Someone has been captured and incapacitated. What do they do, cooperate with their captor or beg to be spared?
They make it abundantly clear that they have absolutely no respect for their captor. They'd never Kneel Before Zod in a million years, and they're not afraid in the slightest to say so. Sure, Baron Bloodlust could kill them where they stand if he decided to, but you wouldn't know that from the insults. This is done when a defeated character laughs or snarks at the one who beat them, often when they're literally in no position to, such as broken in pain on the floor or behind bars. This could even be for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. They just can't let the other character get a complete victory.
This can be an important part of the end for the Doomed Moral Victor: if you can't die fighting, you can at least die verbally sparring. Or, failing that, die insulting the villain's mother. They may be down, and they may be out, but they'll still lose with dignity.
By taking that of the person who beat them.
Some can pull this off without dying, with their taunts serving to throw the captor off-balance. Either this angers them into making a mistake that will enable escape, or to distract them to give the Big Damn Heroes time to do their thing. Sometimes you might even get a Taking You with Me too for the ultimate in defiant acts before impending defeat.
Note that this isn't exclusive to heroes. Whether it's due to the fact that even villains can have valour, or simply that Evil Is Petty, they can't resist doing the same. Also, this is not exclusively a Death trope. It's the insult that's the most important part.
Compare Hannibal Lecture, where the one in the powerless position interrogates their interrogator, I Shall Taunt You, Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?, You Cannot Kill an Idea. A Last Stand is the military version of this trope, where the heroes and maybe a friendly army will fight against the enemy in a battle they know they can't win. Villainous Valor is a similar trope, but with the villain being defiant to the end while Sore Loser is arguably a much less pleasant version of this. The polar opposite of Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Contrast with Screw Your Ultimatum!, where the defiance comes before the fight and where the outcome is still in doubt. See also Defiant Stone Throw, Dying Curse, and Dying Declaration Of Hate.
Oh, and if you're looking for the other "defiant to the End" check out Mooning.
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Anime / Manga
In Saiyuki, Sanzou is caught by a scorpion lady, and is paralyzed by some sort of spell. Just barely able to talk, he manages to insult the woman enough that she starts beating him up... only for him to turn it around when it turns out the beating dispelled the magic and freed him.
Played with in Code Geass when Kallen is in a Britannian prison, when the door to her cell is opened she goes into a "Do your worst" speech, only to learn that the person she is facing is an old friend of hers.
Greed isn't much more reverent in the 2003 anime version: When Dante tries to re-seal him he instead opts to commit Suicide by Cop by forcing Ed to kill him rather than go back into stasis (giving Ed the necessary info on how to fight Homonculi in the process).
In Bleach, Ichigo Kurosaki continues to fight a hopeless battle against his nemesis Ulquiorra, refusing to ever put down his sword. Ulquiorra kills Ichigo to prove his point on humans; Ichigo gets better...ish.
Surprisingly, Loly does this too. When Yammy is about to kill her, Loly, knowing she's outclassed, says, "I said scumbag."
Garma and Dozle Zabi in Mobile Suit Gundam. Garma attempts to crash his ship into the White Base while shouting "All glory to the nation of Zeon"; Dozle actually climbs out of the ruined Big Zam and fires a machinegun at Amuro and the Gundam until the Big Zam explodes, killing him.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Rika Furude, a normally perky little girl has been tazered and poisoned (with a syringe she'd brought herself, no less) by the local Ax-CrazyYandere, Shion Sonozaki. Then, Shion proceeds to add insult to injury by listing the various ways she intends to torture Rika - when Rika suddenly grabs a huge knife, and states (in perfect adult Japanese) that she will not be staying for said torture. Shion sneers and dares her to act, but instead of attempting an escape, Rika steadies the knife against the wall, and headbutts it sideways several times while Shion laughs hysterically.
Rena also faces her certain demise this way later in the series, going as far as taunting her killer's plans, beliefs and aspiration to become a god - said killer puts a bullet in her very fast, suggesting that she really struck a nerve.
Even Jerome's packmates were willing to be torn up by Kaibutsu to keep Ohu safe. They clung onto the arteries in a wound on his flank and keep daring him to tear them off of him.
A variant happens in Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid between Sousuke andGauron. It's not a surprise that even though Sousuke is the one holding the gun, he's not the one who gets the last laugh.
Another example occurs in the Burning One Man Force novel, where a heavily wounded Sousuke holds an even more heavily wounded Kurama (ironically, an old associate of Gauron) at gunpoint, asking for vital information. Kurama is initially calmly defiant, then abruptly changes his mind, decides he doesn't care and offers what little he knows to Sousuke.
Sousuke himself is pretty defiant when cornered, especially in the later novels, when he tends to be almost crushingly outgunned and outnumbered, and almost everyone tries to kill him including his father-figure and his girlfriend. He reaches his high-point during his speech towards Amalgam, broadcasted on an open channel during the final, semi-suicidal attack on Merida island.
In Axis Powers Hetalia, Germany fits this trope whenever he's captured and anticipating torture at the hands of the Allies. Italy...doesn't
Jan Valentine in Hellsing. While most other villains in the manga series goes out like bitches, he goes out like a psychotic badass; flipping Integra Hellsing the bird and calling her a bitch, all while he's bleeding and burning to death.
Samurai Champloo starts on a very intersting note: Mugen and Jin on the verge of being executed. When the local lord asks if they want to beg, Mugen invokes the trope by saying he'd prefer the blade to bowing down to him. Jin achieves it in fewer words by saying, "I agree with him." Most of the first episode details How We Got Here and then goes on to reveal they fight their way free instead.
Pictured above: Blue Beetle Ted Kord's last words? "Rot in hell, Max." Max was the guy who shot him.
It can be said that defiance is Lex Luthor's super power. In one instance, he is kidnapped by The Joker and tortured for the location of some of the Joker's meaner gadgets. Luthor's response? Tease the Joker about his Foe Yay with Bats.
After he's badly mangled in the previous issue, Lex spends Action Comics #894 with Death of the Endless (DC's cheery, sweetGrim Reaper). As he tries several ploys to get her to revive him, she gently reminds him that death just isn't negotiable. With his options exhausted, he tells her to fuck off because one way or another, he will "find a way to beat [death]”. He's only having a near-death experience. Death finds him so fascinating that she just had to chat Luthor up!
"You always say you're surrounded by these 'worthless maggots'. Well, that's because you won, and did exactly what you said you'd do. You've recreated the whole world in your image; and what we see in it is your own ugly fa--."
In Frank Miller's Sin City when Marv is being executed via the Chair. After surviving the first jolt, he defiantly says to his executioners, "Is that the best you can do, you pansies?" The switch is thrown again and he is soon pronounced dead.
An astonishing case of Defiant Past The End, in the Saint of Killers miniseries companion to Preacher. The titular Saint is so full of hatred that when his soul arrives in Hell, Hell freezes solid.Satan himself is unable to drive the hate from him, and only the Angel of Death agreeing to give the Saint his power in exchange for leaving Hell allows things to thaw.
In Empowered when Ninjette is captured and about to have her arms and legs cut off: "Fuck You." Emp and Thugboy pull off a Big Damn Heroes moment at the last second.
In Secret Invasion, John the Skrull's comrades acknowledge that this was the only proper way for him to go.
Captain Britain: Oh, no, John. How?
Pete Wisdom: Mocking them.
One of the contests between Scrooge McDuck and archrival Flintheart Glomgold ended with Flintheart losing the bet between them. But the bet was that if Flintheart lost he would have to eat Scrooge's hat, and at that point Scrooge's hat had been shrunk to toy size—"one small mouthful" as Flintheart smirks.
In a Star Wars short comic, Jobin Mothma, son of the famous Rebel Alliance leader Mon Mothma, is stationed on Hoth when the Imperials hit them. After doing his duty to the best of his ability, he falls back to the hangars with his few surviving men, only to run straight into Vader as the Falcon blasts away. While running to another hangar, Jobin is shot in the back. He orders his men to take off without him and proceeds to fire his blaster empty at Vader.
Vader: Tell me where the rendezvous is, and I may perhaps be merciful.
Jobin: Save your mercy for someone else. *spits blood in his face*
In Usagi Yojimbo, Usagi had a situation where he was fighting a villain who had stolen his swords, a despicable insult to a samurai, and found himself disarmed and wounded against the villain. The villain suggests he may be merciful if Usagi got on his knees and begged. To that, Usagi stood upright in perfect defiant dignity saying, "Whatever fate I have, I will face it on my feet." Fortunately, he soon got the advantage to win the day.
Hivefled; Laneen, Gamzee's Spirit Advisorand half-sister was captured by the Condesce, raped, tortured, and forced into sex acts with her equally non-consenting father. She managed to render herself useless and provoke Condesce into killing her by clawing her own tongue out.
Used in an absolutely heartbreaking fashion in I Did Not Want To Die. The protagonist is shot at the beginning and spends the rest of the story making his Last Stand against Federal troops as he gradually bleeds to death. Not once does he surrender, plead, or try to run away.
The same thing happens in the Battle Royale fic "Heads is Heads," only to Mitsuko Souma. Her last words are a shout of defiance.
Boris the Bullet Dodger from Snatch, cursing at Tony even after being shot several times with a Desert Eagle. Tony finally decides to take his time to aim properly and puts in a point-blank headshot to make sure he doesn't get up again.
In Lockout, Alex captures Emilie and threatens to sic his psychotic rapist brother onto her if she doens't tell her father (the president of the USA) to call off an attack on the space-jail they are in. Defiant to the end, she tells her dad to blow the jail — including her— out of the sky.
Princess Leia: Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board. Grand Moff Tarkin: Charming to the last. You don't know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life. Princess Leia: I'm surprised that you had the courage to take the responsibility yourself.
C-3PO: But if any of you wish to beg for mercy, the great Jabba the Hutt will now listen to your pleas. Han Solo: Threepio! You tell that slimy piece of worm-ridden filth, he'll get no such pleasure from us! *to Chewie* Right? Chewie:*roar that sounds suspiciously like the word "Wrong!"*
The Alamo (the most recent one with Billy Bob Thornton): With just himself and two other men left, captured and about to be killed by the Mexican army, Davy is asked if he has anything to say. He tell them that if the Mexicans surrender, he'll go easy on them. And then the order to kill him is given, see above. Davy Crockett is about to be bayonetted to death by the Mexicans. His words to Santa Anna: "I'm warning you- I'm a screamer."
The soldier in the opening sequence of Mulan. He knows that he's going to die, but he fights as hard as he can to set off the Great Wall's torch-warning-system, and then stands up to the terrifying Shan Yu before his death. Thanks to him, Shan Yu fails. Without his warning, the Huns' entry into China would have gone unnoticed, and the Emperor would probably be dead because Mulan and company wouldn't have been around to save him. That guy is awesome, and he doesn't even get a name, but he still sets off the alarm-torch. When was the last time a Red Shirt was so awesome?
In cinema classic They Live!, Rowdy Roddy Piper's unnamed character makes it to the antenna broadcasting the alien mind-scrambling signal and just manages to start it blowing up when he's fatally shot. He raises his arm out of the fire and flips the aliens off, both as a gesture of defiance and as a declaration of victory (since even if he died, the aliens were about to be exposed).
In Inglourious Basterds: the Sergeant Werner Rachtman does this when he is captured by basterds and offered to be spared in exchange for information on another German patrol he makes it very clear to Lt. Aldo Raine and his companions that he isn't about to put any German lives in danger.
Macleane: I am guilty of one thing for which I am heartily sorry. Namely cheating my friend and fellow highwayman. A man who has more nobility of soul in his little finger, than any of you bloated bastards have in your entire bodies.
The Love Interest in Payback is a hooker who attracts the attention of the guy who betrayed Anti-Hero Porter. He's a vicious monster who's only real value to his bosses is that he's a sadist skilled in torture. He's beating the crap out of her and imminent rape is implied. She keeps taunting him about the fact that he's hitting her only proves that he's a powerless, impotent weakling, just as she described him earlier. And then there's Porter himself. Late in the movie, The Syndicate thugs catch him and begin torturing him with a hammer, taking out his toes one by one. What does Porter say after they smash his first toe and start lining up a second?
Sam has one too, more afraid and less badass but still impressive.
Megatron: Give me the All Spark, and you may live to be my pet.
Sam: (While clinging to a statue at the edge of a building) I'm never giving you this All Spark!
Megatron: Oh, so unwise.
In 9, this is how 8 goes. While being presented to the Fabrication machine, he manages to send it a Death Glare and growl just before he gets soul-sucked.
In A Bridge Too Far (Which was based on an actual WWII campaign), the Germans point out to the cut off and outnumbered Allied troops that many lives could be saved by a surrender. The Allied response? "I'm sorry, but we don't have enough room to take all of you prisoner!"
There's also the group of pirates at the beginning of the film who sing Hoist The Colours even in light of being hung.
Toward the end of Raising Arizona, the bounty hunter from Hell catches up with Hy. It's a serious mismatch as Hy gets the stuffings beaten out of him - when the bounty hunter pulls him up, barely conscious, by the lapels, he defiantly spits a tooth out into the guy's face.
In What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, after being caught by the murderous biker leader.
Apeman: Look at me.
Tania: I wouldn't want your face to be the last thing I see.
In Bent, Horst gets killed by the guards. But he manages to scratch their face, horrifying them.
In The Avengers, this seems to be the set-up for the old German man who refuses to bow before Loki in Stuttgart. However, Captain America swoops in to save the old man before Loki can kill him.
Khan especially. His last act is to activate the Genesis Device in one last attempt to kill Kirk while quoting Captain Ahab's last words from Moby-Dick.
In Creepshow, Richard gets buried up to his neck at low tide. As the water slowly rises, he roars, "I can hold my breath for a long time!"
Olympus Has Fallen has the Secretary of Defense, on the hostage situation she and the President are in:
"We may die here, but no way will I let my tombstone say 'she went down without a fight.'"
Ironically, she's the only hostage other than the President to survive.
Roma, the head of the Secret Service Detail for the White House. Injured and down to his last bullet, he reports the situation to his superior's, and then spins around and shoots one more terrorist. "Fuck you!"
Colonel Hardy in Man of Steel: He starts off in a helicopter, which Faora then knocks down. He empties two guns (ineffectually) into her as she casually slaughters his men. His response is to stare her down and draw his knife. Even she's impressed. Superman manages to save him, but he does this again later when he really does die.
Pacific Rim: When Striker Eureka is disabled by Leatherback, the two pilots stand on the shoulders of the Jaeger, one of them yelling at the circling Kaiju to bring it on while carrying a flare gun in each hand, with one of them shooting it in the eye while being fully aware it was kind of a bad idea. The two Russian pilots, earlier, also manage to keep landing punches on the Kaiju that's currently crushing the cockpit while holding it underwater for them to drown, right until the Jaeger blows up.
In Men In Black II, the pizza parlor owner actually the alien protecting Laura, the Light of Zartha, begs Serleena to let him go protesting that he doesn't know anything. When he realizes she isn't fooled, he drops the act. Speaking with his true voice, he tells her that she's too late and sarcastically apologizes for wasting her time.
In the original Red Dawn, the Wolverines have been ambushed by helicopters and are scattering. Robert fires his last RPG round at one of the copters, damaging it...and then stands out in the open, engaging an armored helicopter intended to take out armored columns with nothing but his AK. The result is foreordained, but there's no doubt about who's Bad Ass there.
From http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/88old/canoe.14.html: There were three guys traveling in Africa: a Frenchman, a Japanese, and an American. They are captured by a tribe of fierce headhunters. The witch doctor says to them, "We are going to slaughter you, but you might take some comfort in the fact that we don't believe in waste here, and that therefore every part of your body will go to some use. We will weave baskets out of your hair, we will render your bones for glue, and we will tan your skin and stretch it over wooden frames for canoes. Now we are going to allow you an honorable death, so I will give you each a knife and allow you to say some last words before killing yourselves."
The Japanese guy yells "Banzai!" and commits hari-kari.
The French guy yells "Vive la France!" and slits his throat.
Then the American guy takes the knife, pokes holes all over his body, and yells, "There's your fucking canoe!"
Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit – Will Travel. Several human beings are before an intergalactic court that will decide whether the human race will be destroyed. Two of them (a Roman centurion and a modern-day teenager) get angry and chew out the aliens for their high-handedness (the Roman uses language that's not fit for polite company). In a Subversion, the teenager finally asks, as a favor, to be returned home and share his species' fate if the decision goes against humanity. The human race is given a reprieve.
Húrin Thalion in The Silmarillion defies Morgoth himself, mocking him and refusing to say anything about Turgon and his stronghold. Even if this defiance is remembered as a great deed, he pays dearly for it.
Late in ''The Bishop's Heir, Llewell of Meara insults Kelson to his face after murdering his own sister at her wedding ceremony. He glares at Kelson from the scaffold just before his subsequent execution.
In Michael Palmer's book The Fifth Vial, Natalie does this to the Big Bad for two whole chapters before he's finally distracted enough for her to slit his throat with a scalpel.
This actually comes up quite often in the Star Wars Expanded Universe; characters often get killed stupidly, but they're always defiant.
In the novel Darksaber, General Crix Madine was captured and killed on the bridge of the new Darksaber superweapon. Which turned out to be nonfunctional, making the death of the first (but by no means the last) character with a speaking role in the movies entirely pointless.
A variant in the X-Wing Series novel Iron Fist; Heterosexual Life-Partners Ton Phanan and Garick "Face" Loran were both taking part in an elaborate plan that had them pretending to be pirates to fool Zsinj; when Phanan got shot down over a Zsinj-controlled world, Face followed him down. Phanan was mortally wounded, but if they surrendered to Zsinj and allowed themselves to be captured, he would get medical treatment. Face proposed this plan and was willing to do it, but Phanan said no, that would blow the deception, and the Wraiths would have to come up with a new one and give Zsinj more time to keep doing what he was doing.
In the Fate of the Jedi series, Lawful StupidScrappy Kenth Hamner meets his end trying to stop the Jedi Council from launching their StealthXes. As result, he ends up falling off a catwalk and is saved by his opponent, Saba Sebatayne. Instead of accepting surrender, Hamner continues to try and stop the launch, knowing full well that Saba can't support him and protect the StealthXes at the same time. Saba chooses the latter option.
At one point he starts mouthing off to a bigger bad guy than usual, and everyone is horrified. He points out that if he didn't, the Physical God might feel left out.
This type of behavior was crucial when dealing with the Skinwalker, who gains power from fear.
Lampshaded in one of the short stories, when Harry doesn't say anything to the vampire holding him captive. He then spits a load of garlic into her face and says that she should know he's got something up his sleeve if he's not talking.
In Cold Days, he's in top form. Except when it comes to Mab. He's specifically told that no one may speak to Mab without first being spoken to, and announces that he can't help himself and will probably mouth off regardless. This results in a look of horror and the declaration that no one talks to Mab without being spoken to first, which Harry starts to seriously ponder. Sure enough, two chapters later, he almost mouths off to Mab, just a little bit, but wisely shuts the hell up.
The Aiel, from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, personify this attitude. They have a Badass Creed that says, "'Till shade is gone, 'till water is gone (water is very important to them), into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the last Day."
Soldier-turned-devout-priest Hauwerd Wylsynn in the fourth book, A Mighty Fortress doesn't give the Inquisition a chance to haul information out of him through torture, so he instead chooses to die. He takes at least four armed and armored soldiers with him.
The fifth book, How Firm a Foundation shows Charisian captain Gwylym Manthyr about to face the same punishment the archbishop above did. Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn asked if he wanted to deny any of the claims of blasphemy he was charged with, after having had his tongue cut out so he could do no such thing. Manthyr's response: He spit in Clyntahn's face.
In I, Lucifer despite being offered a chance at redemption and relief from his constant pain as a mortal, Lucifer instead opts to lead a second assault on paradise before likely facing eternity in the infinite void alone.
Lucifer in the Left Behind books. He doesn't give Jesus Christ the satisfaction of calling Him Lord until Kingdom Come when his entire Other Light army has been eradicated in a heartbeat.
Stonefur in Warrior Cats. After being held prisoner, Tigerstar him chance to prove his loyalty, by ordering him to kill two half-clan cats. Stonefur completely ignores him, and asks his former leader for orders, since he will not take them from any other cat. When she asks him to follow Tigerstar's order, he still refuses to kill them, and vows to protect them instead. After that, Tigerstar sends his henchman to execute Stonefur, who despite being imprisoned, starved and barely able to stand, manages to defend himself. Tigerstar then sends another henchman, to pin Stonefur down and slice his throat.
"So, my beauty," said Hook, as if he spoke in syrup, "you are to see your children walk the plank."
Fine gentlemen though he was, the intensity of his communings had soiled his ruff, and suddenly he knew that she was gazing at it. With a hasty gesture he tried to hide it, but he was too late.
"Are they to die?" asked Wendy, with a look of such frightful contempt that he nearly fainted.
Cruelly defied in 1984. The Ministry of Love beats and tortures all defiance out of anyone who commits thoughtcrime, before they kill them, and wipe all trace of them from history.
All of the students in Les Misérables, but special awards go to Jean Prouvaire (who dies surrounded by the enemy and yelling "Vive la France! Long live the future!"), Enjolras (who throws away his empty gun and demands the enemy shoot him, even refusing a blindfold,) and Grantaire (who stands up and demands to be shot alongside Enjolras, even though he could have fled).
Hal Briggs in the Dale Brown book Strike Force flips off the antiaircraft cannon about to kill him.
Doctor Syn: Convicted for murder, Black Nick Tappitt goes to the gallows unrepentant and swearing.
Carl Sandburg's poem "The Man With The Broken Fingers." Some Gestapo agents are interrogating a captured Norwegian Resistance member, demanding that he give them the names of other Resistance fighters. He won't talk, so they break all the fingers on his left hand. He still won't talk, so they break every finger on his right hand. When he still refuses to talk, they break his left arm at the elbow and then at the shoulder, causing him to pass out. After he regains consciousness, they do the same thing to his right arm. He dies at their hands, but this is hailed as a victory by the poet because he never did give them any names.
Cat of the Night Huntress series demonstrates this quality to Bones when they first meet. This impresses him and is part of the reason he fell in love with her.
Bones: I began to fall in love with you when you challenged me to that stupid fight in the cave. There you were, chained up and bleeding, questioning my courage and almost daring me to kill you.
O'Neill: Ba'al, come on! You should know. Of course I dare mock you.
Teal'c too: if a Goa'uld really has him on the ropes he might get a snarled "I Die Free" out of him, but he'll probably just stick to pointing out that the 'god' in question is a slimy Puppeteer Parasite.
Jonas: Is it really necessary to further antagonize him? (They are trapped in a pyramid with dozens of Jaffa twenty feet away and a gigantic alien mothership in orbit)
O'Neill: (matter-of-factly) Yes.
All the Free Jaffa use it as a rallying cry. "I die free!"
Firefly Simon in "Objects in Space". Mal in "War Stories".
Simon in "Safe". The only thing that saved him was Mal and Zoey showing up to become Big Damn Trope Namers.
There is a great (non-fatal) example in Castle in the middle of season 3. The episode's Big Bad, an assassin working for the man who had Beckett's mother killed, has kidnapped Ryan and Esposito in order to find out what the good guys know about his employer. Then comes the following exchange:
Assassin: Now, I'm gonna make you a deal: you tell me what I need to know, one pro to another, and I will put a bullet in your brain. You don't, you jerk me around, and you will be begging me to before this night is up.
Esposito: I'm gonna have to go with option B, bro.
Ryan: Oh yeah, we are definitely gonna jerk you around.
Ryan and Espo do a lot of it in this scene, from Ryan (after being dunked in a tub of ice water) saying "This is nothing. I went to Catholic school for twelve years, they did this to you just for talking in class." to Espo, having agreed to tell the bad guy what he wants to know, saying "The cops know all about... me and your mom."
Montgomery got a truly heartbreaking one at the end of season three. He managed to take out all of the bad guys that came for Beckett except the Assassin mentioned above, who manages to fatally shoot him.
Assassin: This was all for nothing. I'm just gonna kill her anyway.
Montgomery: No you're not, and he's not. I saw to that. -pulls out a gun and shoots Assassin point blank-
On LOST, Charlie faces capture this way, knowing that he is about to die anyway and that he will have initiated the rescue of his friends.
Danny gets a truly incredible one of these in Spooks.
In the second season finale, Angelus is brutally torturing Giles for information on how to perform a ritual to destroy the world. When Giles seems ready to break, he comes out with this: "You must perform the ritual... while wearing a tutu. Pillock."
In a similar example of bravery in the face of torture and the likelihood of death, Spike defies Glory, only breaking his silence to tell her that The Key's human form is Bob Barker.
As Faith holds Willow at knife point, Willow tries to reason with her. Faith senses another speech coming on, and invites Willow to tell her it's all right, there's still good in Faith, it's not too late to change, et cetera. Willow furrows her brows and says it's way too late.
Willow: "You know, it didn't have to be this way. But you made your choice. I know you had a tough life; I know that some people think you had a lot of bad breaks. Well, boo hoo! Poor you. You know, you had a lot more in your life than some people. I mean, you had friends like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer, and now you're nothing."
On The X-Files, Mulder does this while on trial for murder. When a panel of judges finds him guilty of a murder he could not have committed, he has this to say:
Mulder: Yes. I'd like to congratulate you, on succeeding where so many before you have failed. A bullet between the eyes would have been preferable to this charade. But I've learned to pretend over the past nine years — to pretend that my victories mattered only to realize that no one was keeping score. To realize that liars do not fear the truth if there are enough liars. That the devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men, which is what we have here today. If I am a guilty man, my crime is in daring to believe; that the truth will out and that no one lie can live forever. I believe it still. Much as you try to bury it, the truth is out there. Greater than your lies, the truth wants to be known. You will know it. It'll come to you, as it's come to me, faster than the speed of light. You may believe yourselves rid of your headache now, and maybe you are... but you've only done it by cutting off your own heads.
Blake's 7ended with this. After Avon kills Blake over a perceived betrayal (we never really know whether Avon was right), Federation troops swoop in. One by one, the crew is gunned down. At the end, there's a dozen-odd troops, guns up surrounding Avon. He puts on his best Slasher Smile, straddles Blake's corpse, and raises his gun...
Dexter does this as a deliberate ploy when he's caught by the Skinner, using his understanding of serial killers to his advantage. It works.
In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise", the Klingons, after causing major damage to the alternate-universe Enterprise, orders Picard to surrender or be boarded. Picard's response? Keep shooting.
Picard: That will be the day.
A major Picard subversion also occurs at the end of the "Chain of Command" two-parter, after Picard is subjected to days of Cold-Blooded Torture. He manages to expose his captor's own foibles and famously screams out "THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!" when he is released. It looks like a straight playnote the torturer spent most of the episode trying to get Picard to say there were five until a short scene with Troi at the end, when Picard admits that not only was he ready to surrender, he could actually see five lights.
Supernatural: Castiel has been captured by the Devil in a ring of holy fire, and Lucifer offers him a job and points out that, having disobeyed Heaven, Cas will be #1 on the hit list if they manage to get rid of Luci. Clearly terrified, Cas just says, "I'll die first". Not as snarky as most examples, but quietly awesome all the same.
In 24 Day 5 Agent Aaron Pierce has been taken hostage by corrupt President Charles Logan after discovering Logan's hand in the terrorist attacks and conspiracy for the day. He's ruthlessly beaten down and personally left with the option of either being executed due to his knowedge or keeping the lid on Logan's involvement and being bought off. His response:
Pierce: There is nothing that you have said or done that is acceptable to me in the least. You're a traitor to this country and a disgrace to your office, and it's my duty to see that you're brought to justice for what you've done. Is there anything else, Charles?
There's Omar Hassan in season 8...
Molly in True Blood. The Authority are preparing to excecute her, and in her final moments she refuses to accept Lilith, instead telling them that they are the opposite of evolved.
Once Upona Time: Even while at the mercy of Cora, a sorceress who could kill her quite unpleasantly with the wave of a hand, Auroramocks Cora to her face, and makes it quite clear there is no offer she could make that would win her over. Cora herself comments on Aurora's pluck.
The Walking Dead: Merle goes down in a fist fight against the Governor, and shows no fear even when bloody, beaten, and facing down the Governor's gun.
Breaking Bad: Leonel Salamanca hates Walter so much that he crawls towards him as if planning to try to kill him, despite having had his legs amputated.
Mike Ehrmantraut is a mild example. He just tells his killer to shut the fuck up and let him die in peace. He gets his way.
My name is ASAC Schrader, and you can go fuck yourself.
Paul Kellerman of Prison Break tells the officers driving him from the courthouse that members of the French resistance often smiled before being executed by the Nazis. Moments later, the van is assaulted by armed men. In what was almost certainly a retcon, it turns out they were there to rescue him.
Shawn Michaels perfectly embodied this trope during the last match of his career at WrestleMania XXVI. Down, out, and all but defeated, he clawed his way up at the feet of what's probably the most dominant force in WWE history (The Undertaker at WrestleMania). Knowing he was going to lose, but (as is definitely his nature) remaining defiant, Michaels mimicked Undertaker's "Throat cut" gesture. Undertaker didn't respond... so Shawn slapped him across the face. You could see the exact moment that Undertaker went from slightly merciful to PISSED OFF. Cue Super Atomic Jumping Tombstone of Death.
Which was largely a nod to the Wrestlemania two years prior, again with Shawn Michaels, but this time against his friend/mentor/father-figure Ric Flair, facing a mandate that the next time he lost, he was fired. He wanted Michaels, who had long been called "Mister Wrestlemania", specifically because he had to fight the best, or it didn't mean anything. At the end of the match, Flair (legitimately, if tales are to be believed) had trouble even standing and holding his fists up, telling Shawn to "Come on! Pull the trigger!" He knew it was his last match, and it would end in nothing short of an epic climax.
Then there was the Hell in a Cell Match at WrestleMania XXVIII between Triple H and The Undertaker. Often acclaimed as the most dramatic of all of the Undertaker's matches in WrestleMania history, the final sequence goes as this: Triple H, beaten and broken, with his last breath, lunges towards 'Taker, sledgehammer in hand...and is stopped, 'Taker grabbing the sledgehammer, shaking his head. Triple H, knowing he is beaten, leans against the turnbuckles in the corner, and with one last act of defiance, performs a crotch-chop to 'Taker before having said sledgehammer rammed into his head, being hit with the Tombstone Piledriver, and being pinned.
In the original stage play for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when Riff Raff told him he was going to kill him, Frank responded with, ‘Do your worst, inferior one.’
From Les MisérablesEnjolras and the members of the ABC during their final stand at the barricades.
Let others rise
To take our place
Until the earth is free!
Javert when he outed as a spy while at the barricade and believes (rightfully) that the students plan to execute him.
Shoot me now or shoot me later
Every schoolboy to his sport
Death to each and every traitor
I renounce your people's court!
World of Warcraft. Some might consider Sir Zeliek one of these. Even though he's technically a villain, it's not his choice. He went down fighting and though he was raised into undeath, he still refuses to give up the belief that righteousness will prevail. Tragically, this is what makes him such a valuable weapon to the very evil he fought so hard, since through him the Lich King can control the force of the Holy Light.
Every raid boss in the game uses this trope: the most powerful abilities are employed as the boss is getting low on health. However, magnificently subverted in the Lich King encounter, where Tirion shatters Frostmourne and the last 10% of the boss's health is the raid simply beating up the helpless boss.
Balthier can also be heard snarking calmly when he's knocked out in combat:
Balthier: Is that your best?
Shirou from Fate/stay night. Practically every time an option like this shows up alongside an Ain't Too Proud to Beg alternative, taking the Defiant to the End option will advance the story and avoid a Bad End. Outside of Shirou, Rin is also a big-time adherent in this trope and continues to spit insults at people even as they've got her cornered. And then there's "Heaven's Feel", where this trope gets subverted quite a few times for both Shirou and Rin.
Kratos: A choice from the Gods is as useless as the Gods themselves.
Zeus: Even now as you draw your last breath, you continue to defy me!?
Extends to his cameo appearance in Mortal Kombat 9. He never grimaces or shows pain when being hit with X-Ray Attacks or Fatalities.
Eddie Pulaski, one of the antagonists from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is this after Carl causes him to crash and asks for any last words. Eddie's response? "Can I fuck your sister?"
Emile and player character Noble Six of Halo: Reach display this trope rather well. Emile takes it to Dying Moment of Awesome territory when a Covenant Elite impales him with its sword from behind. Without missing a beat, he spins around and stabs the Elite in the neck, taking it down with him. Six displays it early, when an Elite grabs him/her and pins him/her to a wall, Six punches him in the face. It comes to a head at the game's end, when Six stays behind on Reach to help Keyes escape with the Cortana fragment. He/she takes on the swarming Covenant with a vast array of weapons, ending with an assault rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other, and then his/her bare hands, still punching and kicking at them as they deliver the killing blow.
Sergeant Johnson in Halo 3. When he was captured by the Brutes, Truth tried to force him to activate the Halos, because only a human can do it. When he refused, the Brutes attempted to force him to do it by physical force. He just punched their chieftain at its face, and then insulted it. Even when Truth himself attempted to force him to light the Halos, he remained defiant, even insulted Truth himself at his face while he's manhandled by the Brutes from behind.
The Lone Wanderer invokes this beautifully in Fallout 3. When captured by the Enclave, the Wanderer gets interrogated by Colonel Autumn, and you can defy him in three ways: you can play dumb, you can tell him in no uncertain terms to go fuck himself, or you can tell him a lie. The latter two are extremely satisfying (either from the insult or from hearing Autumn's resultant tirade), considering it's his fault that your father dies. Fortunately, they survive.
Combined with Big Damn Heroes and Heroic Sacrifice by Zero in Mega Man X, because he's that cool: In the second Vile fight, Zero went ahead to fight Vile. When X follows, he finds that Zero lost and is locked in an electric cage. An Unwinnable fight ensues. When X gets hit with Vile's paralyzer again, Zero catches Vile monologuing and breaks out, latching on to Vile's Ride Armor. He purposely overloads himself to destroy the Ride Armor, but Vile survives. X is understandably pissed and breaks out of the paralyzer and refills his Hit Points, then proceeds to hand Vile his ass.
This is how Aelia meets her untimely end in Valkyrie Profile before you recruit her as an Einherjar.
Disc One Final Boss Jarod is a villainous example in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned, and scapegoated for the entire disaster of the Daien occupation by his superiors, Jarod barricades his army inside Daien castle, gives one last Rousing Speech, and uses catapults to destroy the capital city. When he's finally cornered, his Famous Last Words are an I Regret Nothing speech, and the verbal equivalent of spitting in Micaiah's face.
The Ardat-Yakshi Rila is already half-indoctrinated and barely able to stop herself from attacking her own sister when first awakened. She regains control of herself and, while her sister is dragged away screaming, draws the attention of the approaching Banshees. As one stares into her eyes, Rila seems to be speaking to the Reapers controlling it as she detonates the bomb.
Jack, if you fail to evacuate the Grissom Academy in time in Mass Effect 3, will be captured by Cerberus, indoctrinated, and turned into a Phantom, essentially an empty shell of herself. In the endgame, you can find video logs of her final day, showing that she remained defiant in her usual vulgar way until the end.
EDI vows to do this if they can't defeat the Reapers. "I would rather become nonfunctional than help them. I want you to know I will never be a part of the Reaper forces."
In Dragon Age: Origins the Human Noble Warden's defiant response to Arl Howe mocking them for having killed their entire family and claiming their are nothing now that the Wardens are gone as well.
Human Noble: You lie, Howe. To yourself most of all. I am a Grey Warden!
Arl Howe: There it is, right there. That damned look in the eye that marked every Cousland success that held me back!
In Dragon Age II, the final boss of the Mark of the AssassinDLC is defeated and hanging from a cliff by one hand;
Duke Prosper: You will all die screaming, I swear it!
Snarky!Hawke: I would have tried begging for mercy, but that's just me. *Turns and walks away* Thank you for the lovely party, I'll treasure the belt!
In the introduction, Prince Thrakhath says this of Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux after she spits in his face when gloating about the capture of her and her special forces operatives. The player doesn't see it until later in the game, but after spitting in his face he disembowels her with his claws, in what the Kilrathi consider an honorable death, unlike the disintegration of the other humans.
In the losing path if captured after failing to destroy Kilrah, the player is given the option for Blair to either give up and meekly accept defeat or to tell Thrakhath "screw you". The former gets Blair disintegrated by guards behind him as not worthy of a "proper" Kilrathi death, while the latter earns him Angel's fate.
In the second Knights of the Old Republic, during a holorecording showing the Exile's trial and banishment from the Jedi Order, they are ordered to relinquish their lightsaber. Without saying a word, the Exile tells them exactly where they can shove it by stabbing it into the centre stone of the Council Chamber, then turns and casually walks out.
More than one Jedi Master appears uncertain whether they want to be irritated or impressed by this.
In Assassin's Creed III, the second-to-last Templar to be assassinated, Hatham Kenway, stands by his groups vision even after Connor delivers the final blow.
Taken completely literally in the Chzo Mythos; Trilby, and his stubborn will to live, is giving the Tall Man enough time to transport into reality. To avoid this? He makes himself die on the spot. To spite the Tall Man. Averted because he immediately comes back to life and the Tall Man only actually needed Trilby's blood.
In It's Walky!, Mike used his last breath to hurl taunts and insults at the Martian who was killing him.
Thief to Black Mage in 8-Bit Theater: "My only regret is that I didn't hate you more."
When Tex makes her return after a two year absence in Red vs. Blue, she immediately starts a huge fight sequence in which she completely curbstomps the combined Red and Blue teams, including Sarge and Tucker, two characters that fans had speculated might potentially be able to match her in terms of combat skill (turns out, neither are even close). Tucker comes out as the most competent in the fight, though, and no matter how much he gets his ass kicked he just keeps making lewd comments to Tex instead of screaming or panicking like the others.
Sarge does this to the Maine. He was disguising their true plan by hiding it behind his back with one hand and somehow operating a pump-action shotgun with the other.
In Marble HornetsEntry #67,Alex finds himself lying on the ground, tied to a chair and on the business end of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge from Masky. Once the beating ends, Hoody pulls out Alex's gun and points it at his face. Alex replies with a Death Glare from the pits of Hell itself.
This YouTube video. A nerd types the umpteenth "arrow to the knee" joke into a YouTube comment, and the Dragonborn pops out of his monitor, kneecaps him, and Fus Ro Dahs him, and then tells him in explicit detail how he will kill him if he ever types that joke in again. When the Dragonborn asks the nerd at the end, "Do you understand, YOU PUTRID FUCKING CUNT?!?", what's the first thing the nerd says? "I used to be a putrid fucking cunt... BUT THEN I TOOK AN ARROW TO THE--"
In Worm, Armsmaster displays this trope when the serial killer Mannequin comes after him, taunting Mannequin for his failure to save the world and his twisted need to destroy those that try even as Mannequin beats him half to death and begins to stab him.
In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged it is revealed in a flashback that this was how Alucard acted when he was defeated by Abraham Van Hellsing. When Abraham lists off his many, many atrocities, Alucard responds with "The Aristocrats." Jan does this too—he goes out Flipping the Bird at everyone before vaporizing.
Stinkmeaner takes this trope up to eleven from The Boondocks (its played for laughs). After essentially getting himself into a over matched fight he curses his opponent repeatedly while getting beaten to death. Upon ariving in Hell he refuses to succumb to the torture everyone else is facing and trains up to the point where even the Devil himself is amazed enough to send him back to earth.
Darkseid: People of Earth - I am Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips. Here is your savior... cowed, and broken. I have crushed him as easily as I have crushed all who have dared to oppose me throughout the cosmos. I am power unlike any you have ever known: absolute, infinite, and unrelenting. You have no choice but to prepare for a long, dark future as my subjects... and my slaves.
Hawkgirl: Nothing to say! I have a gesture for you, but my hands are tied.
The Question, when captured by Cadmus and subjected to drugs and Electric Torture, responds by raving about nonsensical information of no practical use to anyone. (Alternately, since this version of The Question is a wacky Conspiracy Theorist, he may really believe this is helpful information.)
Dr. Moon: Tell me what you know.
The Question: The plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces are called "aglets". Their true purpose is sinister!
In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Slug captures Wildcat and Batman, and begins lowering them into a pit so they can be eaten by mutant snapping turtles. Wildcat starts insulting Slug, stinging his pride enough to make him pull Wildcat back out so they can fistfight.
Princess Sally in the third episode of Sonic Sat AM. When she was captured by Dr. Robotnik, he demanded her to tell where Knothole is located. Sally's reponse: "Sure I I will. When you get a life".
The Simpsons: Bart Simpson in the episode Bart The Murderer. After he had accidentally ended up in the Springfield mafia's turf, he was taken and interrogated by them, believing that he was a spy. He answered their questions with "eat my shorts" and "don't have a cow". In this case, Bart's insults and tough guy act actually impresses the mafia, convincing them to give him a job as a bartender.
This is the standard for all the titans. But in "Haunted", where Robin is being beaten to an inch of death by Slade or so he thought, he finally begs Slade to stop and it was one of the most disturbing scenes in the series.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Splinter's master Himato Yoshi was ambushed by the Shredder's men, unarmed, and outnumbered by more than ten to one, but he still wouldn't go down without a fight. And even though he did go down, he was willing to die before he told the Shredder anything, and his last words to the villain were to insult him, saying, "He who lives without honor will die without honor."
Megatron: Such heroic nonsense... *aims his arm canon right where Ironhide's head ought to be just off-screen and fires*
Happens quite a bit in ReBoot whenever Megabyte has the upper hand. He Lampshades it in season 3 when confronted by a grown up Enzo Matrix: "Where's that annoying chatter of yours? Mega Breath this and Mega Both that!"
In the same season, in the last few episodes Megabyte has captured Mainframe's principle office and removed Phong's head from his body, keeping him alive just to get the portal command codes. He has to use an extraction device, as Phong refuses to cooperate.
Phong: I will fight you... to the last... virus.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this in W.I.T.C.H. is when Nerissa has captured Hay Lin's grandmother, who was likewise a member of CHYKN, the previous group of guardians. No matter what Nerissa offers her (because she needs Grandma Lin to complete CHYKN once more) she refuses, and she's quite sassy for an old, nearly powerless woman. (Nerissa winds up creating an astral drop of younger grandma Lin since the real one won't cooperate.)
Early (1st-3rd Century) Christian martyrs in Rome were like this. The same thing applied to a lot of Protestants killed in the Inquisition (and vice-versa, a lot of Roman Catholics killed in Protestant countries), often continuing to preach even while they were being burned at the stake.
Likewise, a good number of the women burned in witch trials remained this way, too.
In fact, martyrs in general. Grandfather 'em all, regardless of religion.
Special mention: St. Lawrence was captured and roasted alive. His response? "Turn me over, I think this side is done." For this, he has become the Patron Saint of Comedians. And chefs.
During the Salem Witch Trials, suspected witches could not be tried until they gave a plea of innocent or guilty; if they refused to plead, the townsfolk would tie them up and slowly pile more and more heavy boulders upon them until they pled. If they plead guilty, they were put to death and their property was stripped from their descendants. If they plead innocent, they'd be sent to trial, found guilty, put to death, and their property stripped from their descendants. Giles Corey opted to Take a Third Option and would only call out "More weight!" whenever the townsfolk demanded a plea.
Actually it seemed a few of the people put on trial managed to be simply given jail time and eventually freed by simply playing along and giving the court a story they wanted to hear. It's most of the people who put up a fight that went down.
And what they wanted to hear were names of other people involved in witchcraft. Corey thought it better to die than commit perjury, and since he'd die anyway, decided to do it the way that let his sons inherit his property.
The song about Susanna Martin, one of the victims of the Salem trials, ends by saying that "Still in scorn she faced the rope/her comely head held high".
Russian partisan girl Zoya Kocmodemianskaya, caught by Nazis and cruelly tortured before execution, said from under the gallows:
The French Foreign Legion's reputation was first established at the Battle of Camaron, when 65 men fought a force of two thousand Mexicans. When they eventually ran out of ammunition, the last five men mounted a bayonet charge. Beaten to the ground, the two survivors were offered one last chance to surrender. Their response? They demanded the right to keep their weapons and escort their commanding officer's body home. The Mexican commander agreed to their terms. It seemed churlish to refuse.
Michel Ney, one of Napoleon's generals said this before he was exectued by firing squad:
— Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her... Soldiers! Fire!
This is something of an Iberian tradition. In 1296, Muslims were laying siege to the Castilian town of Tarifa; they took prisoner the son of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, the Christian nobleman in charge of the defense, and threatened to kill his son if he didn't surrender. Dad's response? To throw down a knife from the battlements for them to kill his son with. This was his only son. To this day, said nobleman is known as Guzmán el Bueno and is an important figure in Spanish history. It's very likely that Moscardó had him at least partly in mind.
In 1809, during the Second Siege of Saragossa and at a point where the French had gained undeniable superiority, having even taken parts of the city, French general Verdier sent a message to the Spaniard's defending military demanding the surrender of the city, stating simply «Paz y capitulación.» ("Peace and surrender."). General Palafox's answer? «Guerra y cuchillo.» ("War and knife.").
Similarly, when the American 101st Airborne were surrounded by Germans in the city of Bastogne, the Germans sent a letter offering them the chance to surrender. The reply from Anthony McAuliffe has since become a legend within the American military: "To the German Commander: NUTS! Signed, the American Commander". McAuliffe substituted it for "go to hell", since he refrained from using profane language as a rule.
The nineteen year old soldier Private Yevgeny Rodionov of the Russian Army. When he, along with three other Russian soldiers, got captured by Chechen islamists during the First Chechen War, he suffered torture for several days because he refused to renounce his Christian faith and convert to Islam as demanded by the islamists. Even when he was threated with a army knife, he still refused to give up his faith, which got his throat slit by the said knife. Due to his defiance, he has become sort of a national hero in Russia, and many people even demand that he should be canonized to sainthood.
Though one of the reasons he was not made a saint is that the Russian Orthodox church doubted the story was fiction on part of his mother. The corroborating testimony was "extracted" from captured Chechens after the story already started making the rounds.
When Marcus Tullius Cicero was captured by assassins sent after him by Mark Antony, he told one of them: "There is nothing proper about what you are going to do, but do it properly."
Private John Moyse (or Moyes) of the British Army was captured by the Chinese during the Second Opium War. He was executed when he refused to bow down to a Chinese general. The incident became the subject of a poem, "The Private of the Buffs" by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle.
Thankfully averted with Britain in World War II. Churchill's famous speeches are a long manifesto detailing just how Britain would not surrender:
Churchill: We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!
Stjepan Filipovic, a Croatian/Yugoslav Partisan during WWII used his last breath before being hanged by Serbian Nazi-collaborators to shout "Death to fascism, freedom to the people." (which would latter become the rallying cry of all of Yugoslavia.) The photo taken seconds before being hanged practically defines this trope.
Several members of the notorious thugee cult in India (who killed their victims via strangulation) who were sentenced to die by hanging, actually lept from the scaffold after the noose had been fitted around their necks, not only to show defiance, but to prove, at least symbolically, that they were masters of killing by such a method.
Gratien Fernando, the leader of the Cocos Islands Mutiny against the British authority on Sri Lanka. He was a Sri Lankan man who joined the Ceylon colonial forces due to his anti-facist idealism, in hopes that he would fight against the Japanese, but he became disillusioned when he and other natives were victims of British discrimination. Inspired by the Japanese-supported resistance movements in Burma and Indonesia, he and other Sri Lankan soldiers started a mutiny against the colonial authority but it was crushed and Fernando was taken prisoner and executed. His last words were: "Loyalty to a country under the heel of a white man is disloyalty".
Different historic accounts of the John F. Kennedy assassination indicated that his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, refused to admit his acts, even as he lay dying (after himself being shot by Jack Ruby) in the garage of the Dallas Police Station. (Although one interpretation, where an officer asked the badly wounded Oswald if he'd like to make a statement and he simply nodded his head "no" as he moaned in pain, could be that he was entering shock.)
Media accounts published at the time of Timothy McVeigh's execution (for masterminding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing) noted that McVeigh — after he was placed inside the death chamber — that his face was one of defiance, even as the drugs took effect, and he smirked and held an evil expression until he finally lost consciousness.
During the Fall of Constantinople, the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI was told to surrender the city to the besieging Ottomans or face death along with the rest of the defenders. Knowing the hopelessness of the situation, his response was this: "Giving you the city depends neither on me nor on anyone else among its inhabitants; as we have all decided to die with our own free will and we shall not consider our lives." When Ottoman flags were seen flying over the postern gates of the city and Byzantine defences crumbled Constantine reportedly led a final, doomed charge against the invaders, dying in the streets with his soldiers. Suffice to say, he did his ancestors proud.
Nelson Mandela never gave in, even when he thought he was about to be executed for planning uMkhonte we Sizwe's armed campaign, even when he was told he would never leave the hellish Robben Island prison, even when he learned his son had died while he was imprisoned, and in the end it paid off for him. The most noted example of his determination was at the Rivonia Trial, when everyone thought he would be given the death penalty, he stood in the dock and gave his three-hour speech in which he set out his motivations, his ideology, and his vision of the just and free society he would eventually try to create when he was finally released:
During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised.But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
As he delivered the final line, he looked Judge Quartus de Wet straight in the eye, an action which Mandela later credited with saving his life, as he felt that, directly dared to order his execution, de Wet didn't have enough ice in his veins to go through with it.
Nathan Hale was a 21-year-old soldier for the Continental Army. He volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in British-occupied New York and was captured. His last words before being hanged are considered some of the most inspirational in American history, and have been used an rallying cry for over two centuries:
"I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."