"Go tell the Spartans, passer-by, that here, by Spartan law, we lie."
— Simonides, epitaph for the Spartan dead at the Battle of Thermopylae
"It was four hundred years ago or more, when the Dothraki first rode out of the east, sacking and burning every town and city in their path. The khal who led them was named Temmo. His khalasar was not so big as Drogo's, but it was big enough. Fifty thousand, at the least. Half of them braided warriors with bells ringing in their hair.
The Qohorik knew he was coming. They strengthened their walls, doubled the size of their own guard, and hired two free companies besides, the Bright Banners and the Second Sons. And almost as an afterthought, they sent a man to Astapor to buy three thousand Unsullied. It was a long march back to Qohor, however, and as they approached they saw the smoke and dust and heard the distant din of battle.
By the time the Unsullied reached the city the sun had set. Crows and wolves were feasting beneath the walls on what remained of the Qohorik heavy horse. The Bright Banners and Second Sons had fled, as sellswords are wont to do in the face of hopeless odds. With dark falling, the Dothraki had retired to their own camps to drink and dance and feast, but none doubted that they would return on the morrow to smash the city gates, storm the walls, and rape, loot, and slave as they pleased.
But when dawn broke and Temmo and his bloodriders led their khalasar out of camp, they found three thousand Unsullied drawn up before the gates with the Black Goat standard flying over their heads. So small a force could easily have been flanked, but you know Dothraki. These were men on foot, and men on foot are fit only to be ridden down.
The Dothraki charged. The Unsullied locked their shields, lowered their spears, and stood firm. Against twenty thousand screamers with bells in their hair, they stood firm.
Eighteen times the Dothraki charged, and broke themselves on those shields and spears like waves on a rocky shore. Thrice Temmo sent his archers wheeling past and arrows fell like rain upon the Three Thousand, but the Unsullied merely lifted their shields above their heads until the squall had passed. In the end only six hundred of them remained . . . but more than twelve thousand Dothraki lay dead upon that field, including Khal Temmo, his bloodriders, his kos, and all his sons. On the morning of the fourth day, the new khal led the survivors past the city gates in a stately procession. One by one, each man cut off his braid and threw it down before the feet of the Three Thousand."
"Lord of all Noldor
A star in the night
And a bearer of hope
He rides into his glorious battle alone
Farewell to the valiant warlord
The Fate of us all
Lies deep in the dark
When time stands still at the iron hill"
— Blind Guardian, "Time Stands Still"
Captain Roima: I cry out for troops and you give me rhetoric - I plead for ammunition and you give me speeches - I ask you again, Commander, what can you pledge me?
Commander Tarrel: A heroic death, Captain
The green tide of Orkdom is upon us and we are alone. There can be no mercy. No surrender. If we survive this day it will be a miracle.
— Commissar Yarrick, Warhammer 40,000
"I cannot hold out for long, but the Pfhor will not soon forget the day that a lone corvette obliterated half of Battle Group Seven, Western Arm."
— Durandal, Marathon 2
"The Humans, I think, knew they were doomed. But where another race would surrender to despair, the Humans fought back with even greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it. They would weep. They would pray. They would say goodbye to their loved ones and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself. Never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable, could help but be moved to tears by their courage, their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns. When they ran out of guns, they used knives. And sticks. And bare hands. They were magnificent! I only hope, when it is my time, that I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes at the end. They did this for two years. They never ran out of courage. But in the end, they ran out of time."
— Londo Mollari, Babylon 5
Saladin: Will you yield the city?
Balian of Ibelin: Before I lose it, I will burn it to the ground. Your holy places. Ours. Every last thing in Jerusalem that drives men mad.
Saladin: I wonder if it would not be better if you did.
"Would it not be wondrous for this whole nation to be destroyed, like a beautiful flower?"
— General Anami, Japanese War Minister, demanding the right to continue fighting after the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"Nineteenth [Platoon] lasted seventeen minutes from the time the gates closed. They accounted for one-hundred and eighty nine enemy casualties. No one witnessed their heroism."
"Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
'To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods'"
— Thomas Babbington Macaulay, ''Lays of Ancient Rome'
"Though it may be our part to find a bitter end before the Gate of Mordor, if we do so, then you will come also to a last stand, either here or wherever the black tide overtakes you."
— Aragorn, Return of the King
"We held out longer than Shreveport. We held out longer than Baton Rouge. WE HELD OUT LONGER."
— Left 4 Dead 2
Ack! Ack! No way! I'm going out in a blaze of glory!
Ha-ha! Ack! Come on! I'll take it all on!
Never! Never! I won't give up until the bitter end!
"On a distant, shadowed world, the protoss will make their final stand. Their heroes will gather, their forces will be marshalled, and they will die bravely. But still, they will die."
— The Overmind, StarCraft II
"The Guard dies, but the Guard does not surrender!"
— Napoleon's Imperial Guard's last wordsnote
Long before Custer died at the Little Bighorn, the myth of the Last Stand already had a strong pull on human emotions, and on the way we like to remember history. The variations are endless — from the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae to Davy Crockett at the Alamo — but they all tell the story of a brave and intractable hero leading his tiny band against a numberless foe. Even though the odds are overwhelming, the hero and his followers fight on nobly to the end and are slaughtered to a man. In defeat the hero of the Last Stand achieves the greatest of victories, since he will be remembered for all time.
— Nathaniel Philbrick
GT: You always go down guns blazing. Thats what a hero does when he loves adventure and has guns.
GT: If theres one thing movies have taught me besides the fact that guys using a corpse as a silly puppet is friggin HILARIOUS it is THAT FACT.
Jake English, Homestuck
My brethren, hear me, for there is little time left. All that remains of our race, our civilization, are those that stand beside you now. Trust in each other, strike as one will. Let our last stand burn a memory so bright we will be remembered forever! En Taro Tassadar!
— Hierarch Artanis, Starcraft II
"Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter."
— Hector of Troy, Iliad XXII, Lines 304-5
"To the Commander, Confederation Jumptroopers:
"Sir: Fuck you.
"We stand until the last man falls."
— Lord Thomas Reserve Shamba, The Man Who Never Missed
The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;—
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"
Henry Newbolt, Vitai Lambada
If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
Claude McKay, If We Must Die
"Imperial Guard casualties reach 97% before evacuation is complete. Blood Ravens losses: total... They refused to retreat."
There came wi' false Inveray thirty-and-three
There was nane wi' bonny Brackley but his brother and he;
Twa gallanter Gordons did never sword draw,
But against three-and-thirty, what is ane, what are twa?
Wi' swords and wi' daggers they did him surround,
An' they pierced bonny Brackley wi' many's the wound
Frae the heid o' the Dee, tae the banks o' the Spey,
The Gordons shall mourn them, and ban Inveray.
— Baron O' Brackley