The climax of End Of Evangelion sees Nerv make a last stand against the rest of the world. They lose everyone except the Bridge Bunnies, and in the end, not even the Bridge Bunnies survive!
Special mention should go to Asuka's final fight against the MP Evas.
Then the end of the world as we know it happens, as basically everyone returns back to the Lifestream. NERV also wanted this outcome, so it's a Lose/Lose/Lose Scenario since NERV existed to prevent the Angels from wiping out humanity. Apparently, for the rest of the world it would be a Win Scenario, since otherwise Humanity will kill EVERYTHING else also instead of just Humanity. Depending on your interpretation, the Angels Attacks may be this for the Earth itself. No, this is not a Happy Mythos, why do you ask?
Saito from The Familiar of Zero faces an army of 70,000 men, eventually dying but he managed to hold them for 4 days in order to allow the rest of Tristain's army to evacuate. He gets better though.
Later he comments that it was easier to face an army of 70,000 men than a pissed off Louise.
Eventually subverted in the first one, as Section 9 retreats and is later captured.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is somewhat like this... After the Choice Battle which Vongola lost, they fly straight back to Namimori only to battle Byakuran and the Funeral Wreaths for the final time. And they managed to destroy all seven bad guys!!!
Towards the end of Transformers Cybertron, Scourge returns to Jungle Planet, hoping to save it from the Unicron Singularity. Seeing no way to prevent his world's destruction, he rallies the other inhabitants to the temple with the full intention of making a last stand. Subverted when Leobreaker and Primus manage to save the lot of them anyway.
There are two last stands in Highschool of the Dead (at least, in the anime—possibly others in the manga). The first was when the gang was cornered at a wire barricade. They slaughtered dozens of zombies, but more kept coming, but just as things approached the end they were rescued by the timely arrival of a group of people with firefighter equipment. The second time happened at Saya's parents' estate. The zombies broke through the gate and flooded the compound, leaving Saya's parents and their guards to try to hold off Them long enough for the civilians to escape. Their fate was left unknown, but it didn't look good.
Go Shogun Time Étranger has an interesting version: the heroine, Remy Shimada, alone fights a giant surrealistic beast that represents Death itself. She's exhausted, she has hurt her wrist due to excessive shooting her heavy revolver (Truth in Television, as 44. Magnum is likely to cause it) and has one last bullet left. Remy gets up, stands with her back to a stone cross, ties the revolver to her hand to not drop it and takes her last shot. She wins.
In the Digimon movie X-Evolution, a number of Digimon, including WarGreymon X, MetalGarurumon X and Dukemon X battle a never-ending swarm of Death-X-DORUguremon even as the Digital World falls apart.
Around two-thirds through the series in Legend of Galactic Heroes, Alexandre Bewcock led the Free Planets Star Fleet on a last stand against the Galactic Empire in the Battle of Mar-Adetta. He lost eventually, but not without inflicting considerable damage on the Imperial forces.
The first is in episode 3 when Yoshiharu attempts to rescue Saitou Dosan, who is fighting his son, Saitou Yoshitatsu, after being betrayed due to the son refusing to accept Nobuna as the rightful heir. He was prepared to die until Yoshiharu convinces him to live for Nobuna's sake.
The second time occurs during episode 6, when Yoshitatu's forces attack the hastily built fort Yoshiharu built. Nobuna arrives to see it burning to the ground, and believing she didn't make it in time.Until she saw him waving the gourd she gave him earlier.
The third instance occurs during episode 11. Yoshiharu volunteers to stay behind with a small force to buy Nobuna time to escape a trap set up by the Asai/Asakura forces. As expected of a larger force attacking a much smaller one, it doesn't go too well for him, and nearly every single man who stayed behind with him ends up dying, but he does succeed in his objective, and manages to take out quite a few of the enemy thanks to utilizing concentrated musket firing. note where a row of soldiers fired, then another row fires while the first is reloading. This allowed a higher rate of fire, rather than having everyone fire at once, then have to reload, which gave the enemy time to attack..
In El Eternauta the decimated resistance decides to go down fighting when cornered and hearing the as-of-yet unrevealed "ultimate mook" approaching. Still, it gets double subverted since they manage to discover a weakness in the enemy's "ultimate mook", but are soon surrounded and defeated by lesser mooks. There are a few survivors though.
One Star Wars story portrays the Imperial stormtroopers as simply men, rather than faceless villains, and, in a deliberate homage to Zulu, they struggle to hold a small outpost against an overwhelming force of tribal natives.
The last fortress guarding a magical portal in Fables. Only so many could leave so the commander had the women, children and non-human sentients go first. The rest of the spaces were done by lottery. Well known characters, such as Robin Hood and Friar Tuck make their last stand, taking as many of the bastards as with them as possible. This barely even -works-, fortunately the Nine Crow brothers (down to seven) were flying aerial support. Four more die allowing the refugees to escape to Earth.
He was preceded in this trope by Skurge the Executioner, who made one of the most epic You Shall Not Pass last stands in comic history. Made even more meaningful in that he's never truly been resurrected in the many years since.
The Immortal Game: The Battle of the Everfree is an interesting play on this trope. By this point, Titan has lost all of his top lieutenants and his ability to create Puppets, and the Loyalists are assaulting his Citadel. However, he still controls the monsters of the forest, which all combined vastly outnumber the decimated Loyalists. On top of that, he's preparing to enact a spell that will strip the world of its free will, so Twilight and the others know that they have to finish the war with this last battle, or they lose everything. So really, in a way it's a Last Stand for both sides.
In the Pony POV Series, this is how the Dark World version of Cadence went down. Having long since become the new Queen of the changelings and acted as Rebel Leader against Discord, her base is finally overrun by him and his enforcers, the discorded Mane Six. In order to buy time for her subjects to escape, she names a successor before proceeding to fight all six Villain Protagonists and kicking their asses before Discord literally stabs her in the back and she dies. While she lost, she still managed to succeed in her goal to protect her people (since they're still around five centuries later).
Every combatant in the Tamers Forever Series- willingly or not- is forced to make a last stand against Daemon's forces during the final chapters of Silent Sorrow.
In the titular future of Harry Potter And The Nightmares Of Futures Past, when Voldemort is taking over and everything is going to hell, Voldemort's forces mass against Azkaban. Mad-Eye Moody breaks past the sentries and rallies the vastly-outnumbered guards against Voldemort. They held the fortress for twenty-two days, and killed so many of Voldemort's followers that afterwards a captive of the Death Eaters could earn a quick death by shouting "Constant vigilance!" at their captors.
300: "Give them nothing! But take from them everything! Tonight we dine in hell!"
Almost every zombie movie has a not-yet-turned infectee left behind to do one of these (e.g. Ed in the basement of the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead).
In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi the Rebels go along with the idea of charging the Imperial fleet entrapping them at the Battle of Endor. The idea was that they were buying time so Han's team could knock out the Death Star's shield generator, as well as making it harder for the Death Star to one-shot their cruisers without risking some Imperial ships. Plan B, assuming they couldn't buy enough time or Han was already dead, was to damage the Imperial war machine as badly as they could in a Last Stand (with an option on punching a hole through the blockade so at least some ships could escape).
Invoked in Kingdom of Heaven. Balian threatens Saladin by saying that if his men have to make a Last Stand, they would kill ten Saracens for every Christian Knight. Saladin immediately offers generous terms that would allow Balian to peacefully evacuate Jerusalem, which Balian accepts.
Averted, though, in that Saladin has no interest in a fight to the death, and he isn't so much intimidated by Balian's senseless bravado as he is amused by it. Consider that when Balian threatens to burn the entire city to the ground, Saladin grins and whispers, "I wonder if it would not be better if you did."
Of course, Balian's only real goal is to get the people out alive and relatively unharmed. The bravado is meant to convince Saladin that letting them surrender is a better idea than forcing a Last Stand scenario. Balian misinterprets Saladin's intentions, thinking that he wants the Christians all massacred rather than to retake the city in order to appease his followers. And in revenge for the horrors the Christians inflicted when they laid siege to the city before.
In Alatriste final scene the Tercio Español decides not to surrender even when they are as screwed as they can be.
Zulu. Based on historical events and rivaling 300 in raw badassitude. Peter Jackson specifically references Zulu in the commentary for The Two Towers, when referring to Helm's Deep. It's made even more badass by the fact that it's a rare last stand that succeeds.
At the climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the ravenous Kraken, that's kept Jack Sparrow running scared through the whole film, finally catches up. It's huge toothy maw opens, vomiting slime all over it's victim (incidentally also regurgitating his missing hat.) But with all hope gone, Jack's fear vanishes too. He calmly replaces said headgear and, with a maniacal smile and eye gleam, growls "Hello, beastie!", draws his sword and charges. This Crowning Momentof Awesome is all the more impressive since Jack knows he has no witnesses. It's a moment of insanity, clarity, and raw courage all at once.
Gran Torino, when Eastwood's character goes to confront the gang. Unique in that he came unarmed.
When the Marines first enter the complex, one of them name drops the trope after observing the Colonists' breached defenses.
Subverted in Zombieland Tallahassee goes into the booth at Pacific Playland, surrounded by Zombies for what seems to be a last stand. He is later seen to be totally unharmed.
Final Fantasy The Spirits Within has this when Ryan Whittaker is pinned down in the wreckage of a vehicle. He insists to be left behind, and assists the rest of the group's getaway from afar with a large rifle until the phantoms claim him.
The Wild Bunch ends with the gang deciding to save their friend, but as such has to face off an entire Mexican garrison.
In the 1930 German film Die letzte Kompagnie (The Last Company), Conrad Veidt is a captain who after the defeat of Jena and Auerstedt (1806) tries to buy time for the Prussian army to make an orderly retreat by defending a mill against the advancing French with the last twelve men of his company. They all die, as does the miller's daughter who fell in love with him.
Many movies based on the siege of the Alamo and "Custers Last Stand".
There's also the choice of who stays and who goes. In the John Wayne movie "The Alamo" the women and children are give safe passage. The men will stay and fight to the death. Someone suggests that "Old Bob" be allowed to go since his wife ("Mrs. Bob") is blind and who will protect and support her? Then "Mrs. Bob" steps forward (pretty brave for a blind person with all the horses) and says "Oh, no you don't! Why Bob is more of a man than any of you and you can't send him away like that. He has the same right as you to stay and fight." And, no, despite what you might expect, Old Bob doesn't wang her on the head with a shovel and explain she's having one of her spells. No, Old Bob, volunteered by his wife, stays and dies.
In Garden of Evil two men and a woman (the last survivors of their party) are escaping and one man stays behind to hold them off. When the woman asks why anyone has to make this sacrifice she's told "Because someone has to do it. Someone has to stay behind and make sure the job gets done."
Nearly happens in John Carter, where the titular character, his Love Interest, and a friend are being chased by a horde of Tharks. In a scene of epic badassery, he tells his friend to grab the Love Interest (an Action Girl herself) and take her to safety, while he along holds off the horde (although Woola chooses to stay). He then jumps into the fray and starts hacking at the Tharks, killing dozens of them until they finally just pile on top of him. He only survives because a Helium airship arrives to scare off the surviving Tharks and provide immediate medical help. The scene is all the more memorable because it's overlayed with his memories of coming back from the American Civil War to find his wife and daughter dead and burying their bodies.
John Carter: I was too late once, I won't be again.
Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium, is unusually privileged in having had two official Last Stands, and at the same place! It really bugs him that people keep calling them that, too.
At the end of Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, the betrayed Space Marines know they can not escape the planet on which they had been virus-bombed. So they set out to make defeating them as costly as possible. Loken and Torgaddon leave the rest because they have a chance to kill the other members of the Mournivale, which would hurt Horus; when Tarvitz says they may not meet again, Loken is certain that there is no "may" about it. And when the Dies Irae comes into play, Tarvitz tells Vipes to kill Space Marines, because they can not damage that machine.
In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Grey Knights, Justicar Alaric and a small team of his Grey Knights were about to face one of the most terrible daemons in the galaxy. In fact, it was one so terrible that it once massacred over 300 Grey Knights in one battle. To inspire his men:
We do not know what our chances of survival are, so we fight as if they were zero. We do not know what we are facing, so we fight as if it was the dark gods themselves. No one will remember us now and we may never be buried beneath Titan, so we will build our own memorial here. The Chapter might lose us and the Imperium might never know we existed, but the Enemy - the Enemy will know. The Enemy will remember. We will hurt it so badly that it will never forget us until the stars burn out and the Emperor vanquishes it at the end of time. When Chaos is dying, its last thought will be of us. That is our memorial -carved into the heart of Chaos. We cannot lose, Grey Knights. We have already won.
In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Sabbat Martyr, one squad of Ghosts return too late and see the gates closing on them. Their leader gives order to fight. They kill over a hundred enemy before their deaths, even though no one will ever know.
Nineteenth [Platoon] lasted seventeen minutes from the time the gates closed. They accounted for one-hundred and eighty nine enemy casualties. No one witnessed their heroism.
In Only In Death, when they are running out of ammunition, Rawne gives the order to fight with knives and takes as many as they can.
In Necropolis, the entire defense of Vervunhive is based around this trope - even the civilians get in on it, digging in and generally wreaking havoc among the attacking Ferrozoicans. Only a last-ditch counterattack, which manages to killHeritor Asphodel, stops the Zoicans from winning, although not long after that the Imperial Navy, several squads of Space Marines, some Titans, and a massive reinforcement army of Imperial Guard arrive. In the end, the hive is stilltoo badly damaged, with too many dead, to stay intact, and is officially decommissioned.
In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Encarmine, in the opening, the Blood Angels are convinced after the death of their captain that they are fighting a last stand. A brief surcease is followed by an even more devastating attack; they must give up the port they were defending, and one is so dispirited that only the suggestion that he kill himself stiffens his resolve to fight on.
In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 story "Words of Blood", Athellenas orders repeated retreats and has to threaten Valerian who objects to the dishonor, preferring a Last Stand. Turns about that Athellenas had worked out how to provoke an Enemy Civil War.
In the Warhammer 40,000Imperial Guard novel Cadian Blood, the Cadian forces are unimpressed by the Last Stand of some New Meat: they can tell by where the bodies fell. Later, Seth makes a more impressive Last Stand in the Battle in the Center of the Mind, and though the daemon kills him, he dies laughing and saying the look at the daemon's face made the fight worth it.
In Henry Zhou's Warhammer 40,000 novel The Emperor's Mercy, Imperial Guardsmen are surrounded by Chaos forces and are fighting on, despite dying of hunger and disease. Roth tells Celemine that they had no choice but to stay with them. The commander hears and instantly wants to fight a last charge: they can get them to their ship and hold off the enemy — and that way, they can be remembered. (They are. In fact, their eighteen minutes defense of the ship is immortalized in a mural on Terra.)
In Chris Roberson's Imperial Fists novel Sons of Dorn, Captain Taelos starts to tell the surviving Scouts and sergeant that he is So Proud of You in preparation for a force they can not overcome — when The Cavalry arrives.
In Legion of the Damned a half-strength company of Space Marines is making a desperate Last Stand against an entire Chaos Blood Crusade. They are supported by a few units of the local planetary defense force and a few thousand untrained civilians. The attacking force consists of an army of crazed cultists, mercenary units led by Chaos Space Marines and horrifying warp demons. However, this Last Stand is really a Thanatos Gambit. Once the defenders are all dead, the Chaos army might leave the planet before discovering where the women and children are hiding.
The Acoma warriors in The Riftwar Cycle (specifically, XXX of the Empire) say this a lot.
At the very beginning of The Two Towers, Boromir has a last stand. (Or is that a spoiler?) A variation, in that it takes place off-screen: the fight itself is left entirely to the reader's imagination.
...Aragorn saw that he was pierced with many black-feathered arrows; his sword was still in his hand, but it was broken near the hilt; his horn cloven in two was at his side. Many Orcs lay slain, piled all about him and at his feet...
Later in The Two Towers, Aragorn convinces Théoden and the last remaining Rohirrim defending Helm's Deep to ride out with him against thousands of Uruk-hai in a glorious last charge. They are saved by Gandalf and either Erkenbrand (book) or Éomer (movie) leading The Cavalry.
This is a regular motif for Théoden...he keeps wanting to die in battle, taking so many of the orcs with him that his people will become the Ghouls in the Night for little orc children once Mordor has taken everything over.
Théoden: "If this is to be our end, let us make such an end that they quake at night at our memory!"
In The Return of the King, the Mouth of Sauron's claim that Frodo and Sam have been captured leads Aragorn and his army to firmly believe themselves to be fighting a last stand.
In The Silmarillion, Húrin makes his Last Stand at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Out of the bodyguard of Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs, 70 trolls were killed by Húrin before he was overborne by an endless supply of cheaper orcs and taken away to a Fate Worse than Death.
The fall of Gondolin and the demise of High King Turgon. Amongst the few escapees are Tuor and Idril and their young son Eärendil.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son recounts the efforts of some characters to locate the lord's body among his slaughtered guard. Based on an Old English fragment about the Battle of Maldon, recounting how the guard had refused to retreat when their lord died.
The Iron Tower trilogy gives us the Battle of Challerain Keep, the ripoff of the Battle of Pelennor Fields from Lord of the Rings, in which almost all of the good guys are massacred trying to hold the city built up on a hill. About four important characters escape to make the Sauron-ripoff regret messing with them.
Ganner Rhysode in Traitor: Holding off an entire army of the Yuuzhan Vong single-handedly with nothing but Anakin Solo's lightsaber to aid him — and finally pulling down the building around him to take out the rest of the army, including their tank. This earned him a statue among the Yuuzhan Vong that was placed next to the statues of their gods, and he became immortalized in their mythology as "The Ganner", a guardian of the dead who kept the spirits from returning to life. This statue, though it belonged to the Vong, bore an inscription in Basic that simply read "NONE SHALL PASS".
David Gemmell's novel Legend features an army of 10,000 half- as a trained peasants and outlaws attempting to hold a six walled city while being attacked by a professional army of 500,000. If they can hold out for three months, the kingdom may be saved from the enemy. The names of the six walls pretty much tells the tale. "Exultation," "Despair," "Renewed Hope," "Desperation," "Serenity," and "Death."
In The Horse and His Boy when the Narnians discuss escaping the city, the raven says that these sound all very well in story but in reality, after the first attacks are repulsed, the enemy sets fire to the house.
In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Terminal, the Prof, badly injured by a sniper, prepares to do one of these. However, Burke's crew manages to get him out of there before anything happens.
This is almost the standard operating procedure of Bolos. Any force strong enough to threaten one is overwhelmingly strong in comparison to a human; the Bolos are programmed to protect human beings, so they are often left to cover the meatbag's retreat, and a 32000 tonne moving mountain of metal armed with multi-megaton nuclear beam cannons is as much of a target as it is a threat.
Bjakamál, last stand of Rolf Krake's hird is a stirring poem based on an unknown 5th-6th century struggle in Denmark, it was recited by Olav Haraldssons (Digre/Fat) Skjald before the Battle of Stiklestad (1030) where he fell and became Olav the Holy to strengthen the resolve of the Royalist army. When this Viking re-enactor troper reads or hears it, he wants to go and fight. The Song of the Battle at Maeldon could be added here as well, though that is definitely a RL event.
Malazan Book of the Fallen: Memories of Ice, the third book, during the Siege of Capustan. Gruntle and his 'troops' (recruited from pissed off/scared citizens and routed soldiers) holding out on top of multi-story apartment building, to the point that the building itself is breaking apart from all of the bodies and blood bloating inside of it, and the Tenescowri made a ramp of their dead to get to the top.
In the backstory of Steve Perry's The Man Who Never Missed, Lord Thomas Reserve Shamba replied to a surrender demand with the message: "To the Commander, Confederation Jumptroopers. Sir: Fuck you. We stand until the last man falls."
When the title unit of John Dalmas' The Regiment faces this situation, the captain who's now in acting command gives the trumpeters the order, "Sound the dirge, then the attack."
The trumpet call was something Varlik had never heard before. Not mournful. Not even solemn. Not like any dirge he'd heard or imagined. More like a fanfare—a fanfare on two trumpets, an announcement of death without regret. Then abruptly it changed, became an exultant battlecry, quick-paced, and the T'swa nearby rose up, rifles in hand, bayonets fixed, the captain vaulting over the fallen tree. The trumpets were almost drowned out by the sudden shattering roar of gunfire.
The guards were fully armed and drawn up in a square, but there were only five hundred of them. They took a heavy toll before they were cut down, but there could be only one conclusion to such a battle.
In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Rupert goes to join his king in hopes of helping him, and if it fails, for this trope.
Quite a few people have done or attempted this sort of thing in the course of the BattleTech series. Famous examples include Khan Natasha Kerensky holding off the Jade Falcons on Twycross (invoked deliberately—as a Khan of the their hated rivals, Clan Wolf, she had made herself into a high priority target to get the rest of her force away), and Aidan Pryde decimating the Com Guards on Tukayyid (more traditionally, he held the line to allow his unit to escape the battle, and for his only recently revealed daughter to be rescued).
When the Toralii board the Beijing in Lacuna, Liao has her sailors stage a last stand in the Operations room.
At the very beginning of "They Were Expendable" the author explains what that word means. Your commander gives you a machine gun and tells you to hold off the people chasing them. You ask how long and he says, it's not how long, just do it. The machine gun, and the soldier, are being sacrificed to give the others a chance to escape.
Subverted in The Goblin Corps: the protagonists are sent away on a mission deep within enemy territory, and return to find their entire kingdom lost. However, this was the Charnel King's plan all along - his "last stand" had an escape clause no one else knew about.
In Jack Campbell's The Lost Stars novel Tarnished Knight, the ISS forces always do this rather than face the people they tormented. One who attempts surrender is "accidentally" killed.
Sun Tzu's military treatise, The Art of War, descibes the actual military implications of a last stand situation, or as he put it 'being on deadly ground'. He states this can actually be an advantage to a trapped or hopeless army, as they're given only two options: fight harder than they've ever fought in their lives, or die. This means that an army will typically fight at its absolute hardest when they're making a last stand.
Hile Troy's army puts up a series of them, finally taking a stand against a far superior force with their backs to a sentient forest that eats anyone who enters.
Lord Mhoram attempts to break a siege by riding out alone to try to reach and kill the Raver leading the enemy army.
In Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series, several novels end with this. Some result in the deaths of protagonists. The novel Dabog is particularly notable as it involves a group of volunteers jacking into the titular planet's missile defense network instead of boarding evacuation ships in order to buy time for said ships to run the Earth Alliance blockade, knowing that their eventual fate is to be nuked by the angry admiral whose attempts to take the planet failed. Given that the colonists are the ones who eventually win the drawn out war, the memory of Dabog (which even centuries later remains uninhabitable) and those who fell defending it is still strong. In the novel Black Moon, one of the frozen defenders of Dabog is revived and arrives to a battle between two Confederate fleets. He announces himself over radio as belonging to the Dabog defense forces... and the battle stops on the spot.
In the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel appropriately titled The Last Stand, the Enterprise encounters a pre-warp race descended from the survivors the Lethanta who have fled their homeworld after it was nuked by their neighbors the Kreen (the Lethanta previous enslaved the Kreen who revolted but were then nearly wiped out by a plague for which they blamed the Lethanta). After centuries of fleeing in modified asteroids, the Lethanta have settled on a world they called Nem Ma'ak Bratuna ("the last stand" in their language). At the same time as the Enteprirse, the Kreen arrive in a large sublight fleet having been following their enemies and building up their forces for a final strike. However, the Lethanta have prepared a doomsday device that will cause a nova-level event wiping out everything in the system (they have previously sent a group of their people away in those same asteroids).
Notably averted in the season 2 premiere. O'Neill has just disabled the Ha'tak's shields with a grenade to the generator.
O'Neill: What now? Bra'tac: Now we die. O'Neill: Well, that's a bad plan. Where's the glider bay?
Two Starships Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation from the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise". The first is the displaced USS Enterprise-C under Capt. Garrett, which is doomed to be destroyed defending a Klingon outpost from Romulans. Then there's the alternate Enterprise-D under Capt. Picard which has to allow itself to be destroyed by Klingons so that the first Enterprise can make its move.
Jean Luc Picard: Let's make sure that history never forgets... the name... Enterprise.
Followed by his defiant "That'll be the day", when he takes over tactical.
An alternate NX-01 Enterprise does this in order to reverse a timeline in which humanity is destroyed in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Twilight".
The Grand Finale for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has a doozy. With Cardassia changing sides mid-battle, the rebellion working its way to the capital, and the Federation, Klingons and Romulans on the Dominion's doorstep, what does the Female Changeling do? She orders her troops to go across Cardassia and kill every last man, woman and child. Then, she orders the remaining forces to form a wall around Cardassia, intending to bleed all three powers dry. It takes Odo linking with her to finally get her to give up.
Female Changeling: I think they'll find the cost of victory very high indeed…
Angel's finale is a Last Stand against hordes of demons.
Gunn: OK, you take the thirty thousand on the left... Illyria: You're fading... you'll last ten minutes at best. Gunn: Then let's make it memorable. Spike: And in terms of a plan? Angel: We fight. Spike: Bit more specific? Angel: Personally, I kinda want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work.
Babylon 5 had the climax of the hopeless Earth-Minbari War with the Battle of The Line where the Minbari prepare for the final direct attack on Earth and like most of the war, it's a Curb-Stomp Battle until the last moment when the Minbari learn a soul shattering fact about humanity profound enough to compel them to surrender right there and then.
President of Earth: "We have continued to broadcast our surrender and a plea for mercy. And they have not responded. We therefore can only conclude... that we stand at the twilight of the Human race. In order to buy more time for our evacuation transports to leave Earth, we ask for the support of every ship capable of fighting to take part in a last defense of our homeworld. We will not lie to you. We do not believe that survival is a possibility. We believe that anyone who joins this battle... will never come home. But for every ten minutes we can delay the military advance several hundred civilians may have a chance to escape to neutral territory. Though Earth may fall, the Human race must have a chance to continue elsewhere. No greater sacrifice has ever been asked of a people than I ask you now... to step forward one last time... one last battle, to Hold the Line against the night. May God go with you all."
A recurring theme in Lexx, starting with the opening scene of the first episode.
The fan-beloved Brunnen-G Fight Song was traditionally sung by the Brunen-G on just such occasions: a hopeless battle which is being fought anyway because it's better to go out fighting than to give in to despair. The last line translates to "We will fight AND die, forever Brunnen-G"
In The Wire we have Bodie when Chris and Snoop come to kill him for snitching. Unfortunately he's killed by a guy who comes up behind. But he dies fighting like a true soldier in his own Dying Moment of Awesome.
Bodie: Yo this is my corner, I ain't runnin nowhere.
Blakes Seven: Gauda Prime. Avon realizes the others are dead, Blake himself is dead by his own hand, and he's surrounded by Federation troops...He put on his best Slasher Smile and raises the gun one last time before the scene fades to black.
Red Dwarf has one in Out Of Time, which is a cliffhanger at the end of Series 6. The cast's future selves attack them (knowing they would also die) because they refuse to live as the current cast do, because they have become corrupt and seduced by power. They kill three of the characters, leaving only Rimmer, the most cowardly and weasely one of the lot. He immediately sets off to destroy the time drive that allowed them to time travel and become corrupt in the first place, before Starbug is blown up in a last ditch move. Series 7 claims that it was the act of Starbug blowing up that meant the future selves couldn't attack them as they'd not exist. However, some people believe Rimmer was successful, so he can be a hero.
Jenny Shepard of NCIS, trapped in a diner with four Russian hitmen and the prospect of a painful death from a debilitating disease ahead of her... four against one doesn't look so bad when you have an incentive to not make it out alive.
Subverted Spartacus Vengeance: After fighting their way through a forest Spartacus, Mira, Naevia, and Nasir finally make it to Mount Vesuvius, only to hear an army approach them from behind. Nasir is too wounded to fight and Naevia is too traumatized, so Spartacus tells Mira to take them and run. She refuses to abandon him, and the two prepare to make their final stand, only for the approaching forces to be revealed to be their own.
One of the standard scenarios in Warhammer. 3rd edition actually had maps and paper counters for a scenario called "Fornerond's Last Stand," in which a High Elf force had been ambushed by greenskins.
Warhammer 40,000's setting gives everyone ample opportunities to die heroically, both on and off the tabletop. A 4th Edition scenario, typically the last mission in a campaign, revolved around one side's Last Stand; the defenders won if they had any surviving models at the end of the game, meaning they held out long enough to let their comrades escape, or that they killed enough of the enemy to have their names forever etched into their opponent's minds.
One famous example from the fluff is the Battle of Macragge, in which the Ultramarines' homeworld found itself facing the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Behemoth. The Ultramarines' 1st Company, comprised of the best warriors in the chapter, made their stand in a polar fortress. When reinforcements finally arrived, they had to clear the Tyranid corpses with flamethrowers, and eventually found the bodies of their battle-brothers in the heart of the fortress, back-to-back and surrounded by walls of alien dead.
The Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden were prepared to make one against Hive Fleet Kraken, but were saved by the timely arrival of the exiled Prince Yriel. It was a Pyrrhic Victory, however - four-fifths of the Craftworld's population was dead, Prince Yriel doomed himself by taking up the cursed Spear of Twilight, and Iyanden was forced to use the spirit stones of the dead to field armies of Wraithguard to supplement their forces. To quote Yriel, "We may have won the battle, but our ancestors have lost their souls."
The Imperial Guard are particularly good at this. General Sturmm of Dawn of War fame summed up a Guardsman's duty as "We die standing."
The Necrons actively avoid this, preferring to teleport away without a trace rather than lose a battle. In earlier editions this was even the army's Achilles' Heel - once it had been reduced to a certain percentage of its starting models, the rest would phase out, giving the opponent the victory.
The Tau don't believe in Last Stands - unlike most of the other races, Tau military dogma is highly mobile and considers the amount of territory controlled in a conflict to be meaningless compared to the armies that fight on it. Soldiers lost holding a position are therefore throwing their lives away for no reason, and a Tau commander who would commit himself to a Last Stand is incompetent rather than courageous.
Also a card in the Schizo TechSix Samurai archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh!, called Backs to the Wall. It drops your Life Points to 100 (By comparison, most duels start you with 8000 Life Points), but you can summon as many Six Samurai monsters from your graveyard as possible.
In the Shadowfist card game (inspiration for the tabletop RPG Feng Shui), there is a card depicting the death of signature character Kar Fai, called "Kar Fai's Last Stand." The flavor text says it best:
"You can't win."
"I don't need to."
Any time in which the player is losing badly in a game can either become this trope or a Rage Quit.
In Ragnarok Online, the Gunslinger's Last Stand, gives bonus to attack power and attack speed at the cost of the ability to move (works with all weapons). May also be combined with Gatling Fever.
Used as a last resort in RTS games. It's an interesting challenge and a new form of gameplay, a sort of Kobayashi Mario.
In StarCraft skirmishes, the AI doesn't do so well with things like "saving resources" and "wars of attrition".
The Unwinnable by Design Sol mission series in the losing ending of Wing Commander III consists of endless waves of enemy fighters along with a Kilrathi Dreadnought fighting a desperate (and failing) battle to hold off the triumphant Kilrathi armada.
Reversed in StarCraft: Brood War. The last mission is a Last Stand of three factions against Kerrigan. And you're Kerrigan...
Then in Wings of Liberty, the last protoss mini-campaign mission is set in the Bad Future where Kerrigan was killed, resulting in the Fallen One using hybrids to enslave the zerg and annihilate the terrans. The mission is a last stand mission where you fight until the very last protoss in existence dies.
In Punch-Out!! for the Wii, there's a mode called Mac's Last Stand, where you just keep on going through enemies. But if you lose three times, that's it. GAME OVER. Mac retires and the Career mode is locked. It really is Mac's Last Stand.
Fortunately, a locked Career Mode simply means the "story mode" of that profile is over. You're still able to fight anyone anytime in Exhibition Mode (and Last Stand only unlocks after you've beaten all the regular fighters in both their modes, so you have the run of them). The main goals of the Last Stand are to unlock Champion Mode (where every hit on you is a One-Hit KO) and fight the Guest Fighter which in turn adds him to the Exhibition roster.
In a rare villainous example, Suikoden II features the mad Highland King Luca Blight. To be precise, he takes on three six member parties, countless archers, then a final one on one duel with the hero before finally falling.
In Call of Duty 4, downed enemies (unless slain by headshots or explosives) have a chance to pull their sidearm and take a few spiteful potshots at you before dying. A multiplayer Perk lets players do the same to each other, though be prepared to take some flak for choosing it. Modern Warfare 2 even included a Death Streak letting players do this with their primary weapons.
In Modern Warfare 2 you'll come across a Shadow Company soldier in the final mission who is attempting to hold out against you by firing a gun despite the fact that he has no bullets. He will continue to futilely pull the trigger in your direction until you slash him with your knife.
The saferoom graffiti has some thoughts on this as well. One from "Swamp Fever" in the sequel was written by the last survivor of the small bayou village: "We held out longer than Shreveport. We held out longer than Baton Rouge. We held out longer."
In the official storyline of theLeft 4 Dead/Left 4 Dead 2 DLC The Sacrifice, Bill holds off a massive horde, including three tanks, to let his other three companions escape on a sailboat to the Florida Keys. Sadly, it does not end so happily for him.
If a player goes down, their first thought is usually to kill every single zombie they see. Justified as that makes it easier for their teammates to get them up. Or if they have something like a gas can near them, bring a defib. He will beat the shit out of those bastards by lighting them on fire (and himself, too). Bodies will pile up.
If you've played Hitman, then you've done this at least once. Alarm goes off, and instead of (or at the same time as) cursing the gods for your failure, you whip out the dual silverballers and make things messy before you go.
A substantial part of the premise of the Iron Grip games, especially the second installment (which is basically a blend of tactical Tower Defense and War FPS).
Zack Fair from Crisis Core, you can't help but he awed by this guy's desperate struggle against such overwhelming numbers.
Done a few times in Final Fantasy XI. Raogrimm holds off the Ark Angels after you defeat him as the Shadowlordto let the party escape. Aphmau's Blue Mage bodyguard protects the party from an oncoming wave of Mamool Ja, likely casting Self Destruct. Lehko Habhoka in Wings of the Goddess does the same, having hidden his mortal wound from the previous fight.
A patch introduced a full-fledged Last Stand gamemode, where heroes from each faction fight together against waves of hostiles. It's been used to surprise players with an Early-Bird Cameo, as those who managed to reach the final wave found themselves facing Bloodletters and a Chaos Lord before the release of the Chaos Rising expansion. DLC also allowed players to choose a Tau battlesuit commander, even though the Tau aren't playable in Dawn of War II.
At the end of the Tyranid campaign of Retribution:
When the Eldar Stronghold in Dark Crusade falls, Farseer Taldeer tells her forces to escape while she holds off the attacking army on her own. Canonically she is killed by the Blood Ravens and her soul stone has been taken to Kyras.
A straighter example occurs in Halo: Reach. The UNSC Pillar of Autumn has left the planet, SPARTAN-B312 having stayed behind to give them cover fire in a Mass Driver turret. More and more Covenant dropships are landing, and the enemy is everywhere. Among the last of the UNSC forces on Reach, you have one final mission. Objective:Survive.
While in gameplay it would nearly impossible to last that long, canon states that Noble Six's last stand lasted for several hours. He single-handily held off an entire Covenant Army where the battle escalated to the point that the enemy started directing their tanks and airships against one soldier. After hours of constant fighting Noble Six was finally subdued in close combat by several Elites, some of whom he took down with him as he was dying. Defiant to the end the Lone Wolf went down clawing and biting at his killers.
The Firefight multiplayer mode in ODST is basically up to four ODST Marines using whatever they have at their disposal to fight off endless waves of Covenant that get progressively more difficult.
Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance sets one of these up, complete with actual Last Stand for a major character, though the player still 'wins' by surviving the massive onslaught long enough to be beamed up.
Occurs every now and then in World of Tanks because of the victory conditions. As soon as most of the enemies are down, most of the team rushes towards enemy HQ one by one. Just one defending heavy tank or even SPG often takes this to Conservation Of Ninjutsu levels impossible in normal firefight, sometimes making it to a stalemate or even a victory.
In the flash game Steambirds: Survival, you are a British pilot, outnumbered 1000 to 1, allowing the citizens of London to evacuate before the German armada arrives, dropping a toxic gas on the city and killing them all. Done wrong, you could utterly fail and take exactly none of them with you. Done right, 50 or more German planes/airships will be going down with you.
Though it is worth noting the actual context of the scene: The group who opted into this fight went there knowing full well that survival would be nearly impossible, that part was never a factor to them. Their only purpose here was to seal the rift in order to stop the flood of mankins so that whoever was left in the next cycle might be able to get a clear shot at actually ending the war. It might have taken all of them getting totally erased from the cycle to do it, but they DID succeed, leaving a MUCH smaller force of mankins to deal with for the survivors and contributing hugely to the success of Cosmos's final plan.
At the same time, the Warrior of Light is seen facing off and then fighting a massive hoard of Manequins by himself to protectCosmos. He also fails.
He actually does hold out just long enough, Shinryuu resets to the next cycle just as Warrior of Light falls and Cosmos is about to be attacked.
Sol: A History (a fanmade Freespace 2 campaign that takes place in the Sol system while it is cut off after the events of the first game) begins with the Terran fleet preparing to make a last stand against the invincible destroyer Lucifer. As the Lucifer is destroyed in hyperspace, the last stand is averted.
ProtectionWarriors in World of Warcraft have an ability called Last Stand that can be used as this trope. It boosts your HP for 15 seconds, but when it wears off, you lose all of the HP it gave you, meaning if you're not healed, you're at 1 HP and the next hit is fatal.
In the quest "Last Stand", the player does this with several other characters against a horde of werewolves.
Plants vs. Zombies has a Mini-Game called Last Stand where you are given 5000 sun to build fortifications to defend against five waves of zombies. Unlike normal game modes you gain no additional sun during play except for a small amount in between waves. Survival modes could probably be seen as this as well, especially Survival Endless.
In the finale of Dead Space 2: Severed, mortally wounded Gabe Weller fends off a tide of necromorphs while forcing open an airlock so his pregnant wife Lexine can escape Titan Station.
The defense of your castle at the end of Dragon Age: Origins – Awakeningcan be this if you went to help protect the city instead. If you've done your administrative work properly, as in getting your troops properly equipped and the castle repaired, it isn't.
In the base game, this is pretty much the whole point of the Legion of the Dead. If a warrior is dishonoured, committing Seppuku would be a waste of a dwarven warrior's strength. As such, they join the Legion of the Dead, who are sent into the Deep Roads to fight the endless hordes of Darkspawn until they are unable to keep fighting.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations: Yusuf has one offscreen. Near the end of the game, the villain sends a horde of templars to kidnap a woman to use as leverage for the keys to Altaïr's library. When Ezio happens upon the scene, he finds Yusuf lying lifeless in her house, on the other end of a carpet of dead Templars. A quick count tallies up at least fifteen dead Templars left in the shop, and that's not counting any that he wounded or that managed to get away unscathed.
In The Lord of the Rings Online, "Last Stand" is a signature skill of the Captain class that prevents the Captain from being defeated for its duration. What really makes it fit the trope is another Captain skill, "In Harm's Way" that redirects incoming damage from the rest of the party onto the Captain. Enforcing the trope further, the default duration of Last Stand is five seconds shorter than In Harm's Way.
In the Lonesome Road DLC of Fallout: New Vegas, if you manage to talk down Ulysses in the finale, he'll tell you that the Marked Men of the Divide will be coming in as part of his original plan to kill you. He'll then offer to team up with you to make a final stand against all of them.
The Tarka from Sword of the Stars are noted in the supplementary materials to view last stands as one of those incomprehensible human customs they can never understand, since from their moral point of view it's essentially a form of griefing. Their logic goes that you can only gain honour in battle by winning, and if you're losing your best option is to cut and run in an attempt to come back another day. If you commit yourself to a last stand not only do you prevent yourself from erasing the stain on your honour later, you're also making the opponent gain less honour from his victory by lessening it at the cost of your own life.
In Homestuck, this is what happened to post-scratch Dave and Rose. Worse, they knew it was going to happen... but fought the bad guy anyway, because as Jake said when told what had happend, that's what heroes do.
The Shape of the Nightmare to Come, a fan created theory of what the Fifty-first Millennium of the Warhammer 40,000 universe might look like, has a few of these; the Adeptus Custodes and Gray Knights on Titan and the Imperial Fists on Terra and later all across the Galaxy are most notable. Almost all of the Orkish race makes a final stand against the New Devourer in the largest battle the galaxy has ever seen. And they lose.
Survival of the Fittest had one near the end of version three, during the escape attempt. While the majority of the students went to the coast (where the escape boats were waiting), one group stayed behind to buy time for the others, fighting the platoon of Danya's soldiers sent to stop them. Only two of them - Adam Dodd and Neil Sinclair - made it out alive, but the others not only succeeded in delaying the soldiers, they wiped out the platoon by blowing up the armoury.
No Spanish Civil War in 1936 gives us an impressive Last Stand in Zaragoza done by the Spanish Army, led by Francisco Franco. The German siege of Zaragoza starts in March 28th 1941. They send the best they have, Wehrmacht and SS-wise into the city, and they are fighting soldiers, militias and civilians that don't want to leave the city (a "ragtag force of Spanish and British regular troops, militiamen, and simple civilians", literally). The German estimation is that it'll take 10 days to take the city. It takes them that much (April 7th) to surround the city completely, pitting 50,000 Allied soldiers and militias against 200,000 German soldiers. It takes them 45 days (May 12th) just to take the northern half of the city. Zaragoza doesn't surrender until June 3rd. The result? A good chunk of the German army invading Spain has been held up in Zaragoza for more than two months, the Germans have lost a boatload of tanks and they got 100,000 casualties. The Allies have just 50,000 casualties, mostly Spanish, plus some planes that were trying to drop supplies to keep the siege going.
Winx Club has a villainous example. After failing to capture the fairies in the Dark Abyss, Ogron, Gantlos, and Anagan run to the Omega Dimension prison planet to hide. When they're followed, Anagan wants to surrender, but Ogron decides to take on the fairies even though they're outnumbered and low on magic. They end up frozen and stuck in Omega for their efforts.
This article, as the title implies, chronicles some of the most Bad Ass one man last stands in history.
Special mention goes to #1, Thomas A. Baker, for he was the embodiment of I Can Still Fight, Obi-Wan Moment, You Shall Not Pass, Taking You with Me, and especiallyToo Cool to Live. His battalion was severely overpowered by the Japanese, so they began to retreat. Baker was mortally wounded and his guns destroyed, and his comrades began to carry him with the group; however, he refused, and instead wanted to hold off the advancing enemy with whatever shred of life he had left. The group agreed, and gave him a Colt M1911 pistol and propped his dying body against a tree trunk. When the Americans regrouped and captured the spot later on, they found Baker's body, with eight bullets fired, and eight Japanese soldiers lying dead in front of him. He was given a Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts on the brink of death.
A more recent article's number 4 slot, Benjamin L. Saloman surpassed even that. While stationed as a field surgeon in Saipannote Coincidentally the same island that Baker died taking, the impromptu hospital was invaded by Japanese troops, killing some of the wounded he'd just saved. After killing the 4 who'd entered the tent, he provided covering fire for the wounded to evacuate - when they returned later, they found him dead with 70 bullets in his body, and 100 Japanese soldiers dead in front of him. Needless to say, this also earned him a post-humous Medal of Honor.
Custer, of course. Although in fact it wasn't really a Last Stand as such, not even for the fifty or so men out of 200 in Custer's detachment who made it to Last Stand Hill, as the Sioux took no more than a half-hour to wipe them out.
Battle of Thermopylae. Note that Spartan law forbade them to retreat; hence, the page quote.
The Spartans were bound by their law and honor to stay and fight, but the contingent from Thespiae, who lacked the strict, lifelong military training of the Spartans and had no particular reason to stay, also decided to stand and fight with them as they covered the rest of the Greek army's retreat.
The Theban Sacred Band(a homosexual warrior fraternity) at the Battle of Chaeronea did even better then the Spartans and Thespiae at Thermopylae. Not "just" guarding a mountain pass they stood in the open field and thumbed their collective noses at Alexander the Great himself. Unlike the Spartans however, their cause diedwith them.
Yes, they were all dead, including many of them who hadn't wanted to die, including women and children.
Although, Roman rules of war dictated that if the defenders of a fortress had refused a chance to surrender, all bets were off and the Romans could do what they wanted with the defenders and everyone else inside. Given what the Romans would've done to the women and children, it's probably a sort of kindness.
There were seven survivors, all women and children, who had managed to hide. The Romans pardoned them.
Masada is also a pilgrimage place for the Israeli soldiers, and their oath states "Masada will not fall again".
The Chapultepec Battle: Although the Mexican history likes to boast up the Niños Héroes, many still don't remember the Batallón de San Blas. Of the 300 men defending Chapultepec, only a few survived the battle.
The famous quote from Napoleon's Imperial Guard ("the Old Guard dies but does not surrender") at their last stand at the Battle of Waterloo. However, the quote is a complete fabrication - the quote actually given was "Merde!" - and the survivors surrendered anyway.
More like they did not surrender as a body, but not long afterwards joined the general rout and were captured individually. What was said, is a matter of dispute. Count Cambronne, who is supposed to have uttered both versions, steadfastly denied he said the first one, which is hardly surprising given that he did not die but did surrender to colonel Hew Halkett of the 3rd Hanoverian (militia) brigade. But he did not confirm or deny the one-word alternative either.
When defending a breach in the colony against ant invasion, a phalanx-like formation of termites will thrust themselves into the breach to buy workers time to rebuild the wall. However, the wall is sealed up behind them, allowing no return, and the defenders are invariably annihilated.
Most medieval sieges ended in either in a Last Stand, or in the Genre Savvy defenders surrendering to the besieger in an attempt to avert a trope that would get them all killed. Castles that were taken without surrender were usually taken with inside help.
Or one side or the other starved. Or contagious disease took them off — it was not until the twentieth century that soldiers were more likely to fall to weapons than disease.
There were rules about this. When the castle had been lost to the point that it was down to a last stand the defenders could surrender with honor, but subjecting the attackers to the hell of a final meat-grinder battle meant they would receive no mercy. Later, post-Renaissance, walled cities and castles could surrender with honor after the wall was breached, especially as cannon made such defenses less effective. However, should the besieger actually have to attack (the first wave was often called the Forlorn Hope), the defenders were usually subject to massacre. Highly effective as a means to induce your opponent to have an incentive to yield—and thus spare yourself losses.
This made timing, seasons, weather, logistics, negotiation and a host of other factors other than military strength quite important, as castles could be won or lost without a single soldier on either side ever taking arms. Diplomacy, face saving and living trumps dying to the last most of the time.
A semi-aversion: the battle of Rorke's drift, where 150 Britishnote The 2nd/24th didn't become the South Wales Borderers until two years later, and in 1879 mainly recruited from rural England and Ireland regardless of what Zulu may say. soldiers held off a force of 4,000 Zulus through proper use of fortifications and sheer tenacity. The soldiers inflicted enough casualties on the Zulu warriors to convince them that taking the outpost was unnecessarily costly, and most of the defenders escaped with their lives.
Speaking of the Anglo-Zulu War, a Zulu account from the British defeat at Isandlwana tells the story of a big Irish soldier of the 24th who alone stood guard over Lord Chelmsford's tent and Union flag. He kept them back with his bayonet until he was finally overwhelmed by several Zulu warriors.
The Samson Option is a speculated response should Israel fall. It basically consists of firing every single nuke (well... if they have any) at their attackers in a last ditch effort to turn the tides, or at the very least take some (or most) down with them. Let us hope we never find out.
"We were beaten by the flames, not the Germans." — Resistance leader Marek Edelman
The Jews held out in the Ghetto for 27 days.
Not to mention the later Warsaw Uprising. Even handicapped by bad planning, bad intel and severe weapons shortages, the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) of occupied Poland held off the Waffen-SS for 63 days...and forced the Germans to treat them as POWs, not "bandits" according to the Geneva Conventions. As they marched out to surrender, many Germans saluted.
Although, they never intended to hold out indefinitely. They expected the Red Army to relieve them, but apparently didn't understand that Stalin would rather see them slaughtered than have to deal with such pesky patriots later. When the Russians arrived, instead of helping, which could make the uprising successful, they waited across the river while the Armia Krajowa were slaughtered
Actually, it took almost four months for the Soviets to enter Warsaw after the end of the uprising, so it's debatable that they were in position to cross the Vistula in force. The Soviet air forces actually supplied the partisans.
I also think the Battle of Wizna is pretty much mandatory here. Outnumbered over 58:1, with no tanks or air support, horribly outgunned, the Polish commander "swore that he would not leave his post alive". And the Polish forces proceeded to inflict remarkably severe casualties upon the Nazis - before, of course, ultimately being annihilated.
According to The Other Wiki, the last surviving 40 of the 720 Polish soldiers surrendered after being directly ordered by their commanding officer to do so. The commander chose to kill himself rather than surrender his position.
The Battle of Camerone in which 65 officers and men of the French Foreign Legion held off a Mexican force of approximately 2,000 for ten hours. When first asked to surrender, Capitaine Jean Danjou replied simply with, "We have munitions. We will not surrender." The last two men on their feet were finally persuaded to surrender on terms. The nineteen surviving legionaires had their wounds tended and were repatriated along with their arms and the bodies of their fallen comrades. Camerone is commemorated annually by the Foreign Legion to this day.
"The Legion Dies, it does not Surrender!" — Battle cry of Capitaine Jean Danjou, commander of the Legionnaires.
Battle of the Bulge, early days of the battle. As related by Hugh M. Cole in "The Ardennes: The Battle of the Bulge": "A small group of [American] stragglers suddenly become tired of what seems to be eternally retreating. Miles back they ceased to be part of an organized combat formation, and recorded history, at that point, lost them. The sound of firing is heard for fifteen minutes, an hour, coming from a patch of woods, a tiny village, the opposite side of a hill. The enemy has been delayed; the enemy resumes the march westward. Weeks later a graves registration team uncovers mute evidence of a last-ditch stand at woods, village, or hill."
For that matter, the defense of Bastogne absolutely should have been one of these for the 101st Airborne Division. Utterly surrounded, so low on ammunition Hollywood producers would laugh at it, sitting in the dead of winter, everyone on both sides considered them as good as dead. General Luttwitz of the German army was so impressed with their tenacity his party offered them (supposedly, and relatively) reasonable terms for surrender, prompting one of the most famous replies in history: "Nuts!" History records that their desperate last stand was averted by Patton's army leading a Big Damn Heroes moment to rescue them. The surviving member of the 101st, to this day, deny that they were in any need of rescue.
From the German side, the Battle of the Bulge is partially seen as a last stand. For one of their last offensives of the war (with Operation Nordwind in Alsace and Operation Konrad in Budapest), Hitler had organized the last reserves of the Wehrmacht to attack the weakest point of the Western Allies, in the hopes that doing so would cause them to negotiate peace terms and the Germans would (again, hopefully) halt the Russians afterwards. Hitler's very last stand ever would take place in Berlin, where the war had long been decided.
Even Ireland has had a few of these. While taking part in a UN Peacekeeping mission in Congo during the 1960's, an army of separatists attacked the UN position at Jadotville. The Irish force of about 150 were armed with nothing heavier than personal weapons and some WWI-era machine guns. The attackers had 4,000+ troops, mortars, a field gun, and a frakking jet. The Irish held them off for 5 days, when they finally ran out of bullets and food.
Spartacus' Slave revolt culminated in a Last Stand of epic proportions as Spartacus and his 100,000 slaves faced Crassus and his army. Spartacus and his army had marched from Capua, in the south west, to the Alps in Northern Italy - and then all the way back to the southmost part of Italy, where they were trapped when boats taking them to Sicily failed to arrive. Crassus built a 30 mile wall to cut them off and they still got through it before being defeated. Crassus then decided to crucify 6,000 surviving slaves along Rome's main highway.
The entire Battle of Stalingrad could be considered this. With the Germans on the front, commissars in the rear, and their backs to the river, the Russian troops literally had no other option than fight or die.
The Battle of Berlin was this for Those Wacky Nazis. The Russians threw everything they had at the city, and the last bastions of the Third Reich held out for a while, but were ultimately fighting a battle most knew they weren't going to win. This was also the battle in which Adolf Hitler decided that it was Better to Die than Be Killed, and shot himself in the head when even the Ax-Crazy Hitler realized there was no way out.
The Brest Fortress. On June 22, 1941, Brest Fortress was one of the first Soviet defenses to be attacked by German troops. Surrounded, a few defenders continued fighting for more than a month, facing overwhelming German troops and heavy artillery. The last defender of the Brest Fortress, Major Pyotr Gavrilov was taken prisoner on July 23, unable to fight any longer due to starvation and exhaustion.
The Battle of Sadarapat, a turning point in the Armenian-Turkish War of 1918 in which the bigger and stronger Turkish army was bitterly defeated. It was said by historian Christopher J. Walker that had the Armenians not won the Battle of Sardarapat (which won Armenia's independence for a brief period), the word 'Armenia' might today only be an antique geographical term.
Despite giving up in the end, Dien Bien Phu rightly belongs here. The casualties suffered and inflicted by the core battalions in this "Hell in a Very Small Place" before finally surrendering were appalling. Some of the Para and Legion battalions were down to 25- 40 walking wounded, and no unharmed, at the end from their supposed strength of 600-ish. Yet even on the last day they would counterattack enemy full-strength battalions when they lost a position, and succeed! CMoA from the most Badass Army of its time (the French Paras). You could add Stalingrad as well, both the German attack on it and the Cauldron itself.
The fall of Constantinople in AD 1453 marked the end of the Roman Empire, which had been by far the most ancient country in the Western world, 2,206 years old. The last emperor, Constantine XI, chose to go out with a fight, rather than have the empire dismantled by submitting to the Ottoman sultan. With the Roman army barely being a city garrison by this point, he managed to get 7,000 defenders inside the city, both Greek and foreign. The night before the final battle, native Orthodox and foreign Catholic defenders held a joint service in the Hagia Sophia. The emperor's final address to his troops was as fitting as one could be for such an occasion, thanking them for their service and and calling them "worthy heirs of the heroes of Ancient Greece and Rome." During the final assault, when the Ottomans finally breached the defenses, the emperor said, "The city is fallen, yet I am alive," and led his remaining troops in one last charge. His body was never found, and he became the Greek people's King in the Mountain.
1,000 of the surviving Greek soldiers charging the mass of 120,000 Ottoman soldiers swarming over the walls in an effort to allow the rest of their comrades to escape. Courage doesn't even begin to describe it.
A Last Stand is one of the few actions that would make a soldier eligible for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Naturally, the vast majority of these medals are awarded posthumously. Possibly the greatest example would be Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart in the Battle of Mogadishu. Both men volunteered to go down to a crashed Blackhawk and attempt to protect the surviving crew from hundreds of hostile militants. They were both overrun and killed by the attacking militants, but took at least 24 men with them. Michael Durant, the pilot of the Blackhawk, survived.
Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were tasked with defending the Union flank at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Chamberlain held his position, despite repeated attacks by the Confederates, mounting casualties, and low ammo, because retreat would mean the collapse of the entire Union line. It was only after running out of ammo that he ordered a full bayonet charge as a desperation move, which was so bold and unexpected that the Confederates were forced to retreat.
The 21 Sikhs at the Battle of Saragarhi. Twenty-one Sikh soldiers defending a small but vital outpost on the Indian border were faced with twenty thousand tribesmen armed with rifles and heavy cannons, and all of them volunteered to stay. They staved off the enemy army for most of a day before being overwhelmed, killing an estimate of eight hundred enemy troops and warning the British army of the attack, giving them time to prepare a defense and counterattack. When the British Parliament heard of the battle, it resulted in a standing ovation, and September 12 is now considered an official holiday in India.
When a prey animal is trapped by a predator and has no hope of escape, it sometimes attacks its predator as hard as possible. "The cornered rat will bite the cat."
Sir Richard Grenville sailed his one ship against a whole Spanish fleet, as narrated in Tennyson's poem "The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet," and inflicted incredibly disproportionate damage before finally being forced to surrender by his crew...after he'd been mortally wounded. The Spaniards were so awed that they promised to release the English sailors who survived.
The Battle of Vukovar featured a force of around 2,200 Croatian infantry (with next to no armour, air support or artillery) fighting against a much larger Serbian force that had significant armor and air support. Despite being horribly outmatched and surrounded, the Croats held out for 87 days and inflicted heavy casualties on their enemies in brutal street-to-street fighting.
Zig-zagged in the Battle of Churubusco. Despite orders from President Santanna to not give the US troops any resistance, treason from the aformentioned President, and facing more than double his number in US troops, General Anaya managed to hold them off, even causing two retreats. Ultimately, he was forced to surrender, but when told to hand over any remaining ammunition, he delivered the following epic line:
Edward Teach, A.K.A Blackbeard and his crew made their (unexpected, since they were about to retire) Last Stand against Lieutenant Robert Manyard, who laid an ambush on his crew. Before the battle began, Blackbeard reportedly said "Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.". A fierce battle ensued between the two crews, Blackbeard proceeded to slaugther the greatest number of people he could, and managed to survive five shots and twenty stabs. Ultimately, Blackbeard and Manyard ended up locked in a fierce duel amidst the battle, when Blackbeard was about to kill Manyard once and for all, a british sailor attacked him from behind, sliced his neck and chopped off his head, finally killing Blackbeard. The rest of his crew put up a fight even after the fact, but were outnumbered by the Sailors and ultimately surrendered.
The siege of Misrata in the Libyan Civil War. After the chaos of the early war solidified into Gaddafi holding western Libya and the rebels holding eastern Libya, Misrata was one of a few rebel-held settlements in western Libya. Gaddafi's forces laid siege to the town, and given how far it was from the rebel lines, most assumed it would eventually fall. However, despite Gaddafi having things like tanks and heavy weapons, the people of Misrata held on, becoming a town of Action Survivors, until the siege was finally lifted. Afterwards, the Misratan militias served with distinction for the remainder of the war.
Saito Musashibo Benkei deserves special mention, despite being listed in the first Cracked article, as he Died Standing Up while enforcing this. After fighting to buy time for his lord to commitSeppuku, none of the enemy wanted to test his wrath, believing him to be a demon from hell, as he'd killed 300 soldiers that had tried to cross. It was only after a long while that they realized he had died, due to their fear to approach. Medically speaking, it's believed that the lactic acid his muscles produced from the fighting caused a sudden onset of rigor mortis, causing his body to "lock up" while still standing and holding his spear. He has a small shrine today where this happened.