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Survival Mantra
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."

To contrast Madness Mantra, this is a prayer, koan, or just plain reassuring phrase that gives the speaker peace or confidence, or at least forestalls a panic attack in a dangerous situation.

Be advised, reading these entries may or may not actually make you brave... but it is all pretty reassuring!

If it works at a crucial moment, it may be adopted as a Badass Creed; alternatively, characters may use an existing Badass Creed to galvanise themselves in a moment of panic.

See also Madness Mantra. Might be used in a Meditation Powerup. May or may not coincide with a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Death the Kid from Soul Eater manages to turn what was seemingly a Madness Mantra into one of these during his prologue chapter, right after he realizes the actual body of the pharaoh isn't as symmetrical as he thinks.
    Death the Kid: "It's all in the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! IT'S ALL IN THE WAY!"
  • Argento Soma: "Maki... Maki... Maki... Maki..." A Survival Mantra that tragically, TRAGICALLY borders on Madness Mantra.
  • Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura has her "invincible spell": "Everything will be all right".
  • Another CLAMP example can be found in xxxHOLiC (around vol. 4). Wherein Watanuki tries to help the far less confident sister of a set of twins by encouraging her to replace her detrimental borderline Madness Mantra with, "I won't know unless I try!" and then later, "Everything will surely go well." With a little help from Yuko, it works.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: "I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away..." Not that it works very well. Sure, he doesn't run away when he starts chanting this... but it doesn't really stave off insanity. We also have Asuka's, "I don't want to die!" in The End of Evangelion. Textbook example of this trope devolving into a Madness Mantra.
    • In an early episode, Shinji continually recites the steps for loading and firing the Eva's rifle to himself during practice. This being Evangelion, it naturally doesn't help in actual combat. A crossover with Fullmetal Alchemist even has Mustang lampshading that repeating training instructions during battle over and over again are a sign that Shinji is scared shitless.
    • Asuka also developed a self-reassurance tactic later on: if someone said something negative (or rather, what she perceived as negative) towards her, she started yelling "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!" over and over again in rapid succession as if she was trying to lock reality out of her mind.
  • Kirito in the first episode of the Sword Art Online anime adaptation: "I will survive in this world!"
  • Azami of the Deadman Wonderland series is shown to use one of these. An example parable to the above-mentioned Asuka's, it comes across as both a Survival Mantra and Madness Mantra: "I'm all right. I'm all right. I'm all right. I'm all right. I'M ALL RIGHT!!" Poor thing.
  • Clare of Claymore has a simple "I will survive." and "I will not die!"
  • Simon in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ends up curled up in Lagann's cockpit mumbling "not my business" over and over after seeing Yoko and Kamina kiss.
    • Kamina has this all over the place, with the most famous three being "Who the hell do you think I am?!", "Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb!", and finally "Gattai! (Combine!)"
  • In Last Exile Mullin Shetland chants his mantra, which runs to the effect of "Disith bullets will avoid Mullin Shetland's body" as he's lifted up on deck in his role as cannon fodder. It helps that the mantra contains his name.
    • When Mullin falls in love with another grunt and rewords his mantra to protect her instead, the inevitable happens.
    • He lives anyway, so I guess the mantra has a blanket clause.
  • Possibly the most direct version is Hana Hatsuno's "(I'm) not scared!" refrain in King of Braves GaoGaiGar.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Majo Rika, Majo Rika, MAJO RIKA!
    • To be specific, Hazuki (and later Momoko) whimper this when they encounter ghosts. Played to hilarious effect in one episode of Dokkan, where Doremi and Hana-chan turn it into an actual chant...Aiko eventually gets fed up with the scaredy cats behind her.
  • Gundam Wing: At the end of the anime, Heero Yuy literally says "I will... I will... I WILL SURVIVE!"
  • Busou Renkin: "I will fight...I will fight...I will fight...I will fight...I will fight...I WILL FIGHT!"
  • In Kinnikuman Brocken Junior is mortally wounded when attacked by three superhumans after having thrown away his own super power source, an eagle badge. Muttering 'I have failed in my duty', he slowly closes his eyes as death approaches. But then a friend throws the badge back to him. His response is to mutter 'I must do my duty...I must do my duty...I must do my duty' before screaming in the manliest possible way 'I MUST DO MY DUTY'. What follows is the first and last instance of his new finishing move which defeats his target. This moment is pretty heart breaking because all his teammates are aware he's going to die if he exerts himself and scream his name, so he gives an insanely long speech about duty before he pulls off his move. And mumbles 'I have done my duty' before dying.
  • In Shaman King, Yoh has his "Everything will work out" motto.
  • In Gantz Kurono Kei claims that he always wins because he always believes he will win and that others lose because they've already accepted that they might lose.
  • Played with in Durarara!! Shizuo Heiwajima's "Kill them all" Madness Mantra is actually this, as he's using it to channel his inner anger and avoid going into Unstoppable Rages.
  • Eureka Seven has "Don't beg for things, do it yourself or else you won't get anything."
  • Naoki Shinjyo does this in episode 6 of Future GPX Cyber Formula Zero at the near end of the Asian race in Hong Kong:
    Shinjyo: "Run, Ex-Superion! Run...run...RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!
  • One Piece: "Dereshi shi shi shi shi..."
  • In Azumanga Daioh, Tomo and Osaka end up in the doldrums after summer vacation. To try and get them ready to go back to school, Chiyo starts up a chant of "Get motivated! Get motivated!" Unfortunately, keeping them motivated proves to be like spinning plates, and she quickly gets worn out.
    • Then she tries it on someone else who is suffering from the same problem. Said someone else is Ms. Yukari.
  • In the Hellsing OVA, a wounded Alexander Anderson starts shouting "FORWARD!" repeatedly while cutting through Alucard's ghoul army in order to get to him.

    Comics 
  • In an issue of Deadpool, Weasel starts chanting the Litany Against Fear when he and Al are in the Box.
  • With the heroes of Green Lantern, their battles often involve battles of the spirit as well as physical, so when they are hard pressed and derided as weak and worthless in that moment of pressure, a Lantern can often find strength by remembering their Badass Creed, "In Brightest Day/In Blackest Night/No evil shall escape my sight..."

    Fanfiction 
  • In the fanfic series Name, the unnamed primary character repeats her mother's last words as a reminder to keep her cool under extreme pressure.
  • In the Firefly fanfic Forward, River uses the words "I am functional" as her Survival Mantra, after making the resolution that she is not going to let her traumatic past control her anymore.
  • In Not Your Usual Veela Mate Harry mentally repeated "Not there, not there, I'm not there!" after taking a portkey for the first time since the Triwizard Tournament.
  • In Blinded By the Light Harry kept repeating variations on "'My name is Harry Potter. My mother was Lily and my father was James. I go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am fifteen years old. My favorite color is blue. I have to kill Voldemort. I want to kill Bellatrix Lestrange." to keep himself sane in-between torture sessions. It had...mixed results.
  • In Cake and Lies, a Portal fanfiction, human!Wheatley's survival mantra is "I am a shotgun." This leads to an amusing scene....
    Wheatley: I am a shotgun... I am a shotgun... I am a shotgun... This is the worst survival mantra ever... I am a shotgun...!
  • In Harry Potter and the Effects of Inattentional Blindness Harry's mantra during all the craziness after the war was "One thing at a time."
  • In Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons, Blackjack has "I must do better", which she appropriated from a Ministry of Peace propaganda poster.
  • In Frozen Hearts, Prince Hans has the final part of a Badass Creed about what a prince is.
    Prince Hans: A prince I am, and a prince I will be.
  • In The Professionals Doctor Who crossover fanfic Silver Doyle gets one after he is possessed by The Darkness.
    Doyle: Bodie's gonna save me. Bodie's gonna save me.
    Doyle: He was awake. He felt it all. He was awake. He felt it all. He was awake. He felt it all. He was awake…

    Film - Animated 
  • The titular heroine of Mulan chants, "Get off the roof, get off the roof," when the rocket is about to explode. It's both a Survival Mantra and a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • In Dumbo the circus train has his own little mantra while climbing a steep hill "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
  • On Ice Age: The Meltdown, Sid tells Diego that because he fears the water, that makes him its prey. So when Diego has to swim, he repeats to himself, "I am not your prey! I am not your prey!"
  • Used in the begining of A Bug's Life when the swarm of grasshoppers come to take the ants' offering of food. The ants are all gathered underground in the colony waiting and listening. Atta, terrified, chants, "They come, they eat, they leave. They come, they eat, they leave."
  • Toy Story 2 — when the rest of the toys come across Barbie, Mr. Potato Head breaks out into "I'm a married spud, I'm a married spud, I'm a married spud..."
  • Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."
    • When Marlin and Dory are stuck in the Jellyfish fields, Marlin invokes this trope while playing it straight. He keeps Dory awake by asking her to repeat where P. Sherman lives, and keeps himself awake by repeating 'Stay awake!'

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Alien, when Ripley is getting ready to fight the alien inside the escape shuttle, she sings to herself, "You are my lucky star... Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky."
  • The 13th Warrior: "Lo, there do I see my father. Lo, there do I see my mother, and my sisters, and my brothers. Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me. They bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever."
    • Ironically, it is a funeral chant that was heard at the beginning of the movie. The heroes are facing down an entire army and the heroes' leader, who starts the chant, already knows he is dying from being poisoned in the last confrontation. The others join in as they don't expect to survive either and it gives them the courage needed to fight anyway.
  • Deep Blue Sea: Starts Biblical ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.") then the blackness kicks in ("Because I carry a big stick and I'm the meanest mother fucker in the valley! Two sharks down, Lord! One demon fish to go! Can I get an Amen?").
  • Stan from Stephen King's It uses his Scout Promise as a child. It doesn't really work. He then (since he's an avid bird-watcher) recites "as loud as he could, the name of every bird he could remember", which does work.
    • Bill uses the rhyme "He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts!", which is King's tribute to its use in Curt Siodmak's Donovan's Brain.
    • Interestingly the mantras they use against It work because they believe they work.
  • The Princess Bride: "Hello. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die. Hello. My Name Is Inigo Montoya..."
    • Stop saying that!
  • In the film Capricorn One, one of the escaping astronauts keeps reciting jokes to himself as he struggles through a harsh desert.
  • Riggs & Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon 4: "We're not too old for this shit...we're not too old for this shit..."
  • Serenity, with a twist: "I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar."
    • Also lampshaded the second time Wash says it in the big space battle, when Mal asks him "what does that mean?!"
    • That and... it doesn't quite work...
      • It does. They make it through the crossfire and crash land safely enough... Getting picked off by the Reavers was just unfortunate.
      • Too many invocations is Tempting Fate.
  • Inverted in The Wizard of Oz with, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!" and the Cowardly Lion's, "I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks"; both of which just served to make the characters more afraid.
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, we are briefly given a shot of Milo and Audrey in an escape pod as Milo nervously chants "it's only a grease trap, it's just like a sink, it's only a grease trap, it's just like a sink..."
  • From the MST3K-featured film Puma Man: "Each man is a god; each man is free."
    Crow: So if each man is a god, where does that leave God?
    • ...another man?
  • In the 2007 film version of I Am Legend, Will Smith as Robert Neville likes the song "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, but it doesn't really become a mantra until he sings it to calm down his dying dog just before he has to strangle her to death because she was infected with the vampire zombie virus while saving his life.
  • Zulu: "Men of Harlech, stop your dreaming / Can't you see their spear points gleaming / See their warrior pennants streaming / To this battlefield..."
  • The Goonies. While running through trees in the night, Chunk plays this straight and also inverts it.
    Chunk: I'm not afraid of the dark. I like the dark. I love the dark. But I hate nature. I hate nature!
  • Annie Hall: Subverted, "I forgot my mantra."
  • The hero in Flight of the Intruder, while taking a second pass at the most heavily defended target in all of North Vietnam, shouts the "and though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death" Psalm over the sound of the flak.
  • Predator has a character reciting "Long Tall Sally" before his final stand - but then it turns into a Madness Mantra.
  • A Bridge Too Far. Robert Redford keeps repeating "Hail Mary, full of grace" as he paddles across the river under fire from German machine gun and mortar fire (Truth in Television for the character he was playing, who was too tense to remember the rest of the prayer). A terrified army chaplain can also be seen saying "Thy will be done...they will be done..." in the same scene.
  • 1984's Dune and 2003's Children Of Dune adaptations both contain shortened versions of the Litany Against Fear above.
  • In The Wicker Man, the 23rd psalm is used at an appropriate moment.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, whenever a prisoner attempts the climb to escape from the Pit, the rest of the prisoners gather to cheer them on with a chant of "Deshi! Deshi! Basara! Basara!" which is Moroccan for "Rise".
  • In War Horse, a WWI-soldier crosses no-man's-land alone and against orders to rescue an entangled horse. On the way, he starts slowly saying Psalm 23.
  • In Ted, John and Ted are both scared of thunder, so they sing a foul-mouthed "Thunder Song" to deal with it.
    When you hear the sound of thunder,
    Don't you get too scared,
    Just grab your thunder-buddy,
    And say these magic words:
    FUCK YOU THUNDER!
    You can suck my dick!
    You can't get me, thunder,
    'Cause you're just God's farts! [blow raspberries]

    Literature 
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: DON'T PANIC!
  • The Litany Against Fear in Dune is a prime example. full litany 
  • In A Tale of Two Cities: the so far not religious-seeming Sydney Carton uses the mantra "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die," to comfort himself as he prepares to go willingly to the guillotine.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Arya Stark has "Fear cuts deeper than swords" and her "prayer" of repeating the names of everyone she's going to kill once she gets out of her hellish situation. (Did we mention she's ten years old?)
    • Danaerys has "I am the blood of the dragon" and "If I look back I am lost"
    • Most of the House Words. "Hear Me Roar"; "Ours is the Fury"; "Fire and Blood"
      • Subverted by the Starks' words: "Winter is Coming" is not reassuring in the least, but is intended to remind everyone to prepare for the worst.
    • During combat soldiers shout the names of their kings, or the place they came from: "Winterfell!" "Casterly Rock!" "Stannis!" "The King in the North!" etc.
    • Members of the Night's Watch tend to use brief snippets of the oath they make on joining the Brotherhood, particularly one or more of the following: "I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men."
    • Theon Greyjoy: You have to know your name.
  • In The Stand Glen Bateman and Larry Underwood both use "I will fear no evil."
  • "Tenser, said the Tensor. Tension, Apprehension, and Dissension have begun!" (a self-inflicted Ear Worm designed to keep peeping telepaths from accessing someone's surface thoughts, in Alfred Bester's famous science fiction novel The Demolished Man)
  • Many scary things happen to the character Chyna Sheperd in Dean Koontz's novel Intensity. She gets through them with the mantra "Chyna Sheperd, untouched and alive," repeated over and over.
  • After hearing a story about aircraft mishaps, the main character of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition has a habit of mentally repeating "he took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots" to get herself through panic attacks.
  • Animal Farm features Boxer the dim witted Horse who survives on "I will work harder!" and "If Napoleon says it, it must be right."
  • The Sholan Alliance Series has a group of Litanies which are designed to help one overcome various mental/emotional hurdles. In no particular order, they are the Litanies for Pain, Relaxation, Fear (inspired by the one from Dune, above), Clear Thought, and Preparation. They're never actually spelled out within the narrative, and in fact weren't more than named/mentioned until the seventh book in the series, where they were included on otherwise blank pages between chapters, spaced throughout the book. On a side-note, they were actually written by members of the books' fan club.
  • John Carter of Mars: "I still live!"
    • At one point, "Remember, Ghek, you still live!"
  • Tucker from The Saga of Tuck uses the Litany Against Fear when in a truly dire situation. Tuck's father uses one similar to the Deep Blue Sea example below although in a humorous manner.
  • In C. L. Wilson's King of Sword and Sky it's a Badass Creed used as a Survival Mantra during torture: I am the steel no enemy can shatter. I am the magic no dark power can defeat. I am the rock upon which evil breaks like waves. I am Fey, warrior of honor, champion of light.
  • In Tad Williams' Tailchaser's Song, the hero is taught a mantra/litany against fear to give him strength when in dire need which is also used to restore an insane companion to his true form .
  • Nation: "Does not happen!"
  • In the Discworld novel Thud! Sam Vimes uses the text of "Where's My Cow?" as this.
    • In Small Gods, Brutha makes use of the mantra "In a hundred years we'll all be dead, but here and now we are alive!" in crossing an inhospitable desert.
  • Blade of Tyshalle: "Keep your head down and inch towards daylight."
  • In Ripper Mountie Zinc Chandler turns the RCMP get-your-man slogan into one of these while struggling to suppress his epileptic seizure.
  • In Tales from Jabba's Palace, Bib Fortuna spends several minutes at the end of every day reciting a mantra that soothes his nerves and focuses his objectives: "Of the day's annoyances, these," followed by all the inconveniences of the day. Over the course of the story, Bib's first entry is "That Jabba still lives," but during the epilogue, his list shortens considerably and the first entry becomes "That I had to drop the teaspoon eighteen times." This is because he has been "recruited" by the B'omarr Monks, and he is a Brain in a Jar attached to a Spider Mech, which aren't exactly the most dextrous machines on the planet.
    • In Imperial Commando: 501st we have:
      "I'm not in pain. Any pain that I feel is temporary. Nothing can touch me. This is happening to someone else. I just observe it as I pass.
      That mantra kept Darman going when all he wanted to do was lie down and die."
  • Cherub Series: "This is tough, but Cherubs are tougher." Used at one point to overcome conditioning by a cult...
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe in general, the various forms of the Jedi Code's central mantra is sometimes used this way.
    There is no emotion, there is peace.
    There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
    There is no passion, there is serenity.
    There is no chaos, there is harmony.
    There is no death, there is the Force.
Compare and contrast? The Sith Code;
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
  • In Lord of Chaos: "This comes of trusting Aes Sedai. Never again; not an inch; not a hair."
    • Arguably more of a Madness Mantra as he doesn't use it to calm himself, or mobilize hidden strengths.
  • In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Patrick's Rune is used for active protection as well as a comforting prayer. Starts out stating where you are or who you're with 'in this fateful hour' ('At Tara in this fateful hour' or 'With Chuck in this fateful hour', for example) and continues:
    I place all Heaven with its power,
    And the sun with its brightness,
    And the snow with its whiteness,
    And the fire with all the strength it hath,
    And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
    And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
    And the sea with its deepness,
    And the rocks with their steepness,
    And the Earth with its starkness,
    All these I place
    By God's Almighty help and grace
    Between myself and the powers of darkness.
  • "The Lorica of Patrick" is also used in Alexander Yang's Midnight World series as a Vampire Hunter crew's battle prayer. They recite The Lorica in Bullets from Beyond before and during the battle with four vampire mercenaries, and in Chance with No Rules while Aeneas fights states-vampire Koshelev barehanded:

    ''I arise today
    Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
    Through belief in the threeness
    Through confession of the Oneness
    Towards the creator.

    I arise today
    Through the strength of heaven:
    Light of sun
    Brilliance of moon
    Splendor of fire
    Speed of lightning
    Swiftness of wind
    Depth of sea
    Stability of earth
    Firmness of rock...

...and so on

  • When Aeneas encounters two vampires at once (in the same book), he recites not "The Lorica of Patrick" but Psalm 27:

The LORD is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

  • Not quite a mantra, but there's also Sam's song from The Return of the King. (Also a Dark Reprise of an earlier song.)
    Though here at journey's end I lie
    In darkness buried deep,
    Beyond all towers strong and high,
    Beyond all mountains steep,
    Above all shadows rides the Sun
    And Stars for ever dwell:
    I will not say the Day is done,
    Nor bid the Stars farewell.
  • Timequake: "You were sick, but now you are well, and there's work to do."
  • The Dresden Files: "POLKA WILL NEVER DIE!"
    • In Turn Coat, when Harry saw the Skinwalker/Nagloshii/Shagnasty with his Third Eye, the sight was so terrible that the only way he could keep driving was to start calculating prime numbers in order.
    • They never found the body. Murphy in Aftermath and Ghost Story. It really seems to be the only thing keeping her going sometimes.
  • In Shardik, children in the possession of slave-dealer Genshed tell each other they'll be "home soon. Underground, all the way".
  • Hourglass Door has "feel the fear till the count of ten, then count once more to feel brave again." Also, random quotes from the Inferno section of The Divine Comedy (used by, guess who? Dante!).
  • American Gods: "It's easy, there's a trick to it, you do it or you die."
  • In Mockingjay, Katniss uses one of these to remind herself of what she knows. My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. I was in the hunger games...
  • In The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett, Ned Beaumont has, "I can take whatever I've got to take."
  • In Of Mice and Men, it's hinted that the story George tells Lennie about the little farm they'll get when they have money has become the survival mantra for both men. George has told it so many times, in nearly the same words, that Lennie has it memorized and can finish his sentences for him.
  • Ravi from the Bloody Jack series repeats "Happy puppy, happy puppy, happy puppy" to himself whenever he's afraid for his life. (He believes if he dies at that moment, he'll be reincarnated as a happy puppy.)
  • A young Vlad Dracula escapes life as a Janissary in Count and Countess and chants, "I am a lion of God," to help himself make the 200+ mile walk home on his own.
  • Parodied in "Nefarious Times We Live In", a short story by Woody Allen. When the protagonist is beaten and starved by the men of an insane cult leader, he claims that "the only thing kept me from going insane was the constant repeating of my private mantra, which was "Yoicks."
  • In John Bellairs' The Curse Of The Blue Figurine, Professor Childermass is climbing a mountain on a stormy night, searching for Johnny Dixon, who has been abducted by a ghost. The professor is afraid of heights, so he repeatedly quotes the "Lay on, Macduff!" speech from Macbeth and recites a prayer to Saint Michael to keep himself from panicking and turning back.
  • What sounds like Sirius Black's Madness Mantra—"He's at Hogwarts, he's at Hogwarts, he's at Hogwarts"—is revealed to be this.
  • The Dresden Files: In Dead Beat, Harry gets Butters to keep repeating the phrase "Polka will never die!" to stop him from freezing during the zombie attack.

    Live Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica ("Razor") "Fear gets you killed. Anger keeps you alive."
    • In "Valley of Darkness" Lee Adama mutters, "Headshot, reload, headshot, reload" as they wait for the Cylon boarding party, as he had only a few explosive rounds, each of which had to be individually loaded into the under-barrel attachment of his pistol.
  • LOST: "One...two...three...four...five."
  • "Serenity Now" from that Seinfeld episode was intended to be one of these, but it actually leads to insanity. "Serenity now, insanity later".
  • In an episode of The Avengers Emma Peel notes Steed repeating phrases of nursery rhymes over and over and fears it is a madness mantra. It is actually to keep a mind reader out of his head and she joins in with him once she figures this out.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had the Jem'Hadar, whose motto was "Victory is Life."
    • They also have a call-and-response phrase uttered when distributing ketracel-white: "Obedience brings victory." "And victory is life."
    • Bashir and O'Brien adopt one during Worf's extremely trying bachelor party. It's Played for Laughs.
    "Kill Worf, kill Worf, kill Worf..."
  • One episode of Dharma and Greg has Dharma talking about Greg's parents' sex life. In response Greg tries to clear his mind by running through the Bill of Rights "Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure. Fifth Amendment: Self-Incrimination. Sixth Amendment..."
  • Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer living his worst fear in "Fear Itself".
  • Doctor Who:
  • MI High, in the episode "Millionaire Flatley": "Frank's a good man in a crisis...Frank's a good man in a crisis..."
  • Babylon 5, Doctor Franklin, after having been stabbed in Downbelow, ends up crawling through the corridors while saying "I want to live!" and "I wanna do it all over again!" over and over again.
    • When confronted by a guardian of the Technomages, Vir Cotto stands his ground, reciting his credentials over and over:
      My name is Vir Cotto, diplomatic attache to Ambassador Mollari of the Centauri Republic!
  • In the Supernatural episode, Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie, Sam is getting chased by evil clowns and mutters over and over to himself, "If it bleeds, you can kill it... if it bleeds, you can kill it.... if it bleeds, you can kill it...." And then he finds out that they don't bleed.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • In "Meld", as Tuvok's mental control is slipping he begins reciting "Structure. Logic. Function. Control. A structure cannot stand without a foundation. Logic is the foundation of function. Function is the essence of control. I am in control. I am in control."
    • In "The Thaw" Harry is held prisoner in a Lotus-Eater Machine by the Clown, who is the Abstract Apotheosis of fear. Harry gives the famous Franklin D. Roosevelt quote, so the Clown has him Strapped to an Operating Table.
    KIM: (desperately) The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!
    CLOWN: Keep repeating, Harry. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    ALL: (mocking) The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!
    CLOWN: And how about There's no place like home. There's no place like home. (Evil Laugh) Try clicking your heels together three times. Oh, but your legs are restrained, aren't they?
  • Space: Above and Beyond featured an episode where the Wildcards, under the effects of a fear-enhancing weapon, finally come together and march to the landing zone for extraction while reciting a boot camp marching jodie. Through a minefield, because that was the only way they could get there in time.
  • A Lifetime Movie of the Week, The Debbie Smith Story, depicted the title character being dragged from her home and raped. Throughout the terrifying ordeal, she recites the 23rd Psalm so as to distract herself.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Imperium, especially the Imperial Guard, of Warhammer 40,000 has far too many of these to count. They need them.
    • Most Notably "THE EMPEROR PROTECTS!". Poor, poor Imperial Guard.
      • Too bad they're not Adepta Sororitas (them the Emperor really does protect). Speaking of whom, there's also the inquisitorial battlecry/creed/mission statement, "BURN THE HERETIC! KILL THE MUTANT! PURGE THE UNCLEAN!"
    • "They have their foul gods on their side! But we have the TANKS on OURS!"
    • "All the Emperor asks of you is that you HATE!"
    • Grey Knights: "I am the hammer! I am the hate! I am the woes of Daemonkind! I am the hammer! I am the hate! I am the END!"
  • In The Way of the Tiger, Avenger sometimes has the option to recite the 'Ninja No Chigiri' when confronted by frightening enemies.
    "I will vanish into the night; change my body to wood or stone; sink into the earth and walk through walls and locked doors. I will be killed many times, yet will not die; change my face and become invisible, able to walk among men without being seen."

    Theatre 
  • "I Whistle A Happy Tune" from The King and I.
  • On a similar note, "I Have Confidence" and "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music are both supposed to be this.
  • The final scene of Allegro: "One foot, other foot, one foot, other foot..."
  • Played for Laughs in Ruddigore, where saying the word "Basingstoke" always succeeds at bringing Mad Margaret to her senses.
  • In Sweeney Todd, Johanna repeats lines from her earlier song with Anthony, in order to stay sane while locked within Fogg's Asylum.
  • In the re-done version of Carrie the Musical, the Lord's Prayer has this function for Carrie. The first sign that she's losing it after the incident with the pig's blood is that this doesn't work any more.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
    • Which is a phrase attributed to Hassan-i Sabbāh, the historical founder of the Hashshashin.
  • Parappa The Rapper: "Yeah! I know! I GOTTA BELIEVE!"
  • Lampshaded in Alter Echo by Stome when he reveals his mantra.
  • Volgin from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was severely afraid of thunder. Many gamers have fond memories of his "Kuwabara, kuwabara" chant.
    • Ironically when he neglects his Survival Mantra at the end of the game, he is actually struck by lightning (though it's implied that it was summoned by the Sorrow). It may have helped that he actually taunted the rain...
  • Half-Life 2: "Although they call me crazy, I care not, for thou art my helper, my strength, and my saviour. I have been laid down in a pit of darknesses and the shadow of death. And thy anger has pressed down upon me; and all thy cares have come down upon me. And from this bed I cry out for the kindling of thy Light! For the days of my life have vanished like smoke, and my bones are parched like ash, and let all my impurities be as... fuel for that fire! Until nothing remains, but the Light alone." Of course, this being Father Grigori, the line between Survival and Madness Mantra may be a bit blurred...
  • Tomb Raider (2013): Lara Croft frequently says "I can do this. I can do this." throughout the game.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, at least three of the main characters have Survival Mantras playing in their heads, discovered when Kreia teaches you how to read minds. These three are arguably the most traumatised out of all the team members (An eyeless Dark Jedi, a Sith torturer-turned-smuggler, and a reformed war criminal), and have some pretty interesting mantras.
    Visas Marr: As my feet walk the ashes of Katarr, I shall not fear, for in fear lies death...
    Bao-Dur: Your command echoes still, General. And I obey, as I did at Malachor...
  • Phantom Brave: "One Day....." One day...people will stop hating Marona and telling her so. She must believe this.
  • In the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, Shirou repeats "it isn't a mistake!" to himself while fighting Archer in order to convince himself that his ideal is worth having. Many people consider this scene to be the Crowning Moment Of Awesome for the game.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, in a scene that is both a Tear Jerker and Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming, it is revealed that Maria's Uu-Uu is this. It is magic incantation that is supposed to make Rosa love her.
  • Eternal Darkness: "This... Isn't... Really... HAPPENING!"
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops: "Dragovich...Kravchenko...Steiner... All must die."
  • Halo: In the novel Halo: The Flood, Captain Jacob Keyes recites his name, rank, and service number constantly to resist Mind Rape by the Flood, which is stripping away his memories systematically. It works for a while, but he eventually he is forced to forget his own name. The scene was adapted into video for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, to many tears.
  • Tales of the Abyss: "It's not my fault, it's not my fault, it's not my fault!" Sorry, Luke. It totally is your fault. Cue total party abandonment and Heroic BSOD
    • Later, he adopts a more conventional I don't want to die! I don't want to die! Surprisingly, this one actually works.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In the episode "Simon and Marcy", in a flashback to an earlier time when remnants of the world before the Great Mushroom War were more prevalent, and Simon/Ice King's Sanity Slippage was not yet complete, he actually uses the theme song from Cheers as this to try to stay sane and in control while using his magic crown to defend himself and Marceline from a pack of green, oozing zombie/ghoul things.
  • Peter Puppy in the Earthworm Jim cartoon uses the first three lines of the Bene Gesserit Litany almost Once an Episode. It never works, and is almost always a sign Peter is about to transform.
    • Wonderfully lampshaded in one episode by Jim: "Oh, that's just a sign he's going to turn into a monster and maul us."
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Mr. Herriman is dreadfully afraid that there is a dog in the house, so Frankie tells him to do what she did when she thought that there were monsters under her bed and say, "There are no such things as dogs." Realizing this is not true, she changes it to "A dog cannot get into the house." Realizing that was not appropiate either, she settles for "A dog is not in the house presently."
  • In the earlier seasons, Rugrats occasionally had Chuckie break out in: "I'm a big brave dog, I'm a big brave dog, I'm a big brave dog..."
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In one childhood-flashback, Zuko tries to console himself with "Azula always lies, Azula always lies..." after Azula informs him that their father is going to kill him.
    • Subverted in that she was actually telling the truth that one time.
  • The Legend of Korra: During the finale of the second season, Tenzin, Kya and Bumi are searching for Jinora in the Spirit world and end up in the Fog of Lost Souls, which imprisons victims in their darkest memories. Tenzin tries to stay focused by reminding himself he is the son of Avatar Aang and the hope of future generations of airbenders. But the moment he almost lost his mind, a vision of Aang appeared, teaching him he should be his own person, instead of merely following in Aangs footsteps. Then he repeats to himself that he is Tenzin, freeing himself from the pressure he was about to succumb to and causing the Fog to dissipate.
  • How does Transformers Animated Prowl do it? He says it himself in one episode: "Stillness... then strike!"
  • Animaniacs: "A clown is not a hairy spider. A clown will not bite me and throw me in the basement." Admittedly, it doesn't work very well...
  • Similar to the Wizard of Oz subversion above, in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "A Knight to Remember", Piglet made his way through a dragon's cave chanting "I am not brave, I am not brave..."
  • In The Simpsons episode "Kamp Krusty," Bart is seen keeping himself sane by reminding himself that "Krusty is coming...Krusty is coming...Krusty is coming..."
  • In Drawn Together, we have "Strong, Xander... Strong, Xander..."
  • Invoked in an episode of Hey Arnold! where a psychologist/psychiatrist has taken a claustrophobic patient on the subway to help her face her fears using the phrase "Big open spaces. Big open spaces." When the subway breaks down, the doctor freaks out too and yells at her that the mantra is a crock.
  • Not exactly the same, but one episode of Justice League has Batman looping Frere Jaques in his head to stop Dr. Destiny from messing with his mind. This is when Dr. Destiny has previously incapacitated the rest of the League, is at his most powerful, and is dangerously close to Batman.
  • Mrs. Gleeful has one in Gravity Falls: "Just keep vacuuming, just keep vacuuming..."
  • Toy Story of Terror has "Combat Carl never gives up, Combat Carl finds a way". Jesse replaces the name with hers.
  • On Peter Rabbit, when Benjamin gets scared of something, he likes to remind himself that "Rabbits are brave, rabbits are brave, rabbits are brave..."

    Real Life 
  • During the Second Battle of Fallujah, Staff Sergeant David Bellavia of the US Army's 2nd Infantry Regiment decided to single-handedly assault a house where a half-dozen entrenched insurgents had earlier fended off his entire squad. Right before moving into a room which had held a cunningly-constructed barricade and machinegun emplacement, Bellavia overcame his own fear by trying to find a Survival Mantra in his mind, and remembered watching The Exorcist just before the battle. Thus, he charged into close combat with a half-dozen insurgents while screaming "The power of Christ compels you!" over and over again. He lived, and killed all but one insurgent in the building, including one with his pocketknife. The last, left alone because he was too exhausted to even check if they were there, was shotgunned by his squadmates later.
  • The poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley is a popular choice for many people facing difficult situations.
    • A well-known example is Nelson Mandela, who recited the poem to his fellow inmates in Robben Island prison.
  • For Catholics, the St. Michael prayer could qualify for this trope, as many have been known to repeat it in times of trouble.
    • Or anything involving St. Jude (the patron saint of impossible situations).
    • 23d Psalm, particularly the first four verses:
    1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
    3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
    4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
    5 You set a table before me in the sight of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
    6 Surely goodness and justice shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for years to come.
  • The Lord's Prayer, any part:
    Our Father, who art in Heaven,
    Hallowed be Thy name,
    Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
    On earth as it is in Heaven;
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    Forgive us our trespasses
    As we forgive those who trespass against us
    And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil
    For Thine is the power, the Kingdom, and the glory
    Forever and ever,
    Amen.

    • And the Divine Mercy Prayer: Jesu Ufam Tobie (Jesus I trust in you).
    • O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
    • The 91st Psalm
  • One for a program on an attempt to run back to back marathons in Death valley. The support team noticed the runner had created his own mantra.
    Pain is a sensation.
    Sensations are to be enjoyed.
    I am in ecstasy.
  • A common one for soldiers (and sailors), playing on black humour: "For what we are about to receive..." This is reflected in a large number of fictional works depicting combat.
  • "The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers (rest in peace) became this in addition to being a Crowning Music of Awesome after the February 12, 1983 sinking of the Marine Electric off the coast of Virginia in a bad storm. The ship's Chief Mate, Bob Cusick, clung to a damaged lifeboat for three hours in hypothermia-inducing temperatures, screaming part of the chorus in between waves to keep himself from letting go and drowning. Here's the man himself telling the story (plus a performance of the song) from the documentary One Warm Line.
  • Italian writer Giovannino Guareschi during his time in a German POW camp: "I won't die even if they kill me." It worked.
  • After Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were fatally shot in Sarajevo, Franz begged Sophie to live on for their kids (she didn't make it, though), and then repeated "It's nothing, it's nothing, it's nothing..." all over. He didn't make it, either.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs use the Serenity Prayer as a survival mantra.
  • The Desiderata was created to be one of these.
  • While man-hauling a sledge on Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedtion, Apsley Cherry-Garrard repeated the mantra "You're got it in the neck - stick it - stick it - you've got it in the neck" as a distraction.
  • Steven Spielberg declared that during the Troubled Production of Jaws, a Drunken Song from a certain scene, "Show Me the Way to Go Home" ("I'm tired and I want to go to bed.") became one of those to the crew (who even cried as Shaw, Scheider and Dreyfuss sung it!).
  • "Self-talking" does actually do good. When one is in a stressful situation, saying "it's going to be okay" or some variation to oneself is exceedingly helpful in calming one down.
  • If countless spy and war movies are to be believed, the whole "Name, Rank, Serial Number" routine becomes one for a prisoner being interrogated. It's the only thing they are required to reveal, and as torture or interrogation becomes more intense, it becomes the one thing they can let themselves say, over and over, to keep themselves from letting any other information slip.
    • Truth in Television: many British army personnel, most notably RAF pilots and the SAS, are put through a severe mock interrogation lasting up to 72 hours. If they reveal anything other than name, rank and serial number they are failed. note 
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's mantra under KGB torture was ''Intense pain is never prolonged. Prolonged pain is never intense."


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