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Heroic Spirit
He isn't just holding that rubble up.
He eventually makes himself lift it.note 

"I could break your body, but I could never destroy your spirit."
The Champion to The Thing

The spirit of a true hero is an awesome thing. The heroes can do anything if they are driven enough. They will not surrender, they will not stay down. Death, The Virus, Wangst, they are all to be shrugged off when the chips are down. No Despair Event Horizon for them.

Now this seems to be strictly idealistic, but get an Anti-Hero against the ropes, and the same spirit will show up, even if manifested in different forms.

A Super Trope involving:

Compare Humans Are Warriors, Heroic RROD, Honor Before Reason, Do Not Go Gentle.

Not to be confused with the Servants, or literal Heroic Spirits.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Rock Lee in Naruto is able to keep fighting after two limbs have been crushed by Gaara's sand coffin and he's been beaten into unconsciousness (he's out cold, but his body gets up and tries to keep fighting anyway). On a lighter note, he also fights spectacularly well when he's drunk as a pirate. His mentor attributes both of these feats to his fighting spirit.
  • A major motif in most Super Robot mecha shows (with some infamous exceptions). Some examples:
    • Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto will keep fighting even if he is badly wounded and weakened, his weapons have been destroyed, his Humongous Mecha is running out of power, he is outnumbered and the enemy is way more powerful than him. The times he has almost or fully crossed the Despair Event Horizon his mindset has been "I am going to die... Alright. I'll die fighting.". However Sayaka's Heroic Spirit is even greater because she knows she is always underpowered. She is nearly always badly beaten in battles and still keeps fighting.
    • Great Mazinger: Tetsuya often gets badly hurt during battles because he never -ever- quits, not even in situations where any semblance of logic and common sense would demand flee to fight another day and often he has to be ORDERED to retreat. The most memorable duel in the entire series happened when The Dragon Great Lord of Darkness challenged him to a Sword Fight. Tetsuya was severely wounded after a long, complicated battle, his Humongous Mecha was very battered and almost depleted from power and all advised him retreating. But he still accepted and he fought until the end. Nonetheless, this is also due to Tetsuya's psychological issues: he believes piloting Great Mazinger is all what he has, so if he loses he will be replaced, abandoned and forgotten for everyone, including his father.
    • Combattler V: Hyoma Aoi, captain of the Five-Man Band. The Dragon refused killing him because he considered him a Worthy Opponent, so he blew his arms off. Hyoma was twisting in pain but he still asked being seated on the cockpit, telling he would use the special mental interface equipment to pilot Combattler. Later The Mole got his Artificial Limbs infected with The Virus. He was dying but he still managed to endure it until he was given a vaccine. His arms were barely healed and he leapt out of the hospital bed and sprinted towards the hangar. Chizuru Nanbara was also very ill but she tried to keep it from everyone because she knew they would force her to stop fighting. The secret finally came out when she was trapped inside a Robeast. Her teammates could not get her out so she had to free herself. However the pain was so strong she could barely move and she could not even use her machine's weapons. Still she managed overcome the pain, turn one of the weapons on and drill her way out of the monster.
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka would never run away, give up or quit, not even when the enemy was completely impervious to her weapons, out of her reach or was mind-raping her. Even when she was fighting alone against an enemy outnumbered her and overpowered her, out of energy and pinned to the ground with one of her eyes bleeding, she struggled for moving her Humongous Mecha and keep fighting (in fact she was trying her Unit went berserker). Right like Tetsuya above, it is partially due to her personal issues: she thinks piloting Eva is all what she has and nobody would ever care for her, so if she loses, she will lose her worth and will be discarded and replaced by NERV (and what you know She was right).
    • Heroic Spirit it's sometimes even the key to using what ever green rocks/applied phlebotinum powers the robot. Examples include:
  • One Piece has done this a number of times. Most notably with Usopp the Lovable Coward, since he pretty much needs Heroic Spirit to break through his fear. His fight with Mr. 4 and Miss Merry Christmas had him stand up after taking a four ton bat to the face. His battle with Perona did this more literally, with Usopp calling upon his alter ego Soge King to save him.
    • More literally so in Brook's case. His spirit was the only thing keeping him tethered to the mortal world after his death 52 years ago. His spirit also can be weaponized into ghostly ice.
  • Ichigo of Bleach tends to act like this. On at least one occasion he essentially comes back from the dead just because he's that bent on winning.
  • Jack Rakan from Mahou Sensei Negima!. He's been known to bend the laws of physics outright ignore the laws of magic just because.
  • Tenma from Monster just won't break. Ever.
  • Endou from Inazuma Eleven has been knocked down so many times by powerful shoots, and even when other people wouldn't have been able to stand, he struggles to his feet so that his team can continue to play and win the match.
  • Both Hamman Karn and Mashymere Cello from Gundam ZZ are able to block beams with sheer willpower, and in the case of the latter, while enduring thousands of volts of electricity.
  • Goku, particularly in the Dragon Ball Z arcs could be said to be this.
  • Pegasus Seiya from Saint Seiya has this. Though he is a lowly Bronze Saint, when his life is on the line, Princess Saori's life, or the fate of the world and loved ones is at stake, Seiya will do just about everything in his power, even go beyond limits to bring justice and save the day, even if he gets beaten black and blue by Saints way above his power level.
    • Not just Seiya, the whole group of main characters fits the trope. Cygnus Hyoga beating Aquarius Camus and achieving the limit of ice-based powers while unconscious, and Dragon Shityu willingly making Capricorn Shura's arm stuck inside his chest (when, a few arcs before, it was stated that a Saint's body is just as resilient as a regular human's without their Cloths) are two perfect examples.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. He will go through hell and mow down scores of soldiers who would dare stand in his way, just so he can get to his woman who was kidnapped and live peacefully with her.
  • Mai from Skyhigh.
  • The final test in the examination arc of Hunter Hunter was to beat one of the other candidates. But the problem was that the candidates had to make the others admit defeat - beating them senseless didn't count (The test would resume once the other regained consciousness) and killing was an automatic disqualification. Gon was on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Hanzo, but kept getting back up. Ultimately Hanzo had to concede the round, because there was no way to get Gon to give up without killing him.

    Comics 
  • Page quote comes from "Marvel Two in One Annual" #7. A cosmically-powered warrior called simply "The Champion" beams the strongest heroes of Earth up to his ship to box with him. The fate of the Earth is at stake, naturally. The Thing is the last hero into the ring (the others being defeated in short order by a bored Champion, or 'disqualified' for not really understanding boxing and sent back to wherever they were yanked from). The Thing gives a good account of himself before being savagely beaten down. He gets back up and attacks again, managing to injure the Champion before being beaten to an utter pulp. He gets up and manages to land a few more blows before being beaten through the floor. As the Champion goes into his spiel about the fate of the Earth, the Thing drags himself up and grabs him by the ankles (weakly). At which point the Champion declares "I could break your body, but I could never destroy your spirit" and leaves for other planets and other challenges.
    • That line of dialogue, or something very like it, appears in many of the examples that followed it, making this the Ur Example for modern western media
    • Given a Whole Plot Reference in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, with Monkey in place of the Thing (see below).
  • This is more or less what allows members of the Green Lantern Corps to use their rings.
    • Also sort of applies to the Blue Lantern Corps.
    • Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2, needs to be focused in order to create constructs. While fighting Grundy he's unable to create constructs because he was still fazed by the death of his lover, Sam. When The Grey tries to tempt him with an apparition of Sam, Alan fights it off and becomes focused enough to create constructs.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #33 was one of the best issues of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run. It is the third part of "If This Be My Destiny" three part arc. Spider-Man trapped under a huge piece of equipment after a fight with Doctor Octopus. His Aunt May is dying and needs a serum to cure her. Spidey thinks about giving up, but he's determined not to let Aunt May down. He uses every ounce of strength and will and finally lifts the wreckage off. The sequence was later adapted in the animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man in the episode "Shear Strength".
    • Spidey also fought off a broken neck. Of course, it wasn't really broken, but with the villain in question (Fusion) being a Master of Illusion, he didn't know that until he was clenching his fists and standing up for another go.
  • The protagonist of Empowered has a super-suit that doesn't work properly, more issues than a comic-book warehouse, ends up naked, bound and gagged almost every freaking day, and is either a joke to, or suspected of really being a villain by, almost every other hero in her universe. Yet she absolutely will not stop. She is nearly a Platonic ideal of the Determinator version of this trope.
  • Superman, as the archetypical superhero, is a shining example of this trope.

    Films 
  • In X-Men: First Class, Darwin stands up to Shaw after seeing him murder an entire building of CIA agents.

    Literature 
  • Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings.
    • This is a trait of many characters, including Frodo and Aragorn. Even Gollum shows this at times.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry definitely has this. In fact, he observes the one thing mortals have that the powerful immortals do not is free will, a fact that saves his life on more than one occasion, and which becomes a key driving force in Cold Days
  • Egwene Al'Vere in The Wheel of Time.
  • Schererazde in the Arabian Nights in a weird but definite sort of way. Man, what kind of girl first volunteers for near certain death, then has the audacity and sheer nerve to tell stories while having sex with a pending execution hanging over her.
  • There's a reason Yoda is the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. After Order 66, Obi-Wan despairs that they may be the last Jedi. Yoda responds,
    "If the last we are, unchanged our duty is. While one Jedi lives, survive the Order does. Resist the darkness with every breath, we must."

    Live Action TV 
  • Worf made a fine showing of this trope on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Detained in a Dominion prison camp, the Klingon was forced to fight a near continual series of one-on-one fights with progressively more skilled Jem'hadar each day with no medical attention beyond basic first-aid between fights. Finally, he reaches the lead Jem'hadar, who beats the unholy hell out of him. However, Worf refuses to admit defeat, and rises to go another round. It's clear that the Jem'hadar could easily finish and kill him at this point (in fact, he's ordered to kill him), but instead...
    Ikat'ika: I yield. I cannot defeat this Klingon. All I can do is kill him. And that no longer holds my interest.
    • A lesser example in Ikat'ika, who maintains this even after being told he will be executed unless he kills Worf. Definitely Honor Before Reason, anyway.
  • Londo speaks admiringly of humanity's heroic spirit in the opening of Babylon 5. During the Earth-Minbari war, humanity was getting utterly curb-stomped, but kept fighting to the death, long after any other race would have succumbed to despair.
  • Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly, starting with his very first scene in the pilot, showing his refusal to lay down arms when he's caught on the losing side of the battle of Serenity Valley, and reiterated often after that. Played up more than ever in the Big Damn Movie. Ditto Simon Tam- a mild-mannered Deadpan Snarker Fish out of Water who isn't much good at fighting, but will go to any lengths to protect his baby sister. Including offering to be burned at the stake with her when their present company decides she's a witch. (Luckily for them, the rest of the crew arrived just in time to rescue them.).
  • Deconstructed in Stargate Atlantis. Most people can't survive the Wraith mind control and just get eaten. All the wraith worshipers were those strong enough to take it, and were often very heroic beforehand, making their fates kind of tragic.
  • This is actually canon in Super Sentai, normally refered to as the "Super Sentai Soul". Pretty much, it's the reason why if Sentai teams absolutely refuse to quit, they can manage to pull out an Eleventh Hour Superpower. The team up specials normally result in the two teams invoking this together to power up the present team's mecha when they final battle is getting too rough. In the vs Super Sentai specials.
  • In Farscape John's human pluckiness is often commented on by his alien shipmates. The best example comes in "A Constellation of Doubt":
    Noranti: I like - that you're always striving to reach higher - hoping for a better tomorrow! It's the quality that first attracted me to your uncle.
    Bobby: That humans dream?
    Noranti: Yes! You're so ignorant! But you never give up! Even in the face of insurmountable odds!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5's Iron Heart Surge is a manifestation of such, but due to poor wording it is able to stop the sun's heat (because it is an effect under the rules for a desert) or the sun's light (as it lowers the accuracy of some races) forever as they are effects effecting you that are not instantaneous. Conversely, it is useless against most incapacitating conditions - if you're mind-controlled, stunned or nauseated, you can't take the standard action to use the maneuver.
    • There's a lot of examples of this in the 4th edition of the game. As a side effect of the efforts to give healing abilities to more classes (and avoid the You gotta have a Cleric! problem of earlier editions), there's a lot of powers that allow characters to expend Healing Surges and regain lost Hit Points that are described as this trope at work.
    • Dark Sun dwarves have "focus", their current obsessively followed major goal. Game mechanics gives bonuses to save and skill checks while performing tasks leading directly toward this goal.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has an equip magic card called "Fighting Spirit." A monster equipped with the card gets 300 attack points for every monster on the opposite side of the field. If that wasn't enough, when the equipped monster is supposed to be destroyed, the equip card is destroyed in its place. Pretty much wraps this trope in a nut shell.
  • Magic: The Gathering 's 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."
  • Exalted has Willpower, which can be spent to throw off mental influence, or to enhance ability rolls. Channel one of your Virtues for the latter use, and the action is all but guaranteed to succeed if that Virtue is high enough. So, basically, by being a heroic person, you can channel the raw Power of Love (Compassion), level-headedness and discipline (Temperance), Hot Bloodedness (Valor), or sheer determination (Conviction).
  • Spellbound Kingdoms combat system has motivation mechanics built in as "Inspirations". Once per battle per Inspiration, a character can have Heart roll along with normal attack, defence or other roll and use the best value. The strength of an Inspiration counts as a bonus to Heart roll if it can be hammed out — sorry, if the player narrates the character's inspiration and actions (e.g. a loyal guard swings at an intruder with "You Shall Not Pass!").

    Theater 
  • An abundance of this is about the only thing that stops Ajax from being a villain in Sophocles' Ajax.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts: Sora's heart is exceptionally strong, maybe even one of the strongest hearts in existence. Against all odds, he manages to regain his Keyblade from the Anti-Hero by merely reciting a quote pretty similar to the one on top of the page. He also managed to keep his free will in the form of a Heartless - something that is near impossible to do.
    • Terra may trump even Sora though. After spending his story trusting Obvious Villains, getting convinced his friends have betrayed him and causing the death of his surrogate father, he finally proves just why the Keyblade chose him: after Xehanort pulls a Grand Theft Me on Terra at the climax of his final bosses and takes complete control of Terra's body, Terra's armour rises up to confront Xehanort, who's theoretically at his prime at this point, and beats the hell out of, quite literally, himself. After that? He kneels down and waits for 11 years before Sora runs across him in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+, where he's widely regarded as That One Boss of an entire series littered with them.
  • Final Fantasy VII Compilation, especially Crisis Core - Zack Fair, who will just NOT quit, even in the face of impossible odds. It takes an army to kill him, and even then, he kills most of them.
  • The cast of Sengoku Basara run on this like a car runs on petrol. Not only is it implied to be the source of their massive strength, most of them would probably be long dead without it.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, this was implied by Chip to be the reason behind Sonic being able to survive in his Werehog Form without being fully corrupted by Dark Gaia.
    • Of note is that he didn't even realize he was resisting it. His heroic spirit is so strong that it's practically subconscious.
  • In Halo, the Spartan-IIs live and breathe this trope. No matter what the odds, all of them will fight to the very last breath. They all realize that they will often need to sacrifice themselves for the future of humanity, but want to use their lives to kill as many of the enemy as possible.
  • While there was much debate as to what connections each Link in The Legend of Zelda series have to each other, the one thing that's outright stated is that all Links share the same Heroic Spirit.note .It's explicitly why he was chosen to be the Hero as of Skyward Sword.

    Visual Novels 
  • Although the trope should not be confused with Fate/stay night's Heroic Spirits, the trope is quite an important part of the series. Shirou in particular practically lives and breathes this trope, especially in the "Fate" route.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "A Taste Of Freedom", Old Man Waterfall says a similar line to the Decapodian invaders. They proceed to smash him into the ground, at which point he says, "Ow, my spirit!"
  • A Dial M for Monkey short on Dexter's Laboratory, is a Whole Plot Reference to a comic book event mentioned above (and adapted for TV just below). Rasslor pummels the heroic primate senseless, but he just won't give up.
    • The fact that Monkey is so small compared to the Thing (though no less super strong) makes it almost even more awesome.
      • For extra fun, we have the Casting Gag of Randy "Macho Man" Savage playing the cartoon's version of The Champion.
      Rasslor: Incredible. I could crush your body, I could smash your bones, but I could NEVER break your spirit. You are a marvel, little Monkey! Any world that could spawn one as noble as you, is truly blessed! I SPARE YOUR EARTH!
  • And the original Thing story got an Animated Adaption in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Contest of Champions".
  • Dinobot, from Beast Wars in the episode "Code of Hero". After he goes up against six Predacons, who are torching the valley where the proto-humans live, and wins, he has sustained so much damage that he can barely move and is almost out of power. Then in comes Megatron to gloat just before finishing him off. Dinobot then gathers what little is left of his strength, slams a stick onto a rock, making a makeshift hammer, knocks Megatron on his ass and uses the very last bit of his power reserves to destroy the Golden Disc with an eye-laser blast, trading his life for a future.
    Megatron: Here you are - alone, damaged beyond recovery ... defeated! What can you possibly do?
    Dinobot: Improvise.

    Real Life 
  • In psychology, this trait is called "resilience". People who are very resilient can come back from major losses and get through extremely tough times without permanent effects.
  • The Finnish concept of 'sisu' is pretty much this.


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