Follow TV Tropes


Big Damn Heroes / Real Life

Go To

  • Benito Juárez, one of the most revered Mexican presidents, was about to be executed along with his whole cabinet by a traitor squad, when his friend Guillermo Prieto, then Minister of Finance, barged in. Prieto then put himself between the firing squad and Juárez and began a passionate speech with the words: "Put down those weapons! Put them down! Brave men don't murder! You are all brave men, and brave men don't murder. You are Mexicans! This is our representative for the law and our country! Lay down those weapons! Do you want to spill blood? Take mine instead!". He spoke until the firing squad retreated after he convinced them to spare their honor as soldiers and not betray the republic.
  • Advertisement:
  • King John III Sobieski of Poland and the Holy League at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. The Ottoman forces have had the city under siege for month and have finally managed to place the underground charges to breach the walls when 30,000 Polish heavy cavalry, led by the King himself and his famed elite Winged Hussars, show up, perform the largest cavalry charge in human history straight into the Ottoman lines, rout the Turks, and save the city. The Pope declared Sobieski the savior of Western civilization.
  • Against all probability, infamously bumbling Mayor of London and current Prime Minister Boris Johnson pulled one of these when he intervened to stop a woman being attacked whilst out on his bicycle. Makes you wonder...
  • The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, rescuing the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry in the Vosges Mountains on October 30th, 1944.
    • Ironically enough the rescue resulted in MORE casualties then there would have been if the Hero Moment didn't happen.
    • Advertisement:
    • More irony is that the 442nd was made up entirely of Japanese-American enlisted men. Most of the men had family sent off to the internment camps, and they still fought for their country with a heroism that made the 442nd the most highly-decorated regiment in the history of the US military.
    • Daniel Inouye, the late senior US Senator from Hawai'i and former President Pro Tempore, led the 442nd in that rescue. He took a shot to the stomach, destroyed one machine gun nest, destroyed the next with his men, had his arm blown off, pried the live grenade from his (dead) right hand, destroyed the last nest, finished off the last German soldier with a one-handed burst from his Thompson SMG, was hit in the leg, and tumbled down to the bottom of the hill unconscious. For his actions, Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor. The best part? He was one of twenty-one soldiers in the 442nd who were awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • Advertisement:
  • United Flight 93. The plane is one of four hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, and is 15 minutes out of Washington DC, where its target is located. The crew is dead. The passengers' only hope for survival is to retake the plane and land it themselves. At the sound of "Let's roll," the passengers charge the cockpit using the service tray as a battering ram. Knowing their defeat is imminent, the terrorists crash the plane rather than allow themselves to lose control of the airplane.
  • These guys. Fifty workers in 2011 fought to keep the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility from going into full meltdown.
  • This guy. He was going to rescue his mother, even if he had to scuba dive into the aftermath of a tsunami. Then he went back; others still needed help.
  • Indonesian general Gajah Mada started his career with this.
  • There's a video of a fan running onto the field of a soccer match waving a flag, pursued by four police officers. After the four officers pin the fan, one of the officers starts repeatedly hitting the immobilized fan with his baton. This caused several members of the soccer teams playing as well as a significant portion of the crowd to stop what they were doing and charge the officers, resulting in said officers immediately running for their lives before being beaten by the mob and escorted off of the field.
  • The launch of the NATO airstrike campaign against Gadaffi's forces, just as the last city under rebel control seemed in imminent danger of falling. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, but it is unlikely that Gadaffi would have been keen to offer an olive branch afterward.
  • This family, who also qualify as a Badass Family. Bethany Arceneaux's family tracked her down when she was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, and saved her life.
  • Any time a member of the public is trying to save someone's life with CPR, and then the paramedics show up.
  • In the American Revolutionary War, a French naval fleet that the rebels had been asking for, came just in time to block British General Cornwallis from loading his soldiers onto boats into the Chesapeake Bay to escape the colonists' land siege.
  • When the liner Andrea Doria was sinking due a collision with the MS Stockholm the situation was dire, as half the lifeboats were impossible to use, the Stockholm, damaged herself, couldn't help too much, and the first ships on the scene (small freighter Cape Ann, military transport USS Pvt. William H. Thomas and destroyer escort Edward H. Allen) were small and didn't have many lifeboats. That was when the Ile de France emerged from the mist with all lights shining to announce her arrival and identity, bringing eleven lifeboats to the rescue operations (and still holding back most of them for the safety of her own passengers and crew) and the knowledge that everyone would be saved. Especially as everyone knew it was the third rescue operation the Ile de France took part in, and the previous two, in more difficult waters, had ended with the rescue of the endangered crew or the whole ship. Once again, everyone still alive was saved.
  • In another rescue on the high seas, the RMS Carpathia was the closest liner to the stricken RMS Titanic when she struck the iceberg in April 1912. The Carpathia was an old, slower ship capable of making a maximum of 14 knots (20.1 mph, 32.4 km/h). Through the efforts of Captain Arthur Rostron and her crew, they managed to push the ship's speed to 17 and a half knots. All the same, the ship arrived near the lifeboats of the ship 4 hours after they had received the distress signal, a little less than 2 hours after the ship had foundered. The Carpathia collected the survivors, then turned around from her normal course eastward to return to New York with the remnants of Titanic's passengers. Captain Rostron was later awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States, as well as being granted a knighthood by King George V.
  • For any kid trapped by fire, scared to death, choking, and gasping for breath. The sight of a Fire Fighter smashing through the door, the fire giving way to them, and pulling them out of the fire is basically this.
    • It's not just children that experience this. Firefighters can get stuck as a result of trying to find someone or can get trapped by debris blocking their way out. For just this reason, City Fire Departments have assigned RIC Teams, who are trained and equipped to make a door directly to a trapped Firefighter to pull them out.
  • Imagine this. You've gone into the water after your boat sank beneath you. You managed to get out a small distress call but were unable to get out your position. As you get tossed around in the waves, suddenly you hear the sound of four Allison Turboprop engines scream overhead, you look up to see a United States Coast Guard C-130J dropping flares to mark your position, as well as an inflatable raft to get into. Minutes later, a United States Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer pulls you out of the raft and puts you into a basket to bring you into the HH-60 hovering overhead. This scenario is repeated fairly regularly in the Bering Sea, and the United States Coast Guard has gotten very good at being Big Damn Heroes for Sea-Goers there over the last few decades.
    • And not just for civilians. The Coast Guard has a long history of fighting alongside the US Navy during wartime, and one Coast Guardsman, Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro, received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his efforts to extract a group of Marines from a beachhead under heavy enemy fire at Guadalcanal.
  • Similarly to the above, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (and the various independent lifeboats that preceded it) has a long and proud history of this sort of thing. Many a person has got into serious trouble off the coast of Britain, often in extremely rough seas, only for help to arrive in the form of a blue and orange boat crewed by very brave volunteers.
    • Their activities aren't confined to peacetime either; during WWI the local lifeboat was launched to go to the aid of HMS Pathfinder which had been torpedoed off the coast of Scotland and multiple RNLI boats participated in the below-mentioned Dunkirk evacuation.
  • At the beginning of World War II for the western allies France, Belgium, and Great Britain, they had been surprised and routed early in 1940 by the German blitzkrieg to where much of their battered forces were stuck on French beaches awaiting destruction or capture. With not enough naval ships to provide evacuation, all hope seemed lost... until wave after wave of civilian ships - some of them rowboats - started showing up to pick up the troops and carry them back to the British Isles. Within eight days, 800 vessels rescued 338,000 troops giving the Allies a chance to keep fighting.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: