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Heroic Sacrifice / Live-Action Films

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  • Perhaps include here also ANY war movie where the flawed character with the shady past calls in an air strike (or artillery barrage, etc) on his own position to save his partner or teammates and redeem himself and his reputation although it means certain death.
  • The thirteen samurai who accept the suicide mission of assassinating Lord Naritsugu in 13 Assassins. The chances of survival are almost nil and they know this going in — they fight not for money or fame, but to kill a monster who is a threat to all of Japan.
  • In Air Force One, an F-15 pilot interposes his plane between a missile fired at the titular plane by a MiG. Apparently, he needed to stay to the end to ensure success.
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  • The two main characters Chris and Theta in Alien Cargo, who choose to remain in their dying spaceship to prevent a dangerous virus from reaching civilization.
  • Aliens: Both Gorman and Vasquez: "You always were an asshole, Gorman."
  • Alien³:
    • Ripley throws herself to her doom just as a chestburster bursts from her chest.
    • Also, Dillon, who stays at the bottom of the lead mold to keep the alien from escaping, telling it You Shall Not Pass!. Leads into a Dying Moment of Awesome when the alien charges him and he grabs hold of it, taunting it angrily as he is ripped to shreds.
  • Armageddon is a disaster film where anything that can possibly go wrong does. At the end of the movie, in order to detonate a nuke that will destroy a meteor headed for Earth, one person has to stay back and manually detonate it because the remote detonator was broken. They draw straws and AJ drew the shortest stick. However, as he leaves the ship to fulfill his duty, Stamper cuts off AJ's oxygen supply and locks him inside the ship, taking his place and sacrificing himself to save all of humanity and the Earth.
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  • In the Babylon 5 made-for-TV movie A Call to Arms, Captain Anderson rams the IAS Victory into the control node of the Shadow Planetkiller, saving Earth from destruction. As usual, this is preceded by a clenched fist and the phrase "Ramming speed!"
  • Back to the Future: Doc distracts the terrorists to give Marty time to run. They gun him down.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman. He grabs a Kryptonite spear and charges at Doomsday, knowing full well that either the Kryptonite or Doomsday will be the end of him. When Doomsday impales him through the chest with a bone spike, Clark simply pulls himself further onto it to allow him to drive the spear deeper into Doomsday, stopping the beast at the cost of his own life.
  • Battle in Outer Space. Iwomura feels guilty over blowing up one of the two Earth rocket ships while under Natalian Mind Control. He gives his life fighting off the attacking Natalian saucers so the remaining Earth ship can escape.
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  • The Beastmaster. Two in one movie. First Dar's dog is struck with an arrow and with the last of his strength, drags Dar to safety. Kodo the ferret sees the evil and wounded wizard Maax sneak up on Dar in an attempt to finish him off. Kodo leaps onto Maax and both fall into a fire pit.
  • A non-lethal example in Big Game — Moore stands in Morris' way so that infuriated man would beat the crap out of him, not the thirteen-year-old boy he was going for.
  • Bird Box
    • Charlie tackles his deranged coworker to save the rest of the group at the supermarket, killing himself shortly thereafter since he wasn't wearing a blindfold.
    • Tom fights off the crazy survivors so the children and Malorie can escape. He manages to kill three of them before being wounded, so he removes his blindfold so he'll have a better chance of killing the rest. He's infected by the creatures, but maintains his sense of self long just enough to kill the last crazy survivor before turning the gun on himself.
  • In Blood Diamond Danny Archer allows Soloman to escape with the diamond as he makes a final stand against the approaching soldiers.
  • Captive State: Jane Doe allows herself to be uncovered and killed as the leader of the Resistance Cell in Chicago, so her partner will take the credit. He's thus promoted and given direct access with the aliens, permitting him to launch a suicide attack on them.
  • Child's Play 3: Whitehurst jumps on a live grenade to save his friends.
  • Constantine: Damned to go back to hell after he attempted suicide to stop the psychic visions he kept having in his youth, John Constantine has spent much of his life trying to earn forgiveness by kicking the minions of Hell's asses. However, the Big Bad is in a league far higher than he is at the moment. Unable to stop Gabriel from unleashing Hell on Earth, John brings the plan to Satan's attention by committing suicide. As Satan believes that only he will be the one to conquer Earth and win his wager against God, Satan begrudgingly intervenes and stops these interlopers who aren't going by his plan. Feeling in debt to John, Satan offers John a life extension as a reward for his assistance. Already dying from lung cancer, John declines, instead asking that the soul of Isabel Dodson be allowed to return to Heaven instead. Satan honors this request after a second to think on it, not realizing the deeper ramifications to John's action. In giving his life for the sake of another without premeditation of some future reward, he earns his way into God's good graces, who prevents Satan from taking John to Hell. As his body rises to the heavens — while giving the Devil the finger no less — the now angered Satan rips the cancer from Constantine's body, restoring him to full health. He does so in order to give John another chance to prove that his soul belongs in Hell, not Heaven.
  • In the climax of Cowboys & Aliens, Ella went into the core of the aliens' spaceship and activated the bracelet's self-destruct bomb, knowing there's only a couple of seconds for the bomb to go off.
  • Nearly EVERYBODY in Damnatus. Injured Oktavian stays behind and blows himself up when discovered. Adeodatus grenades himself to both try and destroy the daemon and prevent his own possession (he only succeeds on the second count). Von Remus pulls a You Shall Not Pass! to let Nira escape. Nira herself then dies trying to banish G'guor. Farseer Phaer makes one, too... from beyond the grave!
    "In this universe, one is either sacrificed or sacrifices themself." Arc Words indeed.
  • Selma in Dancer in the Dark. In the latter half of the film, Selma is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. She meets with a new lawyer who says her previous lawyer was incompetent and new evidence has been brought forth that could save her from death. The only way to pay for this new attorney is to use the money that Selma had been saving for her son to get a surgery that would cure his hereditary degenerative blindness. Believing that it is important for her son to be able to see his own grandchildren some day, Selma chooses to die. Just before Selma is hanged, her close friend tells her that the surgery was a success.
  • In Darby O'Gill and the Little People, Darby uses the last of his three wishes from the leprechauns to take his daughter's place when Death comes for her. Fortunately for him, King Brian tricks him into making a fourth wish, which negates the last three and Darby's sacrifice, by which time his daughter has recovered from her illness.
  • The Dark Crystal:
    • Many of the cute little fuzzballs that force skekTek into the bottomless shaft go down with him. Fizzgig too, though he ends up catching hold of something and gets rescued by Aughra.
    • Kira throws the Shard to Jen just before she's stabbed, so he can heal the Crystal when the three suns align.
  • In The Dark Knight, Batman confesses to the killing of all of Harvey "Two Face" Dent's victims and takes the fall in order to protect Dent's image as the 'good guy' that the city needs. He becomes a fugitive from this point on, even though he did not kill Dent's victims.
  • Implied in The Dark Knight Rises with the nuclear flash, mushroom cloud, and the characters mourning at Bruce's grave. Later subverted. While Batman is believed to have perished in his epic attempt to detonate the nuclear bomb away in the ocean with the Bat, Alfred sees Bruce Wayne alive and happy on a date with Selina in his annual vacation to Italy.
  • Occurs in the Death Note live-action movies (but not the original manga or anime). Like in the anime/manga, Light gets Rem to write L's name in the Death Note. When L is apparently dying due to that, Light admits that he's Kira to him... but then it's revealed that L outwitted Light by writing his own name in the Death Note before Rem did, setting himself to die in 23 days and overriding Rem's attempt to kill him. L thus proves Light is Kira, but still dies less than a month later due to writing his own name in the Death Note.
  • Deep Impact, a similar movie to Armageddon has the entire shuttle crew with the nukes sacrifice themselves on the same mission.
  • A funny and mild version in Dirty Work:
    Mitch: So, who's with me?
    [dead silence]
    Mitch: Alright, who's with me on the understanding that if this plan fails, you all get to beat the crap out of me?
    [crowd becomes very enthusiastic]
  • District 9: Through his Heel–Face Turn, Wikus ultimately decides to help Christopher get to the dropship, even if it means he himself will either die or live and transform completely.
  • The wizard Ulrich, who sacrificed himself twice in Dragonslayer (1981). His first death placed part of his life force into a gem and his 2nd death when the gem was crushed killed the dragon, as he exploded while being carried by it.
  • In Dracula Untold, when his vampiric subjects begin to turn against him, with plans to feed upon his son, Dracula gives him to the monk to be taken away to safety, and then uses his powers to part the dark clouds currently blocking out the sun, burning the vampires and of course, himself. On his part however, it doesn't stick, as the gypsy Shkelgim recovers his body and uses some of his blood to revive him.
  • Eagle Eye: Towards the end of the film, Jerry fires a gun up in the air during a children's concert at the Capitol Building, knowing full well the Secret Service will react to that by shooting first and asking questions later. The reason this is a heroic sacrifice is that one of the instruments have been altered to act as a detonator for a bomb once a certain note is reached, so the concert has to be stopped now or else they're all going to die, president, his Cabinet sans the Secretary of Defense, and children included. The reason it's not a stupid sacrifice is that this is only done after shouting, waving and trying to get to security has been tried and failed. Jerry actually survives being shot by the Secret Service, and appears to have been exonerated once it was revealed why he'd done what he did.
  • Elysium: Max knows the data in his head will kill him if it's removed, but lets Spider do it so Frey's daughter will survive.
  • Ender's Game: At the start of the film, the fighter that crashes into the Formic's Mother Ship seems to have done this. Subverted in that the pilot, Mazer Rackham, ejected in time. But it was cut in the propaganda narrative to invoke The Power of Legacy. At the end of the film, the entire human fleet follows Ender's orders to go for a Hail Mary attack against the Formic homeworld, knowing full well that the Formic armada would tear them to pieces. They all die, but not before they obliterate the Formic planet. When Ender finds out it wasn't a simulation, he has a Heroic BSoD.
  • In End of Days, Satan has until midnight on New Year's Eve to impregnate the chosen bearer of his child, and having been thwarted once by her bodyguard Jericho Cane and running out of time, he possesses Jericho himself in a last ditch effort to rape her. Jericho is able to resist Satan's control just long enough to allow her to escape and impale himself on protruding sword of a nearby statue. Midnight passes, Satan is driven out of his body and back to hell, and Jericho dies. Since Jericho regained control with only five seconds left on the time limit, this may also double as a Stupid Sacrifice.
  • Enemy at the Gates. In the middle of a sniper stalemate in between main protagonist Vasily and the German Cold Sniper, Vasily's friend-slash-sentimental-rival, quite jealous that the Love Interest (now presumed dead) has chosen Vasily over him and disillusioned with the communist cause, exposes himself to the enemy's field of fire as a final act of friendship and gets a bullet in the head as a result; this allows Vasily to pinpoint the bad guy's position and kill him.
    Danilov: I want to help you, Vassili. Let me do one last thing, something useful for a change. (Takes off his helmet) Let me show you where the Major is.
  • In Event Horizon, Miller blows the ship in half just before the hyperspace portal opens, allowing the survivors on the other side of the ship to escape while leaving himself to an unknown, horrible fate in the Lovecraftian hyperspace dimension.
  • The Exorcist: Father Karras, in a flight of rage in the very end of the film, tackles the possessed Regan, demanding that the creature take his body instead. It does so, freeing Regan, and in a struggle between himself and it, the Father throws himself out of the bedroom window, killing himself in the fall down the stairs, thus preventing it from getting to Regan (and hopefully anyone else) again.
  • Female Agents: Jeanne shoots a random German soldier to create a diversion to Louise can complete the mission. She was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, and hanged.
  • Flowers of War: Major Li takes on a group of far more Japanese soldiers, knowing it will end in his death. George and the prostitutes take the places of the girls, fully aware of what's in store for them.
  • Two deaths in Friday the 13th films come from heroic sacrifices;
    • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday has Duke handcuffing himself to Jason to buy more time for the protagonists to stop him. He dies in the attempt.
    • Sgt. Brodski in Jason X catches Uber Jason in the vacuum of space and drags him into Earth Two's atmosphere, burning them both up.
  • Godzilla:
    • The original Godzilla has Doctor Serizawa using his Oxygen Destroyer to kill the titular monster, but, fearing that it will become weaponized by governments, destroys all his notes and allows himself to be killed by it as well, destroying the knowledge of its creation forever. Unfortunately, some of the Godzilla continuities imply that it was a Senseless Sacrifice by having Godzilla regenerate his whole body.
    • In Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mothra goes into battle against Godzilla knowing full well that she will die.
    • Then in Terror of Mechagodzilla, Katsura Mafune, after failing to convince Ichinose to kill her after revealing she had Mechagodzilla’s remote control built inside her after being resurrected, takes her own life as a way to help Godzilla defeat Mechagodzilla.
    • And in Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth Battra sacrifices himself to help Mothra trap Godzilla at the bottom of the sea.
    • Topping that, in Godzilla: Final Wars, Mothra, mortally wounded, kamikazies into Gigan's head, blowing both of them up.
    • Then there's Godzilla Tokyo SOS in which Kiryu (A cyborg version of The ORIGINAL 1954 Godzilla that somehow manages to gain self-awareness) carries Godzilla over the ocean and sinks both of them to the bottom of a trench.
    • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! gets three of these with Baragon, Mothra (who gives her life-force to Ghidorah to revive him and make him stronger) and King Ghidorah.
    • In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Rodan gives his life so that he can give Godzilla enough power to destroy Super Mechagodzilla.
    • In Godzilla (2014), Sandra Brody told her husband to shut the blast doors, thus dooming her and her team, in order to prevent radiation from leaking out.
    • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Dr. Serizawa volunteers himself on a suicide mission to plant and detonate a nuclear bomb next to Godzilla in order to rejuvenate him, as their submarine's firing system was damaged and the radiation levels in the water around Godzilla are so high that they can't get close without experiencing a fatal dosage.
  • Gran Torino: Walt Kowalski goes to the house of the antagonist gangsters, creating enough of a ruckus to draw some witnesses before he goes for his cigarette lighter. The jumpy gangsters shoot him dead, and the way the setup goes it looks like they killed an unarmed old man in the street, ensuring lengthy jail sentences for all of them and that Walt's Hmong neighbors (who had been the gang's primary targets throughout the film) can live their lives in peace.
  • Halo: Nightfall: When Locke, Macer, and Aiken pick beads to determine who will be left behind to manually detonate the bomb, Aiken says the one who draws the red bead will stay behind. Aiken had Locke and Macer pick first, but there in fact was no red bead — they were all white. Never mind the moral question of letting the Old Soldier die to save the young, it's a good decision on purely practical terms because, as a former SPARTAN-II, Aiken has the strength and stamina necessary to hand-carry the bomb to the detonation site.
    Aiken: As it should be.
  • Near the end of the hospital battle in Hard Boiled, two of the SWAT team officers charged with getting the newborns safely out of the building use their kevlar vests to protect the babies. Immediately after securing the infants inside of the vests, they're riddled with bullets that they might otherwise have survived.
  • Hong Kong 1941 ends with Kim-fay (Chow Yun Fat) at the end of the movie blowing up himself and a patrol-boat full of Japanese soldiers to allow Hak-keung, Nam, and the rest of the refugees fleeing Hong Kong to escape.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the Elf siblings Nuada and Nuala both share the same lifeforce. Even after being defeated by Hellboy, Nuada vows to continue his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against humans. So Nuala kills herself to stop him.
  • Early on in The Hidden Fortress, Princess Yuki discovers Kofuyu, General Rokurota's sister, has been beheaded while pretending to be her (which causes her to cry Tears of Remorse. Also, a few of her servants do this off-screen to make sure she and Rokurota are able to escape with a warning.
    • Averted later with the farm girl Princess Yuki and Rokurota rescue from slavery later; she's quite prepared to sacrifice herself for the princess (even to the point of an I Am Spartacus moment), but Princess Yuki refuses to let anyone else die for her.
  • Highlander: Endgame has Connor sacrifice his head to Duncan so the combined power of the two will be able to defeat Jacob Kell.
  • In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Anty sacrifices himself to save the kids from a scorpion.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • What Katniss Everdeen volunteering for her sister was intended to be, as she knew her chances of getting out of the Games alive were extremely slim. She does make it out, though.
    • The attack on District Five's hydroelectric dam in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Even if the attackers survive charging the Peacekeepers unarmed, they can't outrun the wave from the collapsing dam.
  • Subverted in The Hunt for Red October. As the Soviet sub is being evacuated following the false reactor accident, Captain Ramius tells the ship's doctor to go with the crew in the life rafts while Ramius and the officers submerge and "scuttle the ship" (to which the doctor replies that Ramius will "receive the Order of Lenin"). Unbeknownst to the doctor and crew, Ramius intends to meet up with an American sub to defect and hand over the Red October. The crew is rescued by a U.S. destroyer, upon whose deck they see the surface elements of an undersea battle, culminating in an explosion which they believe destroys the Red October.
    • Played straight during the same fight when Captain Second Rank Borodin, Ramius's first officer, spots the hidden GRU agent aiming his gun at Ramius and shoves Ramius out of the way, taking a bullet for him.
  • In the final cut of the I Am Legend movie, Will Smith's character blows himself up with a bunch of zombies in the end so that the woman and her child can escape with the vaccine that would cure the zombies.
  • Ken of In Bruges sacrifices himself in the name of Ray's redemption by jumping from the Bruges belfry and splattering on the cobblestone pavement below. The original intention was to deliver a gun to Ray and warn him so that he could defend himself from Harry, but the gun was crushed under his massive body, so he was only able to give the warning. Ken even prepares for the event by putting on a black suit, leaving his will tucked away on the hotel dresser, and displaying an almost stoic attitude towards his boss (but getting shot in the leg and neck still hurts like a bitch).
  • In Independence Day, Russell, the alcoholic, semi-washed up crop duster pilot who is rushed out into the cockpit of a fighter jet for the Final Battle. He's got the last missile in his squadron, which arms itself but fails to discharge, so what does he do? He looks down at a photograph of his kids and makes the decision to pilot his plane directly into the alien's energy weapon while it's charging up to fire. He doesn't make it, but neither does the alien mothership. In the original version, Russell was not present for the battle but turned up with the last missile strapped to his crop duster biplane: this was swapped out as it got a good laugh out of test audiences, but was nowhere near as poignant, plus he doesn't really have a reason to sacrifice itself at this point; in the final version, the missile arming itself meant he was doomed either way, making his sacrifice much more rational.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence: Former President Whitmore volunteers to lure the alien Queen's ship in a moon tug strapped with a cold fusion bomb. The bomb detonates, killing Whitmore, but the Queen survives. It's still helpful, as the Queen is forced to leave her ship and come out into the open, resulting in her eventual death.
  • Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life:
    • Clarence does this in order to stop George from throwing himself off the bridge.
    • George turns out to do this a lot in his life, starting with sacrificing his hearing in one ear to save his brother, then sacrificing college and any number of opportunities to leave Bedford Falls to keep his father's company afloat, helping people get into their own homes.
  • James Bond
    • A View to a Kill. After the Zorin double-crosses his men, including May-Day (his Dragon and lover) she tries to help Bond move the detonator he intended to use to set off the explosives that would destroy Silicon Valley out of the mine; when it gets stuck, May-Day leaps onto it and manually moves it out of the mine, dying when it explodes. Her last words to Bond: "Get Zorin for me!"
    • Thunderball. Bond's fellow agent Paula is kidnapped by a couple of Largo's thugs and taken to be tortured for information. Bond goes to Largo's estate to rescue her but arrives too late. Paula has taken a Cyanide Pill and killed herself so she can't be made to betray Bond and the operation.
  • Jurassic Park
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Eddie saves Nick, Sarah, and Malcolm from falling off a cliff by securing a cable to the sliding trailer and throwing a rope to the others. As he tries to pull the trailer back up with his SUV, the two T. rex that pushed the trailer in the first place come back and start to attack him. Despite the car being torn apart around him, he still keeps his foot on the accelerator trying to save the others. Ultimately though, he is plucked from the car and killed.
    • In the first film, Malcolm very nearly makes one distracting the T. rex with a flare to try and save Hammond's grandchildren. The thing rams him through an outhouse and breaks his leg, but he ultimately survives, so arguably it's still a non-lethal sacrifice.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy's father performed one in the prologue set in 1997, jumping on a grenade that would've taken out Harry, Merlin, and the previous Lancelot.
    • In the sequel, Eggsy steps on a landmine just before the climatic assault on Poppy's base. Merlin knocks him off it and takes his place, before luring in several of Poppy's Mooks, so he can blow them up with him, thus giving the others an opening.
  • The Star-Crossed Lovers Uncas and Alice in Last of the Mohicans. May count as a Stupid Sacrifice if you think about it too much, since Uncas is the Last of His Kind and apparently decided Only I Can Kill Him.
    • And when Hawkeye offers to be burned alive in Cora's place, and then his romantic rival Major Heyward deliberately mistranslates the offer so he gets killed instead....
  • The Last Starfighter with Centauri as he defends Alex from the hitman. Also it's a case of an inverted trope as at the end of the movie Centauri comes back.
  • In Lazer Team, Adam allows himself to be killed by the Worg warrior to show the team how the dark matter cannon works. Made worse by the fact that he previously tried to explain to them how to use the weapon, but they ignored his explanation.
  • Listen To Me: Garson pushes Tucker away from an oncoming car when the two's fight caused him to get out into the street in front of it. He's struck instead and killed.
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • The Fellowship of the Ring: "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!"
      • Boromir dies trying to save Merry and Pippin, taking three arrows in the process.
    • In The Two Towers, Haldir deserves special mention in the Film section, as he and his army willingly march into Helm's Deep to their death to fight alongside Rohan, while in the books he survives and goes into the West with the rest of the Elven race.
  • Mad Max
    • In Mad Max: Fury Road, Nux sacrifices himself to flip over and crash the Rig in order to block the canyon pass to prevent the rest of Joe's War Boys from pursuing the group as well as take Rictus with him while Max, Furiosa, and the Wives escape on Joe's car.
    • Goin' way back to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, the whole Final Battle is this, with Max himself unwittingly performing a non-lethal one. He was led to believe that he was driving the real fuel tanker, but it's revealed in the end that he was driving a decoy filled with sand, and all the fuel was really in the vehicles with the fleeing community, who were able to escape while the Vermin were occupied with the rig Max was driving. Possibly played straighter with the rest of the defenders on the rig, as none of them survived the battle and maybe even were in on the plot all along.
    • Also in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Max buys Jedediah and the kids some time to take off in the plane while Max uses a vehicle to crash into Aunty's army, causing a huge crash in the process.
  • Man of Steel:
    • Jonathan Kent dies just to protect Clark's secret. Although this traumatizes Clark.
    • Col. Hardy and Dr. Hamilton go down to ensure the Kryptonians are sent back to the Phantom Zone.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe uses this trope more than once:
    • Yinsen sacrificing himself to buy Tony time in Iron Man.
      • While he ultimately survives Tony orders Pepper to overload the Arc Reactor to overload the Iron Monger Armor while Tony was hanging from the remains of the roof, very nearly costing his life in the process.
    • In The Avengers, Tony sacrifices himself by catching the nuke headed for Manhattan and flying it out into space through the wormhole, fully expecting to be trapped there and die, after Steve warned him it was a "one-way trip". He survives, but only due to luck — he loses consciousness and plummets back through the wormhole just before it closes. Also a Call-Back to his argument with Steve earlier in the film, when the latter accused him of being incapable of sacrificing himself for someone else.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger:
      • Captain America stays aboard the Valkyrie to intentionally crash it rather than risk the lives of a thousands of people, setting the stage for him to become a Fish out of Temporal Water.
      • Earlier in the movie, Steve, prior to being turned into Captain America, jumped on what he thought was a live grenade while the rest of his unit scrambled for cover. That's right. The little asthmatic weakling almost no one thought should have been there was willing to die to save others. It was this event that finally swayed Phillips to choose Steve to be the first Super Soldier.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Frigga holds her ground against Malekith while the latter wants Jane and the Aether.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, when Ronan's ship goes into freefall, Groot creates a shield around his comrades, knowing full well that he could die in the process. When the ship crashes, all Rocket can find of him was a single twig. Groot ultimately subverts this trope, though, as he can recover From a Single Cell: the twig that Rocket finds is placed in a flower pot and grows into a little Grootling, which will mature into another Groot in due time. However, Word of God has stated that the original Groot did die, and Baby Groot is his son.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Yondu stays behind to save Star-Lord following Ego's destruction and gives him the forcefield spacesuit previously given to him by Rocket. Yondu freezes to death, and is later incinerated and his ashes are blown into space. Overlaps with Redemption Equals Death, as Rocket tells the Ravagers what he did, and they find Yondu's act worthy of their forgiveness. They show up to give him Due to the Dead.
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Quicksilver takes a bunch of bullets from an Ultron-commandeered quinjet to save Hawkeye and a little boy.
    • In Doctor Strange (2016), the titular character pulls multiple in rapid succession by being killed repeatedly by Dormammu until the invading abomination begged the doctor to free him.
    • Avengers: Infinity War
      • Loki and Heimdall each give their lives to try and thwart Thanos. Loki tries to bait Thanos by pretending to offer himself as Thanos's guide on earth before attempting to stab him. He is choked out by Thanos and it is for naught. Heimdall, on the other hand, succeeds in sending Hulk back to Earth in an attempt to warn anyone he can of Thanos's impending arrival. While he accomplishes his task, he is stabbed to death immediately after. Thor is Forced to Watch both in merciless despair.
      • Subverted with Gamora and The Vision. Gamora tries to commit one, first by having Quill shoot her if Thanos would capture her (he tries but the Reality Stone neutralizes his weapon) and then trying to kill herself so Thanos cannot use her as a sacrifice for the Soul Stone (Thanos neutralizes her knife with the Reality Stone and kills her himself to complete the sacrifice). The Vision, on the other hand, is fine with sacrificing himself for the greater good but Wanda Maximoff and Steve Rogers don't agree that has to be the first option and try to find other ways. Sadly, he is proven right at the end of the film when all other options fail and Wanda does kill him by shattering the Mind Stone in his head, only for Thanos to undo the sacrifice with the Time Stone then rips it out of his head himself.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, Black Widow and Hawkeye actually fight over who sacrifices themself so the other can get the Soul Stone. Black Widow "wins". Later, Tony Stark uses the infinity gauntlet to finger snap Thanos and his army out of existence, because Tony is human, his body can't handle the stones' powers, as a result he dies, on his deathbed were his beloved wife, his surrogate son, and his friends.
  • In Massacre at Central High, David plans to blow up Central High with a Time Bomb, killing everyone. When Theresa runs in with Mark and refuses to leave, David takes the bomb and runs outside, where it explodes, killing him but saving Theresa.
  • The Matrix
    • Subverted in the first film with Morpheus. He attacked Agent Smith with the full knowledge that he wasn't going to win/escape. When the surviving crew members contemplate whether or not to pull the connection on him to prevent the Agents from obtaining the access codes for Zion, the last human city, Neo instead takes an alternative option; to simply go back in and rescue their leader. Several gun fights later, he succeeds with a Gun Ship Rescue.
    • In the climatic battle at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, Neo jacks himself into the virtual world once more, but not before making a deal with the Machines: Destroy the rogue agent Smith and the Machines will establish peace with the humans. Powered by the code of the Matrix's "mother", The Oracle, Smith is too strong for Neo, but Neo realizes he must lose himself to win and lets Smith assimilate him. Smith gets promptly deleted by the Machines when they're able to use Neo's avatar to excise Smith's code from the Matrix once and for all.
  • In The Maze Runner, during the Griever invasion, one Griever ends up grabbing Chuck. As the others try to pull him back, Alby ends up attacking the Griever's tail, saving Chuck, but not himself.
  • In Miss Fisher And Thecrypt Of Tears, Jonathon Lofthouse pays for his crimes by holding Crippins at bay long enough for Phryne and the others to escape the Collapsing Lair, which then buries him and his opponent.
  • Mission to Mars: The rescue mission's leader does a slightly accidental Heroic Sacrifice when he purposely overshoots the satellite the four-man band need to land on Mars, going out of range of both the team and their grappling hook and a more deliberate one when he removes his helmet so his wife won't risk her life trying to save him, and the two other guys' to save theirs.
  • Discussed in The Mummy Returns, during the attack of the pygmy creatures. Like so:
    Hafez [to the two guards behind him]: "The two of you must... sacrifice yourselves... for me." ::turns and runs:: "You shall be rewarded in heaven!"
    • The two guards look at one another, mentally say "Screw that!", and try to run away, only to be jumped and killed, anyways.
  • Subverted in Mystery Team with Jason getting shot trying to calm down his friends and convincing the shooter to let them go.
  • In Napoléon, Joséphine's ex-husband volunteers to take the spot when the name "de Beauharnais" is called for execution so she can say farewell to their children.
  • Pacific Rim: As a last ditch effort to clear a path for the Gipsy Danger, Pentecost and Chuck detonate the nuke strapped to the Striker Eureka just as two Kaiju collide into it.
    • Pentecost simply going on this mission in the first place also qualifies, as he'd been told that getting into a Jaeger would kill him after the neural load from piloting Coyote Tango solo almost did him in. He does it anyways, deciding that he would die from the Kaiju that would attack if the mission failed, and he might as well die fighting.
  • Perfect Assassins: Billy jumps in front of his sister as she's about to be shot.
  • In the finale of The Phantom of the Opera (1962), the Phantom notices that the chandelier is about to fall. He leaps onto the stage of the opera and pushes Christine out of harm's way, getting himself crushed by the chandelier in the process.
  • In the movie Phantom of the Paradise, the first song is about a singer who kills himself to get the money for his sisters life saving operation. Later Winslow sacrifices himself to save Phoenix.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean series is rife with Heroic Sacrifices and attempts at the same, including the fate of James Norrington. Barbossa's second (and final) death in the fifth movie is this, as he hurls himself off the anchor chain in order to kill the Big Bad and falls with him into the ocean, saving his daughter in the process.
  • The Postman: Woody is ordered at gunpoint to kill Shakespeare with a knife by Idaho. He takes some swings at him, then turns and throws it into Idaho's shoulder, then lunges for him. Idaho instantly shoots him dead, but this distracts him long enough to help Shakespeare escape.
  • The Predator films
    • In Predator, Billy makes a last stand on a log bridge to give the rest of the team time to escape.
    • In Predator 2, Jerry Lambert blocks the Predator from following the fleeing subway passengers and pays for it with his life.
  • In The Professional, after Leon is mortally wounded, he blows himself up using one of his grenades to take Stansfield with him.
  • Psych-Out: During Jenny's STP trip, she stands in the middle of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. Dave pushes her to safety and gets hit by a car in the process, atoning for his mistake in giving her the drug in the first place.
  • In Resident Evil: Extinction, Betty sacrifices herself by trapping herself in a bus with a horde of undead ravens and blowing up the bus. Later in the film, Carlos does the same thing. He rigs his truck with explosives and suicide bombs himself into a horde of the undead.
  • Buck the silverback gorilla in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When the helicopter starts shooting down the apes, Buck knocks Caesar out of the line of fire and leaps at the aircraft, taking multiple and fatal gunshot wounds but succeeding in destroying it.
  • The Running Man. Laughlin shoves Richards out of the way and is mortally wounded by Buzzsaw's attack.
    Richards: He saved my life. It should be me down there.
  • Subverted in Serenity, where River declares You Shall Not Pass! to the Reavers and locks herself in a room filled with them to save her friends and family. Five minutes later, after everyone believes that she's been raped, killed, eaten, and possibly worn like clothing by the horde (in that order, if she's lucky), the doors slide back reveal her standing completely uninjured and knee deep in enemy corpses.
    • No power in the 'verse can stop her.
    • Also subverted earlier in the same film. Mal is going to take the shuttle to meet with Inara and spring The Operative's trap. He explicitly tells Zoe that if they do not hear back from him in an hour, "You come and you rescue me".
      Mal: What, it's cold out there. I don't wanna get left.
  • in See You Yesterday: Claudette's brother does this when he sees his funeral portrait change to Sebastian's and then realizes all of what they were saying was true. He stands up and provokes the cop to shoot him rather than Sebastian.
  • At the end of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Moriarty tells Holmes that he will kill Watson and his wife for Holmes' destroying Moriarty's plans. With Holmes too injured to fight, he bear hugs Moriarty and forces them both over the Reichenbach Falls, saving his friend from Moriarty's wrath. Holmes survives the fall, though.
  • The Silence (2019):
    • Glenn, having been trapped under his wrecked car and knowing he's a goner, gives his life to lure a vesp swarm to himself with gunshots to give the other characters a chance to escape.
    • Lynn sacrifices herself by screaming while entangled with the Hushed cultists trying to kidnap her granddaughter, calling down a flock of vesps to kill them alongside herself.
  • Space Cowboys: Tommy Lee Jones' character, already afflicted with cancer, volunteers to divert the Russian missile satellite, forcing him to leave the ship and lose his chance to return to Earth. He spends his last day alive on the surface of the moon, whistling Sinatra.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Spider-Man 2: After getting the senses smacked back into him, Dr. Octavius pulls his very unstable sun generator into the water with him, saving New York City.
    • Spider-Man 3: Venom grabs Harry's glider and tries to kill Spider-Man, but Harry intercepts and is stabbed instead, in the same manner his father was. This one can also be found on the Stupid Sacrifice page.
  • In Starship Troopers, while escaping the Bug hive, Watkins is severely wounded and unable to move. He convinces Rico to leave a grenade/nuke with him so he can make a Last Stand and kill as many Bugs as possible before dying, giving Rico and the rest of the team time to escape.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
      • Spock's death at the end, when he fixes the Enterprise's warp core and enables the ship to escape the impending blast of the Genesis Device, but dies from radiation poisoning. Resulting in one of, if not the most, classic Star Trek and Tear Jerker moments.
      "Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many... outweigh..."
      "The needs of the few."
      "Or the one."
      • While under Khan's Mind Control, Captain Terrell is ordered to kill Admiral Kirk. Realizing he can't resist the order, he kills himself with his own phaser to save Kirk's life.
      • Midshipman Preston during Khan's sneak attack.
    Scotty: He stayed at his post... when the trainees ran...
    • Data does the same thing in Star Trek: Nemesis.
    • Star Trek (2009)
      • Captain Robau boards a shuttle to go 'negotiate' with Nero which is done mainly to buy his crew time to evacuate the crippled Kelvin.
      • George Kirk staying onboard the Kelvin to protect the escape shuttles from enemy fire. The conversation with his wife where he tells her he loves her steers this straight into Tear Jerker territory, no pun intended.
      • George Kirk rams his dying starship down the throat of a many-spiked alien death fortress to save his wife and newborn son.
      • "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved eight hundred lives, including your mother's, and yours. I dare you to do better."
      • Captain Pike pulls a Robau, surrendering to Nero to buy time for his crew to stop him from destroying Vulcan (which doesn't work out, but his actions still keep Nero from destroying the Enterprise). Oh, and the sacrifice is subverted when Jim Kirk later boards the Narada to pull the tortured Pike out before Spock tries to do his own heroic sacrifice.
      • Subverted. Spock attempts to do the same thing with the Jellyfish, but the Enterprise shows up for a Gunship Rescue and he is transported out in time.
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Kirk attempts to sacrifice himself to save the Enterprise. His death is only temporary.
    • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Sybok tries to mind meld with "God" so Kirk, Spock and McCoy can escape. He doesn't survive the process.
      Sybok: "I couldn't help but notice your pain."
      God: "My pain?"
      Sybok: "It runs deep. Share it with me!"
    • The original sacrifice in Wrath of Khan is inverted in Star Trek Into Darkness (which also features Khan as the main villain), down to some of the dialogue being lifted whole cloth. Kirk is the one to enter the warp core to make repairs while Spock is forced to watch his friend die helplessly. In this case it hits Spock's Berserk Button. Also, Kirk gets better thanks to Khan's blood. Earlier, Kirk is willing to give up his own life for the lives of his crew, but Marcus isn't willing to let any of them live.
  • Star Wars
    • A New Hope: Obi-Wan Kenobi raises his lightsaber in surrender, allowing Darth Vader to kill him (which, as most people believe, he actually doesn't—-the act of allowing Vader to kill him makes him disappear and become one with the Force) so that Luke will leave immediately instead of waiting for him.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back there's a villainous example when Captain Lorth Needa apologizes to Vader personally after losing the Falcon to prevent his crew from facing any reprisals.
    • Return of the Jedi: Vader redeems himself when he stops Emperor Palpatine from torturing Luke with Force Lightning. Spurred by his son's cries of agony and pleas for help, he grabs Palpatine and hurls him down into the reactor of the Death Star, destroying the evil Emperor at last. Vader is severely electrocuted and mortally wounded in the process, clearly making this a case of Redemption Equals Death as well.)
    • Rogue One: One of the Central Themes of the story. By the end of the movie, the entire Rogue One team is dead, including the main heroes, along with a lot of other rebel soldiers, but they also successfully got the Death Star plans and its fatal weakness into the hands of the Rebellion and... the rest is history.
    • The Last Jedi:
      • Vice-Admiral Holdo's and General Leia's plan to escape the First Order trail: evacuate the remainder of the Resistance fleet onto transports and use the Resistance flagship to suicide ram the First Order flagship at hyperspeed.
      • Luke double-subverts this as he appears to willingly stand in the path of a bunch of AT-AT lasers pointed at him, only for the dust to clear and him to still be standing as though the lasers never touched him...which they didn't because he was actually projecting his image with the Force from across the galaxy to give the Resistance the chance to escape. In the end, however, the strain takes its toll on him and he passes away and becomes one with the Force.
      • A running theme throughout the film is when sacrificing oneself is justified and when it is not. Early in the film, Paige goes down with the ship after she manages to deploy the bombs that take out the First Order's dreadnought, but she was only put in that position because Poe senselessly decided to press the attack even though the Resistance had already completed their evacuation. As a result, the Resistance loses all their bombers and their crews, and their fleet narrowly avoids getting blasted by the Dreadnought's BFG. Later, Finn prepares to sacrifice himself to take down a First Order weapon, but Rose saves his life at significant risk to her own because the weapon was going to fire anyway, and Finn would not have been able to stop it. Compare this to the two characters above, who legitimately had no other choice than to give themselves up.
    • The Rise of Skywalker
      • C3PO gives up his memory drive to decode a Sith translation. Thankfully, Artoo has a back up drive on his system.
      • Leia gives up her life to use The Force to reach out and turn her son back to the light side.
      • Rey uses the entirety of the Jedi Order's force to defeat The Emperor, however doing so uses up her life force.
      • Ben Solo in turn gives his life to revive Rey, dying in her arms after sharing a tender kiss with her before becoming one with the force.
  • In Stranger Than Fiction, Harold Crick discovers from his author that his fate is to die by pushing a child out of the way of a bus, taking his place and forming a Dying Moment of Awesome for Karen Eiffel's novel. Accepting it as a good way to die, he does so. Subverted in that he survives the collision because Eiffel rewrites the ending.
  • Sucker Punch has two heroic sacrifices Babydoll and Rocket sacrifice themselves for Sweet Pea, who had the best odds in the real world.
  • In Suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst admits to and goes to prison for the destruction of an (empty) manor house by the group of suffragists the protagonist Maud belongs to. It is not clear whether she was involved in planning the attack, but it is obvious that she was not involved in carrying it out. The government officials complain about not being able to arrest the real culprits.
  • Suicide Squad (2016): During the Final Battle, El Diablo and Lt. Edwards both do this in order to take out Incubus — the former fights him and holds him in place long enough for the latter to set off a bomb that kills all three of them.
  • In Sunshine
    • Physicist Capa — and arguably Cassie — sacrifice themselves to ensure the bomb successfully detonates.
    • Nearly the entire cast dies in separate heroic sacrifices: Kaneda gets obliterated by the sun repairing the solar shield, Mace dies of hypothermia repairing the mainframe, and Searle stays behind on the Icarus I in order to operate the airlock (even though he then commits suicide by subjecting himself to 100% exposure to the sun, he was only hastening his inevitable death). Even Trey arguably sacrifices himself by suicide, so the rest of the crew has enough air to survive.
  • Terminator
    • The Terminator: Kyle Reese made one last attempt to protect Sarah by holding back the Terminator and then placing an explosive in its chassis, killing himself but also blowing off the bastard's legs, giving Sarah the opportunity to finally kill it.
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
      • Miles Dyson — one of the scientists primarily responsible for the development of Skynet and its technologies — is mortally wounded by a SWAT team infiltrating Cyberdyne Systems. He stays behind while the heroes escape in order to detonate their explosives and destroy all the research on Skynet.
      • The T-800 himself also gets one, when he lowers himself into molten metal to destroy himself and ensure that Judgement Day never occurs.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, T-800 pulls out his remaining nuclear fuel cell, stuffs it into Terminatrix's mouth, says "You're Terminated", and is promptly consumed by the fuel cell's explosion.
    • Terminator Salvation absolutely takes the cake. When John Connor's heart is pierced and failing, Marcus offers his own heart as a transplant.
  • At the end of the classic giant-ant movie Them!, trooper Ben Peterson sacrifices himself to save two young boys.
  • At the end of They Live, Nada destroys the alien transmitter to free mankind, knowing full well that he'll be shot and killed by the aliens in response.
  • In the 1998 adaptation of The Thin Red Line Witt draws the attention of an approaching Japanese column to buy time for the rest of his unit to escape, only to get surrounded and gunned down.
    • In the 1964 adaptation of the same book, Welsh takes the bullet for one of his men.
    • It should be noted that neither of those examples come from the book.
  • Thirst (2015): The helicopter pilot, upon seeing that the alien has its chest proboscis on him, flies the helicopter into the side of the cliff, hoping to kill it in the explosion.
    • Aunt Summer also pulls one off by driving a forklift with an oil drum full of gasoline into the hangar containing the alien... and the gasoline cannon that the cast constructed to prepare for its arrival.
  • This Is the End: Craig, to atone for his selfish acts in the past, willingly tries to fend off a demon at the cost of his own life in order to get his friends to safety. This thankfully gives him a ticket to Heaven. Franco tries this as well, but to no avail (he successfully saves Seth and Jay from being eaten by Danny and his army of cannibals, but his gloating to Danny gets his trip to Heaven cancelled). Later, however, Seth willingly lets himself get eaten by Satan so Jay can ascend to Heaven, and he thankfully gets a ticket to Heaven as well.
  • Titanic (1997): Jack allows Rose all the room on the floating door leaving most of Jack's body dangling in the freezing water which leads to his death.
  • Train to Busan:
    • Halfway through the movie, Sang-hwa tries to hold a door closed against a horde of zombies so that his group — and particularly Seong-kyeong — can run to safety, and right afterwards the elderly In-gil stays behind to delay the infected enough so Seok-Woo can close the door.
    • Much later, the homeless man charges three zombies to hold them off so that Su-an and Seong-kyeong can escape.
  • In Transformers: Revenge Of the Fallen, Jetfire rips his own spark out so that Optimus can use his parts to fight The Fallen.
    • Optimus Prime himself kinda has one of these, after fighting Megatron, Starscream and Grindor and assuming them beaten, he drops his guard to see if Sam is still alright and Megatron stabs (and shoots) him from behind, which kills him. With his last words, he tells Sam to run. He got better at the end of the film though by coming Back from the Dead (in true Optimus Prime tradition).
    Megatron: Is the future of our race not worth a single human life?
    • Jazz also gets one of these in the first film. He attempts to fight Megatron alone, whilst the others are retreating, in order to buy them time. Given Megatron's immense size and power in comparison with Jazz, he was rather easily beaten, but even when Megatron prepared to finish him off, Jazz still goaded him.
  • Trench 11: Meuller stays behind to detonate the bomb and destroy the bunker after the timer is broken.
  • Tron films:
  • During the Final Battle in Turbo Kid, the Kid uses his Turbo Glove to blow up Zeus with the Turbo Mega Blaster and Apple shields the Kid from the blast.
  • Vertical Limit has several, starting with the main characters' father. Another one combines this with Taking You with Me, leading to the death of the main antagonist.
  • Volcano:
    • A train supervisor is going in with the rest of the men to save the passengers and the train operator, who have been trapped in a rail car that is being engulfed by lava. He chases the others out before they succumb to fumes or heat and goes to get last person left, the operator, dragging him out "fireman's carry" on his shoulders, and the train has already gotten so hot from the approaching lava that his shoes are melting as he starts reciting the Lord's Prayer ("Our father, who art in heaven..."). As he reaches the front of the train, lava has already gotten around in front of the train. The other railroad employees, who have escaped into the clear and can't reach him, implore him to jump and save himself. With only seconds to spare, holding the man on his shoulders, he jumps, landing in the pool of lava, then, with the last of his strength, throws the other man clear.
    • Also, the SWAT team/demolitions guy who gets pinned under some rubble while he and his partner place explosives critical to the survival of L.A. Knowing that they'd never get the guy out in time, they give the "all clear", leading to the explosives going off, saving L.A. Touching.
  • In the Hungarian animated film Vuk aka Vuk the Little Fox or Vic's (as he's known in the U.S. dub) uncle Karrack gives his life to save him and his mate Foxy from a hunter's bullet.
  • Subverted than reverted in "When the Last Sword is Drawn": During the Shinsengumi's final stand, after the Emperor's forces have arrived Yoshimura draws his katana and wakizashi, makes a bad-ass final speech, then charges at the lines of riflemen, who open fire on him. Due to a particularly thick fog of war, Saito never sees what becomes of Yoshimura, and assumes he is dead. That is, until years later when he meets the son of Yoshimura's best friend who tells him Yoshimura somehow survived the charge (though he is terribly wounded) and was later forced to commit seppuku when the Imperial forces threatened to suppress any clan who gave aid to rebel soldiers.
  • Where Hands Touch: When the SS demand Krestin choose between her or Leyna being taken off, she quickly offers herself. However, this only postpones Leyna's arrest.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Steve flies the plane containing Doctor Poison's gas weapon as high as it will go and then blows it all up, killing him and incinerating the gas where there's no risk any of it will spread.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Jean Grey accomplishes this in X2: X-Men United, when the Blackbird is frozen at Alkali Lake with the dam about to burst in mere minutes, Jean steps off the jet and uses her now heightened telekinesis to break the ice and allow the jet to lift off, at the same time psychically restraining her teammates to keep them from stopping her. She frees the jet seconds before she is seemingly crushed beneath tons of rushing water.
    • Having survived this in X-Men: The Last Stand but also becoming the Dark Phoenix, Jean twice regains her sanity long enough to beg Logan/Wolverine to kill her so she won't kill anyone else. He finally relents at the movie's climax and impales her on his claws.
    • Near The Wolverine's end, Wolverine sets himself up for one during his battle with Ichirō (who was piloting the Silver Samurai armor), only for Harada to step in and distract Yashida long enough for Logan to get his bearings. The distraction gets Harada impaled onto a massive heated sword.
  • In Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!, Chris throws himself into the horde of zombies; allowing himself to be ripped apart so the zombies will be exposed to antidote in his blood.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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