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Armored Coffins

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"We agreed that Russian Jaegers would have no ejection system. They win or die."

In the world of mecha/dogfight fiction, one thing noticeable about the mechs is this: No Ejection Seat is built into the mech or fighter, and every battle you fight in must be seen through to the end. If you fail or get captured, see to it you do not leave behind any trace of your existence.

The Armored Coffin speaks of mechs or jet fighters or any type of war machine that forbids mid-battle retreat by design or otherwise present a particularly notable danger to those operating it. Substitute 'flying' for 'armoured' in some cases if it bothers you.

See Self-Destruct Mechanism for when the thing takes itself out enough so its tech cannot be discovered by the enemy. For another typical cause of dead tank crew in fiction (and related to the another more common use for the phrase), see Tanks for Nothing.

In-Vehicle Invulnerability (where the pilot is invulnerable until their vehicle is destroyed) is in some ways the opposite, but both may be in effect at once.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • ATs in Armored Trooper VOTOMS are nicknamed 'steel coffins' in-universe for enough reasons that any sane safety board really wouldn't let them anywhere near a battlefield.
  • Code Geass:
    • The Lancelot doesn't have an ejection system, because Lloyd was too busy installing everything else he could think of into it. Suzaku thus has to rely on its supreme technological advantage, because he's not walking away from a fight otherwise. Ironic considering that Knightmare Frames were developed from Escape Pods with legs and every other one has an ejection system. It fits him well in the second season, as all the other Knights of the Round also lack ejection systems in their Knightmares. Knights of the Round are expected to either return with their machine intact, or die in it. The Lancelot itself is finally equipped with an escape device when C.C. takes it over, as she certainly isn't willing to risk herself (although being an immortal she'd survive anyway, albeit painfully). The Lancelot Albion, as a Knights of the Round unit, also seemingly lacks one except it does have one, so Suzaku can fake his death as per Zero Requiem, timing his ejection as the machine explodes just right so nobody sees it and assumes him killed.
    • Speaking of C.C., Lelouch's Gawain from the first season is another rare example of a Knightmare without an ejection system. In the final battle of the season, C.C. went solo against Jeremiah's Siegfried and dragged the latter down to the bottom of the ocean. When the second season rolled around, Word of God said that C.C. escaped by opening the cockpit and floating to the surface as the water pressure killed her multiple times, and they couldn't actually show this on TV because it was far too gruesome.
  • The Para-Mails from Cross Ange might as well be called Unarmored Coffins, as not only do they lack ejection seats, but in flight mode, the cockpit is completely open-air. The trope is explicitly discussed as the reason pilots are given permission to customize their gear as much as they want — they are expected to die in it, sooner or later.
  • Older Gundam series have this, without any real way of escaping from an exploding mobile suit, at least during the One Year War to the end of Operation Stardust. From that point onward, mobile suits have an ejection pod that allows the pilot to escape from non-critical torso hits.
    • Averted with any mobile suit using the Core Block system (yes, this includes the Impulse Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny), and thus has a Core Fighter. The original Gundam's Core Fighter was designed primarily as a method for preserving valuable combat data should any of the Project V mobile suits be put out of commission. That the pilot would also be saved by this system was considered merely a side benefit: the combat data was what mattered, the pilot's job after ejecting would be to fly back to base so that the data could be preserved.
    • The Zeong from the end of the original series also averted this: being as big as it was, they were able to mount the cockpit inside the head rather than the chest, thus allowing for a system for it to detach from the rest of the suit and function as an escape pod.
    • Also averted in the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 — some of the Innovade mobile suits have the cockpit attached to the back which can be ejected and flown away. Played straight with the Tieren that earned the In-Universe Nickname "the coffin for the living".
    • The RB-79 Ball was derisively known to Federation Pilots as the "Mobile Coffin" since it was just a Pod with rudimentary armor and a cannon.
    • The Prototype Mobile Suit Forbidden Blue from Gundam SEED's MSV design series was intended for amphibious combat, using the original Forbidden's energy deflection system to mitigate the water pressure; however, this was its only means of resisting the pressure, meaning that if it lost power the suit would be crushed, earning it the nickname "Forbidden Vortex". Its upgrades, the Deep Forbidden and Forbidden Vortex, rectified this by adding a reinforced titanium shell around the cockpit pod.
    • Both play straight and subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, while there are escape pods for the Schwalbe Graze and later the Reginglaze, it doesn't protect the pilots from being impaled by melee weapons. And for the mass produced Graze and Gundam Frame suits, escape pods are completely non-existent as for the Gundam Frames requires direct user to mobile suit interface and cutting off the cord can result in death from the feedback.
  • Zigzagged in Neon Genesis Evangelion: the cockpits of the Evas are physically pretty well-protected and can survive the rest of the mech's destruction. The danger instead comes from the requisite plugsuit's Synchronization hurting the pilot with damage to the Eva. In a strange inversion, the support team disconnecting and thus disabling an Eva negates this danger, which Misato orders for Unit 02 an instant before it's decapitated.
  • Averted in Patlabor — being in a Real Robot Genre setting, people build in ejection seats. In Patlabor 2: The Movie, however, one of them jams in a warzone, leaving the pilot to die.
  • Averted in Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko. All the ships the character use have a built-in teleporter which teleports the pilot out of the ship when it's about to be destroyed.
  • Averted in Xabungle. Walker Machines are basically trucks with legs, and are just as vulnerable. The kicker, of course, is that not only does this make them easier to escape, but a ridiculously high percentage of the pilots live to talk about it; despite being a Yoshiyuki Tomino show, pretty much only named pilots run a risk of dying.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Girls und Panzer: The Eagles of Oarai, Oarai has a rematch against their long-time rival Kuromorimine that not only features World War II-era tanks, but also fighter planes. During the match, one of the Kuromorimine fighters goes down and it turns out that Kuromorimine's aircraft lack ejection seats. This, combined with pulling a gun on the male main character, results in Shiho getting arrested after the match.

    Films — Animation 
  • The titular mechs from Ark are ancient vessels powered by life-force of The Chosen One, meant to protect and evacuate entire populations when the Planet Alcyeon faces destruction, at the cost of the pilot's life. In the film's backstory, the High Priestess Amiel sacrifices herself to pilot the first Ark to save her people, and at the film's climax, Amarinth, the heroine who turns out to be Amiel's long-lost daughter from centuries ago, decide to sacrifice her life to pilot the Ark and save the planet's citizens.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Iron Man suits are utterly dependent on their arc-reactor and have no inherent fail-safes. In Captain America: Civil War, War Machine's arc reactor is damaged at several thousand feet up, leaving him locked in a lifeless and blind suit as it screams towards the ground at terminal velocity.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • Mark 1 Jaegers tend to stop functioning only in ways that either directly or indirectly kill the pilots. Later models have ejectors, but only one destroyed mech in the entire movie gets to actually use them; all the others go down in ways that preclude ejection, from having a Kaiju rip the cockpit out with its teeth to setting off a nuclear bomb strapped to the back.
    • Russian Jaegers are designed to be like this. While other countries' Jaegers have an escape mechanism, it's a general rule for Russian pilots that if their Jaeger goes down, so do they.
  • The Pentagon Wars is about the development of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. In its initial configuration, it's an absolute deathtrap; as Burton puts it, it has "less armor than a snowblower, but enough ammo to take out half of DC." A good hit under combat conditions will blow it to hell. Burton's quest is to ensure that the Bradley is redesigned for greater survivability.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, extra armour is added to a glider carrying a high-ranking officer, without consulting or informing the pilot until just before takeoff. Once detached from the towing aircraft the glider flies like a brick and the subsequent crashlanding kills most of those on board, including the VIP the armor was meant to protect.

  • The M1A4 Juggernaut from 86 EIGHTY-SIX rightfully earns its "aluminum coffin" nickname. Its paper-thin armor doesn't even protect against machine gun fire. It is also woefully outgunned by the opponents it usually faces, with its main armament barely even scratching some of the heavier Legion units. Its one saving grace is that the lack of armor makes it surprisingly agile. However, the majority of pilots don't survive long enough to learn how to properly utilize this. Unfortunately, the Republic of San Magnolia sees nothing wrong with the Juggernaut, because they never intended for any of the pilots to survive the war.

    Multiple Media 
  • Star Wars' TIE Fighters might or might not be examples. Imperial pilots (unlike their Rebel counterparts) wear spacesuits, so very simple ejection seats would let them survive their fighters being destroyed, but does the Empire provide them? Either way of thinking, "expensive pilots, cheap fighters" or "disposable fighters for disposable pilots," would be in-character for the Empire.
    • Some of the older videogames make it clear that ejection seats are normally provided. Since most fights happen within Imperial space and with superior resources, pilots are supposed to eject if necessary, to be picked up after the fight is over.
    • The various Expanded Universe sources show that it varies whether TIE Fighters have ejection seats. Originally, they all lacked them, as the designers went to extremes to reduce weight for increased speed and agility. Eventually it became common to add ejection seats, as this didn't actually add much weight, the relatively spacious spherical cockpit gave plenty of room to do so, and just a slight improvement to the engines would offset the added weight.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech is a notable aversion, as most pilots will survive the destruction of their 'Mech even if they have to ride it down when it goes over, and all 'Mechs are equipped with sophisticated automatic ejection systems in the event of ammunition explosion or reactor containment loss. Similarly, since their armor is ablative, most suits of power armor can be reduced to failing wrecks that daylight can be seen through, but you still have to take one more shot to kill the person wearing it. Aerospace fighters have reliable ejection systems as well, though recovery has to be on hand if the pilot bails out in space. Naturally, mechwarriors that are careful to avoid direct damage to their mech's cockpits can walk away from most engagements.
    • Some of the classical 3025 battlemechs, due to the lack of CASE protection and poor placement of torso-mounted ammo stores, acquired nasty reputations as walking "Ammo Bomb" mechs due to how susceptible they are to critical hits to their ammo storage - when torched, that entire ton of SRM ammo will not only obliterate the body section it happens in, it will spill over into adjacent components (Read: the rest of the torso compartments), gutting the engines. In rare cases, the blast will also travel up to the cockpit, ejecting the mechwarrior's soul straight to Heaven. The downgraded Marauder 3R, which lacks the CASE blast protection of the SLDF Royal Marauders, is infamous for the ton of Autocannon ammo in one side torso without any other systems sharing space, so crits to that section of the mech can only do one thing.
    • ProtoMechs are highly Armored Coffins. They are often too slow to retreat even if they wished to, and destruction of the machine is destruction of the pilot.
    • However, the Spider light mech, is an infamous death trap because it has no ejection system. To get out in combat, the pilot must physically climb out of the control chair (no easy task while wearing a 10 pound Neurohelmet) in the tiny cabin, and climb through the hatch mounted below the armored glass.
    • Similarly, early in its service-life the Lucifer aerospace fighter went through a redesign to repair major structural flaws, and one of the ‘fixes’ required deleting the ejection system. Given that the type ended up spending more than five centuries as the Lyran Commonwealth’s mainstay medium fighter, one can only imagine how many pilots ended their careers (and lives) helplessly careening off into deep space as a result. It is noted that the Draconis Combine, which is usually not afraid to spend the lives of its soldiers, warriors, and samurai, tends to refit any captured Lucifers to reinstall the ejection system before pressing them into service.
    • It's worth noting that a MechWarrior can always turn his or her machine into an example of this trope by simply disabling the automatic ejection mechanism (more common since the advent of explosion-mitigating CASE for the ammo bins made it more likely that the 'Mech itself would survive) and then overstaying his or her welcome (even a vented explosion is rough on the pilot and combines with damage from other sources to knock out and possibly even kill him or her).
    • This is also one of the downsides of conventional combat vehicles in the game and setting. Simply put, by default 'Mechs and fighters have ejection seats...and tanks and helicopters don't. Extreme compartmentalization (and a somewhat armored cockpit) means a battlemech can lose limbs without severe risk to the mechwarrior; at the same tonnage, the same autocannon shell that would knock an arm off a battlemech would tear a hole in a tank's side, killing the crew.
    • The Clan Hunchback IIC is deliberately designed to be this; it has meager armor and poor endurance, as they are usually piloted by older solahma warriors (above 30) so they can die in the next fight. Its even shaped like a coffin with arms and legs.
    • Mechs with head mounted weapons have a bad reputation of getting their pilots killed, since the additional armor and power supply systems can interfere with the ejection system blowing the lid off the proverbial can. To properly illustrate the resulting issue, imagine a rocket propelled tomato plowing into a slab of metal. For example, the traditionally Capellan Vindicator battlemech has a Small Laser installed in the left side of the head that can interfere with the proper alignment of the ejection systems, making it likely the unfortunate ejecting mechwarrior is blasted out off-course and potentially out of control.
    • Inverted with the Daboku assault 'mech, a Flawed Prototype of the later, much more successful, MAL-1R Mauler. Due to an entertaining failure in the 'mech's CASE systems, merely striking the 'mech in the ammo storage area would automatically engage the 'mech's automatic ejection system, leading to its pilots accidentally ejecting even when in no particular danger. When the Daboku was rushed into battle, this led to pilots often invoking the trope by disengaging the automatic ejection system, as this was seen as preferable to a 'mech that would be rendered inoperable by a single lucky hit. note 
    • Zigzagged with invention of the Full-Head Ejection System later on in the timeline allows for a Mechwarrior to eject his entire cockpit instead of just his command chair. The trade off is that due to launching an entire section of the mech the ride can and does result in injuries to the pilot, as established in the rules by the pilot taking one injury. And they would be unable to eject if their cockpit's life support systems were destroyed as they're interconnected. However most Mechwarriors happily take the trade offs as it allows for them to eject in hostile environments like hard vacuum or underwater and their mech doesn't have to be scrapped. Even The Clans happily adopted the system after seeing it in action.
  • In Gaslands, racing teams sponsored by The Warden are considered this. Boxed Crooks from the Sao Paulo People's Penitentiary are welded into cheap, flimsy cars which the player is incentivized to blow up for extra points.
  • The 4th Edition of GURPS: Spaceships has a severe "eggshells armed with hammers" issues. In fact, it's basically impossible to design a ship that can't instantly obliterate another ship of the same size even if the other ship is made almost entirely of armor. The damage calculation rules were revised so that it's at least possible to balance ships against each other; however, the underlying assumptions of the book (in particular how kinetic energy translates to damage) still make combat insanely lethal.
  • Rifts does the exact opposite when it comes to Powered Armor: any weapon powerful enough to penetrate it is more than powerful enough to reduce the wearer to pinkish mist after doing so. It should also be noted that while most mechs and vehicles lacked an ejection system, they usually had their pilot's compartments armored, so the crew could still survive their machine's destruction.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Implied; where an ejection seat is actually an upgrade for an Imperial or Tau airplane, which suggests their basic planes aren't equipped with them. Chaos plays this straight since most of their aircraft are piloted by Servitors hard-wired into the cockpit, but we have no confirmation either way when it comes to the Eldar.
    • Also similarly implied for Tau battlesuits, where an ejection seat is again an optional upgrade.
    • Taken to literal extremes with the Space Marine Dreadnoughts, whose pilots are crippled veterans who are too broken to fight alongside their brothers but too valuable to simply allow to waste away. The resulting Walking Tank is just the life-support sarcophagus with some extra armor, legs, and weapons; there wouldn't be much point to having an Ejection Seat.
    • Imperial Guard Sentinels are Chicken Walkers that are usually "armored" to such an extent that they are vulnerable to mere small-arms, and frequently designed with an open canopy. They are usually used for reconnaissance or search-and-destroy, missions which hardly ensures they won't be fired on. A common fan joke is friction ensuing about Sentinel pilots regarding their machines as walking coffins with an above-mentioned Dreadnought in their midst.
    • Ork pilots, on the other hand, have no such problems: the only reason an ork would install an Ejection Seat is to have an extra rokkit close by, and from their perspective, being in a screaming hunk of metal blazing by at quasi-sonic speeds spitting death and smoke can only be improved by being on fire. The only problem is getting them back on the ground, where there's no one to shoot and speed is limited to walking.
    • Ork Deff Dreads are the orky equivalent of the aforementioned Dreadnoughts, with mostly the same idea behind them. The main difference between the two is that orkz will fight each other for the chance to be installed into one, since it'll let them be huge and powerful. They usually realize, after everything is said and done, that the main drawback of being permanently wired into an enclosed metal can is being permanently wired into an enclosed metal can. This usually makes them go on a rampage until they simmer down to a normal orky mood (read; psychotically homicidal by human standards).
    • Ork Killa Kans, smaller versions of their Deff Dreads use gretchin as pilots. Here, they're intended to be sealed in for life, requiring the services of a Mek (to hook the grot up to the interfaces) and a Dok (to hook up the life-support system). Obviously, the grots aren't made aware of their fate, but once they figure it out, the joys of finally being bigger than the orks (and indeed, most of their enemies) means they need to be corralled for everyone's safety. Not that there aren't problems anyway...
      Ork Mek identifying the cause of the kan not moving: Musta nailed in the little feller upside down.

    Video Games 
  • All the planes in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere are piloted via the rather on-the-nose COFFIN (COnnection For Flight INterface) system, a neural interface that allows the pilot to steer by thought and to withstand greater G-forces by lying prone rather than upright. The downside? The pilot can only be ejected safely when the plane is stationary in a hangar; otherwise, they're too deeply enmeshed in the plane's systems to pull out in an emergency.
  • In Armored Core, adding to The Spartan Way training given to Ravens/LYNX, all ACs/NEXTs do not have any sort of ejection pods. In Armored Core V, this is averted, since you bail out if you mech goes out of commission (in multiplayer, at least). Played with in Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, as some characters manage to eject when their ACs are defeated, while others (including the player) don't or can't.
    Index Dunham in Armored Core VI: "Do you hear me, you corporate vultures?! The Rubiconians will never yield. You're going home in armored coffins!"
  • Averted in Blockstorm, in which mechs have an ejection system. However, it's a manual system (to allow you to get out of the mech whenever you want) and takes a while to activate, so there's a good chance you'll blow up with your mech anyway, or be an easy shot for the guys who destroyed your mech while you're in mid-air above it.
  • Cold Waters: If your submarine's hull integrity is reduced to zero, or flooding progresses to the point where the boat is no longer able to gain positive buoyancy and rise even after conducting an emergency blow of the ballast tanks, you can attempt to abandon ship. However, if the submarine is below 400 feet, your attempt will always fail and your sub will be listed as "lost with all hands", ending the campaign. Diving sufficiently below test depth and causing the boat to implode will also lead to this fate, and that may even happen at a shallower depth if you have hull damage. Downplayed however in that if you manage to abandon ship at a shallow enough depth, there's a good chance you will survive. In that case you will either be picked up by NATO units and continue the campaign with a new sub, or, if there's a lot of hostile units still afloat in the area, be captured by the Soviets and imprisoned in a gulag for the rest of the war.
  • All aircraft in the Command & Conquer series lack ejection mechanisms, with the only exceptions being some USA craft in Generals. Even those don't always work.
  • FreeSpace has never hinted at the existence of ejection systems on its fighters, and tactical retreats are rare in the game. For most ships and fighters, once committed to the field it is do or die.
  • In Front Mission, the Vampires — a black ops branch of the B-Organization — have their wanzers set up for complete destruction to cover any trace of their relations to their employer.
  • Averted in Elite Dangerous. Player ships have escape pods, complete with the ship's computer repeating Eject... Eject... Eject... when about to explode, which hyper jump you back to the last station you docked at where you can claim your insurance. Also averted in the earlier games, which would spawn an Escape Pod upon the destruction of a ship, which one could scoop up to return to authorities, ransom to relatives, or sell into slavery.
  • Escape Velocity offers an Escape Pod as a purchasable upgrade, letting the player avert or play this trope straight as they choose. However, unless you have Strict Mode enabled, the escape pod can leave you in worse shape than if you just let yourself die and reload, as you're forced to give up your hard-earned custom Cool Starship for the dinky little shuttle you started the game with. On the plus side, your reputation with any faction you were previously hostile with is reset, so you (probably) won't have to deal with enemies trying to finish you off in your vulnerable state.
  • Played absurdly straight with the Brotherhood of Steel's Vertibirds in Fallout 4. They're swatted out of the air by enemy fire with ridiculous ease and always kill everyone on board when they crash. And then they home in on you while crashing regardless of whether they're hostile to you or not.
  • Into the Breach: Without the Medical Supplies passive or the Invulnerable skill, a pilot whose mech goes down is dead. If you have a spare pilot due to a fortunate space pod or completing all objectives on an island, they can take over in the next battle; otherwise, the mech will be run by an AI that doesn't gain experience. Averted with the Secret Squad, which consists of cyborg Vek and doesn't have pilots; instead, the mechs lose experience when killed.
  • Initially played straight, then subverted in Iron Marines. Mech units form a squad of one and the squad will be considered lost upon destruction, pilot and all. However, the Ejectable Pilot upgrade in the Tech Tree allows the pilot to eject upon the mech's destruction, and if the pilot survives for a short while they will respawn the Mech at full HP.
  • Averted in MechQuest. When a mech is destroyed, the pilot ejects from the mech via ejection seat.
  • Averted in the MechWarrior series, the mech simulator set in the BattleTech universe. All mechs have built-in ejection seats which the player can activate in some games, though in all but the Mercenaries titles, it is functionally a suicide button. Played with in Living Legends; while ejection is normally enabled on all vehicles, the Solaris Arena deathmatch mode disables the ejection seat on all mechs, forcing pilots to see combat through to the bitter end. The only way to get out of a mech in Solaris Arena is to power down and climb out.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Space Pirate boarding pods are referred to as "Space Coffins"; they only let you out if successful. Scanning one gets you some more detail. The boarding pods are really just large metal containers with explosives at one end, designed to go off when the pods hit the targeted ship. However, there are also many times were the explosives go off too late, too early, or not at all.
  • The assault pods from Quake II. How are they used? Take a few hundred of them, put a marine in each, seal the can, and let them swarm the enemy's base or planet, hoping that at least a few will survive the anti-aircraft fire. The whole thing is aptly named "Operation Overlord" at the end of the Strogg War.
  • Starsiege (along with other games in the "Metaltech" universe) features Humongous Mecha known as HERCULANs or HERCs for short. There are both human and robot pilots, thanks to the local Robot War, but while miniature Deflector Shields exist, neither side features any safety systems in case of machine destruction — if a HERC goes down, its pilot dies with it, every time. This is particularly odd for human HERCs because they all uniformly have fairly large top or front mounted cockpits with open space above them, which would certainly permit ejection seats to be installed with a minimum of fuss, but they are curiously absent.
  • Averted in Steel Battalion, in which you can manually eject (via a big, red, molly-guarded button). If you don't, then you technically "died", eliminating any and all progress you made prior to the point of your destruction.
  • Zig-zagged in Titanfall: Pilots die instantly if still in a Titan when it's fully disabled because Defeat Equals Explosion, but this happens after spending some time in a "doomed" state where the pilot can use their Ejection Seat. A pilot can put off ejection to try to do more damage, but besides the obvious risk of still being inside the Titan when it blows up (which further damage accelerates) they're then vulnerable to a Termination melee attack from enemy Titans that will destroy the Pilot and Titan simultaneously. When a Titan is not in a doomed state, doing any damage to the Pilot is impossible. Of the equippable Titan abilities, one that you start with is Auto-Eject, which forces you to eject a few seconds into a doomed state, but makes you immune to Termination and cloaks you after ejection so you don't get shot out of the air. Then the only thing that can kill a Pilot while still in their Titan is instant death by Nuclear Ejection or standing under an enemy Titanfall.
  • In Vixen 357, every unit is manned by a pilot. If it is destroyed, the pilot dies too.
  • Warframe introduces the Railjack mission type, where players fly their own custom gunboats around in space to fight enemies. Any enemy ship destroyed in space, be it one-man star fighters or Railjack-equivalent crewships, is lost completely with all hands. Neither Corpus nor Grineer seem to feature any thought for crew safety — the Corpus out of a desire to make as much profit as possible and even cutting important corners to do so and the Grineer out of a general disregard for the well-being of any specific soldier, as they have millions to call upon.
  • Zig-zagged in Warhawk. It is averted by the presence of an ejection system on the titular aircraft, which the player can trigger at any time by pressing X, Square, Circle, and Triangle at the same time. The trope is subverted by the fact that, should the Warhawk's shields fall and the fuselage takes sufficient damage, the aircraft is quickly teleported out of the area by the carrier vessel (this is also believed to occur with both the pilots and the ditched craft after ejecting). Played straight/subverted should a player fail a mission a third time. The third time ensures that, whether the craft is shot down (played straight) or the player hits the eject (subverted), the pilots are doomed to a permanent game over.
  • Mentioned in War Thunder's "The Battle is ON!" trailer, though in-game you can always bail out of aircraft. The trailer shows the defiant last moments of a B-17 tailgunner has he blasts the wings off of a German fighter as his bomber plows into the ground.
    "From the second it takes off you're inside, it's a cage, you see... and then the flak comes in, thick and heavy. You won't get out, not when it dives at 300 knots."

    Real Life 
  • During World War I plane crews did not have parachutes (usually). Some officers considered that the crew should not be allowed to leave the plane, as that would be cowardice. It was also thought at the time that if a pilot had a parachute, he would jump from the plane when hit rather than trying to save the aircraft. That being said, planes didn't always come with harnesses either, although they did have seatbelts (for most part). During the course of the war the German air services did introduce parachutes, which saved the lives of some of their airmen, including Hermann Goering and Ernst Udet. However, as parachute technology was in its infancy (at the time all openings were static line deployments, i.e. the ripcord was permanently attached to the plane), using a parachute was still a risky operation.
    • Introducing the parachute actually had an inverse effect: the pilots were eager to take more risks and fight more bravely as they now had a means of escape and rescue. In psychology, this is known as Risk Homeostasis (Peltzman's Law).
    • Averted for the crews of World War I observation balloons, which soon were issued parachutes. Here the usual practice was for the observers to jump as soon as an enemy aircraft approached while the ground crew tried to pull the deflating hydrogen balloon to the ground as fast as it could.
  • Japanese pilots in World War II were not issued parachutes as standard (though they were available to anyone who asked) until 1944, when the air war was waged over the Japanese home islands and any parachuting airmen would be quickly rescued. Unlike the Allies, Japan also never had a dedicated search-and-rescue service for downed airmen. Even if a pilot had successfully bailed out, he was on his own, wherever he ended up.
    • The Japanese military was (in)famous for an absolutely callous treatment of its own troops (Soviet commanders at least got similar reputation because of sheer desperation, but for the Japanese, it was a standard operational practice). Its command wasted the whole prewar cadre of highly trained Ace Pilots in fruitless attacks in God-forgotten places such as Rabaul, and only by the very end of the war did Japanese commanders realize that training an experienced pilot is actually a much longer, more expensive, and more difficult process than building them a plane. By then, there was simply not enough resources or enough time to properly train pilots, even if they had considered them irreplaceable.
    • Even the ships got in on this. In the Imperial Japanese Navy, the more important a ship was the worse its safety features were. At the extreme end of the spectrum was the Yamato class which had no life boats or rafts. She had a very limited supply of life vests and they were only intended to be used during storms in case of a "man overboard" scenario, not if the ship actually sank. The issue was further compounded by the way the IJN handled firefighting duties: ships had personnel who were assigned to firefighting teams and they were the ones expected to deal with fires aboard ship. Other crew members were not given firefighting training and expected to continue performing their normal duties in the event of a fire. By contrast, the American Navy's stance on the subject was to give basic firefighting training to all crew members and treated firefighting duty as the responsibility of everyone, whether they were assigned to a firefighting team or not.
  • A number of World War II vehicles acquired this reputation:
    • Italian tanks were literally referred to by their crews as "self-propelled coffins" due to their poor armor and poor hatch placement; they were easily knocked out and difficult to bail out of.
    • Shermans earned a number of derogatory nicknames (most notably "The Tommycooker", after a WWI portable field stove) for their propensity to catch fire, leaving the crew with only seconds to get out of the tank after a penetrating hit. This was due to both the fact that early versions of the M4 didn't have water jackets for the ammo storage and fuel tanks, and that British crews using lend-leased tanks tended to use them like their own "cruiser" tanks: they haphazardly stuffed tons of extra ammo AND fuel into their tanks wherever it would fit. They increased this way both the range and ammunition capacity, but also increased the odds of it getting set off when taking a hit. To make matters worse, the first version of the M4 that was sent to North Africa had armor that was held in place by rivets. When hit by enemy fire, these rivets tended to break off and ricochet around the interior of the tank at high velocity, creating deadly shrapnel. Both problems were quickly fixed- the ammo was given wet storage and the riveted armor was replaced by welded armor, at which point the Sherman gained a reputation as being one of the safest tanks being used by any army: its roomy interior made it easy to move around in and every member of the crew had their own dedicated escape hatch, so in the event of an emergency it was very easy to evacuate.
    • The Soviet equivalent of the M4, the T-34, was notoriously cramped and unergonomic, and difficult to escape. It is estimated some 85% of the Sherman tankers whose tank was hit were able to escape, whilst only 18% of T-34 tankers could. Having the entry hatch on glacis (in the middle of the inclined frontal armour) certainly did not increase the odds of survival.
    • Some early versions of both German and Russian tanks did not have a hatch for the radioman, forcing him to try and escape via the driver's hatch. If the tank caught fire, this usually resulted in the radioman's death.
    • Some versions of the Sherman did not have a hatch for the loader because it compromised the structural integrity of the turret. This was wildly unpopular and was rectified in the next version.
    • The predecessor to the M4, the M3 Lee, was another unpopular design. It was a rush job to get a tank that was armed with a 75 mm gun onto the battlefield because the main American anti-tank gun at the time was the 37mm, which was obsolete before America had even entered the war. As they couldn't yet build a turret big enough to hold a 75 mm gun, they instead mounted it in a casemate on the Lee's hull, then put a turret with a 37mm gun on top of that. The result was a tank that was dramatically oversized, making it extremely easy to spot (and snipe) at a distance. And despite being a lot bigger than the M4, it wasn't as well armored. The Soviets in particular loathed it, nicknaming it "a grave for seven brothers."note  The only area it was relatively popular was in the Pacific theater, where it turned out to be quite effective due to Japan's lack of tanks or anti-tank guns (which meant that the M4s could be conserved for use in Africa and Europe).
  • The modern Russian BMP series of IFVs have a darkly humorous backronym, "Bratskaya Mogila Pehoty" (Rus. "Common Grave of the Infantry"). The interior is cramped, forcing troopers to squat with their knees close to their chest; this of course, made it more difficult to quickly exit the vehicle, even under normal conditions. What made things worse was that passengers sat with their backs facing the centre of the vehicle, where the main fuel storage tanks were located. One direct hit by anything that wasn't an infantry firearm could easily penetrate the BMP's thin side armour and turn the entire compartment into a fireball. Additionally, the rear door also functioned as secondary fuel tanks; while these were supposed to be left empty in combat operations, a BMP caught in an ambush with fuel in its doors could easily find itself on fire due to a hit on the door allowing fuel to leak inside the crew compartment. While these problem were fixed with the newer BMP-3 model, Russian soldiers participating in the Chechen Wars decided to take their chances riding on top of the vehicle, rather than inside it.
    • To be fair, this is a common problem for most light APC types, especially those designed to be amphibious and air portable. While many modern Western IFVs are better protected, they are also too heavy to be amphibious or carried by light transport aircraft.
    • Russian armor traditionally was always designed for large, conventional conflicts where the most pressing concern was NBC protection, so its mine resistance wasn't anything to write home about — APCs were envisioned to be advancing behind the tank columns, equipped with the mine trawls and interspersed with the combat engineering vehicles that would dig up or detonate the mines. So when most conflicts fought by the Soviet and then Russian Army since Afghanistan turned out to be relatively low-intensity counter-insurgency warfare, in which the anti-tank mines and IEDs were used by everyone and their little dog too, but the mine trawls and forward engineering recon proved impractical for each and every column, only for the largest and most important ones, up to forcing the logistics to switch into convoy mode, sitting inside the vehicle was seen as more dangerous than on top of it (it also gave the soldiers better field of view to try to notice any possible ambush). Only by The New '10s did the Russian military have the time and money to develop their own MRAP vehicles.
    • For that matter, the older BTR-40 and BTR-152 armored personnel carriers also acquired a similar reputation and nickname in the Middle East. Up until recently, these vehicles were fairly common in Arab service; several of them ended up being captured by the Israel Defence Force, which made use of them as well. Israeli troopers gave the vehicles a backronym in Hebrew: "Bo Tizrok Rimon" ("Come, throw a grenade"), due to their invitingly-open tops. It didn't help that the sides of the vehicle effectively boxed the occupants in.
    • Finnish army conscripts refer to the BTR as Sukellusvene ("Submarine"), not only because its hull resembles one, but due to an accident at Taipalsaari in 1991, where a BTR-60 crossing a lake on light wind took water in and sank, killing seven conscripts.
    • Technical note: the requirement to make the blasted thing amphibious came in fairly late in the design process, so the best the designers could do without restarting everything from scratch was to stick in a powerful bilge pump and hope for the best. Yes, the BTR-60 could float — but barely, and only so long as its bilge pump was working, as it leaked like a sieve — and, note, it was in normal operation. If the pump failed, it would promptly take in water and sink.
  • On the topic of Soviet tanks, their habit of using "Carousel" autoloaders, where the tank's ammunition is stored in a flat ring around and under the turret which leads to their unfortuante tendency to dramatically blow their own turret off in the extremely common event of ammo cooking off. This is in contrast to tanks like the M1 Abrams which store it in a rear section of the turret with a closed blast door and blowout panels designed to vent the exploding ammo up and out of the tank safely.
    • That's not to say western designs are wholly immune to the problems of ammunition going boom too early themselves, especially the Leopard 2, which stores roughly two thirds of it's shells in a rack mounted directly beside the driver and without any blowout panels in the front of the tank. The Leopard 2 was designed with the intention of fighting in hull-down defensive positions where only the turret would be exposed, then if necessary using its high speed to retreat to another such position. Making it quite vulnerable if forced into a battlefield where it can't do that.
  • The Killdozer was used in a destructive rampage when a zoning dispute boiled over. After entering, the operator of the makeshift armoured bulldozer used a remote controlled crane to lower a concrete block around the cockpit, sealing himself in. It would've been theoretically possible to remove it by any crane (as it was eventually done, in fact), but Heemeyer just already decided to commit suicide at that point.
  • The Handley Page Victor strategic bomber had the crew hatch immediately ahead of the jet turbine. Attempting to bail out would result in crew salsa.
  • While the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter had an ejection seat, the ejection seats were often too weak to lift the pilot clear of the gigantic tail fin. Early versions of the plane had an ejection seat that ejected downwards, but that would create obvious problems when landing. Given that the Starfighter also had a well-earned reputation for being difficult to fly (in West Germany, for example, they had sarcastic names like Erdnagel ("tent peg"), Sargfighter ("coffin fighter"), Witwenmacher (widowmaker) or Selbstmordrohr ("suicide tube") and as it was said that the best way to acquire one was to buy a random plot of land and wait for one to fall from the sky), this was a major problem. The Starfighter was a major impetus for the development of modern "zero-zero" ejection seats, meaning they can be used safely at any speed and altitude, even if the plane is stationary on the ground (zero speed and zero altitude).note 
  • Issues with getting away from the plane after bailing out (as opposed to getting hit by the tail or wing at high speed) were of course the reason for the development of the Ejection Seat, particularly once jets arrived on the scene. Many airmen throughout history attempted to bail out of crippled planes only to suffer such a fate before that development.
  • Flying Crematorium: Born out of desperation during the final years of World War 2, the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was an emergency rocket-powered air defense fighter that barely had enough fuel and ammunition for a very brief sortie against an incoming formation of bombers. The one detail that makes it an Armored Coffin is the fact that it had to use a landing skid to "crash softly" on a runway since it had no landing gear or brakes (for takeoff it used wheels which were dropped off upon gaining air). A very bad idea as the Komet's fuel tank was highly susceptible to leaking from a hard impact and contained two types of hypergolic (A.K.A very volatile) propellants that would ignite when combined, without any external source of ignition. This meant that the Me 163 would literally turn into a Komet if it landed hard enough for the fuel to 'slosh' together and spontaneously combust. Ejecting any remaining fuel before landing was recommended.
    • Even worse, one of those two substances was potently acidic, which meant it needed to be held in a glass container. In turn, this was very easy to rupture if the landing was anything but smooth. Or even if the takeoff was anything but smooth - at the point the Komet was used even flat runways were in short supply, so they would often have to take off from the same bumpy, rocky fields they were meant to land on, which often meant the tires dropped free during takeoff would bounce higher than the altitude they were dropped from, promptly smashing into the Komet and rupturing the fuel tanks.
      • It would have been less of an issue, because the entire amount of fuel was to be spent gaining altitude, then the Komet would glide to attack and glide back home to crashland. The Komet had ridiculously good gliding characteristic for that manner. Still, the volatile fuels were an issue, to the point where tanking either one of them was made separate, and after one, the other had to wait for the fuel tanker to leave the area entirely before the other fuel was filled in. Before that, rigorous washing with water had to be performed. And while one of the fuels was corrosive, the other would burn after coming in contact with organic tissue, and you were pretty much surrounded in fuel tanks. Pick your poison.
    • The Mitsubishi J8M/Ki-200 was a success or failure, depending on your point-of-view. It was a highly unsafe aircraft to land, takeoff, or even refuel due to having all of the dangerous flaws of the Me 163. But the Japanese, with their 'Kamikaze mentality', saw these flaws as bonuses and considered the Rocket-powered Fighter to be a great suicide aircraft: Make one or two firing passes and then go in for a ramming attack. Thankfully for both Allies and Japanese, the Ki-200 was too late to see service and the only casualty it claimed was an unlucky test pilot who crash-landed the aircraft and caused it to spontaneously burst into flames which, ironically, fits the 'Komet' name that the aircraft was based on.
  • The Avro Lancaster heavy bomber would fit this trope as well as it was notoriously difficult to escape from. Compared to the Handley Page Halifax and Short Stirling, Lancaster crews suffered the greatest relative losses of all RAF heavies.
  • While the RAF's Avro Vulcan did have ejection seats, these were only for the two pilots; the rest of the five man crew had no such luck and were expected to try to jump out manually via the plane's hatches. Interestingly enough, the original prototypes of this had it worse, with only one pilot having an ejection seat.
  • The Douglas A3D Skywarrior, a carrier based jet bomber designed as a nuclear strike aircraft, received a morbid take on its designation of "A3D": All Three Dead. The aircraft had a crew of three in a cockpit with no ejection seats and a single exit hatch under the nosenote ; should the aircraft go into the water, none of the crew would be able to escape. This coupled with the difficulty of flying the aircraft around the carrier led to a bad reputation.
  • In the early days of submarines, there was little hope for crew survival if a sub sank too deep or was unable to surface and rescue couldn't arrive in time. Developments like rebreathers and escape suits have increased the chances of survival, but chances still aren't high, considering the unpredictable and inhospitable nature of the sea.