prime:
- Breakdown is the first of the recurring cast to bite the dust. Made much crueler by virtue of the fact that Airachnid, who Breakdown admitted to having a crush on, is the one to kill him.
- The "big, heavy hitting guy" role in the Decepticon side seems to have the most lethal position in the Decepticon Army next to "mook Vehicon". Prior to Breakdown, Skyquake showed up and was killed off in his debut episode, though he managed to hold his own against Optimus Prime and Bumblebee for a time. Later, Hardshell ends up getting killed in his second episode; though his actions in his first are another example of this trope.
- And then Dreadwing bit the dust, though admittedly he was more a composite of The Brute and The Dragon during Season 2.
- While not dead, Predaking was made into a Robot Popsicle one episode after his introduction. It doesn't last.
- Bulkhead is grievously injured in the finale of the mid-season arc, shot in the back by the Insecticon Hardshell. Ratchet managed to stabilize him, however, it appears the damage that Hardshell did to his chassis may be permanent; leaving whether or not Bulkhead will return to action an Open question.
- He did return to action, but his recovery still took time before completion... For another example, Cliffjumper in the first episode was also a Big Guy, and he was the Sacrificial Lamb of the series.
- Though he didn't die, the Transformers Animated version of Bulkhead is definitely aware of whose job it is to take the heavy hits.
Bulkhead: [Charging forward] I'll keep him distracted. He always shoots at me first.
Blitzwing: Let's see how tough you are without your big bolt-brained bruiser! [Fires shoulder cannons. Bulkhead is blown back, leaving a giant groove in the pavement.]
Bulkhead: [weakly] Called it.
- Notably, instead of Bulkhead it's Prowl, The Lancer, who dies in the final episode of TFA.