Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!
"And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!"
This is not about the phrase, so things that are only mentions of it, and variations on it, are not examples.
Basically this is when people are willing to fight to the death for freedom. Sometimes they actually do end up dying for it, but this trope is solely about being willing to die for freedom, regardless of the result. Expect a Rousing Speech
Can overlap with I Die Free
when those fighting for their freedom are on the losing side and they have only that choice left.
And there are many bloody revolutions in Real Life
Compare Martyrdom Culture
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- InuYasha: Kagura is enslaved to Naraku but is determined to obtain her freedom. Sesshoumaru warns her that her path will lead to her death if she's not careful, but she persists anyway because there is no other alternative for her. Eventually, even though she knows it will cost her life to do so, she saves Kohaku from being killed by Mouryoumaru and is promptly killed by Naraku. Bittersweet because she realises as she's dying that the only way she could ever gain her freedom was by dying, but that it is true freedom. Lampshaded later on by Mouryoumaru when he accidentally triggers Sesshoumaru's Berserk Button by insulting Kagura's willingness to die for her freedom, an ideal and death he views as worthless.
- Older Sister Maid in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, when she had to impersonating Crimson Scholar, and being arrested for being heretical.
- In Scion, when the Raven and Heron kingdoms invade the Lesser Races' Sanctuary island, Exeter makes it clear that he's willing to die defending it, which leads to his Crowning Moment of Awesome:
"We're close to accomplishing the impossible. To making a dream reality. And some dreams are worth fighting for."
- Shows up in Part III of Cartoon History of the Universe, in the bit about the Zanj Rebellion. "Zanj" was a term for East African slaves (bought from their native rulers in what is now Kenya and Tanzania) who were employed in southern Iraq's production of sugarcane. They rose in revolt against the Arab, Persian, and Turkish rulers of the Abbasid Caliphate, and (as Gonick notes) fought ferociously for their freedom (primarily because the alternative was death). It's specifically brought up in this panel:
Zanj army: LIBERTY OR DEATH!
Frightened-looking Arab soldier: You lack sophistication, my dear fellow! Have you ever thought of the idea that no man is ever completely free?
Zanj soldier: But completely dead, yes!
Film - Animated
Film - Live Action
- And of course, those tiny blue Discworld William Wallace stand-ins, the Nac Mac Feegle. "Nae king! Nae Quin! Nae Laird! Nae master! We willna be fooled again!"
- Of course, they also think they're dead and in warrior paradise, so their views on getting killed are a little unique.
- 1984, with the Brotherhood. It turns this was set up by the Big Bad, though. Only Thought Criminials would join such an organization and so the Brotherhood gathers all poetential rebels while the loyal party members ignore it.
- Robert A. Heinlein visits this territory many times, particularly in The Fifth Column, The Puppet Masters and "If This Goes On-".
They cannot tame a free man. The most they can do is kill him.
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, as Roane reveals what the Psychocrats have done, Nelis concludes that the terrible risks of breaking the Mind-Control Device affecting the entire planet is worth it for freedom from their conditioning.
- In Andre Norton's Catseye, after their escape, the cat observes they were told they would die if they did, but they are still alive. They agree to stay with Troy after questioning him to discern that he can't actually control them, he can only talk.
Live Action TV
- In Dragon Age II Anders seems to believe itís better if mages die fighting for their freedom rather than live in the Circle, that for him is nothing more than a Gilded Cage. He blows up the Chantry to provoke a war and force mages to rebel or be slaughtered.
- Trope name comes from Patrick Henry, a melodramatic patriot in The American Revolution.
- An interesting subtrope: in that same Revolution, the British government promised freedom to any colonial slave who ran away and joined the loyalist army. Thousands (including a few of Henry's own slaves) did, evidently preferring the risk of death on the battlefield to the certainty of a life in chains if the colonists won independence.
- The American Civil War was an ironic twist on this for the South. They wanted freedom ... the freedom to keep slaves.
- There were also a number of slave revolts, even though the slaves knew there was a high chance they'd be crushed by the militia and executed.
- Haiti might be the only country that started with a successful slave rebellion. Unfortunately, it lacked the leadership that could have made it a successful nation afterward.
- "Freedom or Death!" is the official motto of both Greece and Uruguay.
- "Live Free or Die" is the official motto of the state of New Hampshire.
- The Natchez nation went to war against French Louisiana in 1729 after being abominably treated in various ways and having their culture mucked up; the chief who touched things off is supposed to have said, "We walk like slaves, which we soon will be... Is not death preferable to slavery?"
- They were clever, too—they planned things out well, and folded over 200 black slaves into their forces after attacking their plantations, and presumably killing their masters.
- The French then bribed the Choctaw into killing the Natchez for them. Freaking politics.
- Harriet Tubman, a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad (that smuggled slaves from the American south to freedom in Canada), carried a handgun with her for protection. She once said that when a runaway slave lost heart and wanted to give up and return to the plantation, she pointed the gun at him and said, "You go free or die."
- Slaves in Argentina were usually incorporated into the army during the war of independence, and then the civil war, with the chance of being free if they survived the military career. Sometimes this was voluntary, other times (when the threats were higher) it was enforced. Traffic of slaves was abolished in 1813, and the sons of slaves were automatically emancipated. By 1853, the time when slavery was completely abolished, there were so few slaves in the country anyway that the abolition is hardly worth a footnote in the history books of Argentina.