Bobby Heenan: Well that's all fine but wait till you're healthy, wait till you're 100%!
David McLane: Well... you're right.
Of course I'm right, I'm the brain!
An injured character refuses to stay in bed, despite medical advice. And though he says
it's Only a Flesh Wound
, we know better. Sometimes the injured party might go to great lengths to hide his injuries from the other characters, knowing that he will get taken off the field. Other times, the character is mortally wounded and fights on regardless.
In military situations, often indicates strong esprit de corps
or desperate danger, or both. Frustration with his ignorance — he doesn't know what is happening on the field, to his comrades, or what danger he is in — may come into play. It may also indicate that the character has been taunted by another and is desperate to prove himself.
Packing off the injured to safety may have to override this impulse, and doesn't always work. On the other hand, despite the danger, this can be survived, sometimes — but the very fact that the story shows real injuries shows also that they can lead to the logical denouement. Particularly likely if the character is trying to prove something.
Even in milder cases, when victory is achieved, Post Victory Collapse
is likely to result.
He may use Bottled Heroic Resolve
to keep going. This attitude is one way to become an Annoying Patient
. If the escape attempt has success, it's a case of The Patient Has Left the Building
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Anime and Manga
- In the original version of The Alamo, Jim Bowie was no doubt the worest patient amoung the fort's defenders. Often yelling loudly at those who tried to get him out of harms way whenever he became injured.
- In an alternate ending of Walt Disney's Robin Hood film, Robin is in bed with an injury suffered rescuing Maid Marian from the sheriff. A rider is coming and Robin insists on dressing and getting up.
- Happens to the main character in the movie Click, so he could tell his son that "family comes first" and make up for never being at home thanks to the fast-forward on the remote. He dies, but It was All Just a Dream.
- The entire second half of The Wrestler is based on this trope.
- Best of the Best. Eric Roberts gets his shoulder severely injured, and should on all normal accounts be taken out of the karate tournament, but persuades the coach to finish his match for the good of the team.
- Literal scene in Black Hawk Down, but it takes some conditioning from officer in charge to have severely wounded soldier eek out "I'm still in the fight". Repeated in the aftermath scenes with the same soldier telling the same officer "Don't go back out there without me. I can still do my job". In the epitaph, we'll learn said soldier actually died from his wounds.
- Lo there do I see my father. Lo there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers...
- In 300, this seems to be more or less expected of the soldiers.
- Humorously by the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as his limbs get hacked off insists he can still fight.
- Time and time again in Zulu.
- Said almost verbatim in Cars, only replace "fight" with "race". One car gets totalled so badly... well, see for yourself.◊
- Near the end of the Star Wars EU novel Shatterpoint, Depa Billaba (suffering from a combination of mental and Force breakdown) invokes this trope verbatim: "I can fight. I can always fight." She eventually goes on to defeat Mace Windu in single combat.
- Another Star Wars EU story has the ARC Trooper Alpha, pretty much the badass among badasses of the clone troopers, get crippled from the waist down when General Grievous impales his spine on a pair of lightsabers. When Obi-Wan Kenobi calls for medics, Alpha instead insists that he just give him a blaster. After all, his arms and eyes are still fully functional, so he can still shoot.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Duty Calls, Cain refuses to stay in bed longer than three days despite his concussion (and he does not have a Hard Head). Of course, he was afraid that the enemy were too close and he might die in his bed.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Honour Guard, Corbec and other injured Ghosts, order to evacuate, instead desert to join the Ghosts in their honour guard duties.
- In Ghostmaker, when Dorden and other Ghosts were trying to protect injured soldiers in a field hospital, Culcis, one of the wounded men, led several of them out to help: they were capable of shooting, though not all of them could stand.
- In Only In Death, Tona Criid, suffering a concussion, had to be argued with — and finally given a flat order — to get on the plane for evacuation.
- In Straight Silver, Rawne and Barda leave their beds — though frustration with ignorance had more to do with it than desire to fight.
- In the ''Discworld novels, Sam Vimes does this all the time.
- Merric from Lady Knight:
"You had to tie him to his horse to get him this far!" "But I'm really well tied."
- Urthstripe the badger in the Redwall novel Salamandastron. In this case, he's delirious as well as severely injured. The hares tried to keep him down by tying him into bed. He gets up to fight anyway.
- Starting in about the third book and continuing from there, Harry Dresden tends to be beat to hell and back before the final showdown, and heads into battle when in any other circumstances he'd be in too much pain to go on.
- Used now and again in the X-Wing Series, when pilots in their snubfighters are badly damaged and have to keep flying. Lara Notsil is fully aware that "No, I'm good to fly" is the pilot's "automatic response, whether Imperial or New Republic, whether truth or self-delusion".
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel Legion, Mu checks this with Soneka: should he really be up? He assures her that the medical papers were just to convince the authorities that his erratic behavior had been combat fatigue.
- In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, after Garro loses his leg, he still hobbles into the fight, with help from another Death Guard, who tells him he's in no condition to fight.
As long as a Death Guard draws breath, he's in a condition to fight!
- In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40000 Space Wolf novel Sons of Fenris, when Jeremiah revives his fellow Dark Angels, he asks Nathaniel how his wounds are; Nathaniel answers, "I can fight."
- This is the climax to Ivanhoe. Nobody will fight for Rebecca except for Brian DuBois-Guilbert; the Templars, knowing that, have tapped to be their champion against her, but Ivanhoe, still suffering from the side wound that has kept him unconscious for most of the book, shows up to defend her, still barely able to keep on his horse. In the book, he wins by virtue of DuBois Guilbert's guilty conscience-induced heart attack, while the movies play it much more straight.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 novel Faith & Fire, Isabel is dragging one leg, but in answer to "Can you fight?" says "Need you ask?"
- Made all the more impressive because this is a well trained normal rather then a super soldier.
- Another Warhammer 40000 novel, Legion of the Damned, has Scout Omar mauled by a cultist mob, stabbed through the chest, then he gets his legs eaten by a daemon. He demands to rejoin his battle brothers on the front lines three days later (he ends up spotting for a sniper, then later picking up the rifle himself).
- Eowyn tries to pull this in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. They drag in Faramir to stop her; he points out that the army has gone too far and she can't catch up, and if the battle does come to them, she would be better able to fight if she rested now.
- Much of the cast of the Harry Potter series have done this at some point or another... Harry especially, obviously, because the kid was practically marked at birth. A humorous example from HBP was when Harry had been arguing with an annoying Quidditch teammate (Cormac McClaggen) during a match, who was trying to show another player how to do their job during a match. When Harry tells Cormac to get back to his own position, Cormac accidentally knocks Harry unconscious and, for the umpteenth time, he finds himself in a hospital bed, remarking furiously to Madame Pomfrey,
"I don't want to stay in bed. I want to find McClaggen and kill him."
"I'm afraid that would be considered overexertion."
- Every single character in the Wheel of Time has pulled this at least once. Every main male character except for Mat has pulled this at least five times. The record probably goes to Rand, especially as he has another character with an empathic bond with him nearby at almost all times shocked at how he endures the pain of his unhealed wounds.
- Honor Harrington at the end of Flag In Exile. Honor has: been called a whore for most of the book, blamed herself for an industrial accident which killed a group of schoolchildren, learned that the "accident" was sabotage, had her armoured shuttle shot down so thoroughly it blew up, and saved from a point-blank assassination when Grayson's spiritual leader threw himself in front of her, and generally suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. She finally gets to the Council Chamber, battered, bruised, limping and exhausted, presents her evidence, and names the man who's been orchestrating all of this...who promptly claims a traditional form of justice and demands to face the Protector's Champion in trial by sword combat. And guess who that is? The Protector, seeing that she's in no shape to fight, begins to back off from his proclamation (which will undermine his authority for all time), but she cuts him off:
- She goes on to design a strategy to allow the Grayson navy to fight and win a space battle in which they were outnumbered about three to one without getting any sleep for the day or so after the swordfight as that would hurt morale. After coming up with the battle plan, she delegates the actual execution to her flag captain. He hadn't been blown up recently, had had a good night's sleep, and generally in better condition to judge when the best time to start each stage of the plan was.
- Practically anytime one of the competent admirals, captains, or X Os is injured, they are going back to their bridge as soon as they regain consciousness regardless of what the doctor thinks unless they are physically unable to move themselves there or there's someone above them to order them back to bed.
- In the Everworld book Enter the Enchanted, Galahad managed to get out of his tent and stand to provide moral support, after he was wounded in a way that would have fatal in his time, but he managed to pull through after stitches and a blood transfusion. Then, in the process of blocking an attack, his stitches burst and he bled to death anyway.
Live Action TV
- Happens a LOT on Star Trek.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years", while suffering from a disease that causes accelerated aging, Captain Kirk wants to go to the bridge and take command to fight the Romulans even though he's in no condition to do so (worse, his mental deterioration has made him unaware of how unfit he really is).
- In "Journey To Babel", Kirk pretends to be recovered from a stab wound and returns to the bridge so that Spock will step down and provide a needed blood transfusion for his father Sarek. He intends to return to Sick Bay as soon as this is accomplished, but the enemy attacks at just the wrong time.
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, while imprisoned by the Dominion, Worf is made to fight against increasingly experienced Jem'Hadar soldiers. He continues to fight despite his constantly worsening injuries, even past the point where he clearly has no chance of winning. His determination does, however, earn him the respect of his final opponent who refuses to kill him. It gets him executed.
- Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager does this several times, as does Tuvok (he continues performing his duties after being blinded by a Krenim torpedo in "Year of Hell").
- LOST, "There's No Place Like Home, Part 1": Jack rushes off after the mercenaries' helicopter hours after an appendectomy.
- Tony on NCIS returns to work shortly after having the pneumonic plague, looking peaky and pale. He still manages to outrun an exploding car, albeit not as quickly as he might have if healthy. Of course, all is forgotten during the next episode (the third season premiere) even though the timeline has only advanced a few hours.
- Actually, the timeline advances 1-2 days from the car bombing until the finale proper. And another 1-2 days (at least) from Kate's Death to Ziva's introduction. And it is implied that he had been on sick leave for a period of time before all this started. Still fits the trope though.
- Band of Brothers has a few instances of soldiers returning to the frontline before being released as fit by the military hospital, to the extent that one soldier gets scorned by Easy Company for not returning to the field as soon as he was able.
- This is a common phenomenon with soldiers in any war. They would rather be with their troops and fight than leave them. Whether their doctors allow them to do so is another matter.
- Frequently, the soldier has to escape from the hospital.
- Power Rangers, every time anyone has ever gotten hurt, it seems.
- Kamen Rider Dragon Knight: Chris, frequently. It didn't work so well for him.
- Reid's drug problem in Season Two of Criminal Minds is the result of a lot of factors coming together, but this trope is definitely one of them. Being kidnapped and tortured left him traumatized and in no shape to spend all day looking at photos of bloody crime scenes. However, by the very next episode, he's back at work doing exactly that, and overreacting to the point of paranoia at any tiny suggestion on his coworker's parts that he might not be ready to do so yet. Instead of taking the time to cope with his issues in a healthy way, he starts using Dilaudid, which, if it doesn't make his trauma go away, at least lets him forget about it long enough to kind-of-sort-of do his job.
- Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis is crushed when a booby-trapped building collapses and a metal rod pierces his side. When he is saved Dr. Keller tells him he needs a transfusion and surgery immediately, but he insists on a quick patch job so he can lead the mission to rescue Teyla. Ridiculously, both the doctor and the expedition leader decide to allow this.
- Booth on Bones in the episode "Two Bodies in the Lab". He got blown up by a bomb, was barely able to stay on his feet, and still signed himself out of the hospital to go with Hodgins, then insisted on going in to save Brennan.
Myth And Legend
- A commonplace version of the legend of Robin Hood is that he sat up in his sickbed to shoot off an arrow and directed Little John to bury him where it hit. Then he died.
- There is a joke, stating that, because of this, Robin Hood was buried in his wardrobe.
- Referenced in the erotic webcomic Oglaf — the arrow lands in a man's butt. The not-quite-dead man's response? "What, again!?"
- Done as a game mechanic in Breath Of Fire II. Sometimes when a character loses all their HP, they will get back up and regain a small sliver of health.
- This happens to no less than three characters in Final Fantasy IV. First is Edward, who was squishy to start with (and not much good in a fight anyway, come to that), who remained bedridden for a good chunk of the game after a shipwreck. Then there's Cid, whose injury was riding a nuclear bomb to close the hole linking the surface to the underworld, who ignores the medical advice and fixes your airship before passing out again. Finally is Yang, who stopped the Tower of Babil's cannon from firing, and after you revive him via Frying Pan of Doom was told by the Sylphs to stay in bed.
- Galuf, from Final Fantasy V would kindly like to remind you that he can still fight. On 0 hp. Simultaniously theBest and theSaddest moment of the entire game.
- In Disgaea Hour Of Darkness, Thursday tanks an attack from the ghost of Don Joaquin that was meant to strike down a recently disgraced Gordon. It isn't until the battle afterwards that it is discovered his memory circuit took gratuitous damage and could trigger complete memory loss. He chooses to go on fighting anyway, and starts breaking down once Laharl defeats Don Joaquin in combat. Moved by the concern Gordon and Jennifer have for Thursday, he restores Thursday to functionality, his last act as Defender of Earth.
- In Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, Fayt Leingod will invoke this trope verbatim (quite doggedly to boot) if his hp is knocked into the redzone from taking massive damage.
- In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Ragna says this word-for-word, albeit with pauses between, after you beat him in Hakumen's Arcade Mode path. Tager also says this verbatim as one of his Quick Tech quotes.
- After a vicious fight with Rance in Target Earth, Rance's Assault Suit is badly damaged, and Rance himself is bloodied and burned. Rex (the hero), says "It's over," to which Rance shouts, "Not while I live! I can still—" Cue Assault Suit explosion.
- In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, you rescue an informant named Nikolai from a brutal imprisonment. Nikolai is handed a weapon and quotes this trope word-for-word.
- Villainous example: In Xenogears, Ramsus tries for this after getting the crap beaten out of him by Fei's alter ego, Id, only for his partner Miang to fly him out of the battle. Technically, it was only his Gear that was damaged, not him, but the way that battle was going, he still wouldn't have lasted much longer.
- Subverted in Inazuma Eleven 2, a large number of Raimon soccer club members gets hurt, sent to hospital, and is never used again during the main game. Someoka is injured during one point, and the first thing Coach Hitomiko does is sacking him off the team.
- In Dwarf Fortress, Dwarves have been known to keep fighting until they pass out from pain. Then again, so does everything else.
- Inverted on occasion, too—sometimes, cuts or fevers can send them to the hospital, unable to fight, work, spar, or feed themselves until the chief medical dwarf checks them over and fixes their boo-boo if possible. This may be justified, however; small cuts often lead to deadly infections, and fevers may come from forgotten beast or similar syndromes which may also cause such effects as massive bleeding or necrosis of the skin or Armok knows what.
- In Mass Effect 2's "Overlord" DLC, there's a minor example of this: a security mech tries to shoot Shepard and gets shot. Acting like nothing happened, it tries to shoot them again and gets its arm blown off. Undeterred, it tries to shoot them with its remaining arm, and gets that shot off. At that point, it gives up and runs.
- With the extended cut in Mass Effect 3, several of your squadmates will pull this during the evac scene before Shepard goes up the conduit, insisting they stay with Shepard despite needing the other squaddie to hold them up. James Vega and Javik will actually say "I can still fight."
- In Sengoku Basara, several characters have dying animations that consist of them struggling to stand up or acting like nothing happened to them before collapsing on the ground.
- In Resident Evil 4, if Leon is killed by an attack that makes him lie face-down on the ground, he'll try to push himself back up before collapsing.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2, Kyouske insists on getting back into the fight despite Axel sending him to the ICU a few scenarios earlier. By the next mission, he's rolled out his Mid-Season Upgrade and hell bent on Rescuing his partner, whose also his Girlfriend mind you, from the hands of the Einst. Tweeked a bit in the anime where he's forced to play a sideline role using a customized Mook unit until the repairs on his machine can be completed.
- Said by Elena every time she loses a unit in Yggdra Union's PSP port. Subverted in that she doesn't take any damage herself until she's the last unit, but she still insists on fighting even if it's just her against four dragon riders.
- Shiki from Tsukihime and Shirou from Fate/stay night are both grade-A perpetrators of this trope, refusing to stay in bed even when crippled, sick, recovering (or suffering) from Demonic Possession, energy drained or recently come Back from the Dead. Also in the Fate route, Saber gives this line when severe exhaustion leaves her unable to even arm herself. She tries to pull a Heroic Sacrifice, distracting Berserker while Shirou and Tohsaka escape, but that little honor goes to Archer.
- It's justified in Shirou's case, due to having Saber's sheathe inside his body, giving him super regenerative powers.
- In Hakuouki, "I can still fight!" is practically Okita Souji's Survival Mantra after his tuberculosis starts to get the better of him. In all routes but Okita's own, Hijikata refuses to hear of it and flatly forbids Okita from going anywhere near action; in the anime adaptation, however, Okita manages to pull a Last Stand, burning himself out in combat.
- The Fairly OddParents: "I can breathe . . . I CAN FIGHT!"
- Exo Squad featured a battle between a human and "alien" fleet. The Jerk Ass captain of the human flagship, with his ship crippled, says, "If she can fly, she can fight!" He then performs a Heroic Sacrifice, resulting in Alas, Poor Scrappy.
- Suberted in a Teen Titans episode. After Robin has his arm broken, back at the Tower, the Titans are prepared to force him to relax instead of going after the criminal, knowing full well his obsessive personality. So Robin...just goes and watches TV. Huh.
- Jim Bowie (of Bowie Knife fame) at the Alamo, fighting literally from his sickbed, first with a multi-barrel musket, then with a pair of guns, then throwing his eponymous knives, until finally overwhelmed by the sheer number of Mexican soldiers coming into his bedroom after him.
- Alexander the Great once had to ride around in front of his army with a punctured lung to show the troops that he wasn't that badly hurt.
- Richard Lionheart (of Robin Hood fame) got various forms of diarrheal diseases while on crusade, and had the butt cut off his suit of armor so he could relieve himself in the middle of battle without having to take off the whole armor.
- An Australian soldier in the battle of the Kokoda Trail was wounded in the chest with three machine gun rounds. Unable to be evacuated to the rear, he fought on for nearly a month from his stretcher, continuing to man a heavy machine gun, despite pink froth coming out of his three sucking chest wounds the entire time and no painkillers available.
- Major Robert Cain got blinded, deafened and all-round mauled by German tanks in WW 2. Bastard still kept on hunting tanks. In a three-day period he destroyed six goddamned tanks.
- Several American pilots during the Battle of Guadalcanal continued to fly missions despite bad malarial fevers.
- The American general who commanded forces in the Philippines after MacArthur escaped, and who spent the rest of the war in a Japanese prison camp, was so weakened by malnutrition and disease that he could barely stand, but he stood proud to sign the Japanese surrender documents on behalf of the Americans at the end of the war. Admiral John Simpson McCain also was at that ceremony, despite being so sick that he died only a few days later.
- An American sailor on one of the destroyers at the Battle Off Samar was split open crotch to throat by a Japanese shell splinter, but still lay on the deck next to his gun mount, shouting encouragement to his fellow crewmen and begging someone to keep firing the gun.
- That sailor was Paul Carr, crew chief of his gun.
- Ronald Reagan famously refused to stay in his wheelchair when released from the hospital following the 1981 assassination attempt, as he felt it necessary to show America that he had not been incapacitated.
- And then there was this one guy from India...
- Jack Cornwell, a sixteen-year-old sailor in World War One, fought in the Battle of Jutland aboard the HMS Chester. Even though huge pieces of steel shrapnel were embedded in his chest, he remained at his gun sight and waited for orders. He died two days later.
- Cervantes (the author of Don Quixote) was in bed with a high fever when the Holy League's navy shipped out for the Battle of Lepanto, but insisted on coming along. He was wounded three times, including losing a hand.
- Gustavus II Adolphus, King of Sweden and one of the major players in the early Thirty Years' War had a musket ball lodged in his neck that prevented him from wearing armour, since a cuirass pressing on the ball caused excruciating pain. He led cavalry charges wearing a leather jacket instead.
- Nusaybah bint Kaab was a female warrior who fought in the armies of the Prophet Muhammad in the early days of Islam's expansion. During the battle of Uhud in the 7th century, she was nearly killed defending Muhammad. Lying near death the day after the battle, she heard the Prophet call for reinforcements and got up to answer to call, at which point she keeled over from blood loss. She eventually recovered.
- The sports world is full of this; especially American Football, where the ability to play through pain is considered to be a job requirement. One particularly famous example is when San Francisco 49ers safety Ronnie Lott, a player noted for hitting opponents so hard that he sometimes knocked himself out, was to be held inactive for the Super Bowl due to a broken finger; he instead asked doctors to amputate it so that he could compete.
- Another typical example: in one of the early Arena Football League championship games, a quarterback suffered a knee injury, and could be heard to say, "I heard it pop". Torn ligaments typically require surgery, and as much as a year and a half of rehabilitation, and many players report that the most difficult part of rehabilitation is the psychological aspect of learning to put trust in that damaged knee again. This player demanded to return to the game, and was effective, despite reinjuring the knee.
- In the boxing world, Smoking Joe Frazier EMBODIES this trope. The man would quite literally never stop coming forward giving him his nickname as he resembled a continuous train on it's tracks. All of his loses either came from a decision or otherwise the fight was stopped. Hell, after being knocked down at lest seven times in two rounds, he STILL kept coming forward against Foreman and would have got up against Ali in the thriller in Manilla had it not been for his manager. Plus he had a cataract in one of his eyes meaning he fought many fights of his career partially blind. The man always could carrying on fighting and most likely would keep on doing so until he keeled over and died. Demonstrated here: http://youtu.be/x9l_RrjjTMc
- Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart, two Delta Operators who fought and died during the Battle of Mogadishu. If anyone know's who I'm talking about, these TWO men single handedly heald of hordes of Somalis, killing 24 before they were overrun themselves... And to make it even more interesting, there's unofficially 1000 of equally well trained men like these two. Just Sayin'...
- In Easy Company, of the 101st Airborne during World War II, if you didn't duck out of hospital as soon as you were able, the rest of the squad wouldn't be all that happy about having you back, figuring that you would rather spend time laid up than fighting alongside your fellow troopers. This was actually relatively common in World War II among injured troops, who would sneak out of the hospital in an attempt to get back to their units, as official Army policy was to assign them to the nearest shorthanded unit rather than their former group.