->'''Spock:''' Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many... outweigh...\\
'''Kirk:''' The needs of the few.\\
'''Spock:''' Or the one.
-->-- ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan''

This is a specific variation of the HeroicSacrifice where someone has to volunteer to die so that everyone else can live. This is taking one for the team turned UpToEleven. The reason may involve LifeEnergy released upon their death.

In contrast to TakingTheBullet this is not a spur of the moment decision but one where the person making the sacrifice has time to think through a decision, or make up his mind long in advance, and usually give his FinalSpeech before making his sacrifice. Typically the speech includes the hero expressing that he knows exactly what he is doing and is willing to pay the price. [[MoreHeroThanThou Sometimes the hero even has to fight his own team for the right to die.]]

One of the most important aspects of this trope: it only works if the person ''volunteers''. If anyone is ordered to be the sacrifice, then either someone's a villain or you're watching a dark comedy. Occasionally, [[MartyrWithoutACause a hero will volunteer]] and someone [[MoreExpendableThanYou more expendable]] will stop them.

May, occasionally, diverge from a HeroicSacrifice by way of FridgeLogic, in one specific situation: Everyone is doomed unless one character makes the sacrifice. However, only one character is capable of making the sacrifice, and unless he does, everybody (including him) is doomed. Usually, the story plays it as a HeroicSacrifice anyway. Only later does the audience realize that, wait a minute--he didn't make a HeroicSacrifice after all; he just decided he wasn't going to take everybody else with him when he inevitably kicked the bucket.

Closely related to YouShallNotPass, but distinct in that there is no fight scene and death is certain. Sometimes it's justified by the person making the sacrifice having a ConvenientTerminalIllness. Compare WhoWillBellTheCat and ColdEquation.

This is OlderThanFeudalism, as it is the reason why Christ had to die in Christianity.

!!'''DeathTrope. Spoilers ahoy.'''


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The entire last half of the first ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' movie focuses on this.
* Happens with twists in ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' at the end of the Cell arc when a depowered Cell tries to blow himself up and take Earth with him. Goku is the only one who knows a teleportation technique that could get rid of Cell, and if he doesn't do it, everyone is screwed. Subverted when Goku realizes that he died for nothing since Cell regenerates... FromASingleCell and CameBackStrong to boot.
* ''Manga/GirlsGoAround'', the final chapter reveals that on their graduation day, one of their group ''will'' die whether it is by accident or [[DrivenToSuicide planned]]. Causeing a time loop and trying to save the one that died last time results in a different one dying. They just can't avoid it.
* Penwood from ''Anime/{{Hellsing}}''. As England is being obliterated by Millennium, he comes to the resolution (even though a little persuasion helps) to stay behind and fight to the end with the rest of his colleagues, just to take out however many vampires they can. With him soon being the only living person in the army HQ, he holds a detonator in his hand and looks at a gun Integra gave him so that he could commit suicide. Choosing the more heroic option, Penwood waits until the vampires burst through a barricaded door, whereupon he adamantly answers their leader back in the face of death, and, even after being shot ''thrice'', manages to detonate a huge stockpile of C4, taking the vampires and the entire building with him.
* ''[[VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai]]'', in ''Matsuribayashi-hen''. The villain is holding the heroes at gunpoint with only one bullet, and asks them to choose who will take the bullet to save everyone else. Subverted when EverybodyLives. "This world doesn't need a loser. That is the answer Furude Rika reached at the end of her thousand year journey in search of a miracle."
* ''Manga/FutureDiary'', Yukiteru and [[{{Yandere}} Yuno]] combine this with StarCrossedLovers, as they are two contestants in a survival game in which twelve people attempt to kill each other in order to ascend to the throne of God, using future-telling diaries. There can only be one winner and if a winner isn't decided by the time the current God dies (in a few months), the universe will destroy itself. The wrench in those works is that the two of them form an attraction to each other and begin dating, knowing full well that it could very well (and does) come down to one of them needing to kill the other and that there was no way they could really end up together.
* The main characters of ''Manga/NurseAngelRirikaSOS'' spend the show searching for the Flower of Life, and the situation gets so bad that the flowers are their only hope. It turns out that they couldn't find them because they are [[ItWasWithYouAllAlong they are sealed in the heroine]], and the only way to release them is for her to sacrifice herself. After a HesitantSacrifice moment, she resolves GoOutWithASmile in the knowledge that her loved ones will be safe.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'': During the prison break out of [[TheAlcatraz Impel Down]]. Someone had to stay behind to make sure that the final obstacle, the Gates of Justice, would be open to let everyone else through to escape. Mr. 2 Bon Kurei volunteers for the role, using his Clone-Clone Fruit powers to pose as the prison's warden, and gets everyone out just as the real Warden confronts him.
* In ''Anime/{{Robotech}}: [[WesternAnimation/RobotechTheShadowChronicles The Shadow Chronicles]]'', Alex Romero flies his fighter with overloading Synchro-Cannon on board into a bunch of pursuing Shadowfighters. Later Markus throws escape capsule with Maya towads safety and stays behind(rather than call for help) to deter enemy fighters, though this borders with YouShallNotPass situation.
* In ''[[Anime/SailorMoon Sailor Moon S]]'', Saturn uses her power to stop Pharaoh 90 even though it will kill her. Of course, Sailor Moon saved her in the end.
* In ''Anime/SonicX'': Cosmo does this during the big [[WhamEpisode series finale]], requiring Tails to shoot the Sonic driver, [[AbnormalAmmo which uses Sonic and Shadow as ammunition]], into her while she is attached to Dark Oak in her adult tree form, thereby weakening him to a point at which he could be destroyed. Whether or not this was considered or spur of the moment is debatable, but it is said that this was supposed to have been her [[BecauseDestinySaysSo destiny all along]]. Cosmo, however, chooses to die not simply to fulfill her purpose, but because she wants to save her friends.
* At the end of ''[[Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato Farewell Space Battleship Yamato]]'', [[TheCaptain Wildstar]] convinces the scant other surviving crewmembers - Venture, Homer, IQ-9 and some Redshirts - that they do not need to die with him in the final attack on the Comet Empire, and they leave on a medical shuttle. It's implied their spirits or wills to live died with him, however, as the final scene of the movie is [[MindScrew Wildstar totally hallucinating orange images of all his friends, dead or alive, on the bridge.]]
* A variant of this trope happens in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', when the team in trapped in the ocean of despair with two minutes 'till they all get crushed to death. At first Yoko tries to volunteer for the suicidal mission to destroy the Death Spiral Machine that maintains the Ocean, but before she can get the words out, Kittan volunteers, and shares a LastKiss with Yoko, before going on to do his DyingMomentOfAwesome. He dies without regrets, his last thoughts being that going out in a blaze of Spiral energy is "not bad at all."

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Legion of Super-Heroes}}'':
** Ferro Lad sacrificed himself to destroy the Sun-Eater. This happened in both in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} comic book and [[WesternAnimation/LegionOfSuperHeroes the animated series]]; he also attempted it in the post-Zero Hour continuity but was intercepted.
** Saturn Girl secretly attempts to do this in two early Legion stories; both times someone else figures out what she's doing and manages to die in her place.
** In the last few stories before the five years jump, the Legion finds a mystic seal that must be opened by such a sacrifice. One of them Magnetic Lad, younger brother of Cosmic Boy volunteers and dies indeed. It did the trick, though.
* ''Comicbook/XMen'':
** When Beast discovered the cure to the Legacy Virus, for some reason the first person to take it would die, but then it would spread throughout the world via air. ComicBook/{{Colossus}} took it and died. Don't worry, he got better.
** The Phoenix storyline started out with ComicBook/JeanGrey volunteering to get the X-Men back to Earth by piloting an unshielded space shuttle through a lethal solar flare. What happened at that point is [[RetCon subject to debate]], but it's fair to say only a miracle kept her alive.
*** In a ''WhatIf'' story where Jean never became Phoenix, the Shi'ar want to destroy Earth's sun, where the Phoenix has settled. To avert this, Cyclops volunteers to become the Phoenix's host and then let the Shi'ar kill him; just before he can go through with it Nightcrawler [[MoreExpendableThanYou knocks him over the head and takes his place as the sacrifice]].
** Brought UpToEleven when nine X-Men had to die in ''Fall of the Mutants''. Needless to say, DeathIsCheap.
** Subverted and combined with Tonight Someone Dies in ComicBook/XStatix. The Anarchist chooses to stay behind on a shuttle (because only two people could escape from it) by using his sweat to manipulate a die roll. The subversion comes when they rescue him anyway. [[spoiler: Then The Spike and U-Go Girl die anyway.]]
* An unusual villainous example in ''ComicBook/ContestOfChampions'': the alien Grandmaster once played a game (involving hero proxies fighting it out) with the incarnation of Death in order to bring his fellow Elder of the Universe, the Collector, back to life. Death didn't bother to inform him until the contest was over that the method involved required the Grandmaster to [[BalancingDeathsBooks die in his place]]. Being the universe's ultimate game addict (and a pretty good friend of the Collector), the Grandmaster went through with it. The whole deal was (or was later retconned into being anyway) part of a plan on The Grandmaster's part to ultimately [[spoiler: obtain true immortality for all of the Elders]].
* In ''Comicbook/SonicTheHedgehog'', Dr. Finitevus uses magic and the Master Emerald to turn Knuckles the Echidna into Enerjak, a godlike being bent on cleansing the earth with fire... an effect that can only be reversed by someone giving up their life. Several of Knuckles' loved ones immediately volunteer, but it's his father Locke who ultimately goes through with the sacrifice.
* Thanks to TimeTravel, this makes the HeroicSacrifice of the first ComicBook/{{Hourman}} Rex Tyler even more complicated. Hourman ''must'' die fighting against Extant to prevent time and space from collapsing. Rex was given extra time in a time bubble by the third android Hourman Matthew so that he could spend some time with his son Rick the second Hourman. Rick tried to take his father's place in that moment in time so that his mom and dad could have a second chance at happiness. He and his dad then beat the hell out of each other trying to stop the other from giving his life. Ultimately, the android Hourman sacrifices himself so that the Tyler family will remain together.
* Kinda subverted in the unpublished ending to ''[[{{Transformers}} Transformer: Universe, Featuring the Wreckers]].'' When their ship has been shot and is going down, Rodimus tells everyone to get out while he takes the controls. He gets knocked out by Skywarp, who then takes the controls instead while everyone else gets out. When the ship crashes they mourn the now dead Skywarp[[spoiler:...only for him appear behind them because he teleported out]].
* In ''Comicbook/{{Fables}}'', Toyland's ability to sustain life can only be rejuvenated if someone of sufficiently potent lineage sacrifices their life and blood to a magical cauldron. [[spoiler:Sadly, this is the only way Darien can save his sister Therese from starving to death in Toyland, since they have no means of escape.]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Amazingly, this was the case in a Disney movie, the DarkerAndEdgier ''Disney/TheBlackCauldron'', to be precise. The only way to destroy the evil magic possessed by the ArtifactOfDoom the movie is named after was for a living being to ''willingly'' climb into the Cauldron, but whoever did so would sacrifice his life in the process. (Which the three witches who give it to the heroes [[EvilGloating gleefully tell them.]]) At first, none of the heroes were willing to do so - or demand such a sacrifice of anyone else - but when the [[BigBad Horned King]] unleashes its power, Taran tries to do so, but Gurgi stops him, and does it himself. [[spoiler:The movie has a happy ending however; when the three witches reclaim the now-worthless Cauldron, Fflewddur goads them into demonstrating their power, and SwissArmyTears are able to revive Gurgi.]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/DeepImpact'' - The entire crew of the Messiah decides to take one for the team, but it is still so everyone else can live.
* ''Film/{{Armageddon}}'' - Harry Stamper makes this choice when he defies the drawing of the lots to sacrifice himself, as the crew broke their remote detonator earlier in the movie.
* ''Film/IndependenceDay'' - Russell Casse's kamikaze attack with its characteristic moment of decision before stepping up to the plate.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'':
** ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'' - Spock's FinalSpeech comes after he saves the day, but he knew going into the radiation flooded engine room was certain death.
** And in ''Film/StarTrekNemesis'' where Data shows up at the last moment, transports Picard back onto the Enterprise, and blows up the Big Bad's ship immediately before the organic-matter-disintegrating-superweapon fires.
* ''Film/K19TheWidowmaker''. If the first men going in weren't sure what was going to happen to them, those who saw them afterwards pretty much knew.
* ''Film/NationalTreasure2BookOfSecrets''. With the cavern flooding, the only way to escape drowning is for one person to hold the drainage door open long enough for the rest to escape. Mitch specifically invokes this trope.
-->'''Mitch''': It's not a puzzle! No more puzzles Ben! We're all gonna die, or it could just be me!
* At the end of ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', [[spoiler: Tony]] grabs the nuke and flies it into space in spite of Natasha's warnings that anything going out of the wormhole is on a "one way trip" because everyone on Manhattan Island would've been killed otherwise, even if Natasha managed to close the portal in time to stop the rest of the invading army. It's unsaid, but notable, that [[spoiler: Thor]] also had the capability to do this, and [[spoiler: Tony]] could've refused to catch the nuke and instead [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere flown away from the city in time to save himself]], yet chose not to.
* Pretty much the whole premise of ''Film/TheCabinInTheWoods'', [[spoiler: at least four of the five protagonists must die in order to save the world]]. Mostly inverted in that [[spoiler: Marty refuses to let himself die in order to save the world]].
* In ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'', [[spoiler: Nux ends up being the one to make a HeroicSacrifice to kill [[TheDragon Rictus]] and block the pass, trapping Joe's army in the process]].

* ''Literature/ATaleOfTwoCities'' - Sydney Carton's switching places with Charles Darnay with one of the most memorable final lines in English literature, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
* ''[[Literature/TheChroniclesOfPrydain The Black Cauldron]]'' - The undead-creating cauldron in the book can only be destroyed by a living person willingly crawling into it, shattering the cauldron and killing themselves. In the Disney film (very) loosely based on the book, they manage to [[DisneyDeath bring back the one who made this sacrifice]].
* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'': Harry learns that in order to defeat [[BigBad Voldemort]] he has to [[spoiler: sacrifice himself, as he has part of Voldemort's soul in him, and if he does not die then Voldemort will never be truly gone]]. Subverted in that he manages to do this but [[spoiler: [[NotQuiteDead doesn't stay dead]]]].
* ''Deep Wizardry'', the second book in the ''Literature/YoungWizards'', features this as a major plot point. A magical song/play must be sung/performed or the ocean will be corrupted, and Nita volunteers to play the part which is KilledOffForReal at the end of it, a fact she doesn't realize until she's well and committed. The Shark King (who is supposed to eat her) sacrifices himself to prevent Evil from interfering, and is eaten by all the sharks in the ocean, getting her off the hook (no pun intended).
** In fact the first book explains that defeating [[{{Satan}} The Lone Power]] is perfectly possible but most of the time, someone has to die (although sometimes it is in fact a different variation of HeroicSacrifice involved, one death is inevitable when you oppose the Lone Power).
*** In the fifth book, Nita's mother is dying of brain cancer, and defeats the Lone Power by acknowledging her own death. Book six takes place after her funeral. And book eight, no one dies.
* In ''Literature/TheLangoliers'', by Creator/StephenKing, they figure out that everyone has to be asleep when they make the return trip, but the only effective method is lowering cabin air pressure. This is going to require someone to stay awake, using an oxygen mask, to be able to turn the air pressure back up to keep from killing everyone via hypoxia. That someone will not survive the return trip.
* In ''Literature/TheRestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse'', the only way our heroes have of getting off the Sun Diver spaceship is if one of them operates the manual controls. Marvin the Android gets the call.
* The ''ComicBook/XMen[=/=]Franchise/SpiderMan'' crossover novel series ''Time's Arrow'' resulted in an interesting double example. At the beginning of the series, ComicBook/{{Cable}} is searching the timelines for his wife, dead in his own timeline, to have survived in a timeline where he didn't, so they can be together. He finally finds one. When the time comes to fulfill this trope, he volunteers. His wife, of course, is the last to go, wanting a private moment...and then knocks him out, noting quietly how he never knew she was a "coward" who would take the easy way out in such a situation.
* Twisted in the 3rd ''[[Literature/{{Animorphs}} Megamorphs]]'' book: The deal struck by Ellimist & Crayak to allow the Animorphs to fix a Yeerk's time-machine meddling requires one of the team to die. Jake agrees, clearly expecting himself to be the doomed one, since [[ItsPersonal Crayak personally hates him]]. Marco & Cassie both suspect this and secretly agree to jump in front of any bullet Jake plans to take. Jake ''does'' die on the mission, but not in the HeroicSacrifice way anyone expected. Also, his death triggers the Ellimist's terms of the deal: the other Animorphs become invincible for the remainder of the book. Then, when they recover the Time Matrix at the end, the Animorphs [[DidYouJustFlipOffCthulhu flip off Crayak]] by using it to stop the entire crisis from happening in the first place, which means they never had to leave, which means Jake never had to die. One * POP* later, Jake's alive again.
* In ''Literature/TheObsidianTrilogy'', the price for some of the greater spells is the life of the caster, though they are always given the chance to turn down the deal, and it has nothing to do with life force, just that how they die advances the cause of the Wild Magic in some fashion.
* In ''[[Literature/DarthBane Darth Bane: Path of Destruction]]'', General Hoth and 99 other Jedi sacrifice themselves to get the Brotherhood of Darkness to detonate the thought bomb that they had prepared, which would trap the souls of all involved for eternity. Hoth reasoned that the Brotherhood would only detonate the bomb if doing so would trap a large number of Jedi, and that the Brotherhood would otherwise escape and continue to plague the galaxy. Every Jedi present volunteered.
* In ''Literature/DarkReflections'', the only one who can defeat the BigBad is the Flowing Queen- in her true body( she's been sharing the main character, Merle's). the gang finds her true body, that of a Sphinx, but the Queen tells Merle the catch- in order to return to her body, the life force of her host must be exchanged with the form she takes on- and since her body is dead, it means Merle will die. Merle makes her peace with this, but the Queen tells everyone else that someone else can become her host and die in Merle's place. the love interest, Sarafin, offers his life, but Merle refuses to let him die. They Kiss and Sarafin uses the moment to take the Flowing Queen into his own body, then makes the transfer.
* In ''Omega'', one of the ''Literature/PriscillaHutchins'' novels, when a ship is disabled by a too-close encounter with an Omega Cloud, the only plan they can come up with for getting the escape pod free is to blow up the ship to provide a distraction. But someone has to remain behind to destroy the ship.
* In ''Literature/{{Xenocide}}'', Planter volunteers himself to test the hypothesis that the pequeninos can remain intelligent even without the descolada, knowing that it's likely to kill him. The hypothesis is confirmed, but Planter soon dies, and the tree that grows from his corpse has no consciousness. He is nevertheless venerated by his race for his noble sacrifice.
* At the end of ''Literature/TheAtrocityArchive'', someone has to stay behind to blow up the nuke manually [[spoiler:and cause a "fizzle". At the end of the book, he's suffering the effects of radiation poisoning and the outlook is not the best, but then]] ''Literature/TheJenniferMorgue'' confirms he survived; he shows up again as the leader of TheCavalry after the cat dies. Lampshaded in the RPG, where Bob notes that there had to be some potent magic involved to keep him alive, and wonders just what the cost was...

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' does this in the episode "The Gift". Not as much forethought as some examples, but there is still the dramatic pause, the weighing, the decision, the FinalSpeech and then Buffy's leap.
** In the spin-off ''Series/{{Angel}}'', the Season One episode "Hero" features a cult of Demon-Nazis, possessing FantasticRacism towards humanity and trying to murder a group of half-blood demons using a machine which would kill anyone exposed to its light if they have (enough) human ancestry/blood. Angel is prepared to make this, but Doyle pulls a MoreHeroThanThou - he knocks Angel out, gives Cordelia their first-and-last kiss, and then leaps upon the glowing machine, disconnecting it just as the light disintegrates him.
* The series finale of ''{{Series/Dollhouse}}'', when Topher must trigger the mind-restoring machine himself - and be killed in the resulting explosion - so that the imprinted people outside can have their selves returned to them.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest'': Has this big in their series finale. [[spoiler: Finch volunteers to do this to take out Samaritan, but is unknowingly directed to the wrong location, so that Reese can do it instead.]]
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' episode "The Quest" had a good speech by Mitchell about it.
** Happens ALL THE TIME in both ''SG-1'' and ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', often with characters arguing over who gets to risk their lives this time.
--->'''Mitchell''': Well now you know that the hard part about being part of this team is not risking your own life. It's watching your friends take chances with theirs.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' almost had this with virgin Nancy in "Jus in Bello." Supposedly ripping out her heart would have saved everyone else. She volunteers and much moral debate ensues. Subverted when Dean says screw it and they go with a more risky (but arguably more heroic) plan, one without any VirginSacrifice. Doubly subverted when most of them die anyway, Nancy included. Unless Ruby was lying and ripping out Nancy's heart wouldn't have worked. It's a little confusing.
** Also with regards to Dean's DealWithTheDevil. He brings his brother back to life, but in return he will die (and go to Hell) in a year. But, if he tries to "welch or weasel his way out" of the deal, then Sam drops dead again. Naturally this creates conflict between the two brothers, and in the end, Dean is the one who dies.
** In Season 7 it's less about someone having to die and more of someone having to go insane, but [[spoiler: Castiel finds out that Sam is too far gone for his powers to heal, so instead transfers Sam's insanity onto himself]].
* In a second-season episode of ''Series/TwentyFour'', CTU discovers that the bomb they've been chasing all day has begun its countdown, which can't be stopped. Jack Bauer volunteers to fly it out into the desert, where its explosion will at least do less harm. Then George Mason, dying of radiation poisoning, stows away in the plane and at the last minute gives Jack a parachute and volunteers to crash the plane himself.
** In season 5, CTU is successfully hit with nerve gas attack, and the few survivors safe in some sealed rooms learn that the gas has an acidic substance that is slowly eating those seals away. Since outside help can't arrive in time, the only person close by to ventilate the place but also contaminate the room is Lynn [=McGill=], [[RedemptionEqualsDeath who somewhat does this as a way to make up for]] his own mistake allowing the attack to occur in the first place.
* In ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', Stark decides to die, as the method by which the execution is carried out gives him--but none of the others--a chance to survive.
** Or in Season 3 when Zhaan chooses to board the doomed Pathfinder ship, knowing that it will die with everybody on board, as she is already dying and will not allow Crichton to sacrifice himself. This is made even more heroic since there was a planet nearby where she could have healed, though she denies it would have worked, this was likely an attempt to make them feel better.
*** And, the reason Zhaan was dying in the first place: she used up her own life energy to bring Aeryn back from the brink of death. Zhaan knew it would kill her but did it anyway "Because I love you. More importantly - Crichton loves you. You must take this gift, not for my sake, but for his."
* In an early episode of ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess'', Hera binds Prometheus to a rock (apparently, in this reality, that didn't happen to him already) which robs humanity of the gifts he gave them, including fire and the ability to heal themselves (meaning even a wound as small as a paper cut could be deadly). Xena gets ahold of a sword capable of severing the chains, but then [[Series/HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys Hercules]] suddenly shows up to try to stop her, insisting on doing it himself. Gabriel and Iolaus think at first that the two are trying to show each other up, but then the true reason comes out: If the sword strikes something forged by Hephaestus, like the chains binding Prometheus, the one striking it is burned to ashes, meaning it can't be done without someone sacrificing himself. Xena is willing to knock Hercules out to prevent him from doing it, as she sees herself as more expendable, but [[spoiler:they are able to do it without either of them actually holding the sword, because ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks; well, actually, the only reason they managed to do it that way was because Hera sent some flying monsters to try to stop them, the fight giving them the right angle, so NiceJobFixingItVillain]].
* In the Season three episode of ''{{Series/Eureka}}'', 'I Do Over', Stark Sacrifices himself to stop a time loop that threatened to destroy the universe. [[KickTheDog On his wedding day]]!
* At the end of season 3 of ''Series/{{Lost}}'', someone must swim into what they think is a flooded station to stop jamming the signal from the radio tower. Though Sayid and Desmond both volunteer, Charlie accepts that he is destined to die and takes on the mission.
* The subplot for the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode ''Thine Own Self'' revolved around Deanna Troi realizing that this situation pops up and that ordering someone to their death to save the ship is something a commanding officer has to do at times. She eventually accepts this, leading to her promotion to commander.
* In Season 4 of ''Series/BabylonFive'' Sheridan comes up with a way to draw the Shadows and the Vorlons into the same place, forcing a final confrontation between them (which would allow him to start another chain of events to end the war by [[TakeAThirdOption taking a third option]]). The crux of the matter is luring the Shadows into the same place as the Vorlons. He needs a bait, and that would require someone to be destroyed while carrying fake plans to lure the Shadows. Thankfully, the Rangers fully understand the concept of sacrifice for the greater good, and one ship volunteers for the mission. They're allowed to put their affairs in order, and they carry out the mission exactly as planned, and the ruse works.
* In ''{{Series/Fringe}}'' 2X23, "Over There Part 2," William Bell realizes that in order to have enough power to return the group to their own universe, he will need to create a nuclear reaction using the instability of his body's molecular state.
* Invoked in ''Series/ThirtyRock'' when Jack sets out to prove that no one could be [[IncorruptiblePurePureness as selfless as Kenneth seems to be]]. He pulls the emergency brake on an elevator carrying them and a bunch of others, tells Kenneth that there are nine people aboard and only enough air for eight, and reveals that he has replaced the phone with a gun containing one bullet. Not only does Kenneth question none of this, he immediately grabs the gun and tries to use it on himself, and when that doesn't work, takes off his belt and instructs the other passengers to strangle him with it. By this time the elevator has arrived at its destination and Jack is stepping off, whispering, "What is wrong with you?"
* Parodied by Creator/MontyPython in both the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sljSf7KVlQ lifeboat sketch]] and the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJE7uJyHJ3k one about Ypres]].
* [[Series/DoctorWho The Doctor]] is always volunteering, although it [[TheNthDoctor usually]] doesn't turn out to be necessary.
** [[spoiler:River Song]] as well in ''Forest of the Dead'', after punching the Doctor in the face and knocking him out to prevent him from doing it.
*** [[DoctorWhoS31E05FleshAndStone Later/earlier]], they both try to out-sacrifice each other before they [[TakeAThirdOption find a third option]].
* ''Series/SleepyHollow'': Abbie gives a good speech about this in "The Akeda", telling Crane that they both have to be willing to sacrifice not only themselves, but each other, to win this war. This is how she convinces him to let her wield a sword that would allow them to kill any demon, but would take the soul of the user. She also acknowledges that he'll probably get a chance to risk his life after she dies since none of them expect to survive for long during the battle.
* ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'': Rip Hunter's team try to destroy the Oculus, but it has a failsafe. In order to bypass it, one of the team has to hold the switch down and be caught in the explosion. Ray volunteers, gets knocked out by Mick who takes his place, who is then knocked out by Leonard who takes his place.
* In the ''Series/Warehouse13'' episode "Buried", Warehouse 2 is awakened because it detects intruders. As a penalty, the Warehouse demands that "one must die".[[spoiler:Valda volunteers.]]

[[folder:Religion & Mythology]]
* Literature/TheBible: UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} had to die and suffer punishment for mankind's sins, in order to make it possible for people to be saved and not have to suffer punishment for their own sins. [[BackFromTheDead His resurrection]] is proof that his sacrifice was sufficient.

[[folder:Tabletop [=RPGs=]]]
* One of the six possible endings to the original ''TabletopGame/{{Dragonlance}}'' adventures for ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' stipulates that one of the player characters must throw himself into a portal to the Abyss in order to seal it from the inside, and thus stop the dark goddess Takhisis from returning to Krynn. Another of the endings is that Berem, an NPC who carries a piece of one of the foundation stones from Takhisis' temple in his chest, making him immortal, must return the stone to its rightful place, which would seal the portal but cause his own death. The latter ending was eventually used for the novelization of these adventures, the ''Dragonlance Chronicles'' trilogy.
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' campaign, there is the House of Lament, a very dangerous variation of the HauntedHouse theme. The curse placed on this house started when a poor young girl was kidnapped by bandits, then boarded up in a room and left to die in loneliness and isolation. Soon after, the bandits were found dead and horrible mutilated, but the young girl's restless and eternally lonely spirit now seals the house anytime a group enters, making escape impossible (windows cannot break and doors cannot be knocked down, even with magic) and trying her best to kill them, forbidding anyone in the group from leaving until she succeeds in killing at least one. The guidebook where the House is detailed recommends to the Game Master that the actual victim should be an NPC, but it is said, however, that her spirit [[CurseEscapeClause can be laid to rest forever]] if a selfless hero [[HeroicSacrifice volunteers to be the victim]], but as yet, no-one (at least canonically) has offered.
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering:'' The Trial Of Ambition on the plane of Amonkhet is built around this trope, as fits the ideology of its patron God. Each challenge in the trial is designed such that one or more of the initates ''must'' die if the rest of the Crop is to advance, and the final trial requires each initiate to bring Bhontu the heart of one of their fellows if they wish to receive her cartouche.

* In the ending of Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's ''Theatre/TheSorcerer'', one of either Alexis or Mr. Wells must be sacrificed to nullify the effects of the LovePotion. Of course, the sorcerer who made the DealWithTheDevil is the one supposed to go down to hell, but many audiences today would rather have DesignatedHero Alexis be the one to die.

* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' drives most of its entire plot on this trope. Even though every member of the party (minus [[TheUndead Auron]]) volunteers to become the Final Aeon, Yuna won't let any of them die, and they end up killing [[{{Undead}} Yunalesca]], who offers this, along with the MacGuffin. Zig-zagged at the end of the game: [[spoiler:permanently putting an end to Sin means putting the fayth to rest, including not only the ones who create the aeons but also the multitude of fayth whose dreams create the illusory Zanarkand which Jecht and Tidus came from. This causes Tidus to disappear after the final battle, a fate he accepts]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' has another subverted example. The gang discovers that an ancient temple is in fact the MacGuffin they need and transforms into it by solving various puzzles, which can only be done inside. Meaning that whoever is inside to activate it will be crushed and die. The subversion comes when Cait Sith volunteers as his body is just a toy being remote controlled and thus it can be done with no death. The result is a fairly [[{{Narm}} Narmy]] scene when it plays out acting as if it is some sort of noble HeroicSacrifice when he does so even though his replacement comes around immediately afterwards.
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2'', [[spoiler:Xion is sapping LifeEnergy from Roxas (through no fault of her own, it's because she's his OppositeSexClone) and if it continues he'll die. She ends up committing SuicideByCop to save him]]. Later, in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', [[spoiler:Roxas has to [[SplitPersonalityMerge merge]] with Sora so Sora can wake up from his year-long sleep. In this case it isn't really death, exactly, but he still treats it like one]].
* ''VideoGame/Persona3'':
** A rather sadistic twist on this trope: Ryoji, who turns out to be the herald of the AnthropomorphicPersonification of death, willingly offers to let SEES destroy him -- an act that will rob you of all your memories of the Dark Hour and allow your deaths to come instantaneously, painlessly and unexpected when said personification finally descends to Earth and annihilates all life upon it -- in order to save you all from what he views as needless suffering from futilely trying to ScrewDestiny.
** Played completely straight when the MainCharacter sacrifices himself to stop said AnthropomorphicPersonification from killing everyone.
* At one point in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemJugdral Fire Emblem 4]]'', Julius and Ishtar run out onto the field to see who can kill one of Celice's troops first. They won't leave until they kill someone or you manage to defeat one of them. Considering their godly stats and super powerful tomes, if you're not extremely careful, you might find your little guys pulling straws.
** And in the prologue of ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemShadowDragonAndTheBladeOfLight Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon]]'', you have to sacrifice one of your units to [[YouShallNotPass decoy Jiol away from Marth.]] [[spoiler: However, the sequel reveals this was actually {{subverted|Trope}}: Frey (who was the canon sacrifice) was attacked and LeftForDead, but survived and was rescued by nearby villagers. [[SlidingScaleOfGameplayAndStoryIntegration Which explains why you couldn't revive him with Aum staff.]]]]
* ''[[Franchise/StarshipTroopers Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy]]'' has a level where the remote detonator of the SelfDestructMechanism of a research facility that must be destroyed has been disabled by [[HordeOfAlienLocusts bug]] attacks. SergeantRock Major Bishop has the player select one of his men to stay behind and manually trigger the bomb while the rest of the strike team abandons the planet before it is overrun. This troper would have found it difficult to choose, if it weren't for the fact that he had just rescued and taken command of a [[RedshirtArmy squad of extras]] during the mission, none of whom were of [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking high enough rank]] to use [[SortingAlgorithmOfWeaponEffectiveness more powerful weapons]] or wear a [[PoweredArmor Marauder Battlesuit]].
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}'' Episode I, in which KOS-MOS volunteers to stay behind and manually operate the procedure that will break the giant space weapon up into pieces small enough to burn up in the atmosphere. She ends up not dying, but it's a very, very near thing.
** Played straight in Episode III, when Jin leave Shion to assist chaos, KOS-MOS and Fei (sorry: Abel). The problem is, while the three characters are the messiah, his female equivalent and god, and are actually able to survive the last battle, even if is means taking A LOT of damage. Jin, on the other hand is just a former soldier with a cool looking sword...
* Subverted at the end of ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryV''. The prophecy says that someone must sacrifice his life to seal the [[SealedEvilInACan Dragon]] back in the can. If the hero volunteers, he will likely get a MoreExpendableThanYou. But a proper hero will decide to ScrewDestiny and just [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu slay the hell]] out of the BigBad.
* A particularly [[TearJerker poignant]] part of ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' invokes this trope: the only surefire way to neutralize the poisonous miasma covering the world is to cause a "hyperresonance" so powerful that it would take the user's life and the lives of ''thousands of willing sacrifices.'' The thousands of sacrifices are supplied by eventually-[[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman all-too-willing replicas]], and [[CloningBlues Luke and Asch]] argue for a while over who should be the one to instigate the hyperresonance. It eventually ends with [[MessianicArchetype Luke]] trying to do so, but Asch needing to contribute a bit of his power anyway because Luke isn't strong enough on his own. Possibly for this reason, though it's never quite explained, both of them survive.
** On the other hand, Luke, and it's implied Asch as well, soon find out [[PlayerPunch the phlebotinum in their bodies is dissipating, leading to their own eventual death-by-dissipation.]] Funnily enough, neither of them last long enough for said dissipation to kick in, as they both end up performing more standard HeroicSacrifices by the time the credits roll. [[MindScrew And one of them comes back. Who knows which one?]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}''. What would have otherwise been a TearJerker turns into a Crowning Moment of Stupid when you realize that you [[StupidityIsTheOnlyOption probably still have your radiation-immune Super-Mutant]] in your party, who [[FridgeLogic just did this same thing mere hours ago game time,]] but he opts out BecauseDestinySaysSo. You can also have [[ButThouMust another ghoul or a robot]] with you, both of whom would presumably be immune to radiation. To top it off? [[GameplayAndStorySegregation Rad-X magically stops working the moment the final cutscene happens,]] and this came at the end of what was - up until that point, a ''damn good'' third act.
** Changed in the Broken Steel DLC to fix those complaints of the fridge logic.
*** You also survive in the DLC, when the Brotherhood pulls you out of there. The cutscene is unchanged, though, still showing how you died...before you open your eyes again.
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', that's the entire purpose of the Chosen. Also, at one point, [[MauveShirt Botta]] and two [[RedShirt nameless]] [[LaResistance Renegades]] trap themselves in a flooding room in order to stop the self-destruct sequence of an underwater Desian Base. Yuan doesn't seem surprised, hinting that at least someone was expecting this.
** And later on, all supporting characters left in the cast do this as a part of the sequence of false [[HeroicSacrifice Heroic Sacrifices]] that reduces the party to Lloyd alone, while climbing the Tower of Salvation. Only in the cases of Raine and [[BrattyHalfPint Genis]] does it seem a knowing choice of unavoidable death, the other cases looking more like accidents with a possibility of survival ("I'll get out of this mess on my own, you hurry on, you can't afford to lose any time !"), but a Z-skit springing up right before the first "sacrifice" shows Regal and Raine calmly discussing this, acknowledging the fact that they're [[MoreExpendableThanYou more expendable than Lloyd.]] Right before that whole sequence, Zelos invokes this if you follow Kratos' path.
* At the end of the ''Rise of the Zilart'' expansion for ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'' Lion uses her body to stop a chain reaction that would destroy all of Vana'diel. After the end of the next expansion she got better.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** In the first game, part of what makes the Virmire mission such a WhamEpisode is its implementation of this very trope. Basically, Shepard and his/her squad have to plant a nuke at a research facility in Virmire that's creating an army of genophage-less krogans for Saren. Unfortunately you can't save your entire party (since either Ashley or Kaidan is with a salarian force creating a diversion while Shepard sets the nuke) and you only have time to rescue either Kaidan or Ashley. While it's you who makes the final call, both are willing to die for the cause and tell you to save the other.
** ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' turns this UpToEleven. The entire galaxy is fighting against the Reapers, who are technologically superior and almost completely unstoppable (you can destroy them individually, but there's too many to kill them all). People will die. A ''lot'' of people will die. [[PlayerPunch And you're going to regret every single one you didn't save, even if there was nothing you could do about it.]]
* With all the focus the Grey Wardens of ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' place on sacrifice, this was pretty much inevitable. Turns out the [[BigBad archdemon]], when killed, can simply possess the nearest darkspawn (which are soulless) and be reborn. The Wardens, however, have darkspawn taint within them but so if one of ''them'' kills the archdemon, the archdemon's soul or essence will try to possess the Warden and both it and the Warden in question are annihilated due to the fact that two souls cannot exist in one body.
** You can also TakeAThirdOption by impregnating Morrigan, who can transfer the soul (cleansed of the taint) into her unborn child. Provided you trust the shifty, unscrupulous witch with raising a baby god, this choice ranging from a no-brainer if you're already romancing her to a PlayerPunch if you're a female romancing Alistair (who'll have to be the father).
* Happens again in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition''. The player's party is facing a massive Fear demon inside the Fade alongside Hawke and a Gray Warden (usually Stroud, but it can be Alistair or Loghain with the right OldSaveBonus). Unable to destroy the demon, both Hawke and the Gray Warden will offer to stay behind and distract it while the rest of the party makes a run for the portal back to the real world. No third option this time, you have to sacrifice one of them.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** In ''VideoGame/HaloWars'', the ''[[CoolStarship Spirit of Fire]]'' finds itself inside a Forerunner shield world. In order for them to prevent the Covenant from using the shield world's advanced technology to destroy humanity, someone from the crew has to take the ship's {{F|asterThanLightTravel}}TL Drive and use it to destroy the planet's artificial sun. This is combined with MoreExpendableThanYou when [[SergeantRock Sergeant Forge]] tells Spartan-II Jerome that humanity will need every [[SuperSoldier Spartan]] they can get to fight the war and so decides to take the latter's place.
** Happens again in ''VideoGame/HaloReach'', also involving an FTL drive turned into a bomb. In this case it's the "damaged detonator" scenario, leaving Jorge to toss the player character out of the ship they were trying to teleport to oblivion so he can detonate it himself.
* ''VideoGame/FatalFrame'':
** Every 10 years a young woman is brutally killed in order to seal a gate to Hell. While the victim has no choice in the matter, refusing to accept their fate results in the seal being too weak to hold the gate shut.
** The HeroicSacrifice of Kyrie at the end.
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'': at the end of "The Sacrifice" campaign one player must jump off of the bridge, back into the swarm of zombies, to reactivate a failed generator and allow the remaining players to escape. In-game, the sacrifice can be anyone. Canonically, the one to die is Bill.
* The Visual Novel/Puzzle Game hybrid ''VideoGame/NoOneHasToDie'', in a twisted inversion of the game's name, forces the player to kill one character per level. On several instances these characters will explicitly ask the player to sacrifice them so another character can live. [[spoiler:Subverted in the MergedReality true ending, in which the survivors of each ending come together in an AlternateUniverse and you're able to save them all. Zig-Zagged, though, in that the characters you killed in each ending's respective universe are KilledOffForReal.]]
* ''VideoGame/AtelierTotori'' has a sealed tower that can only be opened with a human sacrifice and needs to be entered to defeat the BigBad. [[LoopholeAbuse Rorona promptly recommends sacrificing]] [[CuteGhostGirl Pamela]]
* At the climax of ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamOrigins'', Bane and the Joker challenge Batman's no-killing moral code by forcing him into a fight to the death. A heart monitor is attached to Bane, which is slowly charging an electric chair that the Joker is sitting in, so that in a few minutes, the voltage will be fatal. The heart monitor will explode if Batman (or Bane, as the Joker notes) tries to remove it, [[SadisticChoice so the only way to stop the Joker from getting electrocuted is killing Bane]]. The stakes are then raised when Joker takes Jim Gordon hostage, so now when the chair is fully-powered, both of them will fried. Batman being Batman, opts to TakeAThirdOption, using his MagicalDefibrillator gloves to stop Bane's heart, and then restart it again.

* In ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'' the titular characters are being pursued by [[KnightTemplar Kore]]. Their only escape is to flee into a dungeon crawl, but the approach will leave them wide open to attack from his ranged weapons. [[spoiler: Chief]] stays behind to delay Kore long enough for the others to reach safety, [[spoiler: claiming ([[FailureKnight falsely]]) that his spine is shattered and would only slow the others]].
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', someone has to set off a supernova to trigger the "Scratch" that will [[ResetButton reset]] their [[UnwinnableByDesign unwinnable]] session. The original plan to sacrifice a dreamself has been sunk by [[spoiler:all four losing either their dreamself or realself to Jack Noir]], so someone has to die.
** [[spoiler: Turns out to be a [[SubvertedTrope subversion]] when both Rose and Dave end up sacrificing themselves, but then [[CameBackStrong reach godtier in the process.]] ]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Egg volunteers to be the Liaison Officer between the eponymous ''Roleplay/{{AJCO}}'' and everyone else, who have been forced into sheltering in AJCO's nuclear bunker after missiles were fired at Pi-TEC. It becomes this trope when A_J reveals that any misbehaviour by any of the Crew or neutrals will mean that ''Egg'', who is almost universally liked, will be the one who takes the punishment. Following a failed rebellion she is eventually expelled out of the bunker to die either to a lethal dose of radiation, undispersed chlorine gas or [[LeaveBehindAPistol the single bullet she is gifted.]] By agreeing to sacrifice herself and become an example, her allies trapped in the Hangar are saved from starvation.
** It is then [[spoiler: averted when it turns out [[MillionToOneChance that she survived]] - but as she, along with everyone else in the Silo, believed that she would die it still qualifies]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the original ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' finale, "Starcrossed", the League decides to [[ColonyDrop drop the Watchtower on top of the enemy's main base]] and Franchise/{{Batman}} realizes that without manual steering, the station would miss the target. Instead of telling this to [[Franchise/TheFlash Flash]] and [[ComicBook/MartianManhunter J'onn]], he jettisons them in an escape pod and takes over the controls himself (FridgeBrilliance: [[TheCaptain he is the creator]] [[GoingDownWithTheShip of the Watchtower]]). He doesn't die, as he is bailed out by Franchise/{{Superman}} just moments before the impact.
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}''
** Name any variation of Optimus Prime/Primal. Chances are he's offered himself up to die.
** A case could also be made for [[spoiler: Dinobot in "Code of Hero". He goes into the battle knowing he won't survive]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', Yue does this during the first season finale, choosing to sacrifice her life in order to give it back to the Moon Spirit, which had been killed by Zhao. Sokka of course begs her not to, and the two of them have a nice tragic farewell moment. In the movie, her farewell speech is even more drawn out... and starts to get into the DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment, unfortunately.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' episode "James", the titular character, Jake, Finn and Princess Bubblegum get trapped in a broken ship and surrounded by zombies. PB purposely sabotages multiple escape attempts, realizing they were doomed to get everyone killed, and instead realizes that one crew member must act as a suicidal distraction. She asks James to do it (knocking Finn and Jake out so they wouldn't protest), and he agrees. Although [[spoiler: she makes a memory-less clone of James]], neither Jake nor Finn are sure how to feel about this pragmatism.

* Subverted in ''{{Toys/Bionicle}}'', when the Toa Inika are told they have to sacrifice one of their own to get to the powerful Mask of Life. Matoro takes the hit, feeling he's [[MoreExpendableThanYou not action hero material like the rest of the team]] - but he's OnlyMostlyDead and quickly brought back, as the ''willingness'' to sacrifice was what mattered and the actual death was irrelevant.
** Later played straight when the Mask of Life actually had to be used, in order to revive the Great Spirit Mata Nui (the user would be sacrificed and his body converted into the life energy needed to do so). Matoro steps up again, but this time he's KilledOffForReal.