"...The threat of the Eldrazi presented a simple choice: lay down your weapons and die for nothing, or hold them fast and die for something."The notion of not giving in to despair, in the face of death or other hopeless situations and keeping up the fight with all one has left until death finally stakes his claim. A common phrase for this trope is to "go out with a bang", or "go out in a blaze of glory". Death need not be an absolute certainty, but may be seen as inevitable. It comes in two forms:
— Magic: The Gathering, "Time of Heroes"
- Death seems certain for a character, and they are going to just lie down and take it. Someone may admonish them for that, and they decide to get up and fight with all their might. May overlap with Rousing Speech. Also may manifest as a mental process, in defense of a loved one, or a rush of Heroic Spirit. Expect them to be outnumbered and out-gunned. Sometimes a hero or villain will decide to take out as many enemies as they can before their death. If a hero is doing this, it will most likely end in a Heroic Sacrifice, but it as least certain to be a Dying Moment of Awesome.
- Death is absolutely certain for a character, and they need encouragement to live the last of their time to the fullest. Their death is normally caused by cancer or other serious health problems. A family member or friend will help them with accomplishing a certain goal or advancing a cause that is important to them before they die.
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Anime and Manga
- Hellsing was quite fond of this.
- Macross Frontier has an example in Sheryl Nome, who is given an opportunity to save the fleet because while her illness means her days are numbered, it also means she can affect the Vajra with her song, which may be crucial to Frontier's survival in the Final Battle. Sheryl goes into the last battle expecting to be dead by the end of it, by her infection if not by gunshot.
- Something similar happens in the first movie, where Sheryl's farewell concert is interrupted by a Vajra attack, and she goes on singing to bring hope to the soldiers, even if it means attracting the Vajras' attention and getting killed.
- Mobile Suit Gundam:
- We have General Revil's famous "Zeon is exhausted" speech, mentioned in the backstory but not shown in the anime (it does, however, appear in the novelization and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin). In the first week of the war, The Federation suffered devastating losses to Zeon's mobile suits, Sydney was reduced to a gigantic crater by a Colony Drop, and General Revil was captured. Just when the Feds were preparing to sign the surrender agreement, Revil was rescued by a Federation commando team and made a speech announcing that Zeon had depleted its fighting strength as well and encouraged the Feds not to give up. The speech worked, and the Federation ended up winning the war by hanging on against overwhelming odds until they could develop MS of their own.
- Dozle Zabi also goes out this way, when his Big Zam is disabled by the Gundam, he gets out and starts shooting a machine gun at it. He never expected this to have any effect, but it is widely regarded as his Dying Moment of Awesome both in and out of universe. In fact, his defiant spirit is so strong that Amuro's Newtype powers pick it up as a great demonic shadow rising out of Dozle, giving Amuro quite the scare despite his victory.
- Naruto has Zabuza in a perfect, shining example of this trope, no Rousing Speech needed.
- In the face of the overwhelming power of Obito and the God-Tree and his ability to instantly consume all the chakra in the planet, the entire shinobi army was morally broken, including Naruto. Then a panel later Sasuke cut said tree with Susano's black flames and taunted Naruto, Obito and Madara's resolve, implying that they were cowards who couldn't face reality and that he will destroy said tree alone if he had to, which snapped Naruto out of his fear. This allowed the rest of the army to regain the will to fight and die to the bitter end by watching Naruto and Hashirama's memories and sincere hope for humanity.
- Minato Namikaze, the Fourth Hokage and his wife, Uzumaki Kushina, give up their life while saving the Konoha village from the Kyuubi's attack, but also take steps to ensure that the Big Bad would be eventually defeated, by sealing the Kyuubi inside Naruto. Minato even adds two fail-safe mechanisms into the seal just in case things go wrong.
- Jiraiya dies while fighting against Pain, but temporarily comes back from death through sheer willpower only to leave behind enough information to help someone else defeat Pain.
- Faced with Madara Uchiha, who has defeated everyone who has crossed his path, even Naruto and Sasuke, proven immune to ninjutsu, with nobody left to assault him with senjutsu, and now with the Juubi inside him, Might Guy proceeds to attack him with the only effective way: taijutsu. However, Madara shrugs off every attack of his, even his 7th gate's Afternoon Tiger. Kakashi sees this and loses faith, urging Guy to stand down. However, Guy states that it is never too late to give up, and while things may not work out, it's worth having faith in one's efforts. With that, he opens the Eighth Gate.
- Subverted in Koihime†Musou. Kannu and Chouun are cut off from all reinforcements and facing an entire bandit gang in their own lair armed only with whatever they could take off their defeated enemies. They exchange true names as people facing death together and decide to go out fighting. They not only live, they managed to wipe out the entire gang between them denying Kousonsan any chance of glory.
- In a non-death example (though it may seem like death since American football is Serious Business) in Eyeshield 21, after Kid and Tetsuma are benched due to injuries and the team is painfully aware that they don't have a chance and losing by a large amount of points, Riku refused to let the team throw the game and continued to play against Gao until he dropped.
- One Piece:
"My wealth and treasures? If you want it, it's yours. I left everything I gathered in one place. But you'll have to search the entire world!"
- The Pirate King Gold Roger was dying from an incurable disease. He then conquered the Grand Line, became known throughout the world as the Pirate King, found a lover and had a kid with her, and then turned himself in. Then, at his execution, which the World Government intended to use as a warning to all pirates for what awaits them, turned it into the moment that started the Golden Age of Piracy. Then he laughed, smiling as they lopped off his head.
"ONE PIECE EXISTS!"
- Similarly, his Friendly Enemy Whitebeard did the same thing at his own death. As a marine victory was poised to snuff out the Golden Age of Piracy, Whitebeard shouted out his Famous Last Words, reigniting the idea once again, and started an entirely new age of piracy. Those words?
- In A Certain Magical Index:
- Acqua of the Back loses the will to live when he loses his powers. Shiage Hamazura convinces him to stand up and keep fighting.
- Kakine Teitoku tells Accelerator and Shizuri Mugino that their struggle is pointless, because they will go to Hell no matter what they do. Mugino says maybe that's true, but if it is, they might as well kick some ass before they go.
- Jun Misugi from Captain Tsubasa has a heart disease. but he loves soccer, and is willing to die playing it. He tones this attitude down as he grows up, still he wants to play whenever he can.
- In Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Souichi and Souji suffer from rapid de-aging/Rapid Aging, respectively, thanks to the experimentation that was forced on them, and therefore don't have much longer left to live. Rather than sit around, feeling sorry for themselves, they've decided to stick it to the government that did this to them in the first place before they kick the bucket.
- Hijikata in Hakuouki is aware that as early as the battle of Toba-Fushimi that the Shinsengumi are fighting a war that they cannot win. However he will not let despair show and demoralize the troops and throws himself whole-heartedly into making things work.
- Mikasa in Episode 7 of Attack on Titan after suffering from a Despair Event Horizon seems to give up at first when she runs out of gas for her maneuver system. However, she starts to actively resist as best as she can against the Titan trying to eat her after she starts remembering Eren telling her to fight back.
- Most people can't do much besides squirm even if they wanted to once they're in the grasp of a Titan. One exception is the unnamed Survey Corps member that basically spits defiance at the Titan holding him and keeps stabbing it in the face even as he's getting chewed on.
- Jewelpet Twinkle: in a non-fatal example, Sara chooses to fight against Laiya after seeing her seriously injure Leon and understanding that she has no chance of winning. Nevertheless, she cooks up a plan to weaken her enough for Akari to stand a chance.
- Batman gives one of these speeches to his fellow JLA members, The Flash and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) at a time when all hope seems lost and he himself is lying in bed with a dangerously high fever.
"Death is powerless against you if you leave a legacy of good behind. Death is powerless against you if you do your job. My father saved the lives of over four thousand people, one at a time, with his bare hands and his mind. Death was with him the entire time."
- When faced with the imminent heat death of the universe, Galan of Taa refused to accept death quietly. Instead, he and a few others flew straight into the center of the Big Crunch. The others perished, but the newborn Power Cosmic merged with Galan. Thus was Galactus born. When Galactus was briefly depowered by the Fantastic Four and reverted to Galan, he was initially fatalistic about becoming Galactus again. Seeing the people of New York City struggling to survive no matter the odds reminded Galan of the man he once was. At the end of the story, he teleported himself to another dimension in an attempt to hide from the Power Cosmic a little longer. Before departing, he thanked the Four for reminding him of how important it is for people to never stop fighting against the inevitable.
- Loki: Agent of Asgard: Facing the imminent end of all existence in The Final Incursion, the Asgardians notice an arrival of an army of the dead pouring forth from Hel, and that Old King Loki has killed Balder, meaning all hope seems lost. At which point the Allfather and Allmother arrive, bearing gifts. In the form of a magically enhanced pair of machineguns and a minigun. As the Allmother puts it:
- FOR ASGARD, WE DIE LIKE GODS!
- In Chapter 12 of Fate/Stay Night fanfic Nerve Damage, Archer Napoleon Bonaparte refuses to kneel before a stronger enemy Servant, and maintains that it would be unfitting of a Heroic Spirit to do anything less than meet his death standing. Impressed by his bravado, Gilgamesh lets him go.
- "This is a good death. I will not bend my knee. No hero will bend his knee to a threat." A chuckle. "A good run I suppose, short as it is. I, a hero with a legend barely two hundred years old, to one whose own spans four thousand years back. Perhaps it was hopeless in the beginning, but I matched your power until the very end, and in death, I will meet the standard. I will die standing."
- In Pony POV Series, Strife's Villain Song, "Your Last Stand", actually encourages her opponents to fight back as long as possible and die with honor, despite knowing her victory is inevitable.
- In A New World, a particularly extremist family of Lunarians have had enough of the human expansion on the False Moon and decide to take action. By seizing control of Earth-bound comms channels and triggering a nuclear war at a global level, triggering a holocaust and decimating Humanity. It all goes downhill for them after that.
- The RWBY Loops, unusually for a Groundhog Peggy Sue story, has an example in the CFVY machines. Upon discovering that they had, in fact, been suffering from a degenerative memory loss, they took the opportunity to join in defending their reality from ending permanently. It is explicitly pointed out that they will not be coming back with the reset.
Velvet: I asked you, long ago, to let me live by my own terms. Now I'm asking you let us die by our own terms.Fox: As warriors and heroes.Yatsuhashi: As defenders of Remnant.Coco: ...As Huntsmen and Huntresses.
- Queen Of Shadows: During the Battle of Awaji, Gurando tells his soldiers that yes, most of them will probably die, but they will go down fighting and serve as an inspiration for the rest of humanity.
- In an ER fanfic that has Doug in a coma after being shot, Carol reads the poem in question to Mark, believing that they shouldn't take him off life support on the chance he might recover.
- In Aliens, lieutenant Gorman and private Vasquez make a desperate last stand in the air ducts of the ruined space colony. Surrounded on all sides by Xenomorphs and running out of ammunition, they end it by detonating a grenade, killing themselves and the surrounding aliens.
- The film Last Holiday and its remake.
- The Last Samurai. Algren persuades Katsumoto to go down fighting instead of committing Seppuku or bowing down to Omura and the forces of corporate Japan and fading into obscurity. What ensues is the last flowering of the Samurai.
- The Bucket List is all about this trope. Two men, both with terminal diseases, see how many dreams they can fulfill for themselves before they kick the bucket.
- A memorable recitation of the Trope Namer poem takes place at the end of Dangerous Minds, just as the protagonist teacher is about to give up, feeling overwhelmed and impotent to make a difference. Not exactly life or death in that situation, but facing the prospect of being a dedicated, caring teacher for one of the roughest public schools around is pretty daunting too. When her friend asks her why she decided to stay, she answers only "they called me their light..."
- Independence Day had the President using this argument as the cornerstone of his Rousing Speech. If the human race is to be wiped out, then they will make certain the aliens remember them. In fact, he almost uses the trope name word-for-word during his speech:
"We will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight..."
- The Matrix Revolutions: Mifune's speech to the defenders of Zion just before the Machines invade may qualify:
"All right! This is it! Now you all know me, so I'm gonna say this as simply as I can. If it's our time to die, it's our time. All I ask is, if we have to give these bastards our lives...we give 'em hell before we do!"
- DJ Grant Mazzy signing off in Pontypool. With his recording booth besieged by zombies and a trigger-happy military, there's only one thing left to say:
"This is Grant Mazzy for CSLY Radio Nowhere. ...And I'm still here, you cocksuckers."
- The protagonists of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and not just the immediate fight after a Rousing Speech. Pirates as a whole were phasing out as well. Fighting that one, last hopeless battle to the death might well have been the send-off of their way of life altogether.
Elizabeth Swann: "You will listen to me...LISTEN! The Brethren will still be looking here to us, to the Black Pearl to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilge rats aboard a derelict ship? No... No, they will see FREE MEN! AND FREEDOM! And what the enemy will see is THE FLASH OF OUR CANNONS! THEY WILL HEAR THE RING OF OUR SWORDS AND THEY WILL KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO! By the sweat of our brows, and the strength of our backs, and the courage of our hearts! Gentlemen... Hoist the colors!"
Blackbeard: Be that the cold breath of fate I feel down my nape? But... I'll have one last fight, by God. KILL 'EM ALL!!!
- Blackbeard says something to this effect toward the end of On Stranger Tides when he comes face to face with the man fated to kill him:
- In Pacific Rim, the Kaiju and their creators were not expecting humanity to fight back as hard as they do against extinction. Special mention also has to go to the Hansens who, when they have a disabled Jaegar and no other options, start telling Leatherback to "come get some" and fire flares that are about as effective as Spiteful Spit instead of giving up.
- This is how Tony Stark gets his call in Iron Man: captured in a cave, shrapnel climbing to his heart, and little hope of rescue. His fellow captive convinces him to fight, and the rest is history.
Yinsen: Is that how you want to go out? Is this the last act of defiance of the great Tony Stark!? Or are you going to do something about-?
Tony Stark: -Why should I do anything? They're gonna kill me, you... Either way, if they don't, I'll probably be dead in a week.
Yinsen: Well then... this is a very important week for you, isn't it?
- Preston in Equilibrium, after learning revolution was a trick of the authority to trap him, decides not to give in easily, and manages to win.
- Buliwyf from The 13th Warrior is poisoned and so fatally sick that he can hardly stand, but when the battle starts he's there with his sword and his dog because that's just how Vikings do it.
- The original poem (or at least parts of it) is recited several times in Interstellar, with a big part of the plot being saving mankind from the eventual slow extinction.
- The entire plot of Repo! The Genetic Opera is driven by the fact that Rotti Largo knows that he's dying, and wants to enact one last Evil Plan to make everyone he hates suffer. He pulls it off.
Rotti: It seems the man who cured the globe can't stop his own extinction. But I can still go out with a bang!
- The main theme of The Whales of August, which is about two elderly sisters living together. Sarah is concerned that Libby is talking so much about death. Libby for her part doesn't see why people as old as they are should bother to do anything new like install a picture window. Libby eventually comes around, seeming to resolve to make the most out of what time she has left.
Libby: [last lines of the movie, as they look for the whales] Can you see them?
Sarah: The whales have all gone.
Libby: You can never tell. You can never tell.
- Assassin's Creed (2016): During the climatic prison riot, Joseph Lynch is alone, armed with only a disassembled Hidden Blade and is boxed in a room with only one exit. He brings down several Abstergo security guards before he dies.
- Rachel from Animorphs. Visser One also states that this is a racial trait of humans. Most other species out there will give up and surrender if they know there's no hope. Humans, however, keep fighting anyway. Most of the Yeerks think this is basically pointless, but Visser One is savvy enough to know that this will make conquering humanity much more difficult... and is disturbed at the implications about the human psyche it raises.
- The Lord of the Rings:
- The mindset of the entire cast of heroes. Of course, Plan A is that Frodo destroys the One Ring, but everyone is well aware that the chances of this being successful are slim.
- In The Two Towers when what's left of the Helm's Deep garrison sallies into Saruman's army purely in the name of glory. (And to give the people of Rohan time to retreat into the Glittering Caves)
- In The Silmarillion, this is the attitude of most Men, since unlike the Elves they can't wait around for eternity in magically-hidden cities in the hope a miracle will happen.
Turin: Though mortal men have little life beside the span of the Elves, they would rather spend it in battle then fly or submit... though Morgoth slay the doer he cannot make the deed not have been.
- A textbook example of how to do it right can be found at the end of Legend by David Gemmell.
- The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant gives us Lord Mhoram's Victory. Revelstone is besieged, its supplies dwindling, everyone rapidly approaching the Despair Event Horizon, and Lord Mhoram decides that instead of sitting around waiting for hunger and despair to let Lord Foul's minions just walk in without a fight, all the remaining forces ride out in one final fight. Though almost a last stand, a combination of the surprise of their attack, and other factors happening at the same time cause the siege to be broken.
- Callahan's Crosstime Saloon: All of the patrons give an epic one to Tom Hauptmann at the end of "The Time Traveller", persuading him that life is worth living.
- Safehold series gives us the defeat of Alyksberg. With no chance to defend besieged city from the onrushing Dolahran Army, Siddarmarkians pull back, leaving behind the crippled and wounded, who proceed to blow up the entire city, taking at least a quarter of attackers with them.
- In Dragon Bones there is a variant: The protagonists sit all huddled on a hill overseeing their castle, which is just being invaded by the enemy army. Oreg points out that the villains will find the dragon bones, and that will have terrible consequences for everyone in the world. He reminds Ward, that there is a way to stop them. Said way is to kill Oreg. He can persuade Ward to do it, and as soon as Ward drives his dagger into Oreg's brain (the most painless way to kill he knows), the walls of castle Hurog crumble and fall, and the villains are buried under tons of stone.
- The Dresden Files:
If I was to die, I was not going to go out in a gibbering heap of terror. If I was to die, it wouldn't happen because I was half crippled with fear and Sight trauma.
- Harry Dresden, repeatedly and with intent to cause severe property damage. He keeps taking on things fifty times his size and refuses to back down... it's a good thing there are so many badasses watching his back.
If I was to die, it was going to be a bloody and spectacular mess.
- More generally, this is the exact attitude a large number of wizards take with their Death Curses. Of particular note is Simon Pietrovich, who didn't take his death lying down when his base is attacked by vampires - instead he made sure he had a lot of company at the Gates.
- It is believed, but not fully known, that Merlin, the original Myrddin Emrys, followed this idea when it was finally his time.
- River Marked, in the Mercy Thompson series, has the various Native American Spirits fight as hard as they can while knowing that defeat is inevitable.
- One of the themes of the final book in the Song of the Lioness series. Runaway princess Thayet describes how when faced with a life of imprisonment, her mother's final act was to become a martyr to inspire and protect her people. Alanna feels that this was a useless act, thinking it's always better to live to fight another day. By the end of the book, she understands the importance of this trope, after Liam undergoes a Heroic Sacrifice of this nature to save the kingdom.
- A running theme throughout The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence. The main character, Hagar Shipley, is over ninety and dying, but she's not prepared to go just yet. Sections of the Trope Namer poem are quoted in the text.
- Averted in Pact, where the protagonist, upon being told that he's fated to die soon by a sphinx, decides to try to do as much good as he can in the time he has left and sets out to slay a bound demon that's in danger of breaking free-only for the demon to eat him, and in the process make him an Unperson, to the extent that even the sphinx's Ripple Effect-Proof Memory can't remember his name.
- Several examples in the Gaunt's Ghosts series by Dan Abnett. Considering the universe they are in, this is hardly surprising. The most notable ones are listed here.
Nineteenth Platoon lasted seventeen minutes from the time the gate closed. They accounted for one hundred and eighty nine enemy casualties. No one witnessed their heroism.
- In Sabbat Martyr, an entire platoon is left stranded outside the gates of the Civitas Beati on Herodor. With no choice left, they decide to face down the invading Chaos Army until death. They take down roughly ten times their number before finally being overrun.
Rawne: Feth! Feth it all! It can't end like this! I wont allow it!Kolea: Now what?Rawne: We take as many of those bastards down with us. All of them! Every last Emperor-damned one of them!
- In Only in Death, the fuel and munitions supplies the Ghosts desperately need is blown up in their faces by an incredibly unlucky rocket strike. The commanding officer of that operation, Major Rawne, rages and resolves to make the enemy pay dearly for their victory.
- In the same universe a century or two later we have Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, and also a self confessed Dirty Coward. When faced with seemingly inevitable death, he sets his chainsword on high determined to take out as many of his opponents as possible before the end.
- In Worm, the Undersiders decide to do this after failing to stop the end of the world. They talk over their priorities a little first.
Canary: This is us? We're whiling away the time until the world ends? Giving up like everyone else?
Tattletale: What? No. Fuck no.
Imp: No. Wait, did anyone think that? Because I was thinking this was more us trying to decide what the hell we need to do before we throw ourselves into one final, suicidally reckless attack.
Taylor: Basically. Minus the suicidally reckless part. There's other stuff we can try first. But yeah. I think we're mostly on the same page here.
Bitch: Go out fighting.
Tattletale: Go out fighting.
Taylor: Nothing held back. Right. I'll need my stuff.
- On the villain side of things, Bonesaw has herself rigged with horrific Tinker-made plagues ready to be deployed upon her death.
- Bakuda similarly maintains has rigged bombs to do much the same in the event of her death, though on a smaller scale than Bonesaw.
- Also, in Arc 26, when Jack Slash is caught in Grey Boy's time loops his last act is to convince Scion to give up good deeds and find his purpose in the destruction instead.
- On the villain side of things, Bonesaw has herself rigged with horrific Tinker-made plagues ready to be deployed upon her death.
- Codex Alera
- By the fourth book Captain's Fury, the villainous High Lord Kalarus, an archmage in strength, is bedridden after suffering a devastating and crippling injury in the last book. He knows his war against the other Lords and First Lord Gaius Sextus will eventually lead to his defeat, so he crafts one final insane gambit to not go gently. He purposefully angered the spirit of an ancient dormant volcano and bound it to his life. It cannot act on its anger until he dies or Kalarus releases it. His plan is release the spirit on the thousands of refugees who fled into his city from the tens of thousands of soldiers fighting on the enemy's side coming to lay siege, killing hundreds of thousands in his own personally created pyre. Only because Gaius Sextus got insight of the volcano without using magic and hiking several hundred miles on foot, did this plan fail because Gaius releases the volcano before his soldiers would be in range and be harmed, so only the refugees and people of the city were sacrificed.
- In Princeps' Fury Gaius Sextus, weak from being in his eighties and his adventure in the above example, does not go gently when he faces the bulk of the Vord army advancing on his capital city. As many of his men fled the city, he stays behind to draw the Vord in and, after turning himself into metal by using advance metalcrafting, he unleashes the dormant volcano under his city, destroying the city and the Vord army and reduces the enemy forces to a mere tithe of their former number.
- In First Lord's Fury aged High Lord Cereus is not a fighter like Gaius or Kalarus. He loves his family deeply, though. And when the giant monstrous vordbulk is lumbering towards where his last remaining daughter and his dead son's children are hiding, he flies into the maws of the beast and blows himself up with his magic, destroying the creature and saving his family.
- The Grand Finale of Angel. Angel and the rest of his crew decide to assassinate the Circle of the Black Thorn and, at least temporarily, sever the Senior Partners' connections on Earth, and not one of them expect to survive the Partners' inevitable retribution. Of course, as revealed in the canonical comic continuations, they not only survive, but go on to fight another day.
- Babylon 5:
Londo Mollari: The humans, I think, knew they were doomed. But where another race would surrender to despair, the humans fought back with even greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it. They would weep, they would pray, they would say goodbye to their loved ones and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself. Never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage... their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns. When they ran out of guns, they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope, that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes at the end. They did this for two years. They never ran out of courage. But in the end... they ran out of time.
- There's a villain's version of this. With Sheridan's rebellion on the verge of success, President Clark programs the automated defense satellites of Earth to turn their guns on Earth itself, then kills himself.
- Another version is the speech G'Kar gets during his Dust-induced hallucinations, by a nameless Narn who is later revealed to be Kosh.
Narn: If we are a dying people, then let us die with honour by helping the others like no one else can.
- Londo noted how the humans, during the Earth-Minbari war, knew they were doomed because of their lesser technology, but where other races would fall into despair humanity fought back even more strongly after every defeat (as he narrated we are shown a few examples of this, including a man trying to stand back up and fight after being knifed to death). He was quite impressed and moved to tears even. After two years of constant fighting, of trying to hold back the advance, with the Minbari force on Earth's and humanity would muster what military it had to Hold the Line as civilians tried escaping. Ironically, humanity was saved when The Minbari surrendered, which baffled everyone (they had discovered that each race was carrying some of the other's DNA—their races had crossed 1,000 years ago, as is revealed in season 3).
- In season 2, Sheridan insists Kosh teach him how to fight the Shadows so he can one day take the fight to them. Kosh warns, "If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die." But Sheridan invokes the trope and stands firm, "Then I die, but I will not go down easily and I will not go down alone." Fast-forward to the final episode of season 3. He's on the Shadow's homeworld and, having run out of room for negotiation, proves he's ready to keep the promise he made to Kosh. He has his spaceship crash into their largest city and detonate bombs with a combined force of one gigaton of TNT. All that's left later is a crater. He does die eventually...and then gets better.
- Sinclair gets a vision of a possible future Where he stays on Babylon 5 instead of going to Minbar and eventually becoming Valen. The Shadows have struck before the younger races were ready to counter them, and are storming Babylon 5. Garibaldi and other members of station security are preparing to hold them back long enough for the others (like Sinclair) to escape. Sinclair tries to stop Garibaldi, but he shouts "Jeff, it's okay, I finally understand. This is the moment I was born for. Now go. Go!"
- The re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica, in the finale the titular ship can't last longer in space, so rather than going to be scavenged for parts, Adama decides to bring her in a final ultimate full-on assault on the Cylon's frakking headquarter with the sole mission objective of saving a little girl. It worked.
- D'Argo from Farscape. The last time you ever see him, he has been fatally wounded and is holding back a group of super soldiers with two rapid fire energy weapons while telling them exactly who their daddy is.
- 3 of the final episodes are called "We're So Screwed". They don't go gentle, they go awesomely.
- Game of Thrones: Discussed when Jon says he would gladly give his life for the Watch. Qhorin replies that he doesn't want Jon to be glad about it, he wants him to fight until his heart's done pumping.
- The Brunnen-G of Lexx were doomed to die at the hands of His Divine Shadow. While the older generation of Brunnen-G welcomed their inevitable death due to being weary of their immortal existence, a few of the younger ones led by Kai refused to die lying down. Their brave but futile assault is shown in the very beginning of the series and is later re-enacted in the Musical Episode "Brigadoom".
- Master of Ceremonies: The half a dozen little craft went forth against the might power of the Divine Order. Not really believing that they would win, for the Prophecy had told them that they would not, but knowing that they would die well!
- In the last episode of Stargate SG-1 the Asgard accept their demise as a species and rather than slowly fading out of existence they finally grant the Tauri the entirety of their knowledge and equip the human ships with the pinnacle of Asgard technology as their legacy. After that they self-destruct what remains of their once great people, timing the explosion to take out a few last Ori warships.
- Daniel Jackson: "I mean, all they wanted to do was live a little longer. We're no different. Sequence DNA. Cure diseases. One fatal mistake, and they doom their entire race. I guess no matter what you do, at the end of the day... life is too short."
- In Grey's Anatomy Christina gives one of these in the Season Eight Finale.
- In a parody of this Prime Minister Julia Gillard appeared on the Triple J TV show for a very tongue in cheek end of the world speech.
- The fourth episode of ER was titled "Into That Good Night" and the key plot was that of a man who would die before the day was out if he did not receive a heart transplant. Throughout the day, the doctors did everything possible to keep him alive while frantically searching for a donor. . .all to no avail.
- The Sing-Off invokes this trope via the "Swan Song" — each group has a song prepared to sing if they get eliminated, and they give it their all despite knowing that they won't be winning the prize.
- A lot of the third season of Supernatural is essentially Dean pulling one of these after a Deal with the Devil leaves him with a year to live.
"What do you say we kill some evil sons of bitches and we raise a little hell?"
- In the prologue to the 2008 Poirot adaptation of Cat Among the Pigeons, during the Ramat revolution, Bob Rawlinson and Prince Ali Yusuf are being cornered in a shootout and wounded, and after locking themselves in the royal bedroom, the pair decide to go all-out in a blaze of glory. As soon as the rebels bust down the door, tragedy ensues.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise". The warp core is about to overload, the Enterprise is all but defeated, and the Klingons hail for their surrender. Picard's response? Keep firing.
Picard: "Let us make sure that history never forgets the name... Enterprise."
- Doctor Who:
- The Expanded Universe reveals that this is what happened to the Sixth Doctor, who died while fighting the Valeyard by causing his younger self to die of poisoning and regenerate, thus preventing the creation of the Valeyard. All in all, a very odd example.
- Jack Harkness dies this way in "The Parting of the Ways", as he goes down fighting the Daleks. The Bad Wold entity brings him back to life and grants him immortality shortly afterwards, however.
- The Eleventh Doctor dies of old age and exhaustion after spending 900 years defending Trenzalore from all of his foes. He then uses his regeneration energy to wipe out the Daleks attacking Trenzalore, thus ending the battle.
- The Twelfth Doctor goes down fighting the Cybermen in "The Doctor Falls". Notably, there are several instances in which he can regenerate, but he holds it back and nearly dies permanently from his wounds.
- In Amon Amarth's song "Across the Rainbow Bridge" an old viking decides that he wants to gain entry into Valhalla so he goes on a rampage to be killed in battle.
- The Garth Brooks song "Ireland" is about soldiers about to die in battle in the morning, and they decide to fight it right then, rather than wait to be overrun.
- Manowar: "Tonight we strike! There is thunder in the sky! Together we'll fight, and some of us will die! But they'll always remember that we made a stand! And many will die by my hand!"
- Fireaxe's album Food for the Gods has a few of these, most notably the ending where after the apocalypse the inhabitants of hell, rather than resigning themselves to an eternity of torment, storm the pearly gates in an angry rage and attempt to kill God.
- Hammerfall's At the End of the Rainbow. The most common interpretation is that the warriors have already died and this is their heaven.
- The Trope Namer poem is quoted in Brave Saint Saturn's Two-Twenty Nine, which is largely themed on the Challenger disaster.
- It's hard to tell with the Word Salad Lyrics, but Belly song "Stay" seems like a song about a lover who is facing imminent death.
Stay, oh oh oh oh, stay with me
It's not time for me to go
It's not time for me to go
It's not time for me to go
Mythology and Religion
- This is one of the fundamental themes of Germanic tradition, most famously in Norse Mythology. Ultimately, everyone's fate is predestined (this is the original concept of doom). What matters is how one handles himself on the way to meet that fate.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Imperium of Man is dying. Culturally and technologically stagnant, their God-Emperor is on a life support machine that is in serious need of a good fix, and beset on all sides by xenos and horrors such as ageless and soulless killers, impossibly vast planet-consuming swathes of monsters and rape-happy evil space elves, while also attacked from within by traitors and heretics. The entire human race is making a Last Stand, and while it will take millennia for the end to come due to the sheer size of the Imperium, they will fight tooth and nail for every world and failing that drag their enemies kicking and screaming down with them. For the Emperor!
- The Craftworld Eldar were driven to the brink of extinction by a great tragedy, and now exist as scattered survivalists seeking refuge among the stars. All their gods save three are dead, slain by a Chaos God of their own creation, who is now hunting their race down with the intent to consume their souls. Not only that, but their most ancient and powerful foes are rising from their tombs. Beset by enemies on all sides just like the Imperium and crippled by a low birth-rate, they are doomed in the long run and very unlikely to succeed in these goals, and they know it. However, they hope that they can deliver a final end to their ancient foes and use their souls to create a god of death which will curbstomp said Chaos God and free them from their curse. Until that goal is realized, they will keep fighting to the bitter end.
- Exalted: In Second Edition this (crossed with Tired of Running) is how Lunars are made. Take a Heroic Mortal, put them in a situation where they're either dancing on the edge of or have crossed the Despair Event Horizon, and then they choose to get up and keep going. At which point they Exalt, and Luna shows up and tells them to go kick ass in her name.
- Call of Cthulhu: in the story of Old Man Henderson, the Crazy Awesome plot derailer, this trope rears its head. After a while of crazy gaming, a few cults have cottoned on to the fact that Old Man Henderson tricked them into fighting each other with a penthouse suite, a helicopter, and a yacht, and began chasing him with lesser horrors from the beyond. Realizing that he's going to die anyways, Henderson goes out with a blaze of glory, rigging an ice-rink full of explosives, and using a bit of obscure mythos lore to KILL HASTUR. PERMANENTLY. After this, the DM flipped the table over in anger.
- The Magic: The Gathering story arc of "Rise of the Eldrazi" depicted a horribly outclassed humanity fighting against plane eating elder gods called the Eldrazi. One card in particular, "Time Of Heroes", sums up this idea in its flavor text: "...The threat of the Eldrazi presented a simple choice: lay down your weapons and die for nothing, or hold them fast and die for something."
- Eclipse Phase: it's right there in the game's tagline.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
- Turandot: Calaf sings Nessun Dorma (None shall Sleep) despite the very likely chance the woman he loves, the titular character, is moving heaven and earth to have him executed so she wouldn't have to marry him. It's this passion the reason why it became a popular song among sports fans and even used in pop culture to signify victory.
- In World of Warcraft Kilrogg Deadeye foresaw that he would be killed by the players in Hellfire Citadel but fought them to the bitter end anyway, seeming happy to meet his destined fate. In the same fate he grants players a vision of their death in a futile Last Stand where Khadgar invokes this trope.
- StarCraft II:
- In single-player, the last mission of the Protoss mini-campaign is all about this trope. Achievements are awarded based on how many enemies you take down before you are wiped out.
- In multiplayer matches continuing to fight once it's hopeless is generally considered very poor etiquette and angers opponents.
- For those wondering why the multiplayer Starcraft example above is considered poor form, look no further than Dawn of War. An Eldar player who had clearly lost could stall out their official defeat almost indefinitely with a game of "Hunt the last Webway Gate", using an invisible Worker Unit alternate building and destroying two invisible Webway Gates over and over.
- Dragon Age: Origins, depending on what you did, has Alistair wishing to do this by killing the Archdemon as his first and final act as King of Ferelden so he could be remembered as one of the good ones.
- In Mass Effect, when leaving Kaidan or Ashley behind one of dialog options is "Fight hard, die proud".
- Mass Effect 2 has an assassin named Thane Krios who, upon finding out that his days are numbered, goes on a personal quest to kill some of the more prominent crime lords in the galaxy before dying. He joins Shepard's team after his last job for the same reason.
- From the 'Arrival' Downloadable Content:
- Mass Effect 3 is about the entire galaxy pulling one of these against the Reapers. A lot of fan-favorite side characters die this way off-screen.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 is all about this.
- The game pretty much opens with explaining that Snake's body is failing and that he will most likely die within months. While often near the point of giving up, he gets a grip on himself and gives everything to stop Liquid Ocelot.
- "I only get off my bike when I fall in love. ...or fall dead." Big Mama's resistance is uncovered and she doesn't have much hope of any of her men living to see the next morning. But that doesn't mean she won't fight Ocelot until the very end.
- And then there's the entire final act of the game, and also the entire series. There's really not much the recruits on the Missouri can do against Outer Haven, but with only a few hours left before Ocelot's rule over the world becomes perfect and being the last military unit not under his complete control, Mei Ling leads them into a full out attack anyway.
- In a way Big Boss and Zero also count, as their entire lives works were based on their anger about soldiers being considered disposable and they would not have that.
- The ending of the prequel game Halo: Reach was a forgone conclusion, given that the Fall of Reach was a major plot point in the Halo universe's storylinenote , and Master Chief is explicitly known as the Last Spartannote . Nonetheless, the final level of the game shows that the second-to-last Spartan definitely Did Not Go Gently.
- This choice actually determines what ending you get in Persona 3. Go quietly into The End of the World as We Know It, and you will die, unaware of what happened to you. Choose to fight against all hope, and you will die, albeit by a Heroic Sacrifice in order to Sealed Evil in a Can so everyone else will live.
- In the final boss battle of Sonic Adventure 2, dialogue during the battle suggests that Shadow's overuse of his Super Mode would cause him to die, but he continues to fight on anyway and help Sonic execute a powerful Chaos Control that prevents the ARK's Colony Drop, in doing so falling into the planet's atmosphere. Later averted, when he appears alive and well in Sonic Heroes.
- In Portal 2, one of the pre-recorded messages of Cave Johnson, deathly ill and bankrupt at that point in his life, is a rant about what you do When Life Gives You Lemons.... You don't go making lemonade. You make life take lemons back. You get mad. You burn life's house down. With the lemons.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Commander Gore begs you to please follow this, resist the temptation of power, and save the world, combined with Dare to Be Badass. Should you accept, he thanks you, tells you It Has Been an Honor and finally leaves to the greater beyond...
- This is the premise behind Imageepoch's dungeon RPG Final Promise Story, where the main characters have 24 hours before their country is overrun and annihilated by ominous steel monsters.
- In Gears of War 2, an achievement included with the Dark Corners map pack is "Did Not Go Gentle". The rest of the quote is implied due to the map related to the achievement being set at night.
- The Excuse Plot of Dawn of War II: The Last Stand.
- The Blood Ravens after delivering the poison to the hive fleet, but getting their extraction ship shot down and leaving them stranded behind Tyranid lines, and again when (if) the Tyranids win the Retribution campaign.
- The Multiplayer game Zombie Overrun in Red Dead Redemption is Do Not Go Gentle The Game! You are told that you are going to die and instructed to take as many Zombies as you can with you.
- In Marathon 2, Durandal is at one point cornered above a planet with his single corvette, and an entire Pfhor fleet bearing down on him. Even with the upgrades he's made to the ship, he knows he can't win. He fights regardless, and takes half the Pfhor fleet down with him.
Durandal: I've lost, and Boomer is going down in flames. However, the Pfhor will not soon forget the "Humbling of Battle Group 7", in which half their attacking force was taken down by a single corvette. I suspect this will be written into the list of great defeats that all Pfhor commanders must memorize in their training."
- Legacy of Kain:
- In Blood Omen, both Moebius and Mortanius acknowledge that they are destined to die at Kain's hands and have accepted that, but they both still refuse to make it easy for Kain, with neither going down without a fight.
- In Defiance, in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome, Vorador is captured by Moebius and his mercenary army, but not without "a considerable price in blood."
- A non-lethal variation would be the ending of Little Mac's career in the Wii remake of Punch-Out!!, in which in the post-Title Defense matches, Little Mac resigns after three losses. See the Fridge page of Punch-Out!! for more details.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2 subverts this with the execution of Pekoyama, who tries to go down swinging against an army of robots until she accidentally injures and almost kills Kuzuryuu, her childhood friend/superior, who rushed in to try and save her, allowing the robot army to finish her off while she's having a "My God, What Have I Done?" moment.
- Gundham Tanaka gives the students a Rousing Speech to this effect before heading off to his execution; the students had been locked in a building, slowly starving to death and losing hope, and Tanaka urged them to keep fighting from now on and never give up on life again. Like Pekoyama, he also attempted to fight back during his execution despite going willingly, though this ultimately failed.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has the mission "Do Not Go Gently..." in which Blackbeard and company are ambushed by the British and he dies fighting them off.
- Azala of Chrono Trigger, being a supreme fatalist, acknowledges before her last stand that it is probably her and her species' fate to lose to the humans but refuses to go down without a fight.
Azala: (SNES version) Though it may be our fate to perish, we will not simply hand this world over to you!
Azala: (DS version) Even should it prove our fate to die, we will not relinquish this world to the likes of you!
- Central to Trillion: God of Destruction. Challenging the eponymous Big Bad is a suicide mission in the truest sense; victory is impossible, all each Overlord can do is hope to do enough damage that one of her successors might succeed. A big part of Zeabolos' character arc is trying not to crack under the strain of deciding which of his nearest and dearest to send to their death next, with no time to mourn in between.
- Zeke Strahm eventually gets one of these in Seeking Truth. He's hoping to survive, but considering that his opponent is a thus-far undefeated Eldritch Abomination...
- Red vs. Blue has this in Episode 18 of Revelation. Sarge gives this, surprisingly, stating that even though they have no chance of surviving (according to Simmons), they should go out and fight anyway. And the most surprising part is that even the coward Grif does just that.
- The protagonists of Sevenshot Kid know that they aren't ready or capable of dealing with a tall, dark stranger but they know they're the only ones that can possibly hope to improve their situation.
- Mat-Ti in Suburban Knights is driven to one of these after being sent on one too many snipe hunts by the Channel Awesome crew. He goes right up to the Big Bad Malecite's face and declares he's going to fight even though he knows he's totally screwed. Fortunately, his "Heart" ring is actually Aeon's Ring, the one thing that can stop Malecite, and Mat-Ti defeats him. Unfortunately, Mat-Ti still dies in the process.
- A slight inversion in AJCO with Egg, who has accepted that she will die and begs the others to not go gently in her last speech rather than the other way around.
' I’m begging you – fight.
' Fight for your right to be free from monsters like her.
' Fight the lies and the torture and the treachery.
' F-Fight to see the days that… I’m not going to be able to
…otherwise your entire life will be for nothing.
- It has an immediate effect on the person responsible for her apparent death in the first place, who promptly runs out out into a landscape that she believes to be highly toxic after the girl.
- A two-part episode of TaleSpin features Baloo and Louie being set upon by a veritable army of giant bugs, backed into a corner. Baloo insists that he "ain't gonna play no swan song without a duzzle!" Fortunately, they find a way out without having to fight (and/or die).
- Beast Wars:
Megatron: What could you possibly do? (aims his tail gun at Dinobot)Dinobot: Improvise! (whacks stick onto a rock, smashes his new-formed stone hammer into Megatron, grabs the Golden Disc, and obliterates it with an eye-laser that takes the last out of him)
- The final stand of Dinobot in the episode "Code of Hero". After momentarily reflecting on his decision to fight, he singlehandedly defeats all the Predacons, who were destroying a valley where the first humans were living, and with the last of his strength destroyed the Golden Disk, ruining Megatron's plans. He even fights Megatron with a rock on a stick and makes it look good.
- His replacement Depth Charge does something similar during his final battle with Rampage.
- This is a common trend in the Transformers franchise. In Transformers Armada, the Armada version of Starscream went out similarly to the aforementioned Dinobot, with a lot more shouting.
- From Adventure Time, this is definitely the opinion of Princess Bubblegum when it comes to protecting her friends and her kingdom. She even says the trope title directly, at one point!
- Zuko, from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He takes everything the world can throw at him and keeps coming back, because of one simple piece of advice his uncle sent to him, engraved on a knife: never give up without a fight.
- Harvie Krumpet: Harvie is about to kill himself with a morphine overdose in the old folks' home when a talk with a fellow patient makes him realizes he has "a lot of living left to do." So he takes off his clothes like the nudist he is, and goes outside to sit at the fake bus stop. The final "fakt" then pops up on screen:
"Life is like a cigarette. Smoke it to the butt."
- Stars go generally this way. First ballooning up into a red giant and then blowing up as supernova or planetary nebula.
- This is the manifesto of various transhumanist movements whose goal, among other improvements to the human condition, is to make death of old age and associated diseases optional through advancement of technology.
- Gavrilo Princip personally accepted the mission to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand because he was dying of tuberculosis and wanted to do something significant while he was still alive. By all accounts, he succeeded at his goal.
- There are a large number of living organisms that have physical traits (such as poison) or behaviors that injure or kill their predators even as the organism itself dies. While this does not benefit the organism itself, it does benefit their species by making predators avoid them in the future.
- The end of the German corsair ship Kormoran during World War II fits the trope to a t: cornered by the light cruiser HMAS Sydney, that outclassed her by an enormous margin (Kormoran was 18 knots fast and armed with 6 WWI-vintage 155mm guns, 2 37mm anti-tank guns, 5 20mm anti-aircraft guns and 6 torpedo launchers, while Sydney was 32.5 knots fast and armed with 8 modern 155mm guns, 4 quick-firing 101mm guns, 21 machine guns and 8 torpedo launchers. Also, being an actual warship facing a converted merchant ship, Sydney had better armor and fire control, and, having the main battery on turrets, could concentrate all its heavy firepower on either broadside while Kormoran could use only three of her heavy guns at most), the crew of the Kormoran, that was intercepted while disguised as the liner Straat Malakka, bullshitted their way into having the enemy come very close (even launching a distress signal claiming they were under attack from a corsair), and when the enemy was at 1000 m they opened fire with everything they had. At the end of the battle Kormoran was so damaged the skipper ordered her scuttled, but not before seeing their opponent run away on fire until she sunk.
- The poem is being read to a rousing music in a commercial about fighting cancer. With so much success in treating the various forms of it, it'd be stupid of people to just give up.