In many ShonenManga and the Anime based on them, fights tend to run pretty long, with one side revealing a skill/power/strategy that gives them the edge, only to be trumped by a better skill/power/strategy from the other side, and so on until someone runs out of trump cards. Because of this, almost any fight where a good guy loses is going to feature at least one Hope Spot.
Fate/Zero provides the page image. It's in this scene that we're introduced to Caster, a legendary figure accidentally summoned by Ryunosuke Uryuu, a depraved serial killer. To Uryuu's displeasure, Caster speaks kindly to the child whose family was murdered for the summoning ritual, telling the boy that he's free to go. The boy gets to the door...and is then grabbed and brutally ripped to pieces by ethereal tentacles. Caster then reveals that he wanted the boy to experience a hope spot, as it makes the realization of their death even more satisfying.
After Mitsuru commits suicide in the backstory of Team Winter, we see that Fubuki is back and has survived being attacked by the saber-tooth tiger earlier. It's revealed to be a hallucination that Aramaki made himself in an attempt to not go insane.
The Ryugu Shelter arc reveals that there are multiple shelters throughout Japan, used to keep people safe from the meteorite impact, although they lost contact with them early on. It could be, though, that the communication lines simply failed and there are still people living somewhere in the other shelters in Japan.
During the events on OSP, several characters wake up from unconsciousness, dreams or simulation machines. Oh, how wonderful! The world hasn't suffered an apocalypse, no characters have actually died. It was all just a dream. It's made clear few chapters later that their 'awakening' was a hallucination created by spider eggs and they really are in the terrible situation they were in before, if not worse.
In episode 91, finally the main characters defeat Dr. Hell. Naturally, they think the war is over and they have finally achieved peace. However, the music playing during the last scenes is eerie, and the narrator voice reminds the viewers that Archduke Gorgon is still alive, warning that the heroes are about to face the worst battle of their lives. In the very next episode, two Mykene War Beasts, more powerful than anything Dr. Hell had ever constructed, utterly crush the heroes and destroy their Home Base.
In episode 92, Sayaka and Boss are fighting the War Beasts and being utterly trounced. Then Kouji finally shows up... and the War Beasts tear through Mazinger-Z as if it was made of paper instead of indestructium.
In the Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness feature Kouji is fighting an army of MykeneWar Beasts... and getting completely trashed. Out of helplessness, the main characters launch Boss Borot. Boss' Humongous Mecha crashes into a Beast that was previously thought of as invulnerable, and he manages to blow it up, saving Mazinger. The main characters cheer up... right before another War Beast swats Boss away with a single blow, and the Mykene army keeps on tearing an utterly helpless Mazinger apart.
In the Gosaku Ota manga episodes, Mazinger-Z is trashing Hell's Super Villain Lair. Hell is out of Robeasts, out of Co-Dragons, out of troops, out of traps and out of tricks. Suddenly Archduke Gorgon shows up, commanding two War Beasts that proceed to soundly trash Mazinger-Z, and Hell laughs thinking he has won at last. And then Gorgon backstabs him. Literally.
UFO Robo Grendizer: In the second-to-last episode, Rubina, daughter of the Big Bad, finds out her fiancé Duke Fleed is alive and flies to Earth to meet him. She apologizes for the crimes her father committed and tries to convince him that everybody - both Vegans and Earth's inhabitants - shall die if the war continues, and the only way to prevent it is to get married and talk her father into moving the Vega folk to Fleed. And he accepts. For a moment it seems like the war is over, only for a Vegan squad using Rubina as unwitting bait to attack Duke. Rubina herself dies shortly after, destroying any hope of the conflict ending peacefully and without one side annihilating the another one.
Shin Mazinger Zero: An especially cruel one. After failing nearly three thousand times, the heroes finally save their timeline. The epilogue show them living peaceful, happy lives... but in the final pages Prof. Morimori makes a terrifying discovery before being murdered by Archduke Gorgon, and the last page advertises the sequel: Shin Mazinger Zero vs. Great General of Darkness. Anyone even remotely familiar with the Mazinger mythos knows the world is becoming a Crapsack World, very, very quickly, and Mazinger Z is about to be destroyed, making Kouji's triumph over Dr. Hell useless and meaningless.
At the beginning of said sequel, right after Mazinger Z's defeat, the Great Mazinger showed up and not only curb-stomped the Mycenae War Beasts, but even managed to fight the Great General of Darkness to a standstill... And then Great's presence caused Mazinger Z's Superpowered Evil Side to finally fully awaken, dooming the planet anyway.
In End of EvangelionAsuka comes out of her coma, seems to successfully defeat the Mass Production EVAs, but is then suddenly skewered by a Lance of Longinus replica, right in her EVA's eye, just as her power runs out. The Mass Pro EVAs come back to life and proceed to rip EVA-02 to shreds. Asuka tries to put her EVA in berserk mode, but her arm split in two as the Mass Pro EVAs finish her off. And her death here is much, much worse than what's stated here.
In episode 24 everyone is succumbing to their own issues and everything is falling apart, Shinji befriends Nagisa Kaworu, who is the first person to be openly and unconditionally nice to him, always greets him with a warm smile, as well as the only person to ever tell him the words "I love you". Too bad he's the final Angel, so Shinji has to kill him. At Kaworu's own request, because he loves humanity, and wants Shinji to survive with them. After his death, Shinji admits that he also loves him. And Kaworu's death is what finally shreds him all of his remaining sanity.
The whole series in general could be considered one big Hope Spot. We get an utterly depressed Anti-Hero, who, little by little, befriends some classmate and earns himself the love and respect of a bunch of cute girls. Over the course of the story, he finally gets praised by his distant father for once and opens up significantly — until he is forced to destroy EVA-03 with his best friend still inside. And from then, everything goes downhill. Asuka, who had come to respect and like Shinji gets Mind Raped and ends up catatonic; Rei, who had become aware of her own emotions and gradually learned how to express them, sacrifices herself and is replaced by an identical clone, which looks the same but acts like some sort of vengeful spirit, undoing almost all of her previous character development; Misato, who had fixed her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, spends the remainder of the series crying after said boyfriend is assassinated; and Shinji himself, who came to show some genuine bravery in episode 19, ends up deadly depressed, masturbating to the sight of his comatoseLove Interest and dooming the whole population of Earth to turn into Tang.
The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers two-part episode "That day, Riot Force Six" is filled with Hope Spot after Hope Spot as the characters unleash their power and teamwork like they're supposed to... but Shamal and Zafira still get shot, the TSAB headquarters still gets destroyed, and Ginga and Vivio still get "confiscated".
During the latter parts of Episode 8, Rinne has Vivio on the ropes and is seemingly poised to finally get the victory over the one the broke her 57 consecutive win streak. Seeing Vivio's difficulty in defending herself because of a leg injury caused by her earlier assault, Rinne continues to attack, knowing it'll only be a matter of time before Vivio falls. Unfortunately for her, Vivio hits Rinne with a well timed counter, which she follows with Accel Smash Infinity. Rinne is unable to defend herself or endure the barrage of blows to the head, and suffers her first KO defeat.
I"s has Ichitaka waking up in class, back in highschool and back to the beginning of the story's events. Wondering if everything that has happened since the beginning was a dream or a miracle has happened and he's been given a second chance, Ichitaka gladly takes it. He's intent on being much more open and honest to people than he originally was, will protect Iori from everything that hurt her during highschool and even confess to her sooner. Ichitaka suffered a pretty hard blow from The Marionette King and is lying unconscious in the snow, comatose and is rushed to the hospital. It takes Iori's voice to get him to wake up again.
When Ichigo tries to stop Renji and Byakuya from taking Rukia back to Soul Society, he gets pummeled by Renji for a while, but as just as his Superpowered Evil Side is hinted at and he starts to turn it around, Byakuya comes from literally nowhere using flash-step and cuts him down.
In the Soul Society arc, Gin intentionally does this to Rukia, making an offer to rescue her and her friends, then admitting he was only joking. He does it as a cruel mind game to break her resignation to her fate, and it works.
The united front of Ichigo and Renji fighting against Aizen. Just as Renji pulls off his last-ditch technique and Ichigo uses the opening to charge in, theme music playing, Aizen blocks Ichigo's Bankai with one finger (and cuts off the theme music in the process), nearly cuts Ichigo in half, and does the same to Renji. This clip comprises the essence of said scene in about ten seconds.
In the Arrancar arc, Ichigo's second battle against Ulquiorra stands out for the number of exceptionally brutal Hope Spots it crams into just 6 chapters, since it includes Orihime's Heroic BSoD and a hollowfied Ichigo blindly attacking Uryuu.
Unsurprisingly (given it's the culmination of 300 chapters of buildup), the battle against Aizen includes many of these. Yamamoto gets involved at long last only to find out Aizen was prepared to face him, Aizen's finally distracted enough for Ichigo to attack him but it's All According to Plan, Isshin interrupts Aizen's Breaking Speech to Ichigo only to get flicked away like a bug a few chapters later...
Ryuuken's disaffection with the Quincies begins when Aizen's activities ruin his Quincy future, forcing him to choose self-imposed exile from both his family and the Quincies. Katagiri prevents this by making him realise he's not as abandoned, and his future not as bleak, as he thought. That hope lasts only as long as Katagiri lives: when she is murdered by the Quincy King, Ryuuken exiles himself somewhere beyond the Despair Event Horizon.
Ichigo is pushed to the wall in a clash with Yhwach, who appears to have the advantage with his sight of the near future. The enemy urges his "son" to not give in to despair quite yet, not because he thinks Ichigo has a chance, but because seeing him jump from one possible future to another made it more interesting. Ichigo responds by citing all the other times he's fought despair and come out on top, sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend's help, and busts out the Bankai of his re-forged Tensa Zangetsu... only for Yhwach to completely and utterly shut that down by finding a "Tensa Zangetsu is broken" future and pulling that into the present, then proceeding to beat both him and Orihime to a pulp, ending the Humiliation Conga by draining all of Ichigo's strength. That clash ends with Ichigo broken, powerless, and convinced that there is absolutely no way to win this. Worst of all, Yhwach twists the knife by telling him that NOW'S the time to despair.
When Rock Lee goes all out, removes his power limiters, and hits Gaara with his final attack, only for Gaara to barely survive it and respond by crippling and nearly killing the weakened Rock Lee.
When the Third Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, fights Orochimaru, he seems to have gained the upper hand, only for Orochimaru's Kusanagi Sword (which he can mentally control without having to touch it) to fly at Sarutobi from behind.Sarutobi's summoned partner, the Monkey King Enma, desperately reaches out to catch the sword while being restrained by Orochimaru's snakes. There's a splash of blood, seeming to indicate that Enma failed, but then the Hope Spot comes: the scene pans up to show that Enma caught the sword by the blade. It was his blood, not Sarutobi's, that we saw. Or so it seems, until the scene pans up even further, showing that Enma got to the sword too late, and didn't catch it until after it had stabbed into Sarutobi's back.
Later, Asuma is saved from a killing blow only for his opponent to come at him again and succeed with the exact same attack.
After infiltrating the Akatsuki home base, Jiraiya pulls out all the stops and manages to kill off the three bodies of Akatsuki leader Pain... only for Pain to reveal that he has six bodies, and that he can resurrect the ones that die.
Pain does a few of these. After kicking the crap out of the entire village of Konoha for several straight chapters, Pain has finally found Naruto's location and seems like he's getting ready to withdraw, giving the village some much-needed time to regroup and recover. However, right before leaving, he has a talk with Tsunade and decides they 'haven't experienced enough pain', and decides to show off his Shinra Tensei technique... which in this case is the equivalent of a chakra nuke, letting him wipe out of most of the city in one shot.
Fukasaku and Shima's plan to use Genjutsu to defeat the Deva Path also fails because Pain has seen the technique used on him before, and manages to use gravity to draw Fukasaku to him and then impale him.
When Konan faces off against Tobi, she releases her ultimate attack: billions of explosive notes capable of exploding continuously for ten minutes. Tobi takes some damage but survives and breaks her by talking. The rain overhead breaks and a rainbow shines through, giving Konan the will to shout out her defiance and prepare a—Tobi grabs her, finishes his lecture, and tears the vital information out of her mind.
Sasuke vs Itachi. Sasuke hits Itachi with his best attack and thinks he is finally dead, until Itachi getting to his feet and reveals his final trump card.
Madara summons a meteorite to hit the entire Fourth Division. The titanic efforts of O'onoki (the Tsuchikage) and Gaara succeed in stopping it, saving everyone below. Then...
In chapter 609, Madara is seemingly put out of action for a brief moment while the good guys can use Kakashi's eye to face Obito. They are finally given the chance to attack the Gedo Mazo with a combined bijuu dama from Kurama and Gyuki nuking the thing and saving the world, right? Nope, the Juubi (Ten-Tails) is back and the end of the world as we know it begins.
Jonathan has finally discovered proof that Dio was poisoning his father to get the inheritance of the Joestars, and the police finally managed to arrest Dio. Well, by that time Dio has already figured out the Stone Mask's purpose, killed Jonathan's father when he was gunning for Jonathan and turned himself to a vampire at the first chance, killed all the cops there, and survived a pretty gruesome battle with Jonathan himself.
At the end of the first part, Jonathan has defeated Dio after a gruelling battle with many of his minions and finally him, while avenging his mentor and father who both fell to Dio's hands. It seems like Jonathan has got his happy ending while he marries Erina, right? HA HA HA No. Dio survives his final defeat by literally severing his own head while his surviving minion takes him away, and several months later, Dio himself makes an appearance at the cruise ship and turns most of the passengers into zombies, and kills Jonathan himself pretty brutally during his own honeymoon. Jonathan has to literally blow himself along with the ship to finally stop Dio, leaving only Erina and a little baby girl as the only survivors of the doomed cruise.
Following from the previous point, even Jonathan's Heroic Sacrifice turned out to be moot, as one who has watched Part 3 can attest to.
During Kanon's epic battle with Lucifer, he finally manages to defeat even her stake form by blocking the blow and sacrificing his hand, pulling the stake out and seeming triumphantly victorious...until Beatrice's Literal Genie moment of saying she promised to spare him if he defeated all SEVEN Stakes of Purgatory. Cue appearance of the other 6 sisters.
Subverted when Genji steps in to give both Shannon and Kanon a Mercy Kill and spoil Beatrice's fun of torturing them.
EP 3: Rudolf and Kyrie manage to spectacularly defeat Belphegor and Leviathan in their respective Moment of Awesome ...until Eva-Beatrice decides she's tired of using her predecessor's "second-hand furniture" and proceeds to summon the deadly Siesta Corps., which even Beato can't summon. Insert "oh fuck" moment here as their attempt to run away is beyond futile.
Then there's the Meta-Battle between Battler and Eva-Beatrice...
EP 4's fights between Jessica vs. Ronove and George vs. Gaap are pretty much nothing but hope spots in clear parody of the typical Shounen Manga format.
There's the escape of Kyrie's group from Kuwadorian. When they escaped, the Siestas have already rebooted and they start shooting them all down.
In Episode 6, Battler manages to outwit Erika's closed rooms by having the other five victims of the first twilight pretend their deaths. Then it turns out Erika severed all of their heads beforehand, thus making it impossible for any of them to save Battler, and trapping him in a logic error. Eventually subverted.
In Soul Eater's anime finale, Kid is in the midst of charging up a seemingly impressive Death Cannon attack when the Kishin proceeds to pierce him right through the chest. This is quickly subverted, however, because a little while after that Kid embarks on a Moment of Awesome and is revived, with one of his Lines of Sanzu connected, and fires a super Death Cannon at the Kishin.
... and then this trope comes into play one more time in the same fight, where it revealed that the Kishin wasn't finished off after all and has simply resumed his human-esque form, ready to kick their asses.
Also, there's Stein's slow descent into madness over the course of the arc after Chrona slips something in his coffee under Medusa's orders. Eventually it gets so bad that he wanders off into some kind of maze, barely able to hold himself together until having an insightful conversation with his younger self (a possible representation of his subconscious). It seems to be resolved, and he starts heading back to the DWMA only to find Medusa waiting for him at the maze entrance. Smash to Black. Stein laughs.End of episode.
Zatch Bell! has a lot of these near the end of the series, when the last ten books are being burned, most of them belonging to good guys. Arth and Elly's fight with Gomu and Mir is a prime example; just as is seems that Arth is a goner, Elly calls forth his ultimate spell and summons thousands of flying swords. Without breaking a sweat, Gomu and Mir use a dimensional spell to destroy the swords, then finish off Arth with one blow.
When Guts leaves Griffith in Berserk, he hopes that Griffith will get over his leaving. He doesn't.
The people of Albion in the Conviction arc think that Mozgus is an angel sent from God. They can only watch him fight Guts who they perceive as evil during a demonic sacrifice and are absolutely convinced that Mozgus will deliver them from evil. Guts then brutally kills him and they all have a few moments of absolute horror before the demons consume them. And ironically, as monstrous as he might have been, Mozgus was doing a decent job of that. He and his disciples were fighting off the demons pretty well, and even after his death, Mozgus' body is consumed in the flames he was able to breathe, and those keep back the demons from killing the few people who huddle around his body thinking him a fallen angel/saint.
At the end of the non-canon Dreamcast game, Casca briefly regains her sanity before she reverts to her child-like post-Eclipse state.
The nuanced and sympathetic way the buildup is presented for Griffith's inevitable FaceHeel Turn makes us somehow believe he will not do it after all (Bullshit! He would NEVER do such a thing!), even though we just know better already.
And speaking of the Eclipse, the Hope Spots that especially stand out in that part happen when Guts sees Casca naked and in the clutches of a tentacled Apostle and surrounded by monsters after he's just gone to town on a good number of others. Guts goes berserk and goes into a Foe-Tossing Charge to get to her, but before he can reach her, a demon snaps its massive jaws on his left arm and nips any hope of pulling that off in the bud. Guts can only watch helplessly as Casca is about to get raped, only for the demons to drop what they're doing and freeze — because Griffith has been reborn as Femto, the fifth member of the Godhand. And then, as Femto flies down and starts having his way with Casca, Guts first tries to kill the demon that's got his arm, but when the sword breaks, he's forced to chisel off the arm with what's left of it in a serious badass moment to get free so that he can save Casca and kill Femto. But when he finally gets free and goes after Femto, Femto, being the utter bastard he is, has him pinned down by a whole mess of demons, which force him to watch as Femto rapes Casca to insanity right in front of him and the demons claw out his right eye.
The movie adds another Hope Spot right on top of that by having Guts get within inches of putting out Femto's eye with the broken sword, just before Femto telekinetically hurls him back and makes with the dogpile.
Pulled twice the end of the first season: Zagato's spell, Lightning Summon, blasts even the Rune God-wearing Power Trio nearly into oblivion... but they regroup on sheer will and recover well enough to push him back. Zagato himself summons his overwhelming willpower and blasts them with Lightning Surge (several dozen bolts as powerful as the single one from before, hard enough to turn the screen black for several seconds.) That, in itself, constitutes a Hope Spot for Zagato, as the Knights then obliterate him with a combined spell. Then, after the Knights believe they've won and are happy about saving the Princess and going home, Princess Emeraude goes evil and proceeds to beat seven kinds of hell out of them.
At the end of the second season: the Knights and Eagle have freed Lantis from Nova's Rune God, and have returned to Cephiro. Although Eagle's FTO is heavily damaged, and Eagle himself is injured, it's a great victory all around. Then Debonair shows up and one-shots FTO.
The entirety of episode 46 is one giant Hope Spot. After a quick pep talk from Cain and Leo, GaoGaiGar itself blasts out of Jupiter boosted with The Power, which quickly spreads to the rest of the Braves who promptly beat down and purify the remaining Primevals. Until the last one merges with Jupiter, takes The Power for itself, re-absorbs the rest of the Primeval cores, and becomes the biggest, baddest monster yet seen in the series.
In FINAL, one line can be identified as the concentrated essence of Hope Spot: "I will show you... THE POWER OF TRUE COURAGE!!"
Triple-subverted in the final episode of FINAL when each of the Yuushabots are fighting their respective Evil Counterpart. Initially, it seems as though the heroes have won, blasting straight through their enemies with the power of awesome without breaking a sweat... Then the bad guys regenerate and proceed to beat the stuffing out of our heroes, seemingly killing each one. THEN Mamoru kicks Cain's ass, prompting the Yuushabots into unleashing their true ultimate attacks and blow the 11 Planetary Masters of Sol into oblivion. Then resubverted when Pisa Sol resurrects the Planetary Masters...And duplicates them, forming armies of clones, each more powerful than the original. This is all the worse since the good guys are practically dead from the effort of defeating a single original. Finally re-resubverted when it's revealed that this situation is EXACTLY what the heroes wanted, since Pisa Sol, and thus by extension everything made by Pisa Sol, is now vulnerable since it has to re-charge. LET'S BREAK STUFF!
Gundam 0080 features the battle between the new Gundam model, the NT-01 Alex piloted by Christina, and Bernard's non-customized Zaku. Thanks to a great deal of preparation, cunning, ingenuity and sheer Heroic Resolve, Bernard manages to put the Gundam on the ropes and even seems about to score the killing blow... when Christina rams a beam saber into his cockpit, and all that remains of poor Bernie is a pile of hamburger.Remember, kids,war sucks.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED may contain the shortest one ever near the end of the series: Rau le Creuset nearly destroys Flay's escape pod, but the shot is conveniently blocked by the Freedom's free-floating shield, saving her...until Rau destroys the escape pod with his DRAGOONS instead, leading to her fiery death.
Fafner In The Azure has an extremely striking version of this near the end. After Michio Hino, already fairly high on the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality from the start thanks to being the older vet who started off onthe wrong team, racks up a few more points by resuming his relationship with and getting engaged to his ex, insisting that he remain in the fight despite being over the age to pilot a Fafner, and promising that he'll always return alive. Sure enough, an extremely powerful Festum arrives soon after he makes this promise, completely sweeps the entire team, and starts devastating the entire island. Michio grapples the Festum as they separate the section of the island he and the Festum are on, activates his Fenrir system, loses his always-worn Hachimaki to reveal a photo of his ex that he had been carrying all of these years, and generally appears ready for a grand Heroic Sacrifice dramatic even for this Anyone Can Die series. He then appears to subvert it by ejecting his cockpit, shooting free with seconds to spare...right until the Festum grabs his pod out of midair and smash it to pieces against his own Fafner. The Fenrir system then blows both units to nothing, just for good measure. And the episode still has a post-credits scene to make it even worse.
A great one in Monster: a match is lit and then dropped onto some gasoline to commit a heinous act of arson. The match extinguishes on hitting the gas and then bounces away. Just when you think that the fuel wasn't ignited, the flame pops up and spreads down the stream. The timing is great: it's long enough to give the hope spot, but not too long that it looks ridiculous when the flame does pop up.
20th Century Boys has entire arcs made of of this. Kenji thwarting the Evil Plan of Friend? He figures out the plot, but dies in an explosion, loses several of his posse (they get better) and Friend becomes a national hero. Kanna stopping the Pope assassination? Well, yes, but the event is just another Evil Plan to turn Friend into a God. Also, a virus is released and world-wide pandemic gets created.
Also happens several times in Pluto. The most heart-wrenching one may be when the Sun rises during the second Epsilon/Pluto fight. It's still not enough to save the solar-powered pacifist, Epsilon.
In Code Geass, Euphemia and Lelouch/Zero agree to work together to create a special zone of equality for Japanese and Brittanians. Too bad they didn't realize there were 3 episodes left in the season.
R2 has another one: In desperation, Lelouch asks Suzaku, who has been his enemy all season, to help him. After a bit of raging and confrontation, Suzaku begins to see through Lelouch's lies, and realise what he's been doing. Suzaku and Lelouch are about to agree to work together... and along comes Schneizel and his minions to interrupt in the worst possible way.
R2 even has a world-wide one: Lelouch declares himself the Emperor of Justice and seems to be undoing all the evil of Brittania... only to start systematically crushing all opposition and generally being worse than his predecessor. Of course, this is partially subverted since he is actually setting himself up as a Heroic Sacrifice... sorta.
The "that was a close one!"/SPLAT type of Hope Spot occurs when, after being dumped down a well by another student, Hirono manages to escape and is found by several classmates who tell her that they have beaten the Program and can go home. She then drowns in the well, the previous events revealed to be a hallucination.
And Hiroki Sugimura's battle with Kazuo Kiriyama is one big string of "I can do this!" Hope Spots.
Whenever somebody turns their back after a supposed 'victory' over Kiriyama, something bad's bound to happen. Or they'll just sit and talk a while when they should be running away like kids from homework.
As well as Yoji deciding not to kill his girlfriend, Yoshimi. "I love you t-" BANG.
This appears to be the entire strategy of the Anti-Spirals in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Seeing as how Spiral Power is genuinely derived from hope and courage, their plans generally revolve around dangling victory in front of the protagonists, then snatching it away in the cheapest, most unfair manner possible.
Digimon Tamers: Look! Beelzemon got past the D-Reaper! Jeri's going to be saved now! Hooray! Except she's too traumatized to take his hand and the D-Reaper has the opening it needs to stab him down the spine. This forces the Tamers to retreat, since Beelzemon's wounds need to be treated right now. The end result was the Tamers failing to save Jeri, having one of their best fighters being taken out of commission, and taking a big hit to morale. Yeah, that battle went to the D-Reaper.
Sailor Moon Stars, the final season of Sailor Moon has one of these. Of course it turns out that it's all a dream, and nothing has changed.
Used in Death Note in that the Villain Protagonist Light Yagami gets one of these. Even after it appears Near's completely beaten him, he pulls a hidden notebook piece, and even after the pen he was holding is shot away he attempts to at the very least take out Near by writing in his own blood. Matsuda, madder than hell at being played for a fool by Light, doesn't give him the opportunity, blasting the hell out of him and nearly killing him before the others stop him.
Quite a few of the fights in Violinist of Hameln manga feature one or several Hope Spots, sometimes because villains dispense them intentionally. Vocal once pretends to be killed for quite a few panels, when in reality the only thing that took damage was the weapon that struck him. Chestra seems to be blown away by Oboe's barrage of blows before revealing that he is unscratched and smugly commenting that he doesn't even need to close his eyes to not be hurt by punches of such level. A bit later, it seems like Hamel drained Chestra's power and killed him for real, but no; just as the main cast reunites and is full of relief and joy, Chestra regenerates — from being blown to dust — and starts slaughtering them. In a few cases this also happens when a villain is seemingly overpowered, but then reveals his One-Winged Angel form.
Similarly, the finale had also one Hope Spot after another. Izumi and Sig arrive to help defeat Sloth. Buccaneer and his team manage to successfully defend the Gate, everybody cheers. Then Wrath arrives and wreaks havoc. During his fight with Greed, another Hope Spot: Fu rushes in to save the day. (He doesn't.) Meanwhile, Roy and the others have defeated Envy. Suddenly, they are faced with the Doctor's cronies, and Ed, Al and Izumi are taken away. Riza has her throat slit in order to force Roy to commit human transmutation. But then, Hope Spot, the chimerae and May arrive, and Riza is healed. And then everything goes to hell again when Wrath and Pride arrive and force Roy through the Gate. After the nation-wide transmutation circle is activated, another Hope Spot: Hohenheim's reverse-transmutation circle is activated, and shortly afterwards Scar activates his brother's transmutation circle. But the actual fight against father has only just begun, and it's not looking very good for the heroes.
One Piece: Luffy finally, after failing to get his brother out of Impel Down, a long drawn-out battle between the Whitebeard Pirates and the Marines, and beating his way past foe after foe, rescues his big brother Ace from execution and gets him out of the seastone cuffs so he can fight! Ace dies saving Luffy in the escape.
Then it got one upped in Whole Cake Arc when Big Mom finally gets to taste the ultimate wedding cake made specifically to stop her rampage. The cake itself was so incredibly tasty and delicious that even Big Mom could would testify it's a flavor to die for, and reminded her back of her childhood dream. But then Oven came in from the mirror with the bullet that can penetrate through Vinsmoke children's outer skeleton, and proceeded to boil off the sea and defeated the Sun Pirates in an instant. Then the Queen Mama Chanter proceed to (seemingly) sink the Thousand Sunny, leaving only the tattered pirate flag behind.
Mahou Sensei Negima!: Negi, though injured, has defeated Dynamis, Kotarou and the others have rescued Asuna, Nodoka has the Great Grand Master Key, and Chachamaru has just blasted Fate Averruncus with her Satellite Cannon artifact. Things are looking up! ... And then the Averrunci of Wind, Water, and Fire show up. One of them blows Chachamaru in half, another erases Johnny, and Kaede sacrifices herself to get the Great Grand Master Key they had just stolen back. Then Fate shows up and takes it back anyway.
Topped horrifically by what follows. After a totally epic climactic battle between Fate and Negi, Negi finally succeeds in defeating Fate and convincing Fate to side with Negi's plan. Cue the series's real Big Bad showing up and blasting the hell out of Fate and Negi in one shot, followed by reviving Every. Single. One of the previous members of Cosmo Entelechia and setting them against the two utterly exhausted fighters.
Subverted: Evangeline, Eishun, Konoemon, Albireo, Takamichi, Kurt and RAKAN all return to kick some ass.
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit: after the elite soldiers attack the La Lunga and make it sink underwater, one of them asks, "Did we get it?" At that moment the creature surges back up from below the ice, ready to attack again.
Kyoko's speech about how it might be possible to save Sayaka, who has turned into a Witch.
"Wouldn't that be somethin'? It'd be like one of those stories where love and courage triumph and stuff. Wanna know something, and this is between us? The reason I became a Magical Girl was because I love stories like those. Can't believe I forgot that."
The Planetes anime has a hum dinger. All at once in the finale, it looks as though Goro will restart the engine thanks to having held off the boarders, Fee (who has just managed to regain control of the Toy Box) and Kho will push the Von Braun out of the way, Hachi will beat Hakim, and Ai will make the final 11th mile of her carrying Claire before running out of oxygen... But ALL of them fail, only saved by a last second compromise and two astounding coincidences.
Fairy Tail throws out Hope Spot after Hope Spot in the S-Class arc.
Probably the best is Natsu getting his standard "unexpected" power-up from an outside source and going apeshit on the Big Bad, only for the latter to emerge essentially unharmed and promising to actually go all out now while Natsu is so spent he can't even move.
Elfman and Evergreen are facing Rustyrose, who wears glasses that protect him from Evergreen's petrifying gaze. Elfman manages to trick Rustyrose and get close enough to steal his glasses and destroy them. Rustyrose panics as Evergreen looks into his eyes... then Rustyrose gives them a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and his glasses are back on his face. Rustyrose reveals that he just pretended to panic to toy with them and he's a Reality Warper.
Cana arrives to save her friends from Bluenote, armed with the legendary Fairy Glitter spell. Before she can fire it, Bluenote casually knocks her out of the air. Natsu manages to distract Bluenote enough for Cana to power up and fire the spell, complete with epic Theme Music Power-Up, the storm clouds splitting to let in the heaven's light, and Bluenote going Oh, Crap!... only for him to be completely unharmed. Fortunately, it was enough to allow Gildarts to arrive and save them.
In the Grand Magic Games' first day, Fairy Tail is performing very poorly, mainly due to deliberate attacks by their Evil Counterpart Raven Tail. Midway through the day, Lucy has to fight Raven Tail member Flare. At first Lucy seems to have the upper hand, but then Flare threatens to use her Prehensile Hair to attack Asuka, who is watching the match, unless Lucy stops fighting. As it looks like all hope is lost, Natsu understands what's happening and protects the child, allowing Lucy to summon Gemini and use her ultimate spell Urano Metria while Flare can do nothing but watch in terror... and then Obra uses his Anti-Magic to make the spell fade away, leaving Lucy completely powerless and ridiculed by most of the audience (bar the few who understood Raven Tail cheated, but couldn't point their finger on how).
In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX season 4, Fubiki gets the upper hand in his duel with Yusuke, with Yusuke having a pitiful Villainous Breakdown and begging Fubiki not to finish him off... until Yusuke reveals he was joking and most of the duel was an illusion, winning with ease.
Windaria Zigzagged. Alan fears his wife is dead because of the war but doesn't see any signs of battle and thinks that the war didn't reach The Valley, then he notices his neighbor's houses in ruins and thinks his own is the same. Then he gets home and sees it is in ruins, but his wife is alive. Then she turns out to be a ghost.
Teresa is fighting Priscilla in order to preserve her own life as well as to protect Clare. Although Priscilla is absurdly powerful—and was promoted to #2 in the organization—she is still inexperienced and a bit naive, much to Teresa's advantage. Teresa, who is #1 at the time, isn't even using most of her yōki (demon energy) to beat her, and she eventually gets Priscilla on her knees. At this point, Priscilla is on the verge of becoming an awakened being and is begging Teresa to end her life before she becomes so, to which Teresa complies. However, it only took ONE MOMENT of hesitation from Teresa for Priscilla to take advantage and disarm Teresa by chopping off her hands and then decapitating her, right in front of little Clare.
Another example happens to adult Clare, herself, after she's sent to work on a job with #4, Ophelia, who turns out to be Ax-Crazy and hellbent on killing her, just because. After realizing she is outmatched, Clare decides to fake her death by letting Ophelia cut off her arm and send her off a steep cliff. Just when it seems like the ploy worked, Ophelia appears and tells Clare that she saw right through her tactics, leaving her terrified. Fortunately, a Big Damn Heroes moment happens shortly afterwards.
Aporia suffers from this in his duel against Z-ONE. After being torn apart for almost the entire duel, facing what he believes is his opponent's trump card, and suffering from an enormous life point disadvantage, he succeeds in emptying his entire deck and activating a card that is shuffled in his deck and will one turn kill his opponent should he draw it. Z-ONE counters by revealing his supposed 'ace' is just one of ten cards, and proceeds to summon the next, with the effect of shuffling Aporia's entire graveyard into his deck, and inflicting enough damage to defeat him the next time he draws a card. After the usual huge buildup, Aporia draws...Machine Emperor Granel, the embodiment of his first despair.
In YuYu Hakusho, when Yusuke plans to be killed by Sensui to motivate his team. Kuwabara tries to tap into his new power and break out of the uraotoko. He succeeds and frees himself and his allies before Sensui deals the finishing blow, but not quickly enough to save him.
In Saint Beast, after unwillingly betraying their friends during the rebellion the remaining Saint Beasts get one when they think they will succeed in rescuing Judas and Luca from hell with the help of the Goddess. She betrays them and they are separated and turned to stone instead.
Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z have numerous ones scattered throughout, but one particularly cruel one happens in DBZ during the Frieza fight. Finally realizing his limits against Frieza, Vegeta is helplessly and slowly beaten by the tyrant. A rejuvenated Goku then comes in and exchanges a few initial blows with Frieza, proving to be even with him while everyone else has been outmatched. Despite his weakened condition, Vegeta takes consolation in the fact that he'll at least be able to watch Frieza finally get his comeuppance. Frieza then proceeds to shoot an energy blast right through Vegeta's heart.
The entire (long) battle against Frieza is filled with one Hope Spot after another. Every time one of the heroes seems to have victory in hand, Frieza transforms again, shrugs off an attack that "no one could survive", or in some other way reveals that he was in control of the fight all along. This continues right up until Goku finally becomes a Super Saiyan and is actually strong enough to overpower him. At that point, it's Frieza who gets a few Hope Spots before Goku beats him.
Sonic X has one in the Sonic Battle arc. Emerl goes crazy after getting his hands on a Chaos Emerald and starts destroying everything in sight while Cream begs him to stop and Sonic, Knuckles, and Rouge can't do anything to stop him. When Cream steps up and tries to talk Emerl into his good self again, it seems her words are affecting him as his eyes go from red to his usual blue, but the second Emerl takes a step forward he starts malfunctioning again, and attacks Cream just for Sonic to take the blow for her. Cream gives up on making Emerl good again and works together with Cheese to destroy him.
In Project ARMS, a huge fight goes down in New York City, and it looks like Dark Alice and Keith White have been defeated. Everyone goes home, the dead are buried, and it looks like everyone is ready to kick back and have an ordinary life. Then, it's revealed that Dark Alice is actually living inside of Katsumi now, and that she has been kidnapped by Keith White (who did survive, of course) to blow up the planet. And their ARMS have been deactivated, so they have no powers. Ouch.
In the Axis Powers Hetalia movie Paint it, White!, there is a moment where it looks like the Nations have successfully made the Pictonians enjoy their acts of hospitality and can get them to agree to leave the planet. And then, England decides to give them all some of his scones. They were not happy.
In Sword Art Online, Kirito learns of a rare item that can resurrect a dead player. He fights the monster that drops it in the hopes of resurrecting Sachi, whom he was unable to protect earlier. Though he does obtain the item, it's of no use, as the item has to be used within ten seconds of a player's death and by the time Kirito gets it Sachi has already been dead for six months.
A Certain Magical Index has several in the fight against Acqua of the Back. The guy has been effortlessly shrugging off everything that gets thrown at him like it was nothing. Part of this is because he's a Saint: basically a magical One-Man Army. So the Amakusas bring out a spell designed specifically and exclusively to kill Saints... and Acqua No Sells it like everything else. Then Kanzaki, another Saint, shows up to aid and attacks Acqua with a level of force never before seen in the story... and though he has to actually put a bit of effort into it, Acqua stillCurb-Stomps her.
Grave of the Fireflies has a really cruel one. Throughout the movie we see the 4 year old Setsuko becoming weaker and weaker due to hunger and sickness. Then Seita finally buys some real food and after giving Setsuko a watermelon slice goes to prepare the food. The audience then expect a cut showing Setsuko wolfing down the food Seita has prepared, but instead the scene just lingers on and on until Seita says four simple and heartbreaking words: "She never woke up."
After surviving as a refugee for two years and enduring three grueling years in boot camp, Eren and the other members of the 104th graduate. Having successfully given his comrades hope and convinced many to join the Survey Corps, Eren stands atop Wall Rose and proudly declares that it's humanity's turn to devour the Titans. .....moments before the Colossal Titan appears right behind him and kicks open Wall Rose. The trainees are quickly sent to the front lines, with many brutally killed in the opening hours of the battle.
During the 57th Expedition, they successfully lure the Female Titan into a trap. Petra tells Eren that this is The Power of Trust, thanking him for being able to put his trust in his comrades. Then the Female Titan escapes, lures them into a trap, and slaughters Eren's entire squad before kidnapping him.
The unarmed rookies manage to barely survive the attack on Castle Utgard, thanks to Hange's squad showing up in the nick of time. The soldiers retreat to the Wall and take stock of everything that has happened, preparing to catch their breath and start planning their next move. Then Reiner has a Villainous BSoD, confessing his Secret Identity to Eren and proceeds to kidnap him. The military, already stretched thin and exhausted, is forced to mount a desperate mission into Titan-infested lands to rescue Eren before the traitors make their escape. The battle ends up costing them most of the Senior officers of the Survey Corps, all of the Military Police sent with them, as well as Eren's surrogate "uncle", Hannes. Erwin ends up losing an arm in the battle, but survives. They manage to retrieve Eren, but the traitors escape. No one feels like it's a victory.
Invoked in Team Four Star's Abridged version of this series. At the end of the first episode, after the Titans attack again Eren rallies the newly minted recruits and sets off to the wall to intercept the Titans only to be ambushed and brutally massacred by several Titans who had managed to get past the wall.
In Episode 5 of Plastic Memories, Tsukasa was on the verge of calming down Marcia, a Giftia who has turned into a Wanderer. And then Souta calls out her name, which drives a berserk Marcia to strangle her adoptive younger brother. At that point, Tsukasa has little choice but to open fire on Marcia with a gun that would irreversibly crash her functions and effectively kill her.
The ending to a chapter hints at a might new addition to the School Life Club. She has a detailed design, is treated as important, and is the first new, major survivor since Miki. She becomes a zombie before the girls can even meet her. They travel to find her but she locked herself in a closet when she knew she would turn.
Kurumi gets bit by a zombie but is saved by a vaccine. ...Except she wasn't truly "saved". The vaccine postponed the infection but as the manga goes on it becomes more obvious she will eventually turn soon.
A rescue helicopter arrives at the school. He subccumbs to the zombie infection and the copter crashes. It causes a fire and the girls need to exacuate the school, leaving them a bunch of high schoolers stuck alone in a Zombie Apocalypse.
Rii rescues her little sister from a zombie infested elementary school and she is a Tagalong Kid. Ruu is dead, or at the very least missing, and Rii has snapped. She's hallucinating and the others are playing along.
The girls meet a group of new survivors however it becomes clear that their new home is probably even more dangerous than their last, thanks to a gang of other survivors who are incredibly hostile and the fact one of them is infected (even ignoring Kurumi).
In an anime-only example, Team Pet Taromaru is seen recovering from his zombie state in episode 12, after Miki gives him the antidote. He dies minutes later while on Miki's lap.
Played with in Your Name. Near the end of the film, Mitsuha takes a look at what Taki has written on her hand... Instead of his name, it's just "I love you", which gives her a Heroic Second Wind but, as she immediately points out, is useless for trying to find him, which was the very purpose of writing on her hand in the first place.
In Episode 10 of Danganronpa 3 Side: Despair, Chiaki Nanami is fatally injured and wandering through a deadly maze. She opens the final door and is greeted with the sight of her teacher extending an arm to help her escape... which turns out to be an illusion as she's instead stabbed to death by dozens of spears coming from the ground.
In Black Butler, in the Luxury Liner Arc, as well as in Black Butler: Book of The Atlantic, Sebastian Michaelis and Ciel Phantomhive attempt to reach for each other after The Undertaker throws Ciel away, knowing that Sebastian would come over to save Ciel. Sebastian only manages to grasp two of Ciel's fingers before he is impaled by The Undertaker's Death Scythe, who then proceeds to view Sebastian's record. This gets subverted later, as after Sebastian's record has been shown, Sebastian manages to grab Ciel's hand mid-air and protect him from falling onto the floor.