While the Vogon species from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are more known for being a race of Obstructive Bureaucrats, it should be mentioned that when the first Vogon crawled its way out of the ocean and into life, the forces of evolution simply gave up, wrote the race off as a bad idea, and spent their efforts elsewhere. The Vogons, much to the eventual dismay and inconvenience of all other sentient life, refused to give up and die.
Isaac Asimov's "Breeds There a Man...?": A scientist keeps trying to invent an energy shield to defend cities from nuclear missiles. He does this despite an increasingly strong urge not just to end the research, but to kill himself. It turns out the Cold War is an experiment by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, who seek to prevent humans from breaking the parameters. Through extraordinary willpower the scientist succeeds. Then, with great relief, he throws himself in front of a truck.
Tisala from the Hurog duology. She escapes after having been tortured for quite a while, and in her malnourished and wounded state travels to where she hopes she can find shelter. When she encounters some bandits on the way, she kills them. A side character who witnessed the bandit-killing later comments that others wouldn't even have been able to walk in that state she was in.
Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick. As the principal protagonist/antagonist of a classic that's now part of the "English Canon" and being quoted and alluded to in plenty of other works since easily makes him the Trope Codifier. And Deconstructed. His refusal to give up or stop gets him and all but one of his crew killed.
Edmond Dantès, aka The Count of Monte Cristo, is certainly worth a mention. After his betrayal he devotes his entire life to the pursuit of vengeance. He settles down in the end, but by then he's accomplished everything he intended.
Every single Dick Francis hero/narrator character. Just to mention one: Sid Halley, who is tortured by a villain who destroys his crippled left hand, then threatens to destroy the right hand as well, the thing he most fears. Needless to say, he doesn't give up. And that's topped in a later book.
Horton, the star of two Dr. Seuss books. In Horton Hears a Who, he is willing to chase the rave Vlad Vladicoff over a mountain range and then search a field of flowers for days to keep his promise to protects the Whos. In the second book, Horton Hatches the Egg, he keeps his promise to protect the egg even in terrible weather, and even when his life is threatened by big game hunters. (They spare his life, thinking taking him alive would be more profitable, but that only makes his ordeal worse.) As he himself says, "I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's loyal one hundred percent!"
In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, there is a pair of notorious Professional Killers whose guarantee is that once they've accepted a target they will not give up until the target is dead. It is reported that they once kept after a particularly well-guarded target for months until they found the opportunity they needed. They're sent after one of Modesty's friends, and the only way to save his life is to get them before they get him.
The main character of the Sword of Truth series is described at least once as "the kind of man who would jump over a cliff to come after you". Which is either Too Dumb to Live or Determinator. Or possibly both.
Hawk and Fisher, the titular characters from Simon R. Green's books, are definitely up there as determinators. Despite being completely human, they're willing to go up against anything Haven can throw at them and stick to their principles. Usually while insisting they've seen worse.
In a more understated way, the delivery guy who makes his way through all the chaos of the upcoming apocalypse to deliver the tools of the Horsemen because he doesn't really have enough imagination not to.
Jean Valjean's prison sentence was originally five years. It slowly gets extended to nineteen because they keep adding on time every time he tries to escape... but he won't stop trying. After he gets out (and has a nice run in with the Messiah), he's such an insatiable do-gooder that he uses disguises to keep helping the poor even when half the police in Paris are breathing down his neck.
In an inversion of the stereotypical Determinator traits, he's so relentlessly pacifist (in the book) that when the Thenardiers' gang capture him, after breaking free and securing a red-hot iron as a weapon, he brands himself with it to show them that torturing him for information that might imperil Cosette would be useless. He then discards it, even though 1) his legendary strength would have been enough to take down the lot of them, and 2) it's virtually suicide to stay there. (In the book, they were amoral cutthroats that bear no resemblance to The Keystone Kops-esque bumblers in the musical.)
Inspector Javert: Despite the fact that he lives in a time where recordkeeping and communications are so poor that it's laughably easy for someone to disappear just by moving to the next town, Javert chases the same convict across the country for decades. He does give up temporarily when he believes his quarry to be dead. Temporarily.
Eponine is so devoted to/ obsessed with Marius that she lures him to the barricade in hopes that they will die there together.
Enjolras and his company stay at the barricade, demonstrating their devotion to their political objectives, even after it's obvious it's become suicide.
Fantine keeps working to provide for her daughter despite endless hours, starvation wages, and very little sleep. She continues for her daughter's sake even after she losing her hair, teeth, health, and human dignity.
The extinct nation of Manetheren, who took this trope to absolutely crazy extremes. The Trolloc Wars devastate the world? The Red Eagle of Manetheren flies at the forefront of every battle against the Dark One's armies. The Manetheren army receives word while still on the field of battle that a massive Trolloc army has Manetheren in its sights and there's nothing they can do in time to save their home from a horrific fate? They march home faster than even their allies thought humanly possible and meet the army before it crosses the river into their territory. Said army includes a legion of Dreadlords and Ba'alzamon himself? Doesn't faze them one bit. Their aid from other nations (their one remote chance of surviving) is cut off by betrayal by the Amyrlin Seat? They keep on fighting, only crossing the river and burning its bridges when they don't have any more troops left to fight. They finally have to evacuate their beloved mountain city and flee because the Trollocs are at the gates? Some flee, but a huge part of the non-soldier population (most of which consists of farmers and shepherds with nothing but pitchforks) takes up the slack and rides out to fight the Trollocs in a titanic final battle. Every last one of them gets massacred? The Queen, fueled by her anger over the death of her beloved husband on the field of battle, nukes the entire Trolloc army with the One Power, destroying herself and the abandoned city in the process. The few survivors of Manetheren, rather than fleeing to other lands, decide to stay and rebuild what they can. Holy. Freaking. Crap.
The region becomes known as the Two Rivers, and these survivors, while forgetting their origins, are still determinators of the highest order. "We'll survive, the Light willing. And if the Light doesn't will it, we'll still survive." They build their village on the spot their king fell. Talk about "We shall not be moved."
Perrin becomes a one after his wife is captured. He's so focused on saving her that he statedly is willing to do or sacrifice anything to get her back. At one point, he isn't particularly taken aback when, due to the influence of the Dark One, a random secretary starts puking up beetles until his body wilts and only skin and bones are left, because it has nothing to do with saving her.
In the last book, this turns out to be the key to defeating the Dark One, since he can't permanently win unless every last man has given up on goodness. Rand realizes this, and proceeds to list all of the characters who are still fighting, even after 14 books' worth of problems and a 198-page losing battle.
Also, in a Crowning Moment of Awesome, Lan prefaces his murder of one of the Forsaken by losing a duel, and replying to the enemy's triumphant cries with, "I didn't come here to win. I came here to kill you."
That particular Forsaken himself also qualifies. Nobody hates The Chosen One more than Demandred. No one (except Moridin, who's an entirely different kind of villain) comes as close to matching The Chosen One's power and skill as Demandred. And no one, not armies and not the orders of the Dark One himself, will stand between Demandred and killing aforementioned Chosen One. Well, except Lan, which just shows it takes a determinator to kill a determinator.
Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy: Do whatever you want to this 4 feet 11 inches tall girl: strand her on a bed for one full year, beat her nearly to death, rape her in the most gruesome way you can imagine, attack her in the middle of a tropical storm, send half the Scandinavian police after her, shoot her in the head then bury her, she will get back and have her revenge no matter what.
Given the large number of books, it's no surprise that Discworld has featured several.
Samuel Vimes, once he sobered up, became world-famous for a will that is unshakable. He doesn't concern himself with petty and venal crime, but true injustice will bring forth his inexorable wrath. He has been pitted against dragons, golems, vampires, and psychopaths of every stripe only to prevail. He has killed werewolves with his bare hands. The Assassins' Guild has stopped trying: the troll Mafia treats him with respect. Even an unjust Stable Time Loop has found itself up against the man for whom 'Screw Destiny' is a way of life. His near-Death experiences have been so numerous and protracted that Death brings a chair and a book. The last time he left town, the crime rate went down because nobody... nobody... wanted to be the first thing to spoil his day when he got back.
Big Fido of Men at Arms is a tiny poodle that rose up through the ranks of the feral dog population by being a small, fast, impossible to defeat, killing machine. The narration notes that you could have sandblasted him for five minutes and what was left 'still wouldn't have given up and you'd better not turn your back on it.
Then there are Zombies, who are literally fueled by their obstinate refusal to die. Reg Shoe is probably the shining example. He was a revolutionary who died after he found out his entire cause was meaningless and he was little better than a joke—but because he was just that dedicated to doing good, he didn't even realize he was dead until he noticed the dozens of arrows protruding out of his chest. On the other hand, you have Mr. Slant, a lawyer who came back as a zombie because he was annoyed no one was prosecuting his murder, and survived the next few centuries because he refused to rest until someone paid him for defending himself at his own murder trial.
The Luggage has this quality built in (as it were). It will follow its owner anywhere. Anywhere - to any dimension, any parallel universe, any time. This was all it was really meant to do - nobody knows how homicidal rage got built in. Combine that with a certain Anti-Magic quality of its construction and you have the sort of death toll ordinarily associated with an epidemic. Also, you can store your luggage in it.
Twoflower has a few glimmerings of this, although his "do whatever it takes" generally means interrupting whatever ominous proceedings are happening to either voice an unasked-for suggestion or insist on taking a picture. That he does this under circumstances that would intimidate anyone else into keeping their distance seems like a combination of doggedness and cluelessness.
Granny Weatherwax. Once Granny Weatherwax has decided to do something, nothing will stand in her way. This is a good thing when it's "defend the kingdom" and what's in her way are The Fair Folk. It's a bad thing when it's "fly this broomstick in a straight line", and what's in her way are trees.
"If I've got a fault," she said, contriving to suggest that this was only a theoretical possibility, "it's not knowing when to turn and run. And I tend to bluff with a weak hand."
The protagonist of half of John Steakley's novel Armor joins the military in a Bug War. This leads to him being in scout armor (weaker than standard issue) in a mission gone very wrong. He's the only person to survive the mission, which, due to a processing error, means he gets sent on every single high casualty raid against the bugs. He doesn't quit. He doesn't complain. He doesn't die. He just kills. Over and over again, eventually devoting a whole mental subroutine to living through constant war.
The Deliverators from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash will get you your pizza pie within thirty minutes or else the head of the corporation will fly down by helicopter and personally apologize for wasting your time, offering your family free tickets to Sicily at a luxury resort for compensation. Needless to say, they do not give up lightly. Of course, considering that they work for Cosa Nostra Pizza, and given their boss's original full time occupation, I would not want to cause him to be 'inconvenienced' either.
Fëanor, from The Silmarillion, who has a dying vision that the Noldor will never defeat Morgoth, and tells his sons to keep their oath to take back the Silmarils at all costs anyhow. His sons die too early or break down at the end.
And that was after he got himself - and his followers - banned from Valinor for the actions they took in pursuit of the Silmarils. The Feanorians' Oath was basically to be unfettered Determinators about getting the Silmarils back. Which they sort of do, eventually. They only really break down after learning that it was all for nothing.
Morwen from The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin is a more benign example of this trope, but is nonetheless a Determinator. Her determinator tendencies especially come to light when she insists on going to Nargothrond to look for her son in spite of the advice and caution of others.
And Morgoth of course, who keeps fighting even after his orcs, Balrogs and dragons are defeated and he's cornered in his dungeons. Then subverted: once he realized his armies were defeated, Morgoth begged for mercy.
Beren as well, who was determined to marry his love, even if the father sends him to an impossible quest as a condition.
Lúthien herself is equally determined (and even more successful than Beren.)
Speaking of J. R. R. Tolkien, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli's pursuit of the orc band who kidnapped Merry and Pippin in The Lord of the Rings shows that they have a bit of The Determinator in them as well. And then there's Samwise Gamgee, a simple gardener and loyal friend/servant/batman to Frodo.
What about Frodo and Gollum? Sam persevered because he still had hope, Frodo had no hope and yet still went doggedly on.
It was not as though Stanis thought he could get away. It was just a matter of principle: don't give up before someone fries your head with a laser, and don't do it yourself. This, after all... was the difference between him and the poor terrorist he stopped [at the spaceport by tackling him immediately upon noticing the mark of a symbiont, despite himself having broken legs from a recent botched operation and disabled prosthetics]. He did not seek death. He sought victory.
Raistlin Majere of Dragonlance was willing to sacrifice anything for his goal - his brother, his love, his health, his sanity, his life. By the way, his goal? To defeat and replace the gods.
Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, once he had his target in sight. His "overdeveloped sense of vengeance" drove him onward to a truly iconic moment. Yet he was an amateur compared to Westley, whose modus operandi was always "Do whatever it takes, even if I have to work ten times harder than a normal person or become better than the best, and reach my goal no matter how impossible." Admittedly, even he almost gave up in face of the impossible mission of Storming the Castle, but that was before he heard they had a wheelbarrow at their disposal.
The eponymous Reynard from The Reynard Cycle is this. It ends up transforming him into the Big Bad of the series by the end of the third installment.
Prince Corwin, from Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series. In the first book he fights his way up a thousand-foot staircase packed with enemy soldiers. Though he is overpowered, captured, starved, and has his eyes burnt out of his head, he eventually gets better and escapes. While still emaciated and weak he encounters an injured man threatened by monsters; he kills the monsters, builds a cairn over the dead with hundred-pound stones, then runs for a day and a night while carrying the wounded man in his arms, without pausing to rest. After that, he resolves to get back in shape.
Khalifa in Bones of the Hills pursues the Mongol expeditionary force across approximately 150 miles of desert, during which time several horses on both sides die and the Mongols' and Arabs' eyes are rubbed red by dust. Unfortunately for him, Jochi and Jebe paced themselves to always remain just outside the range of the Arabs' bows so that, when dawn broke, the Mongols could turn around and more easily pick off the slightly less tired Arabs. When this happened, Jebe ordered their Chinese conscripts to move to the back line, but Shu Ten proved his determinator credentials by begging the generals to let his men fight on the front lines despite not having the toughness or endurance that comes from growing up in the steppes.
The Star Wars Expanded Universe was aware that fans liked Boba Fett enough that he couldn't just be left to die ignominiously. So how did he escape something that preserves and digests victims over the course of millenia, trapping them in their own and each other's memories, while keeping them entirely immobile? With great difficulty. Go to And I Must Scream and ctrl-f "Sarlacc".
Supreme Commander Pellaeon is an interesting aversion. Despite being on the side infamous for a wasteful blaze-of-glory Last Stands every time they're defeated, he holds the remnants of the Empire together even as the odds get increasingly desperate. But he does so by having incredible patience, not by being the antithesis of patience.
Tom Purdom's novella "Bank Run" includes "purpose-conditioned" mercenaries, psychologically programmed to be Determinators.
Bud White spends years investigating a series of prostitute killings only he believes to be connected. When he finally gets his man and beats him to death despite suffering massive injuries in the process, "Bud White refused to die. (...) He survived massive shock, neurological trauma, the loss of over half the blood in his body."
From the Warhammer 40,000Last Chancer's novels comes Colonel Schaeffer. He and his personally chosen squads of felons and prisoners are given the most dangerous, desperate and vital missions the Inquisition can come up with. He's been run over by a tank, had his eyes cut out, shot uncounted times and gotten into fist fights with daemons. The Mechanicus has kept him alive for over 300 years by adding new parts to him whenever the old ones get shot off. To quote one of the men under his command, 'He has never failed'.
Scout Omar from Legion of the Damned. Buried alive in heretics, stabbed through one of his hearts with electric claw, having his legs eaten by a daemon, still wants to continue fighting. His battle-brothers apparently decide that if he wants to, there's nothing they can do to stop him and he ends up as a sniper.
Over-captain Vallax of Siege of Castellax. Teleported right into a trap, mobbed down by some million Orks, captured, tortured, losing half of his skull, he breaks out and manages to get back to his home base - which, at the moment, is under siege.
In Mossflower, Martin the Warrior fits this trope perfectly. After being repeatedly savaged by a wildcat and being knocked down time after time, this mouse keeps rising back up to fight some more, refusing to just lie down and die.
Miles Vorkosigan of the Vorkosigan Saga has this approach to pretty much anything he sets his mind to. Four foot nine inches tall, with brittle bones, he really wants to go into the army. Aged seventeen, he undergoes a Training from Hell in order to be allowed to try the physical... and breaks both his legs a few minutes in. A normal person would choose another career at this point. Miles... finds a side entrance. And later, when he asks someone to marry him... he always tries again when he gets a refusal. From three different women. In one case, repeatedly over the course of several years. Just as well the man has charm. (However, one lesson he had to learn in order to finally get his mate was that he shouldn't approach love like a military campaign.)
Bigwig from Watership Down. Wounded, dying, facing down an army whose entire purpose is to tear him to pieces. He has no help, no chance of reinforcements; even if by some miracle he kills his opponent (who is larger, more cunning, and more experienced a killer than he is) he would then be faced with the rest of the Efrafan army. He's given a chance to come out peacefully and be hailed as a hero and given command of a quarter of his enemy's lands... but behind him is the rest of his warren, innocent does and kittens, who won't be shown that same mercy. They can tear him to pieces, but they will not make him move.
Bigwig: My Chief Rabbit has told me to defend this run, and until he says otherwise I shall stay here!
In the process, he sends packing in fear a rabbit who is rumoured to be Death's first cousin.
Roran of the Inheritance Cycle, a man whose determination carries him to accomplish almost ludicrously extreme feats. When his village becomes condemned by The Empire, he uses his potent charisma to convince his people to flee their homes and travel from the northern tip of Alagaesia to the sun-drenched country of Surda in the far south, avoiding Galbatorix's troops all the while. He joins the Varden, kills the Twins (two extremely powerful magicians) with his hammer, slaughters 193 enemy soldiers in one go, survives being given 50 lashes to the back by Nasuada for insubordination and is up and fighting again a few days later, journeys across Alagaesia to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend from the mountain lair Helgrind, wrestles a battle-crazed urgal to the ground until the beast surrenders and acknowledges Roran as the stronger, and rises his way up to a commander in the Varden after only a couple of months of service. And he does this all without any magic whatsoever. Yeah, Eragon doesn't look so impressive next to that, does he?
Galbatorix invoked this trope by casting spells to prevent his men from feeling pain. In the first encounter, they all died... but took out several Varden soldiers each. Still not as impressive as Roran, who actually felt pain from wounds.
Ethan Gage from William Dietrich's books Napoleon's Pyramids and The Rosetta Key. No matter what his enemies throw at him, he manages to survive it, including dangling him over a pit of snakes, burying him up to his neck in the middle of the desert and sending an entire (Napoleonic) French military brigade after him. His enemies ask him whether or not he is immortal on several occasions, Including Napoleon right before his planned execution
If Victor Cachat decides something is in the best interests of the Republic of Haven, it's going to happen, regardless of the cost to himself or others. He's the one who, to borrow from Crown of Slaves, would neither flinch, nor hesitate, nor cry in pain or fear. Not ever.
Honor herself, in the words of Earl White Haven:
It was a merciless something, her "monster" - something that went far beyond military talent, or skills, or even courage. Those things, he knew without conceit, he, too, possessed in plenty. But not that deeply personal something at the core of her, as unstoppable as Juggernaut, merciless and colder than space itself, that no sane human being would ever willingly rouse. In that instant her husband knew, with an icy shiver which somehow, perversely, only made him love her even more deeply, that as he gazed into those agate-hard eyes, he looked into the gates of Hell itself. And whatever anyone else might think, he knew now that there was no fire in Hell. There was only the handmaiden of death, and ice, and purpose, and a determination which would not - could not - relent or rest.
Treecats generally are described as having two kinds of enemies - those who have been dealt with appropriately, and those who are still alive. Given their druthers, they won't stop until the latter have become the former.
Lloyd Douglas' The Robe characterized the Jewish people as this. A disgruntled Roman soldier remarks that 'A Jew will climb out of his grave and continue to fight.' Given the repeated Jewish Rebellions he had a point, and meant it as a semi-compliment.
Dolores Garza of "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer" fights despite her woefully-outmatched powers, lack of support, lack of athleticism, and later bondage (with a roughly 250-pound streetlightin the villain's control, no less) to keep her home safe.
Ben Hanscom in IT, in his story of how he lost weight.
Also Bill Denbrough in his quest to get revenge for his brother's murder.
It sucks to be Harry Dresden. It's a good thing he's Made of Iron, since by the time the final confrontation has rolled around, he's nearly always in no condition to be walking around, much less fighting the book's Big Bad. By the end of Dead Beat, for example, he's been kicked around by Cowl, Mind Raped by Corpsetaker, had a shuriken lodged in his leg, beaten to within an inch of his life with a chain, bitten by snakes, and knocked out with a blow to the head, and the only reason he can even move is because he's blocking out the pain. He still finds the resolve to REANIMATE A TYRANNOSAURUS and fight his way through a horde of zombies, three necromancers, and a ninja ghoul.
Harry has said multiple times that he is one of the top when it comes to sheer magical capacity. What balances this out is his horrible lack of control. So it would be far easier for him to animate a T.Rex then a regular, fine-control zombie (which was forbidden anyway).
Michael sums it up best: " Because I know you, Harry Dresden. You are pathologically incapable of knowing when to quit. You don't surrender."
Miss Gard. She is quite literally disembowelled and proceeds to stuff her own guts back where they belong and seal the wound shut with superglue. Even Harry is somewhere between impressed and "Oh my God, stop that" horrified watching her do it.
And after said disembowelment, she still manages to fight off a two-thousand year old sorceress who is paired with a Fallen Angel.
Cowl. My God, Cowl. Let's see what he's survived...
Harry flipping a car on top of him using hellfire. He's got a limp afterwards, and that's it.
He wasn't scared of Harry's Death Curse being able to affect him right as he was focusing on something that would take all the concentration he had.
The freaking Darkhallow ritual blowing up in his face. Repeat: he survives having enough magic blasted at him to ascend a mortal to a god, with the epicenter of the explosion more or less focused on him.
Really, in the Crapsack World of the Dresden Files, everyone is a determinator at least once. From a badass Knight of the Cross, to the tiniest Wildfae. The only ones who haven't been seen determinating are gods and some of the strongest Fae.
Fae, at least, can't always properly determinate because they don't have free will, so they can't set their will to a task (the jury's out on to what extent this applies to gods and/or God). This insight actually saves Harry from an angry fae queen in Cold Days when he realizes that, while he cannot hope to match her power, the one thing he can always do is resist.
The Golden Oecumene often seems to be an experiment in how much can be taken away from one character while keeping it plausible that he'd remain sane. At his lowest, protagonist Phaethon has lost every single thing he's ever had, including his reputation, and fights alone against a conspiracy that everyone else believes is all in his head. Tellingly, the first time the narrative really lets up on him is when it takes another character, Atkins, and has him temporarily convinced he's Phaethon. Formerly portrayed as The Stoic, he's reduced to sobbing and begging before an artificially induced Snap Back.
Except that the sobbing and begging is because he wants to STAY Phaethon. Which invites the question: if it's that hard to be Phaethon, then, just how much worse must it be to be Atkins?
Vivian Hardwick of Knights of the Borrowed Dark is relentless about her duties as a Knight, and about getting revenge on the Clockwork Three. She's been a Knight for nearly two decades, and has risen to the position of Malleus, an incredible achievement in and of itself, but she also rejects her cadre's help and attempts to take on three ancient Tenebrous by herself, then gets shot almost point-blank in the back, survives, and drags herself out of the pool of her own blood. She would have just continued looking for the mercy at that point if Denizen hadn't stopped her, but even so, she used a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to make sure she was battle-ready again just a few hours later.
Many in The Malazan Book of the Fallen, but one of the standouts has got to be Spinnock Durav, who spends an entire night duelling against fellow Determinator and Evil Old FolksKallor. Spinnock never has a chance, yet he repeatedly gets up, despite everything Kallor does to him, all because his master asked him to ensure that the former High King never reached the city of Darujhistan. He succeeds, despite never landing a blow on Kallor, all because he's too stubborn to fall down. Kallor himself shows off his Determinator status in the same book, fighting his way through Spinnock and a freaking Dragon in his efforts to reach the city. At the rate he's going Implacable Man may not be too far off.
Bolos might fail. They might die and be destroyed. But they did not surrender, and they never ever quit.
This wouldn't normally be applicable to a character who just tries to survive, but Night's Eliezer just will not. Give. Up. The book shows both the good and the bad sides of this, as he becomes more willing to abandon others to save himself.
Animal Farm: Boxer will build that goddamn windmill or die trying. Of course, in the end, the latter came true.
The Railway Series: Edward, Skarloey, and Rheneas all demonstrate this trope. In chronological order:
Skarloey and Rheneas's railway is on extremely hard times. Skarloey is out of commission, leaving Rheneas to do the entire workload. Rheneas is in little better condition than his brother. One rainy day, he is traveling home with an overloaded train (there are even passengers in the Guard's van). Out on the loneliest part of the line, his valve gear on one side jams, leaving him with only one good cylinder. Neither this nor the storm-slicked rails stop him from getting the train to the station. Had he failed the railway would have closed. Instead his valor earns the Skarloey Railway praise and good publicity, beginning to turn its fortunes around.
A few years later, after Sir Handel and Peter Sam arrived and while Rheneas is away being overhauled, Peter Sam being repaired in-house and damage to Sir Handel's wheels create quite the dilemma. Skarloey volunteers to pull the train in spite of his decrepit condition. On the return journey, a spring in his frame breaks, but he manages to bring the train home. James, who had been impatiently waiting for Skarloey, swallows his irritation and leaves in respectful silence after collecting his passengers. Skarloey is also sent off for an overhaul.
Edward manages to bring a train home in spite of a broken crank pin.
Red Storm Rising: The captain of the merchant vessel Julius Fucik, which is used by the Soviets to sneak troops into Iceland, valiantly stays at his post to guide the ship into harbor even as he bleeds to death from wounds sustained from 20mm cannon rounds, refusing all but the barest minimum of medical attention until his task is finished.
Many characters in A Song of Ice and Fire fit this trope, especially Balon Greyjoy, Catelyn Stark, Daenerys, Varys, and Oberyn Martell. It is deconstructed in the form of Brienne of Tarth, who would love to give up her quest, return her Cool Sword, and go home to her family... but won't, because she gave her word. By the fourth book she's got some fairly major psychological trauma and her determinator characteristics may have led to her death.
Stannis Baratheon, a man unloved by even his own brothers and the smallest army in the War of Five Kings, is by far the most determined with not even murdering his own blood (though Stannis doesn't enjoy this) or devastating defeat being enough to cool his ambition of becoming the King of Westeros, because the throne is his by right. He is also the only one of the original five kings to still be alive as of book five.
Let's look at Stannis's track record for the War: Rallies the smallest army, held up mostly by mercenaries, and prepares to fight the largest army in Westeros, led by Renly, his younger and more charismatic brother, and defeating it with just one death. Afterwards, most of Renly's forces swear allegiance to him, and Stannis's army becomes large enough to attack the capital of Westeros. He nearly takes it, until a deus ex machina by Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell defeats him. Undeterred, he decides to take his recently-thrashed army up north, WAY up north and beat down the Wildlings, and prepares to earn the support of the North by taking down the Boltons, who betrayed the North's beloved former rulers, the Starks. So, he marches his army, through a freaking blizzard, to Winterfell, to take them down once and for all.
Tywin Lannister: This is Stannis Baratheon. This man will fight to the bitter end and then some.
Before the series began, Stannis' first major command was holding Storm's End for his brother, though he was a young man at the time. Despite low supplies, he held it for a year against a much larger army, almost starving to death in the process.
Keladry of Mindelan is not called "The Protector of the Small" by a handful of deities for nothing. If she has breath in her body, she will protect her people- no matter if that means risking having to re-do her long and grueling page years to save her maid, or going after a group of kidnapped children( and their 150 well armed kidnappers) with less than 20 men, some birds, a cat and a few dogs. If someone is under her protection, Kel is not going to stand around and wait for a miracle, she's gonna be that miracle or die trying, and no one's gonna talk her out of it. Her Establishing Character Moment has her as a ten-year-old girl attacking a pack of boys trying to drown some kittens, then when a giant spider monster shows up to eat the kittens, she tries to kill it with rocks.
On a lesser note, during her page training, when she was ten to fourteen years old, she was the first girl in centuries to try to become a knight without pulling a Sweet Polly Oliver. And a lot of people hated her for it; her own training master was constantly Moving the Goalposts, insinuating that she should Stay in the Kitchen, and turning a blind eye to the other pages who trying to make her quit. Said other pages conspired to make her late and thus receive punishment work, forced her to accept an overlarge and difficult mount, and gave her practice weapons that were weighted and harder to use. Kel kept going anyway, training to build muscle and negotiate with the horse and never complaining, and was stronger for it - and she made time on the side to be a Bully Hunter, too. Eventually the training master begrudgingly came to respect her and even consider her the best knight he'd ever trained, due in large part to that determination.
Beka Cooper of the City Guard is not called Terrier in her first appearance for nothing either. She WILL find the answer to the deadly mysteries that come into her beat, and despite her training partners' best attempts, she forgets when to back down.
Same writer, different series as the above, Briar Moss in his book from the Circle of Magic quartet. He will not let his mentor die, even if that means following her into the afterlife and convincing her to come back.
Deconstructed in Paradise Lost. Humanity can't return to the Garden of Eden specifically because Satan refuses to give up. Interestingly, Satan's status as a determinator has convinced a number of people that he's the actual hero of the story.
Well, by that point he was certifiably batshit. However, it was definitely his Determinator tendencies that brought him to that point: he dragged his entire family off to the Belgian Congo to be missionaries, even though the missionary agency would not approve his mission and gave them virtually no financial support, and stubbornly stayed on, doggedly trying to convert the entirely uninterested and frequently hostile locals. This all through the violence before, during, and after the Congo gained independence, through the death of his youngest daughter and being abandoned by his wife and three remaining daughters, and being driven to live alone in the jungle by the locals, who'd had just about enough of him.
Orleanna, Nathan's wife, is also the Determinator, with her fight first to keep her family alive in the Congo, then to get them the hell out. Two of her daughters, Adah and Leah, also develop into impressive Determinators. Apparently it's a family trait.
If you think about it, the Tortoise from "The Tortoise and the Hare" is this. Despite the fact that it seemed hopeless right from the start, the tortoise just keeps going and ended up winning the race.
Dicey in Homecoming. At the age of 13, leads her 10-, 9-, and 6-year-old siblings, homeless and walking much of the way, from Massachusetts to Maryland. She keeps them together, keeps them fed, and keeps them moving. To paraphrase another character later in the series, "Look it up on a map."
Time Scout: Do not mess with Skeeter Jackson's adopted family. He will spend sleepless days hunting you down through the bowels of the earth. He will hunt you down to the ends of time. He will face a storm of bullets, sprint across London, and leap a river of molten bronze. And then he'll offer you a Sadistic Choice.
Similarly, Lupus Mortiferus will get back his money. And his revenge.
Elijah Beckett from The Corsay Books is a textbook example, doggedly doing his physically-demanding and spiritually-draining duty despite debilitating illness and a growing narcotic addiction.
The Do-Gooders in Audrey, Wait! continued playing at their gig even after the ceiling collapsed. Their first offer from a label turns out to be a sham, but they push through until they get another offer from another label.
Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Jack Emery and Ted Robinson become these as the series goes on. Both of them are told to their faces that the are obsessed with arresting the Vigilantes and to just give it up. Jack gives up and starts helping out the Vigilantes in The Jury. Ted gives up and starts helping out the Vigilantes in Collateral Damage.
Walker Boh of The Heritage of Shannara and The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, takes one beating after another, but never ever gives up. Whether it's cutting off his own arm to make an escape, facing down one of the True Fae, refusing to let the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse keep him trapped in Paranor, killing the Big Bad after having been swarmed by dozens of his minions, or surviving for half a book with a fatal wound and not only killing the Disc-One Final Boss that did it to him, but redeeming one of the other villains in the process, Walker cannot be stopped. His predecessor, Allanon was also something of a determinator, but Walker takes it to new heights.
The Warlock Lord was such a determinator that he managed to cheat death by convincing himself he could not die.
Roy Merritt from Daemon has this as his defining personality trait. Video of him successfully breaking into a death-trap-filled mansion while on fire gets passed around the Darknet for years, earning him the name Burning Man. Mind you, the darknet is the network built by the system Merritt was fighting against - his determination is so impressive even his enemies are in awe.
The defining personality trait of Richard Hannay from The Thirty-Nine Steps and sequels, both mentally and physically. Need someone to walk into wartime Germany, find out their secret weapon, evade capture while staggering through the snowy woods in winter with a fever, and foil the villains' evil plans long after anyone else would have given up in exhaustion or succumbed to exposure? Richard Hannay is your man.
Harry Potter: Lord Voldemort. Even with his last best lieutenant dead, Harry having refused to die yet again, his horcuxes destroyed and the Elder Wand refusing to obey him, he just keeps fighting. Pride of course, comes before the fall.
Matteo Ta'anari of Someone Else's War is the ultimate determinator. He loses his parents and his little brother, his home, his religion is compromised, he gets shot through the throat, becomes claustrophobic, sustains burns to 90% of his body, is rendered deaf-mute...and still keeps trying to free his friends from the Lord's Resistance Army. Without violence. And succeeds.
ColonelSebastianMoran of the Sherlock Holmes stories. He spent three years ruthlessly hunting Holmes all across Europe and Asia, and he's famous in India because he once crawled down a sewer drain after a wounded man-eating tiger. And won.
It goes without saying that every Victor of The Hunger Games fits this trope (with the possible exception of Annie Cresta). However it is taken up to eleven by Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta.
In the first book Haymitch consciously uses this trope during the Games. He knows Katniss is determined to win no matter what and that Peeta is just as determined to keep her alive. Haymitch figures that between the three of them they can get Katniss home so he focuses all his efforts on helping her survive while ignoring Peeta until he becomes useful for that purpose. Peeta... doesn't mind one bit since he wants Katniss to be the one who survives.
In Catching Fire it becomes problematic rather than helpful. Katniss and Peeta are both as determined as ever only now they're at cross purposes. Peeta still wants to keep Katniss alive but she's no longer focused on her own survival since she wants Peeta to be the one who lives.
Even more complicated in Mockingjay. Having been hijacked by the Capitol Peeta's incredible determination is now focused on killing Katniss. A more subtle example over the course of the second half of the book but the fact that he manages to overcome the effects of the Capitol's torture and apparently being the only person ever to recover from hijacking speaks volumes about his determination.
Include Annie in this trope as well. She had already snapped, she could have just given up and let herself drown when they flooded the arena, but she swam and swam until everyone else was dead and she won. Maybe she wasn't even thinking about it, but whatever survival instinct she was running on led her to outlast the others.
Alex the Brawler from the Inferno Series is this. He doesn't back down despite being undersized and overmatched in nearly every fight he finds.
Musashi is this. Nothing will stop him from pursuing the Way of the Sword. One character comments that it's his determination, more than anything else, that is the secret to his success.
Peter Watson, the child protagonist of Roald Dahl's short story "The Swan" (collected in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More), is described thusly in the closing moments of the story:
"Some people, when they have taken too much and have been driven beyond the point of endurance, simply crumple and give up. There are others, though they are not many, who will for some reason always be unconquerable. You meet them in time of war and also in time of peace. They have an indomitable spirit and nothing, neither pain nor torture nor threat of death, will cause them to give up."
And how does he earn that description? After being bullied by two rifle-toting local youths who've murdered a mother swan, strapped its bloodied wings to the boy's arms, and forced him up a tree, and then begun opening fire on him to force him to jump to his death...he is so consumed with determination not to give in to them that he turns into a swan and flies to safety.
Agawin will save Grella. God help anyone who gets in his way.
Mal and Laura in Those That Wake. Mike actually calls them on this, saying that never giving up just hurts after a while.
Major Bowdler in True Talents. He resorts to kidnapping and murder to recruit a teenaged telekinetic, when he escapes, abducts his friends and threatens his entire family to get him back.
All of the main characters from Of Fear And Faith have their moments, but North and Elin probably take the cake. North refuses to give an inch during the battle with Fear even after his legs fail him, and Elin keeps her sunny disposition even when Sorrow tries to Mind Rape her, to the point of laughing in the monster's face.
As Mo Willems notes in an interview available on the DVD of the animated version of Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, this is the Pigeon's defining characteristic and something that he shares in common with real-life pigeons.
Deconstructed in Franz Kafka's The Castle. The protagonist K is such a vicious determinator that he keeps fighting onwards even when it's pointless to do so and he knows damn well he couldn't possibly win. Ultimately it's made clear that, in this one case if nothing else, there are times when you really should just give up.
The Heralds of the Almighty spend their time between Desolations being tortured by an evil god in Damnation, with the implication being that the longer they can hold out, the longer the Desolation is staved off. Generally, they lasted a few hundred years, although it was down to only a few years by the end. During the last Desolation, nine of the Heralds finally gave up completely, abandoning their friend Talenelat'Elin to suffer the tortures alone, realizing he had never been the one to break. He held back the Desolation for four and half thousand years, albeit at the cost of his sanity. When one of the other Heralds finds him and is busy cursing herself and the others for abandoning him, he breaks out of his madness long enough to THANK THEM for the decision as it gave humanity time to build and advance like never before.
In the climax of Words of Radiance, Kaladin faces two Shardbearers despite having a ruined leg and little more than a knife, to defend the king, who he doesn't even like.
Kaladin: You will not have him.
During a flashback in Oathbringer, Dalinar has a literal rockslide dropped on him, his plate allowing him to survive it, although he's very badly injured. He proceeded to dig his way out, murder the people who triggered the trap, march back to camp, and doesn't sleep until those responsible have paid.
Paula Myo, a detective from Commonwealth Saga who is genetically engineered to never give up the chase, so much so that when she forces herself to not arrest a criminal in order to prevent a larger evil, it puts her body in a state of shock.
Nothing will stop Parker - Villain Protagonist of series of novels by Richard Stark - once he puts his mind to accomplishing something (usually vengeance). In The Hunter, he goes to war against The Mafia in order to regain money he believes he is owed. In The Outfit, he is such a thorn in their side that they decide it is easier to make peace with him than keep fighting him despite him having killed several of their bosses.
Part of the Training from Hell in Drew Hayes's Super Powereds is to sort out the willing from the able and to find which of the students in the Hero Certification Program have what it takes to be a Hero. Honestly, it would be easier to list those students, who don't fit this trope by Year 4, as everyone else has been filtered out by then. Roy is particularly notable. At first, he's no match for Chad, the best fighter in his HCP class. He can't even land a single blow on Chad without being willing to nearly tear his arm out of its socket, his determination surprising even Chad. However, with each sparring match, he gets slightly better and just keeps on coming. Having superhuman endurance helps, though. When Coach George meets with Roy's mother, he first points out all the bad things about Roy, but then explains that, if Roy refuses to stop and keep improving, then he's got a real shot of becoming a Hero. There's also Vince, who exemplifies The Cape trope. If he feels that someone should be punished for their crimes, then he'll stop at nothing to make that happen. However, Vince's Leeroy Jenkins tendencies also nearly get him killed several times and frustrate Camille to no end. In all fairness, though, all five Melbrook students spent their entire lives with Power Incontinence, so they had to learn to cope being unable to control their abilities (Mary had to live deep in the woods just to avoid overhearing any stray thought within a five mile radius, Vince had to be kept in deep isolation to avoid uncontrollably absorbing and giving off energy, Nick's luck manipulation could be good and bad and could also flare up at any moment, Alice levitated when she felt strong emotions and came crashing down afterwards, and Hershel had no way to stop himself from turning into Roy). Another special mention goes to Shane, who has been competing with his older sister Angela since they were little. He spends nearly all his free time training. It's eventually reveled that they're both competing for the right to bear the name Captain Starlight, which was once held by the world's first Hero, their grandfather. Like Shane, Chad also spends every waking moment outside of class training, desperate to become as great a Hero as his late father was. This determination surprises even their opponents from the other HCP schools during the intermurals in Year 4, to the point where the others wonder what sort of monsters are being raised at Lander. As one example, Alice uses her gravity power to burst her own eardrums in order to neutralize her opponent's sonic disorientation ability.
In Warrior Cats, Tigerstar will do absolutely anything to rule (kill the Clan deputy in an attempt to become deputy himself, attempt to kill his leader multiple times - including trying to trick her into running onto the Thunderpath and conspiring with rogues to make it look like a rogue killed her - in order to become leader himself, become leader of another Clan, try to join all the Clans together, and bring in the bloodthirsty BloodClan in order to make the other Clans do what he wants). And then later he tries to get revenge on the Clans from beyond the grave, first by visiting his children in their dreams and trying to make them take over their Clans, and then by organizing the Dark Forest's armies and visiting even cats not related to him in order to get them on his side and ultimately declare all-out war on the living Clans.
Villainous Cultured Badass Captain Halsing in Victoria behaves almost like a literal Terminator at times, carrying out his dangerous and foolhardy mission with utter serene detachment. When he really demonstrates determination, however, is in making his escape after he predictably ends up captured.
Though may God have mercy on your soul if you so much as make Myu cry.
Yue, Shea, Tio and Kaori (so far) have all taken on the Aspect of Determinators when it comes to sticking with Hajime and trying to win his affection. With Hajime himself being the biggest obstacle for all but Yue.
Breq in the Imperial Radch books. What do you do when you're whatever bits of a warship AI could fit inside one Wetware Body and virtually mad with grief? Decide that The Emperor, who's responsible for your current situation, needs to die, for all that said emperor has hundreds of bodies spread across human space. Then make a very creditable effort at doing it, including dragging a long-secret civil war out into the light and eventually causing ramifications across Radchaai space by making a bid for the ridiculously powerful alien Presger to list AI as a Significant species.
The title character in Shel Silverstein's The Devil and Billy Markham, after going to Hell multiple times, becomes one of these. He doesn't care if the Devil is in his way. He doesn't care if God is in his way. He is going to save the people he loves and he is going to make the Devil look like a chump. Period.
In the Oddjobs universe, pretty much everybody who works in the agencies trying to deal with the Venislarn incursion has to end up like this, because they know they are going to lose and everyone on Earth is going to die horribly (if they're lucky.) But in the meantime: ""Yes, it is the end of the world. Yes, we are all going to die. But we are British. These things still need doing in an orderly manner and there is certainly no excuse to get all emotional about it.""
In particular, Vivian Grey. Do not get in her way. And do not, ever, try to break the rules with her around. Even if you are a member of the nobility of the race of otherworldly horrors which is destined to destroy mankind. Just. Don't. Do it.
Edgar in North To Benjamin decides to trek across the frozen Yukon river (which starts breaking apart while he's on it), risk his death of cold, frosbite, and a pack of wolves to go to Reese's girlfriend, Victoria, in West Dawson, to tell her about Reese and his mother.