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Defiant to the End

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"No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it."
The Emperor to Shan Yu, Mulan

Someone has been captured and defeated. What do they do, they cooperate with their captor or beg to be spared?

Hell no.

They make it abundantly clear that they have absolutely no respect for their captor. They'd never Kneel Before Zod in a million years, and they're not afraid in the slightest to say so. Sure, Baron Bloodlust could kill them where they stand if he decided to, but you wouldn't know that from the insults. This is done when a defeated character laughs or snarks at the one who beat them, often when they're in no position to do so, possibly broken in pain on the floor or behind bars. This could even be for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. They just can't let the other character get a complete victory.

This can be an important part of the end for the Doomed Moral Victor: if you can't die fighting, you can at least die verbally sparring. Or, failing that, die insulting the villain's mother or spitting in his face, while goading him to Get It Over With. They may be down, and they may be out, but they'll still lose with dignity.

By taking that of the person who beat them.

Some can pull this off without dying, with their taunts serving to throw the captor off-balance. Either this angers them into making a mistake that will enable escape, or to distract them to give the Big Damn Heroes time to arrive and do their thing. Sometimes you might even get a Taking You with Me too for the ultimate in defiant acts before impending defeat.

Note that this isn't exclusive to heroes. Whether it's that even villains can have valour or simply that Evil Is Petty, they can't resist doing the same. Also, this is not exclusively a death trope. It's the insult that's the most important part.

A trope commonly associated with people characterised by unending determination and resistance. Compare Hannibal Lecture, where the one in the powerless position interrogates their interrogator, Heroic Spirit, I Shall Taunt You, Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?, and You Cannot Kill An Idea. A Last Stand is a military version of this trope, where the heroes and maybe a friendly army will fight against the enemy in a battle they know they can't win. Villainous Valor is a similar trope, but with the villain being defiant to the end while Sore Loser is arguably a much less pleasant version of this. The polar opposite of Ain't Too Proud to Beg and Villains Want Mercy. Contrast with Screw Your Ultimatum!, where the defiance comes before the fight and where the outcome is still in doubt. See also Defiant Stone Throw, Do Not Go Gentle, Dying Curse, and Dying Declaration of Hate. And, if it really is the end for the character, it may be capped with a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner.

Warning: As this is often a Death Trope, expect spoilers.


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    Films — Animation 
  • In 9, this is how 8 goes. While being presented to the Fabrication machine, he manages to send it a Death Glare and growl just before he gets soul-sucked.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: When Esmerelda is sentenced to death and about to be burned at the stake, Frollo gives her one more chance to either have sex with him or die. Esmerelda's response? To spit in his face and shoot him a Death Glare vicious enough to cow Stanley Kubrick into submission.
  • Toward the end of Moana, Maui stands up to Te Ka, the fire demon and Big Bad of the film, in a desperate attempt to buy Moana enough time to restore the Heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place. Though he lands some solid attacks, Te Ka counters them all and eventually destroys his magical fishhook, the source of all of his power. Left with absolutely no chance of survival and facing certain death at the hands of a massive fireball, Maui stands up, shouts Te Ka's name, and launches into a warrior's haka, or traditional chant used by Maori before going into battle, all while staring the demon directly in the eyes with a determined look on his face. Luckily, Moana manages to save the day before Maui can be incinerated.
  • Mulan:
    • The soldier in the opening sequence. He knows that he's going to die, but he fights as hard as he can to set off the Great Wall's torch-warning-system, and then stands up to the terrifying Shan Yu before his death. Thanks to him, Shan Yu fails. Without his warning, the Huns' entry into China would have gone unnoticed, and the Emperor would probably be dead because Mulan and company wouldn't have been around to save him. That guy is awesome, and he doesn't even get a name, but he still sets off the alarm-torch. When was the last time a Red Shirt was so awesome?
    Soldier to Shan Yu: Now all of China knows you're here.
    • The Emperor himself, trapped on a balcony by Shan Yu, provides the page quote. Thankfully, Mulan and company save him before Shan Yu can make him "kneel in pieces."
  • In Peter Pan, Captain Hook kidnaps Tiger Lily and tries to force her to tell him Peter Pan's hideout by threatening to leave her to drown if she doesn't, and points out that if she does drown, she will be Barred from the Afterlife. Tiger Lily simply turns up her nose and refuses to speak. Luckily for her, Peter saves her just in time.
  • Quest for Camelot has King Arthur about to be killed by his treacherous knight Ruber with his own weapon excalibur. Ruber declares that it's time to say hello to his new king. Arthur's response?
    "You're no king!"
  • Shrek the Third: Shrek has been put into chains, dragged onto a stage, and is about to gutted by Prince Charming. How does he respond to Charming pointing a sword at him? He proceeds to mock him in front of everybody, that even Charming's minions found amusing. Thankfully, Shrek survives thanks to Artie.
  • From The Transformers: The Movie:
    • The fatally injured Ironhide gives one to Megatron as he defiantly grabs at Megatron's leg. Unfortunately, Megatron derides "such heroic nonsense" before finishing him off.
    • When Megatron has the badly-wounded Optimus at gunpoint and tells him it's over, Prime roars "Never!" as he launches one final strike that sends Megatron hurtling down several stories in a heap.
    • When Hot Rod and Kup are about to be thrown into a pit of Sharkticons. Luckily, they survive long enough for backup to arrive.
      Alpha Quintesson: Silence, or you will be held in contempt for this court!
      Hot Rod: I have nothing BUT contempt for this court!"

  • From netfunny: There were three guys traveling in Africa: a Frenchman, a Japanese, and an American. They are captured by a tribe of fierce headhunters. The witch doctor says to them, "We are going to slaughter you, but you might take some comfort in the fact that we don't believe in waste here, and that therefore every part of your body will go to some use. We will weave baskets out of your hair, we will render your bones for glue, and we will tan your skin and stretch it over wooden frames for canoes. Now we are going to allow you an honorable death, so I will give you each a knife and allow you to say some last words before killing yourselves."
    The Japanese guy yells "Banzai!" and commits hara-kiri.
    The French guy yells "Vive la France!" and slits his throat.
    Then the American guy takes the knife, pokes holes all over his body, and yells, "There's your fucking canoe!"
  • A similar joke involves explorers who get Captured by Cannibals and subsequently Stewed Alive. One explorer starts laughing and explains to the other that he just pissed in the soup.

  • Parodied in one Old Master Q comic where the titular character is prepping to cook a fish. Said fish somehow had enough energy to give Master Q one last Tail Slap before it's fried.

  • The Minstrel Boy is an Irish folk song telling of the titular minstrel going to war for Ireland, but falls in battle. With a combination of I Die Free, he chooses to make one last act against his murderers by destroying his harp.
    ''The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
    Could not bring his proud soul under;
    The harp he loved ne'er spoke again,
    For he tore its chords asunder;
    And said "No chains shall sully thee,
    Thou soul of love and bravery!
    Thy songs were made for the pure and free
    They shall never sound in slavery!"
  • Magnetman in The Megas' "Don't Mess with Magnetman" knows full well that Mega Man is out for his blood, and is probably going to kill him. He doesn't like it, and would love to avoid it, but since it appears inevitable, he's going to go down swinging.
    I am magnetically
    Drawing my death to me
    So why can't my body
    Reverse polarity?
    You walk into my town
    Wavin' that gun around
    You want a fight,
    I'll give you one tonight!

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the apocryphal book of 2nd Maccabees, the seven Jewish brothers were forced to eat food forbidden by their dietary laws under the threat of death. All refused to do so, preferring to remain faithful to their God instead. Their mother also joined them in the same defiant rebellion, and before them, Eleazar boldly refused to make it even look like he was eating forbidden food when meat sanctioned by the Law of God was substituted, so as to not cause other faithful Jews to turn away from God.
  • The Book of Mormon: King Noah is angry with Abinadi's diatribe against him and prophecy of his death, promising to execute him if he doesn't recant. Abinadi flatly refuses, and warns that killing an innocent man will be another charge against Noah at the final judgement. When the king goes ahead, Abinadi pronounces a Dying Curse while being burned alive, promising Noah and his henchmen that they'll be plagued and hunted and that the king will likewise die in fire.
    Abinadi: Thus God executeth vengeance upon those that destroy his people.
  • The Iliad: Patroclus mocks Hector in his last moments, reminding him that he only achieved victory because Patroclus had been sucker-punched and disarmed by Apollo beforehand, and adding that he'll be killed by Achilles soon.

  • In The Addams Family, if the player gets an end-of-ball bonus worth 20 million points or more, Gomez shouts "Who says you can't take it with you?!"

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Shawn Michaels perfectly embodied this trope during the last match of his career at WrestleMania XXVI. Down, out, and all but defeated, he clawed his way up at the feet of what's probably the most dominant force in WWE history (The Undertaker at WrestleMania). Knowing he was going to lose, but (as is definitely his nature) remaining defiant, Michaels mimicked Undertaker's "Throat cut" gesture. Undertaker didn't respond... so Shawn slapped him across the face. You could see the exact moment that Undertaker went from slightly merciful to PISSED OFF. Cue Super Atomic Jumping Tombstone of Death.
    • Which was largely a nod to the Wrestlemania two years prior, again with Shawn Michaels, but this time against his friend/mentor/father-figure Ric Flair, facing a mandate that the next time he lost, he was fired. He wanted Michaels, who had long been called "Mister Wrestlemania", specifically because he had to fight the best, or it didn't mean anything. At the end of the match, Flair (legitimately, if tales are to be believed) had trouble even standing and holding his fists up, telling Shawn to "Come on! Pull the trigger!" He knew it was his last match, and it would end in nothing short of an epic climax.
    • Then there was the Hell in a Cell Match at WrestleMania XXVIII between Triple H and The Undertaker. Often acclaimed as the most dramatic of all of the Undertaker's matches in WrestleMania history, the final sequence goes as this: Triple H, beaten and broken, with his last breath, lunges towards 'Taker, sledgehammer in hand...and is stopped, 'Taker grabbing the sledgehammer, shaking his head. Triple H, knowing he is beaten, leans against the turnbuckles in the corner, and with one last act of defiance, performs a crotch-chop to 'Taker before having said sledgehammer rammed into his head, being hit with the Tombstone Piledriver, and being pinned.
    • Similarly, at SummerSlam 2015 The Undertaker hit Brock Lesnar with a low blow and then applied his 'Hell's Gate' submission hold. With only a few seconds before he would be choked out, Brock chose not to tap but to give him two middle fingers instead.
  • Mercedes Martinez has been receiving death threats from the WSU's Midwest Militia for much of the fall. Doesn't really care. Turns out they're pretty serious about that, handcuffing her opponents and the referee during a War Games Match so they can ensure there will be some kind of audience when they beat Martinez to death but she still doesn't quit. Then she's dropped off the top rope on her head, seemingly paralyzed while Jessicka Havok produces a machete. Martinez can't even defend herself any long but she can spit.

  • By the final act of Carmen, Don José, obsessed with Carmen, has become a Crazy Jealous Guy, and Carmen has fallen in love with Escamillo. Outside the bullring in Seville, Don José confronts Carmen, first to ask her nicely, then to try to bully her into returning to him. But Carmen boldly refuses to cave, instead tossing him a ring he gave her the other day before running to the bullring. Too bad Don José stabbed her in the back for it.
  • The final scene of Don Giovanni involves the title character being met with the statue of a man he killed during the opening scene. The statue urges Don Giovanni to repent, but the latter refuses and ends up Dragged Off to Hell.
  • From Les Misérables Enjolras and the members of the ABC during their final stand at the barricades.
    Let us die facing our foes
    Make them bleed while we can.
    Make them pay through the nose.
    Make them pay for every man!
    Let others rise
    To take our place
    Until the earth is free!
    • Javert when he is outed as a spy while at the barricade and believes (rightfully) that the students plan to execute him.
    Shoot me now or shoot me later
    Every schoolboy to his sport
    Death to each and every traitor
    I renounce your people's court!
  • At the end of Nerdy Prudes Must Die, Max's response to being Dragged Off to Hell by five Eldritch Abominations is to just shrug it off and say his impending damnation was Worth It since he got to take revenge on the nerds who got him killed (and sleep with his crush) before the end.
  • In the original stage play for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when Riff Raff told him he was going to kill him, Frank responded with, ‘Do your worst, inferior one.’

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is the primary ethos of Delta Green in a nutshell. Is humanity screwed six non-Euclidean ways from Sunday? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean you just lie down and let it happen.
  • Pathfinder. Rovagug's antipaladin code demands this from its adherents:
    I will die standing.
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution gives us Mama Bear, who has been captured by a shadowy government conspiracy that wants to forcefully indoctrinate her.
    • When she's first detained, she's openly disrespectful towards her captors, flipping a therapist off with both hands before using her telekinesis to slap him in the face with a clipboard. She does this knowing that she can't get away yet and with a full understanding that she'll be punished for it.
    • When a woman tries to break her spirit by sympathetically telling her that her friends were killed during a rescue attempt, she snaps and horribly injures her. This also strengthens her resolve to keep resisting and it's made clear that her contempt and hostility for the organization incarcerating her are just as strong, if not stronger, than at the beginning of the story.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium, in general, has been likened to a man hanging from a cliff by his fingernails, watched and jeered at by the various cosmic horrors of the setting. He could use his free hand ta hang on a bit longer, but then he'd have nothing to flip them off with.
    • Warboss Tuska was an ork with a dream of finding the best fights and reasoned that the best place to find them was in the Eye of Terror. He did just that, leading his Waaagh! on an interplanetary rampage through the biggest Negative Space Wedgie in the galaxy until they finally met their match on a daemon world of the Blood Prince, a Daemon Prince of Khorne.
      Eventually Tuska was impaled through the gut by his adversary and pinned to the ground by its cloven hoof. In triumph, the Blood Prince screamed its praise to Khorne, but whilst it was distracted, the warband's remaining Weirdboys unleashed a storm of psychic energy upon the deamon. It roared in rage at their impudence, crushing their minds with a gesture. With his final act, Tuska reached up between the creature's legs with his power klaw and made a gesture of his own.
    • This is what happens to the (implied) last Christian Monk during the Unification Wars in the short story "The Last Church". The monk stays in the church even after its burned to the ground.
    • "Cadia stands"
    • Ancient Rylanor, from Horus Heresy, was later featured in the short story "The Ancient Awaits", in which he had set up an emergency beacon broadcasting the titular message in the hope of luring his fallen Primarch to the ruined planet. Fulgrim responds, and after dealing a swift defeat to Rylanor, he rips the Dreadnought from out of his shell, offering to remake him and restore him to glory as a champion of Chaos. His proud defiance leads the Thousand Sons contingent holding back the effects of the Virus Bomb Rylanor had detonated to drop the shield, sacrificing themselves to keep Rylanor from being forcibly turned. Fulgrim survives, but the utter rejection experienced in the process cracked his pride right open, and being a Daemonic Prince of Pride he handles this badly enough it gives him a Wound That Will Not Heal.
      Rylanor: Never! All we have left between us is that we will die together! I am Rylanor of the Emperor's Children. Ancient of Rites, Venerable of the Palatine Host, and proud servant of the Emperor of Mankind, beloved by all. I reject you now and always!
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    Settra said this to Nagash, one of the most terrifying villains in Warhammer Fantasy, who offered him the position of being a Mortarch, in other words, becoming one of the Nagash's lieutenants. Settra gave this response. Nagash flipped out and then proceeded to destroy everything Settra fought for, while keeping him alive.
    • After the Chaos Gods put him back together and offer to raise him to Godhood in exchange for servitude, he fakes allegiance until he sees Nagash, then tells Nagash that he will kill him, but not before making the Chaos Gods pay for daring to offer him servitude, then charges a horde of monsters as the world ends.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, when Mitsuki Yamamoto is fatally stabbed by Yuuya Kizami, she refuses to give her assailant the satisfaction of hearing her scream. Additionally, in one of the wrong ends, even when her leg is broken by Yoshikazu Yangahori, she refuses to go down without a fight.
    Kizami: My, you've gotten awfully quiet. I'd love it if you'd howl for me again!
    Mitsuki: ...In
    Kizami: ...Hahh?
    Mitsuki: I will not...perform...for matter what...
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the second culprit Kirumi Tojo absolutely refuses to accept defeat to the bitter end, spitefully votes for the Player Character to be named the culprit, and makes every attempt to escape execution.
  • Shirou from Fate/stay night. Practically every time an option like this shows up alongside an Ain't Too Proud to Beg alternative, taking the Defiant To The End option will advance the story and avoid a Bad End. Outside of Shirou, Rin is also a big-time adherent in this trope and continues to spit insults at people even as they've got her cornered. And then there's "Heaven's Feel", where this trope gets subverted quite a few times for both Shirou and Rin.
  • Phantom Thief Silver Cat: Ginka in one of the bad endings, which gets her sold at a slave auction when she refuses to accept Mineko as her mistress and be her Human Pet Sex Slave.

    Web Animation 
  • Several times in DEATH BATTLE!, the losing combatant gets out some defiant last lines or even a final attack even when it becomes clear they can't win.
  • When Tex makes her return after a two-year absence in Red vs. Blue, she immediately starts a huge fight sequence in which she completely curbstomps the combined Red and Blue teams, including Sarge and Tucker, two characters that fans had speculated might potentially be able to match her in terms of combat skill (turns out, neither are even close). Tucker comes out as the most competent in the fight, though, and no matter how much he gets his ass kicked he just keeps making lewd comments to Tex instead of screaming or panicking like the others.
    • Sarge does this to the Meta. He was disguising their true plan by hiding it behind his back with one hand and somehow operating a pump-action shotgun with the other.
    • Church does this to the Maine. It's part of his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Maine does this to Tex when his and Wyoming's shenanigans during the sparring match go south.
    • South does this to Wash. He shoots her in the head in cold blood.
    • Wyoming when captured by Church and Tex.
    • Griff ropes Simmons into screwing with the Red firing squad they're standing in front of.
    • Tucker to C.T. in the desert fight.
    • The mooks to Maine when he drops in during the skyscraper assault.
    • Tucker to Felix while he's bleeding out after being stabbed. Justified and averted, the former because he's just blown Felix and Locus's scheme wide open, and the latter because he gets medical help before actually dying.
      Felix: At the end of the day, if I'm stronger than you and if I'm faster than you, then I can kill you! And that's better than anything money can buy!
      Tucker: I dunno man, I think I'd rather be rich than a fucking nut-job. What do you think, Church?
  • In Volume 5 of RWBY, Adam Taurus impales High Leader Sienna Khan in a coup. Her last act while on his sword is to reach for his throat as if to strangle him until he tosses her down a set of stairs and she dies.
  • In this animation by Psychic Pebbles, a nerd types the umpteenth "arrow to the knee" joke into a YouTube comment, and the Dragonborn pops out of his monitor, kneecaps him, and Fus Ro Dahs him, then tells him in explicit detail how he will kill him if he ever types that joke in again. When the Dragonborn asks the nerd at the end, "Do you understand, YOU PUTRID FUCKING CUNT?!?", what's the first thing the nerd says? "I used to be a putrid fucking cunt... BUT THEN I TOOK AN ARROW TO THE--"

  • Thief to Black Mage in 8-Bit Theater: "My only regret is that I didn't hate you more."
  • Girl Genius: The sentient train The Beast continues to hurl threats even as its brain/control unit is physically yanked from its ripped and mangled body.
    • In the face of a Physical God Lucrezia, Wooster defies her demand for submission: "Albia... is eternal." He is immediately and gruesomely killed, but he died as he lived: a Queen's Man through and through.
  • In It's Walky!, Mike used his last breath to hurl taunts and insults at the Martian who was killing him.
  • This is treated as a virtue in the Atru religion (where, paradoxically, it is treated as exactly the same as being a Graceful Loser) in Kill Six Billion Demons. The Rant of the comic contains at least two parables with YISUN and their disciple Hansa debating the meaning of ends and how to approach them.
  • The Paladin Thanh in The Order of the Stick was already committed to a Last Stand against Redcloak but even when grappled he makes sure to taunt his captor one last time.
  • Sleepless Domain: After storming off on her own, Cassidy ends up getting caught alone by the Purple One, who taunts her and ultimately slashes through both of her Self-Duplication clones at the same time. As she begins to fade away, she uses the last of her strength to stab the Purple One through the eye before disappearing completely.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In AFK, Steven, when he is about to be executed by the Devil's Cheerleaders on Clint's orders. When asked if he has any last words, Steven responds by calmly directing a stream of expletives at Clint. This also counts as a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner.
  • In Critical Role episode 26 Found & Lost Molly is killed in battle by Lorenzo. In a last act of defiance, he spits blood in his face.
    Taliesin: Eyes never shut.
  • Dimension 20:
    • In A Crown of Candy, Lapin uses his last words to rub in the face of Belizabeth Brassica and her knight Keradin the true nature of the bulb as a mindless entity.
    • In Neverafter, Beaky, a sentient bird summoned by Rosamund, is faced by the Hand of the Authors in the season finale. His reaction to the Eldritch Abomination that's appeared in front of him which is moments away from killing it?
      Beaky: You're a dumb motherfucker and I'm gonna kill you.
  • Deconstructed in EverymanHybrid. When HABIT kidnaps Jeff in order to torture him to death, all Jeff can do before the torture begins is to tell HABIT is to go fuck himself. HABIT's subsequent speech makes clear that not only is this a completely worthless act, but that HABIT is the kind of sick bastard that actually enjoys (and thus actively looks forward to) hearing this.
    HABIT: "Fuck you, fuck you". Do you even know why you said that? No, no idea? Was it anger? Was it trying to get footing, trying to get leverage in this situation, trying to make me think? See, I've interrogated a lot of people, I've hurt lots of people, tortured a lot of people, I've done lots of terrible fucking things to people. I've had thousands of people, millions, billions across my tables. And you'd be surprised how many do that. One time, I had a guy's legs off, right? Hanging in front of him, and I was making them dance. And he said "Fuck you." He said "Go to Hell, and fuck you." You know why? 'Cause he felt "Got him! There's one punch I can throw, and that's it, a spit in the eye, a curse to the Heavens! Fuck that little bitch!" You know how little it matters? The last curses, the last desperate calls, an insult to me? When a pig squeals before it's slaughtered, do the butchers care? No. Some of them even relish it. So thanks.
  • In LOCAL58 - Contingency, this is what President Andrew Jackson demands of the American population "in the event of United States complete surrender to insurmountable enemy forces". Urging the people to, time and opportunity permitting, lay down on their front lawns and commit suicide in the name of "preserving the memory of the United States clear and bright.... untarnished and uncompromised." His address ends with the phrase "Even in defeat, we refused to yield. Even in defeat, we claim VICTORY."
  • In Marble Hornets Entry #67, Alex finds himself lying on the ground, tied to a chair and on the business end of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge from Masky. Once the beating ends, Hoody pulls out Alex's gun and points it at his face. Alex replies with a Death Glare from the pits of Hell itself.
  • Pirates SMP: After being taken captive by the Hooded Figures for Human Sacrifice on Day 125, Bek spends their time at Iris' palace killing their two captors and attempting to kill Iris on sight before being killed themself.

    Real Life 
  • The Battle of Thermopylae is the most famous example of this trope. King Leonidas and the other Spartans of Thermopylae knew the odds were stacked against them, but maintained their position even after being outflanked.
  • Early (1st-3rd Century) Christian martyrs in Rome were like this. The same thing applied to a lot of Protestants killed in the Inquisition, often continuing to preach even while they were being burned at the stake.
    • Likewise, a good number of the people killed in witch trials remained this way, too.
    • In fact, martyrs in general. Grandfather 'em all, regardless of religion. Special mention: St. Lawrence was captured and roasted alive. His response? "Turn me over, I think this side is done." For this, he has become the Patron Saint of Comedians. And chefs.
  • During the Salem Witch Trials, suspected witches were subjected to public pressure to plead either guilty or not guilty, so the court hearing could commence (which inevitably led to more names being given to the crowd, keeping the cycle going endlessly). When people refused to enter a plea, a more literal form of pressure was used—a horrific punishment calling "pressing," wherein the accused was placed under a wooden plank, with rocks placed on top to slowly suffocate the victim (more on it (here). When Giles Corey was accused, he refused to plead either guilty or not guilty, knowing he was more than likely to be found guilty and executed no matter what he said. After the pressing began, the judges repeatedly demanded his plea, but he said only two words over and over: "More weight." Keep in mind that his lungs were being squeezed to the point where he could no longer inhale, and he still refused to surrender. Though the torture killed him, Corey had the last laugh: his trial never officially commenced and he was thus able to die in full possession of his estate which would otherwise have been forfeited to the government had he been found guilty. It was also such an incredibly ugly death that the trials ended soon after.
    • The song about Susanna Martin, one of the victims of the Salem trials, ends by saying that "Still in scorn, she faced the rope/her comely head held high".
  • Che Guevara.
    I know you have come to kill. Kill me if you wish, coward, but know that you can only kill a man.
  • Saddam Hussein, according to this account.
  • The French Foreign Legion's reputation was first established at the Battle of Camaron when 65 men fought a force of two thousand Mexicans. When they eventually ran out of ammunition, the last five men mounted a bayonet charge. Beaten to the ground, the two survivors were offered one last chance to surrender. Their response? They demanded the right to keep their weapons and escort their commanding officer's body home. The Mexican commander agreed to their terms. It seemed churlish to refuse. Many years later, the Mexican government erected a monument in memory of the French soldiers, and every year holds a parade to commemorate their last stand.
  • Michel Ney, one of Napoleon's generals, was sentenced to death by firing squad but was offered a Last Request for his service to the emperor. His choice? He wanted to give his own execution order. And damned if he didn't do it:
    Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her... Soldiers! Fire!
  • During the Spanish Civil War, the Republicans captured the son of José Moscardó e Ituarte, the Nationalist commandant during the Siege of the Alcázar. The Republican forces called Moscardó on the telephone, and demanded he surrender or they would kill his son. Moscardó asked to speak to his son, who he told; "Commend your soul to God and die like a patriot, shouting 'Long live Christ King' and 'Long live Spain.'" His son's reply? "That, I can do."
  • This is something of an Iberian tradition. In 1296, Muslims were laying siege to the Castilian town of Tarifa; they took prisoner the son of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, the Christian nobleman in charge of the defense, and threatened to kill his son if he didn't surrender. Dad's response? To throw down a knife from the battlements for them to kill his son with. This was his only son. To this day, said nobleman is known as Guzmán el Bueno and is an important figure in Spanish history. It's very likely that Moscardó had him at least partly in mind.
  • In 1809, during the Second Siege of Saragossa and at a point where the French had gained undeniable superiority, having even taken parts of the city, French general Verdier sent a message to the Spaniard's defending military demanding the surrender of the city, stating simply «Paz y capitulación.» ("Peace and surrender."). General Palafox's answer? «Guerra y cuchillo.» ("War and knife.").
  • When the British were surrounded at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden, the Germans "offered to discuss surrender terms." British commander Lt.-Col. John Frost's reply: "I'm afraid we don't have the numbers to take all of your lot prisoner, old boy. Was there anything else?"
    • Similarly, when the American 101st Airborne was surrounded by Germans in the city of Bastogne, the Germans sent a letter offering them the chance to surrender. The reply from Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe has since become a legend within the American military: "To the German Commander: NUTS! Signed, the American Commander". McAuliffe substituted it for "go to hell" since he refrained from using profane language as a rule.note 
  • The nineteen-year-old soldier Private Yevgeny Rodionov of the Russian Army. When he, along with three other Russian soldiers, got captured by Chechen Islamists during the First Chechen War, he suffered torture for several days because he refused to renounce his Christian faith and convert to Islam as demanded by the Islamists. Even when he was threatened with an army knife, he still refused to give up his faith, which got his throat slit by the said knife. Due to his defiance, he has become a sort of national hero in Russia, and many people even demand that he should be canonized to sainthood.
    • Though one of the reasons he was not made a saint is that the Russian Orthodox church doubted the story was fiction on part of his mother. The corroborating testimony was "extracted" from captured Chechens after the story already started making the rounds.
  • Benito Mussolini, as he faced an execution squad of the Italian Resistance:
    Shoot me in the chest!
  • Britain in World War II. Churchill's famous speeches are a long manifesto detailing just how Britain would not surrender:
    Churchill: We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!
  • When Marcus Tullius Cicero was captured by assassins sent after him by Mark Antony, he told one of them: "There is nothing proper about what you are going to do, but do it properly."
  • Private John Moyse (or Moyes) of the British Army was captured by the Chinese during the Second Opium War. He was executed when he refused to bow down to a Chinese general. The incident became the subject of a poem, "The Private of the Buffs" by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle.
  • Norwegian resistance men. A certain group was set before a firing squad, ready to be executed. History tells they defiantly sung their national anthem until the bullets hit them.
  • Most of the Norwegian society shared this opinion in 1814 when they knew they were sold out to Sweden in an international bargain. This defiance paid off in a written constitution, and later on, even more defiance secured them their sovereign right to rule themselves inside a loose union with Sweden. The awesomeness in this hangs on the fact that the Swedes time and again were willing to use military force against them. In one crucial situation, the speaker of parliament had this information handed to him in a secret letter ("Do as we wish or risk another war"). His reaction: to burn the letter, never mentioning it, and voting against the Swedish demands, securing a majority in parliament. Defiant indeed. For the sake of good will, the Swedes grudgingly accepted it (and were more than a little impressed).
    • During the Norwegian-Swedish war in 1814, the fortress of Halden stood its ground against Swedish attacks for two weeks without surrendering. This fortress surrendered only after the official capitulation, and the Swedish command honored the Norwegian soldiers for their defiance.
  • Several members of the notorious Thuggee cult in India (who killed their victims via strangulation) who were sentenced to die by hanging, actually leapt from the scaffold after the noose had been fitted around their necks, not only to show defiance but to prove, at least symbolically, that they were masters of killing by such a method.
  • Fabrizio Quattrocchi was an Italian security guard working in Iraq. In 2004, he was captured by terrorists who forced him to dig his own grave and kneel beside it wearing a hood as they prepared to film his death. Before they executed him, he defied them by trying to pull off his hood and shouting: "I'll show you how an Italian dies!".
  • Gratien Fernando, the leader of the Cocos Islands Mutiny against the British authority on Sri Lanka. He was a Sri Lankan man who joined the Ceylon colonial forces due to his anti-fascist idealism, in hopes that he would fight against the Japanese, but he became disillusioned when he and other natives were victims of British discrimination. Inspired by the Japanese-supported resistance movements in Burma and Indonesia, he and other Sri Lankan soldiers started a mutiny against the colonial authority, but it was crushed and Fernando was taken prisoner and executed. His last words were: "Loyalty to a country under the heel of a white man is disloyalty".
  • Different historical accounts of the John F. Kennedy assassination indicated that his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, refused to admit his acts, even as he lay dying (after himself being shot by Jack Ruby) in the garage of the Dallas Police Station. (Although one interpretation, where an officer asked the badly wounded Oswald if he'd like to make a statement and he simply nodded his head "no" as he moaned in pain, could be that he was entering shock.)
  • Media accounts published at the time of Timothy McVeigh's execution (for masterminding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing) noted that McVeigh — after he was placed inside the death chamber — that his face was one of defiance, even as the drugs took effect, and he smirked and held an evil expression until he finally lost consciousness.
  • Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy's last words before facing execution were "Kiss my ass! You'll never find the rest!"
  • The last words of Hannibal Barca after the Roman legions that had been chasing him for years were finally within striking distance, which prompted Hannibal to take poison rather than let himself be captured and paraded back to Rome before being executed, were "Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man's death."
  • During The Fall of Constantinople, the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI was told to surrender the city to the besieging Ottomans or face death along with the rest of the defenders. Knowing the hopelessness of the situation, his response was this: "Giving you the city depends neither on me nor on anyone else among its inhabitants; as we have all decided to die with our own free will and we shall not consider our lives." When Ottoman flags were seen flying over the postern gates of the city and Byzantine defences crumbled Constantine reportedly led a final, doomed charge against the invaders, dying in the streets with his soldiers. Suffice to say, he did his ancestors proud.
  • Nelson Mandela never gave in, even when he thought he was about to be executed for planning uMkhonte we Sizwe's armed campaign, even when he was told he would never leave the hellish Robben Island prison, even when he learned his son had died while he was imprisoned, and in the end it paid off for him. The most noted example of his determination was at the Rivonia Trial, when everyone thought he would be given the death penalty, he stood in the dock and gave his three-hour speech in which he set out his motivations, his ideology, and his vision of the just and free society he would eventually try to create when he was finally released:
    "During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
    • As he delivered the final line, he looked Judge Quartus de Wet straight in the eye, an action which Mandela later credited with saving his life, as he felt that, directly dared to order his execution, de Wet didn't have enough ice in his veins to go through with it.
  • Nathan Hale was a 21-year-old soldier for the Continental Army. He volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in British-occupied New York and was captured. His last words before being hanged are considered some of the most inspirational in American history, and have been used as a rallying cry for over two centuries:
    "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
  • In 1968, Alexander Dubček of the government of Communist Czechoslovakia announced a period of political liberalization and reform, granting the citizens freedom of speech, movement, and travel, raising the possibility of a mixed economy and even multiparty politics. This was known as "socialism with a human face". The USSR didn't like that. Not one bit. So on 21st August 1968, they and their allies invaded Czechoslovakia and installed a new puppet government to roll back Dubček's reforms and return to socialism sans human face. Dubček and 25 other senior reformers were kidnapped, taken to Moscow, and made to sign a humiliating "Protocol" rolling back the reforms. Only one man refused, František Kriegel, a politician-doctor who had served in the Spanish Civil War:
    "Send me to Siberia or shoot me dead."
  • Richard III of England. He was the last English king to die in battle. Despite suffering from scoliosis, an extremely painful condition that causes curvature of the spine (these days it's usually fixed by getting the sufferer to wear a back brace, usually from an early age, but in the 15th century there was nothing to counter it), he didn't go down without a fight; he even managed to unhorse one of Henry Tudor's bodyguards and came close to actually killing Henry.
  • Several examples pertaining to Nazi Germany and World War II in Europe:
    • Stjepan Filipovic, a Croatian/Yugoslav Partisan during WWII used his last breath before being hanged by Serbian Nazi collaborators to shout "Death to fascism, freedom to the people!" (It would later become the rallying cry for all of Yugoslavia.) The photo taken seconds before being hanged practically defines this trope.
    • A non-deadly but still depressing example: The Nazis did not take power unopposed. In the final vote that would give Hitler the power to make laws on his own (thereby eliminating the last legal barrier to his total control), the communists had already been rounded up and sent to prison or worse. The parties of the center-right had made deals with the Nazis (or so they hoped). The last party that wanted to say something against Hitler and was still present to do so were the social democrats. Otto Wels (1873-1939 in exile in Paris) held a speech culminating in the words "They can take our freedom and our lives. But they cannot take our honor". Given what happened next, this took guts.
    • During the Night of the Long Knives, a 1934 Nazi purge to eliminate those viewed as obstacles of the new regime, SA leader Ernst Röhm was given the opportunity to kill himself in custody. His response was to declare that if Hitler wanted him dead, he could do it himself. After he said this, his guards left, and when they returned, they saw him standing in his cell with his bare chest puffed out in defiance.
    • When Paris was fully occupied during WWII, the French destroyed the elevator to the Eiffel Tower, for the sole purpose of making life difficult for the Nazis if they decided to raise their flag on the tower. Without an elevator, the Nazis would have to climb hundreds of stairs.
    • Hannie Schaft, The Girl With the Red Hair. A member of a Dutch resistance movement who orchestrated many assassinations and sabotage efforts against the Germans, she was eventually caught and shot. As the story goes, two soldiers were tasked in doing so, but the first only wounded her, despite shooting at close range. Supposedly, she told him, "I shoot better than you," before she was killed by his partner.
    • Russian partisan girl Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, caught by Nazis and cruelly tortured before execution, said from under the gallows:
    • During the Battle of Berlin, Hitler chose to make a Last Stand rather than surrender the city to the Soviets, even when most other Germans thought it unnecessary. He eventually committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner.
    • Most of the Nazis who were handed the death penalty at Nuremberg actually chose to Face Death with Dignity, some of them even openly expressing regret for their actions during the war. One pointed exception was Julius Streicher, the owner and editor-in-chief of the Nazi Party's official newspaper, Der Stürmer, who went up to the scaffold shouting obscenities, anti-Semitic slurs, and claiming that the Allies would one day be themselves conquered by the Soviets. As the kicker, Streicher's attempts to break free of the noose moved it out of the intended position, meaning that instead of suffering instant death via a broken neck, he died a much slower death from strangulation.
    • Amon Goeth, a concentration camp commander and war criminal faced his death with utter indifference and serenity. His last words were "Heil Hitler".
    • Irma Grese, "the Hyena of Auschwitz". A sadistic and perverted concentration camp guardian who had tortured and murdered scores of prisoners and was believed to be the inspiration for the film Isla: She-Wolf Of The SS, she was sentenced to death by hanging after WWII. Her last word to her executioner, Albert Pierrepoint, was Schnell (literally "Speed!", meaning "Have speed with it!"); in our terms, she basically said "Hurry". Grese died as a truly unrepentant Nazi.
  • When Queen Mary I had Thomas Cranmer burned at the stake for heresy, he said his only regret was that he signed six recantations of his Protestant faith, going so far as to personally put his right hand into the torch that served as the instrument of his execution to punish it for signing those recantations in the first place. He didn't just take his martyrdom for his Protestant beliefs at the hands of Bloody Mary, he owned it, helping the popularity of the Protestant movement grow in the aftermath of his death.
  • Pretty much the MO of Japanese forces during World War II. There's a pretty good reason why there were much fewer prisoners taken in by the Allies, as they preferred death before surrender. This attitude actually triggered a Godzilla Threshold: given an invasion of the Japanese mainland would almost certainly result in the aforesaid taken much further (meaning any plan they had for a conventional invasion predicted mass casualties), the Americans instead decided to resort to a couple of atomic bombs in hopes the Japanese would see overwhelming force as a reason to stop.note 
  • A downplayed example, but Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, could be seen as an example of this. After her marriage to Henry was annulled against her will, she was referred to as Princess Dowager (in reference to her being the widow to Henry's brother Prince Arthur - a marriage she firmly claimed was not consummated) but refused to accept this. On her deathbed, she wrote a final letter to her former husband and signed it as ‘Catherine the Queen’.
  • In 1834, Moroccan Jewish teenager Sol Hauchel was falsely accused of converting to Islam and then apostasizing. Brought before the Muslim governor for ludicrous charges of heresy, she was offered wealth and privilege if she accepted conversion, apparently because her beauty was legendary among both Jews and Muslims, or face imprisonment and torture. She responded:
    I will patiently bear the weight of your chains; I will give my limbs to be torn piece-meal by wild beasts; I will renounce forever the light of day: I will perish of hunger: and when all the evils of life are accumulated on me by your orders, I will smile at your indignation, and the anger of your Prophet: since neither he nor you have been able to overcome a weak female! It is clear that Heaven is not auspicious to making proselytes your faith.
    • Eventually she was locked up and isolated. But even then, she refused conversion, even when other Jewish leaders were begging her to convert, but she was beheaded as an apostate. The Muslims themselves were also hesitant to kill her and gave her several chances too - the governor allegedly instructed the executor to strike her lightly first in hopes that seeing her own blood would frighten her into accepting conversion. She earned the nickname "The Righteous Sol", dubbed a Jewish martyr and saint. Her grave became a site of pilgrimage for not only Jews but also Muslims who admired her, nicknaming Sol "the holy lady".
  • During World War II, the British armed merchant cruiser (a passenger ship converted into a light warship to raid enemy shipping) HMS Rawalpindi bit off more than it could chew when it investigated some sightings and found itself staring down the gun barrels of the powerful German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Despite being incomprehensibly outgunned, they refused German demands to surrender and attacked instead, scoring one damaging hit on Scharnhorst before going down. Before his suicidal attack, Captain Edward Kennedy was heard to declare "We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye."
  • Father Jacques Hamel was a Catholic priest in Normandy who was murdered in 2016 when his church was attacked by Islamic terrorists. His last words he said to his attackers were "Be gone, Satan!"
  • Emiliano Zapata (later quoted by Midnight Oil):
    It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
  • Two Governors of Hà Nội note  went out this way during the French takeover.
    • Nguyễn Tri Phương was wounded and captured at the end of a horrific Curb-Stomp Battle (the only French casualty was one soldier shot by Friendly Fire). He received French medical attention but refused any further care. He went on a hunger strike that lasted one month and resulted in his death at the age of 73, reasoning that "Now, miserably lingering on through life is no replacement for dying peacefully for a cause."
    • His replacement Hoàng Diệu commanded a battle that almost ended in Vietnamese victory, until the gunpowder reserves blew up, killing, wounding, distracting, and demoralizing the forces. He kept fighting until defeat was imminent, then ordered the forces to scatter. He went into the palace, bit his finger, and wrote a letter to the Emperor Tự Đức in blood, then hanged himself with his own turban in front of the Temple of Martial Arts.
    The citadel is irretrievably lost, I am ashamed to face the people and gentlemen of the North. It is no hardship for myself to die, I pledge to follow Nguyễn Tri Phương into the earth. Your Majesty is leagues away, we weep tears of blood for you...
  • This attitude allowed the early Roman Republic to survive and grow into an empire. Despite being utterly crushed in battle by King Pyrrhus of Epirus, the senate voted to continue the war rather than sue for peace. This less to them being crushed again in a second battle with Pyrrhus. Yet despite all expectations the senate again voted to continue fighting. When Pyrrhus realised that the Romans would never surrender and with his forces heavily depleted by the previous battles, he had no choice but to return home, becoming the Trope Codifier and Trope Namer for Pyrrhic Victory.
  • Neerja Bhanot was a flight attendant on the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists during a routine stop. Despite constant threats and a siege that lasted seventeen hours, she refused to respond to any of their demands. When they first entered the plane, Bhanot alerted the pilots, who were able to escape (thus completely derailing the terrorists' plan). The hijackers then commanded Bhanot to gather all of the passengers' passports so they could find any Americans on board, as they were viewed as higher-priority targets; instead, Bhanot and her crew collected the passports and hid them. Finally, the hijackers lost patience and started setting off explosives while firing their guns. Bhanot still refused to give in, opened the emergency doors, and started escorting the passengers, especially children, to safety. The terrorists were eventually forced to drag Bhanot away from the others and shoot her point-blank, as nothing short of that would keep her from saving lives. For her bravery, courage, and refusal to capitulate, Bhanot was posthumously awarded India's highest peacetime honor, other international accolades, and a place in history as "the heroine of the hijacking."
  • When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena were executed in 1989, they refused to go quietly. As they were put before the firing squad, Elena screamed profanities at her executioners while Nicolae sang "The Internationale".
  • Downplayed with one of Romania's other notorious dictators, Ion Antonescu, who raised his hat in salute when the order to execute him was given.
  • Shortly before he was hanged, Serial Killer Carl Panzram was asked if he had any last words. His response: "Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"
  • The Battle of Shiroyama during the Satsuma rebellion is a good example of this trope. Saigo Takamori, mastermind of the rebellion, was offered the chance to surrender by the more numerous, better armed, and arguably better trained Imperial Japanese Army, but refused, however, he and the other remaining samurai chose to fight, while they had some initial success after forcing a melee fight with a line infantry unit, Takamori committed suicide after being mortally wounded. His second in command, realizing the Imperial forces had reorganized and his own were out of ammunition, charged down the hill along with his remaining men who were all cut down by the modern Imperial infantry.
  • When German communist revolutionary Eugen Leviné was put on trial, he gave a speech in court where he made it very clear that he would not knuckle under:
    We Communists are all dead men on leave. Of this I am fully aware. I do not know if you will extend my leave or whether I shall have to join Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. In any case I await your verdict with composure and inner serenity. For I know that, whatever your verdict, events cannot be stopped.
  • During the final days of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was visibly on the ropes, but the Turks never forgot that they were a conquering people with a glorious history. The Turkish commander of the city of Aleppo responded to a British demand for surrender as follows: "The commander of the Ottoman garrison of Aleppo does not find it necessary to reply to your note."


"Hoist the Colours"

As a line of condemned pirates are awaiting their execution, they defiantly start singing about how their way of life will never end.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / PirateSong

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