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Do Not Go Gentle

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"...The threat of the Eldrazi presented a simple choice: lay down your weapons and die for nothing, or hold them fast and die for something."
Magic: The Gathering, "Time of Heroes"

The notion of not giving in to despair, in the face of death or other hopeless situations and keeping up the fight with all one has left until death finally stakes his claim. A common phrase for this trope is to "go out with a bang", or "go out in a blaze of glory". Death need not be an absolute certainty, but may be seen as inevitable.


It comes in two forms:

  1. Death seems certain for a character, and they are going to just lie down and take it. Someone may admonish them for that, and they decide to get up and fight with all their might. May overlap with Rousing Speech. Also may manifest as a mental process, in defense of a loved one, or a rush of Heroic Spirit. Expect them to be outnumbered and out-gunned. Sometimes a hero or villain will decide to take out as many enemies as they can before their death. If a hero is doing this, it will most likely end in a Heroic Sacrifice, but it is as least certain to be a Dying Moment of Awesome.
  2. Death is absolutely certain for a character, and they need encouragement to live the last of their time to the fullest. Their death is normally caused by cancer or other serious health problems. A family member or friend will help them with accomplishing a certain goal or advancing a cause that is important to them before they die.

Either way, the character performs as their last act a deed of great significance to those around them, be it their family, friends, a community, even the entire world. The character basically wants to say that if they do die here and now, people will remember it. The character does not die quietly. For heroes, this usually involves righting or avenging some wrong but can be just a matter of personal pride to make the enemy, or the world, feel their presence one last time. Villains can have their own version, usually in the form of throwing a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum out of pure spite or sheer hubris.

Regardless, their end is worthy of great stories and legend, but this is done intentionally by the character's own will and not by happenstance. Others may push the character toward it, but the character still has the option of going gently into that good night.


See also Hope Springs Eternal. Compare The Last Dance, It Has Been an Honor, Last Stand, Heroic Spirit. Contrast Despair Event Horizon (losing all hope), I Die Free (embracing death as an alternative to slavery), Miles to Go Before I Sleep (the concept of dying has already been accepted and embraced, and the fighting is to achieve a final objective rather than raging in general) and Better to Die than Be Killed (if the only choice you have left is how you are going to die, you may as well make your death the ultimate "up yours" to your enemies).

Named after the poem by Dylan Thomas, which is believed to be written to his father.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z, being a story about heroes facing off against superpowered villains who often power up or transform to levels far beyond them, this trope is relatively common. Notable examples include:
    • Goku and Vegeta powering up to Super Saiyan to face 500 Meta Coolers (having just been beaten to the point of exhaustion trying to destroy just one).
    • Tien facing off against Semi-Perfect Cell to buy time for Android 18 to escape despite knowing it would mean his death either from overuse of the Tri-Beam or from Cell's wrath afterwards.
    • The remaining Z Fighters attacking Perfect Cell to help Gohan and avenge the death of Goku, despite how all of their combined power bar Vegeta's amounts to little more than an insect bite to him; they want to go out doing right by their friend and ally.
  • Hellsing was quite fond of this.
    Pip Bernadotte: Let us die like mangy dogs!
  • Macross Frontier has an example in Sheryl Nome, who is given an opportunity to save the fleet because while her illness means her days are numbered, it also means she can affect the Vajra with her song, which may be crucial to Frontier's survival in the Final Battle. Sheryl goes into the last battle expecting to be dead by the end of it, by her infection if not by gunshot.
    • Something similar happens in the first movie, where Sheryl's farewell concert is interrupted by a Vajra attack, and she goes on singing to bring hope to the soldiers, even if it means attracting the Vajras' attention and getting killed.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam:
    • We have General Revil's famous "Zeon is exhausted" speech, mentioned in the backstory but not shown in the anime (it does, however, appear in the novelization and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin). In the first week of the war, The Federation suffered devastating losses to Zeon's mobile suits, Sydney was reduced to a gigantic crater by a Colony Drop, and General Revil was captured. Just when the Feds were preparing to sign the surrender agreement, Revil was rescued by a Federation commando team and made a speech announcing that Zeon had depleted its fighting strength as well and encouraged the Feds not to give up. The speech worked, and the Federation ended up winning the war by hanging on against overwhelming odds until they could develop MS of their own.
    • Dozle Zabi also goes out this way, when his Big Zam is disabled by the Gundam, he gets out and starts shooting a machine gun at it. He never expected this to have any effect, but it is widely regarded as his Dying Moment of Awesome both in and out of universe. In fact, his defiant spirit is so strong that Amuro's Newtype powers pick it up as a great demonic shadow rising out of Dozle, giving Amuro quite the scare despite his victory.
  • Fist of the North Star marries up the second form of this trope with a drawn-out version of a Dying Moment of Awesome in the form of Rei's final chapters. Mortally wounded by Raoh's Finger Poke of Doom, which has activated a pressure point that will drain all his blood from his body in three days, Rei chooses not to give up, and instead dedicates his final days (later extended by one more day thanks to Toki activating a pressure point which allows someone to live on for 24 hours) to tracking down Yuda so he can defeat him, in turn returning Mamiya's honour. With Kenshiro's help, Rei triumphs over Yuda, and only then does he finally die, only a few hours later.
  • Naruto has Zabuza in a perfect, shining example of this trope, no Rousing Speech needed.
    • Jiraiya dies while fighting against Pain, but temporarily comes back from death through sheer willpower only to leave behind enough information to help someone else defeat Pain.
    • Minato Namikaze, the Fourth Hokage and his wife, Uzumaki Kushina, give up their life while saving the Konoha village from the Kyuubi's attack, but also take steps to ensure that the Big Bad would be eventually defeated, by sealing the Kyuubi inside Naruto. Minato even adds two fail-safe mechanisms into the seal just in case things go wrong.
    • In the face of the overwhelming power of Obito and the God-Tree and his ability to instantly consume all the chakra in the planet, the entire shinobi army was morally broken, including Naruto. Then a panel later Sasuke cut said tree with Susano's black flames and taunted Naruto, Obito, and Madara's resolve, implying that they were cowards who couldn't face reality and that he will destroy said tree alone if he had to, which snapped Naruto out of his fear. This allowed the rest of the army to regain the will to fight and die to the bitter end by watching Naruto and Hashirama's memories and sincere hope for humanity.
    • Faced with Madara Uchiha, who has defeated everyone who has crossed his path, even Naruto and Sasuke, proven immune to ninjutsu, with nobody left to assault him with senjutsu, and now with the Juubi inside him, Might Guy proceeds to attack him with the only effective way: taijutsu. However, Madara shrugs off every attack of his, even his 7th gate's Afternoon Tiger. Kakashi sees this and loses faith, urging Guy to stand down. However, Guy states that it is never too late to give up, and while things may not work out, it's worth having faith in one's efforts. With that, he opens the Eighth Gate.
  • Subverted in Koihime†Musou. Kannu and Chouun are cut off from all reinforcements and facing an entire bandit gang in their own lair armed only with whatever they could take off their defeated enemies. They exchange true names as people facing death together and decide to go out fighting. They not only live, they managed to wipe out the entire gang between them denying Kousonsan any chance of glory.
  • In a non-death example (though it may seem like death since American football is Serious Business) in Eyeshield 21, after Kid and Tetsuma are benched due to injuries and the team is painfully aware that they don't have a chance and losing by a large amount of points, Riku refused to let the team throw the game and continued to play against Gao until he dropped.
  • One Piece:
    • The Pirate King Gold Roger was dying from an incurable disease. He then conquered the Grand Line, became known throughout the world as the Pirate King, found a lover and had a kid with her, and then turned himself in. Then, at his execution, which the World Government intended to use as a warning to all pirates for what awaits them, turned it into the moment that started the Golden Age of Piracy. Then he laughed, smiling as they lopped off his head.
      "My wealth and treasures? If you want it, it's yours. I left everything I gathered in one place. But you'll have to search the entire world!"
    • Similarly, his Friendly Enemy Whitebeard did the same thing at his own death. As a marine victory was poised to snuff out the Golden Age of Piracy, Whitebeard shouted out his last words, reigniting the idea once again, and started an entirely new age of piracy. Those words?
  • In A Certain Magical Index:
    • Acqua of the Back loses the will to live when he loses his powers. Shiage Hamazura convinces him to stand up and keep fighting.
    • Kakine Teitoku tells Accelerator and Shizuri Mugino that their struggle is pointless because they will go to Hell no matter what they do. Mugino says maybe that's true, but if it is, they might as well kick some ass before they go.
  • Jun Misugi from Captain Tsubasa has a heart disease. but he loves soccer, and is willing to die playing it. He tones this attitude down as he grows up, still he wants to play whenever he can.
  • In Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Souichi and Souji suffer from rapid de-aging/Rapid Aging, respectively, thanks to the experimentation that was forced on them, and therefore don't have much longer left to live. Rather than sit around, feeling sorry for themselves, they've decided to stick it to the government that did this to them in the first place before they kick the bucket.
  • Hijikata in Hakuouki is aware that as early as the battle of Toba-Fushimi that the Shinsengumi are fighting a war that they cannot win. However, he will not let despair show and demoralize the troops and throws himself whole-heartedly into making things work.
  • Mikasa in Episode 7 of Attack on Titan after suffering from a Despair Event Horizon seems to give up at first when she runs out of gas for her maneuver system. However, she starts to actively resist as best as she can against the Titan trying to eat her after she starts remembering Eren telling her to fight back.
    • Most people can't do much besides squirm even if they wanted to once they're in the grasp of a Titan. One exception is the unnamed Survey Corps member that basically spits defiance at the Titan holding him and keeps stabbing it in the face even as he's getting chewed on.
  • Jewelpet Twinkle: in a non-fatal example, Sara chooses to fight against Laiya after seeing her seriously injure Leon and understanding that she has no chance of winning. Nevertheless, she cooks up a plan to weaken her enough for Akari to stand a chance.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman gives one of these speeches to his fellow Justice League of America members, The Flash and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) at a time when all hope seems lost and he himself is lying in bed with a dangerously high fever.
    "Death is powerless against you if you leave a legacy of good behind. Death is powerless against you if you do your job. My father saved the lives of over four thousand people, one at a time, with his bare hands and his mind. Death was with him the entire time."
  • While Final Crisis itself showed the Martian Manhunter getting stabbed in the back by Libra's flaming spear, the Requiem one-shot reveals that J'onn didn't go to his Comic Book Death merely from this, but went down fighting the Secret Society, even managing to get some friends to tell his life story and tell Libra to his face that he'd never win.
  • When faced with the imminent heat death of the universe, Galan of Taa refused to accept death quietly. Instead, he and a few others flew straight into the center of the Big Crunch. The others perished, but the newborn Power Cosmic merged with Galan. Thus was Galactus born. When Galactus was briefly depowered by the Fantastic Four and reverted to Galan, he was initially fatalistic about becoming Galactus again. Seeing the people of New York City struggling to survive no matter the odds reminded Galan of the man he once was. At the end of the story, he teleported himself to another dimension in an attempt to hide from the Power Cosmic a little longer. Before departing, he thanked the Four for reminding him of how important it is for people to never stop fighting against the inevitable.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: Facing the imminent end of all existence in The Final Incursion, the Asgardians notice an arrival of an army of the dead pouring forth from Hel, and that Old King Loki has killed Balder, meaning all hope seems lost. At which point the Allfather and Allmother arrive, bearing gifts. In the form of a magically enhanced pair of machineguns and a minigun. As the Allmother puts it:
  • Thor 360-362: "...and though The Executioner stands alone, and the warriors of Hel seem numberless... Not one sets foot upon the bridge across the river Gjoll.
    They sing no songs in Hel, nor do they celebrate heroes, for silent is that dismal realm and cheerless. But the story of the Gjallerbru and the god who defended it is whispered across the Nine Worlds... and when a new arrival asks about the one to whom even Hela bows her head, the answer is always the same. "He stood alone at Gjallerbru."... and that answer is enough."
  • Usagi Yojimbo: The aging samurai magistrate of a small rural village challenges Usagi, his friend, to a duel, insisting on dying by the sword rather than of the disease that is slowly killing him. Averted when Usagi convinces him to lower his sword and do as much good as he can for his people in the time he has left.
  • Welcome to Hoxford has Ray Delgado sum up the trope rather well.
    Ray: I've learned that when Death stares right at you, and smiles its big ol' toothy grin- the best thing to do is smile right back at the fucker.

    Fan Works 
  • In Chapter 12 of Fate/Stay Night fanfic Nerve Damage, Archer Napoleon Bonaparte refuses to kneel before a stronger enemy Servant, and maintains that it would be unfitting of a Heroic Spirit to do anything less than meet his death standing. Impressed by his bravado, Gilgamesh lets him go.
    "This is a good death. I will not bend my knee. No hero will bend his knee to a threat." A chuckle. "A good run I suppose, short as it is. I, a hero with a legend barely two hundred years old, to one whose own spans four thousand years back. Perhaps it was hopeless in the beginning, but I matched your power until the very end, and in death, I will meet the standard. I will die standing."
  • In Pony POV Series, Strife's Villain Song, "Your Last Stand", actually encourages her opponents to fight back as long as possible and die with honor, despite knowing her victory is inevitable.
  • In A New World, a particularly extremist family of Lunarians have had enough of the human expansion on the False Moon and decide to take action. By seizing control of Earth-bound comms channels and triggering a nuclear war at a global level, triggering a holocaust and decimating Humanity. It all goes downhill for them after that.
  • The RWBY Loops, unusually for a Groundhog Peggy Sue story, has an example in the CFVY machines. Upon discovering that they had, in fact, been suffering from a degenerative memory loss, they took the opportunity to join in defending their reality from ending permanently. It is explicitly pointed out that they will not be coming back with the reset.
    Velvet: I asked you, long ago, to let me live by my own terms. Now I'm asking you let us die by our own terms.
    Fox: As warriors and heroes.
    Yatsuhashi: As defenders of Remnant.
    Coco: ...As Huntsmen and Huntresses.
  • Queen of Shadows: During the Battle of Awaji, Gurando tells his soldiers that yes, most of them will probably die, but they will go down fighting and serve as an inspiration for the rest of humanity.
  • In an ER fanfic that has Doug in a coma after being shot, Carol reads the poem in question to Mark, believing that they shouldn't take him off life support on the chance he might recover.
  • Old Man Henderson: After a while of crazy gaming, a few cults have cottoned on to the fact that Old Man Henderson tricked them into fighting each other with a penthouse suite, a helicopter, and a yacht, and began chasing him with lesser horrors from the beyond. Realizing that he's going to die anyways, Henderson goes out with a blaze of glory, rigging an ice-rink full of explosives, and using a bit of obscure mythos lore to KILL HASTUR. PERMANENTLY. After this, the DM flipped the table over in anger.
  • The Bridge: The Halloween Episode has Showa Godzilla realize they're fighting a losing battle against Godzilla Earth and he is going to die if he stays. So he decides to run headlong into the fray and blitzes Godzilla Earth with a barrage of beam attacks, slashing with his superheated spines, and managing to grievously wound the titan.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: In the sidestory Twenty Gyarados Bill Gaiden, during the climax, several soldiers realize they won't survive against Bill's remaining Gyarados. Rather than trying to run away or cower in fear, they decide they'll take down as many as they can to make things easier for their comrades.
  • The Weaver Option: During the raid on Commorragh the Imperium frees many slaves whose bodies have been booby-trapped such that leaving the Dark City will be fatal. Given the limited time and space they have to work with, the Imperium cannot hope to disable all the traps and evacuate them. What they can do is give the slaves a weapon and let them die taking revenge on their captors.
  • Pokémon: Equestrian Champions: In the chapter "One Last Trick Up My Sleeve", Trixie and Flash Sentry are paired to battle each other in the first round of the Equestria League, and Trixie knows that she likely has no chance against Flash, but resolves to make him work for his win regardless instead of forfeiting and running away. Her special Trick Room strategy successfully gives Flash a run for his money, managing to successfully defeat one of his Pokémon and tie with another, but once it is destroyed during the final battle Trixie realizes it is only a matter of time before her Sagic is defeated by the stronger Prongs, but refuses to give up. Trixie ultimately loses the match, but is cheered on by the entire crowd for her performance, leaving her in Tears of Joy, and even Flash thanks her for the fun battle.
  • Salvaged: Katya Hiro, the oldest living victor during the 3rd Quarter Quell, spends his last moments on the roof of a lumber mill, shooting at peacekeepers with a rifle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Buliwyf from The 13th Warrior is poisoned and so fatally sick that he can hardly stand, but when the battle starts he's there with his sword and his dog to not only inspire his comrades with a Viking prayer but to also participate in the battle because that's just how Vikings do it. He survives the battle by managing to not only resist the poison through sheer determination but actually slays the Wendol warlord in the process, and then lets himself succumb once the battle is over.
  • In Aliens, lieutenant Gorman and private Vasquez make a desperate last stand in the air ducts of the ruined space colony. Surrounded on all sides by Xenomorphs and running out of ammunition, they end it by detonating a grenade, killing themselves and the surrounding aliens.
    • Shortly before this is Hudson, who goes down shooting at and cursing out the Xenomorphs even as they drag him to his death.
  • Alien³: With a xenomorph running around the prison facility on Fiorina-161 and killing its meager prisoner population, and Weyland-Yutani on its way to collect the lethal specimen (as well as the queen incubating in Ripley's chest); Ripley and prisoner Dillon try to rally the reluctant survivors to kill the creature before the company can claim it for the bio-weapons division. Though initially resistant to the idea, they manage to succeed in convincing most of the men; and although by the end of it all, only one prisoner, Morse, manages to survive, they do succeed in destroying the alien.
    Ripley: When they first heard about this thing... it was crew expendable. The next time, they sent in marines- they were expendable too. What makes you think they're gonna care about a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space? You really think they're going to let you interfere with their plans for this thing? They think we're crud, and they don't give a fuck about one friend of yours that's died- not one.
    Dillon: We're all gonna die. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet? Or on your fuckin' knees... begging?! I ain't much for begging! Nobody ever gave me nothin'! So I say FUCK that thing! Let's fight it!
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): During the climactic prison riot, Joseph Lynch is alone, armed with only a disassembled Hidden Blade and is boxed in a room with only one exit. He brings down several Abstergo security guards before he dies.
  • The Bucket List is all about this trope. Two men, both with terminal diseases, see how many dreams they can fulfill for themselves before they kick the bucket.
  • A memorable recitation of the Trope Namer poem takes place at the end of Dangerous Minds, just as the protagonist teacher is about to give up, feeling overwhelmed and impotent to make a difference. Not exactly life or death in that situation, but facing the prospect of being a dedicated, caring teacher for one of the roughest public schools around is pretty daunting too. When her friend asks her why she decided to stay, she answers only "they called me their light..."
  • About to be eaten by a werewolf in Dog Soldiers?
    "I hope I give you the shits you fucking wimp!"
  • Preston in Equilibrium, after learning revolution was a trick of the authority to trap him, decides not to give in easily, and manages to win.
  • In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, after Destoroyah kills Godzilla’s son, he goes after Destoroyah with everything he’s got, causing his nuclear meltdown to accelerate.
  • In Hangmen Also Die!, one of the hostages taken in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich writes a poem to this effect regarding the Nazi occupation, called "The Invisible Torch".
    Fellow patriots, the time has come.
    Fellow patriots, there is work to be done.
    Raise the invisible torch and pass it along.
    Keep it burning, keep it burning
    forward on the road that has no turning.
    Die if you must,
    for a cause that is just.
    But shout to the end: "No Surrender".
    Ever onward, no returning,
    till the senseless butcher will be learning
    that his war isn't won till the last battle's done.
    Carry on when we are gone.
    No surrender!
  • Double Impact: In the opening scene, the twins' father kills three Triad assailants before Moon kills him.
  • Independence Day had the President using this argument as the cornerstone of his Rousing Speech. If the human race is to be wiped out, then they will make certain the aliens remember them. In fact, he almost uses the trope name word-for-word during his speech:
    "We will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight..."
  • Interstellar. The original Dylan Thomas poem (or at least parts of it) is recited several times as the plot involves saving mankind from slow extinction. However, the trope is subverted (and the poem becomes an Ironic Echo) midway through the film when Professor Brandt makes a Deathbed Confession that he thought the people on Earth had no chance of survival; it was just a motivational lie so people would support the mission. Dr Mann also quotes the poem when he tries to murder Cooper. However the protagonists do manage to save humanity after all, so the quote is engraved on a memorial to their mission.
  • The Last Samurai. Algren persuades Katsumoto to go down fighting instead of committing Seppuku or bowing down to Omura and the forces of corporate Japan and fading into obscurity. What ensues is the last flowering of the Samurai.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • This is how Tony Stark gets his call in Iron Man: captured in a cave, shrapnel climbing to his heart, and little hope of rescue. His fellow captive convinces him to fight, and the rest is history.
    Yinsen: Is that how you want to go out? Is this the last act of defiance of the great Tony Stark!? Or are you going to do something about-?
    Tony Stark: -Why should I do anything? They're gonna kill me, you... Either way, if they don't, I'll probably be dead in a week.
    Yinsen: Well then... this is a very important week for you, isn't it?
    • In the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers are storming one of the last Hydra Strongholds, and their leader, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, calls out that they will never surrender. Though Strucker whispers to Dr. List that he’s going to surrender.
    • Avengers: Infinity War has this moment during the climax, as the heroes see how vastly outnumbered they are by Thanos' forces, but decide to go down fighting.
    M'Baku: This will be the end of Wakanda.
    Okoye: Then it will be the noblest ending in history.
  • The Matrix Revolutions: Mifune's Rousing Speech to the defenders of Zion just before the Machines invade may qualify:
    "All right! This is it! Now you all know me, so I'm gonna say this as simply as I can. If it's our time to die, it's our time. All I ask is, if we have to give these bastards our lives...we give 'em hell before we do!"
  • In Pacific Rim, the Kaiju and their creators were not expecting humanity to fight back as hard as they do against extinction. Special mention also has to go to the Hansens who, when they have a disabled Jaegar and no other options, start telling Leatherback to "come get some" and fire flares that are about as effective as Spiteful Spit instead of giving up.
  • The protagonists of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and not just the immediate fight after a Rousing Speech. Pirates as a whole were phasing out as well. Fighting that one, last hopeless battle to the death might well have been the send-off of their way of life altogether.
    Elizabeth Swann: "You will listen to me...LISTEN! The Brethren will still be looking here to us, to the Black Pearl to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilge rats aboard a derelict ship? No... No, they will see FREE MEN! AND FREEDOM! And what the enemy will see is THE FLASH OF OUR CANNONS! THEY WILL HEAR THE RING OF OUR SWORDS AND THEY WILL KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO! By the sweat of our brows, and the strength of our backs, and the courage of our hearts! Gentlemen... Hoist the colors!"
    • Blackbeard says something to this effect toward the end of On Stranger Tides when he comes face to face with the man fated to kill him:
    Blackbeard: Aye, that be the cold breath of fate I feel down my nape. But... I'll have one last fight, by God. KILL 'EM ALL!!!
  • DJ Grant Mazzy signing off in Pontypool. With his recording booth besieged by zombies and a trigger-happy military, there's only one thing left to say:
    "This is Grant Mazzy for CSLY Radio Nowhere. ...And I'm still here, you cocksuckers."
  • The entire plot of Repo! The Genetic Opera is driven by the fact that Rotti Largo knows that he's dying, and wants to enact one last Evil Plan to make everyone he hates suffer. He pulls it off.
    Rotti: It seems the man who cured the globe can't stop his own extinction. But I can still go out with a bang!
  • Star Wars: Ewok Adventures: In the second film, Cindel's brother and father are both last seen defiantly shooting at forces who have them outgunned and outnumbered, before their life-monitoring signals on Cindel's bracelet go out.
  • The main theme of The Whales of August, which is about two elderly sisters living together. Sarah is concerned that Libby is talking so much about death. Libby for her part doesn't see why people as old as they are should bother to do anything new like install a picture window. Libby eventually comes around, seeming to resolve to make the most out of what time she has left.
    Libby: [last lines of the movie, as they look for the whales] Can you see them?
    Sarah: The whales have all gone.
    Libby: You can never tell. You can never tell.

  • Animorphs:
    • Visser One states that this is a racial trait of humans. Most other species out there will give up and surrender if they know there's no hope. Humans, however, keep fighting anyway. Most of the Yeerks think this is basically pointless, but Visser One is savvy enough to know that this will make conquering humanity much more difficult... and is disturbed at the implications about the human psyche it raises.
    • Prince Elfangor pulls this off masterfully in the first book. Mortally wounded and facing Visser Three, Elfangor dies on his feet, striking at the Visser with his tail blade even as the Visser morphs into an Antarean Bogg and eats him alive.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The mindset of the entire cast of heroes. Of course, Plan A is that Frodo destroys the One Ring, but everyone is well aware that the chances of this being successful are slim.
    • In The Two Towers when what's left of the Helm's Deep garrison sallies into Saruman's army purely in the name of glory. (And to give the people of Rohan time to retreat into the Glittering Caves)
    • In the appendices to the trilogy, it is mentioned that Dain Ironfoot, who succeeded Thorin Oakenshield as the King Under the Mountain, was killed in a Last Stand at the gate of the Lonely Mountain, defending his friend King Brand's body from an army loyal to Sauron. Being two hundred and fifty-two years old, none of the dwarves would have blamed him for sitting the battle out, or at least retreating behind the gates when given the opportunity, but not Dain.
  • In The Silmarillion, this is the attitude of most Men, since unlike the Elves they can't wait around for eternity in magically-hidden cities in the hope a miracle will happen.
    Turin: Though mortal men have little life beside the span of the Elves, they would rather spend it in battle then fly or submit... though Morgoth slay the doer he cannot make the deed not have been.
  • A textbook example of how to do it right can be found at the end of Legend by David Gemmell.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant gives us Lord Mhoram's Victory. Revelstone is besieged, its supplies dwindling, everyone rapidly approaching the Despair Event Horizon, and Lord Mhoram decides that instead of sitting around waiting for hunger and despair to let Lord Foul's minions just walk in without a fight, all the remaining forces ride out in one final fight. Though almost a last stand, a combination of the surprise of their attack, and other factors happening at the same time cause the siege to be broken.
  • Callahan's Crosstime Saloon: All of the patrons give an epic one to Tom Hauptmann at the end of "The Time Traveller", persuading him that life is worth living.
  • Safehold series gives us the defeat of Alyksberg. With no chance to defend the besieged city from the onrushing Dolahran Army, Siddarmarkians pull back, leaving behind the crippled and wounded, who proceed to blow up the entire city, taking at least a quarter of attackers with them.
  • In Dragon Bones there is a variant: The protagonists sit all huddled on a hill overseeing their castle, which is just being invaded by the enemy army. Oreg points out that the villains will find the dragon bones, and that will have terrible consequences for everyone in the world. He reminds Ward, that there is a way to stop them. Said way is to kill Oreg. He can persuade Ward to do it, and as soon as Ward drives his dagger into Oreg's brain (the most painless way to kill he knows), the walls of castle Hurog crumble and fall, and the villains are buried under tons of stone.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden, repeatedly and with intent to cause severe property damage. He keeps taking on things fifty times his size and refuses to back down... it's a good thing there are so many badasses watching his back.
      If I was to die, I was not going to go out in a gibbering heap of terror. If I was to die, it wouldn't happen because I was half crippled with fear and Sight trauma.
      If I was to die, it was going to be a bloody and spectacular mess.
    • More generally, this is the exact attitude a large number of wizards take with their Death Curses. Of particular note is late Senior Council member Simon Pietrovich, who didn't take his death lying down when his base is attacked by vampires - instead he made sure he had a lot of company at the Gates. It's not clear exactly how much company, because his death curse hit the area with the magical equivalent of a nuclear strike, wiping out at least the equivalent of an entire Red Court task force.
    • It is believed, but not fully known, that Merlin, the original Myrddin Emrys, followed this idea when it was finally his time.
  • Hellboy:
    • Averted in the short story "Far Flew the Boast of Him" by Brian Hodge, published in Hellboy: Odd Jobs: when Grendel returns to life and slaughters a group of English medieval reenactors, he boasts that he gave them the privilege of an "epic" death, the kind most men only dream about; Hellboy privately reflects that in his experience, most men who die by violence do so crying, screaming, crapping their pants and begging for their families, and Hellboy does not see anything the least bit shameful about it;
    • Fulfilled in the short story "Act of Mercy" by Thomas E. Sniegoski, when an aged, decrepit demon kidnaps several children to draw Hellboy to him, wanting to die in "glorious" combat instead of old age; Hellboy obliges him, and even plays along with the demon's self-importance.
  • River Marked, in the Mercy Thompson series, has the various Native American Spirits fight as hard as they can while knowing that defeat is inevitable.
  • One of the themes of the final book in the Song of the Lioness series. Runaway princess Thayet describes how when faced with a life of imprisonment, her mother's final act was to become a martyr to inspire and protect her people. Alanna feels that this was a useless act, thinking it's always better to live to fight another day. By the end of the book, she understands the importance of this trope, after Liam undergoes a Heroic Sacrifice of this nature to save the kingdom.
  • A running theme throughout The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence. The main character, Hagar Shipley, is over ninety and dying, but she's not prepared to go just yet. Sections of the Trope Namer poem are quoted in the text.
  • Averted in Pact, where the protagonist, upon being told that he's fated to die soon by a sphinx, decides to try to do as much good as he can in the time he has left and sets out to slay a bound demon that's in danger of breaking free-only for the demon to eat him, and in the process make him an Unperson, to the extent that even the sphinx's Ripple Effect-Proof Memory can't remember his name.
  • Several examples in the Gaunt's Ghosts series by Dan Abnett. Considering the universe they are in, this is hardly surprising. The most notable ones are listed here.
    • In Sabbat Martyr, an entire platoon is left stranded outside the gates of the Civitas Beati on Herodor. With no choice left, they decide to face down the invading Chaos Army until death. They take down roughly ten times their number before finally being overrun.
    Nineteenth Platoon lasted seventeen minutes from the time the gate closed. They accounted for one hundred and eighty-nine enemy casualties. No one witnessed their heroism.
    • In Only in Death, the fuel and munitions supplies the Ghosts desperately need is blown up in their faces by an incredibly unlucky rocket strike. The commanding officer of that operation, Major Rawne, rages and resolves to make the enemy pay dearly for their victory.
      Rawne: Feth! Feth it all! It can't end like this! I won't allow it!
      Kolea: Now what?
      Rawne: We take as many of those bastards down with us. All of them! Every last Emperor-damned one of them!
      Kolea: Just what I was about to say myself.
  • In the same universe a century or two later we have Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, and also a self-confessed Dirty Coward. When faced with seemingly inevitable death, he sets his chainsword on high determined to take out as many of his opponents as possible before the end.
  • In Worm, the Undersiders decide to do this after failing to stop the end of the world. They talk over their priorities a little first.
    Canary: This is us? We're whiling away the time until the world ends? Giving up like everyone else?
    Tattletale: What? No. Fuck no.
    Imp: No. Wait, did anyone think that? Because I was thinking this was more us trying to decide what the hell we need to do before we throw ourselves into one final, suicidally reckless attack.
    Taylor: Basically. Minus the suicidally reckless part. There's other stuff we can try first. But yeah. I think we're mostly on the same page here.
    Bitch: Go out fighting.
    Tattletale: Go out fighting.
    Taylor: Nothing held back. Right. I'll need my stuff.
  • In Twig, the Crown and the Academy are so unassailable that any rebellion against them essentially boils down to this, whether it's Reverend Mauer, rogue experiments or failed Academy students who know they no longer have any future worth living for. Genevieve Fray is the only rebel who actually has a long-term plan, and that involves flirting with the very real possibility of global extinction to get to a position where she might be able to actually change the status quo.
    • When Sylvester and Jamie eventually rebel, their knowledge of their own expiration dates being mere months into the future mean they decide to attempt both of the outcomes in the trope description; live their short lives to the full, while doing everything they can to inconvenience the Crown and Academy, since they don't really think they have a chance of actually toppling the institutions.
    • One of many reasons that the deaths of Gordon and the first Jamie are so heartbreaking is because they don't get the chance to do this. Despite being as willing to fight to the last as any other Lamb, the biological weaknesses they've had programmed into them by the Academy mean they don't get to go on The Last Dance with their friends, and die helplessly and uselessly.
  • Codex Alera
    • By the fourth book Captain's Fury, the villainous High Lord Kalarus, an archmage in strength, is bedridden after suffering a devastating and crippling injury in the last book. He knows his war against the other Lords and First Lord Gaius Sextus will eventually lead to his defeat, so he crafts one final insane gambit to not go gently. He purposefully angered the spirit of an ancient dormant volcano and bound it to his life. It cannot act on its anger until he dies or Kalarus releases it. His plan is to release the spirit on the thousands of refugees who fled into his city from the tens of thousands of soldiers fighting on the enemy's side coming to lay siege, killing hundreds of thousands in his own personally created pyre. Only because Gaius Sextus got insight of the volcano without using magic and hiking several hundred miles on foot, did this plan fail because Gaius releases the volcano before his soldiers would be in range and be harmed, so only the refugees and people of the city were sacrificed.
    • In Princeps' Fury Gaius Sextus, weak from being in his eighties and his adventure in the above example, does not go gently when he faces the bulk of the Vord army advancing on his capital city. As many of his men fled the city, he stays behind to draw the Vord in and, after turning himself into metal by using advance metalcrafting, he unleashes the dormant volcano under his city, destroying the city and the Vord army and reduces the enemy forces to a mere tithe of their former number.
    • In First Lord's Fury aged High Lord Cereus is not a fighter like Gaius or Kalarus. He loves his family deeply, though. And when the giant monstrous vordbulk is lumbering towards where his last remaining daughter and his dead son's children are hiding, he flies into the maws of the beast and blows himself up with his magic, destroying the creature and saving his family.
  • Jade City: The Green Bone clans offer this as a method of execution to a Worthy Opponent: a condemned Green Bone may demand a "death of consequence" and face a full squad of armed opponents in final combat. One side character killed all eight of his executioners and became a minor Living Legend for walking away from his own "death".
  • Will in Scarlet: Cruel-hearted scumbag he may be, the witnesses to Gilbert's death respectfully agree that he went down fighting hard against Guy's men.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Done in the Grand Finale. Angel acknowledges that his plan to kill every member of the Circle of the Black Thorn is a Suicide Mission, since the Senior Partners will undoubtedly him and his friends in retaliation, and he's just fine with that. The Senior Partners may be eternal and forever, but Angel wants to show them once and for all that no matter how powerful they are, they'll never control everything.
  • The Americans: Implicated in the disappearance and death of FBI agent Chris Amador, Gregory Thomas is being hunted by D.C. police. Gregory's capture would lead to the arrest of Philip and Elizabeth, so the Centre insists that he be exfiltrated to Moscow. Instead, he takes a handgun and opens fire on the first cops he sees, killing several before being shot and killed himself.
  • Babylon 5:
    • There's the speech G'Kar gets during his Dust-induced hallucinations, by a nameless Narn who is later revealed to be Kosh.
      Narn: If we are a dying people, then let us die with honour by helping the others like no one else can.
    • Londo notes how the humans, during the Earth-Minbari war, knew they were doomed because of their lesser technology, but where other races would fall into despair humanity fought back even more strongly after every defeat (as he narrated we are shown a few examples of this, including a man trying to stand back up and fight after being knifed to death). He was quite impressed and moved to tears even. After two years of constant fighting, of trying to hold back the advance, with the Minbari force on Earth's and humanity would muster what military it had to Hold the Line as civilians tried escaping. Ironically, humanity was saved when The Minbari surrendered, which baffled everyone (they had discovered that each race was carrying some of the other's DNA—their races had crossed 1,000 years ago, as is revealed in season 3).
      Londo Mollari: The humans, I think, knew they were doomed. But where another race would surrender to despair, the humans fought back with even greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it. They would weep, they would pray, they would say goodbye to their loved ones and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself. Never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage... their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns. When they ran out of guns, they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope, that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes at the end. They did this for two years. They never ran out of courage. But in the end... they ran out of time.
    • In season 2, Sheridan insists Kosh teach him how to fight the Shadows so he can one day take the fight to them. Kosh warns, "If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die." But Sheridan invokes the trope and stands firm, "Then I die, but I will not go down easily and I will not go down alone." Fast-forward to the final episode of season 3. He's on the Shadow's homeworld and, having run out of room for negotiation, proves he's ready to keep the promise he made to Kosh. He has his spaceship crash into their largest city and detonate bombs with a combined force of one gigaton of TNT. All that's left later is a crater. He does die eventually...and then gets better.
    • Sinclair gets a vision of a possible future Where he stays on Babylon 5 instead of going to Minbar and eventually becoming Valen. The Shadows have struck before the younger races were ready to counter them, and are storming Babylon 5. Garibaldi and other members of station security are preparing to hold them back long enough for the others (like Sinclair) to escape. Sinclair tries to stop Garibaldi, but he shouts "Jeff, it's okay, I finally understand. This is the moment I was born for. Now go. Go!"
  • The re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica, in the finale the titular ship can't last longer in space, so rather than going to be scavenged for parts, Adama decides to bring her in a final ultimate full-on assault on the Cylon's frakking headquarter with the sole mission objective of saving a little girl. It worked.
  • Villainous example in Charité at War: World War II has ended just about five minutes ago, Berlin is fallen, and Nazi nurse Christel has just attacked a Soviet occupation soldier with a scalpel. The soldier takes her outside for execution, and Christel starts a brawl, putting up quite an impressive fight. She's still shot two minutes later, and honestly, no one weeps for her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Expanded Universe reveals that this is what happened to the Sixth Doctor, who died while fighting the Valeyard by causing his younger self to die of poisoning and regenerate, thus preventing the creation of the Valeyard. All in all, a very odd example.
    • Jack Harkness dies this way in "The Parting of the Ways", as he goes down fighting the Daleks. The Bad Wolf entity brings him back to life and grants him immortality shortly afterwards, however.
    • "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End": In the first part's cliffhanger, when the Torchwood Hub comes under attack by a Dalek, Gwen decides she's going to go down shooting at it with an assault rifle and persuades Ianto to do the same. However, they're saved from death by a time-lock security measure installed by a dead colleague of theirs.
    • "The Waters of Mars": The Doctor ends up refusing to let the crew of a Martian base who are doomed to die go down without a fight, in this case against time itself. However, in this instance, that's the wrong decision...
    • "The Time of the Doctor": The Eleventh Doctor dies of old age and exhaustion after spending 900 years defending Trenzalore from all of his foes. He then uses his regeneration energy to wipe out the Daleks attacking Trenzalore, thus ending the battle.
    • The Twelfth Doctor goes down fighting the Cybermen in "The Doctor Falls". Notably, there are several instances in which he can regenerate, but he holds it back and nearly dies permanently from his wounds.
  • The fourth episode of ER was titled "Into That Good Night" and the key plot was that of a man who would die before the day was out if he did not receive a heart transplant. Throughout the day, the doctors did everything possible to keep him alive while frantically searching for a donor... all to no avail.
  • D'Argo from Farscape. The last time you ever see him, he has been fatally wounded and is holding back a group of super-soldiers with two rapid-fire energy weapons while telling them exactly who their daddy is. Chiana put it best later when she revealed the news to his son, Jothee:
    Jothee: Did he suffer?
    Chiana: Are you kidding? They suffered.
    • 3 of the final episodes are called "We're So Screwed". They don't go gentle, they go awesomely.
  • Game of Thrones: Discussed when Jon says he would gladly give his life for the Watch. Qhorin replies that he doesn't want Jon to be glad about it, he wants him to fight until his heart's done pumping.
  • Grace and Frankie: This is defied by Babe. Babe is an old friend of the titular characters that had cancer and has since recovered, however, as the cancer has come back, she decides to perform euthanasia on herself after hosting the best party she ever hosted, with every friend she ever made. When Grace learns about this, she tries to tell Babe she needs to fight for her life, but Babe refuses this, saying one time on the treatment was enough, and she would rather go out happy than stay to grow tired and weak.
    Grace: You need to go out fighting!
    Babe: I don't want to go out fighting, I want to go out flying.
  • The Brunnen-G of Lexx were doomed to die at the hands of His Divine Shadow. While the older generation of Brunnen-G welcomed their inevitable death due to being weary of their immortal existence, a few of the younger ones led by Kai refused to die lying down. Their brave but futile assault is shown in the very beginning of the series and is later re-enacted in the Musical Episode "Brigadoom".
    Master of Ceremonies: The half a dozen little craft went forth against the might power of the Divine Order. Not really believing that they would win, for the Prophecy had told them that they would not, but knowing that they would die well!
  • In the prologue to the 2008 Poirot adaptation of Cat Among the Pigeons, during the Ramat revolution, Bob Rawlinson and Prince Ali Yusuf are being cornered in a shootout and wounded, and after locking themselves in the royal bedroom, the pair decide to go all-out in a blaze of glory. As soon as the rebels bust down the door, tragedy ensues.
  • The Sing-Off invokes this trope via the "Swan Song" — each group has a song prepared to sing if they get eliminated, and they give it their all despite knowing that they won't be winning the prize.
  • In the last episode of Stargate SG-1 the Asgard accept their demise as a species and rather than slowly fading out of existence they finally grant the Tauri the entirety of their knowledge and equip the human ships with the pinnacle of Asgard technology as their legacy. After that, they self-destruct what remains of their once-great people, timing the explosion to take out a few last Ori warships.
    Daniel Jackson: I mean, all they wanted to do was live a little longer. We're no different. Sequence DNA. Cure diseases. One fatal mistake, and they doom their entire race. I guess no matter what you do, at the end of the day... life is too short.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise". The warp core is about to overload, the Enterprise is all but defeated, and the Klingons hail for their surrender. Picard's response? Keep firing.
    Picard: "Let us make sure that history never forgets the name... Enterprise."
  • A lot of the third season of Supernatural is essentially Dean pulling one of these after a Deal with the Devil leaves him with a year to live.
    "What do you say we kill some evil sons of bitches and we raise a little hell?"
  • Taken: Despite being ridiculously outmatched, the Keys family defiantly attempt to fight their abductions. Even when they are caught, they would rather go down swinging than be taken. In "Charlie and Lisa", Charlie summed up his attitude and, by extension, that of his father Jesse and grandfather Russell towards the abductions:
    "If you were eight, yeah, maybe this would scare you. But you know what, Mom? None of this scares me anymore. Now it just makes me mad. If they come for me again, I'm not going without a fight. And if that lands me in some hospital room, sitting, staring out some window, screaming, then that's what it does."
  • In a parody of this Prime Minister Julia Gillard appeared on the Triple J TV show for a very tongue in cheek end of the world speech.
    Julia: Whether the final blow comes from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell-beasts or from the total triumph of K-Pop, if you know one thing about me it is this - I will always fight for you to the very end.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "The Obsolete Man": The titular man, Romney Wordsworth has been sentenced to death by the State for his "obsolecence" and inability to conform to the State's demands. The manner of his execution is his own choice, provided it occurs in the next day or so. Given this oppotunity, Wordsworth is able to turn the tables against his would-be oppressors. He chooses to die by having an assassin plant a bomb in his apartment to go off at midnight. He then asks that he is permitted to have the explosion occur while on live television with the country watching. Once it is set, he invites over the Chancellor of his trial and locks the man in with him, knowing the State would never show weakness in rushing to save one of their own. Though not as glamorous or leaving enemies in his wake as others on this page, he continues defiance to the State as the time ticks down reading his Bible out loud, note that the Bible is also a banned book, in a calm and measured tone. Meanwhile the Chancellor slowly begins to panic, getting more desperate until finally begs to be let out in the Name of God. Wordsworth unlocks the door seconds before the bomb goes off but remains inside, calmly accepting his death. His death and continued resistance shows all who are watching that one can continue to resist, to stand against the oppression of the State. They are truly more scared of their people than they let on.

  • In Amon Amarth's song "Across the Rainbow Bridge" an old viking decides that he wants to gain entry into Valhalla so he goes on a rampage to be killed in battle.
  • The Garth Brooks song "Ireland" is about soldiers about to die in battle in the morning, and they decide to fight it right then, rather than wait to be overrun.
  • Manowar: "Tonight we strike! There is thunder in the sky! Together we'll fight, and some of us will die! But they'll always remember that we made a stand! And many will die by my hand!"
  • Fireaxe's album Food for the Gods has a few of these, most notably the ending where after the apocalypse the inhabitants of hell, rather than resigning themselves to an eternity of torment, storm the pearly gates in an angry rage and attempt to kill God.
  • Hammerfall's At the End of the Rainbow. The most common interpretation is that the warriors have already died and this is their heaven.
  • The Trope Namer poem is quoted in Brave Saint Saturn's Two-Twenty Nine, which is largely themed on the Challenger disaster.
  • It's hard to tell with the Word Salad Lyrics, but Belly song "Stay" seems like a song about a lover who is facing imminent death.
    Stay, oh oh oh oh, stay with me
    It's not time for me to go
    It's not time for me to go
    It's not time for me to go

    Myths & Religion 
  • This is one of the fundamental themes of Germanic tradition, most famously in Norse Mythology. Ultimately, everyone's fate is predestined (this is the original concept of doom). What matters is how one handles himself on the way to meet that fate.

  • AJCO:
    • A slight inversion in with Egg, who has accepted that she will die and begs the others to not go gently in her last speech rather than the other way around.
      "I'm begging you – fight.
      Fight for your right to be free from monsters like her.
      Fight the lies and the torture and the treachery.
      F-Fight to see the days that... I'm not going to be able to
      ... otherwise your entire life will be for nothing."
    • It has an immediate effect on the person responsible for her apparent death in the first place, who promptly runs out into a landscape that she believes to be highly toxic after the girl.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium of Man is dying. Culturally and technologically stagnant, their God-Emperor is on a life support machine that is in serious need of a good fix, and beset on all sides by xenos and horrors such as ageless and soulless killers, impossibly vast planet-consuming swathes of monsters and rape-happy evil space elves, while also attacked from within by traitors and heretics. The entire human race is making a Last Stand, and while it will take millennia for the end to come due to the sheer size of the Imperium, they will fight tooth and nail for every world and failing that drag their enemies kicking and screaming down with them. For the Emperor!
    • The Craftworld Eldar were driven to the brink of extinction by a great tragedy, and now exist as scattered survivalists seeking refuge among the stars. All their gods save three are dead, slain by a Chaos God of their own creation, who is now hunting their race down with the intent to consume their souls. Not only that, but their most ancient and powerful foes are rising from their tombs. Beset by enemies on all sides just like the Imperium and crippled by a low birth-rate, they are doomed in the long run and very unlikely to succeed in these goals, and they know it. However, they hope that they can deliver a final end to their ancient foes and use their souls to create a god of death which will curbstomp said Chaos God and free them from their curse. Until that goal is realized, they will keep fighting to the bitter end.
    • Subverted by the Tau, though not out of cowardice. Their Greater Good philosophy means that every Tau at every level of command must take the course of action that is best for the Tau as a whole, and getting into unwinnable fights is not that kind of action. That said, they're just as willing to fight to the death if need be (with plasma guns and high-tech mecha), but only if no other option presents itself (in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, they evacuate the planet after their Ethereal is killed instead of dying to the last man).
  • Exalted: In Second Edition this (crossed with Tired of Running) is how Lunars are made. Take a Heroic Mortal, put them in a situation where they're either dancing on the edge of or have crossed the Despair Event Horizon, and then they choose to get up and keep going. At which point they Exalt, and Luna shows up and tells them to go kick ass in her name.
  • The Magic: The Gathering story arc of "Rise of the Eldrazi" depicted a horribly outclassed humanity fighting against plane eating elder gods called the Eldrazi. One card in particular, "Time Of Heroes", sums up this idea in its flavor text: "...The threat of the Eldrazi presented a simple choice: lay down your weapons and die for nothing, or hold them fast and die for something."
  • Eclipse Phase: it's right there in the game's tagline.
    Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
  • The standard character retirement option in Masks: A New Generation is "Retire from the life or become a paragon of the city", representing the character either quitting superheroics or becoming a famous superhero who is, regardless, no longer part of the team and thus unplayable. The Doomed character retirement option is "Become a paragon of the city for however long you have left" - giving up on trying to escape their Doom and just dedicating the rest of their lives to doing what good they can. (This is also the OOC decision you have to make at the same time, given that another option at the same experience level is to do a controlled detonation of your oncoming fate, picking a new playbook if you survive!)

  • Turandot: Calaf sings Nessun Dorma (None shall Sleep) despite the very likely chance the woman he loves, the titular character, is moving heaven and earth to have him executed so she wouldn't have to marry him. It's this passion the reason why it became a popular song among sports fans and even used in pop culture to signify victory.

    Video Games 
  • In World of Warcraft Kilrogg Deadeye foresaw that he would be killed by the players in Hellfire Citadel but fought them to the bitter end anyway, seeming happy to meet his destined fate. In the same fate, he grants players a vision of their death in a futile Last Stand where Khadgar invokes this trope.
  • StarCraft II:
  • For those wondering why the multiplayer Starcraft example above is considered poor form, look no further than Dawn of War. An Eldar player who had clearly lost could stall out their official defeat almost indefinitely with a game of "Hunt the last Webway Gate", using an invisible Worker Unit alternate building and destroying two invisible Webway Gates over and over.
  • In Verse 2 of the Episode Ignis DLC for Final Fantasy XV, Ignis faces off against Ardyn at Zegnautus Keep in an attempt to change the future and prevent Noctis' eventual Heroic Sacrifice. To do so, he decides to wear the Ring of the Lucii and offer his life for the power to fight Ardyn, guaranteeing his death at the end of the fight. Bear in mind that Ardyn was able to match and overpower Regis in combat, and he was easily able to defeat Ifrit, a Physical God. He not only succeeds in defeating Ardyn (albeit temporarily), his temporary Heroic Sacrifice alters the future enough to turn the game's Bittersweet Ending into an Earn Your Happy Ending where Ravus lives to undergo a Heel–Face Turn and allies with Noctis and friends, allowing the five of them to permanently kill Ardyn without requiring a Heroic Sacrifice and rebuild Insomnia.
  • Dragon Age: Origins, depending on what you did, has Alistair wishing to do this by killing the Archdemon as his first and final act as King of Ferelden so he could be remembered as one of the good ones.
  • In Mass Effect, when leaving Kaidan or Ashley behind one of dialog options is "Fight hard, die proud".
  • Mass Effect 2 has an assassin named Thane Krios who, upon finding out that his days are numbered, goes on a personal quest to kill some of the more prominent crime lords in the galaxy before dying. He joins Shepard's team after his last job for the same reason.
    Shepard: Maybe you're right. Maybe we can't win this. But we'll fight you regardless... However insignificant we may be, we will fight, we will sacrifice, and we will find a way. That is what humans do.
  • Mass Effect 3 is about the entire galaxy pulling one of these against the Reapers. A lot of fan-favorite side characters and even a few not so favorites die this way off-screen.
    • More than any other race in the galaxy, the turians breathe this trope. Despite obviously losing and with staggeringly one-sided casualties, they spend almost the entirety of the game (implied to be months), engaging and bogging down the Reapers in an extended slugging match over and on their homeworld on relative terms that forces the Reapers to commit more to a single front, and with a krogan alliance, score the single largest victory in the war. Absolutely no other race that has their homeworld heavily targeted even comes close to putting up the level of resistance that the turians do.
    • Dialogue with Javik, the last Prothean (and with Vigil in the first game) notes that the Prothean Empire went out this way. Even completely out-matched by the Reapers, it still took them several hundred years to go down. For comparison, Liara estimates the current war would only take the Reapers about a hundred years to finish.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 is all about this.
    • The game pretty much opens with explaining that Snake's body is failing and that he will most likely die within months. While often near the point of giving up, he gets a grip on himself and gives everything to stop Liquid Ocelot.
    • "I only get off my bike when I fall in love. ...or fall dead." Big Mama's resistance is uncovered and she doesn't have much hope of any of her men living to see the next morning. But that doesn't mean she won't fight Ocelot until the very end.
    • And then there's the entire final act of the game, and also the entire series. There's really not much the recruits on the Missouri can do against Outer Haven, but with only a few hours left before Ocelot's rule over the world becomes perfect and being the last military unit not under his complete control, Mei Ling leads them into a full out attack anyway.
    • In a way Big Boss and Zero also count, as their entire lives works were based on their anger about soldiers being considered disposable and they would not have that.
  • The ending of the prequel game Halo: Reach was a forgone conclusion, given that the Fall of Reach was a major plot point in the Halo universe's storylinenote , and Master Chief is explicitly known as the Last Spartannote . Nonetheless, the final level of the game shows that the second-to-last Spartan definitely Did Not Go Gently.
    • Lorewise, while Reach was a catastrophic loss for the UNSC, it was one of the battles with the highest amounts of Covenant casualties. The UNSC really gave their best and made the Covenant work hard to conquer Reach.
    • Out of Universe, the Noble 14. In April of 2010, Microsoft closed down the servers for Halo 2's multiplayer. 14 players simply, didn't log off. They continued playing until internet issues (or their consoles simply breaking down from overheating] dropped them off, with the last player being booted by the servers themselves being turned off.
  • This choice actually determines what ending you get in Persona 3. Go quietly into The End of the World as We Know It, and you will die, unaware of what happened to you. Choose to fight against all hope, and you will die, albeit by a Heroic Sacrifice in order to Seal Evil in a Can so everyone else will live.
  • In the final boss battle of Sonic Adventure 2, dialogue during the battle suggests that Shadow's overuse of his Super Mode would cause him to die, but he continues to fight on anyway and help Sonic execute a powerful Chaos Control that prevents the ARK's Colony Drop, in doing so falling into the planet's atmosphere. Later averted, when he appears alive and well in Sonic Heroes.
  • In Portal 2, one of the pre-recorded messages of Cave Johnson, deathly ill and bankrupt at that point in his life, is a rant about what you do When Life Gives You Lemons.... You don't go making lemonade. You make life take lemons back. You get mad. You burn life's house down. With the lemons.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: When the Nazis invade the Resistance's base, one of BJ's timeline-dependent teammates will give the Nazis hell before dying. Tekla will shoot several Nazis before she is gunned down, while J cranks his guitar's amp Up to Eleven and rocks Berlin with "Star-Spangled Banner" in his final moments.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Commander Gore begs you to please follow this, resist the temptation of power, and save the world, combined with Dare to Be Badass. Should you accept, he thanks you, tells you It Has Been an Honor, and finally leaves to the greater beyond...
  • This is the premise behind Imageepoch's dungeon RPG Final Promise Story, where the main characters have 24 hours before their country is overrun and annihilated by ominous steel monsters.
  • In Gears of War 2, an achievement included with the Dark Corners map pack is "Did Not Go Gentle". The rest of the quote is implied due to the map related to the achievement being set at night.
  • The Excuse Plot of Dawn of War II: The Last Stand.
    • The Blood Ravens after delivering the poison to the hive fleet, but getting their extraction ship shot down and leaving them stranded behind Tyranid lines, and again when (if) the Tyranids win the Retribution campaign.
  • In the ending of Red Dead Redemption, after John Marston is betrayed by Director Ross, who sent a platoon of US soldiers to storm The Marston's ranch, John, knowing that they'll never stop hunting him, fights off a wave of soldiers to give his family a window to escape and ducks into the barn as the soldiers surround him, before walking out to meet more rifles pointing at him than he has bullets, ready to go out guns blazing.
    • The Multiplayer game Zombie Overrun is Do Not Go Gentle The Game! You are told that you are going to die and instructed to take as many Zombies as you can with you.
  • In Marathon 2, Durandal is at one point cornered above a planet with his single corvette, and an entire Pfhor fleet bearing down on him. Even with the upgrades he's made to the ship, he knows he can't win. He fights regardless and takes half the Pfhor fleet down with him.
    Durandal: I've lost, and Boomer is going down in flames. However, the Pfhor will not soon forget the "Humbling of Battle Group 7", in which half their attacking force was taken down by a single corvette. I suspect this will be written into the list of great defeats that all Pfhor commanders must memorize in their training."
  • Legacy of Kain:
  • A non-lethal variation would be the ending of Little Mac's career in the Wii remake of Punch-Out!!, in which in the post-Title Defense matches, Little Mac resigns after three losses. See the Fridge page of Punch-Out!! for more details.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
    • Subverted with the execution of Pekoyama, who tries to go down swinging against an army of robots until she accidentally badly injures her childhood friend who's she's spent her whole life protecting as his bodyguard, who rushed in to try and save her, allowing the robot army to finish her off while she's having a "My God, What Have I Done?" moment, gently cradling him as he bleeds.
    • Gundham Tanaka gives the students a Rousing Speech to this effect before heading off to his execution; the students had been locked in a building, slowly starving to death and losing hope, and Tanaka urged them to keep fighting from now on and never give up on life again, which is especially powerful when you remember that the only reason he killed was because he and Nidai agreed that Someone Has to Die, because no one would be freed from the building otherwise, so they had a Duel to the Death to decide which one would die in battle and which would be convicted for the killing and executed. Like Pekoyama, he also attempted to fight back during his execution, despite going willingly, though this ultimately failed.
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has the mission "Do Not Go Gently..." in which Blackbeard and company are ambushed by the British and he dies fighting them off.
  • Azala of Chrono Trigger, being a supreme fatalist, acknowledges before her last stand that it is probably her and her species' fate to lose to the humans but refuses to go down without a fight.
    Azala: (SNES version) Though it may be our fate to perish, we will not simply hand this world over to you!
    Azala: (DS version) Even should it prove our fate to die, we will not relinquish this world to the likes of you!
  • Central to Trillion: God of Destruction. Challenging the eponymous Big Bad is a suicide mission in the truest sense; victory is impossible, all each Overlord can do is hope to do enough damage that one of her successors might succeed. A big part of Zeabolos' character arc is trying not to crack under the strain of deciding which of his nearest and dearest to send to their death next, with no time to mourn in between.
  • For Honor: Apollyon respects people who defy her to the bitter end rather than meekly submit to their fates. In fact, she lets those who take this attitude with her live, believing that they are the only warriors deserving of life.
    Apollyon(addressing a group of Iron Legion soldiers who had surrendered to her): Do you know what kind of creature waits for its own slaughter? Sheep. Sheep.
    (cuts off their heads with her sword)
  • Fate/Grand Order: In the Seventh Singularity, Babylonia, it is revealed near the end that Gilgamesh knew all along that fighting the Goddesses was futile, that Tiamat would be awakened and Uruk would be destroyed. His future sight told him so, in no uncertain terms. But when he told this to the citizens of Uruk and asked whether they would just allow the inevitable to happen, or fight it with all their strength, they chose to fight. In the end, it turns out that Gilgamesh's vision did not account for the player's presence, and the player is able to tip the scales just enough for Tiamat to be defeated... though Gilgamesh and Uruk are still destroyed, and there are only 500 survivors of the once-prosperous kingdom left. Gilgamesh still counts that as a win: 500 survivors is much better than the ZERO survivors he had foreseen.
    • The last Singularity is pretty much the swan song of humanity; every star that is the Heroic Spirits arrives to lend a hand for their earnest wish to fight for humanity's survival. The Big Bad Demon God King Goetia could not understand why humanity keeps on resisting his plot to remake them into immortals... until the real Solomon strips him his everything. His Hive Mind gain their separate will, several decide to make their stand with or against the Heroic Spirits until there's no one left. Now dubbed Human King Goetia, he got beaten within the inch of his remaining life, half of his body scattered to the wind, and in that moment he finally understands the meaning of human's mortality. Deciding that he would not just be lying there waiting for his death, he chases after his destined nemesis the protagonist to spend his remaining life fighting till the end. The protagonist accepts, and a fistfight ensues.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Hundreds of years before the events of the game, mankind fought a Hopeless War against the Faro Plague, a rogue swarm of Killer Robots that fed on biomass to build more of themselves. Knowing life on Earth was doomed no matter what, the smartest, most resourceful people on the planet poured everything they had into Project Zero Dawn, the construction of a ridiculously powerful terraforming network that would restore life from the ashes of the Old World once the Plague ran its course. And the entire rest of mankind? They picked up a railgun and marched to the frontlines to buy Zero Dawn the time it needed to finish construction, dying by the billions for a slim hope of salvation from an enemy of their own making. It's slightly downplayed by the vast majority of humanity believing Zero Dawn to be a superweapon that would destroy the Faro Plague, but even misled as they were, they chose to die fighting instead of going gently.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: If the Player Character decides that Queen Justinia should die for her attempt to unleash a Fantastic Nuke on a major city, she'll denounce them for playing Judge, Jury, and Executioner, demand the right to defend herself as a matter of honour, and go down fighting.
  • Not for Broadcast: In Day 296, if the Disrupt tape is not played during the Hostage Situation, security will bust in and order Jeremy Donaldson to drop the gun. If you don't cut to the ads, he decides to go out in a blaze of glory by attempting to shoot one of the officers, only to be cut down by bullets.
  • Olaf the Berserker from League of Legends is a funny twist on the idea. An unstoppable viking warrior, Olaf isn't scared of death in general, but he does fear a peaceful death, which he sees as an undignified, anticlimactic way to go out. As a result, he spends his life chucking himself at giant monsters to earn a glorious death in battle, but he's so good at killing them that he always survives before they go down.
  • The last fight in The Black Heart is one for both sides: Janos had just been mobbed by a horde of Shar-Makai and got his heart ripped out and crushed in front of him by Ananzi, sincerely believing that he is tapping into the last ebbs of the Black Heart's power to give himself a few more minutes of life. However, he had already grievously wounded Ananzi to the point that she has to join forces with Final, who himself has already been weakened by having to fight everyone else who went after the Heart. Janos wins out.
  • In Pokémon there are certain abilities or moves which allow the Pokemon to give one final act of defiance to a would-be victor.
    • Self-Destruct, its more powerful version Explosion, Misty Explosion, cause direct damage to the opposing Pokemon while causing the user to faint.
    • Final Gambit reduces the enemy's health equal to the current health of the user, with the user fainting from the use.
    • Memento causes the user to faint while weakening the opposing Pokemon's attack and special attack stats by two stages each.
    • Healing Wish and Lunar Dance combine this with Take Up My Sword as they cause the user to faint but will heal the incoming Pokemon its health and remove status conditions.
    • If a Pokemon with ability Aftermath faints from a physical contact move, the attacker will lose 25% of their maximum HP.
    • If a Pokemon uses Destiny Bond, then if they faint the attacking one will faint irregardless of their condition.
    • If a Pokemon uses Grudge, then if they faint from an enemy move, that move will have all of its PP be reduced to 0.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue has this in Episode 18 of Revelation. Sarge gives this, surprisingly, stating that even though they have no chance of surviving (according to Simmons), they should go out and fight anyway. And the most surprising part is that even the coward Grif does just that.

    Web Comics 
  • In Blue Moon Blossom, when the rabbit spirit is dying, as its last action, it flies over to the pit of rabbits that were turned to stone and crumbles away, restoring them all to life.

    Web Original 
  • Zeke Strahm eventually gets one of these in Seeking Truth. He's hoping to survive, but considering that his opponent is a thus-far undefeated Eldritch Abomination...
  • The protagonists of Sevenshot Kid know that they aren't ready or capable of dealing with a tall, dark stranger but they know they're the only ones that can possibly hope to improve their situation.
  • There are a number of instances of this trope in SCP Foundation, but one of the most spectacular ones is SCP-2069: Aliens attack Earth and rapidly destroy most of the planet's cities and major infrastructure, bringing mankind to its knees, and then the SCP Foundation and Global Occult Coalition join forces into an organization called AEGIS, assume control of every remaining military asset in the world and bring the fight to the aliens. They succeed in destroying nearly half the alien fleet with weaponized satellites while the other half was defending itself against thousands of ICBMs, then launched pretty much everything else at their grounded ships. When the aliens inevitably regain the upper hand through sheer technological and logistical advantage, AEGIS develops a weapon called a Nova Bomb, and, whatever it is, it's powerful enough to punch a hole from their reality into our own, probably taking the aliens with it.

    Web Videos 
  • Mat-Ti in Suburban Knights is driven to one of these after being sent on one too many snipe hunts by the Channel Awesome crew. He goes right up to the Big Bad Malecite's face and declares he's going to fight even though he knows he's totally screwed. Fortunately, his "Heart" ring is actually Aeon's Ring, the one thing that can stop Malecite, and Mat-Ti defeats him. Unfortunately, Mat-Ti still dies in the process.

    Western Animation 
  • A two-part episode of TaleSpin features Baloo and Louie being set upon by a veritable army of giant bugs, backed into a corner. Baloo insists that he "ain't gonna play no swan song without a duzzle!" Fortunately, they find a way out without having to fight (and/or die).
  • Beast Wars:
    • The final stand of Dinobot in the episode "Code of Hero". After momentarily reflecting on his decision to fight, he singlehandedly defeats all the Predacons, who were destroying a valley where the first humans were living, and with the last of his strength destroyed the Golden Disk, ruining Megatron's plans. He even fights Megatron with a rock on a stick and makes it look good.
      Megatron: What could you possibly do? (aims his tail gun at Dinobot)
      Dinobot: Improvise! (whacks stick onto a rock, smashes his new-formed stone hammer into Megatron, grabs the Golden Disc, and obliterates it with an eye-laser that takes the last out of him)
    • His replacement Depth Charge does something similar during his final battle with Rampage.
  • This is a common trend in the Transformers franchise. In Transformers Armada, the Armada version of Starscream went out similarly to the aforementioned Dinobot, with a lot more shouting.
  • From Adventure Time, this is definitely the opinion of Princess Bubblegum when it comes to protecting her friends and her kingdom. She even says the trope title directly, at one point!
  • Zuko, from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He takes everything the world can throw at him and keeps coming back, because of one simple piece of advice his uncle sent to him, engraved on a knife: never give up without a fight.
  • Harvie Krumpet: Harvie is about to kill himself with a morphine overdose in the old folks' home when a talk with a fellow patient makes him realizes he has "a lot of living left to do." So he takes off his clothes like the nudist he is, and goes outside to sit at the fake bus stop. The final "fakt" then pops up on screen:
    "Life is like a cigarette. Smoke it to the butt."
  • Godzilla, in a later-averted Bad Future, takes this to extreme levels though it's not shown on-screen. Godzilla is nominally a hero in the main timeline of Godzilla: The Series, but one could have argued he was just protecting his adopted father. In Future Shock however, Godzilla is stated to have saved the last of humanity from a race of genetically engineered monsters called the Dragmas for no other reason than because he chose to. If the comments made by Future!Mendel are to be believed, he not only went out fighting, he actually killed a few of the Dragmas along the way. He has a memorial statue in his honor in the underground tunnels most of humanity seems to now call home in that timeline.

    Real Life 
  • Massive stars go this way. First ballooning up into a red giant and then blowing up as supernova or planetary nebula.
  • This is the manifesto of various transhumanist movements whose goal, among other improvements to the human condition, is to make death of old age and associated diseases optional through advancement of technology.
  • Gavrilo Princip personally accepted the mission to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand because he was dying of tuberculosis and wanted to do something significant while he was still alive. The significance of his actions is unquestionable.
  • There are a large number of living organisms that have physical traits (such as poison) or behaviors that injure or kill their predators even as the organism itself dies. While this does not benefit the organism itself, it does benefit their species by making predators avoid them in the future.
  • The Third Punic War was this for Carthage. After the first two Punic Wars, Carthage was nothing more than a bit player that Rome could basically just boss around with ease. When provocations finally forced Carthage to violate their peace treaty with Rome, they buckled down and resisted the much larger Roman armies for three years, despite being completely alone.
  • The end of the German corsair ship Kormoran during World War II fits the trope to a t: cornered by the light cruiser HMAS Sydney, that outclassed her by an enormous margin note . Also, being an actual warship facing a converted merchant ship, Sydney had better armor and fire control, and, having the main battery on turrets, could concentrate all its heavy firepower on either broadside while Kormoran could use only three of her heavy guns at most... The crew of the Kormoran, that was intercepted while disguised as the liner Straat Malakka, bullshitted their way into having the enemy come very close (even launching a distress signal claiming they were under attack from a corsair), and when the enemy was at 1000 m they opened fire with everything they had. At the end of the battle Kormoran was so damaged the skipper ordered her scuttled, but not before seeing their opponent run away on fire until she sunk.
  • In the North Sea on April 8, 1940. In one corner, HMS Glowworm, a 1500 ton destroyer armed with four 4.7 inch guns and 10 torpedoes. In the other, the 18,500-ton German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper with eight 8-inch guns and twelve 4.1 inch guns. The Glowworm was a burning, near-totaled wreck but its final action was ramming the Admiral Hipper, then blowing up and sinking. Although the Germans were able to continue their mission despite the damage, Lt. Commander Gordon Roope, captain of the destroyer, was awarded the first Victoria Cross of the war. Part of the reason was the recommendation of Kapitän zur See Helmuth Heye, captain of the Admiral Hipper, sent through the Red Cross after the battle praising the bravery of Roope and his crew in a fight they had no chance of winning.
  • In the North Atlantic on November 5th, 1940, the cargo ship SS Beaverford was part of Convoy HX-84 en route to Britain from Canada when it came under attack from the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. The Scheer quickly sank the convoy's only escort, the HMS Jervis Bay, and began to engage the merchant ships in the formation. 60-year-old Captain High Pettigrew initially turned to scatter into the night with the rest of the convoy, as Beaverford was relatively modern and was one of the few ships with enough speed to have a good chance at escaping. He then saw the German battleship attacking the cargo vessel Kenbane Head and ordered his ship to come about and engage enemy. The Beaverford lacked any form of armor and possessed only two small anti-submarine guns, but the ship managed to keep the Scheer tied down for almost five hours (its armed escort had only managed 22 minutes) by dodging in and out of smoke banks between salvos and using its speed to evade return fire. Beaverford was eventually sunk with all hands by accumulated battle damage and a torpedo hit, but the time it bought allowed most of the surviving ships to escape and reach safety in Britain.
  • The poem is being read to a rousing music in a commercial about fighting cancer. With so much success in treating the various forms of it, it'd be stupid of people to just give up. Of course, this has some victim-blaming Unfortunate Implications by implying that if you do die of cancer, it's your own fault for not fighting hard enough. Many cancer survivors object to war terminology (fighting cancer, battle with cancer, etc.) for this reason.
  • When space agencies, be ESA or NASA, dispose by destroying them for whatever reasons of (robotic!) spacecrafts that have ended their missions, it's quite usual they'll be programmed to send science data until the very end.
  • Richard Russell, a.k.a. "Sky King". An airport employee with apparently no pilot training aside from video games who stole a plane on August 10, 2018 and took it for a joyride, performing some stunts like loops and rolls with it. Yes, he did a barrel roll, which made his stunt extra impressive as the maneuver is difficult for even experienced pilots, and the plane he was in wasn't built with such techniques in mind. Once he was almost out of gas, he intentionally crashed the plane into a mostly uninhabited island. It's unknown what exactly prompted him to end his life with such a spectacle, but he described himself as a "broken guy" and stated that he just wanted to take in the sights before "calling it a night". Once knowledge of the event became public, Russell was seen as a Tragic Hero in the eyes of the Internet, as he never hurt anyone and spent his final moments entertaining himself and others.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Go Out With A Bang


What The Hell Are You?

After being mortally wounded by Dutch, the Predator activates its final weapon: a wrist-mounted explosive powerful enough to blow up a good portion of the jungle. As Dutch runs for his life, the Predator lets out a warped, echoing version of Billy's laugh that it had heard previously.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / SelfDestructMechanism

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