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Broly: Why don't you just give up?
Goku: [laughing weakly] I... never really learned how to...

A character — good or evil, male or female, young or old — who never gives up. Ever. No matter what.

There is no stopping the Determinator. They do not understand tact. They do not Know When to Fold 'Em, and it's a waste of time to tell them the odds. No one can reason with them. They'll do whatever they have to without question. No price is too great to pay for success, up to and including their own life. Do not expect them to realize they might be better off letting it go, even if they can barely stand. If you're ever kidnapped or lost with no hope of rescue, they'll be the one who will find you. Their adversaries will shout, in exasperated rage, "Why Won't You Die?!". For them, there is no line between "perseverance" and "insanity."

The nobility of their goal is not necessarily proportionate to their persistence. This is just as often an obsessive rival with a grudge as it is a hero on a chivalrous quest, and where their willpower ultimately leads them will depend both on their role and on where the work stands on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Heroes — especially Badass Normals with a Screw Destiny attitude — will defeat villains by virtue of being too stubborn to stay down. Anti Heroes will Jump Off The Slippery Slope, forsake The Powers of Love and Friendship, become like that which they fight, and walk the thin line between victory and tragedy. Villains will refuse to admit defeat, resist seemingly fatal punishment, hunt their prey tirelessly and relentlessly, and let the heroes know that We Will Meet Again. And mailmen will always get your mail to you. More inhuman beings such as monsters or an Eldritch Abomination may just also be The Juggernaut, and this will present a serious problem for the heroes who may have to find some MacGuffin just to survive as it endlessly plows through everything and refuses to take a break.

Shōnen anime and manga love this trope, such that it is quite rare to find a protagonist of these works who isn't a Determinator and is guaranteed where super-heated blood is involved.

Compare and contrast with Implacable Man (or woman)— while a Determinator pursues their goal through sheer willpower, the Implacable Man is driven by artificial, unnatural, or magical means, and often suffers no apparent damage at all.

Compare Suicidal Overconfidence, a common feature of many Video Game genres where enemies will always, blindly, and relentlessly be at your throat with no regard for how horribly you are massacring them (though this is more due to genre requirements than characterization). Compare Tragic Dream and Detrimental Determination, where becoming a Determinator can only end in tears. Can be identified by their trademark Determined Expression.

See also Heroic Resolve, Heroic Spirit, Plucky Girl, Non-Giving-Up School Guy, The Unfettered, The Fettered, Unconscious Objector, and Stiff Upper Lip.

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Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Wolffy has come up with 2,000+ plans to catch the goats over the course of the series, none of which have ever succeeded. He still hasn't given up.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The Death of Koschei the Deathless: When his wife is kidnapped by Koschei, Prince Ivan proves he will stop at nothing to get her back. He remains determined to save her even after failing three times and getting killed by Koschei. After being brought back to life by his sorcerous brothers-in-law he discovers a way to defeat Koschei... but he needs to walk through nine lands, cross a river of fire and trick the witch Baba Yaga. And he does all of it.

  • Lucretia from The Adventure Zone is the anti-hero variety of this trope. She worked unrelentingly for a decade to almost single-handedly reverse the damage of the Grand Relics, protect her friends, and keep the Hunger away, although her methods were certainly questionable. This attitude and behavior are explained in the Stolen Century arc as being the result of a year she spent on the run from the Judges while they rest of her crew was imprisoned.
  • The long haul trucker Character Narrator of Alice Isn't Dead is stubbornly persistent in her quest to find her wife Alice, to get an in-person explanation for the mysterious, Conspiracy-laden circumstances around Alice's disappearance, even though this search draws her into unwitting, unwilling encounters with the paranormal.
    Narrator: I'll keep driving this truck. I'll keep wandering this country. I'm going to find you. I will.
  • Starlee, host of Mystery Show, sticks with her cases until the very end. One of them even needs a Time Passes Montage in the middle, and her client teases her about it:
    David: Maybe this is just your update where it's like, "I have no idea who Jake Gyllenhaal is, or how to measure human height. Just wanted to let you know I'm still plugging away!"
  • Cassidy from Pokemon: Adventures in the Millennium. She's Belle's Eevee from her original Team Rocket team. After discovering that her trainer had left her at a Pokemon Centre due to feeling like she wasn't good enough to keep them, she tried to follow her across the world to the Sinnoh Region—and succeeded.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Donkey Hodie of the show by the same name. She's not about to let some problem get in the way of something she wants or something she/she and her friends are doing, at least not for long. It's pretty much the whole point of the show, being an Edutainment Show with stated goals of teaching resilience and perseverance.

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy: It's the main character trait of Capricorn that he has a very strict sense of commitment, meaning that if he wants something done, it's gonna get done no matter what. His strict sense of commitment often makes him a Butt-Monkey, the least well-treated of the cast.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Seth. In his own words; "Its gonna take more than an ass-kicking to kick my ass!"
  • Dreamscape: Dylan keeps going even against nigh-unstoppable villains trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Keela can be sent to an almost literal Hell, and she'll still stay strong.
  • If you aren't a mook in the Madness Combat universe, you are automatically this trope. And while most of them are dead, they died hard. Some of them multiple times!a
  • Over The Hills: The human and vehicle crews of the Penwyth Valley Railway are trying to keep their local heritage railway running so the people of the towns they serve won't have to face another hard winter without a railway to use if the roads ice up and become unusable again. They are determined to keep the trains running through any difficulties they face, be it mechanical, financial, or even PR.
  • Power Star gives us Luigi, depicted here as a valiant warrior who spends the majority of the series in pursuit of his hypnotized brother Mario and stopping him in his rampage. Even when the enemy far outnumbers him in power during the finale, Luigi still doesn't surrender and puts up one last duel with Devil Mario. Saying that he's a far cry from the cowardly video game character is a giant understatement, to put it lightly.
  • Tifa Lockheart in the fan film series Dead Fantasy is an insanely awesome representation of this trope. Throughout five shorts, she has been slapped with an axe capable of downing a skyscraper, beaten to a bleeding pulp, which involved literally having the Materia knocked out of her, jumped onto a train, been slashed quite a few times, filled with arrows like it was target practice, stabbed through the arm, and chained up by kusarigama. It takes Hayate's intervention to finally stop her.
  • Church of Red vs. Blue is basically this. He acts like he doesn't care and isn't very good at being The Hero, but if there's something he thinks has to be done, he never gives up until he accomplishes it. This goes as far as to him facing Wash and the Meta at the same time, after being shot, with just a pistol and Doc to help, after Tex is trapped in the memory unit in season 8. It doesn't work, but he still tried.
  • RWBY, initially made as a cooperative project by the creators of two previous titles, features a number of these:
    • Ruby Rose believes in becoming a Huntress to protect people like a fairy tale hero. Yang reveals she's had this dream from a young age, so trained exceptionally hard to achieve it. Roman is so frustrated with her determination to thwart him that he beats her into the ground while yelling at her to give up and die like every other Huntsman in history. Ozpin tells Oscar that she's one of the rare people who have a spark inside them that can inspire others even in the darkest times, but also warns that it's a great burden few others will ever comprehend.
    • Weiss Schnee has spent her life being controlled by her father Jacques, who is so resistant to her dreams of becoming a Huntress to the point where he organises a lethal combat test that she has to win before she's allowed to attend Beacon Academy. He uses the Battle of Beacon as an excuse to drag her back to Atlas and ultimately disinherits her for her insolence. Thus, she's determined to grow as strong as she can, in the face of persistent opposition, to live the life she wants for herself. When she does return home in Volume 7, it's only as part of a mission she's on where she uses her authority as a Huntress to arrest Jacques for his treasonous deeds.
    • When Blake Belladonna finds out that Torchwick is working with the White Fang, she becomes obsessed with finding out they're up to and stopping it. Her determination becomes an obsession that takes a heavy toll on her grades, social life and health. Yang takes her to one side to tell her a story about how Yang's obsession with finding her birth mother almost got herself and Ruby killed at a young age. Yang has since mastered her desire and helps Blake to do the same, transforming her obsession into a healthier form of determination. During the Battle of Beacon, she saves Yang's life by picking up Yang's unconscious body and running despite having just suffered a vengeful beating and being stabbed in the abdomen by her Psycho Ex-Boyfriend.
    • As a child, Yang Xiao Long was obsessed with finding information on her disappeared birth mother. She would ask questions and follow up every clue she could get her hands on. Once, she was so convinced she'd found an important clue that she bundled up her sleeping sister in a cart, and dragged through the forest alone for miles. She ended up scratched, bruised and exhausted to the point of collapse, but all she found was an abandoned building full of Grimm. She and Ruby would have died that day if not for the timely arrival of her uncle Qrow to save them. After Adam takes her arm during the Battle of Beacon, she learns how to pick herself up and keep going despite her PTSD, so that she can protect her sister in the fight against Salem. During the final fight with Adam, she shakes off the PTSD he tries to trigger to help Blake end his threat forever.
    • Due to Jaune Arc's lack of combat background, there is initially a noticeable gap of ability between Jaune and almost every opponent he encounters. Despite this, he has never backed down from a fight and, once he engages in fighting, he won't stop until he wins or can't get back up. This means he either gets thrashed or does the thrashing depending on whether his fights depend more on skill (which he lacks) or grit (which he has in spades). Pyrrha once states that she has never met anyone with more determination to better themselves than Jaune, enabling him to start catching up with his peers in record time. In Volume 8, Ren comments that Jaune is so convinced they can successfully rescue Oscar, that he's not even afraid to walk right into the heart of the Big Bad's lair to do it.
    • Ozpin has been fighting Salem for thousands of years with no hope of victory or end. He refuses to give up, constantly putting his hope in humanity no matter how often they fail; even his most loyal supporter Qrow criticises his perpetual optimism. Jinn reveals that Oz always returns to his divine mission, no matter how events may break him — and Salem has made it her mission to permanently break him. As he and Salem are both immortal, they cannot end their war by killing the other. By sowing division and chaos, Salem makes it impossible for Ozpin to fulfill his mission to prove to the gods that humanity is redeemable; meanwhile, Ozpin's refusal to give up helping humanity achieve harmony makes it impossible for Salem to achieve her own goal of convincing the gods that humanity is irredeemable. The fate of the world therefore rests on Ozpin's determination to keep going whatever the odds.
    • For good or ill, General James Ironwood never abandons his vision of protecting others, alienating his own allies in the process. After failing to convince Ozpin to do things his way, he uses the Atlesian and Vale councils to override Ozpin's authority and gain control of Vytal Festival security. When he tries to single-handedly regain control of his flagship from the villains, he fights his drones on foot even after the ship crashes. In Atlas, he sacrifices his reputation by using Draconian measures to protect the kingdom, and his biological arm to defeat Watts in battle, vowing to do whatever it takes to stop Salem. Even when saving Atlas at everything else's expense turns everyone against him, he pursues his chosen path to the bitter end.
  • TP focuses on a toilet paper roll who's determined not to end up like his predecessors in the Disgusting Public Toilet he has found himself in. He spends a day and a night trying to escape from the hanger, and when Earl is about to rip some of his paper off, he finally manages to escape to the outside world, losing only a single square in the process.

Alternative Title(s): The Determinator


The Crest of Courage

Tai unlocks the power of his partner's Ultimate form by refusing to give up or run away even when the battle seems lost.

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Main / HeroicSpirit

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