When a character decides to sacrifice himself or herself in order to save their friends
or the world
, but knew perfectly well that the opportunity to do so would occur. Sometimes, they even plan out the situation so that their own friends will end up killing them.
Maybe they're an Apocalypse Maiden
, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
or Person of Mass Destruction
. Maybe they committed a horrible crime and could never get it out of their mind.
Maybe they're just a Death Seeker
, and this seems like a good enough opportunity. Either way, they're convinced that their death will make things better, whether it be for them
or their friends.
Just before they die, the good guys usually discover his ploy and begin to panic
, one of them usually saying "You planned this all along
, didn't you?"
This trope is specifically about one character that believes their death will make things better and tries to go through with it - not about
someone who decides to take others with them when they die.
Whether they survive or not depends on the kind of story.
Related to Driven to Suicide
and Heroic Sacrifice
. If the character uses a spell to sacrifice themselves, it's a Sacrificial Revival Spell
. A specific variant is One-Way Trip
. When a character has died long before and is revealed to have done one of these, they're a Silent Scapegoat
Being a Death Trope
, BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
- The end of Code Geass: Lelouch, who has become emperor of the world, basically sacrifices his reputation (on top of tons more lives) by assuming the role of the world's worst tyrant to unite the rest of the world after his death.
- In Tokyo Ghoul:Re, Kaneki betrays the CCG by releasing numerous prisoners inside Cochlea, using it as a distraction to rescue Hinami. Though he reassures her, in reality he intends to "die in style" — dying for the sake of another person. His plan focuses on saving Hinami's life in a manner that will provoke Arima into killing him.
- Tangled Up In Blues: Blues believes this was Moody's gambit—though it did not involve sacrificing a life, just his fame and fortune, so that he could one day become a mentor to some young pony in need of guidance.
- In Stargate, Jack O'Neil reveals toward the end that the reason why they brought a nuclear bomb with them was so he could detonate it and destroy the Stargate from the other end in case they encountered a hostile world that wished Earth harm. The reason he's willing to nuke himself? His son accidentally killed himself with his gun and he spends the whole film dealing with it.
- In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood's character hatches a plan to get the gangsters who attacked his Hmong neighbors put away for a long time...by making sure there will be witnesses when said gangsters murder him.
- Katniss Everdeen's goal in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is to save Peeta at the cost of her own life and she's well aware that by martyring herself she might be of better use to the rebellion than if she lives.
- In Dragon Bones, Oreg manipulates things so that Ward has no other choice than to kill him, in order to make castle Hurog collapse over their enemies.
- The Bittersweet Ending of the second Nightrunner book had one. At the climax, it's revealed that Nysander, the only one who knew the full prophecy, has to die in order for the Artifact of Doom to be destroyed. He knew this all along, and set up Seregil to kill him. Cue Heroic B.S.O.D. on Seregil realizing this.
- Dumbledore's plot to have Snape kill him in Harry Potter. It was the only way Snape could gain Voldemort's full trust.
- Of course, Jesus.
- A Tale of Two Cities: Sydney Carton
- A lot of the more sympathetic Sith in the Star Wars Expanded Universe try to grasp at power so that the current government will be stronger for defeating them.
- In the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss goes into the Quarter Quell fully intending to protect Peeta for as long as possible, die, and let him win and survive, both because she feels that she owes him (since he and Haymitch worked to keep her alive in the previous Hunger Games) and because she thinks he would be more useful in uniting the rebels and aiding the revolution against the Capitol. As it turns out, the rebels manage to get both of them, along with a few others, out of the arena alive.
- In The Vampire Diaries Elena makes a bargain with Elijah, with him carefully phrasing the agreement to exclude her. It turns out the specific terms were noted, and accepted anyway.
- Kelsier gets one of these at the end of the first Mistborn novel - planning to make himself appear godlike by allowing a shapeshifter to take his place after being very obviously killed in battle.
- Leto Atreides II in the Dune series.
Manga and Anime
- In Supernatural, season five ends with Sam following through on one of these to lock up Lucifer.
- In the revived Dallas series, the death of J.R. Ewing (brought on, of course, by the Actor Existence Failure of Larry Hagman) sparked a turbulent series of events involving Ewing Energies and Barnes Global. It was later revealed that J.R., already crippled by illness and knowing he had only a few days left to live, had one of his henchmen shoot him dead.
- Near the end of Code Geass Lelouch, having lost his will to live on in the world after Nunnally's perceived demise and the Black Knights' betrayal, attempts this twice: first by locking himself together with his father, the Emperor, in C's World, and after that doesn't take, by taking over the world and becomes an oppressive dictator who violates human rights like he's going for a world record. Then his (former) friend assassinates him publicly and becomes a hero to literally the entire world for freeing them from Lelouch. Little do they know, it was his plan. By uniting the world under his friend, Lelouch ushers in world peace.
- In Naruto, it turns out this was part of Itachi's plan to protect Sasuke and make him stronger.
- In a flashback arc, a Konoha girl named Rin Nohara was captured by the Mist Village and forcibly made into the jinchuuriki of the Three-Tailed Beast, with the intent that she be returned to Konoha, lose control, and destroy the village. To prevent this, she threw herself in front of her friend and Unrequited Love Kakashi's chidori, effectively killing herself.
- Nabari no Ou: Raikou tells Gau that he'd kill him if Raimei was told the truth about their clan's annihilation. Gau decides that it's worth it.
- Saint Seiya Shun comes up with this when he was possessed by Hades. However, his plan was averted due to his brother Ikki not willing to bring himself to kill his brother.
- This was pulled by Urumiya Hagas in Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden. Not only he was already dying of illness, but he knew that only either he or his twin brother Tegu would be able to have the Urumiya title among the Genbu Senshi... so as soon as he was in front of his brother after years, he shielded Tegu from a falling stalactite and was fatally injured to protect him. With his last words, Hagas told Tegu everything and entrusted him with the legacy of Urumiya, which he fulfilled to his best.
- In Pandora Hearts, Alice and Oz plan to have themselves destroyed in order to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Unwillingly, Gil allows them to go through with it, taking solace in the fact that they will be reborn after one hundred years.
- Tales of Symphonia had two. The first happened when Colette tried to sacrifice herself to become an angel and save Sylvarant. Lloyd and co. saved her. The second one happened later in the game, in the Tower of Salvation, when there is a trap and Genis helps Lloyd to escape.
- Irving in Wild ARMs 2 does this. Heroic Sacrifices are a family legacy for him, and the entire game is a Thanatos Gambit so that he can seal a living universe in a person-shaped can and then have the heroes step on that can. Bonus What the Hell, Hero? points for dragging his sister along with him. The heroes are not happy when they find this out.
- Adam in Metroid: Other M. He even incapacitates Samus so she can't overpower him and object to him doing so! In the postgame, this is given slightly more explanation when a flashback to Adam in the control room is shown and Samus is talking to MB about going to the control room to destroy the Metroids, which Adam soon decided to go in her place.
- In Rune Factory 4, there's Amber, Dylas, Dolce and Leon who all pulled these when they learn that their friend, dragon god Ventuswill, will die due to lack of Runes in the land. They chose to give their lives and be turned into monsters to fill the land with Runes, keeping her alive. At the end of the 1st Arc, the protagonist tries to pull one, but Ventuswill knocks the idea out of their heads and brings them home.
- Stocke spends the last part of Radiant Historia with one of these, knowing that as the ritually prepared sacrifice he is the only one who can halt the Desertification. If you get the Golden Ending it's subverted, however, as Heiss (who would have been the last sacrifice if he hadn't run away) willingly makes the sacrifice in his place.
- Bloodborne: This is the exact reason why Gehrman chose to kill the Hunter in the end. He decided to stay inside the dream as a surrogate of the Moon Presence so the Hunter can be freed from the dream by giving him a Mercy Kill. This can be inverted as well, if you decided to refuse Gehrman's offer. In that case, you chose to sacrifice your freedom to free Gehrman from the terrible Hunter's Dream.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2: Serah finds out that saving the timeline would have side effects due to her seeress abilities, but goes ahead anyway. Guess what happens after the Big Bad is defeated.
- A non-death version appears in Freedom Planet. While the heroines can easily break out of Shang Tu's prison, they can't do so while Torque is in quarantine. Lilac's solution is to falsely admit to coercing Torque to clear his name and allow him to escape. Once he's in the clear, the heroines promptly escape. This backfires spectacularly, as Lord Brevon uses that window of opportunity to capture Torque before the heroines can get to him.
- Played with in Act 5 Act 2 of Homestuck. Rose Lalonde's plan to take out the Big Bad involves delivering a bomb (The Tumor) to his power source, The Green Sun. However, she plans to use her dreamself to deliver the bomb, leaving her real self unharmed. But then when both Rose and Dave have their real selves killed by Jack Noir, this becomes no longer feasible. Rose and Dave then argue over who should undertake the suicide mission. Ultimately, they both end up delivering The Tumor, but due to finding their Quest Beds in the heart of Derse, are able to ascend to the God Tiers after they die in the explosion. Also, the plan itself backfires; Doc Scratch had been playing Rose all along and the explosion actually creates the Green Sun.
- Cassandra Kam, a graduate student in Tales Of Gnosis College, arranges to feed herself to an exotic creature, possibly a Blob Monster. She implies in a final statement that she has a serious and beneficent reason for doing this, although it isn't specified to the audience.
- As revealed in his Flashback Arc in Black Haze, Kiel planned a final ritual to attempt to locate a new power source to sustain the empire's mana usage and, to the shock of his fellow magicians, used himself as the last sacrifice, sending himself into the demon world. He failed to accomplish what he sacrificed himself for, though by that point, he acknowledged that he "couldn't care less anymore" and was resolved to let himself die, overwhelmed by the guilt of failing his younger brother Rood by receiving his Quiet Cry for Help too late and allowing him to die. He then came to find Rood's skeleton in the demon world, and by a twist of fate, the two were forcefully ejected from there very much alive, giving Kiel his second chance.
- In Survival of the Fittest, Ethan Kent manages this by rigging up a power system that would activate the island's only computer, but upon realising he could do it, he also realised that doing so would alert Danya. What he does is insult Feo Smith, his only travelling companion, into leaving him, writes down the instructions on how to turn on the computer, and smashes all the cameras in the location, thus provoking Danya into blowing his collar. Feo and another group of intended escapees manage to find the location of the island, manages to signal it out, and eventually, counter-terrorist group STAR, who have been searching for the island this entire time, manage to hold the terrorist headquarters hostage, get to the island, and rescue most of the students left alive.
- In one episode of Steven Universe Baby Melon, a sentient watermelon, punches Steven which causes the other more hostile watermelon to attack it instead of the Crystal Gems.