Negate Your Own Sacrifice
The characters are in a situation that can only be resolved with a Heroic Sacrifice
. So they send someone who can't die (or is already dead) to "sacrifice" themselves.
For example, Superman
"sacrificing" himself by throwing himself over a grenade. Superman is, well, Superman
. He is not affected by a mere grenade
, It would need to be made of Kryptonite or magic
to hurt him. Whether Superman knows it won't hurt him at the time
is irrelevant to the trope, it only matters that it didn't affect him.
If the characters actually sacrifice themselves in a way that doesn't mitigate the sacrifice, that's not this trope.
to Stupid Sacrifice
. Compare Good Thing You Can Heal
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- Since all Digimon in Digimon Adventure reincarnate eventually, given enough time, this applies to them. Specific examples include Angemon in the original, and Wormmon in its sequel, Digimon Adventure 02. Both sacrificed themselves for their Chosen Child partner and both were up and about in their baby forms within the next two episodes.
- There's a children's story about seven brothers who all look identical, but each has a different magical immunity (one is immune to fire, one cannot drown, one can't be cut, and so on). One of the brothers is unjustly sentenced to death, but when the method of execution is announced, the brother who is immune to that death secretly takes his place, and after a week of trying different methods of execution and getting nowhere the authorities give up and let him go.
A variation of this is found in the book The Five Chinese Brothers, where one of the brothers did cause the death, but only because he couldn't hold the sea in his mouth any longer (and tried to signal the boy that drowned.) For the record their powers are Swallowing the Sea, very strong neck, very light, can stretch his legs, and can hold his breath for days.
- Harry Potter: During Dumbledore's duel with Voldemort, Fawkes the phoenix swallows a killing curse; instead of dying, he just goes from his fully-grown form to a chick.
- In the final book, Harry learns that he has to die, since he's a Soul Jar for Voldemort. Fortunately Voldemort's new body was made with Harry's blood, which anchors him to the living world. Harry didn't actually know this would happen and fully expected it to be a Heroic Sacrifice.
- In the second book, someone avoids death by the Basilisk, being only petrified, because instead of seeing the Basilisk's eyes directly, he saw them through Nearly-Headless Nick, a ghost. It's not clear whether Nick took the full blast of the Basilisk's power deliberately or just happened to be standing between the student and the basilisk.
- Played with in Charmed Life. Cat (who has nine lives) is going to be killed so that his evil sister can stay in her new alternate reality. He's pretty okay with it since it will mean that he won't have to deal with her any more and since he has lives to spare, unlike any other potential sacrifice. Of course, his sister shows up to tell the people about to kill him that they'll need to kill him a few times since he has several lives left. At this point, Cat realizes just how evil his sister is.
- In The Dresden Files book "Death Masks", when Harry is captured by fallen angels, Shiro, the oldest Knight of the Cross, takes his place to be tortured and later killed. At the end of the book, it is revealed Shiro was suffering from terminal cancer, and as such was doomed to die anyway.
- In C.S.Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan the lion is sent to sacrifice himself to the White Witch in order to save Edmund, a prisoner of the White Witch whom he saved. The morning after the sacrifice, however, Lucy and Susan discover he comes back to life. He says then that while the magic law that required his execution was deep, there was a deeper magic still that resurrected him.
- The above C.S. Lewis example is, of course, inspired by The Bible, wherein Jesus Christ dies as part of a Xanatos Gambit by God to save the universe from the power of sin. Since Jesus is himself a part of God, he only stays dead for a couple of days and then comes back.
Live Action TV
- Zigzaged in BIONICLE. One of the Toa Inika has to volunteer for a sacrifice so they can claim the Mask of Life. Matoro volunteers. So he dies. Immediately after this, he is revived, because the mask was testing his willingness to sacrifice himself. However, actually using the mask kills you, and once again Matoro volunteers.
- Averted in Fallout 3, to the anger of the fans - none of your radiation-immune teammates can be made to do the final task for you. That was fixed in the expansion pack, but Ron Perlman still calls you a coward for not doing it yourself. Pragmatism is dead in the wasteland.
- At the end of the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Lonesome Road, you are faced with a Sadistic Choice between firing a barrage of nukes into the Mojave that will seriously cripple the factions vying for power there, or asking your robot buddy to stop the launch at the cost of destroying itself. The Tear Jerker aspect of the second choice is played up for all it's worth... except for the fact that the robot is basically a copy of another robot buddy, the original model remains completely intact, and the destroyed copy manages to broadcast its memories and upload them into the original before it is destroyed.
- Final Fantasy VII has Cait Sith volunteer to stay in the incredible shrinking temple, because he's only a stuffed toy and his controller is elsewhere. A few minutes after he does so, Cait Sith No.2 joins the party, who turns out to be indistinguishable from No.1. He's even got the same equipment No.1 had on him when he got crushed into a singularity.
- At the end of Raidou Kuzunoha VS The Soulless Army Gouto-Douji (Who is cursed with Who Wants to Live Forever?) takes a ride on a missile to make sure it hits its intended target. He even notes his actions won't really kill him (hence why he is back in the sequel).
- In one episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman sends an alternate-Earth-destroying bomb as the timer ticks down to the Zombie Earth, after The Reveal that said bomb would only kill instead of causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. "Can't be killed."
- Kenny from South Park has done this a few times, since he knows he keeps coming Back from the Dead.
- Played with on Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula shoots lightning at Katara, so Zuko, who's been taught to deflect that attack, jumps in front of her. He still gets massively injured since he didn't have time to do it properly (doesn't exactly mix well with a diving save), but he survives.
- In both the original Captain Scarlet series and the remake, indestructibility is Captain Scarlet's main/only superpower. As such, he tends to pull this off at least once per episode.