The Hero is called upon to step up to the plate and be awesome. Sounds a lot like the Call to Adventure, you say? Well yes, the two are closely related. The difference is, an Adventure Call is more like, "Hey! You totally want to take on this quest to slay The Dragon and save the princess because it sure beats washing cars and sipping lattes all day (and you might even get a nice check, or even more, out of the deal)."
A Badass Dare is more like, "The Dragon has already stomped out a squadron of fighter jets and a bunch of tanks. And now he's getting ready to eat the princess. But you're our only hope. Now yeah, you can sit here and just keep sipping lattes and washing cars. Or you can take this BFG / BFS and save the world!"
The Dare to Be Badass makes the distinction that the character turning their back on the dare is somehow lesser as a person for not accepting it. Conversely, the character is being asked to step up to awesomeness because, deep down, he/she (to use the words of Captain Christopher Pike) feels like they are meant for something more. Something greater. This will usually punctuate, or trigger, massive Character Development.
While the Call to Adventure usually starts off The Hero's Journey, the Dare to Be Badass usually comes at a point when the chips are most certainlydown for The Hero, and he/she must be reminded that they can't give up. This isn't always the case, though.
Done right, this can resemble a 30-second Rousing Speech. And thus be highly awesome. Done wrong, well you know what you get.
The trope name is in reference to the famous phrase of the classical philosopher Horace, sapere aude or "Dare to be wise."
Compare a "World of Cardboard" Speech. See also Consequence Combo, when the hero is being pushed into the adventure with both a carrot and a stick. Compare and contrast Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die, which can overlap with this trope when a speech like this falls flat (or emphasizes the unpleasantness too much).
Not to be confused with a dare to be stupid.
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Essentially all military recruitment ads in every country ever. The tendency is for such ads to demonstrate how badass you will become if you join the army/navy and even plays up how tough the training is in order to appeal the I Just Want to Be Badass desire in young men. This kind of makes sense since the job is usually quite dangerous and not especially well paid when you start out, so few people would be willing to sign up just to make a living.
Also applies to wartime propaganda.
Anime and Manga
Dragon Ball Z: At the final battle with Majin Buu, Vegeta tries to convince the humans of Earth to raise up their hands to give Goku the energy he needs to form the Spirit Bomb powerul enough to kill Buu. Vegeta tells the humans to consider this act as their first step to becoming a warrior race. It doesn't work until Mr. Satan steps in and tells them to do it.
In Code Geass, Zero's rescue of Todoh and his fellow rebels from the execution they had come to accept is accompanied by a lecture on the nature of miracles. [adult swim] accurately described this scene as Zero berating Todoh for "not being badass enough."
At the beginning of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji Ikari receives a challenge like this from his father Gendo, who needs him to pilot Unit-01 to save the city from an Angel attack already in progress. Shinji, however, is 14 (sensitive and easily frightened at that), hasn't seen his father in years by the latter's choice, and was expecting some sort of reconciliation scene. Neither lives up to the other's expectations, then or later.
Mahou Sensei Negima! has Negi on the receiving end of several of these, usually from Evangeline (or a pseudo-Eva created from his memories). Evangeline also gives one of these to Asuna to see if she can survive Eva's Training from Hell. It ultimately boils down to "You can either die, quit and go home, or be Bad Ass enough to survive. Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, I don't like you."
As both Negi and Asuna have discovered, it could be worse: she could like you.
Kamina's whole character in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is pretty much based around providing this sort of motivation to the other characters. Hell, this could be considered basically the entire message of the series, seeing as all the incredibly awesome stuff they accomplish is caused simply by daring to a Bad Ass.
Although it's not a straight example, the soundtrack version of Fly Away from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has this in its lyrics. "You'll never find a better time. Make a stand, you'll be fine. You know the game and all it holds. Watch it now as it unfolds."
Rika gives an absolutely epic one to Satoko in the manga when encouraging her to stand up against Teppei, her abusive uncle.
Rika: "Are your teeth chattering? Are you knees trembling? You feel a shiver creeping up your spine? All those emotions are what Satoshi felt whenever he had to protect you! And please understand what Satoshi expected from you and what example he wanted you to follow! If you don't understand that, you'll never get any stronger! Show Satoshi how much stronger you've become during this year! Find courage like that of Satoshi AND FILL YOUR CHEST WITH IT RIGHT NOW!"
In One Piece Mihawk gives a magnificent one to Zoro after completely defeating him in a duel.
Mihawk: It's still too early for you to die. My name is Dracule Mihawk! Discover your true self, the true world, become stronger! However long it may take, I shall await you at the top. Surpass this sword! Surpass me! Roronoa Zoro!
Gold Roger's dying words were one to anyone who aspired to be a pirate.
Gold Roger: You want my treasure? You can have it! I left everything I gathered together in one place. Now you just have to find it!
In the first season of the Initial D anime, people frequently dared Takumi to be badass when he was challenged to races — and he invariably responded to it with intransigence, only being willing to race on his own terms.
Graham: WHY ARE YOU HESITATING?! You were the one who told me to keep fighting in order to live. You taught me that! Even if it's a contradiction, you must continue to exist! You said that is what it means to live... [Activates Trans-Am] Go on, young man! LIVE AND BLAZE A TRAIL TO THE FUTURE!
Bleach has an interesting variation. After Ichigo loses the powers Rukia gave him and Rukia is taken back to Soul Society to face punishment for the illegal act of giving him those powers, Ichigo does say he wants to save Rukia. However, Urahara realizes that Ichigo really doesn't feel he can and is looking to get himself killed in a noble way. So, he challenges Ichigo to stop acting like a selfish child who just wants to die and to man up, engage in serious training with Urahara, and then make a serious rescue attempt to save Rukia and come home alive.
Urahara: "You are weak. A weakling barging into enemy territory is suicide. 'To rescue Rukia'? Stop being so childish! Don't use other people as an excuse to go kill yourself! The Soul Society usually allows a grace period that lasts a month for the maximum penalty in a convict's execution. It will be the same for Rukia's case. We will just take ten days to annoy you. It will take seven days to open the door to the Soul Society. So, after you arrive at the Soul Society, you will have thirteen days! You have plenty of time. If you truly desire to save Rukia, a strong will is stronger than steel. If your determination is anything less than whole-hearted, throw it away. For ten days, can you be seriously determined to fight?"
In SakiAchiga-hen in a flashback, Masae Atago, coach of Senriyama's mahjong team, tells the new arrivals that it's possible for students to make the regular team in their first year, and thus encourages them to be proactive.
Dan Dare: A gloriously literal example occurs in Dan's exploits. With the chips truly down, the evil Venusian mastermind, the Mekon, gloatingly taunts Dan over a video link to his ship:
The Mekon: Dare you take that risk, Colonel?... Dan Dare: "Dare's" my family name, Mekon...I'm on my way!
Marv in Sin City is already a badass but when he learns that the Roark family is behind the death of Goldie, he considers skipping town all together. Since he has few social ties, there was a good chance he could escape. Otherwise, death was certain if he stayed in Basin City. He eventually decides to through with his Roaring Rampage of Revenge despite knowing he won't survive.
Fan-favorite Transformers writer Simon Furman invokes this so regularly, it's reached the point of being an Author Catchphrase. Typically, a character will face a crisis of confidence, begin to surrender, then recalls the accomplishments and sacrifices of his predecessors and dare himself to meet them as well. The Transformers Wikihas a collection here.
"But both Wreck-Gar and Inferno sacrificed themselves to save me. Can I do any less than risk my life to avenge them?"
Shang-Chi invokes this on Spider-Man during the very beginning of Spider-Island. Shang-Chi seeks to teach Peter a new fighting style to compensate for the loss of his Spider-Sense. When Peter laments that it was easier with the power, Shang-Chi tells him it was a crutch and that he can do so much better. And he does.
"Come on, Hobbes! Don't give up now! We're doing great! We've only been gone for about five hours. If we haven't figured out everything in another five, then it will be okay to give up. Hobbes, we've come too far to give up now! Just think of the fame we'll be getting if we succeed. Also, we're not just doing this for ourselves. We're doing for Susie and Moe and all the other kids. Sure, they're not so great, but do they deserve to miss out on summer vacation because of some wacko? NO, THEY DON'T! No child should have to spending summer vacation in some place we don't know about yet. I feel sorry for those schools that have year round school years, and I wish I could help them, but I can't. This is my way of helping innocent kids get their time off from school to be enjoyable, as all summer vacations should. If you want to go home, fine, but I'm in it for the long run. I'm not giving up until I've rescued those kids!"
Later, after Calvin believes his overactive imagination has doomed the world, Hobbes cheers him up with this:
"Calvin, if it wasn't for your 'weirdness', we would never have had all the adventures we've had. If you weren't weird, you'd have never of thought to build a Transmogrifier/ duplicator/ time machine. You'd have never thought to make a snowman come to life, only for it to become a Deranged, Mutant, Killer Monster Snow Goon. If it wasn't for you, G.R.O.S.S. wouldn't exist. Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff and Tracer Bullet wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for you. Calvin, your weirdness has made many lives to become more interesting. If there's one thing I can count on to get me out of boredom, it's to drag me on some sort of adventure that I'll hate at first but love later on."
Furutani, her former zanjutsu teacher, does this for Yuzu in the Bleach fanfic Chasing the Moon. It's in the middle of the story, when she's depressed about Byakuya and worried in her role in the upcoming battle against the Big Bad Kyoka Suigetsu. She responds by taking over the Sixth Division when Byakuya gets injured, leading them into battle, achieving bankai, and going on after Kyoka Suigetsu herself.
Furutani: You know what some people don't get? They think that swords are the only way to fight someone. So they come into the class, all brash and hot-headed, thinking they're going to walk out of it like some hardened warrior. And you know, some of them do pretty well. The other Kurosaki and Ankoujinóthose two were some of the best swordsmen to come through my class in a long time. But some people just suck at it, and then they give up. They think they're not much of a fighter at all. They don't get that the sword is supposed to be where the battle ends, not where it starts. You on the other hand, KurosakiÖthe first day you walked into my class, I knew. This is a girl who has been fighting battles without swords her whole life. You knew what the class was supposed to be about. I didn't have to teach you. After that, teaching you how to use a sword was just icing on the cake. You may look like an angel, but you're steel where it counts, and I'd hate to see some noble make you forget that.
Films — Animated
The song "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" from the 1998 film Mulan is basically about this.
Tranquil as a forest But on fire within. Once you find your center You are sure to win.
And the chorus:
Be a Man! We must be swift as a coursing river Be a Man! With all the force of a great typhoon Be a Man! With all the strength of a raging fire Mysterious as the dark side of the moon!
The musical number "La Resistance" in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut subverts this, in that it tends to labour a bit too much on the horrific potential tortures that await the three heroes, with the result that it ends up inspiring everyone except the three people are actually being called upon to be badasses.
They may cut your dick in half
And serve it to a pig
And though it hurts you'll laugh
And dance a dickless jig...
Both Stan Bush songs in Transformers: The Movie, of course the more popular "The Touch", but more blatantly the first lyrical song in the movie, "Dare".
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Gargoyles do this for Quasimodo, to get him to literally and metaphorically break from his chains and rescue Esmerelda.
Victor: We're only made a stone
Laverne: We just thought maybe you were made of something stronger...
Rango gets one of the most direct Dare to Be Badass speeches ever:
Rango: Iím a fraud! Iím a phony! My friends believed in me, but they need some kind of...hero. The Spirit of the West: Then be a hero.
Films — Live-Action
The King's Speech centers on Lionel Logue invoking this trope early and often with Albert/King George.
Braveheart: William Wallace points out that while the Scotsmen could very well run away and live, they should stay and fight because "Every man dies, but not every man truly lives". Also a Rousing Speech.
Wallace's speech at Stirling is almost purely this trope:
Wallace: .... Will you fight!? Scotsman: Fight? Against that? No! We will run, and we will live. Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live, at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance—just one chance!—to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our FREEDOM!!!
Yinsen: This is your life's work! In the hands of those murderers. What're you gonna do about it?? Huh? Is that the way you're going to go out? Is this the last act of defiance of the great Tony Stark??
Stark: They'll kill me. You. And even if they don't I'll be dead in a week anyway.
Yinsen: [almost smirking] Well, then....this is an important week for you, isn't it?
Done even better when a news report shows the devastation being caused by the terrorists. The newswoman says, "....these villagers are left to wonder: WHO, if anyone, will help..." At that moment an infuriated Stark blows out a window with his brand new repulsors in inarticulate rage... and then after thinking a second, very calmly blows out all the other windows in the room as if he were in a shooting gallery. Cut to the Lock and Load Montage, leitmotif blaring, as he dons the Mark III suit for the first time and flies off to Afghanistan to kick some ass.
The quote at the top comes from the 2009 Star Trek movie, where Pike asks Kirk whether he wants to continue to be "the only genius-level repeat offender in the Midwest" or put his skills to some actual use. Besides literally daring Kirk to "do better," Pike tells him that if he's even half the man his father was, then Kirk will make a great Captain. CMoH/CMoA.
Spock Prime telling Kirk to "re"-take the Enterprise can also be this. I mean, what's more badass than trying to piss off a Vulcan?
From the same movie. "Either they're going down, or we are."
It was done before in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when Kirk is clearly suffering a mid-life crisis from being an Admiral. In their own different ways, his two pals McCoy and Spock basically tell him to stop being a typical middle-aged white guy, get up off his ass, and get back to being The Captain we all know and love.
McCoy: You're hiding. Hiding behind rules and regulations. Kirk: Who am I hiding from? McCoy: From yourself, Admiral. Kirk: Don't mince words, Bones. What do you really think? McCoy: Jim, I'm your doctor and I'm your friend. Get back your command. Get it back before you turn into part of this collection. Before you really do grow old.
Spock: If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny. Anything else is a waste of material."
Lt. Aldo Raine: We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us, and the German won't be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and their tortured by their subconscious for the evil that they've done, it will be with thoughts of us that they are tortured with. Sound good?!
George McFly's mantra that "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything" isn't really one of these, until his son tells him this in a desperate attempt to get him to marry his mother and thus ensure his existence.
Subverted in Part III, the local townsfolk of 1885 Hill Valley attempt to use something like this on Marty to get him to duel with Mad Dog Tannen, basically telling him that if he doesn't face him "he'll be branded a coward forever", but it's mostly because they're betting on the outcome one way or another. However, Marty proves his awesomeness by not going through with the duel. And further subverted in that he still manages to kick Tannen's ass.
At the end of Part III, Doc delivers one to Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer when the fax message telling the future Marty he's fired gets erased.
Alfred: [after Bruce has gotten his ass kicked by Ra's al Ghul and Wayne Manor burns, while he's trapped under a piece of furniture] Sir, what was the point of all those push-ups if you can't even lift a bloody log?
Ducard started the Badass Dare trend with his introduction to Bruce Wayne.
Ducard: If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal and if they can't stop you, you become something else entirely: a legend, Mister Wayne.
Bruce: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do? Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it, but that's the point of Batman. He can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make: The right choice.
The Dark Knight Rises has an interesting deconstruction of this. The old man in the Pit tells Bruce that he mistakenly thinks that his complete lack of fear of dying makes him strong. To regain the ability to fight when you're totally beaten, to do the impossible, one must be afraid again. It's simply, "dare to FEAR. And in so doing, become a badass again."
Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak. Bruce: Why? Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death. Bruce: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there's no one there to save it. Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb. Bruce: How? Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then....fear will find you again.
In X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier, one by one takes his motley crew of mutants and gets them to reach their true potential, none more memorable than Erik Lehnsherr. He literally dares him to use his powers to turn a giant satellite dish located at least a mile away. Especially poignant because Erik up to that point was impressed with his own ability to deflect bullets and control smaller metal objects. He never considered doing anything greater than that until Charles suggested it.
Captain Mal Reynolds "Aim to Misbehave" speech to the crew of the Serenity has some shades of this. Specifically he tells his crew he's "asking more of them than he ever has before."
In Mission Impossible II, after Anthony Hopkins character gives Hunt his latest oddball mission, Hunt points out that what he's being asked to do is 'pretty difficult'. In what is possibly one of the movie's best lines, he responds, "Well, this isn't "Mission: Difficult", Mr. Hunt, it's "Mission: Impossible". "Difficult" will be a walk in the park."
One of the teaser trailers for The Phantom Menace had Qui-Gon deliver one of these, presumably to Anakin:
Qui-Gon It will be a hard life. One without reward. Without remorse. Without regret. A path will be placed before you. The choice is yours alone. Do what you think you cannot do. It will be a hard life. But in the end you will find out who you are.
Chief Billy Sunday: "A navy diver is not a fighting man. He is a salvage expert. If he's lucky, he'll die young 300 feet beneath the waves; for that is the closest he will ever get to being a hero. Hell, I don't know why anyone would wanna be a Navy diver! Now you report to this line, Cookie!"
"You're a hero for GOD's sake, Hancock! And you will never be at peace 'til you accept that."
Lennox to Sam Witwicky in the climax of Transformers, when the latter protests that he can't take the cube to safety: "Listen to me! You're a soldier now! All right, I need you to take this Cube. Get it into military hands while we hold them off, or a lot of people are gonna die."
Even earlier, Sam to Micheala. "Twenty years from now, when you look back on your life, don't you want to be able to say you had the courage to get in the car?"
Crimson Tide: Lt. Cmdr. Hunter telling a young radio operator that he needs radio communication. Oddly, he's quoting Star Trek.
Hunter: You're Scotty. I'm Kirk. And I need warp speed on that radio. Now.
Azeem: English! English! Behold, Azeem Edin Bashir Al Bakir. I am not one of you, but I fight! I fight with Robin Hood. I fight against a tyrant who holds you under his boot! If you would be free men, then you must fight! Join us now, join Robin Hood!
Robin Hood himself puts in a good one earlier, when he convinces the refugees of Sherwood to join him against the Sheriff:
"The Sheriff calls us outlaws, but I say we are free! And one free man defending his home is more powerful then ten hired soldiers. The Crusades taught me that. I will make you no promises, save one: that when you truly believe in your hearts that you're free, then I say we can win!"
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Undercover Brother, when everything seems to be going wrong and Lance, the 'token white guy' in the organisation, starts panicking:
Undercover Brother: There are times for falling apart, and there are times for getting' funky. This is one of them funky times. So what's it gonna be? You ready to play some funky music, white boy?
There are several of these in Rough Riders, most noticeably when Nash stops malingering and rejoins his company in time to take Little Round Top.
Miss Yang: Sit down. (hands him some money) Two weeks pay, two weeks severance. Bruce: What's this? Miss Yang: All-purpose loan. You got a lot of money, Lee. what you gonna do? Bruce: I guess I'd better— Miss Yang: I tell you what to do. Take April on the town. Buy her nice clothes. Check into big hotel. Have lots of sex. Have food brought up to you in bed. Drink champagne and whiskey. Now money all gone. April be gone, too, like money. You come back to me. I put you in kitchen, wash dishes to pay back loan. By that time you're no longer young, you're no longer handsome. You're nothing but a... dishwasher. That one choice. There are others. Bruce: Like what? Miss Yang: They say education is good. hmm. I've heard that. Me, personally... I hope you go with April. I can always use a good... dishwasher!
Played with in Pacific Rim, when Pentecost dares Raleigh to become a Jaeger pilot again after his retirement.
Pentecost: Haven't you heard, Mister Beckett? The world is coming to an end. So where would you rather die? Here? Or in a Jaeger?
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grab-asstic pieces of amphibian shit! Because I am hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn. I am hard but I am fair. There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless. And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps.
The Bible: In the story of Esther, the evil Haman had convinced King Xerxes to execute every Jew in the kingdom, all because one Jew, Mordecai, would not bow to him. Mordecai sent word to Queen Esther, his cousin and surrogate daughter, daring her to (wo)man up and go to the King on her people's behalf.
Then [Esther told the messenger] to say to Mordecai, "All the kingís officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."
When Estherís words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the kingís house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your fatherís family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"
Margo Smith of Time Scout was driven out of her home by her abusive father, who laughed at her dreams of being a time scout.
In Lord of the Flies, when Piggy tries to stand up to Jack to get his glasses back. It gets him killed, but it's the effort that counts.
In the Little House on the Prairie novel These Happy Golden Years, Almanzo Wilder explains to Laura Ingalls why he came to bring her home from her teaching job for the weekend even though it's a twenty-four mile round trip and the temperature is forty below: his friend Cap Garland, seeing Almanzo deliberating, looked from him to the thermometer and back and said simply, "God hates a coward."
Laura: So you came because you wouldn't take a dare? Almanzo: No, it wasn't a dare. I just figured he was right.
The Memory Wars: Played with in Locked Within, since Roland at face value, tells Nathan not to be a badass, but to go home and forget what he's learned, but is still pleased when Nathan does just the opposite. Coming up to the climax of the book, he tells Nathan he can either leave and be with his fatally wounded father, or go and save the day.
In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), the Cylons capture New Caprica, taking the humans there hostage and scaring off the Galactica and the Pegasus. Both ships choose to write off the hostages on New Caprica as losses and continue on their way, which quite frankly, is the smartest thing they can do, as they are ridiculously outnumbered and outgunned. Then after thinking it over AdmiralAdama has this to say.
This is the Admiral. You've heard the news. You know the mission. You should also know that there is only one way this mission ends, and that's with the successful rescue of our people off of New Caprica. Look around you. Take a good look at the men and women that stand next to you. Remember their faces, for one day you will tell your children and your grandchildren that you served with such men and women that the universe has never seen. And together, you accomplished a feat that will be told and retold down through the ages and find immortality as only the gods once knew. I'm proud to serve with you. Good Hunting!
Sarah Walker gives one of these to Chuck at the end of the first episode.
Sarah: Some people want to be heroes, and some have to be asked. Well, are you ready to be a hero, Chuck?
Jeff does this to get Lester to perform "Africa" in Chuck vs. The Best Friend. He even quote's Eminem's "Lose Yourself".
Jeff: I'm not asking you to do this for yourself. I'm asking you to do this....for me.
Star Trek seriously seems to have a thing for this trope; but then again being an classic American adventure story maybe this isn't surprising. Consider the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; Picard is back in time and ordering the Enterprise to take on a dangerous anomaly which will most likely destroy the ship. He reassures his confused crew with the classic line:
Picard: I cannot explain why we have to do this. All I can say is that I know you can do this. Because... you are the finest crew in the fleet. Now, engage.
One of the greatest dares from TNG, the episode "Ethics" in which Worf is paralyzed and as a Klingon decides to commit suicide rather than live an invalid. He asks his best friend, Riker to assist him and further tries to guilt-trip Riker into doing it, saying that a Klingon must protect his honor. Riker unleashes a speech that's part Dare to Be Badass, part "The Reason You Suck" Speech in which he basically tells Worf that if he were really a badass, he'd try to survive.
Riker:Do you remember Sandoval? Hit with a disruptor blast two years ago. She lived for about a week. Fang-lee, Marla Aster, Tasha Yar! How many men and women, how many friends have we watched die? I've lost count. Every one of them, every single one, fought for life until the very end.
"Q Who" (aka The One With the Borg) has an incredible one from Q, of all people, basically telling Picard that even though the galaxy is filled with unstoppably powerful monsters that can kick your ass effortlessly, it's still too awesome not to keep exploring... if you have theballs:
If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross... But it's not for the timid.
"Let us make sure that history never forgets... the name... ENTERPRISE."
And from the classic Trek episode "Return to Tomorrow", when Kirk wants to make contact with a race of powerful disembodied minds:
"I'm in command. I could order this, but I'm not because Doctor McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this, but I must point out that the possibilities - the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk! Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her. You may dissent without any prejudice. Do I hear a negative vote?"
This makes his advice to his direct successor in Star Trek: Generations a Call Back: Trouble has come up, and so even if the new Enterprise-B was just on a quick run around the solar system for the news people, and the most of the Applied Phlebotinum doesn't get in until Tuesday, "Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair."
Heroes: Daniel Linderman offers Nathan Petrelli a choice between an ordinary life and "a life of meaning."
And of course, the classic line from Hiro to Ando:
Hiro: Fine. Stay here if you want. Be like everyone else. I want to boldly go where no man has gone before.
In Season 2 of 24 Jack is suffering a Heroic BSOD after the death of his wife, so he volunteers to fly the nuke into the desert, ready to die CTU Head George Mason, dying of radiation poisoning, slips onto the plane, and says a few words to Jack, telling him that a better man would try to put his life back together.
Mason: Come on, Jack, you've had a death wish ever since Teri died. The way things have been going for you the past year and a half, this probably doesn't look like such a bad idea. You get to go out in a blaze of glory, one of the greatest heroes of all time, leave your troubles behind. You still have a life, Jack. You wanna be a real hero, here's what you do: you get back down there and you put the pieces together. You find a way to forgive yourself for what happened to your wife. You make things right with your daughter and you go on serving your country. That'd take some real guts.
President Taylor uses one of these to convince Dalia Hassan to take control of the IRK's government and finish the peace. Consider all that happened before, it could only literally be a Dare to Be Badass.
The Doctor Who episode "The Eleventh Hour" has a good one, when the Doctor challenges Jeff to "be magnificent":
Listen to me. In ten minutes youíre going to be a legend. In ten minutes, everyone on that screen will be offering you any job you want but first you have to be magnificent. You have to make them trust you and get them working. This is it, Jeff, right here right now: This is when you fly. Todayís the day you save the world.
This has pretty much been the Doctor's modus operandi since the get-go: convincing ordinary people to be extraordinary and save their world.
"He's the Doctor: he makes people better."
Churchill gets one too (how many shows can you say that for), when the Doctor was indisposed, inspiring Bracewell to take the fight to the Daleks, in characteristic Churchill style.
Now I don't give a damn if you're a machine, Bracewell. Are you a man?
The Doctor does the same again in "Cold Blood", daring the humans and reptilians to reconcile and negotiate rather than give in to their inclinations to just wage war on each other. Sort of a peaceful badassery, but still counts.
There are fixed points throughout time where things must stay exactly the way they are. This is not one of them. This is an opportunity! Whatever happens here will create its own timeline, its own reality, a temporal tipping point. The future revolves around you, here, now, so do good!
The pilot of The Unit features two of these, the first from Sergeant Major Jonas Blaine to new guy Bob Brown, getting him ready for his first mission. "The Universe has conspired to bring you here to this moment. You've been wanting this moment your whole life. Well, here it is.". This is then followed by Blaine's wife Molly talking to Brown's wife Kim, who are far away back at the base. Kim is mightily frustrated by the Unit lifestyle and is ready to leave, regardless of what it does to her husband's career in Special Forces. Molly basically tells her to stop whining and chill out and reconsider; resulting in a former page quote for this trope.
In the pilot of Stargate Universe, Col. Young tries to tell Gen. O'Neill that the people stranded on the Destiny are simply "not qualified" to be there. His response:
Oh please. I wasn't qualified to take that first team through the Stargate... In the past dozen years or so, we've sent hundred of teams through that thing. Fact is... NOBODY's qualified.
Rush gives one of these to Eli later, oddly as part of a pep talk to snap Eli out of his current funk (namely, his recently-dead girlfriend).
You know, we grew up taught to believe that everyone's equal — that you're no better than anyone else. Of course, that's a lie. Some are better than others, and it's those who recognize what makes them better and learn to exploit that who succeed. You've got so much potential, Eli. You're capable of success beyond your wildest dreams, but the only way that you can achieve that... Well you got to make sure you don't get beaten down. You can't give up, not now when you're so close.
Buffy: Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?
In the penultimate episode of Angel "Power Play", Angel reveals his plan to throw a temporary monkey wrench into the Senior Partners' plans for the Apocalypse by killing every member of the Circle of the Black Thorn.
Angel: 10-to-1, we're gone when the smoke clears. They will do everything in their power to destroy us. So...I need you to be sure. Power endures. We can't bring down the Senior Partners, but for one bright, shining moment, we can show them that they don't own us. You need to decide for yourselves if that's worth dying for. I can't order you to do this. I can't do it without you. So we'll vote. As a team. Think about what I'm asking you to do, think about what I'm asking you to give.
G'kar in Babylon 5 gets one of these from Kosh. It marks his turning point towards becoming the most heroic character in the series. Made even better as it happens during G'kar's (completely justified) Mind Rape attack on Londo.
Kosh: You have the opportunity, here and now to choose: to become something greater and nobler and more difficult than you have ever been before. The universe does not offer such chances often, G'kar.
Sheridan: The Universe doesn't give you any points for doing things that are easy.
Subverted in the Supernatural episode "The Monster at the End of this Book":
Dean: Chuck, you're the only shot that I've got left. Chuck: But...I'm just a writer. Dean: This isn't a story anymore, man. This is real! And you're in it! Now, I need you to get off your ass and fight. Come on, Chuck. [Background music starts to swell] Chuck: No friggin' way.
BBC's Merlin has this gem from the fourth series finale while Merlin is trying to persuade Arthur to take the sword from the stone.
Arthur: That sword is stuck fast in solid stone. Merlin: And you're going to pull it out. Arthur: Merlin, it's impossible. Merlin: Arthur, you're the true king of Camelot. [nods slightly but firmly] Arthur: Do you want me to look like a fool? Merlin: You aren't just anyone, you are special. You, and you alone, can draw out that sword.
Erik: Natalie, people will call you weak. People will say that you are undeserving. But you know what? Why are those characteristics any less admirable as lying, cheating and stealing? Why does [Russell] get a free pass, but your "wrong way of playing" is admonished? If there's one thing I learnt in this game, it's that perception is not reality. Reality is reality. And you are sitting there, and that makes you just as dangerous as any one of those guys there. You would probably say that you were probably least deserving of the title sole survivor. But maybe, just maybe, in an environment filled with arrogance and delusional entitlement, maybe the person who thinks she's least deserving is probably the most. You got my vote.
Although this speech occured when the game was almost over, he was essentially telling her: "don't let anyone tell you that you didn't work to make it this far. Get out there and prove yourself." And the best part? She won.
The musical episode of Lexx "Brigadoom" reveals that Kai's people the Brunnen-G actually wanted to die by the Divine Shadow's hand, having grown weary of immortality. Kai tried to convince them to go down fighting, believing that the race that once led humanity to victory against the Insect Civilization shouldn't just lie down and accept death. In the end, he was only able to convince his fellow Newborn Brunnen-G.
"Scots Wha Hae", by the great Scottish poet Robert Burns, purports to be Robert the Bruce's Rousing Speech to his troops before the Battle of Bannockburn. He offers to let any soldier 'wha will fill a coward's grave' flee, and proclaims "We will drain our dearest veins/But they shall be free!"
"Special Agent" by Universal Hall Pass: the story of the song seems to be about the titular operative approaching a young woman and offering not only his (her?) services and support (no need to run, I'm a special agent miss... go ahead and charge it on my credit card), but encouragement to... well, it's why the song is in this trope: should you decide you're your personal alchemist... go and earn what you've so long awaited. I know you'll do more than this
"Tutelary Genius" by Universal Hall Pass: A Dare to Be Badass speech essentially delivered to oneself: "unbind myself from the hamstrings/of yesterday's hit and run/no, I won't stand to be pinning myself/there's more pressing things to be done"
The second chorus of "Spirit Never Die" by Masterplan: Most of the song is sung by a Determinator about himself, but the second chorus goes like this: "Never give up! Never give in!/Rise from the fire if you're gonna win!/Sing with your soul, soon you'll be old/Fight the demons inside you!/There is no limit to what can be done!/Climb every mountain with power so strong!"
"Live to Win" by Paul Stanley. It's all about being a badass until the day you die.
Power Metal is made of this trope, but no band so much as Lost Horizon. Almost every song they wrote was some variant of this, most notably "Sworn in the Metal Wind":
Now is really the time to wake, up you old jade Such as Phoenix spreads his fire wings I will help you remember by KICKING YOUR ASS!
"Dare" by Stan Bush. Hell, it's right there in the title.
Dare! Dare to believe you can survive You hold the future in your hand Dare! Dare to keep all of your dreams alive It's time to take a stand And you can win, if you dare
Though the main artist credit was given to Dr. Dre in anticipation of it being on his forthcoming album, Detox, everything but Dre's own verse on "I Need A Doctor" was originally written as one of these by Eminem from him to Dr. Dre.
Can't make a decision, you keep questionin' yourself Second-guessin' and it's almost like you're beggin' for my help Like I'm your leader; you're supposed to fuckin' be my mentor I can endure no more, I demand you remember who you are!!
De Guiche:[who, with the marquises, has come down from the stage] But he becomes a nuisance! Viscount de Valvert:[shrugging his shoulders] Swaggerer! De Guiche: Will no one put him down?... Viscount de Valvert: No one? But wait! I'll treat him to. . .one of my quips!...See here!...
\\Carbon:[turning and looking at him from head to foot] Sir! Christian: Pray, what skills it best to do To Southerners who swagger?... Carbon: Give them proof That one may be a Northerner, yet brave! [He turns his back on him.] Christian: I thank you.
Hamlet constantly tries to talk himself into this mode. That's what the "To be, or not to be" soliloquy is about; suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or just give up and sleep? Takes him a long time to get the point (several acts' worth), but when he does, he commits: "My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!" And then everyone dies.
You truly did... have the soul of a hero... Go... Cross blades with Omega, and show what that body can do! Will your blade flinch after you know the truth? Do you have what it takes...to be a hero? You must be the one to determine that!
Garrus gives one to Shepard in the launch trailer.
"Go out there and give them hell. You were born to do this.
Wrex and Eve give one to the krogan people to convince them to stop fighting the rest of the galaxy and each other and instead fight a common enemy.
Eve: ENOUGH! You can stay here and let old wounds fester, as krogan have always done, or you can fight the enemy you were born to destroy, and win a new future for our children! I choose to fight. Who will join me? Shepard: I will! Wrex: "And so will I! Now hold your heads high like true krogan. THERE'S A REAPER THAT NEEDS KILLING!
Final Fantasy XIII: This is an Eidolon's typical response to their corresponding l'Cie slipping dangerously close to the Despair Event Horizon. You either prove to the Eidolon that you have the strength to persevere or they put you out of your misery. Fang only gets the latter right; Hope puts it all together after subduing Alexander.
To say nothing of a now-infamous commercial for the game in the UK, featuring the tagline: "Wilst thou get the girl... Or play like one?". Not exactly the best choice of words, and was promptly Retconned. The US variant used "Wilst thou soar... or wilst thou suck?" instead.
Used in the Demon Hunter trailer for Diablo III. Word of God state that this is one of their primary recruiting methods.
You have a choice. Hunted... or hunter.
No More Heroes: So what do you say? Join me. Could be fun. Could kick ass. Could totally suck. And for you there holding the Wii Remote, just press the A button, and let the bloodshed begin!
The Courier can use this to convince Orion Moreno to fight for the NCR at Hoover Dam, telling him that he could leave, but doesn't he want to show those pansy-ass NCR troopers how a real soldier fights? He'll begrudgingly agree, but states that he's not going to bother checking his fire.
In Diablo II, Tyrael berates Marius for freeing Baal, telling him that he must find the courage to undo his mistake. He doesn't.
In Dragon Age II, an Aggressive!Hawke can convince the Tal'Vashoth deserter to fight against his former comrades, telling him that kicking their asses would be a good way of establishing his worth as a mercenary.
This is pretty much the whole premise of the X-Universe, daring the player character to be badass with only four words: TRADE. FIGHT. BUILD. THINK. The universe is your playground—what will you do?
The final Mission Objective of Saints Row IV is, simply, "Be a Badass".
A strange example of this is Minecraft's ending, in which the apparent creators of the Minecraft universe praise your accomplishments in the "dream" of the game, and command you to do it again, in the real world this time.
Transformers Prime: After Jack decides hanging out with the Autobots isn't worth getting up close and personal with the Decepticons, Miko tries to bring him round with one of these. He refuses: it takes Arcee admitting that she isn't ready to lose another friend so soon after Cliffjumper to make him reconsider.
Military recruitment commercials are made of this trope.
In late 1776,The American Revolution seemed to be pretty much over. The American army was disbanding at the end of the year, and a string of recent (read: the whole year of) crushing defeats gave would-be re-enlistees no reason to think it would end well. Thomas Paine's The American Crisis was a desperate attempt to convince veterans to stick with the army for a few more weeks. General Washington, knowing a good Dare to Be Badass speech when he saw one, had it read to his entire army. It worked.
Actually works in real life. Not all the time though, otherwise World of Badass wouldn't be a trope, it'd be a default.
When you think about it, this is basically what "clutch" in sports comes down to. Coming back from a disadvantageous situation only to win the game or the fight.
I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
Toward the end of his career with the Boston Red Sox, legendary pitcher Roger Clemens noticed another young pitcher in the weight room, kind of slacking off. Roger called the younger pitcher over and chewed him out about his lackadaisical manner and challenged him to get serious about being a major league pitcher. The young pitcher, named Curt Schilling, took the advice to heart and wound up having a career nearly as great as Clemens' own.
Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly is said to have yelled "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" during the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I just before charging a German Position. This was later referenced in the Starship Troopers novel, and paraphrased in the film.