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Determined Defeatist

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"Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?"

The Determined Defeatist is a character who genuinely believes Failure Is the Only Option for something they set out to do, yet presses on anyway. Sometimes, it's all too tempting for them to turn their back on their dreams, or let themselves plummet over the Despair Event Horizon. Don't think they actually will though. If they ever do give up, you can bet it won't be for long. Often they feel their situation's so hopeless, they've got nothing to lose. After all, if there is nothing in the world but darkness, then all that matters is What You Are in the Dark. And if they're going to die trying, then they may as well get in a Dying Moment of Awesome while they do it.

Super-Trope of Sour Supporter, when the defeatist is recruited to The Team by The Hero (and is usually a secondary character.)

Could be considered a Sister Trope to Knight in Sour Armor. The difference between the Knight in Sour Armor and this trope is that the latter isn't necessarily a snarky Anti-Hero who lives in a Crapsack World; they're more likely to be The Eeyore or The Woobie. They might lack self-esteem, or be going through a rough patch. But in both cases, you can be sure their dogged perseverance will get them through despite their pessimistic outlook. Neither "Shaggy Dog" Story nor Shoot the Shaggy Dog bothers them because they were expecting it.

A fair number of them, if they discover that defeat is not the only option, will also discover that Hope Is Scary.

Also compare Cowardly Lion and The Anti-Nihilist. May overlap with Iron Woobie, as they keep going no matter how many times they get hurt or discouraged. If they refuse to let an innocent die even when there's a low chance of success, they are almost certainly a Small Steps Hero. When it's time to motivate the troops, the best they can come up with might be "Try Not to Die". If they do die, may overlap with Doomed Moral Victor. Contrast Doomed Defeatist, who gives up all hope and does not survive in this kind of situation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Reo is in love with her partner Matsuri, but knows him well enough to see his attraction to Suzu. But despite viewing herself as a Hopeless Suitor, Reo is happy to do her best to earn Matsuri's trust and admiration.
    Reo: [thinking] Their bond as childhood friends is strong. It's clear to me that I don't have a chance. But... there's always room for improvement! And that's what I love doing, Suzu!
    [Reo shoots a knowing smile straight at a disturbed Suzu]
  • Bleach: Ulquiorra spends the latter part of his fight with Ichigo attempting to show him how outclassed he is and how hopeless it is to continue fighting a battle he has absolutely no chance of winning. But Ichigo doesn't care; he decides to keep fighting even if he can't win. This makes Ulquiorra briefly lose his temper, to the point that he decides to force Ichigo to give up by killing him. With mixed results...
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the internal conflict that Zenitsu has developed once he found the first person, his master Jigoro, that ever believed he could amount to something as a person, namely a competent demon slayer; in one hand Zenitsu is a extremely self-deprecating person due years of failing to form any meaningful friendship and relationships, growing up being loathed by anyone he ever met as they were put off by his forefront cowardness and whining; in the other hand Zenitsu has finally met his master, who he grew to love as the family he never had, and then Tanjiro who further showed sincere belief Zenitsu can be better, looking up past his flaws. That resulted in Zenitsu being the kind of demon slayer who is always screaming about how is he is going to die at every mission, but at the same time he simply cannot give into his fears and run away, Zenitsu will push forward and fulfill his role no matter what, his eternal gratitude to the ones who believe in him will not let their hopes be in vain, even if Zenitsu has trouble believing in himself.
  • Miranda Lotto from D.Gray-Man. Gloomy and insecure as she is, she always puts 100% and then some into trying to be helpful.
  • In Hajime no Ippo, in the second match between Ippo and Sendou, Sendou is hit by a full Dempsey Roll by Ippo, seemingly ending the match. But he gets on his feet again. He already knows he has lost, and he still refuses to drop to the ground or go unconscious, just so he can watch the face of the man who defeated him.
  • Maskman M, the protagonist of Kick-Heart, is a professional mid-level Jobber for his city's wrestling league, which he doesn't mind so much as he's something of a masochist who enjoys a lot of the throttling he receives. However, even though he's essentially paid to lose to prop up the latest celebrity grappler, he still has his pride as a wrestler, and fights with competent ferocity before he has to take a fall to put on a good show and to please his modest fanbase.
  • Before her rematch against Einhart in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid a mere week after their one-sided first match, Vivio realizes that Einhart will beat her once again but decides to put up a hell of a fight, nonetheless, if only to earn her respect. Corona also had this attitude when she faced Einhart in the Inter-Middle Championship, though Einhart's attitude as she was training for the match made it clear that she had already earned her respect as a teammate.
  • Mazinger Z:
    • Kouji kept fighting even when he thought -or knew- that he couldn't win. He fought Jinrai S1 despite having almost no chances to defeat a flying, ultra-fast Robeast that used hit-and-run tactics. And he deployed Mazinger-Z to fight a squad of Mykene War Beasts even knowing that he'd not win that battle.
    • When Kouji was wounded and in hospital bed, Boss was more than willing to throw Boss Borot into the fray against the very mechanical beast that had almost destroyed Mazinger. His It Has Been an Honor farewell to Kouji showed his mindset was exactly this trope.
  • In Medaka Box, this is the defining trait of Kumagawa Misogi, the leader of the anti-elites in Class -13. A genius at losing who has never legitimately won at anything his entire life, he can't even imagine his own victory and sees himself as the weakest human being on earth. Every gamble he takes, he assumes it will end with his loss. He has so little faith in being able to properly win, he can have a god-like Skill like "All Fiction" which can make any part of reality become nothing, and still always find some way to lose. But if you expect this Minus to just give up fighting for good, you'd be sorely mistaken; even before he ever got "All Fiction" and with it the ability to negate his own death, he was still always the sort of terrifying person who'd get right back up after being soundly defeated, continuing to try and win even if he knows for a "fact" that he will perpetually lose. When he finally admits his own true feelings, he reveals that the source of his drive is to prove himself better than the "main characters" even if he's friendless, unmotivated, and underachieving; ironically, this very drive often makes him the opposite of those traits, making him an inspiration for those in despair whether he's an antagonist or an unlikely supporting protagonist.
  • Monster Rancher: Suezo shows this attitude in "Furred Suezo's M-1 Grand Prix Hero", trying to teach Furred Suezo the importance of standing up for himself even when he's convinced that he'll lose. This drives him to face off against Zilla in the tiebreaker match despite already being injured, eventually gaining a Heroic Second Wind after hearing the younger monster calling for him to keep fighting.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Despite having abysmal self-confidence and a lot of issues, especially with his dad, Shinji Ikari is surprisingly determined to do what he has to do (yet, also like his dad), though he (along with virtually every other character) begins breaking in the end as everything goes to hell.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Akemi Homura seems to be this. She knows that whenever she resets time to prevent Madoka's death, it always results in things getting worse; Madoka either dies again or becomes an increasingly powerful witch. Kyubey even points out that all she's doing is making Madoka into a stronger witch. Yet despite everything, she never stops trying. She also knows there's no hope for Sayaka, who is fated to die in every timeline where she makes a contract, but she still saves her life (for the moment) by retrieving her Soul Gem after it's thrown onto a truck.
  • Fujimaru from Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, due to being a male Broken Bird who sincerely believes that the heroes can't win — but has too much of a conscience to just let them die when he can help.

    Comic Books 
  • After the Heel–Face Turn of Harley Quinn, Harley drops a lot of her Heroic Comedic Sociopath schtick and reveals a deeper self-loathing over the things she did as a minion of the Joker, turning her into a Byronic Hero. She's intelligent, athletic, and conventionally attractive. But she's also extremely psychologically warped and damaged by her past relationships. She knows that she can never make up for the atrocities she helped Joker commit, or all of the lives she helped destroy. But Harley tries regardless, because it's the only way she can live with herself. This vulnerability is what allows people, even someone like Batman, to take pity on Harley and make her a tentative member of the extended Bat-Family.
  • Star Wars: Purge: The only time Ma'kis'shaalas speaks, he has this to say of a proposal to kill the Emperor and Darth Vader.
    "Can it be done? I don't know. Should it be tried? Yes!"
  • Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor's never been one to back down or give up, but he's been finding himself in situations and given order he doesn't think he can survive since the 1940s. Luckily, he underestimates his own skill frequently and his girlfriend/wife/best friend is Wonder Woman and she's pretty good at rescuing him when he needs it.

    Fan Works 
  • In All That Glitters (Othellia), Anna puts a lot of effort into a plan which banks on Hans saving her life after she willingly ingests poison. Yet it's implied she doesn't actually expect this to work, blurting during an argument: "At least when I poison myself, I'll finally be taking myself out of a world with you in it!"
  • A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script:
    • Neither Beren nor Luthien believed that retrieving a Silmaril from Morgoth was possible. They were sure that they'd die trying it.
      No. We thought that was it, that we were never getting out alive. We had no illusions that what we were trying to do was rational or possible, whatever Huan said to cheer us up.
    • Beren displayed this mindset when they met gigantic wolf Carcharoth:
      And Beren says, "What the hell's that?! We're doomed—" And then he gives himself a little shake and says, in this weird almost-cheerful way, "But, hey, — we knew that already."
  • Children of an Elder God: When Gendo tells his son that he is to pilot Unit-01, Shinji thinks that he can't do it... but he decides to try anyway.
  • Doing It Right This Time: About the only thing motivating Shinji to keep trying to make things better this time around is the certain knowledge that there's a strictly limited number of ways he could do worse this time. In fact, he's rather resistant to any attempts to make him feel better on the grounds that Hope Is Scary.
  • All-Might praises Momo for this attitude in The Emerald Phoenix, declaring that like all heroes, she faced a situation where she seemingly had no hope of winning but pressed on anyway. While she lost, Momo still came within a hairsbreadth of victory.
  • Shinji in Evangelion 303. When Asuka ran away, Shinji thought that he'd never find her; or he'd find her but she wouldn't listen to him. Nonetheless, he looked for her, he found her, and he talked her into getting back together.
  • This is how Adam Taurus is in The Games We Play (The Gamer/RWBY). He considers even having made it to 10 to be a miracle and believes every moment past that has been him living on borrowed time. That doesn't mean he's about to lay down and let his enemies have their way with him.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Shinji doesn't believe he can be a decent father, but he promised Asuka he'd make his best.
  • Last Child of Krypton: When Shinji rallies his friends to move in on NERV, Kaji firmly believes that operation is doomed to failure. He joins them anyway.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Shinji doesn't really believe that he is capable of helping Asuka, but he decides that he'll try to look after her anyway.
  • Brit from New Reality can't see herself past the Tower of Salvation event but thinks nothing worse can happen, except death. It eventually backfires when she realizes she actually doesn't want to die, so much, that she practically pukes her guts out and make the group worries about her on the last night before said event.
  • In Once More With Feeling (Crazy-88), Shinji often wonders if he has some chance to outthink people who have spent a long time plotting the extinction of mankind. He's determined to try to stop them anyway.
  • In The Second Try, Shinji and Asuka sometimes lose hope and think that they have no chance to change the future. Nonetheless, they keep trying.
  • Rei in Thousand Shinji. One of the core tenets of her Nurglette faith is: "Death is inevitable, but you must resist it and endure as long as possible anyway".

    Films — Animation 
  • In Frozen II, Princess Anna has been cast away by her sister Elsa so she cannot follow Elsa to a mystical island. Shortly after this, Olaf, who is kept alive only by Elsa's magic, disintegrates to snow and thus signifies Elsa's death as Elsa sends one final ice sculpture message to Anna revealing who the true villain of the movie is, and Anna recognizes what she must do now in her sister's stead. That said, the normally optimistic Anna is drowning in despair as she sings "The Next Right Thing":
    You are lost
    Hope is gone
    But you must go on
    And do the next right thing
  • In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, following his Character Development, Puss is all too aware that he can never defeat the Wolf that hunts him, but decides to die fighting anyway. Seeing that he has finally learned to appreciate the value of his own life and internalized his own mortality, The Wolf — or rather, Deathbegrudgingly lets Puss go.
    Puss: I know I can never defeat you, lobo. But I will never stop fighting for this life!
    The Wolf: I came here for an arrogant little legend who thought he was immortal! [Beat; he sighs] ...But I don't see him anymore.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 16 Blocks, Jack Mosely fully expects to be killed along the way but he is determined to get the witness to the courthouse to testify. Even if he succeeds the witness's testimony will incriminate Jack as a Dirty Cop and send him to jail. His only real chance to walk away from the whole mess is to let the witness be killed but that is the one thing Jack is determined will not happen.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, Loki swears fealty to Thanos whom he failed and left years ago and tried to lure into a trap moments ago, gets close and then attacks the towering purple giant who has two Infinity Stones with an ordinary dagger. He is frightened and fully aware that his chances are next to none. But he does it anyway because he has no other trick up his leave (especially after Thanos easily beat The Hulk to unconsciousness) and no other way to potentially save his brother. Thanos doesn't fall for his pretend devotion, easily thwarts his attack and kills him.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    • King Théoden has this attitude towards the battle in defending Gondor. Essentially, the armies of Rohan going to ride out to meet their deaths against the armies of orcs, and Théoden is well aware that it's basically hopeless. But even so, Rohan is going to ride out anyway, because the only other option is to just lie down and die while Sauron conquers the world, and Théoden is having none of that.
      Gamling: Too few have come. We cannot defeat the armies of Mordor.
      Théoden: No, we cannot. But we will meet them in battle, nonetheless.
    • Gimli feels this way about the Final Battle. In Gimli's mind, the Fellowship is about to charge into an utterly hopeless battle against Sauron's forces, in which they're not only guaranteed to die but that their chance of managing to distract the armies of Sauron long enough for Frodo to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom's fires and destroy it forever, thereby ending the War of the Ring is minimal anyway. Gimli then declares his intention to press onward and rides off to battle with everyone else.
      Gimli: Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?
  • Rocky has the title character realizing that he will fail the fight against Apollo, but decides that he will go the distance so he would not be seen as a bum. Also helps that he's just a flat-out Determinator.

  • Touma from A Certain Magical Index has terminally bad luck and a negative outlook, but will fight until the end for anyone he cares about (which might be someone he befriended minutes ago).
  • Rincewind in the later Discworld novels, in particular, just wants to head home and be safe. And yet, because he's among the worst wizards on the Disc and a complete coward, he constantly finds himself as the Butt-Monkey, facing threats way beyond his level of power to face, including shadow monsters, dragons, and a planetary-scale Reality Warper while armed with nothing but a brick in a sock. And yet, Rincewind keeps going anyway no matter what he finds himself stuck with, if only because he manages to consistently show his courage with his back to the wall. Or at the very least, he's confident in his ability to somehow pull a solution out of thin air and escape to safety, because he's Genre Savvy enough to know how his life works.
  • The titular character of Goblin Slayer is incredibly pessimistic about his mission. While he sincerely believes in his goal to exterminate the entire goblin race and his capacity to achieve it, he believes that "nothing has changed" until he's done it, no matter how many goblins that he's slain or how many people he's saved from them. Goblin Slayer also gives up every opportunity presented for him to try to make people outside his inner circle take goblins seriously, thoroughly set in his outlook that everyone else in the world will brush his concerns off until it's too late. This is in spite of a growing amount of contrary evidence that shows people will care, given the opportunity.
  • Crowley in Good Omens. At one point, when Aziraphale has gone missing, the Apocalypse is beginning, and it looks as if there's no hope, Crowley thinks he might as well drink himself into a stupor while he waits for the world to end. Instead, he drives at top speed to Tadfield to avert the Apocalypse, holding his burning car together through sheer force of will.
  • Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is convinced that Voldemort is going to win and advises the heroes to give up and flee the country. Naturally, he still shows up to fight when push comes to shove.
  • Most of the main characters (especially Frodo) in the later parts of The Lord of the Rings. Several people get speeches to the effect of admitting that they're pretty much finished, but they're going to carry on because there's nothing else to be done. It plays into the book's overall theme that even the smallest of efforts can make a difference and that it's "simple acts of kindness and love that keep the darkness at bay".
  • Usually he's anything but this trope, but in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, the titular character experiences a severe And I Must Scream, after which he is deeply shaken and nihilistic. It comes up several times that he no longer sees the point; even if his side wins the book's conflict, ultimately it won't even matter. And yet he keeps going and continues to be compassionate because someone has to.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: In The Hero of Ages, Elend gives a speech to his men, asking them to fight even though they will die if they do. He says that every second they're able to keep going is a second longer the people they're protecting will stay alive. Of course, it turns out that they only survive as long as they do because they're all burning atium, and because Atium is actually Ruin's body, their deaths mean that Ruin can't get his full power, making it possible for the Hero of Ages to win.
  • Just about everyone in The Overstory, but especially Patricia Westerford, who becomes convinced that humanity won't be able to save the trees, but devotes herself to trying anyways. Despite her No Social Skills tendencies, she deeply admires humanity because of this trope.
  • In Peter Pays Tribute, Peter is convinced that he will never finish the tasks his god demands of him, but he refuses to flee. This is partly out of cowardice, but partly out of a sense of duty, even if his task is impossible.
  • One of the lines of the eponymous devil from The Screwtape Letters:
    [Hell's] cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken and still obeys.
  • In The Silver Chair, Puddleglum tells the Witch that while she may well be right that Narnia's just a dream, that will not stop him from doing his best to be a good Narnian.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What? Gyurie goes into his fight with Shiraori already certain he will die in the end. Despite this, he fights to the bitter end so that others will have a chance of changing the world's path.
  • Albert McPhee, a skeptic who fights for the good guys (Christians) in That Hideous Strength.
  • In Those That Wake, Mike is this. He thinks the world sucks, he's worthless, and he probably can't do anything to change it, but he'll fight anyway.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus Finch knows full well that the racist jury will never acquit Tom Robinson, a black man, even if all evidence points to his innocence. He gives his all in defending him anyway because no one else will, and it's the right thing to do.
  • The Aiel of The Wheel of Time have this trope ingrained in their culture due to prophecy about "He Who Comes with the Dawn," a Destructive Savior foretold to unite and lead the Aiel people, but also destroy them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Though there is the occasional reprieve, at heart, Angel suspects that he will never stop paying for his crimes. He and Spike share a grumpy exchange about how they're both going to Hell, and thus will never be rid of each other.
  • Spike in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Gift".
    Giles: We few, we happy few...
    Spike: ...We band of buggered!
  • Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor has this attitude in his more pessimistic moments.
    Doctor: If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there's no point in any of this at all. But it's the best I can do, so I'm gonna do it. And I will stand here doing it till it kills me.
  • Hogan's Heroes: General Burkhalter doggedly executes projects meant to help the German war effort, but there are moments that imply he isn't doing so with much optimism. In one episode, he says that a new weapon will change the scope of the war, then adds "We might even win."
  • Ryotaro Nogami, the protagonist of Kamen Rider Den-O, willingly admits that he's not very strong or smart and that he has insanely bad luck. That doesn't stop him from doing his job and protecting the timestream, which results in his eventually Taking a Level in Badass.
  • In Lexx, a number of the Brunnen-G decide to stand and fight against His Divine Shadow, fully aware that they have no chance of success. An in-show musical touches on this a bit more, and even inspires the protagonists to take on a similar attitude.
    "It matters not if the cause is lost and we cannot stop the tide. We will fight to the end and then fight again. It will be a good way to die."
  • Married... with Children: Al Bundy. Best exemplified by his "No More Holding Back" Speech.
    Al: So you think I'm a loser? Just because I have a stinking job that I hate, a family that doesn't respect me? A whole city that curses the day I was born? Well, that may mean loser to you, but let me tell you somethin'. Every morning when I wake up, I know it's not going to get any better until I go back to sleep again. So I get up, have my watered-down Tang and still-frozen Pop-Tart, get in my car with no upholstery, no gas, and six more payments to fight traffic just for the privilege of putting cheap shoes on the cloven hooves of people like you. I'll never play football like I thought I would. I'll never know the touch of a beautiful woman. And I'll never again know the joy of driving without a bag on my head! But I'm not a loser. Because despite it all, me and every other guy who will never be what he wanted to be are still out there, being what we don't want to be 40 hours a week for life. And the fact that I haven't put a gun in my mouth, you pudding of a woman, makes me a winner!
  • The second season of Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle has Alien Metron, one of the many Reionyxes, who repeatedly challenges the hero Rei in a kaiju battle, despite Metron and his monsters getting their asses shoved back to them by Rei's monster, Gomora, each battle. It culminates in Rei finally ordering Gomora to kill Metron's last monster, Vakishim — and because of Synchronization, Vakishims' defeat leads to Metron's elimination too.
  • You're the Worst: Jimmy and Gretchen's relationship is repeatedly marked as doomed, mainly by the two in it, and yet they keep coming back.
    Gretchen: I think this may be impossible.
    Jimmy: But can't that be okay?!? I mean, the vast majority of all human effort, however great or minuscule, ends in failure. So what are your options? Just admit pre-defeat because the odds are that you're gonna be right? Or you do it anyway? Maybe we're a success, regardless of the outcome, because... we tried. Maybe there's beauty in the struggle against near-certain failure.

  • The Beatles' folk hero "Rocky Raccoon", after he is shot by Dan, the guy who stole Lil, the girl of his fancy":
    [The doctor] said "Rocky, you've met your match,"
    Rocky said "Doc, it's only a scratch,
    And I'll better, I'll better, Doc, just as soon as I am able."
  • "Until the End" by Breaking Benjamin:
    I've lost my way, but I will go on until the end
  • Implied with the protagonist of "Counting Sheep" by The Crane Wives, who lives under some sort of totalitarian society of a Crapsack World; they are aware of this and are "waiting for something", but are feigning fitting in with the social order because they know showing open resistance is futile.
    It's a losing battle
    So why are you still fighting?
  • "The Tragedy of the Commons" by Delain:
    I raise my glass
    To another investment
    Into the future of wasteland
    Well here's to pulling the waistband

    But I know at least I thought, at least I fight
    At least I know at least I tried
    I know I thought, I know I'll fight
    Tonight I kiss the world goodbye
  • "The Curse" by Disturbed states, "No hope for the hopeless" and "Couldn't help even if you tried", but the narrator "held on too long just to let it go now" and will never surrender.
  • The narrator of "Whisper" by Evanescence is frightened and desperate, knows that the situation will only get worse, and keeps going.
  • "Survive" by Lacuna Coil:
    I'll survive in this nothing, leading nowhere
    I'll survive feeling strong for how much longer?
  • "Ovtnvmbered" by Rave the Reqviem.
    I stand alone, bitten, bruised, and outnumbered
    I gave them hell but you can't win a war against your mind
    It's a matter of time before the end of this arrives
    I will die with a victorious smile
    You never took my pride
  • A few Within Temptation songs have this feel.
    • "Stand My Ground" is about facing something that the narrator knows she can hardly overcome or survive.
    • "Shot In The Dark":
      And I'm wondering why I still fight in this life
      'Cause I've lost all my faith in this damn bitter strife
    • "Endless War" is about someone who's haunted by their Dark and Troubled Past, breaks further and further, and keeps on fighting a Hopeless War.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Christianity traditionally had this as a center of struggle, especially Calvinism and Roman Catholicism, before Vatican II. Even if the doubt of God's salvation was a serious question in your mind, and even if you're guaranteed a place in Hell, you should still live life by Christian virtues. Christian religious doctrine holds that attempting to live by the rules, no matter how unguaranteed salvation, is what makes you a good person. Because even though you can never be sure what's going to happen, you still tried your best. And on top of that, there's a few schools of Christian thought that say the sheer fact you kept being good despite being assured you were going to Hell might just make you worthy of Heaven after all.
  • This is a prominent concept in Norse Mythology:
    Kine dies, kin dies, you yourself will die.
    One thing I know that never dies, the story of dead men's deeds.

  • The entire point of Albert Camus' philosophy, Absurdism. He uses the Myth of Sisyphus as a comparison to illustrate this. Sisyphus was damned to a Fate Worse than Death, wherein he is condemned to push a large boulder up a hill only to continuously fail forever. However, Camus plays with this by spinning this trope into a positive light; even if he continues to fail over and over again, the mere act of pushing a boulder gave him purpose, and that should be enough to fill a man's heart. Similarly, humanity constantly rails against the inherent meaninglessness and absurdity of life, but according to him, this is no reason to be a Straw Nihilist; instead, we should accept the absurd, yet constantly rebel against it, even if it means constant failure. Coming to this conclusion is how he solved the problem of suicide.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jim Cornette was a Sour Supporter in Global Force Wrestling, both the original incarnation and the Anthem-owned version, publicly stating Jeff Jarrett was crazy for starting another pro wrestling promotion but that he was going to pull for it anyway. In fact, this has been Cornette's attitude ever since SMW failed to get a television deal, believing there simply weren't enough people in the know to save pro wrestling, which was destined to fall to the level roller derby had, and that he himself wasn't the kind of booker who would be necessary to turn it around. Nonetheless, he won't give up the fight, which is what lead him to TNA and Ring of Honor in the first place, as well as publicly endorsing Lucha Libre USA, saying it was much better than WCW but wouldn't be as successful due to a lack of network penetration.

    Tabletop Games 

  • 35MM: A Musical Exhibition: The narrator of "Cut You a Piece" has this attitude towards love. He tells the story of a couple he once knew, who were deeply in love and very Happily Married... only to have it all cut tragically short by the wife's sudden death only six months into the marriage, leading to her husband falling apart and never really recovering. The narrator is now terrified of the fact that he's in love, because he sees a similar loss as inevitable. The song ends with him concluding that it is inevitable, but that love is worth it anyway.

    Video Games 
  • The Ancestor in Darkest Dungeon flip-flops on how much faith he has in you depending on how well you do during a battle, but he has a small hopeful streak as he assures you that despite the hardships, the monsters can be felled.
  • In the Dissidia Final Fantasy series, this is the position the Warrior of Light from Final Fantasy ultimately takes in regard to the cycle of conflict between Cosmos and Chaos. It may be a Forever War, it may be a Hopeless War, it may be ruled and controlled by forces way beyond his understanding, and it may be all but impossible for him to affect its outcome. But that doesn't mean he'll ever stop fighting or trying to break the cycle to send everyone home anyways. This puts the Warrior of Light in stark contrast to Garland, who has given up on escaping and decided that he's going to just revel into the cycles of endless battle as a Blood Knight, since battle is all that they have left.
  • In Hakuouki, Hijikata is fully aware that the balance of power is shifting away from the shogunate and that the Shinsengumi are on the losing end of things, even before the Boshin War has officially kicked off. Nevertheless, he gives it every possible effort, sticking with the fighting from Kyoto all the way to Hokkaido and the war's bitter end even when all of his comrades have died or gone their separate ways.
  • Nick in Left 4 Dead 2 constantly complains how screwed everyone is or going on about how he was right when he thought things could get worse. Regardless of his grim outlook on his fate, he presses on regardless and he slowly sheds his cynical outlook while retaining his determination to survive and kick some zombie ass with the rest of his fellow survivors.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: The Sage of Light Rauru is saddened to hear that Zelda having been transported back into time and meeting him is proof that his fight against Ganondorf is doomed to fail. Nonetheless, he doesn't cower and keeps his head high, continuing to do his best to keep the people of Hyrule safe to the best of his abilities.
  • Mass Effect 3:
  • Max goes through the entirety of Max Payne knowing perfectly well that there are only two outcomes for him: either being killed during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge or being put away for life upon completing it. In fact, after he goes free thanks to The Man pulling a few strings, he considers himself to be a Karma Houdini.
  • Glass Joe in Punch-Out!!, especially in the Wii version. Even though he's plenty aware of his own reputation as the weakest boxer of the entire WVBA and has lost more matches (99 losses to one win) alone than most real-life boxers ever get to fight in across their entire careers, Glass Joe still absolutely refuses to give up.
  • Near the end of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan outright states that it's functionally impossible to stop Amon. She'll try anyway because "the only other option is to lay down and die".
  • The Vendrian Guard in Tyranny. Serving as the game's Starter Antagonists to the Villain Protagonist Fatebinder, they have pretty much accepted the best they can hope for is an honorable death in battle, but fight fiercely even so. Even if they're incredibly fortunate and the Fatebinder joins them, it takes until the third and final act for them to seriously consider the possibility that they can win, and only because they suddenly have the power of Edicts on their side.
  • ULTRAKILL: As his terminal entry indicates, King Sisyphus knew all along that he and his army would never stand a chance against the armies of Heaven even if by some miracle they managed to escape Hell. He still elected to give it his all, because in his mind refusing to give up was its own victory.
    "To him, fighting an impossible battle with full knowledge of its futility and taking joy in just the act of resistance itself is the ultimate rebellion against the oppressor. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
  • Undertale: Sans is a Fourth-Wall Observer, allowing him to understand that the Player Character is being driven by an entity on a completely different level (the player), which he refers to simply as "the Anomaly". Sans is fully aware that thanks to the power of Determination, the Anomaly has total control of the timeline, resetting, restarting, and destroying timelines at will (through the Save/Reset/Erase game functions), which renders him a little hopeless with the knowledge that everyone's life is ultimately just a plaything for an entity on a level of existence he cannot even conceive. However, when you, the Anomaly, finally go too far and initiate a No Mercy run, Sans will still actively stand up against you to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Sans knows that no matter how many times he kills your Player Character, he ultimately cannot directly do anything against you — but maybe, just maybe, if he tries hard enough, he might make you Rage Quit.
  • The Wage Slave Race known as the Solaris are this in Warframe. They realize that they, and often their families, are damned to a lifetime of hard labor and unending debts to the greedy and amoral Corpus. In spite of this, they refuse to take it lying down and continue to press on, both to avoid the dreaded brain-shelving punishment and to provide a cover for Solaris United operations.
  • World of Warcraft: Prince Renathal of Revendreth, one of the Warcraft universe's afterlives, leads his people to war in order to save the universe. The war in question is against the Jailer, who commands an army of souls that only grows bigger with every person in the universe who dies. Renathal knows full-well that they can't possibly win this war in numbers, power, or tactics, but he's not going to let the world go down without a fight.
    "We face the unending, undefeatable, undefiable darkness... together."
  • Soldiers with the Hard Luck personality in XCOM 2. It's clear they don't really believe they can liberate the Vichy Earth. They still fight as hard as any other soldier.
    "One down, thousands to go."

    Visual Novels 

  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta shows Kevin Keene having this attitude when the Sovereign Of Sorrow is on her way to the Palace Of Power, knowing the only way to win is for his daughter to make a Heroic Sacrifice, because he also knows the eyes of the world are on this event, that they'll say of that day, "that's when everything changed," and that he has to be The Hero even when nobody would blame him if he just sat down and let Hope offer her life to secure victory.
  • In The Last Days of FOXHOUND, Vulcan Raven doesn't believe Liquid can succeed, but resolves to fight Solid Snake anyway.
    Raven: Perhaps Liquid can return warfare to its former purity, but I doubt it.
  • Mumen Rider of One-Punch Man is little more than a bike cop who rides around doing minor good deeds and trying to stop petty criminals, like purse-snatchers and such. Still, he chose to go up against the Sea King, a Demon-level threat who had already completely demolished several A-rank heroes and a couple of S-rankers. He's fully aware of his weakness and acknowledges it, but is determined to fight to the last anyway even though he knows he won't even slow the beast down (and yet his actions do distract Deep Sea King long enough for Saitama to arrive.) Best exemplified by his speech in the anime version:
    Mumen Rider: Nobody expects much from me. They think a C-class hero won't be much help. I know that better than anyone! I know I'm not good enough for B-class... I'm weak, I know that much. No one has to tell me I have no chance of beating you. I already know that! And yet, I must try.

    Web Originals 
  • One of the few good qualities The Nostalgia Critic has is that despite all the hurt he goes through, he's strong-willed and keeps on going.
  • RWBY has Professor Ozpin/Ozma. Despite knowing for centuries (possibly millennia) that the Big Bad Salem has Complete Immortality and having been specifically told that he is unable to destroy her, he has continued struggling to prevent her from taking over and then destroying the world.
  • Himei from Sailor Nothing. She's an utterly Broken Bird who knows that As Long as There Is Evil, there'll be Yamiko. This doesn't stop her from fighting as many of them as she can.
  • Worm: Cauldron fully expect to fail in their mission to save humanity from Scion. They just don't want to stand there at the end wondering if they could have done something to stop it.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed Wuncler I from The Boondocks, during the kickball game to determine the fate of Woodcrest in "The Red Ball":
    Ed Wuncler: We're Americans! We don't quit just because we're wrong. We just keep doing the wrong thing until it turns out right!
  • In the final battle of Castlevania (2017), Trevor admits that he's "probably not" going to be able to stop the Big Bad, but he's going to "give this one last go" and fight anyways. Were it not for the timely intervention of Saint-Germaine, Trevor would have died by killing Death with an enchanted dagger, with the backlash also killing Trevor. Still, the fact Trevor was going to die didn't even slow him down.
  • Duckman is very well aware of how cruel the world is, yet he still believes in a better future for his kids no matter how many times the world kicks him between the legs.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz is well aware that Perry is a Comically Invincible Hero and therefore that Failure Is the Only Option for his attempts to take over the entire Tri-State Area, but he still keeps attempting it anyway.


Video Example(s):


Mumen Rider vs Deep Sea King

Mumen Rider keeps going on despite knowing full well that he doesn't stand a chance.

How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeterminedDefeatist

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