->''"Sacrifice is a death that has meaning. When it is in vain, it is not a sacrifice. It is a'' waste''."''
-->-- '''Everard''', ''VideoGame/IcewindDale''

There's something inherently heroic, {{trag|edy}}ic, romantic, and ''triumphant'' about a HeroicSacrifice -- demonstrating bravery, commitment, and love. Even the worst villains can win [[RedemptionEqualsDeath redemption]] with a well played Heroic Sacrifice. But more importantly, a HeroicSacrifice means a willing sacrifice of oneself so that others may live.

But sometimes? [[AllForNothing They die anyway.]]

A Senseless Sacrifice is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin. It's a {{downer| ending}} counterpart to a HeroicSacrifice, because rather than kill the bad guy, fulfill the prophecy, or allow the other survivors to escape alive... it ''doesn't.'' The BigBad survived the SelfDestructiveCharge, the prophecy actually meant TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt would ''start'' with a selfless sacrifice, and the boat the survivors escaped on ''has no fuel''.

This usually happens to anyone who isn't TheHero or the MessianicArchetype while attempting a HeroicSacrifice, especially before the SeasonFinale, because 'only the hero can save the day'. It may serve as fuel for HeroicResolve and/or an UnstoppableRage later, [[FriendlyTarget not that it helps the dead martyr]]. Typically, the RedShirtArmy charging like boars will have this happen to them, with the protagonists lamenting "WhatASenselessWasteOfHumanLife".

If you ''really'' want to mess with the hero and audience, the villain will [[BatmanGambit reveal]] that the martyr was tilting at windmills; it was all a plot of his designed to [[FlawExploitation exploit]] his [[MartyrWithoutACause martyr]] [[ChronicHeroSyndrome complex.]]

For this trope to be subverted does not require that it have been a HeroicSacrifice. What needs to happen is that the previously "senseless" sacrifice was actually either a BatmanGambit on the martyr's part to create an exploitable weakness for the hero to use later, or doing so by sheer [[SpannerInTheWorks dumb luck]].

Borderline cases occur when the sacrifice accomplished nothing except to reveal that doing something can't be done, and so TheHero chooses a different course that will result in his success (and possibly even survival, not just his own, but much or all of {{The Team}}'s). Bonus points in the case of WhoWillBellTheCat

Sometimes explicitly invoked to [[RousingSpeech inspire]] [[LosingTheTeamSpirit characters dispirited by the death]]: [[ToAbsentFriends Remember Jack Sacrifice!]] If you do not do this, his HeroicSacrifice will have been all in vain! (And sometimes the hope of ensuring it was not all in vain will inspire characters to make more and more Senseless Sacrifices, even a StupidSacrifice in hopes of redeeming the previous ones.)

'''If the character in question sacrificed himself to accomplish a goal, when he could have accomplished the same goal without dying, that's StupidSacrifice, ''not'' this trope.''' The two tropes can overlap if a Senseless Sacrifice is not the most logical option, but it is fairly rare.

Though TropesAreTools, this one is a PetPeeveTrope for some.

Subtrope of HeroicSacrifice. Contrast with StupidSacrifice. See also ShootTheShaggyDog and AllForNothing. HopeSpot is generally the moment between the sacrifice and the reveal.

Since such sacrifices often happen at the end of the story, '''Unmarked Spoilers Abound here'''.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Deconstructed in ''Manga/AttackOnTitan''. While the story acknowledges that sometimes one person's death can save many lives, it also tears into the idea of self-sacrifice as ennobling someone at all. There is no such thing as a dignified death (because being eaten by a Titan is an utterly nightmarish way to die), and anyone who tries to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others gets quickly outed as a narcissistic wastrel: essentially, they want to be remembered as brave heroes while taking the coward's way out.
** A rare inversion occurs in chapter 50 where Hannes protects Eren and Mikasa and dies in the process, but his death is the main catalyst for the activation of Eren's new power.
*** The very existence of the Survey Corps is a subversion. Yes, excursions are basically throwing mud at the wall and hoping something sticks with every throw costing about a hundred lives, but even before wall Maria was breached humanity's prospects were so bad getting a hundred people killed on the off chance they get a hold of something important was worth it. Best case, they find something to stop the titans, worst case, fewer mouths to feed.
* During the Eclipse in ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'', both Pippin and Judeau make {{Heroic Sacrifice}}s to save Casca from getting killed and eaten by the ravening demons after Griffith marks them and everyone else with the Brand of Sacrifice. While Casca does escape a CruelAndUnusualDeath at the hands of the demons and ends up one of the only two survivors thanks to their heroic efforts, she [[FateWorseThanDeath ends up suffering]] an [[RapeAsDrama equally horrific ordeal]] when Femto, Griffith reborn as the fifth member of the Godhand, gets his hands on her, ultimately resulting in her [[GoMadFromTheRevelation losing her mind]] (as well as having the child that she made with Guts prior to the Eclipse corrupted by Femto's rape) despite Guts' best efforts to save her.
* Jushiro Ukitake in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' is one of the oldest Captains in the story, having been around for centuries (for scale, he was a Captain in the days of George Washington!). One of his defining characteristics is his chronic lung disease that prevents him from doing much most of the time. This prevents what would otherwise be one of the strongest characters in the whole series from ever having a serious one-on-one fight through the whole series. It turns out that all of his time as a Shinigami was borrowed time. He should have died when he was three years old, but his parents made a deal with a deity that also happened to be the right hand of the Soul King. The deity, Mimihagi, would keep his disease at bay and thus him alive, but in exchange, he would one day give his life to Mimihagi. When Ichigo unintentionally kills the Soul King, reality itself starts to collapse. Ukitake, knowing it is time, invokes the ritual to release Mimihagi, intending to become the new Soul King. He manages to buy everyone about 10 seconds of stability before Ywhach assimilates Mimihagi, becoming the Soul King himself and killing Ukitake in the process.
* In the second episode of ''Anime/CodeGeass R2'', Urabe [[SelfDestructMechanism self-destructs]] his [[HumongousMecha Knightmare Frame]] in order to defeat the seemingly-invincible opponent Knightmare (or, at the very least, to buy time for Zero and Kallen to get away from it). Unfortunately, Urabe had no way of knowing that his opponent possessed a power which lets him (subjectively) [[TimeStandsStill stop time]], allowing him to avoid the brunt of the explosion.
* At the end of ''Manga/ChronoCrusade''--the ''anime'' adaptation--Chrono and Rosette die peacefully from injuries they received in a fight with Aion. But they won the battle, so this is just a HeroicSacrifice, right? Wrong. Aion comes BackFromTheDead, revived by [[AsLongAsThereIsEvil the hatred of humanity]], and then goes on to assassinate the Pope in the final scene of the series. The series is infamous for its DownerEnding among those who have seen it. But he DID fail to take over the planet, and to assassinate John Paul II.
* A borderline case happens to Ran in a ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' movie where her, Conan, the Shonen Tantei, and other kids are trapped in a virtual world in 19th century London. Any one who get mortally wounded in game are deleted and the only ones left are Conan, Ran, and a random rich kid. Ran has just been captured by the in game Big Bad and a showdown between him and Conan begins on top of a moving train that is going out of control. Ran, remembering Shin'ichi words, decides to save the two boys by jumping off the train into the abyss, deleting herself and taking the big bad with her. Unfortunately, she inadvertently caused ''Conan'' to fall into a {{Heroic BSOD}} and took away the only means to save them and beat the game (They needed her extra strength to take out the bolt connecting the cars so that the car they were on slows down while the rest ends in oblivion.) It takes a DeusExMachina / ChekhovsGun to snap Conan out of it and save the day.
* [[BigBad Apocalymon]] from ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'' ''tries'' to pull a TakingYouWithMe to destroy both worlds with him but the Digivices manage to contain the explosion, meaning the only thing he accomplished was killing himself.
* The death of [=BlackWarGreymon=] towards the end of ''Anime/DigimonAdventure02'' partially counts as this; sure he managed to protect Cody's grandfather, but then he attempted to use his body to stop Myotismon from entering the Digital World again. Too bad that's exactly what happened a few episodes later. To make matters worse, the gate he did manage to seal is one that would have been useful for the heroes to have open once that happened!
* Happens '''all''' the time in ''Franchise/DragonBall'': Mutenroshi (who later, in the Saiyan arc, openly admits that such losses are both senseless and tragic) and Chiaotzu against King Piccolo, Chiaotzu ''again'' and Tenshinhan against Nappa, Vegeta against Majin Buu, and Krillin against Majin Buu. Of course, [[DeathIsCheap it's Dragon Ball]], so they all get better, but still.
** Android 16 didn't, sadly. His plan to bear hug Cell and just blow the living daylights out of him failed when it was revealed that his self-destruct mechanism was removed when Bulma reconstructed him. And by the look on Cell's eyes, it might, ''might'' have worked had he pulled it off. Although future developments (i.e. Cell regenerating from a planet-destroying blast and coming back even stronger) suggest that this attempt was, sadly, ''very'' likely to have failed anyway.
*** {{Subverted|Trope}} into a HeroicSacrifice. When 16 was broken apart, he could still theoretically be repaired, but then he had Mr. Satan throw his head towards Gohan and Cell, and arranged for Cell to squash his head, to inspire Gohan to attain the next Super Saiyan level.
** Goku pulled one off against Cell too, by teleporting to King Kai's planet with him shortly after Cell decided to self-destruct. Cell's core survived, allowing him to regenerate, [[CameBackStrong become even stronger]] thanks to his [[LegoGenetics Saiyan genes]], and Cell went ''right back to Earth'' to menace it anew. It's not completely senseless, though; Goku ''did'' save Earth. Though you could argue that, had he spent less time talking, he could've teleported Cell, grabbed King Kai, and teleported back before Cell exploded.
*** Which means that even if 16's original plan had worked, the outcome would've likely remained the same, except that 16 wouldn't have been around to inspire Gohan.
*** If you count the movies, this also caused a NiceJobBreakingItHero by freeing a certain nasty space pirate.
** It's practically a running gag at this point. In fact, quite possibly the only time a TakingYouWithMe has ever worked in the franchise is the Saibaman blowing up Yamcha - [[MemeticLoser which is kinda depressing for Yamcha]], when you think about it.
* In the manga version of ''Manga/ElfenLied'', doomed clumsy girl Kisaragi is informed by Kurama that she must be sacrificed in order to kill Lucy, who has taken her hostage. She agrees to this readily, owing to her deep feelings for her boss. Arguably, the anime, wherein Lucy simply kills her ASAP, leaving a dumb look on the poor girl's floating severed head, owns the shock value. But when Lucy is able to use her hostage's death to confuse things just enough to help ensure her escape, she does not hesitate to taunt the hell out of Kurama, stating "Her Death Was Useless!" Though Kisaragi's death ''does'' inspire Kurama not to try sacrifice anyone else to stop Lucy. This ends up saving Nana's life later.
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'', legendary [[AnIcePerson ice mage]] Ur sacrifices her life (sort of) to seal the demon Deliora in unbreakable, unmeltable ice for eternity. Since Deliora was a rampaging beast of destruction, that seems awfully noble of her--until you recall that the ''reason'' she did this was to snap one of her two pupils out of his RevengeBeforeReason obsession. It worked--only for the ''other'' pupil to head down a similarly destructive path after her sacrifice. Many, ''many'' chapters later, it actually helps out. Ultear, her true daughter, finds out that her mother has become one with the ice and can reconcile with her due to being separated for genetic experiments and the scientists lying to Ur's face that her daughter was dead.
* Happens several times in ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'', most notably when Rei attempts a HeroicSacrifice against [[BigBad Raoh]], only to have him counter it in a laughably easy way. Juza also tries to give his life to break Raoh's arm, only to have it completely fail. Raoh seems to enjoy evoking this trope.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''
** Double-subverted with the death of Fu. After Wrath wounds him and he realizes that he cannot fight him for much longer, he rips off his shirt to reveal four explosives and lunges at Wrath to kill them both... but Wrath just slices the fuses off of the explosives with his sword, rendering them harmless and slicing open Fu's belly in the process. Buccaneer, who had already been fatally wounded, seizes the opportunity and stabs Wrath ''through'' Fu, taking advantage of the one blind spot in Wrath's otherwise perfect vision to seriously injure him.
** This occurs earlier, when Roa and Dolcetto [[YouShallNotPass attempt to hold off Wrath so Greed can escape]]. They're cut down instantly, and Wrath moves on to Greed.
** In the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 anime version]], a similar event occurs, though they are trying to hold off Lust and Gluttony. The end result is the same, though, and they are subsequently eaten by Gluttony.
* Batist in ''Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic'' dramatically sets his M9 for a ten second self destruct to take down Gauron, makes a heroic speech, and immediately charges and tries to grapple him... only for Gauron to shoot his AS in half at the last second and teleport away, well outside the blast radius.
* ''Manga/FushigiYuugi'' has a huge TearJerker in the form of the death of Nuriko. Rather than simply wait for Mitsukake, who could have cleared up his injuries with a touch, he decides to use the last of his strength to move a huge boulder, and dies of the strain. The reason it's a Senseless Sacrifice? ''The boulder isn't actually blocking the cave entrance it's in front of''. There's enough room to just ''walk around it''. There are even skeletons already ''inside'' the cave when the rest of the Seishi finally get in!
* Averted in ''Anime/GallForce 2'' where the latest Catty plans to get the team through a blast door by detonating her own internal power supply. At the last moment the leader of the team points out that there's another blast door beyond it. Fortunately, Luffy then shows up in a [[BigDamnHeroes Big Damn]] HumongousMecha.
* Smith's sacrifice for Weed in ''Anime/GingaDensetsuWeed'' (protecting him from P4 until they get buried under a rockslide) becomes nothing when P4 shows up before the other dogs with [[NoSell barely a scratch]].
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** The death of Norris Packard in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamThe08thMSTeam''. He dies destroying the Guntanks being escorted by the 08th Team, clearing an escape path for a ship full of wounded soldiers. Unfortunately, Ginias decides to punctuate his decent into madness by violating a temporary ceasefire, so the Federation retaliates by shooting down the ship with a sniper MS.
** In ''[[Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam Zeta Gundam]]'', Henken uses the battleship ''Radish'' as a shield in an attempt to save Emma and the Gundam Mk-II from Yazan and his Hambrabi. Yazan kills him and later kills Emma.
** In ''[[Anime/MobileSuitVictoryGundam Victory Gundam]]'' there are a few examples but the most egregious by far is [[TeamDad Oliver Inoue]]'s, who manages to destroy a [[MidSeasonUpgrade V2 Gundam]] to deal negligible damage to the enemy, leaving behind a pregnant wife.
** ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'', season one. Neil Dylandy, the original Lockon Stratos, combines this with essentially his CrowningMomentOfAwesome. It was tough to swallow, but forgivable... until Ali Al-Saachez returns in season two, with no preamble, and more sadistic than ever.
*** Even if it didn't finish him off, it did take him out for the rest of the season, which in turn allowed the rest of Celestial Being to survive the final battle. On the other hand if Lockon had saved himself he might have lived a few more days but with Ali's help the UN forces would have exterminated Celestial Being and everyone would have died anyway.
*** A second example comes in the form of Lichtendal who dies trying to save Christina when the Ptolemaios blows up. It's too bad Christina's injuries are too severe and she ends up dying moments after anyways. [[LetThemDieHappy She lets Lichty think he succeeded, and manages to hold on long enough that she dies after he does.]]
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'': Jonathan Joestar's sacrifice at the end of Part 1 is an odd case. On one hand, despite his best efforts, Dio possesses his body, and returns several decades later as the BigBad of Part 3. On the other hand, his sacrifice did enable his pregnant wife to escape, starting the [=JoJo=] legacy that eventually did defeat Dio once and for all.
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes'': Both Blumehart and Patorichev die trying to protect Yang Wen-Li. Despite their efforts, Yang is shot and bleeds out before help arrives.
* ''Anime/{{Madlax}}'': Vanessa's death was probably intended by her as a HeroicSacrifice to protect Madlax. What she didn't know was that by that time, Madlax was already NighInvulnerable, ImmuneToBullets, and so on, so she actually did ''more'' harm to her by dying (and sending her into [[HeroicBSOD clinical depression]]) than she could have possibly prevented.
** Well, Madlax got out of her depression quick enough--by running off with the woman who killed Vanessa. That's some KarmaHoudini we're talking about here.
* PlayedForLaughs during the Sky Dodge game in ''Manga/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaInnocent''. Ouchama attempts to [[TakingTheBullet block the dodge ball heading]] for the defenseless Levi with her body, with the scene playing out in dramatic fashion... except [[SuperDeformed Ouchama's body]] is roughly around the size of the super-charged ball so the ball comically smacks her away with barely any momentum loss, leading to both of them getting eliminated.
-->'''Levi''': Say it ain't so, Ouchama~!
* Weiss Winterprison of ''LightNovel/MagicalGirlRaisingProject'' sacrifices herself to let Sister Nana escape. One episode later, Nana hangs herself with Winterprison's own scarf, too broken by her lover's death.
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', several secondary characters end up TakingTheBullet for Negi's class during Cosmo Entelecheia's attack at the ball, getting wiped from existence for their troubles. Then it turns out that the girls weren't in any danger, since the attacks only work on natives of the Magical World. The worst, by far, is Emily protecting Yue. She ends up getting grazed by an attack while pushing Yue out of the way, only for another attacker to shoot straight through Yue to get to her. [[spoiler:Fortunately, they all get better when Asuna uses the Code of the Lifemaker.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' Sarutobi Hiruzen sacrificed his soul to stop then-current BigBad Orochimaru. While this did bring his immediate plans to a halt, it didn't actually do anything to hinder Orochimaru in the long run, apart from forcing him to switch bodies before Sasuke could arrive at his base, and even if he had succeeded it's been established that he can completely resurrect from any of his subordinates' cursed seals, so basically Hiruzen killed himself to kill Orochimaru and utterly failed in every respect. Taken even further in a later chapter when Orochimaru cuts open the death god freeing the Hokages' souls and his arms, restoring his ability to perform jutsu. Hiruzen even complains that his sacrifice was rendered useless. Subverted in that while it didn't do anything to stop Orochimaru, it did have the unintended benefit of preventing [[DragonAscendant Kabuto]] from reviving the other three Hokages to use in the war, who each could individually curbstomp most, if not all of the Grand Ninja Alliance.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'':
** In the series, there's Rei II's death, although "[[WeHaveReserves if she died, she could be replaced!]]" thanks to cloning. Aside from that, Senseless Sacrifice basically sums up the entire plot of ''End Of Evangelion'': so many sacrifice so much to prevent Instrumentality, and it happens anyway. On the other hand, Gendo has made countless sacrifices to achieve Instrumentality, only for his son to reject it, and there's still the possibility the rest of humanity will as well, so maybe it's a Senseless Sacrifice all around.
*** At least Rei destroyed an Angel and saved Shinji. That has to count for something.
** In the very first episode:
--->'''General 1:''' We sacrificed a whole city for nothing...
--->'''General 3:''' Damned monster!
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** This is performed by the elite guards of Arabasta who drank the ''hero water'' (a drink that makes you incredible powerful at cost of killing you in 5 minutes) just to save the princess from the BigBad. He just stood on the rooftop of palace and waited until they died, unwilling to fight against them just because they did it.
** A non-lethal, comical variant, where if Luffy fell into the water, Chopper, followed by Brook, would jump in to rescue him, forgetting that they are also Devil Fruit users and cannot swim either. Zoro or another crewmate usually saves them each time.
* In the last episode of ''Anime/PetitePrincessYucie'', it's revealed that Maga Selent is the lost princess of the Magic World who RefusedTheCall. When she finally became the Platinum Princess, her friends disappeared ''pointlessly'' as the destruction was too much to stop.
* In ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', Kyoko sacrifices herself so that Sayaka, who had transformed into the witch Oktavia von Seckendorff, would not die alone. The original plan was to try and get Sayaka to revert back to herself by using Madoka, her best friend. They quickly find out that no, Sayaka isn't in that monster and starts attacking them. Kyoko sacrifices herself so that Madoka and Homura can escape. We later find out that this plan was set in motion by Kyubey, who [[CannotTellALie cunningly employed half-truths]] to let Kyoko believe that Sayaka could be saved (which, in actuality, was hopeless). Now that all of the other magical girls are dead, Homura is the only one who can fight [[BigBad Walpurgis Night,]] the ultimate witch who cannot be defeated by a single magical girl. And so now, what will Madoka have to do that Homura has been trying to prevent the whole series in order to save her home? Become a magical girl, of course. JustAsPlanned.
* In ''Manga/TheSevenDeadlySins'', Denzel Liones sacrifices all of his life energy to summon the goddess Nerobasta in a last ditch attempt to defeat the demons of the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, when she arrives, she doesn't care about the humans and [[DirtyCoward attempts to escape]] when confronted by the demons, only to be quickly killed.
* In ''Manga/ShamanKing'' a trio of X LAWS sacrifice themselves to tell their comrades the weakness of the BigBad, Hao. Before they die and reveal Hao's weakness, Hao himself reveals his secret shocking everybody.
* The death of Domel in ''Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato2199''. He blows himself up to take down the ''Yamato'' for the purpose of giving his men's deaths a sense... And the ''Yamato'' manages to reactivate the [[DeflectorShields wave motion shields]] just in time, surviving the explosion with a scratched paintjob.
%%* Kouki in ''Anime/StarshipOperators''.
* While the original ''Anime/SuperDimensionCavalrySouthernCross'' anime ends with a HeroicSacrifice that leads to a rather [[GainaxEnding ambiguous ending,]] its American incarnation as the middle segment of ''Anime/{{Robotech}}'' turns this into a straight-up tragic failure which only helps the Invid locate Earth that much faster.
* Miyuki/Rapier in ''Anime/TekkamanBlade'' self-destructed to try to take out Sword, Lance, and Axe. It didn't work, although she ''did'' force them to retreat, so it's only a partial example.
* Jim Crocodile Cook in ''Anime/YuGiOhGX''. It's not ''entirely'' pointless, but it only reveals the strengths and weaknesses of Haou, Judai's super powered evil side so that O'Brien can make a proper heroic sacrifice.
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' opens with a senseless sacrifice by the main character. It appears as though he saved a child from being run over, but the GrimReaper later remarks that the car would have veered out of the way if not for the confusion of Yusuke jumping into the street to push the child out of the way. To add insult to injury, the child actually took more damage from being pushed onto the ground than he would have taken otherwise. NiceJobBreakingItHero.
--->'''Botan:''' "The kid would've survived without a scratch without your intervention, but thanks to your meddling, the kid gets scraped up, and you ''die.'' Haha, way to go, moron!"
** Subverted however, in that while the sacrifice was useless in its intended purpose, it ultimately allowed Yusuke to turn his life around (once he got it ''[[BackFromTheDead back]],'' of course). It also gave him the opportunity to come back in the first place. The powers that be never expected someone like Yusuke to save a kid at the cost of his own life, so he wasn't supposed to die at that time. It's the only reason Yusuke was given the chance to earn a resurrection.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheTransformersLastStandOfTheWreckers'', Pyro decides to forgo his dreams of sacrificing his life for some epic cause to hold off some pursuing Decepticons. He doesn't even get in a shot before they tear him apart. He does, at least, manage to stall the Decepticons long enough for the rest of the team to get away, so his sacrifice wasn't a waste.
* There was an ''ComicBook/XMen'' story somewhere, where a civilian scientist takes an energy blast meant for Bishop and dies, completely unaware of Bishop's EnergyAbsorption power. The action ''does'' help improve human/mutant relations, though.
** Thunderbird sacrificed himself to stop a villain from escaping by blowing up the plane they were both on. The villain, Count Nefaria, was eventually shown to have survived. Thunderbird did not.
* One issue of Marvel's ''[[ComicBook/GIJoeARealAmericanHeroMarvel G.I. Joe]]'' series had Scrap Iron fire a missile at a wrecked car with people inside, in order to get the Soft Master[[note]]Storm Shadow's uncle, who was attempting to escape the Cobra-controlled town of Springfield after having learned the truth about the murder of his brother the Hard Master years earlier[[/note]], who had stopped to attempt to save the trapped people. Having eliminated his primary target, Scrap Iron fired his second missile on the car anyway, after Firefly confirmed there should be no witnesses.
* In ''Franchise/{{Star Wars|Expanded Universe}}'', a group of Jedi lure Darth Vader into a trap and try to kill him, and he [[CurbStompBattle effortlessly annihilates them]]. When it finally gets down to the last three Jedi, they manage to cripple him, but just as they are moving in for the kill a squad of [[EliteMooks 501st clone soldiers]] arrives and rains fire down on them, killing one. Tsui Choi, one of the Jedi masters, selflessly lunges at the clones in order to buy the other Jedi time to escape...but Vader seizes him in midair with the Force, pinning him helplessly in the sights of the clones, and both Jedi die.
* In ''ComicBook/TheSecretHistory,'' Aker tries to destroy William de Lecce but only succeeds in killing herself. She's the first Archon to die, so we don't know if she'll actually stay dead or not. Erlin certainly thinks she's dead.
* In ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'', Tobor, a former Guardian who was replaced by a member of the Dark Legion, finally reemerges from the zone he and former DL leader Kragog were trapped in and find Angel Island being ready to be fired on by a massive ship. Tobor decides the only way to solve things is to take Kragog and slam the both of them into the cannon, destroying it. Pity he had no idea that the weapon was being used to ''restore'' other trapped Echidnas on Knuckles' orders, forcing the powered up Guardian to become a RealityWarper.
* Crossing over into StupidGood territory, in one SpiderMan story, Spidey's friend (more or less) Flash Thompson was working as an emergency paramedic when the hero and the EmpoweredBadassNormal crook Tombstone were duking it out, and when the cops started to arrive, Flash stood up to the villain to try to prevent him from using the ambulance as a getaway car. That's right, Tombstone didn't care about anyone who was injured, he just wanted the ''ambulance'', and Flash tried to stop him. Flash was ''very'' lucky Tombstone was in a hurry, but even so, the poor guy wound up in the hospital in traction for several weeks, and his girlfriend Felicia (the Black Cat) almost got ''herself'' killed going after Tombstone when she heard about it.
* The Sentinels were first invented ''way'' back in 1964 in ''Uncanny X-Men #14'' by a man named Bolivar Trask, one of the first humans to believe mutants were a threat to humanity - at least, he did at first. A HeelRealization after reading Beast's mind and discovering the X-Men's heroic intentions led him to destroy the Sentinels' base, at the cost of his own life. Sadly, his death was for nothing, as his son would continue his research, and in the years that followed up to the present, the Sentinels would practically become symbolic for anti-mutant hate. Even worse, Trask was resurrected relatively recently by Bastion, who hoped to make him part of a new anti-mutant team, and learned, to his horror, that his creations had since caused the deaths of ''16 million'' mutants, a revelation that drove him to suicide.
* ''ComicBook/TheGreatPowerOfChninkel'': According to Bom Bom's last descendant, J'on died for nothing. His death did not prevent the [[ApocalypseHow near-total destruction of the world]] by the Almighty Creator and even J'on's memory will be lost when he dies and the other Tawals/humans start worshipping the Monolith again.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the [[Franchise/LyricalNanoha Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha]] fanfic Fanfic/MaterialDays, the appearance of the Materials, formed out of the remnants of the Book of Darkness, effectively shows that Reinforce's HeroicSacrifice accomplished nothing, greatly upsetting those closest to her.
* In ''FanFic/{{Horseshoes and Hand Grenades}}'', Gentaro's death for Ryusei's DealWithTheDevil only made it easier for Ophiuchus to resurrect Gentaro, break him down, and use him for his own evil wishes. As it's stated many times throughout the story, "[[ArcWords Death is never the answer.]]"
* In the ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha''[=/=]''Anime/SailorMoon'' crossover fic ''FanFic/WhiteDevilOfTheMoon'', the Sailor Senshi believed that Princess Serenity was this noble figure, someone to look up to as a champion of Love and Justice and that the Senshi and Endymion's sacrifices got her as far as possible before the Dark Kingdom killed her. Then, her reincarnation, Nanoha Takamachi, reveals that she did no such thing - when Endymion was slain, Serenity took Venus' sword and stabbed herself with it.
* FanFic/AGrowingAffection: Karin's death qualifies. She died fighting Kisame so he could not interfere with Sasuke's fight with Itachi. Except Kisame would not have interfered in the first place, and would not have even attacked Sasuke in the event of Itachi's loss, because it would have gone against Itachi's wishes. Not to mention the effect her death had on Sasuke...
* ''Fanfic/{{The Games We Play|TheGamerRWBY}}'': Ryuugi notes that successful Hunters who live to old age are those who KnowWhenToFoldEm and recognize that trying to fight a LastStand is usually senseless since those stories end with "and then the Grimm killed everyone anyway". At the same time, Ryuugi also questions just what kind of person would take the time to calculate the odds like this when innocent lives are being threatened and be willing to abandon them.
* ''FanFic/{{Fade}}'': [[spoiler:Rem dies for protecting Misa from a criminal. Except that criminal was being controlled by the Death Note and thus could not have harmed (seriously) harmed Misa, let alone kill her at any point -- it was a plot by L and Light to get rid of Rem. To drive the nail in further, Misa dies anyway, at the hands of L]].
* Implied in the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' drabble ''[[https://www.fimfiction.net/story/546/the-cough The Cough]]''. There is [[ThePlague a uncurable plague]] going around. As a result, ponies are forced to kill those who show any signs of the illness. While the Mane Six are hiding in a dark shelter somepony coughs. Fluttershy ends up saying it was her and her fillyfriend Rainbow Dash ends up [[KillTheOnesYouLove killing her]]. At the end of the fic, somepony coughs, implying that Fluttershy sacrificed herself so one of her friends wouldn't die. However, since anypony who shows signs of the plague must die, all her sacrifice did was give another pony a tiny bit more time and could have caused the death of all her friends if they hadn't coughed again.
* In ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'', Tien flips his top when he finds out that [[spoiler:Krillin destroyed the device that would have destroyed Android 18 and prevented Cell from reaching his Perfect form]], since doing so rendered his previous Kikohoing himself half to death trying to slow Cell down pointless.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* In ''Disney/BigHero6'', [[spoiler:Hiro's big brother Tadashi]] runs into a burning building to try to save [[spoiler:Professor Callaghan]]. He doesn't make it, and it's assumed [[spoiler:Callaghan]] died too. It turns out [[spoiler:Callaghan was the one who started the fire to cover his theft of Hiro's microbots, and he escaped unharmed]]. [[spoiler:Hiro]] does NOT take it well upon finding out [[spoiler:his brother]] died for nothing.
* ''Disney/ThePrincessAndTheFrog'' has a rather big one, though caused by FridgeLogic. Ray didn't really delay the shadows more than seconds, they were still around for the big confrontation, just not doing anything. Still effective, and awesome.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Towards the end of ''Film/{{Yamato}}'', the titular Japanese battleship is sent on what is practically a one-way suicide run against the American fleet. Unsurprisingly, the ship goes down before it can even encounter the US fleet off Okinawa, much less fire a salvo.
* The Japanese film ''The Eternal Zero'' has the main character Miyabe on a kamikaze run in a Zero fighter against the ''Essex''-class aircraft carrier USS ''Ticonderoga'' (CV-14). While he does manage to dodge the American carrier's AntiAir fire long enough for him to ram the ship and take out the ship's aircraft elevator, the ship itself will survive to fight another day [[note]] the historical USS ''Ticonderoga'' was hit by a similar kamikaze in January 1945. It was subsequently sent back stateside for repairs, and would later operate again off Japan just a few months after receiving that hit. [[/note]] rendering his sacrifice pointless. [[spoiler: It's later revealed to be Miyabe pulling off a SuicideByCop partly due to SurvivorsGuilt, as well as a number of other dirty secrets he had been hiding.]]
* The 2008 Japanese film ''For Those We Love'', which, like ''The Eternal Zero'' gives focus on the kamikaze pilots, this time from the perspective of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service. To hammer just how senseless their mission was, the majority of the pilots who do sortie for their final mission are [[SittingDuck slaughtered]] [[PointDefenseless by]] [[RealLife/CoolPlane F6F Hellcats]] miles from the US fleet, or destroyed by American AntiAir batteries before they can make their final approach. The two pilots that do manage to get past these obstacles manage to hit a Destroyer Escort and Aircraft Carrier, respectively. But, it's pretty clear that the damage both US ships sustain is superficial at best, and at worst can be handed by DamageControl parties and be out of action for a few months. Ultimately, this renders all their efforts, and their sacrifices, moot.
* The film ''Film/{{Gallipoli}}'' is based entirely around this trope.
** As is the entire theatre of battle, let alone [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI the entire war]] this film is about. You could say the Senseless Sacrifice in the film is a microcosm of the whole.
** Historians of the late 20th/early 21st Century revisionist school have taken this movie (and many other First World War films) to task for its shallowness, unreality, and overt Brit-bashing; the makers were politically motivated Australians with an ideological axe to grind, and it shows.
* The jihadists in ''Film/FourLions'' dream of making a grant HeroicSacrifice (from their point of view, at least), but each one of them ends up throwing his life way in an utterly pointless fashion.
* In the remake of ''Film/DawnOfTheDead2004'', a good portion of the survivors suffer this in the film's finale. They drive across the [[ZombieApocalypse devastated city]], aiming to reach the local marina and use one of the survivors' yacht to sail to an island out in the Great Lakes, where the zombie swarms can't possibly reach them. After said sacrificing, the last handful escapes on the boat, but as they dock on the island, they are greeted by dozens more zombies. Even if they manage to get back onto the boat (we don't actually find out; it's a BolivianArmyEnding), they probably don't have enough fuel to go anywhere else.
* ''Film/{{Defiance}}'' sees one of the non-combatant Jews rush a group of German soldiers with a live grenade, only to be shot a few yards into his charge and for his grenade to blow up by his body.
* In ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest'', Will bets his soul for the key to the titular chest in a game of Liar's Dice against Davy Jones. When it looks like Will is going to lose, Will's father makes an absurdly high bet so that Jones calls him out instead (at the same cost). Though noble, this turns out to have been a bad idea for two reasons. One, Will didn't care whether he won or lost, the main goal of the game was to trick Jones into revealing where he hid the key. Two, though this is never addressed in the film itself, observant viewers will notice that Jones had five fives and Will had three. Will had bet eight fives, which means that if Bootstrap hadn't intervened and Jones had called him out instead, Will would have won.
** OTOH, had he lost, Will would have been bound to Davy Jones's will, which could have buggered the plot anyway.
* ''Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse'':
** Played for drama during the climax of ''Film/{{Captain America The Winter Soldier}}''. [[spoiler: As the Hydra agents prepare to board the helcarriers,]] many S.H.I.E.L.D agents try to stop them and are killed without even slowing them down.
** In ''Film/AvengersInfinityWar'',[[spoiler:Vision ends up sacrificing himself by letting Wanda destroy the Mind Stone in his head before Thanos is able to get it, killing him in the process. It worked, but then Thanos renders Vision's sacrifice moot by reversing his death with the Time Stone he acquired earlier, before ripping the Mind Stone off the android's head, killing him again.]]
* In ''Film/LettersFromIwoJima'', various Japanese soldiers start killing themselves after their first defensive position was about to be overrun despite the fact that their commanding officers told specifically ''not to do that'' and instead fall back to continue fighting.
* In ''Film/BlackHawkDown'', Delta Force Snipers Gordon and Shughart go to help Durant take him from the chopper and place him in a nearby building, then go back to defend the chopper, drawing the militia fighters away from Durant by using themselves as bait. Unfortunately, after the two are killed off, Durant gets captured by the Somali militia anyway.
** OTOH, Durant did survive to see another day, which may or may not have happened if he was left wedged inside the helicopter wreckage firing an [=MP5=].
* ''Film/TheDescentPart2'': [[spoiler:Greg]] tackles one of the Crawlers into a chasm to give [[spoiler:Cath]] a chance to get to the other side whereupon she's killed by a Crawler on the other side. Admittedly, he was probably dying at the time due to having had the side of his neck torn out, so it doubled as TakingYouWithMe.
* When the Russian terrorists first hijack ''Film/AirForceOne'', it's pilots do everything in their power to land the plane at Ramstein Air Base. Even after the terrorists break into the cabin, execute the pilot for not following their instructions and put a gun to the co-pilot's head, [[DefiantToTheEnd the co-pilot never breaks and continues the landing sequence, getting himself killed as well]]. Despite this, they still almost manage to ruin the terrorists' plan before it could even really begin, since they had the plane grounded and slowing, but unfortunately, the terrorists had brought their own pilot, who, with some difficulty, is able to get the plane off the ground again and escape Ramstein air space, letting them resume their hijacking.
* In ''Film/Halo4ForwardUntoDawn'', when the remaining cadets are trapped and about to be found by an Elite, [[spoiler: Vickers]] leaves their cover to try to distract the Elite so their teammates could escape. Unfortunately, [[spoiler: Vickers]] gets quickly killed and the cadets give away their hiding spot by crying out [[spoiler: Vickers]]'s name. The rest of the cadets would have been killed by the Elite if [[spoiler: Master Chief]] did not show up seconds later. It's possible that [[spoiler: Vickers]] might have lived if they waited a little longer.
* ''Film/{{Shivers}}'': Dr. Hobbes, after he apparently realized the madness of his work, kills PatientZero, burns her body with acid, and then slits his own throat in an attempt to stop the parasites from spreading. He was already too late since there were other infected residents at that point, and his suicide accomplishes nothing.
* This was how the climax ''Film/LightsOut'' was ''intended'' to go, but test audiences didn't like [[spoiler: having the mother's sacrifice be in vain]], so they put in a rushed FocusGroupEnding loaded with UnfortunateImplications for those suffering from depression.

* Played straight in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''. In a mission to capture the Pool Ship in order to use its communications systems, it's evident that a split faction, led by Tom, is planning to kill everyone involved and make their escape using the Blade Ship. Jake orders Rachel to infiltrate and disable the Blade ship, and though she knocks out the weapons systems before finally succumbing in a six-to-one fight. Unfortunately, Erek drains the Pool ship's weapons systems, so rather than having its engines knocked out, the Blade ship escapes anyways, though Tom is killed.
* Subverted in C. S. Lewis' ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia''. In ''The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'', Aslan [[MessianicArchetype (Who else?)]] agreed to give up his own life to Jadis in order to save Edmund. Before killing Aslan, Jadis tells him that she's still going to kill Edmund (and everyone else in the rebel camp). Later, Aslan resurrects himself (invoking a loophole in the Deep Magic) and proceeds to [[KungFuJesus kick Jadis' butt]].
* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', [[spoiler:Garranon]] does everything to make sure his brother lives. [[spoiler:Among other things, he willingly becomes the king's SexSlave.]]. It is all pointless, though, as his brother [[spoiler:betrays him and is killed by the villain as result of it.]]
* In Creator/HarryHarrison's novel ''TheDalethEffect'', Denmark's space liner is invaded by US and USSR agents in an attempt to steal the piece of AppliedPhlebotinum allowing the ship to fly. In response, the captain of the ship triumphantly tell both parties that all their efforts are in vain, as a fail-safe has been installed on board to prevent a takeover. The ship is destroyed seconds later. The captain's widow laments that all the crewmembers and passengers, including the inventor of the device, died in vain to protect a secret that was already made public days before. Even worse, since Denmark refused to patent the technology for fear of it being misused, they now have nothing.
* In Creator/DanAbnett's ''Literature/GauntsGhosts'' novel ''His Last Command'', Feygor and a company go to blow up a [[CoolGate Chaos warp gate]]. Several of them die, and the gate isn't even harmed. Wilder must ensure YouShallNotPass while Gaunt gets most of the regiment away.
** In ''Only In Death'', Rawne orders his officers to tell the Ghosts that if they slip up, Gaunt's death will have been in vain.
** In ''Necropolis'', one of the Vervun infantry commanders grabs as many explosives as he can carry and charges towards a Chaos war machine. He makes most of the distance without the guns touching him, but is shot down - but when the war machine runs over his corpse, the [[SubvertedTrope explosives detonate and ruin it]]. Not to mention ''the entire book'', from the first tankers to the fighting in the Spike, given that Vervunhive is official disbanded at the end because of the massive casualties.
*** I think that falls under a different trope. The point of the battle was largely to deny Chaos the world. But on a more personal level, it was a chance for the Ghosts of Tanith to fight the battle Gaunt denied them when he fled Tanith. And it is arguably the only thing that allowed the Ghosts to survive as a unit since a large portion of the Vervunhivers they fought with would later join the Ghosts.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** Subverted example in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince''. Dumbledore's expedition to retrieve a horcrux from Voldemort's trap-filled cave ends up getting him killed in the attack on Hogwarts, and it turns out the horcrux was already gone and the locket they took was a fake. Except it's later revealed he was already dying anyway, and it probably kept Harry from getting killed going in there alone, as well as providing a way for Snape to kill him.
** Regulus Black is a straight example. Actually, he made the horcrux ''harder'' for Harry to find and destroy, because he handed it to Kreacher hoping he would be able to destroy it. Can even be considered StupidSacrifice when you think what could have been if he told Dumbledore everything he knew instead.
* Katniss volunteering for ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' to probably die in place of her sister Prim proves senseless because Prim dies in book three, as a direct result of the rebellion Katniss inadvertently kicked off. The same rebellion kills lots of other people, and ends up putting in place a government no better than the one they toppled, which Katniss then has to take down, leaving the whole situation up in the air. It's also arguable whether Katniss actually did the rebellion any good as the mockingjay, since her participation was pretty limited.
* Subverted in Brandon Sanderson's ''Literature/{{Mistborn}}''. Kelsier challenges the Lord Ruler and is killed in what appears to be a Senseless Sacrifice. Later, it turns out that this was [[BatmanGambit all part of the plan]], and his sacrifice is what finally inspires the people to rise in rebellion.
* In ''Literature/{{Neverwhere}}'' the Marquis de Carabas allows himself to be killed by the resident [[ThoseTwoBadGuys Two Bad Guys]], Croup and Vandemar in order that he may learn something of the nature of their employer and purpose. As it happens, he has [[SoulJar his life hidden away]] somewhere else so that he can come back, so this is less a sacrifice than it might be; however, it is utterly unnecessary, as by the time he gets back to the other characters, they already know who the BigBad is.
* In ''Literature/TheSagaOfDarrenShan'', Mr. Crepsley goes out with one of these when he tackles the [[BigBad Vampaneze Lord]] during a one-on-one fight, sending them both into a spike pit below. Of course, the real Vampaneze Lord wasn't the guy he fought. It's ''Steve - the main character's childhood friend.''
* Longtail in ''Literature/WarriorCats'' gives his life in ''Fading Echoes'' to save.......... a half-eaten mouse. And it doesn't get saved.
* Maester Cressen in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. Stannis Baratheon's OldRetainer, he sees Melisandre of Asshai as an EvilChancellor who's tempting his beloved master into a heretical religion and influencing him to do evil things in the pursuit of power. The only way he can think to get rid of her is to offer her a toast from a poisoned chalice, despite knowing that etiquette will require that they both drink. They do; and as an early indicator of [[ReligionIsMagic how truly powerful her god is]], she survives the poison unscathed while he dies on the spot.
* In ''[[Literature/StarCarrier Earth Strike]]'' by Creator/IanDouglas, a Turusch fleet arrives to the Solar System in order to attack Earth and Mars. The High Guard, a sub-fleet of the SpaceNavy whose primary task is to monitor and prevent {{Colony Drop}}s with payloads of fusion bombs, detects the Turusch fleet arrival and destruction of the Triton monitoring base. Several High Guard ships send a message to the Navy and proceed to intercept the enemy in order to provide intel for the main Confederate fleet. The entire group is destroyed in short order (especially since the High Guard is composed of old ships stripped of their weapons)... after one of the Navy admirals already figures out that the Turusch fleet at Triton is only a distraction.
* In ''Literature/{{Blindsight}}'', the crew of the Theseus blow themselves up with an anti-matter reaction in order to take down the now-hostile alien spacecraft that may eventually destroy humanity. Siri, the only living survivor, notes in the end that while their actions may have caused the aliens to leave Earth alone, the vampires have probably destroyed humanity anyway while they were gone. [[UnreliableNarrator Although the last part may also be because the events about Theseus have driven him insane]].
* In ''The Literature/ChroniclesOfThomasCovenant'', Lord Kevin destroyed both The Land and himself in the hope of taking Lord Foul with him. It didn't work, and Kevin died howling.
* In Creator/LJagiLamplighter's ''The Unexpected Enlightenment of Literature/RachelGriffin'', the princess's vision shows the villain's spell-casting to mind control students and then [[spoiler:Vladimir von Dread, Gaius Valiant, and William Locke]] break in to stop them -- only be quickly killed. [[spoiler:Fortunately, the vision averts PropheciesAreAlwaysRight]]
* In ''Literature/TheNeverendingStory'', [[spoiler:Ilwan, the blue djinn]] sacrificed himself to save Ghemmal, the belt of invisibility, from a fire. While chasing after Atreyu, Bastian fell off his iron steed after it broke apart, dropped Ghemmal, and never thought of it again.
* In Creator/RobinJarvis' ''[[Literature/DeptfordMice Deptford Mouselets]]'' book ''Whortle's Hope'', Virianna offers her own life to the evil rat goddess Mabb in exchange for her sparing Captain Fenny. Mabb agrees to take only one life... though [[ExactWords she doesn't specify whose]] and so tricks Virianna. Fenny dies anyway, and by Virianna's own hand, no less, as she unwittingly allowed Mabb to take control of her body. When Fenny's corpse is discovered by the woodlanders with the possessed Virianna dancing about it madly, they [[BurnTheWitch burn her as a witch]] in retribution for the crime she has seemingly committed.
* In Literature/The Aeneid, BattleCouple Nisus and Euryalus start a night raid against the Latins. As they are retreating, Euryalus is caught. Nisus comes running back to save his lover, pleading with the Latins to spare the youth and kill him instead, that he was to blame for the raid. This attempted sacrifice fails and the Latins kill them both and put their heads on sticks.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/CaptainPowerAndTheSoldiersOfTheFuture'', the ''Icarus'' space station is [[ColonyDrop dropped out of orbit]] and set on a course for Volcania. Lord Dread [[KickTheDog commands]] the [[HealingFactor Biodread]], Soaron, to intercept, by telling him that the station will destroy "the Home of the Machines: ''your'' home." Soaron goes, knowing very well that he has absolutely no chance to stop the impact of millions of tons of flaming steel. He still flies into its path and screams his name in defiance before being destroyed.
** But Soaron always gets better courtesy of [[GoodThingYouCanHeal nanoregeneration]]. Of course, even the MasterComputer [[BigBad Overmind]] admits it has no idea how long it would take for Soaron to regenerate from ''this''.
*** He would have come back for sure though as he was being set up for a HeelFaceTurn in the next season if it had gotten made.
** Of course, for ''Charlie'' it makes sense: he clearly knows he's going to die and embraces it the entire episode.
* In the episode of ''Series/TheAvengers'' "The House that Jack Built", has Emma trapped in a computerized maze built with the intent to drive her insane, and meets a man inside it who has already fallen victim to such a fate. Eventually, he tries to use the "suicide booth" intended for her, hoping it will shut the program down. It doesn't work; the design is too CrazyPrepared and will not shut the program down unless ''she'' uses it.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Summer's last stand ultimately barely slows the White Walkers down.
* Inverted, in a way, the ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' miniseries ''Children of Earth''. John Frobisher [[OffingTheOffspring kills his children]] in order to keep them from being [[FateWorseThanDeath turned over to the 456]], then kills his wife and himself, presumably to spare both of them a life without their children. This was unnecessary not because he failed, but because the 456 are defeated before they take the children, and he could have helped achieve this if he'd been willing to work with Torchwood. Not a StupidSacrifice because his motivation makes sense. It seemed almost inevitable that even this would go terribly wrong, as not one good thing happens to him in the entire miniseries.
** On the other hand, his death inspires his assistant to team up with Torchwood to expose the corrupt Prime Minister (the one that ordered Frobisher to give up his own kids so that the administration could show themselves to be victims as well in the aftermath) who would otherwise have gotten away with betraying Britain and the entire Earth by willingly sacrificing the children under the guise of trying to protect them.
** Also, Ianto's death seemed to pretty much come under this trope too, although this is more of a StupidSacrifice, since he and Jack really didn't seem to have a plan.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Lexa in "Meglos" dies taking a shot for Romana. Lexa didn't know it, but Romana, being a Time Lady, would probably have survived the shot and even if she hadn't would have just regenerated.
** Adric [[Recap/DoctorWhoS19E6Earthshock attempts to save the earth by diverting the course of the freighter headed right for it]]. What he doesn't realize is that the freighter crashing into the earth is what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. [[YouCantFightFate He fails.]]
** For the first four series, we are led to believe that the conclusion of the Time War was a Senseless Sacrifice for the Time Lords; the Doctor sacrificed his own people to wipe out the Daleks, but a handful of Daleks survived. However, in ''The End of Time'', it turns out that the Doctor's main target was the Time Lords themselves, who had been so corrupted by endless warfare that they were about to destroy the entire universe in pursuit of victory. (CosmicRetcon aside.)
** [[spoiler:Clara Oswald]] gets herself killed like this. Another character set up a BatmanGambit with a timer on a third character, counting down how long they had to live, to force the Doctor's hand, hoping the Doctor would realize several clues in time at which point they could remove the timer. [[spoiler:Clara]] tried to give them more time to solve the mystery by getting the timer transferred to her...which meant that after things were resolved, the person who initially placed it ''couldn't remove it'' since the contract had changed.
* Explicitly invoked for Wesley's death on ''Series/{{Angel}}'':
-->'''Vail''': How very touching his meaningless death was! But this fight was never for mortals.
** His sacrifice did, however, make [[PhysicalGod Illyria]] very angry. Resulting in her [[TalkToTheFist punching Vail's head off]]. So perhaps not so meaningless after all.
** Also, he had pretty explicitly stated before that he didn't much care to go on living after Fred's death.
* On ''Series/{{Best Friends Whenever}}'', Shelby and Cyd sacrifice their powers to stop Janet Smythe from getting it. However, Janet instead kidnaps Barry and Naldo and confiscates their lab equipment to have them recreate time travel for her. She even berates the girls for their stupidity as they are now {{Useless Without Powers}}.
* The ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode "Abandon All Hope" includes a heartbreaking death for Ellen and Jo in order to make possible an attempt to kill Lucifer with the Colt. It fails.
** In another episode foreshadowing these events, Dean is sent to the future by Zachariah to meet his future self after turning down Michael. Future-Dean turns out to have become such a hate-filled, heartless bastard, that he gets many of his present good friends killed just to get close to now Lucifer-inhabited-Sam with the Colt. Apparently he doesn't even get the chance to shoot the gun before he's killed, making Cas and the others' death completely pointless, even for the present-Dean, who doesn't understand that ''even if he got a shot, it still wouldn't do no good''. Then the Ellen/Jo thing happens.
** To be fair, Ellen and Jo did assure Sam and Dean's escape from there. On the other hand, if they did die (and they did a lot), they'd just be brought back.
** In the Season Twelve finale, Crowley and Castiel die fighting Lucifer, and they seem to be open to this criticism. Basically, they are trying to keep Lucifer from passing through a portal that leads from AnotherDimension to our world, so that he will be trapped there forever [[SealedEvilInACan (or as long as possible)]]. Lucifer gets through the portal anyway, but Mary pushes him back in, so that Lucifer and Mary are the ones who are both trapped in the alternate dimension. It seems that Mary's sacrifice was the one that was really effective, while Castiel and Crowley both died without quite making the real difference between victory and defeat for their side.
* Rio in the penultimate episode of ''[[Series/JukenSentaiGekiranger Gekiranger]]'' thrusts himself into the BigBad and pretty much self destructs. Though it's revealed not two minutes later that the villain survived it.
* Happens at least twice in ''[[Series/{{V 1983}} V: The Final Battle]]''.
** In the scene where Donovan arranges to trade himself for his son, the rebels are set up to ambush the visitors, but they don't. Instead, they let Donovan get taken by the aliens.
** In a scene where the rebels are sabotaging the water facility, one of the rebels is wounded. The rebel's girlfriend comes back for him and insists she will stay with him. Two (fit) mercenaries come back, too. They pick up the perfectly fit woman and haul her away, leaving the wounded man behind to be killed. If they'd grabbed the wounded man instead, they would have all made it out alive.
* Franchise/PowerRangers has a few of these early on:
** In the finale of ''Series/PowerRangersTurbo'', T.J. decides to activate the Rescue Megazord's self destruct in a last resort to destroy the enemy (granted the Megazord was horrendously damaged and they didn't have time to repair it on the battlefield). The monster survives, requiring the Rangers to switch to the Turbo Megazord... which also gets defeated. They do eventually beat the monster, but later the Command Center is destroyed and they lose their powers.
*** A similar thing happened in the source series ''Series/GekisouSentaiCarranger'', in the exact same footage, the enemy survives VRV Robo's self-destruct, RV Robo gets badly damaged (but is later rebuilt) and the monster (who is the BigBad, DemotedToExtra in Power Rangers), only dies after being shrunk by stale MakeMyMonsterGrow food (changed to a weapon sacrifice in Power Rangers since the Make My Monster Grow method was changed).
** In ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace'' former BigBad Astronema [[HeelFaceTurn turned traitor]] but is sent back to her old base in order to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth. It doesn't work. Overlaps with StupidSacrifice because the Rangers had [[HumongousMecha Megazords]] they could have used. (Granted, Astronema did volunteer and the Megazords they had weren't enough anyway, they needed one more)
* On ''Series/RobinHood'', Marian prevents Guy of Gisborne from assassinating King Richard at the cost of her own life. However, if one knows their history, it's rather depressing to realize that Richard returns to England only to leave and then die soon after in Normandy.
* Al on ''Series/FlashForward2009'' commits suicide because his flash forward has him receive news on the death of a woman. Afterwards, everyone takes to the fact that the flash forwards will not necessarily come true. In a later episode, the woman is hit by a car and dies anyway. Al was only receiving the news of her death and was not responsible for it.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'':
** Dr. Janet Fraiser's death in "Heroes, Part 2" was viewed as this InUniverse by the SGC's watchdog organizations. She saved the man she was treating, but as he was a RedShirt and she the SGC's chief medical officer, it was not viewed as worth it.
** Col. Lionel Pendergast [[GoingDownWithTheShip went down with]] the SGC cruiser ''Prometheus'' in "Ethon," trading his life to beam his surviving crew off the ship. Arguably turned into this by the episode's ShootTheShaggyDog ending: the SGC did not complete its mission and lost a ship and at least 39 crew in the process.
* In the Season 2 finale of ''Series/{{Primeval}}'': Cutter offers to lock himself in a room of pre-historic/futuristic predators in order to prevent them from escaping but Stephen doesn't let him and sacrifices himself. Three episodes later Cutter also dies.
* Towards the end of ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Sun is stuck on the submarine as it sinks and Jin insists on staying with her. It didn't occur to either of them that they have a daughter Jin has never met who will grow up an orphan thanks to his pointless gesture.
* Trip's death in ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' can be viewed as one: when he's locked in with Skye (and Raina) and sees them apparently being killed by the Terrigen crystal, he kicks it to pieces in the hopes that it frees his friend. Unfortunately, when it shatters it sort of explodes outwards and several shards become lodged in Trip's chest, [[TakenForGranite turning him to stone]]. Not only did he die believing that he'd failed to save Skye, but for the final cruel twist it turns out that both Skye and Raina are Inhumans and therefore the Terrigen crystals don't kill them, but activate their latent powers. Trip still would have died if he'd stayed in the room with the crystal, but not if he hadn't chased Skye and Raina into the chamber thinking they needed saving in the first place; however, that was a perfectly sound assumption at the time - and therefore still at least partly qualifies as a HeroicSacrifice too.
* [[VictimOfTheWeek Emily's]] death in ''Series/ToddAndTheBookOfPureEvil'' episode "Monster Fat." The fat she discarded [[FormerlyFat when she wished to be skinny]] [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor took the former of a sentient monster]], and she thought she would be able to fix things by tackling the monster into a deep fat fryer. This came right after an episode where the VictimOfTheWeek's wish [[NoOntologicalInertia reversed as soon as he died]], so there was reason to ''expect'' it to work, but instead she died and [[OntologicalInertia the monster lived]].

* Eric Bogle's song, "The Green Fields of France" is about strolling through a World War I graveyard and stopping at the gravestone of a 19-year-old soldier named Willie [=McBride=]. The final verse is a confession to Willie that the sacrifices of all of the war's soldiers were senseless.
--> And I can't help but wonder, oh Willie [=McBride=]\\
Do all those who lie here know why they died?\\
Did you really believe when they told you the cause?\\
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?\\
Well, the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,\\
The killing and dying, it was all done in vain.\\
Oh, Willie [=McBride=], it all happened again.\\
And again. And again. And again. And again.
* TheProtomen Act II: As part of his plan to get revenge on Wily, Light has a young man named Joe go to Wily's central tower to destroy it with bombs, thus stopping his propaganda. Joe manages to destroy the tower, but the bombs went off prematurely, killing him. To make matters worse, Wily is still able to broadcast his propaganda, and uses the attack on his tower to place the city under martial law.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Called a "phantom sacrifice" in ''TabletopGame/{{Bridge}}''. A team bids a contract expecting to go down (the sacrifice) to lose less than they would defending the opponents' contract. Unfortunately, the opponents' contract doesn't make.
* ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'':
** Monsters above level 4 need monsters to be offered as a tribute to be able to summon them, requiring you to sacrifice them and send them to the grave. This becomes a waste cost if your opponent negates the summon with a Trap Card or Monster Effect - you lose the tributed monster ''and'' the summoned monster.
** Early in the game's history, there were several Level 5 and higher monsters that had lower attack and defense stats than the strongest Level 4 monsters, and effects back in those days were rare. This meant that you threw away a fair-to-average monster in order to get a weaker one. This was an attempt at balance, since lower level monsters might have one good stat and one bad one, while higher level ones were more average on both. In the end, you were better off with one good stat.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''. There are many {{Heroic Sacrifice}}s [[{{Tagline}} in the grim darkness of the far future]], but "The universe is a big place and whatever happens, you will probably not be missed". Then again, another saying goes that "no man who died in [[GodEmperor His]] service has died in vain". [[TemptingFate Imperial dogma is often contradictory and makes little s-]] '''''[[BerserkButton HERESY!!]]''''' *[[BoomHeadshot BLAM]]*
* Some of the sources on Karsus (a ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' character) indicated that he knew full well that he'd soon die if he cast ''Karsus' Avatar'', and went ahead with it because that was a sacrifice he was more than willing to make to save his country of Netheril from the Phaerimm. Unfortunately, it turned out he'd underestimated how hard it would be control the power during his short window as a god, with the result that his use of the ''Avatar'' spell instead ''caused'' the collapse of his nation (it temporarily shut off magic, and Netheril made heavy usage of cities flying due to magic).

* Anatoly's return to the USSR at the end of ''Theatre/{{Chess}}''; he does it primarily so Florence can be reunited with her father, but afterwards Florence finds out that her father is probably dead after all.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5YW4qKOAVM Parodied]], like every other WWII cliché, in the "Aftermyth of War" sketch from ''Beyond the Fringe''.
-->'''Peter Cook:''' Perkins, I want you to lay down your life. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.
* In the opera ''Il trovatore'', Leonora, desperate to do anything to save Manrico from execution, marries the Count di Luna and takes a poison that will allow her to live just long enough to break him out of dungeon. But Manrico is so shocked to discover his lover's infidelity that he refuses to make his escape. The Count watches Leonora die and has Manrico executed at once.
* One could easily argue that the end of Shakespeare's ''RomeoAndJuliet'' has a potential double helping. Romeo, believing Juliet dead after her FakeDeath, offs himself with a poison. While it wouldn't have accomplished anything, Juliet's is more fitting to it. Not only did her "Fake sacrifice" Fail senselessly, it causes her to make a real one that accomplishes nothing at all. The only reason this counts is because her fake sacrifice is what forces her to make her real one, and [[DrivenToSuicide Senselessly End It All.]]
* In ''Theatre/TheConsul'', Magda finally gives up waiting on the Secretary to get her out of her desperate situation, and leaves a note with Assan that she says "will convince John that there is no more reason for him to come back." Unfortunately, John does come back that very night to the consulate, where he is arrested. The Secretary promises to phone Magda, but calls too late.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Josef in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' sacrifices himself to save Firion, Maria, and Guy from Borghen's boulder trap in the Ice Cavern. The reason the party went to the Ice Cavern was to retrieve the Goddess Bell, the only way someone not of the Kashuan nobility could enter Kashuan Keep. But once you have the Goddess Bell and enter the Keep, it turns out that Gordon, [[DirtyCoward who had previously run away in the wake of the Dreadnought's wrath]], went to the Keep but couldn't get past the monsters. If you return to Hilda after Gordon joins, [[WhatTheHellHero she chews out Gordon]], aware that had he not run away when he was needed, Josef would not have died.
* Tellah from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' using a DangerousForbiddenTechnique to kill Golbez... who survives. Even worse since Tellah is the ''only'' character in the game to sacrifice himself and ''actually stay dead''. Not only does everybody else who attempts a HeroicSacrifice pull it off successfully[[note]]although they could usually have found another way; see StupidSacrifice[[/note]], they're able to stay alive no matter how impossible that should be.
* ''VideoGame/FatalFrame1'''s canon ending gives one to Mafuyu Hinasaki, who chooses to remain at the Hell Gate with Kirie, who will spend eternity keeping said gate closed and suffering pain for it, so that she at least won't suffer alone. As noble as the idea may appear, and make a wonderful TearJerker moment, the action changes nothing. It doesn't alter Kirie's fate or actions, nor does it do anyone ''any'' good. All it does is cause Miku to lose her beloved brother and spend the third game [[DeathSeeker wanting to die]] because she feels guilty for not insisting on him to leave the Himuro mansion with her.
* In ''VideoGame/FableII'', during a confrontation with Lord Lucien, [[spoiler:[[TearJerker your dog]] jumps between you and a bullet from Lucien's gun. Unfortunately, [[RealityEnsues as he has more than one bullet in his pistol]], it was for nothing.]]
* The Shofixti in ''VideoGame/StarControl 2'' blew up their own sun in order to deal a crippling blow to the Ur-Quan invaders... which not only nearly wiped out their entire race, but would have caused the Ur-Quan (who sought to enslave all life other than their own) to lose their battle against the Kohr-Ah (who sought to ''destroy'' all life other than their own), but for the intervention of the player. NiceJobBreakingItHero.
** It was actually even worse than that: the bomb they used was one of only two that could have destroyed the Sa-Matra, whose destruction was the key to defeating the Ur-Quan once and for all. The Shofixti wasted it instead, which, in the game, forces the player to find the other one to replace the weapon that the Alliance already had.
* Every time the monster Sin rears its ugly head in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', a Summoner is sent on a quest for the Aeons in hopes of performing the Final Summoning that is said to be the only way to defeat Sin, a quest that invariably costs the Summoner his or her life. But as it's revealed, the Final Summoning does nothing to stop Sin for good, as the Final Aeon that destroys Sin becomes the new Sin. Unlike most other examples of the trope, [[IntendedAudienceReaction this one was SUPPOSED]] [[DeconstructedTrope to be senseless;]] the idea that the Final Summoning is the only way to combat Sin is [[IdiotBall a falsehood propagated by the local church.]]
** Not surprisingly, in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'', Yuna rails against the entire idea of sacrificing one's life after her experiences with the Final Summoning debacle in the first game, opposing a plan in which Nooj would shoot Baralai, who was under possession by Shujin, and then kill himself once Shujin re-entered his body because she has lost too many of her friends to sacrifice and doesn't want battles where "we have to lose in order to win."
** Subverted with regards to Cid: Every opportunity he has to suggest it, he suggests a suicide ramming run using the airship. Every time, he's shot down as there's far less suicidal means of success. Rikku even mocks him for it one time.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/MetroidFusion''; in a cutscene, Samus pleads with the computer Adam to let her out to try to self-destruct the B.S.L. space station to destroy the X Parasites within (which would also destroy her, as apparently the ship's self-destruction would be immediate). Adam tells her that this would be pointless, as it would leave the X Parasites on the planet SR-388 (which the station was orbiting) alive and able to spread across the universe, while simultaneously destroying the universe's only hope to defeat the parasites, Samus herself. (He instead suggests setting the station to [[ColonyDrop collide with the planet]], [[EarthShatteringKaboom destroying both]] along with the X Parasites and allowing Samus to escape before the station impacts.)
* The engineer from ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'' who cut off his limbs in an attempt to be unable to hurt anyone once he changed. Not only do you encounter a legless Necromorph that is apparently him, having died before finishing the task... but you later encounter necromorphs that hurt people just fine despite not having ''any'' of their original limbs, so even if he'd been entirely successful, it wouldn't have worked.
* Lujei Piche of ''VideoGame/GrimGrimoire'' turns all the sacrifices and convoluted planning in ''VideoGame/PhantomBrave'' to weaken the BigBad and exile him through a dimensional portal into this when she sent Sulfur back to Ivoire as a BonusBoss. It just takes some LevelGrinding to kill him DeaderThanDead then. Although in their defense, they did think he would continue to live AsLongAsThereIsEvil.
* ''VideoGame/RuneScape'' has a few senseless sacrifices. For an example, in one quest, Turael, Duradel and a number of others try to attack a powerful Mahjarrat and most of them are toasted off.
* ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006 Sonic 2006]]'s'' Silver's quest ends with Blaze sacrificing herself to power the ritual to seal EldritchAbomination Iblis away. It works... except they are in the [[TimeTravel future]]. Back in the present, Iblis is still alive and well and begins its plans to become invincible, forcing Silver to travel back and defeat Iblis then. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Good job, Blaze.]]
* ''VideoGame/MSSagaANewDawn'' has Gavanger make a senseless sacrifice fairly early in the game by trying to hold off the Psycho Gundam on his own while the rest of the party escapes. The "senseless" part comes in when you realize that even the best MS you have available at the time wouldn't have been much more than a speed bump to Psycho Gundam. [[TalkingIsAFreeAction In fact, the party spends more time saying their farewells to Gavanger]] than the time having Gavanger sacrifice himself would likely have bought them. The situation is deliberately Franchise/{{Gundam}}-{{Troperiffic}}, paying homage to the franchise's long and glorious history of similar sacrifices.
* An odd example where this is part of the ''gameplay'' can be found in ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}''. The moves Selfdestruct and Explosion do a lot of damage but render the user unconscious. This can be useful if you have other teammates, but if you have no other battle-ready Pokémon left on your team, it's an instant loss. Despite this, wild Pokémon will still use them for no apparently in-universe reason [[SpitefulAI by spite]] (the real reason being that [[AIRoulette wild Pokémon have no AI and just choose attacks randomly]]).
** Much worse is the fact that Team Rocket is fond of using Pokemon that know Self-Destruct. The Grunts often send out a single Koffing and immediately order it to Self-Destruct. If they're lucky, this will knock out one of the player's six Pokemon.
** What could possibly make the use of a move like Selfdestruct even ''more'' pointless, you ask? How about if the opposing Pokémon is ghost-type? Since Selfdestruct and Explosion are both normal-type moves they will completely fail to affect ghost type Pokémon, while still killing the user.
** "Memento" manages to be even worse. It will sharply decrease the target's Attack and Special Attack stats, but the user of said move faints. If a wild Pokémon uses this, it ends the battle, but...stat decreases and increases reset immediately after a battle ends.
** "Final Gambit" causes the user to faint and forces the opponent to take damage equal to the user's HP. AI mons are just as prone to throwing their life away with this move as the rest. For, presumably, the laugh value, this move can be taught to Shedinja, whose gimmick is being a OneHitPointWonder, making it double as a StupidSacrifice.
* ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' has this in the "Shock And Awe" mission when your chopper crew stops to rescue a downed chopper pilot (in addition to the troops they ''were already rescuing.'') The player shoots troops who have closed in on the chopper, drags the pilot out, carries her back to your chopper defenselessly...and then gets ''nuked''. This is a point of debate between "If we had just completed our mission, we would have saved many more lives", and "No one gets left behind." That being said, even if they hadn't gone back for the pilot they still may have died in the nuclear explosion.
* [[DefiedTrope Defied]] and Lampshaded in ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles''; Alicia attempts to use a suicide attack to destroy the Marmotah, but Welkin stops her with a CooldownHug.
** But played straight with Faldio. The whole point of his shooting Alicia (and thus ruining his career, and his life, and his relationship with his best friend) was to awaken her Valkyria powers so that she could save the entire Gallian military, which seems to work for the moment...but Alicia [[IJustWantToBeNormal is too scared of her powers]] to try to save or lead them herself, and Selvaria blew up the entire army a few chapters later anyway.
** And again with Faldio when he decides to [[TakingYouWithMe take the already-soundly-defeated]] BigBad [[TakingYouWithMe with him]], despite not being injured in the slightest.
*** That one was more RedemptionEqualsDeath, however.
*** And played totally straight with Selvaria. If she hadn't specifically requested that Squad 7 be the ones to escort the rest of her men away to spare them, they would have gotten burnt up like everybody else and Maximillian could have had Gallia in his pocket by dinnertime.
* In the characters ending, Xianghua of ''VideoGame/SoulCalibur'' does this in the fourth game, senselessly holding on to Kilik as he sacrifices himself to neutralize both Soul Edge and Soul Calibur. He was going to die, with nothing that could have been done without another characters interference, and there was no reason beyond suicidal devotion for Xianghua to go as well. WhatASenselessWasteOfHumanLife...
* ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombat Mortal Kombat: Deception]]'' starts out this way when a three-way showdown between Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi is interrupted by the resurrection of the game's BigBad The Dragon King. Both villians try their hand to take it out with their own sorcery to no avail, then try it together; again, to no effect. In a brief CrowningMomentOfAwesome, Raiden gets up, and all three enemies join forces to try to destroy the Dragon King...unsuccessfully. In a last-ditch effort, Raiden uses the aura of all three of them to send a powerful HeroicSacrifice magic explosion that kills them and destroys everything...everything except for the Dragon King, who now holds the amulet the three were fighting over that could reawaken the King's [[AnimateDead undead army]].
** Interestingly, when the player comes to fight the Dragon King it soon becomes apparent that he is completely immune to projectile attacks, which explains why the magic of three powerful characters had no affect on him. Had they figured this out they should have been able to beat him fairly easily and thus they could have avoided sacrificing themselves.
** A similar thing happens in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX'', [[spoiler:where Raiden sacrifices himself to purge the Jinsei of Shinnok's taint, but the process has not only corrupted him, it [[KnightTemplar also radically]] [[FaceHeelTurn changed]] [[WellIntentionedExtremist his]] outlook on defending Earthrealm from external threats. After absorbing Shinnok's power and gaining control of the fallen Elder God's amulet, he decides to take a militaristic, "zero-tolerance" stance to defending Earthrealm, starting by launching a surprise invasion of Outworld and swiftly conquering it.]]
* Karell Berselius makes a HeroicSacrifice to stop the stalemate between the Swordian Users and Miktran in ''VideoGame/TalesOfDestiny''. [[spoiler:But instead of a TakingYouWithMe moment, Miktran transfers his soul into Berselius's Swordian, ensuring he's around to reactivate Dycroft and [[LostSuperweapon Belcrant]].]] At least they managed to delay him?
* One of the main plot points in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' revolves around this. To save the world of Sylvarant from rotting away and dying, the chosen of regeneration has to go beyond simply giving up their life, they give up aspects of their humanity one by one beforehand. They give up their sense of touch, taste and ability to speak before finally giving their lives. It later turns out to be pointless because Sylverant exists parallel another world called Tethalla. The two worlds exist by vying for each others mana, essentially their lifeforce. The journey of regeneration reverses the flow from one world to the other, taken by the chosen one would prosper and one would decline...If the characters in the game did complete the journey of regeneration, it would only temporarily save their world, the cycle would continue. Ultimately, they manage to solve this by [[SaveBothWorlds saving both worlds]].
* About halfway through ''VideoGame/GodOfWarIII'', Kratos' goals change from killing Zeus to opening PandorasBox to find the one weapon that can destroy the Olympians. Unfortunately, the only way to open the box is to sacrifice Pandora, the ArtificialHuman girl that also doubles as the key. Despite Kratos' best efforts, she kills herself so Kratos can defeat Zeus. He opens the box...and it's empty. [[ItWasWithYouAllAlong The weapon, Hope, had been inside Kratos ever since he fought Ares in the first game.]]
** Inverted when it turns out that Hope wasn't any good at defeating Zeus because Kratos still didn't forgive himself over the death of his family. It takes the spirit of Pandora, during the moment Zeus is choking the life out of him, to get Kratos to forgive himself and gain the true power to kill Zeus.
* ''VideoGame/HaloReach''. Jorge sacrifices himself to detonate a slipspace bomb, destroying a Covenant Supercarrier. He dies believing that he'd saved Reach. ''Moments'' after his death, the main Covenant armada arrives at Reach, and the planet falls anyway. That said, he did just destroy a ''supercarrier'' and every Covenant soldier on board; he may not have saved Reach, but he did do the enemy a lot of damage.
* In the comic version of ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'', Zoey's father is attacked by his [[TechnicallyLivingZombie Infected]] ex-wife/Zoey's mother and bitten. Being GenreSavvy, he assumes that [[ZombieInfectee he will start to turn]] and asks Zoey to [[DyingAsYourself shoot him in the head before he does so]]. 2 weeks later, Zoey is told by a military doctor that she and the other survivors are asymptomatic carriers of the virus, and that the carrier gene is passed down from the father. Zoey goes into shock, realizing that her father's sacrifice was completely pointless.
* In ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'', Adam went on to Sector Zero to destroy the supposedly unfreezeable Metroids and promptly activated the damage-activated self-destruct. It seemed like a good idea at the time... then you meet the Queen Metroid.
** Subverted in the sense that during the boss battle the Queen Metroid spawns Metroids which can only be killed by freezing and shattering them in the classic way. Thus the Metroids Adam sacrificed himself to kill were the only unfrezeable ones and fighting a host of unfrezeable ones seems like a very bad idea when it sets the primary way of defeating them out of function.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'':
** James, aka the Lone Wanderer's father. When the Enclave show up to take over Project Purity, he floods the control centre with radiation to kill Colonel Autumn and a few Enclave soldiers you were likely powerful enough to kill for him and kills himself in the process. Colonel Autumn survives by injecting himself with some kind of radiation protection, so it was all for nothing.
*** Due to the HappyEndingOverride of the game James' sacrifice becomes even more so with VideoGame/Fallout4. For context, James made his sacrifice because he was perfectly aware that the Enclave was just a bunch of power hungry tyrannical maniacs and would rather die than hand Project Purity over to them for them to use, however Fallout 4 shows that not long after subsequently getting the Water Purifier The Brotherhood of Steel undergoes a radical change from white knights back to being feudal lords over the Capital Wasteland arguably not much better than the Enclave was.
** The Lone Wanderer or Sarah Lyons in the original ending. Someone has to activate the water purifier and if a human goes in, they will die from the radiation. You most likely have Charon, Fawkes or RL-3, all of which are immune to radiation and are capable of entering the code...but the game doesn't let you send them in. Averted by Broken Steel, thankfully, unless you send Sarah in.
* In ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' we have the incredibly sad tale of Vault 11: after being locked inside the Vault, the residents are immediately informed that every so often, one of the residents must enter a chamber in the Vault to be killed otherwise the computer will kill ''everyone'' in the Vault. After a long and terrible history (including things like SexualExtortion, coercion and armed insurrection) the five remaining residents of the vault (of the original ''one thousand'') finally decide to end this and refuse to sacrifice anyone else...prompting the computer to congratulate them in being "fine examples of humanity" and unlock the Vault door (the Vault, like every other except for a few control Vaults, was a sick social experiment). Out of those five people, four committed suicide, with the fate of the remaining survivor unknown.
* In the world of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer40000}}'', it's well established that the Eldar are a thinly spread race, clinging to the barest semblance of galactic survival. They're known for instigating events that hurtle entire sub-sectors (groupings of a few to dozens of planets, each inhabited by billions of humans or more) to their doom in order to prolong the lives of a few hundred of their own. So, come ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'', its expansions and sequels, it can pretty well be summed up that any Eldar force you take down is committing this trope, especially if they're working on an end result that would probably work out better in the end if they would just think about the fact that the "primitive humans" might actually win. To whit: the Farseer's ''entire plan'' in Dawn Of War 2.
** With information gained from the Eldar campaign ''Retribution'', the plan does make a little more sense. The Eldar's objective in the sector is the retrieval a soulstones within a craftworld that crashed on Typhon aeons ago. The Eldar don't give a damn about saving the sector, simply stalling the Tyranids long enough for the recovery, and the MeleeATrois they start was a good way of doing this. Without a prophecy telling them so, the idea of the Blood Raven actually defeating the Hive Fleet was acceptably unrealistic.
* In ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness,'' most of the chapters apparently end with this. It seems like a bunch of ShootTheShaggyDog stories, even the [[DownerEnding ending]]. That is until the third playthough. Mantorok the corpse god set up a 2000 year {{plan}} to defeat the other 3 gods, but it had to be done in three [[AlternateUniverse parallel realities]]. So when the player beats the game for the third time, it is revealed that with each god weakened in one timeline, it's rival can kill it, but because all 3 are weakened, they kill each other simultaneously! Of course, with those 3 gods dead, there's nobody to oppose Mantorok...
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'': Serah was aware that she could [[PowerDegeneration very possibly die of]] [[BlessedWithSuck her visions]] when she set out on the final leg of the journey to stop Caius. So they fight him, and appear to fix the timeline; as expected, [[BittersweetEnding she drops dead]]. [[DownerEnding Except Caius' plan worked out perfectly]], [[TimeCrash chaos engulfs the world and]] ''[[TimeCrash all Time]]'' [[TimeCrash literally ends]]. He even shows up in the Secret Ending to [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall taunt the player]] with the claim that ''all eventualities'' lead to his victory.
* Kenny's [[spoiler:apparent]] death at the tail end of the first VideoGame/TheWalkingDead game if Ben survived to the end. Basically, Kenny, Ben, and Lee are trapped in an alley being closed in by zombies. Ben is impaled on a spike after he fell, and Kenny, with one one bullet left, pushes Lee into another corridor and shuts the gate before giving Ben a MercyKill and being left to fight off the zombie horde alone. All he had to do was simply shoot Ben and go into the corridor with Lee.
** Then in Season 2 we have [[spoiler:Kenny thinks Jane murdered Baby AJ and goes Apeshit trying to kill her. Clementine has to either shoot him or look away as he plunges a knife into her chest. If Jane dies she then can point the gun at the broken man and coldly tells her to do it. If she does it they both die... Oh and AJ is thirty yards away tucked safely in a car. Jane just wanted to show how dangerous Kenny could be.]]
** If you saved Jane then [[spoiler:[[DrivenToSuicide she kills herself]] sometime before the events of Season 3, meaning you killed Kenny for nothing.]]
* ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'': This is actually a pivotal element of the entire game. The Seven Deities have been killing innocents to harvest their souls for the sake of using the Ultimate WaveMotionGun on Vlitra. Except that Olga ends up using the weapon on Asura, which only pisses him off and wastes the sacrifice of trillions of people killed over thousands of years. And then it turns out that Asura himself has the furious punching power to take down Vlitra himself. The fact that so many died for ''absolutely nothing'' is instrumental to Yasha turning against the rest of the Seven and aiding Asura in taking them down. And then it is revealed that the entire war with Vlitra was completely pointless because Chakravartin, the omnipotent [[GodIsEvil evil, jackass god]] created Vlitra as a "test" to see who would become the next ruler of Gaia. Needless to say, when Asura learns of this and how all these deaths were just some asshole deity's succession game, he is ''[[UnstoppableRage pissed.]]''
* Whether these occur in the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' universe are largely up to the player's actions (or lack thereof), but one moment in the third game takes the proverbial cake. The conflict between the quarians and the geth has come to a head, and if you lack the resources or drive to bring them to a peaceful coexistence, you must choose one race or the other, with the one not chosen being utterly annihilated. At game's end, if you pick the "Destroy" ending, all synthetic life is wiped out. So if you side with the geth and then pick "Destroy", congratulations, you just committed pointless genocide on two sentient species.
** A canonical-in-all-stories example [[SubvertedTrope seemingly]] occurs with the movie ''[[Anime/MassEffectParagonLost Paragon Lost]]'', which details James Vega's life prior to joining the ''Normandy''. During a Collector attack on Fehl Prime, he is faced with a difficult decision: he has gathered some extremely useful intelligence on the Collectors, which will be instrumental in the Alliance counterattacking them, but to secure it, he has to sacrifice all of the colonists of Fehl Prime, whom he has gotten to know over the past two years. He makes the call and saves the intel, and then Shepard goes ahead and blows up the Collector's base soon after anyway, but [[DownloadableContent Retaliation]] reveals that there were more Collectors than simply the ones in the galactic core - so the intelligence (especially the seeker sting antidote, which saves [[PlayerCharacter many operatives with]] [[HeroOfAnotherStory equal combat capabilities to Shepard's]] from seeker swarms, turning them from instant paralysis to a simple power cooldown debuff) was useful after all.
** The death of Admiral Zaal'Koris in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' is potentially this: if you do not save him he sacrifices himself to save the lives of his civilian crew, but depending on other factors, his death can make it impossible to make peace between the quarians and the geth, thus potentially leading to the extinction of his entire species - including the ones he died to protect.
** Yet another example, also in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', can come as a result of player choices if Samara survived the previous game. Since the Justicar Code obligates her to kill the sole survivor of the Ardat-Yakshi monastery (who happens to be her daughter Falere), Samara attempts to kill herself so she wouldn't have to kill Falere instead. The player has the choice whether to intervene or not, or a particularly sadistic player can wait until Samara shoots herself, and then ''kill Falere anyway'', making Samara's suicide completely pointless.
* ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireII'' has a quite touching scene where [[spoiler:Mina]] becomes the Great Bird, essentially losing her mind and self completely to become nothing more than a massive feral bird that serves as your GlobalAirship... for about a ''half-hour'' of gameplay. Odds are you'll only use her once or twice before you reach the point in the game where if you try and call her, she's too busy being pestered by monsters to pick you up. Adding one more coffin to the nail is that there is no reason the ''actual'' GlobalAirship, the flying city, can't be used outside of the fact your party hasn't figured out the city can do that yet.
* In ''VideoGame/RadiantSilvergun'', [[spoiler:Guy's attempts to destroy the Stone-Like in the climax of Stage 5]] were both pointless and [[StupidSacrifice boneheaded]].
* In the ''Birthright'' route of ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'', [[spoiler:Elise's HeroicSacrifice also is partly a Senseless Sacrifice. She takes a sword swing from her older brother, Xander, that was meant for the Avatar. While it saves the Avatar's life, the "senseless" part is that before dying, she asked Xander to "Try to be at peace" and stop fighting the Avatar. Unfortunately, Xander was so broken by his little sister's demise that the next time he and the Avatar fight, he deliberately holds back on his attacks, implying that [[DeathSeeker he]] ''[[DeathSeeker wants]]'' [[SuicideByCop the Avatar to kill him for what happened]]. Well, [[ExactWords that's one way to find peace...]]]]
* The Fair Lady in ''VideoGame/DarkSoulsI'' sucked out the blightpus from Blighttown residents (against her sister Quelaag's wishes) in an attempt to cure them of the disease. In doing so, she sacrificed her sight, mobility, and fertility (she would have lost her life, too, had she not become a Fire Keeper in the last moment), and then the blight had overcome the town anyway (it's called "Blighttown" for a reason). The few citizens who escaped the blight did so by instead becoming infested by [[SpiderPeople Quelaag's]] spider eggs.
** [[TheGoodKing Yhorm the Giant]] from ''VideoGame/DarkSoulsIII'' sacrificed himself to the First Flame because he believed it would stop the spread of the Profaned Flame that had appeared in his homeland. Instead the Profaned Flame ran wild and destroyed his entire kingdom.
* Janos Audron does this upon his debut in the ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' series. He teleports Raziel to the Fire Shrine, away from the Sarafan Warrior Inquisitors who had infiltrated his Retreat. The problem is that Raziel is "beyond death", and had no reason to fear the Sarafan. The only one in danger was Janos himself, who had just removed the one thing that could protect him. He had no way to know this, however.
* ''VideoGame/PapersPlease'': Late in the game, if you are aiding EZIC, you'll receive a message instructing you to kill the "man in red" ([[NoticeThis who is clearly visible in the line]]), an individual who EZIC considers dangerous, when one of their agents provides a distraction by jumping the border wall. If you assassinate the "man in red", you will be arrested and imprisoned, and EZIC's operations will be halted due to your replacement thwarting their efforts, making both your sacrifice and that of the decoy pointless. At least EZIC helps get your family out of the country as recompense...
* In the second half of ''VideoGame/TheFall'', ARID, a combat suit AI, is heading down into the depths of Domesticon to access the Mainframe directly so that she can alter the parameters of a test she's taking part in, in the name of saving the unconscious pilot wearing her. To provide the Mainframe with more power to purge water flooding the lower levels, she needs to turn off whole colonies of domestic helper androids that could still provide services to humans if they got off-world somehow, but she considers their "lives" expendable if she can save a ''human'' life. [[spoiler:And then it turns out that her pilot isn't even inside of her; she deactivated all those androids for nothing.]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}:'' Arcueid vs. Roa in her route. Judging from the epilogues, it's clear she didn't expect to survive the battle considering how hard she had to fight off her bloodlust when she overdrew her power to use her Marble Phantasm for what is actually a rather minor effect. It motivates Shiki enough to give Roa a WorldOfCardboardSpeech, kill the hallway and then kill him. She gets better, though, in the Good Ending. The True End she still gets better, but because she overexerted herself she can no longer control herself and decides to just sleep for the rest of eternity.
** Another {{Franchise/Nasuverse}} example in ''VisualNovel/FateHollowAtaraxia'' is the original life of Avenger. He was a normal village boy who was randomly designated by the villagers to bear all the evils of the world for them. [[HumanSacrifice And then die for them]]. Somewhat subverted, as the villages ''were'' quelled by the sacrifice, if only even as a placebo effect. Which allowed him to qualify by a technicality for Heroic Spirit status.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Parodied in the web animation ''WebAnimation/{{Ducktalez}} 3'' when Huey martyrs himself in an attempt to stop Vegeta, likely homaging Chiaotzu's death against Nappa in DBZ:
-->'''Louie:''' I'll miss Huey.\\
'''Dewey:''' If only he hadn't blown himself up when I had a perfectly good rocket launcher right here!
* In ''WebAnimation/IfTheEmperorHadATextToSpeechDevice'', the Emperor has a lot to say about the repeated senseless sacrifices done by his Imperium. In particular the Ultramarines driving a very rare and expensive ''Emperor''-class battleship into a Tyranid Hive Fleet and activating its Warp engines, which would have basically given it and its crew over to some daemon of the Warp. However he does appreciate a sacrifice that accomplishes something like when the Astral Knights gave their lives to destroy the Necron's World Engine, ordinary mortal Ollanius Pius being willing to stand up to Horus despite being a puny mortal against a virtual demigod, or Sanguinius, who is the only Primarch he doesn't openly trash talk.
* {{Discussed}} in ''WebAnimation/RedVsBlue'', through [[spoiler:Epsilon's]] death. In his iconic monologue he mourns not being able to see the fruits of his sacrifice, [[DeconstructedTrope but also points out that it is true for almost all the heroes.]] There is always a chance that the hero will pull off the Senseless Sacrifice, and they always die not knowing whether or not this is the case.
-->[[spoiler:'''Epsilon:''']] There's so many stories where some brave hero decides to give their life to save the day. And because of their sacrifice, the good guys win, the survivors all cheer, and everybody lives happily ever after. But the hero... never gets to see that ending. They'll never know if their sacrifice actually made a difference. They'll never know if the day was really saved. In the end... they just have to have faith. Ain't that a bitch?

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Rann of ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' attempted to kill Snadhya'rune to avenge Diva'ratrika. This fails when his target's summons succeed in overpowering him. In a last ditch effort he uses an explosive mana core to to create a large explosion that kills him, but leaves Snadhya'rune with barely a hair out of place.
* Hilda in the webcomic ''Webcomic/{{Fans}}'', captured by an enemy order, telekinetically prevents her automaton double from shooting Rikk by making it shoot itself instead. Her captor informs her that this was his plan all along, in order to demoralize her organization.
** Earlier in ''Webcomic/{{Fans}}'', Harry attempts a human bomb attack on General Maximillianna with a [[ExplosiveOverclocking handheld phaser on overload]], only to have the attempt fail because she was warned by his [[ScreamingWarrior battle cry]] of "''sic semper tyranis!''".
* In ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'', Mort delayed getting to a bomb shelter during the London Blitz to try and help a woman he saw wandering the streets get to shelter herself. He couldn't have known the woman was Jones, who was in absolutely no danger from the bombs, or [[NighInvulnerable from anything else]], for that matter.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':
** In the prequel book ''Recap/StartOfDarkness'', the original bearer of the Crimson Mantle tried to sacrifice himself to stop the crusading Paladins from destroying the goblin village. They easily killed him, then went on to slaughter the rest of the village.
** This trope is important to the end of the story as well. Redcloak's brother Righteye is determined to destroy Xykon at all costs, but Redcloak believes he will be necessary to helping the goblin race. Righteye flies off to attack Xykon (who is distracted while fighting a powerful Archmage) with a magic knife that will allow him to Sneak Attack the lich for Massive Damage. Redcloak chooses to kill his own brother to protect Xykon... who then reveals that he knew about the knife all along and was immune to its effects. Redcloak murdered his sibling for nothing, and now Xykon knows that he will never betray him or it would make his loss ''even more'' pointless.
** Roy was also on the receiving end of one when he died trying to stop Xykon during the invasion of Azure City. He was eventually resurrected, but he since became more careful about the prospect of throwing his life away in this fashion.
--->'''Roy:''' Recent lesson, connected to that "dying" thing. Noble sacrifices only make sense when they solve the problem at hand.
** When Belkar, of all people, gives the RousingSpeech, [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0881.html it consists of reminding Roy]] that he has a choice of soldiering on or making Durkon's death this.
* ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'': It appears that a bust of [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=4&p=001533 Captain Snoop has accidentally wandered in range]] of a cannon controlled by a sniper rifle. Our hero, Problem Sleuth [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=4&p=001534 leaps in front of the rifle]] to prevent the bust from being shot. However, as is pointed out, [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=4&p=001535 the sniper had no intention of firing at all, and jumping in front of the rifle and not the cannon itself would be totally pointless]]. And then [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=4&p=001536 his finger slips]].
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/MSPaintMasterpieces'', where the minor character Compass Man fights a powerful robot assassin with a HealingFactor. After a short fight proving his inferiority in combat, he attempts a [[TakingYouWithMe self-destructive blast]], which probably wouldn't have worked anyways. Luckily, Mega Man interrupts him before he can pull it off, so he gets bonus points for trying, ''and'' he gets to live.
* Played hard in ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'' due to Kore's cunning. Chief attempted to delay him so the others could escape, but the paladin, recognizing the plan, incapacitated Chief before slowly and methodically torturing the poor goblin, using the screams of agony to lure the others back.
** And once they're lured back, we get another Senseless Sacrifice because Chief dies from his wounds from the torture. Moral victory?
** A second example: Dies-Horribly accepts a DealWithTheDevil, trading his soul to the demon who guards the Orb of bloodlight so that Duv can have the orb and no more of her slaves will need to suffer... but the demon's promise of "one soul for one orb" exploits ExactWords, and all he gets for his soul is a worthless ball of blue stone. [[spoiler:And then he gets his soul and life back when it's revealed that his living-metal arm has a soul of its own, meaning the demon has inadvertently violated its own promise.]]
* ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare'' BackStory: Jin's [[DrivenToSuicide suicide]] did not derail the spell as she hoped it would. It did have a significant effect eventually, but much, much later than she wanted.
* Played for comedy in [[WebComic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcninja Dr. McNinja]] when the mayor of Cumberland makes a deal with a demon samurai ghost thing: his soul in exchange for the demon abandoning a plan to raise an undead army. Immediately after the demon leaves, a man runs up to the mayor asking if he'd seen it, then saying that he was of a bloodline that could stop the demon and that it would have been ludicrously easy for him to banish it for another hundred years.
* In ''Webcomic/ScaryGoRound'' Erin agrees to stop living on Earth and return to Hell in exchange for TheGrimReaper letting Eustace live after he's mauled by devil bears. Unfortunately three months later Eustace switches on a cursed magical computer in an attempt to contact her, and it cuts him in two with a laser.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''
** [S] GAME OVER flash
*** [[ThePollyanna Jane]] has been put to sleep by [[ManipulativeBastard Aranea]], who has thrown Dirk's sword at her with [[MindOverMatter mind powers]]. Seeing this, [[BoisterousBruiser Jake]] throws himself in front of it and takes the blow, only for Aranea to psychically throw the sword through Jane with Jake ''still on it''. Both of them end up dead (Jake's death is deemed [[HeroicSacrifice Heroic]], whereas Jane's is deemed [[KarmicDeath Just]]).
*** [[TheSnarkKnight Dave]] provokes two extremely powerful enemies in a fight to protect someone who they explicitly would not have hurt. His death is judged as heroic, and it sticks.
*** In a [[TheRant explanation]] for why everyone was dying off so rapidly. Andrew Hussie explained that the game itself was becoming more strict. In the past it may have let certain deaths slide as just normal deaths and thus allowed God-Tier players to revive, but at the endgame there's no such slack.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Almost happened in ''Literature/{{Sapphire}} Episode III''. Even after Boris killed Ivanka after promising Alec would be spared, he proceeds to kill Alec as well. He is saved, however, when his friend Andrew pulls a little DeusExMachina.
* LetsPlay/TheRunawayGuys [[VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosWii converge on a Star Coin over a gap.]]
-->'''[[LetsPlay/ProtonJon Jon]]:''' Alright, who's sacrificing their life?\\
''[Josh walks off the edge and misses completely]''\\
'''[[LetsPlay/JoshJepson Josh]]:''' DAAAGGH!\\
'''Jon:''' Okay, you can do it, Josh!
* A segment of ''Podcast/{{Rabbits}}'' tells the story of Arcadia, an idyllic community whose citizens would be taken by madness every eighty-nine days. A madness that would last until one person was killed and then fade until the next time. Arcadia's Keeper, Ivan, spent his life trying to find a way to break the cycle. In old age, he decided to try sacrificing himself, making himself the one death; an act that was forbidden. When the day came, he slit his wrists in the town square as the madness came over him. [[HopeSpot At first]], it looked like he succeeded, but the madness came over everyone yet again. This time, however, it didn't end with one person's death and Ivan lived just long enough to see everyone in Arcadia kill each other.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ShadowRaiders'' is a rather grim kids show.
** By episode 20 the Beast had already [[PlanetEater eaten three inhabited planets]] ''on screen,'' two of them belonging to the protagonists! While the inhabitants of planet Fire managed to evacuate, the [[EvilChancellor not evil at all vizier]] crashed the planet into the Beast to no effect. Planet Jungle chose to sacrifice itself since it could not escape, and again did no visible damage.
** And then, in the GrandFinale, the Beast is [[TeleportersAndTransporters teleported away from Planet Rock]] at the last second by driving the Prison Planet into its maw and having its World Engine take them both to the far reaches of the galaxy. The last scene of the series, after all the triumphant cheering and congratulating, is of the Beast devouring another inhabited planet, with the heavy implication that it has assimilated the Prison Planet's teleportation technology.
** Let's not forget Planet Water, which the entire planet was turned into one massive cannon putting everything it had in one shot (which killed everyone on it), doesn't even dent the Beast.
* The death of Jet and the at the time assumed deaths of Smellerbee and Longshot are this in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. They never found Appa in the HQ which was what Jet's sacrifice was meant to do, buy them time. Not to mention the Dai Li aren't taken down either. Though Jet's death is less of a sacrifice and more just getting killed.
* Sadly, in ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', Lin's sacrifice (she's not killed, but her bending is taken away) for Tenzin and his family becomes this when it's revealed that they're all captured anyway.
** Mako, in the finale, came this close to making one. He and Bolin were tasked with destroying Kuvira's HumongousMecha power core while Lin and Suin went after the weapon. Mako knew that the exploding core would likely kill him. And barely survived due to a lot of luck. However, by that time, Lin had already thoroughly demolished walker's WaveMotionGun, rendering it harmless.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10 Ultimate Alien}}'', [[spoiler: Elena kills herself the destroy The Hive and save Ben. While she did save Ben, {{The Stinger}} reveals the nanochips weren't destroyed and are still alive. She returns in a later episode revealing that even [=SHE=] is still alive back in Queen mode. The sacrifice itself was entirely pointless.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', Macbeth had a Senseless Sacrifice in his flashbacks; after he was officially killed by Canmore and his son Luach took his crown, he realized that Luach's only hope of defeating Canmore was if Macbeth himself remained officially dead. The end result:
-->'''Phoebe:''' Did your own death save your son Luach from Canmore?\\
'''Macbeth:''' No.
* In the second season finale of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', when the Decepticons launch a [[AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs full-scale assault on the Autobot base]], Optimus orders the humans and other 'Bots to evacuate through the [=GroundBridge=], while he stays behind to destroy the controls so that the 'Cons can't come after them. However, what makes this senseless is the fact that moments later, Megatron uses the ''Nemesis''' WaveMotionGun to obliterate the entire mountain, destroying not just the Bridge, but seemingly Optimus in the process.
** It's Optimus, though. He sacrifices himself all the time. On occasion, it'll be a StupidSacrifice.
* In the second season premiere of ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012'', when the Turtles [[NiceJobBreakingItHero accidentally drop the Kraang's shipment of mutagen all over New York]], April is mesmerized by the falling canisters and almost gets hit by one before Kirby rushes in to save her and ends up getting hit with it himself, becoming the show's first incarnation of Wingnut. What makes this senseless is that it later turns out April was immune to the mutagen's effects anyway.
* In ''WesternAnimation/FriskyDingo'', Taqu'il dives into Cody II's mouth carrying a bomb, presumably intending to kill Cody II. Cody II is completely nonplussed.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' has a few examples:
** In the Season 3 episode "ARC Troopers", 99 ends up dying in an attempt to get more grenades. While it is certainly heroic that he was willing to try, that hallway was a deathtrap and even a Jedi would have had trouble running that gauntlet. His death ultimately accomplished nothing, though his life certainly mattered.
** In the Season 4 episode "Shadow Warrior", General Tarpals' HeroicSacrifice in defeating and capturing Grievous and dying in the process ends up turning into this, because they end up having to give Grievous back to the Separatists in exchange for Anakin Skywalker, who was captured by Dooku shortly after Grievous's capture.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Glafiformers}}'', Dante Logus attempts to save Julius Drive from the arena... by throwing himself and [[TheHeavy Magnum Tutor]] in as well. Unfortunately, you can only leave the arena if you win.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Trollhunters}}'' Angor Rot seizes Morgana and holds her so that Jim can impale them both with [[CoolSword Daylight]], only for them to discover that while Angor is mortally wounded, Morgana is too powerful to be killed by the weapon.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The battle of Peleliu was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII Pacific War]], lasting months and resulting in thousands of American and Japanese casualties. Yet the island was never used for anything important and the sacrifices made there very likely didn't shorten the war by so much as a day.
* Pops up when discussing the losing side of a war quite a lot, especially if the winners allow the defeated to remain independent. For example, millions of Japanese soldiers and sailors gave their lives thinking that America would destroy Japan if their cause failed. Not only did this not happen, America even helped rebuild Japan into an economic powerhouse-- though the defeat more or less put an end to Japan's military power.
** The US and British took a very dim view of the [[SuicideAttack Kamikaze tactics]] the Japanese employed near the end of the war. While terrifying in concept, they did very little to slow the Allied fleets. Most of the "Special Attack" squadrons were shot down before reaching their target, while the ''Banzai'' charges just chewed through men on both sides. Granted, the strategy was meant to demoralize rather then stop the them, but it's effectiveness was questionable at best. Even to this day the word "Kamikaze" is a derisive term in the United States; synonymous with "Suicidal Nut-Job".
* While this trope is a constant feature in the history of Poland, the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising of 1944 is probably the best example of it. Hearing of the imprisonment or execution of Home Army leaders by the Soviets upon their liberation of Lublin province, and the conscription of their troops into the Polish Army, Home Army leaders in Warsaw decided to try to liberate Warsaw by themselves so they could greet the Red Army as hosts. This would force the Soviets to actually fight the Home Army in order to get to them, which could make things very awkward for the Soviets politically. The remnants of the pre-war military dictatorship in London (the 'government-in-exile') had a much better grasp of the strategic situation and strongly counselled against rising up so soon because the German Army was nowhere close to being defeated, but they had no real power over their nominal 'subordinates' within Warsaw and were basically forced to approve their decision to rise up on the 1st of August. The result, near-total lack of support from the Soviets and a horribly one-sided defeat, was as unfortunate as it was avoidable: as the Government-in-exile had tried to point out repeatedly, the uprising had good chances of success if they'd just waited four months.
* During the Battle of the Philippine Sea in 1944, the Japanese carrier ''Taihō'' was torpedoed by the American submarine USS ''Albacore''. One pilot who was taking off and saw the torpedoes dived its plane against one to stop it of hitting the ship. It was in vain, since one torpedo hit the carrier and thanks to ''very'' poor DamageControl and design flaws ended sinking it.
* The [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Coronel Battle of Coronel]] in World War I. A pair of British armored cruisers under command of Rear Admiral Cradock took on a pair much more modern and capable German armored cruisers under Vice Admiral von Spee, and the British ships were sunk with all hands lost. Cradock set sail without the old battleship ''Canopus'' (while slow, it was more powerful than both German cruisers combined and sufficiently armored to be impervious to their guns) he was told its engines were in poor shape, despite a direct order not to engage the Germans without it. It turned out later that there was nothing wrong with the battleship's engines, and the ship's engineer had simply gone insane. Knowing he had no chance of defeating the German ships, Cradock apparently hoped to cause damage to them and impair their commerce-raiding mission. But he managed only two hits, neither of which caused any damage. To make matters worse, Spee's cruisers were themselves wiped out a month later in [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Falkland_Islands Battle of the Falklands]] by British battlecruisers in similarly one-sided battle, meaning that it made no difference at all whether Cradock could've inflicted some damage.
* Amateur chess players do this quite often, giving up a pawn or a piece (or even multiple pieces) in the hope of some kind of brilliant attack, only to end up not gaining anything and losing. Even professional players have been known to fall into this trap sometimes.