"I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way for simple bullets. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
This ain't training, trooper, this is the real thing. Those are real bullets and real bombs. This is war. If you want to make it through the next few hours alive, you better do exactly as I say and exactly as I do.
— Sergeant Rince Klebb, Baraspian 3rd Rifles
, shortly before being devoured by a xenos horror, Warhammer 40,000: Only War
A fierce battle is about to ensue. One brave Red Shirt
will step forward and give an uplifting speech
, only to be paid for his efforts by getting brutally killed. Bonus points if he is killed before he finishes the speech
The speech in question will either be an idealistic plea for peace to an implacable enemy, or an attempt to boost morale by emphasizing how the heroes will never give up, never surrender
, with bonus points if the character in question actually apes Churchill's manner of speech. This can be a chilling Kick the Dog
moment to show just how inhuman the enemy is, a comedic moment to show how ineffective wide-eyed idealism
is against violence, or, disturbingly, both
. Or it could simply be a moment of overconfident gloating on the part of a genre blind
villain who hasn't read the Evil Overlord List
This is often a result of Tempting Fate
Since this is a death trope, expect spoilers!
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Anime and Manga
- In Death Note, Matt is cornered by Takeda's Kira-worshiping bodyguards. He starts telling them why they wouldn't dare shoot him. Cue barrage of bullets.
- Fullmetal Alchemist. "It's not like they have tanks." Cue the Briggs brigade deploying Tank Goodness for one hell of a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
- Subverted in One Piece during the war at Marineford. When Coby made a passionate plea to stop the fighting Admiral Akainu tried to kill him then and there, only to be stopped by Shanks.
- A non-deadly example in Axis Powers Hetalia. "I'm Russian, I know everything about snow!" Russia says before he jumps from a plane without a parachute, figuring the soft snow will cushion his fall. The result is not outright seen, but apparently he broke his back.
- In Mars Attacks!, Martians embark on a humorously vicious invasion of Earth. When they've reached the President of the United States (played by Jack Nicholson), he makes a moving speech, ending with an impassioned, "Why can't we all just get along?" The Martians appear convinced, for just a moment — then they skewer him. Martians are one bunch who just cannot give peace a chance. The same scene also features the film's blatant Patton parody delivering a direct quote of Churchill's famous "we will fight them on the beaches" speech and firing his pistols wildly. The alien leader shrinks him down and squishes him.
- Deep Blue Sea: One of the defining moments is when Samuel L. Jackson's Rousing Speech to the other survivors is cut short. By a shark. While indoors.
Russell: Enough! That's enough now, from all of you! You think water's fast? You should see ice. It moves like it has a mind. Like it knows it killed the world once — it got a taste for murder. When the avalanche came, it took us a week to climb out. And somewhere, we lost hope. Now I don't know exactly when we turned on each other, I just know that seven of us survived the slide... and only five made it out. Now we took an oath that I'm breaking now. Swore that we said 'twas the snow that killed the other two. But it wasn't. Nature can be lethal, but it doesn't hold a candle to man. Now you've seen how bad things can get and how quick they can get that way. Well, they can get a whole lot worse! So we're not going to fight anymore! We're going to pull together and we're going to find a way to get outta here! First, we're gonna seal off this- CHOMP!
- The War Of The Worlds: A classic example is Pastor Collins in the original film version, who goes out to the Martians to try and communicate, and gets a heat-ray in answer.
- The Chronicles of Riddick: A lone dissenter in New Mecca says the Necromonger Warlord is an intolerant conqueror rather than the "enlightened" liberator he presents himself as and... gets his soul ripped out for it. Ouchies.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: While Indy, Henry and Sallah are spying on the Nazi column from a hillside, Henry tells Indy to get down out of sight, to which Indy replies, "Dad, we're well out of range." Cue the tank firing and the car exploding behind them.
- Boris in GoldenEye. "Yes! I am inVEENcible!" *flash-frozen* Aaand now you're a coat rack.
- In The Bourne Supremacy, Marie's last words: "You have a choice". Subverted somewhat because Bourne does, in fact, take them to heart, and refrains thereafter from killing in cold blood.
Wombosi: If they want to kill me, they'd better kill me the first time! They'd better kill me dead! They'd better kill me when I'm in my sleep! (shot by a sniper)
- Brother Jacobus in Dragonslayer tries out a pre-beta version of the power of Christ on a dragon: "Unclean beast! Get thee down! Be thou consumed by the fires that made thee!" Though nonverbal, Vermithrax's response translates, approximately, to "no u lol".
- Pretty much exactly the same thing happens in the movie Outlander.
- In The Day of the Jackal, Bastien-Thiry, failed assassin of Charles De Gaulle is shown remarking that he is a patriot and no firing squad will dare shoot him. The next shot is immediately after his execution.
- In a bit of Moral Dissonance, Return of the King had Aragorn cheerfully kill Sauron's spokesperson while the latter was discussing the terms of peace. Though knowing Sauron, they were probably more like "terms of unconditional surrender"note .
- In the CG movie pilot to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a clone trooper jumps up on the makeshift barrier the Republic troops have erected to keep the droids out of their base perimeter. His rallying cry is abruptly cut off when he is hit by a blaster bolt and killed. The clones still charge, anyway.
- The Live-Action Adaptation of Golgo 13 (the second one, with Sonny Chiba as Duke Togo) shows a mook spying on Golgo with binoculars see him look their way. He turns to his partner and says, "Ah, who cares? It's over 300 yards!" Anyone familiar with the series will know how short that mook's lifespan is.
- Tropic Thunder: While they weren't going to a war, but to film a movie about one, the director Damien Cockburn died this way. He stepped into a mine after giving a speech about filming the best war movie of all time.
- Near the end of °Three Amigos!, a bunch of El Guapo's men run off. As El Guapo yells at them for being cowards, Jefe says, "Cheer up, El Guapo... you still have me!" Guess who gets shot immediately thereafter.
- The Cabin in the Woods: Curt gives an uplifting speech before fatally crashing his motorcycle into the invisible barrier the audience knew was there all along.
- Marvin of all people gives one of these in Film//Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy when everyone is getting attacked by the Vogons. It goes like this:
(Turns around to reveal large hole in the back of his head)
Marvin: Now I have a headache.
- Watership Down: Come back, you fools! Dogs aren't dangerous! Come back and fight! Possibly subverted, since they Never Found the Body.
- Discworld series
- Guards! Guards!: After Ankh-Morpork gets taken over by a dragon, a group of citizens start complaining about the new ruler, and Sergeant Colon tries to rally them. When the dragon shows up in person, one inspired citizen stands defiantly in front of the beast and starts to make an impassioned speech. The dragon burns him to cinders in mid-sentence. So much for "The people united can never be ignited!". Although this is unusual in that the momentum wasn't lost when the dragon incinerated the man. People were already starting to question what, precisely, was being proposed to stop the dragon from just killing them all and moving to a different city if they didn't cooperate.
- Night Watch: Reg Shoe says, "They can take our lives, but they can never take our freedom!" At which point he's shot about seventeen times. Subverted in that Reg keeps going anyway, but his body quits before his mind makes itself up to be a zombie (that happens later). It's specifically noted that it was possibly the most stupid battle cry ever spoken.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar, the villain's last words are "You're a Betan, you can't do-". Turns out she can. Later, another character thinks of "the general whose last words were reputed to have been, Don't worry, Lieutenant, the enemy can't possibly hit us at this ran—"
- Slayers: Kanzeil from the light novel version. His exact last words are "Don't waste your time! I'm more powerful than any of your paltry parlor tricks!" A second later, he gets vaporized. The anime version of Kanzeil is somewhat different, but he still dies with a Sedgwick Speech.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Before Dishonor, a Federation diplomat attempts to negotiate with the Borg—and comes back declaring that "There will be peace in our time." Then the Borg blow his ship out of space.
- In John Scalzi's Old Man's War, people are recruited into the military at the age of 75. This means their recruits have a lot more experience than new recruits in most nonfictional militaries; unfortunately, not all experience is applicable. Private Senator Ambassador Secretary Bender finds out the hard way that just because they're singing does not mean that they'd rather talk than fight.
- In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis, we have this exchange:
- A pair of girls in Battle Royale attempt to convince everyone to lay down their weapons and refuse to fight any more with the aid of a megaphone, and promptly get slaughtered by the token psychopath who's armed with a sub-machine gun.
- The Trope Namer, General Segdwick himself, is depicted in The Last Full Measure.
- The Elenium: As the siege of Chyrellos begins to break apart, Ulesim delivers a long speech to his Rendors to rally them. In the middle of his speech, he develops a fatal case of crossbow-bolt-between-the-eyes.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Evolution of the Daleks", the leader of Hooverville attempts to show the Daleks that they're Not So Different than him, and gets X-Ray Sparks through his body for the trouble.
Solomon: Whadda you say, Daleks?
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Watchers' Council is blown up at the climax of an inspiring speech Quentin Travers is giving.
- In Sharpe's Peril, a priest tries to convince the villainous leader not to fight because it's the Sabbath. The villain replies that "you of all people should know that God does not work on a Sunday" and shoots him.
- In the series finale of The Wire, during a meeting of the remaining high-ranking drug dealers after the Stanfield Organization collapses, Cheese Wagstaff (the sole high-ranking member of the Stanfield group left standing) goes into an impassioned tirade about how "there ain't no back in the day" and how it's now their time to shine, inadvertently implying that he was in on the coup that led to the death of his uncle, the former kingpin of the Baltimore drug trade. He never gets to finish the speech, as said uncle's right-hand man shoots him in the head point blank mid-sentence.
Cheese: "When it was my uncle, I was with my uncle. When it was Marlo, I was with him. But now, nigga —"
- In the second episode of Firefly , Crow makes such a speech promising revenge to the crew for refusing to finish a job (in response to Mal's offer to refund the employer's money). He then gets kicked by Mal straight into Serenity's engine and the offer gets repeated to the next mook, who wisely accepts.
- One episode of Dad's Army has Jones comparing Mainwaring to an officer he had in World War One who didn't like crouching in the trenches and one night decided to walk on the parapet to show the Germans he was not afraid and to set an example to his men. He got shot. In a very awkward place. Did a lot of crouching after that.
- Although he is neither Mook nor Red Shirt, this trope could probably apply to Theon's speech to his ironborn raiding party in Game of Thrones season two after the supposed deaths of Bran and Rickon. He vows to fight for Winterfell - but is immediately KO'd by his men, tied up, dispensed with somewhere. Winterfell is left a smoking ruin and the ironborn return home.
- By proxy in Angel. After Knox has been responsible for Fred's death, Angel gives a speech to him about how every human is worth saving and redeemable. Wesley interrupts it by shooting Knox dead.
Angel: You're about as low as it gets, Knox, but you're a part of humanity. That isn't always pretty, but it's a hell of a lot better than what came before. And if it comes down to a choice between you and him, then yes, I would fight for his life, just like any other human's. Because that's what people do. That's what makes usó
[Wesley shoots Knox]
Angel: Were you even listening?
- In Guild Wars 2, this happens to Watch Commander Talon during the personal story quest "The Battle of Claw Island".
Deputy Mira: Talon, this is no normal attack! The Lionguard cannot hold! We're overwhelmed!
Watch Commander Talon: Claw Island has stood for nearly a hundred years. It cannot fall!
Watch Commander Talon: We'll fight them to the last soldier! To the last sword! We'll never surr—
- This Order of the Stick comic proves why you should never tempt fate when Belkar is around. With a healthy dose of Killed Mid-Sentence on the next page, no less.
- At another point, a side-villain of the Evil Aristocrat variety was boasting about how, while his plans were foiled, there were all kinds of ways he could still turn things around, including dragging the trial out, etc., etc., whereupon he gets disintegrated, his ashes scattered, and the one that did so asks if they can get back to the main plot.
- The leading homage in Errant Story to the good General Sedgwick is delivered by the Affably Evil Toren, just before Ian drops a bridge — no, make that a hotel — on him:
Toren: "Okay, that was a desperate tactic, heh. Destroying the beams holding the ceiling up in the hopes of crushing the both of us? But it won't be that difficult for me to keep this place from caving in long enough to finish you off and get that damn book I was sent here f- URRK!"
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged's Saiyan Arc, Yamcha arrived to give a stirring motivational speech to the Z Fighters, but before finishing got taken out by a Saibaman.
- South Dakota in Red vs. Blue: "Come on, Wash, what are you going to do, shoo-" Wash: "Yes."
- Josh Goodman in Survival of the Fittest
- Kathleen Martin too.
Kathleen: "Oh Adam, there's no way you could shoot me with that gun. You see, people like you aren't fit for these kinds of situations. Sure, you're basically a big load of muscle with more than enough attitude to compensate, but compared to people like me, you're nothing. Ultimately, it's the smart, the beautiful, and the well-prepared that are going to make it far in this game, and when it comes to you-" * shot*
- The trope is named for John Sedgwick, a Union general in The American Civil War, who, during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, said "I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way for simple bullets. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!" seconds before being fatally shot by a sniper.
- Sedgwick's words are sometimes recorded as being "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist—", implying that he was Killed Mid-Sentence. This is not accurate. It is, however, much funnier.
- Also, the 'Elephant' quote was actually his penultimate sentence. His last last words were, "All right, my man; go to your place", in response to a soldier saying ducking was generally a good idea. The quote is sometimes misattributed to General Custer or Stonewall Jackson.
- Part of the reason for Sedgwick's overconfidence came from the fact that, up until the Civil War, most troops were armed with smoothbore muskets that were wildly inaccurate beyond 50 yards or so. He simply wasn't aware of the recent technological innovation by a Brit named Joseph Whitworth, who had drastically improved Britain's Royal Enfield rifle with a single modification (which as a bonus let him exploit vendor lock-in on the ammo). The British Army didn't buy Whitworth's rifle but the confederacy recognized them as what we today would call a "game changer", as Jeremy Clarkson explains here.
- The Horrible Histories book about the era includes a cartoon which depicts two soldiers looking at Sedgwick's corpse, one saying "Pity he wasn't an elephant."
- An Australian officer at Gallipoli during the initial landing came under fire, his unit pinned down on the beach. He stood up and said, "Right lads, this is what we'll do," before copping a Turkish sniper round in the back of the head and dying. Which is exactly what far too many of them proceeded to do.