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Heroic Spirit

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He isn't just holding that rubble up. He eventually makes himself lift it.note 

"It's not in the circuitry, is it?! It's not the machine that resists you; it's me, my spirit! And that's the part you can't break!"
Cyborg to Brother Blood, after literally being torn limb from limb, Teen Titans (2003)

The spirit of A True Hero is an awesome thing. Heroes can do anything if they are driven enough. They will not surrender, they will not stay down. Broken Bones, The Virus, Death, they are all to be shrugged off when the chips are down. No Despair Event Horizon for them.

If all this sounds implausible or excessively idealistic, remember that it's not just the good guys who can think like this.

A Super-Trope involving:

Compare Humans Are Warriors, Heroic RRoD, Honor Before Reason, Do Not Go Gentle.

Not to be confused with the Servants, or literal Heroic Spirits.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Rock Lee in Naruto is able to keep fighting after two limbs have been crushed by Gaara's sand coffin and he's been beaten into unconsciousness (he's out cold, but his body gets up and tries to keep fighting anyway). On a lighter note, he also fights spectacularly well when he's drunk as a pirate. His mentor attributes both of these feats to his fighting spirit.
  • A major motif in most Super Robot mecha shows (with some infamous exceptions). Some examples:
    • Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto will keep fighting even if he is badly wounded and weakened, his weapons have been destroyed, his Humongous Mecha is running out of power, he is outnumbered and the enemy is way more powerful than him. The times he has almost or fully crossed the Despair Event Horizon his mindset has been "I am going to die... Alright. I'll die fighting.". However Sayaka's Heroic Spirit is even greater because she knows she is always underpowered. She is nearly always badly beaten in battles and still keeps fighting.
    • Great Mazinger: Tetsuya often gets badly hurt during battles because he never -ever- quits, not even in situations where any semblance of logic and common sense would demand flee to fight another day and often he has to be ORDERED to retreat. The most memorable duel in the entire series happened when The Dragon Great Lord of Darkness challenged him to a Sword Fight. Tetsuya was severely wounded after a long, complicated battle, his Humongous Mecha was very battered and almost depleted from power and all advised him retreating. But he still accepted and he fought until the end. Nonetheless, this is also due to Tetsuya's psychological issues: he believes piloting Great Mazinger is all what he has, so if he loses he will be replaced, abandoned and forgotten for everyone, including his father.
    • Combattler V: Hyoma Aoi, captain of the Five-Man Band. The Dragon refused killing him because he considered him a Worthy Opponent, so he blew his arms off. Hyoma was twisting in pain but he still asked being seated on the cockpit, telling he would use the special mental interface equipment to pilot Combattler. Later The Mole got his Artificial Limbs infected with The Virus. He was dying but he still managed to endure it until he was given a vaccine. His arms were barely healed and he leapt out of the hospital bed and sprinted towards the hangar. Chizuru Nanbara was also very ill but she tried to keep it from everyone because she knew they would force her to stop fighting. The secret finally came out when she was trapped inside a Robeast. Her teammates could not get her out so she had to free herself. However the pain was so strong she could barely move and she could not even use her machine's weapons. Still she managed overcome the pain, turn one of the weapons on and drill her way out of the monster.
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka would never run away, give up or quit, not even when the enemy was completely impervious to her weapons, out of her reach or was mind-raping her. Even when she was fighting alone against an enemy outnumbered her and overpowered her, out of energy and pinned to the ground with one of her eyes bleeding, she struggled for moving her Humongous Mecha and keep fighting (in fact she was trying her Unit went berserker). Right like Tetsuya above, it is partially due to her personal issues: she thinks piloting Eva is all what she has and nobody would ever care for her, so if she loses, she will lose her worth and will be discarded and replaced by NERV (and what you know She was right).
    • Heroic Spirit it's sometimes even the key to using what ever green rocks/applied phlebotinum powers the robot. Examples include:
  • One Piece has done this a number of times:
    • A running theme through the battles of the Baratie arc. It's why Zoro continues to fight against Mihawk when it becomes clear he still has a long way to go. It is this conviction that impresses Mihawk enough to spare him. And later in the battle against Krieg, Zeff comments on this as he and Sanji watch Luffy fight, as he's impressed by Luffy's willingness to fight, even if it's to the death, to achieve what he believes in.
    • Most notably with Usopp the Lovable Coward, since he pretty much needs Heroic Spirit to break through his fear. His fight with Mr. 4 and Miss Merry Christmas in the Alabasta arc had him stand up after taking a four ton bat to the face. His battle with Perona in the Thriller Bark arc did this more literally, with Usopp calling upon his alter ego Sniper King to save him.
    • More literally so in Brook's case. His spirit was the only thing keeping him tethered to the mortal world after his death 52 years ago. His spirit also can be weaponized into ghostly ice.
  • Ichigo of Bleach tends to act like this. On at least one occasion he essentially comes back from the dead just because he's that bent on winning.
  • Jack Rakan from Negima! Magister Negi Magi. He's been known to bend the laws of physics outright ignore the laws of magic just because.
  • Tenma from Monster just won't break, ever.
  • Endou from Inazuma Eleven has been knocked down so many times by powerful shoots, and even when other people wouldn't have been able to stand, he struggles to his feet so that his team can continue to play and win the match.
  • Both Hamman Karn and Mashymere Cello from Gundam ZZ are able to block beams with sheer willpower, and in the case of the latter, while enduring thousands of volts of electricity.
  • Natsu and Erza from Fairy Tail. Regardless of what Kyouka did to the latter character, she still got up and continued fighting.
  • Dragon Ball: Goku, particularly in the Dragon Ball Z arcs, could be said to be this. He refuses to surrender to hopelessness or despair, will keep fighting even as his body breaks down, and will willingly tear his own body apart and give his life if it means even a remote chance of winning. He will only surrender if he knows that there is absolutely no chance of victory or he's physically unable to move anymore.
  • Pegasus Seiya from Saint Seiya has this. Though he is a lowly Bronze Saint, when his life is on the line, Princess Saori's life, or the fate of the world and loved ones is at stake, Seiya will do just about everything in his power, even go beyond limits to bring justice and save the day, even if he gets beaten black and blue by Saints way above his power level.
    • Not just Seiya, the whole group of main characters fits the trope. Cygnus Hyoga beating Aquarius Camus and achieving the limit of ice-based powers while unconscious, and Dragon Shityu willingly making Capricorn Shura's arm stuck inside his chest (when, a few arcs before, it was stated that a Saint's body is just as resilient as a regular human's without their Cloths) are two perfect examples.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. He will go through hell and mow down scores of soldiers who would dare stand in his way, just so he can get to his woman who was kidnapped and live peacefully with her.
  • Mai from Skyhigh.
  • The final test in the examination arc of Hunter × Hunter was to beat one of the other candidates. But the problem was that the candidates had to make the others admit defeat - beating them senseless didn't count (The test would resume once the other regained consciousness) and killing was an automatic disqualification. Gon was on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Hanzo, but kept getting back up. Ultimately Hanzo had to concede the round, because there was no way to get Gon to give up without killing him.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Ash has diffidently demonstrated a strong fighting spirit as he never gives up on bringing any bad guy or anyone who mistreats Pokémon to justice. Also, Ash at times gets back up whenever he was knocked down from a Pokémon attack or something that was dangerous in order to help anyone closes to him or others for various reasons.
    • Even Ash's Pokémon shown great fighting sprit as well.
      • The traveling companions and their Pokémon also demonstrated this.
  • Parodied in Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. After running out of gas in the middle of Hokkaido, Akira realizes that he's just the right distance away from Wakkanai, the northernmost city in Japan, to run the Spartathlon, a 246 km marathon. Shizuka (correctly) complains that without training, they won't even make it a third of the way, but Akira and Beatrix believe they can make it there through sheer Hot-Blooded determination. They're already breaking down by the 60 km mark, and that's before it starts snowing around the halfway point. After collapsing, Akira hallucinates an image of Pheidippides encouraging him to keep going, only for a zombie horde to show up to motivate the others to run the rest of the way rather than their heroic spirits.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Most of the time, nothing will keep Batman down. It's notable that part of Bane's plan to actually defeat Batman involved running him completely ragged by basically hurling his entire Rogues Gallery at him all at once, while he was sick. And even so, Batman still basically tore apart everyone Bane tossed at him, refused to stop when was ambushed at his civilian home by Bane's Quirky Miniboss Squad, and still put up a hell of a fight against Bane himself.
  • Empowered: The titular protagonist has a super-suit that doesn't work properly, more issues than a comic-book warehouse, ends up naked, bound, and gagged almost every freaking day, and is either a joke too, or suspected of really being a villain by, almost every other hero in her universe. Yet she absolutely will not stop. She is nearly a Platonic ideal of the Determinator version of this trope.
  • Green Lantern: This is more or less what allows members of the Green Lantern Corps to use their rings.
    • Also sort of applies to the Blue Lantern Corps.
    • Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2, needs to be focused in order to create constructs. While fighting Grundy he's unable to create constructs because he is still fazed by the death of his lover, Sam. When The Grey tries to tempt him with an apparition of Sam, Alan fights it off and becomes focused enough to create constructs.
    • During Reign of the Superman, Mongul is gloating to Hal Jordan over his inability to fight lest he accidentally kill Superman again. His body is broken and the best he can do is crawl to the fallen sledgehammer of Steel. But, the thing is heavy and his body is hurting, even with ring-powered exoskeleton powering him up. When Mongul suggests that he's broken his spirit, it's enough to piss Hal off that he creates a Powered Armor from his ring to lift the hammer, pulls back, and smashes it into Mongul's face.
  • Marvel Two-in-One: In Annual #7, a cosmically powered warrior called simply "The Champion" beams the strongest heroes of Earth up to his ship to box with him. The fate of the Earth is at stake, naturally. The Thing is the last hero in the ring (the others being defeated in short order by a bored Champion, or 'disqualified' for not really understanding boxing and sent back to wherever they were yanked from). The Thing gives a good account of himself before being savagely beaten down. He gets back up and attacks again, managing to injure the Champion before being beaten to an utter pulp. He gets up and manages to land a few more blows before being beaten through the floor. As the Champion goes into his spiel about the fate of the Earth, the Thing drags himself up and grabs him by the ankles (weakly). At which point the Champion declares "I could break your body, but I could never destroy your spirit" and leaves for other planets and other challenges.
    • That line of dialogue, or something very like it, appears in many of the examples that followed it, making this the Ur-Example for modern western media.
    • Given a Whole-Plot Reference in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, with Monkey in place of the Thing (see below).
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #33 was one of the best issues of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run. It is the third part of If This Be My Destiny...! three-part arc. Spider-Man is trapped under a huge piece of equipment after a fight with Doctor Octopus. His Aunt May is dying and needs a serum to cure her. Spidey thinks about giving up, but he's determined not to let Aunt May down. He uses every ounce of strength and will and finally lifts the wreckage off. The sequence was later adapted in the animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man in the episode "Shear Strength", and partially adapted in live-action near the climax of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
    • In Peter Parker: Spider-Man #30-#32, Spidey also fought off a broken neck. Of course, it wasn't really broken, but with the villain in question (Fusion) being a Master of Illusion, he didn't know that until he was clenching his fists and standing up for another go.
    • Avengers vs. X-Men takes it even further, as Spidey deliberately traps himself in a cave with a Phoenix Force-possessed Colossus and Magik in order to save fellow Avengers. Keep in mind Colossus and Magik have just beaten Thor and naturally subject Spidey to a painful-to-read No Holds Barred Beat Down, but does Peter give in? Nope. Even with his skull broken and his mask full of blood Spidey the perennial underdog refuses to give in, and manages to survive the insurmountable odds.
      Colossus: I said. STAY DOWN.
      Spider-Man: Afraid I... can’t do that.
  • Superman:
    • Superman, as the archetypical superhero, is a shining example of this trope.
    • Supergirl never quits... ever. Even if she has been beaten, depowered, weakened, captured... by enemies that outnumber her, overpower her, or outsmart her, she will fight on until she either wins or dies.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: One of the ships of the Avalon space fleet is named the HMS Shinji Ikari. The motto's crew is standing their ground and keeping fighting, not matter what.
    "Here I Stand And Here I Remain"
  • In Power Girl story A Force of Four, Kara gets to fight three other Kryptonians at once. She's battered, punched, kicked, blasted... but she never, ever quits.
  • In Purple Days, Robert Baratheon crashes a feast Joffrey's throwing, and suggests an impromptu melee. To his shock, Joff wins easily, though for the first time in his reign, this sparks him into action rather than drown him in apathy. He rises, demands a rematch, and gives the performance of a lifetime with his son. Unfortunately, this, along with all the food and alcohol, exacerbates his many preexisting conditions and winds up giving him a fatal stroke later that night.
  • In the My Hero Academia fic Izuku's Pet Noumu, this is the nature of the titular character's hidden Quirk, Indomitable Spirit. Wankuro had Abusive Parents who wound up selling her to All For One. He had her turned into a Noumu. He spent years trying to break her spirit. He couldn't break her spirit, no matter what he tried.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • This is a common virtue in The Lord of the Rings. Sam Gamgee is the most conspicuous and memorable example, but Frodo and Aragorn are quite similar; so is Gollum, in his better moments.
    • But there's no trace of this way of thinking in Mordor. Sauron sitting in his drab brick fortress was thinking in bureaucratic, impersonal, decidedly modern terms; when he died, his armies just kind of gave up, and didn't organize any sort of effective resistance. Look at the appendices: Gondor's armies, which Aragorn judged completely inadequate to fight Sauron, were more than enough to conquer most of Near Harad and campaign with impunity in Rhun once Sauron's government was out of the picture. (The aftermath of The Lord of the Rings was a heroic version of the Fall of Rome; the total number of barbarians who conquered the Roman Empire was smaller than the population of the city of Rome itself.)
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry definitely has this. In fact, he observes the one thing mortals have that the powerful immortals do not is free will, a fact that saves his life on more than one occasion, and which becomes a key driving force in Cold Days
  • Egwene Al'Vere in The Wheel of Time.
  • Schererazde in the Arabian Nights in a weird but definite sort of way. Man, what kind of girl first volunteers for near certain death, then has the audacity and sheer nerve to tell stories while having sex with a pending execution hanging over her.
  • There's a reason Yoda is the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. After Order 66, Obi-Wan despairs that they may be the last Jedi. Yoda responds,
    "If the last we are, unchanged our duty is. While one Jedi lives, survive the Order does. Resist the darkness with every breath, we must."
  • Even in the dark, cynical world of A Song of Ice and Fire, there are those who hold true to this standard.
    Seven, Brienne thought again, despairing. She had no chance against seven, she knew. No chance, and no choice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Worf made a fine showing of this trope on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Detained in a Dominion prison camp, the Klingon was forced to fight a near continual series of one-on-one fights with progressively more skilled Jem'hadar each day with no medical attention beyond basic first-aid between fights. Finally, he reaches the lead Jem'hadar, who beats the unholy hell out of him. However, Worf refuses to admit defeat, and rises to go another round. It's clear that the Jem'hadar could easily finish and kill him at this point (in fact, he's ordered to kill him), but instead...
    Ikat'ika: I yield. I cannot defeat this Klingon. All I can do is kill him. And that no longer holds my interest.
    • A lesser example in Ikat'ika, who maintains this even after being told he will be executed unless he kills Worf. Definitely Honor Before Reason, anyway.
  • Londo speaks admiringly of humanity's heroic spirit in the opening of Babylon 5. During the Earth-Minbari war, humanity was getting utterly curb-stomped, but kept fighting to the death, long after any other race would have succumbed to despair.
    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 all 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 that I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes in the end. They did this for two years. They never ran out of courage... but in the end, they ran out of time.
  • Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly, starting with his very first scene in the pilot, showing his refusal to lay down arms when he's caught on the losing side of the battle of Serenity Valley, and reiterated often after that. Played up more than ever in the Big Damn Movie. Ditto Simon Tam- a mild-mannered Deadpan Snarker Fish out of Water who isn't much good at fighting, but will go to any lengths to protect his baby sister. Including offering to be burned at the stake with her when their present company decides she's a witch. (Luckily for them, the rest of the crew arrived just in time to rescue them.).
  • Deconstructed in Stargate Atlantis. Most people can't survive the Wraith mind control and just get eaten. All the wraith worshipers were those strong enough to take it, and were often very heroic beforehand, making their fates kind of tragic.
  • This is actually canon in Super Sentai, normally refered to as the "Super Sentai Soul". Pretty much, it's the reason why if Sentai teams absolutely refuse to quit, they can manage to pull out an 11th-Hour Superpower. The team up specials normally result in the two teams invoking this together to power up the present team's mecha when they final battle is getting too rough. In the vs Super Sentai specials.
  • In Farscape, John's human pluckiness is often commented on by his alien shipmates. The best example comes in "A Constellation of Doubt":
    Noranti: I like - that you're always striving to reach higher - hoping for a better tomorrow! It's the quality that first attracted me to your uncle.
    Bobby: That humans dream?
    Noranti: Yes! You're so ignorant! But you never give up! Even in the face of insurmountable odds!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5's Iron Heart Surge is a manifestation of such, but the rules for it are pretty bad. It requires a standard action, so it's useless against mind control, stunning, nausea, and other incapacitating conditions; but, since the sun's heat is an effect under desert rules, and the sun's light lowers accuracy for some races, you can use an Iron Heart Surge to stop the sun from shining. (The night will last forever, too, since the sun's effects affect you and are not instantaneous.)
    • There's a lot of examples of this in the 4th edition of the game. As a side effect of the efforts to give healing abilities to more classes (and avoid the You gotta have a Cleric! problem of earlier editions), there's a lot of powers that allow characters to expend Healing Surges and regain lost Hit Points that are described as this at work.
    • Dark Sun dwarves have "focus", their current obsessively followed major goal. Game mechanics gives bonuses to save and skill checks while performing tasks leading directly toward this goal.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has an equip magic card called "Fighting Spirit." A monster equipped with the card gets 300 attack points for every monster on the opposite side of the field. If that wasn't enough, when the equipped monster is supposed to be destroyed, the equip card is destroyed in its place. Pretty much wraps this trope in a nut shell.
  • Magic: The Gathering 's 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."
  • Exalted has Willpower, which can be spent to throw off mental influence, or to enhance ability rolls. Channel one of your Virtues for the latter use, and the action is all but guaranteed to succeed if that Virtue is high enough. So, basically, by being a heroic person, you can channel the raw Power of Love (Compassion), level-headedness and discipline (Temperance), Hot Bloodedness (Valor), or sheer determination (Conviction).
  • Spellbound Kingdoms combat system has motivation mechanics built in as "Inspirations". Once per battle per Inspiration, a character can have Heart roll along with normal attack, defence or other roll and use the best value. The strength of an Inspiration counts as a bonus to Heart roll if it can be hammed out — sorry, if the player narrates the character's inspiration and actions (e.g. a loyal guard swings at an intruder with "You Shall Not Pass!!").
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse, all heroes benefit from this. Heroes who run out of HP don't die; they simply become "incapacitated", meaning they can't play hero cards or use their default side's powers - but they can use one of the three effects listed on the reverse side of their card, allowing them to support their allies even when barely holding on to consciousness. Some of these options can be game-breakingly powerful - one version of Tempest, for example, has an incapacitated option that renders the remaining heroes impervious to one kind of damage (out of eleven), which can lead to a very, very hard day for bosses like Iron Legacy (who mostly rely on melee damage to actually do anything).

  • An abundance of this is about the only thing that stops Ajax from being a villain in Sophocles' Ajax.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts: Sora's heart is exceptionally strong, maybe even one of the strongest hearts in existence. Against all odds, he manages to regain his Keyblade from the Anti-Hero by merely reciting a quote pretty similar to the one on top of the page. He also managed to keep his free will in the form of a Heartless - something that is near impossible to do.
    • Terra may trump even Sora though. After spending his story trusting Obvious Villains, getting convinced his friends have betrayed him and causing the death of his surrogate father, he finally proves just why the Keyblade chose him: after Xehanort pulls a Grand Theft Me on Terra at the climax of his final bosses and takes complete control of Terra's body, Terra's armour rises up to confront Xehanort, who's theoretically at his prime at this point, and beats the hell out of, quite literally, himself. After that? He kneels down and waits for 11 years before Sora runs across him in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+, where he's widely regarded as That One Boss of an entire series littered with them.
  • Final Fantasy VII Compilation, especially Crisis Core - Zack Fair, who will just NOT quit, even in the face of impossible odds. It takes an army to kill him, and even then, he kills most of them.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood: A sentient war machine that seeks to pit itself against powerful opponents to further its own mechanical evolution, Omega has observed a certain, inexplicable anomaly: that of otherwise unremarkable individuals, "heroes", overcoming seemingly impossible odds to defeat vastly superior opponents. Realizing that this has happened too often to be dismissed as mere coincidence, it brought the Warrior of Light into its experiments in an effort to recreate the conditions for this phenomenon to occur and, in doing so, figure out how to incorporate it into itself. In other words, Omega actively seeks to analyze and exploit Heroic Spirit.
  • The cast of Sengoku Basara run on this like a car runs on petrol. Not only is it implied to be the source of their massive strength, most of them would probably be long dead without it.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, this was implied by Chip to be the reason behind Sonic being able to survive in his Werehog Form without being fully corrupted by Dark Gaia.
    • Of note is that he didn't even realize he was resisting it. His heroic spirit is so strong that it's practically subconscious.
  • Halo: The Spartan-IIs live and breathe this trope. No matter what the odds, all of them will fight to the very last breath. They all realize that they will often need to sacrifice themselves for the future of humanity, but want to use their lives to kill as many of the enemy as possible.
  • While there was much debate as to what connections each Link in The Legend of Zelda series have to each other, the one thing that's outright stated is that all Links share the same Heroic Spirit.note . It's explicitly why he was chosen to be the Hero as of Skyward Sword. Zelda even notes in Breath of the Wild that whatever this Link may have forgotten since waking up in the Shrine of Resurrection, he never once forgot his courage.
    • Link isn't the only one with this outlook in this setting. Ganondorf is little affected by being repeatedly sealed away and having been killed outright at least once; his confidence that he was right broke down in The Wind Waker (which would be a very interesting game to have a sequel to), but his determination to do what he has resolved to do is pretty much unbreakable. And, unlike Sauron, he has followers who share his determination and can act pretty effectively on their own.
  • Sabata of all people gets quite a moment in Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django. The setup is that his brother is turning into a vampire and fading fast, and the only thing that could (possibly) save him is the power of the sun. The problem is that Sabata's body is mostly dark matter and thus shares the exact same weakness as all the Immortals in the game. Without hesitation he throws his brother onto the Pile Driver, a device intentionally built to harness the The Power of the Sun, and survives the experience through sheer willpower (and a bit of sunblock).

    Visual Novels 
  • Although the trope should not be confused with Fate/stay night's Heroic Spirits, the trope is quite an important part of the series. Though power and compatibility are central to who actually wins in fights, one of the central themes of the series is that a Heroic Spirit — any Heroic Spirit, however lesser, unknown, weak, or outmatched they may seem — got that way for a reason: by definition, they are those who tried and succeeded at doing the impossible. You can defeat a hero, you can even kill a hero — but you can never chump a hero, you should never, ever simply count out a hero as irrelevant.
    • Shirou in particular practically lives and breathes this trope. Especially his future self, Counter Guardian EMIYA.
    • For Saber, it's not even a question: even the narration just takes it for granted that even partially depowered by her shoddy Master, missing some of her most powerful artifacts, and in some routes badly wounded from previous encounters, of course she stands back up to match blades with the like of Herakles or Gilgamesh.
    • From the same War: "Sasaki Kojirou", scare quotes very much required as he's actually a no-name farmer who happened to have mastered the technique Kojirou was known for in legend, filling in for a "hero" that even in legend only really existed to pump up Musashi's fame, was capable of holding his gate against all comers for the entire War. Yes, that includes Herakles — a Berserker that outmatches him in almost every statistics, comically outweighs him in depth of legend and Mystery, and possesses a defensive Noble Phantasm that ought to mean that Kojirou shouldn't even have been able to touch him.
    • Gilgamesh himself gets a lot of flak for being a complete asshole — and he absolutely is — but he's not called the King of Heroes for nothing. He finally gets to show his chops as an underdog hero in the Babylon singularity of Fate/Grand Order, where he finally takes his job as 'king' seriously.
      • When you first meet him, you find that he's running himself ragged micromanaging everything in Uruk in order to hold off the attentions of three angry full-powered Divine Spirits and an army of superhuman monsters. (Literally, everything. He knows the names, faces, and detailed daily schedules of every last one of his subjects.) — Predictably, this sheer overwork leads to him literally dying of it, thanks to a targeted cursed plague sent by Ereshkigal.
      • But naturally, that doesn't stop him, because he has too much work to be dead! When the player character has to go down to the Underworld for her own reasons (in part to rescue him), she finds him already halfway out on his own power.
      • Then (skipping over several scenes of similar sacrificial heroics from Quetzalcoatl, Ishtar, and of course the main cast) he gets his own Hold the Line moment, pitting his city walls lined with cannons shooting Broken Phantasms and his own legend against Tiamat, mother of the gods and the Second Beast, without his strongest weapon. The fight begins with laughing — as always — about it because the one thing that he apparently needed to properly end his reign was a fatal wound, before holding her off for a solid hour while the player character gets some much needed sleep. When she wakes up, he finally keels over dead for the second time.
      Gilgamesh: Hah! No need to worry, it's just a fatal wound!
      • Which still doesn't stop him showing up again for the final boss fight, now in his full-power Archer form leveling the weapon that originally slew Tiamat the first time at Beast II. In total, Gilgamesh died three separate times saving his city.
    • Now in the fifth Lostbelt, we have the simple example of Charlotte Corday, a failed assassin from the French revolution, managing to do what Assassins do best and sneak-attack Odysseus, managing a Mutual Kill with the legendary trickster of Ancient Greece.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Roman Torchwick attempts to deconstruct Ruby Rose's attitude as a part of his Breaking Speech, claiming that that sort of attitude don't fly in this world and that if she wants to be a hero, then she should just be like every other Huntsman in history and just die while he gloats that he'll keep going by lying, cheating, stealing and, ultimately, surviving. He's then eaten by a Grimm.
    • It’s realizing this trope that allows Ruby to help Penny fight off a computer virus. Realizing that her soul is resisting, she orders Jaune to boost her aura to strengthen it. This works!

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "A Taste Of Freedom", Old Man Waterfall says a similar line to the Decapodian invaders. They proceed to smash him into the ground, at which point he says, "Ow, my spirit!"
  • A Dial M for Monkey short on Dexter's Laboratory, is a Whole-Plot Reference to a comic book event mentioned above (and adapted for TV just below). Rasslor pummels the heroic primate senseless, but he just won't give up.
    • The fact that Monkey is so small compared to the Thing (though no less super strong) makes it almost even more awesome.
      • For extra fun, we have the Casting Gag of Randy "Macho Man" Savage playing the cartoon's version of The Champion.
      Rasslor: Incredible. I could crush your body, I could smash your bones, but I could NEVER break your spirit. You are a marvel, little Monkey! Any world that could spawn one as noble as you, is truly blessed! I SPARE YOUR EARTH!
  • And the original Thing story got an Animated Adaption in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Contest of Champions".
  • Dinobot, from Beast Wars in the episode "Code of Hero". After he goes up against six Predacons, who are torching the valley where the proto-humans live, and wins, he has sustained so much damage that he can barely move and is almost out of power. Then in comes Megatron to gloat just before finishing him off. Dinobot then gathers what little is left of his strength, slams a stick onto a rock, making a makeshift hammer, knocks Megatron on his ass and uses the very last bit of his power reserves to destroy the Golden Disc with an eye-laser blast, trading his life for a future.
    Megatron: Here you are - alone, damaged beyond recovery ... defeated! What can you possibly do?
    Dinobot: Improvise.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Grinch, after his small heart grows three sizes, manages to save the sled from falling off the mountain and lifts it over his head with ease.
    "And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!"
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: The series doesn't dwell on it, but there are moments when you notice the immense strength of Sunset Shimmer's resolve. She's been through several situations and sudden challenges that an ordinary person might not even live through, but they barely even slow her down.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Cyborg demonstrated a strong heroic sprit and that was something no villain could't break.

    Real Life 
  • In psychology, this trait is called "resilience". People who are very resilient can come back from major losses and get through extremely tough times without permanent effects.
  • The Finnish concept of 'sisu' is pretty much this.


Video Example(s):


The Crest of Courage

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

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeroicSpirit

Media sources: