Even Heaven didn't see this act coming.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
A character does something incredibly brave and is killed, maimed, or otherwise irrevocably harmed doing it.
A bad character who was once good can redeem himself in the last act by Taking the Bullet
that was meant for The Hero
, thus expunging all his previous evil, avoiding forcing The Hero
to arrest or confront him, and avoiding any real life penalties like disgrace and jail. This is like Redemption Equals Death
. In this case, the death and redemption come in a single act.
There are essentially three kinds of Heroic Sacrifice
A Heroic Sacrifice usually requires that a character be Not Afraid To Die
. If the Heroic Sacrifice
was pre-planned, it's a Self-Sacrifice Scheme
. Often preceded with a Sneaky Departure
from the team, or a More Hero than Thou
dispute. A Friend in Need
often requires it. Contrast Villains Dying Grace
, when a dying villain decides to save a life. The Doomed Moral Victor
fights a battle where the outcome is clear from the beginning. If the character has time to say some last words before dying, they often do so in an Obi-Wan Moment
. Often a Dying Moment of Awesome
For specific subtypes, see this index
Compare and contrast Zero Approval Gambit
(where the hero sacrifices his good name instead of his life), My Death Is Just the Beginning
, Senseless Sacrifice
, Suicide Mission
and Stupid Sacrifice