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The Siege
"This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house."

Good guys hold off an overwhelming enemy threat against impossible odds. The opposite of Storming the Castle. Super Trope of the Last Stand.

Compare with Hold the Line, Naval Blockade, Protect This House, You Shall Not Pass, and All Your Base Are Belong to Us. If they fail, see Watching Troy Burn. If they send someone to get The Cavalry, it's Bring Help Back.

Also the name of a 1998 film, although the siege in question is not as straightforward as the trope.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 

    Comics 
  • Of course, Siege is about a siege. Asgard, the city of the gods, is under siege by the Dark Avengers, H.A.M.M.E.R. and an army of superheroes of the 50 states initiative. Then The Cavalry (the good Avengers, and Patriot) shows up, but Asgard was destroyed by Sentry.
  • Issue 175 of Sonic the Hedgehog had Eggman not only pull off a siege on Knothole, he razed it to the ground.

    Film 
  • Since Night of the Living Dead, this has been a staple of horror movies, especially Zombie Apocalypse movies. The Evil Dead series (especially Army Of Darkness) loved this trope.
  • Saving Private Ryan: Uses this trope in the climax. When Miller's squad find Ryan, he refuses to abandon his mission to hold a strategically vital river crossing for the Allied invasion, in spite of the airborne troops on the location lacking leadership and being outnumbered and outgunned by advancing German forces. Miller decides to lead the defense and let his men join the action not because the bridge is their responsibility, but so that they can ultimately bring Ryan home.
  • 300 is based on a real, if wildly exaggerated, historical example, with a group of fearless heroes defending a narrow mountain pass against a vastly larger number of enemies.
  • The climax of Straw Dogs has a microcosmic siege, when five thugs try to break into Dustin Hoffman's house, and he proceeds to not allow violence against his house.
  • John Woo's The Killer features one of these as its final shootout, with the title character and his Cowboy Cop ally defending the Killer's last place of sanctuary, a church, against a virtual army of assassins sent by his ex-boss to murder them all.
  • Small Soldiers had a siege near the end, with lots of antagonistic action figures attacking a house.
  • Scarface (1983) ends with a siege by assassins working for Alejandro Sosa against Tony Montana's mansion, which doesn't really get going until Tony takes up an M-16 with a grenade launcher with a cry of "Say hello to my little friend!"
  • The Siege, usually involving a Town Boss being held in a city jail, was the climactic event of four John Wayne movies, including Rio Bravo, El Dorado, The Sons of Katie Elder, and Rio Lobo. Apparently Duke liked this story line even more than he liked stalking and spanking beautiful women (three different movies!).
  • The premise of Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), with a small twist: good must align itself with evil to defend against an enemy that threatens them both. In the original and the remake, a small roster of police officers and civilians must team up with the criminals under their watch to defend the titular Precinct 13. John Carpenter, writer-director of the original film, has acknowledged his story as being basically a modern, urbanized version of Rio Bravo.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Disney's Swiss Family Robinson has a fairly epic one, which is one of the biggest differences from the original book.
  • Defied in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Several of the pirate lords advocate hiding in their fortress when the East India Company comes calling; said fort is supplied for a several-month siege. Jack points out that they could do that, but half the fort's inhabitants would be dead in a month due to cabin fever-induced civil war.
  • The climax of Kingdom of Heaven is the siege of Jerusalem by Saladin's forces.
  • Evil Dead. In the 1st and 2nd movie the demons attack the wood cabin where Ash and his allies reside. In the 3rd movie the skeleton army assault the castle.
  • Skyfall climaxes with Bond and two others (Kinkade, M) defending a manor home against more numerous and better-armed villains. Defenders' advantage allows the MI-6 contingent to hold out against 10-to-1 odds, but they technically still lose because the Big Bad is able to achieve his mission objective (killing M)—or, at best, stalemate, since Bond kills him right after. (Also, the home gets blown up.)

    Literature 
  • Used twice in The Lord of the Rings, first at Helm's Deep, then again at Minas Tirith. Both times, the siege is broken when The Cavalry arrives... literally.
    • Also during the War of the Ring, the dwarves of Erebor and the men of Laketown held the Lonely Mountain during a lengthy seige that tied up Sauron's northern armies for much of the war.
    • The Silmarillion features the Siege of Gondolin, except unlike the above examples, Morgoth's forces succeed in taking the city, with only a remnant of its population escaping.
  • Also shows up in The Hobbit when Thorin and his band are holed up inside the Lonely Mountain as the armies of Laketown and the Wood Elves try to get in to claim the treasure.
  • Dan Abnett's entire Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis is one prolonged siege battle, with the Chaos-corrupted hive city Ferrozoica hurling their entire population at the much larger but much less-militarized hive city Vervunhive. Think Minas Tirith, but with tanks and a good hundred times the manpower. It occurs again in Sabbat Martyr, with Gaunt explicitly comparing and contrasting the two situations, noting that this second time around the "good guys" were even worse off.
    • Also in the game background the Ultramarines' defence of their polar fortress againt the Tyranids that had invaded their home planet. Most of their 1st company died holding the place untill the Imperial Navy could drive off the Hive Fleet by having a battleship perform a Heroic Sacrifice and explode it's warp core right in the middle of the fleet.
    • The entirety of Storm of Iron, which features Iron Warriors attacking a seemingly pointless fort on an ugly planet that closely resembles the arse end of nowhere. It's a gene-seed repository, one of the most important places in the entire Imperium. And The Bad Guy Wins. You can panic now.
    • The three main engagements in the Horus Heresy novel "Angel Exterminatus" boil down to "Iron Warriors do what they do best" - it opens with them cracking open an Imperial Fists fortress, moves on to a cross between this and a Boarding Party, and finalises with an Iron Warrior and Emperor's Children mixed force on an Eldar crone world attempting to set up siege lines...only for the situation to reverse when the wraithguard walk.
  • Noticeably averted in War and Peace. Kutuzov abandons Moscow despite everyone on his staff and his emperor demanding that he hold Moscow against a siege.
  • A mainstay of Henryk Sienkiewicz's ''Trilogy'', set in the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Each of the books in the trilogy has a climactic siege featuring the defenders fighting against great odds.
  • Rogue Male: for a large part of the story, the hero is besieged alone in his hideout, which has gone from a refuge to a hellish trap.
  • The climax of the entire Harry Potter series takes place in the last third or so of Deathly Hallows, when Voldemort and his Death Eaters storm Hogwarts itself.
  • The entire premise of Legend by David Gemmell: the garrison of the fortress of Dros Delnoch must hold on against the Nadir army to buy enough time for their country to levee an army. Most of Gemmel's books will end with The Siege and/or Last Stand
  • In the book Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell it goes into great detail over the siege of Harfleur. The siege is a shambles, the British end up with dysentery, the French keep rebuilding the walls and to top it all a ship gets past the blockade to resupply them. When King Henry V finally takes the small town he lost so many forces he can't possibly hope to defeat the French in open battle but to save face forces his men to march around France attempting to avoid their army...that doesn't work out so well.
  • Colas Breugnon has a siege described early in the novel. Even though a few people die, both sides come to an agreement after a few days and settle down to eat together. No one's very sore about the entire incident.
  • In The Power That Preserves (the third book in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series) Lord Foul's army of monsters does this to Revelstone.
  • The original Mistborn trilogy has a few such examples.
    • In Mistborn: The Well of Ascension the protagonists are besieged in Luthadel by three armies at once; the fact that the besieging armies are all working against each other is the only reason Luthadel lasts so long.
    • In Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, the good guys are the ones doing the besieging, until the Big Bad's army shows up and the besiegers and the besieged decide to team up.
  • Occurs several times in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, most notably the exceptionally one-sided siege of Capustan in Memories of Ice.
  • Defied in the first book of The Deed of Paksenarrion. Paks's unit is holding a fortress when another mercenary company shows up with siege engines. Paks's unit is not equipped or supplied for a siege (and the other side is a sometimes-allied business competitor, not some Army of Evil), so they surrender.
  • The main conflict in Redwall is a siege laid upon Redwall Abbey by a vicious one-eyed rat named Cluney the Scourge. Cluney's forces actually manage to get in and have to be thrashed afterwards.
    • There are many, many other sieges in the series, either against Redwall or the Badger Lord's fortress of Salamandastron.
  • The Reynard Cycle: The climax of The Baron of Maleperduys features a fairly spectacular one. Our heroes are hopelessly outnumbered and the bad guys have artillery in a world where castles are not built to withstand cannon fire. It ends when The Cavalry arrives, revealing that what had appeared to be a hopeless situation was actually a trap that Reynard set, using himself and his friends as living bait.
  • Part of the plot of Septimus Heap: Darke involves the Siege of the Wizard Tower by the Darke Domaine.
  • There are many sieges in A Song of Ice and Fire. One siege at Riverrun is entirely at a stalemate until Jaime comes and dissolves the whole mess. Daenerys becomes fairly well acquainted with sieges throughout Slaver's Bay, having been on both sides of them. One of the most memorable sieges in the series is in the back story, the famous Siege of Storm's End in which Stannis's men were nearly dying of starvation toward the end. This gave Davos his opportunity to become a main character by smuggling onions into the castle.
  • In the backstory to Warrior Cats, SkyClan had to endure this. Forced out of their home, they found a gorge and settled down in it. However, a massive horde of rats surrounded them, just waiting for them to try to leave the get some food, take a nap outside the gorge, or something of the sort. When a cat left, they were swarmed by rats and killed. It was enough to drive a cat mad, and led to the end of SkyClan. However, the cats get the last laugh, as the rebuilt SkyClan drives a group of rats under a pile of garbage, surrounds it and waits for them to try to escape, then kills them as they leave.
  • Late in Freedom anti-Daemon mercenaries carry out one against a Daemon community.
  • There are two major sieges in the latter part of The Wheel of Time: Caemlyn, as part of a Succession Crisis, and Tar Valon, the result of a schism between the Aes Sedai. There is also a siege on the fortress known as the Stone of Tear, but its impact on the plot is minimal.
  • In Christian Nation, the American theocratic government under the leadership of President Steve Jordan laid siege against the last holdouts of Constitutional democracy and freedom by cutting off all aid to Manhattan Island, where they were all located. The President even goes so far as to declare Deuteronomy 20:10-12 as "justifiable grounds" for it.
  • The Siege of Acre during the climax of Tenacious, which Kydd and Renzi take part in as defenders under the command of Sidney Smith. The battle is notable for being one of Napoleon's few losses, and it was to a ragtag group of sailors as opposed to trained infantry.

     Live Action TV  
  • Masada about the siege of the titular Jewish Zealot bastion by The Roman Empire in AD 73.
  • Doctor Who
    • The first series of the revival ended with a Siege, though it was slightly subverted in that the good guys did not actually end up holding off the evil Daleks, and by the end of the episode, every main and minor character, with the exception of Rose Tyler, was dead. Two get better.
    • "The Base Under Siege" is a standard Doctor Who plot ("Moon base, sea base, space base, they build these things out of kits!"), especially in Pat Troughton stories, such as "The Wheel in Space"
    • "The Waters of Mars" subverts a number of conventions in this regard.
  • Firefly
    • "Heart of Gold", in which the crew defend a whorehouse from an evil tycoon.
    • In The Movie Serenity, defending Mr. Universe's hideout against Reavers so Mal can use his broadcast equipment.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The first-season finale, named appropriately enough "The Siege", shows the main characters defending Atlantis from a Wraith assault.
  • Most TV series set in war zones, and many western series, eventually use this plot.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "The Siege" (natch), "Way of the Warrior", and others. Since the setting was a station, this was a natural plot idea. Speaking of which...
    • "Siege of AR-558" (not to be confused with the above episode) is particularly gruesome.
      • Until you do the math and realize that the Federation troops suffered on average less than one casualty a day from randomly blundering around in the minefield and repeated Jem'Hadar attacks.
  • Babylon 5, "Severed Dreams".
  • Andromeda: "Last Call At the Broken Hammer", "Its Time Come Round Again", "The Dissonant Interval" (they don't exactly win those last two).
  • 24: At one point in Season 4, Jack Bauer and three civilians must hold a sporting goods store against a squad of heavily-armed commandos until help arrives.
  • The first episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has all the past sentai teams defending Earth from an alien invasion.
  • In the season 4 finale of Burn Notice, Vaughn's entire organization corners Michael and crew in a half renovated hotel. they get out when Sam convinces congressman Cowley to call in the army to save them.
  • The Supernatural episode "Jus In Bello" brings the trope into play as Sam and Dean are arrested and the police station where they're being held comes under attack be demons led by Lilith. They wind up forging an alliance with the FBI agent who wanted to put them away forever.

     New Media  

    Radio 

     Tabletop Games  
  • Many of the scenarios in the board game House on Haunted Hill are variations on The Siege with different Monsters Of The Game.
  • Warhammer used to have a siege scenario.
  • One specialty of the Imperial Fists Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000 is holding the line in sieges. Not coincidentally, the specialty of their arch-enemies, the Iron Warriors, is launching them.
    • In the Horus Hersey the Chaos Space Marines lay siege to Terra, and the Emperor along with his remaining forces were are forced to drive them off with all they have. The Imperial forces have been driven off the Chaos forces, and killed Horus, but at a terrible price, Sanguinius has been slain, and the Emperor is in a near death state, and is locked in life support in the golden throne.
  • Several attempts were made in the golden age of table top wargaming to make siege games. The problem was that there is little maneuver in siege warfare and the most interesting parts are the gadgeteering which doesn't translate well. Some did manage to become classics like Avalon Hill's Siege of Alessia
  • In Checkers during an end game, if the vanquished player is stubborn about it, he can retreat to a double corner. It needs a carefully choreographed sequence of moves to dig him out and is rather like a siege.
  • The old Norse game Hnefatafl simulates an escape from a besieged fortress, as opposed to a pitched battle(like Chess).

    Videogames 
  • Too many First-Person Shooter and Real-Time Strategy to list. Usually includes a timer to let you know exactly when the defending stops and counter-attacking starts. The entire Tower Defense subgenre is built around this.
  • Happens in Neverwinter Nights 2 when the hero's castle is besieged by the undead army of the King of Shadows. The already problematic odds take a turn for the worse when one of the hero's companions turns out to have betrayed them by sabotaging the gate and when the undead, including the vampires, turn out to be unaffected by sunlight.
  • Mass Effect 2: Garrus' recruitment mission and Grunt's loyalty mission both consist of three or four heroes holding a somewhat defensible position against a horde of mercenaries/alien monsters, followed by a Background Boss. Legion's loyalty mission is a sort-of Tower Defense scenario.
  • Urban Dead: The game revolves around humans building barricades inside buildings and zombies trying to break in. Most famous is probably Second Siege of Caiger Mall, going for three real life months.
  • Goblin sieges in Dwarf Fortress; more rarely, human and elven sieges. If all the resources you rely on are subterranean (water, magma, farmlands, wood, ores,) a virulent forgotten beast can effect a siege from below.
  • In the PS3 and 360 versions of the first The Godfather game, a slew of Cuneos assault the Corleone compound, and your job is to hold the fort with your fellow mobsters. These become more common in the sequel since enemies can now randomly raid your fronts.
  • Happens to your castle at the end of Dragon Age: Origins Awakening. Depending on your administrative decisions during the campaign, if you stay to protect the city instead of returning to defend the castle, it can be either a Last Stand for the defenders, or a successful repulse of the siege.
  • Crossed with Delaying Action in the third Terran mission of Starcraft: you have to hold your fort against repeated Zerg attacks until dropships arrive to evacuate your troops.
  • Act III of Diablo III has you defending Bastion Keep in Arreat against a full-on demonic onslaught by the forces of Azmodan.
  • Happens a lot in pretty much every installment of Fire Emblem, defending for a certain number of turns in some levels and seizing castles in the seige missions.
  • During the Cataclym expansion of World of Warcraft, the Dragon Soul raid is this. All of the Twilight's Hammer and the Black Dragonflight are bringing their forces to tear down the Wyrmrest Temple and bring the Hour of Twilight. It's up to you and 9/24 other heroes to not only stop that from happening, but finally put an end to Deathwing.
  • A few missions in Guild Wars are based around these (Dzagonur Bastion, Thunderhead Keep, Eternal Grove, Genius Operated Living Enchanted Manifestation.)
  • Jak II: Haven City, such as it is, has been under siege by the Metal Heads for hundreds of years, and is believed to be the only city left on the entire planet, making it humanity's last hope. Pity that the Baron's plan to defeat them would also destroy the entire universe.
    • In the next game, [[Jak 3: Wastelander, the Freedom League are under siege by Krimzon Guard robots and Metal Heads, and later, Spargus comes under siege from the Dark Makers - it's an interesting change, because in Haven the civilians would run and scream when confronted with enemies, while in Spargus there's no town guard because everyone is armed.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, Azure City, a bastion of good partially ruled under the watch of paladins, is attacked by a massive army of hobgoblins led by Redcloak, an evil goblin cleric and Xykon, an evil human lich sorcerer. The protagonists find themselves defending the city alongside the paladins. The good guys actually lose with heavy casualties, including the leader of the protagonists. A very, very long arc was dedicated to the fallout of the battle, including the only recent resurrection of said leader.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!,: The heroes defend Viceroy's Spire — and by extension, all of Planet Butane — from Fructose Riboflavin and his new Wave Motion Gun.
  • In The Senkari the titular force has to hold off an overwhelming force of Daemonic infantry in a final stand.

    Web Original 

     Western Animation  
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • The first two-part season finale appropriately enough entitled, "The Siege of the North," has the main protagonists aid the Northern Water Tribe in staving off a Fire Nation assault.
    • "The Northern Air Temple," wherein said protagonists defend the titular temple... from a Fire Nation assault (the Fire Nation does a lot of assaulting). Also, Iroh's legendary six-hundred day Siege of Ba Sing Se.
    • On that note, Ba Sing Se itself. While the Fire Nation has made more serious efforts on occasion, the city has been under more or less constant siege for a very long time, which is why it's completely self sufficient (having a large agrarian zone inside the wall capable of supporting the entire city). This is additionally supported by the presence of Fire Navy ships in territorial waters near the city, implying that outside the city itself the Fire Nation essentially has free reign. And one has to wonder why there's no sign of plant or animal life outside the wall whatsoever, considering that the fire nation has been known to burn down villages and forests...
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Though its largely off screen, Jack and his reluctant daughter are the only two to defend their home from an invasion of mutant ghosts.
    • "Reign Storm": a handful of good guys, enemies, and ghosts battle against thousands upon thousands of armed force.

     Real Life  
  • This trope is a case of Truth in Television. Sieges have been and (to some degree) remain a common military strategy. Modern infantry tactics favor going around strong points in the defense and let rear-echelon troops deal with them later, but sometimes there is no going around a well-placed defensive positionnote . A good number of movies and television programs base their siege plots on real life sieges like Leningrad and the Alamo. These are well-remembered by a (defending) nation's population if their people either won the siege by successfully holding their position against an overwhelming enemy or (more commonly) lost gloriously.
  • Back in 134 BC, the Iberian hillfort of Numantia, in today's Spain, held off a siege by the Roman Army for 13 months. In the end, the surviving defenders chose to suicide rather than be killed or captured by the Romans. To this day, the Spanish language has the adjective/noun numantino, meaning "he who tenaciously resists to the limit, often on precarious conditions."
    • The fortress of Masada in Israel topped that, holding out against the Romans for three years before choosing mass suicide.
  • During Spain's War of Independence, the city of Saragossa suffered TWO sieges by the French Army. The first (1808) ended with a Spanish victory; The second one (1809), historically noted for its brutality, ended with a French victory. Saragossa was reduced to 12,000 people from its pre-second siege population of 100,000.
  • The battle of Alesia was a strange example: Gaius Julius Caesar's army was besieging the city as it was the last stronghold of Vercingetorix (the last Gaulish leader against Rome), but was in turn besieges by a Gaulish relief force. The battle happened when the Gaulish relief force tried to break the Roman siege and the Alesia garrison sortied, but resulted in Caesar beating back the sortie and near-annihilating the relief force (the annihilation wasn't total only because the Romans were too tired to pursue them), causing Vercingetorix to surrender before the Romans broke in and exterminated everyone.
  • The Great Siege of Gibraltar of 1779, took place during the American War of Independence, when the British territory Gibraltar was besieged by a combined Franco-Spanish army. It lasted until 1783, and is the longest siege endured by the British Armed forces. It was the largest action of the war, and of particular note was the Grand Assult of 1782. It lasted for three years and seven months, and ended in a British victory.
  • Lasting almost four years, The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege in modern warfare. It was part of the breakup of Yugoslavia, and began when, after Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, Serbian forces surrounded the city in an attempt to make a new Bosnian-Serb state, which the Bosnians were none too happy about. The end result was nearly 12,000 dead, and a city forever scarred.


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Sensor SuspenseMilitary and Warfare TropesSiege Engines
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