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Hold the Line

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"Before the network, there was the fleet. Before diplomacy, there were soldiers! Our influence stopped the rachni, but before that, we held the line! Our influence stopped the krogan, but before that, we held the line! Our influence will stop Saren. In the battle today, we will hold the line!"
Captain Kirrahe, Mass Effect

Love isn't always on time!

Sometimes, Your Defense Need Not Protect You Forever.

A Hold the Line mission is a type of Timed Mission, where instead of completing a mission in a set time, you have to prevent the enemy from completing their objective before the time runs out. This usually means you are defending your base, or a certain character, until reinforcements arrive, or vital repairs are carried out on the base. Sometimes the enemy is an overwhelming force, so actually defeating the enemy, or even surviving much beyond the time limit, would be impossible, without reinforcements or similar. Fortunately for you, victory will usually occur instantly and automatically as soon as the time runs out, even if you were moments away from defeat.

This is common in Real-Time Strategy, where success usually requires a balance between creating defensive structures and units to protect one's objective, and scouting out and eliminating enemy bases to reduce their number. It also crops up in First-Person Shooter games, most commonly as an objective-based multiplayer game mode, though stopping to defend against waves of enemies (most often by way of using mounted turrets with limitless ammo but poor heat management) is also a common occurrence.

Sometimes it might be linked to an Escort Mission, where the player has to escort someone to a location, and then protect them while they, for example, hack into the enemy's computer system.

In multiplayer, this mode of gameplay also exists, usually with the teams switching after the attackers win or the timer runs out. In many cases, there are several lines, and the defining criteria (if neither team manages to break through them all) are usually which team got further or which team got to the same line first. Naturally this can result in tie games. Strategy games of all kinds love this trope — there are very, very few that do not have an example of a Hold The Line mission.

When the "objective" is to kill the enemies, you've got yourself a Multi-Mook Melee.

Fictionally, it is often a form of You Shall Not Pass! or Last Stand, but the goals differ. In the first, the objective is to save the rest of the unit. In the second, the goal is to defeat as many of the enemy as possible before being killed. In this trope, the objective is to stall for time.

Tower Defense has this trope as its central gameplay element. Protection Mission is this combined with defending a stationary object. Sometimes leads to a Victory by Endurance. Compare The Siege. It is similar to and yet quite different from Holding the Floor; talking for a long period of time without pause instead of fighting. Not to be confused with waiting for someone else on the phone.


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    Action Adventure 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the final area, Ann must defend Sigrid from C's attack forces as she channels enough power into her ability to weaken C and expel his other self from his body with a physical form so that it can be destroyed.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi has the Chapel Battle, where Gingerelle surrounds you with invincible Vambees that kill you instantly if they grab you. All you can do is hold them off until morning (They're vulnerable to sunlight), which is about 6 minutes in-game time.
  • "Operation: Enduring Victory" was this in the backstory of Horizon Zero Dawn. Literally everyone who could hold a gun was armed and sent to fight the Faro Plague so that Project Zero Dawn could be completed. The machines breached the final defensive lines mere hours after Zero Dawn had been completed.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Majora's Mask has an optional mission that requires you to protect a barn against a bunch of otherworldly creatures until the sun rises. You cannot use your sword to defeat them, so you have to be skilled with your bow to succeed. A mission that occurs after that requires you to protect milk jars from a pair of muggers while riding on a covered wagon. If you manage to complete both missions, you are rewarded with Romani's Mask.
    • Skyward Sword has a villanous example, as Ghirahim sends an horde of Bokoblins to try to hold the line against you, as he finishes casting a spell to suck Zelda's spirit out of her body and give it to his master.
    • Breath of the Wild allows the player to come across the Akkala Citadel, where the last of Hyrule's knights and soldiers gathered for a last stand against the Guardians after the deaths of the King and the Champions. Sadly, they were quickly overrun and slaughtered. 100 years later, the area is overrun with Blight and has flying Guardians patrolling the base of the tower.
  • Happens in some levels of Soulcalibur Legends, where your allies hold the line to give you time to kill a dragon, liberate a castle, or just get to their position to help.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, a mother Thorntail tasks you with keeping any of her eggs from being carried to any of the creatures' entrances/exits within a period of time. You fail if any of them reach an exit, but if the time runs out, all stolen eggs are dropped, the creatures leave, and you get a necessary power. Dropped eggs slide to the center, and are invulnerable to your flailings with the stick.
  • The final boss of An Untitled Story, after defeating his fourth form, becomes invincible, and the only option is to avoid his attacks until the timer runs out.

    Action Game 
  • The NES game of Back to the Future has a sequence in Lou's Cafe where you have to fend off bullies by throwing milkshakes at them.
  • The Battle City series by Namco is also an early example where player(s) have to defend the base in addition to keeping themselves alive. The destruction of the base results in an instant game over.
  • The original Shinobi had this in the pseudo-3D bonus stages.

    Beat Em Up 
  • The Konami-Slasher OZ Over Zenith (known in Europe as Sword of Etheria) has you defending your pillars as the corners of a (fictive) square, which means you have some running around to do. At least one pillar has to be left standing, which is a lot harder than it sounds, since monsters are about everywhere.

    Fighting Game 
  • BlazBlue: Chronophantasma: During his briefing, Jin's orders to Noel are to use her power as the Eye of the Azure to observe the Zero-Type Izayoi so Tsubaki can evoke it herself, after being driven to exhaustion by Makoto prior. Noel is under explicit orders not to fight at this time. This fight is special in that you have to win by time-out; Tsubaki's health is low enough that any attack from Noel will down her instantly for a game over.
  • Divekick: This is how time overs are settled due to it's one hit kill battle system. Whoever is closer to the center of the stage when time is called wins the round.
  • The King of Fighters: A commonly used tactic against Rugal is to take advantage of his largely reactive AI, getting in a few hits early on, then hanging back and dodging his fireballs until time runs out and you win via having more health.
  • Magical Battle Arena: There are many such missions in the Lyrical Pack. The first one, which unlocks Hayate, isn't too bad, since you can take out your enemies. The later ones, however, have you trying to survive against multiple, invincible copies of a character that are permanently in Super Mode and firing Limit Breaks like there's no tomorrow.
  • This is the gameplay mechanic of Saitama in One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows. He is horrendously powerful, capable of One-Hit Kill anything except another Saitama. The catch? He won't be present when the match starts; instead, he'll arrive much later - and if the rest of your team is knocked out before he arrives, you lose the match by default. In short: your strategy shifts from "beat the enemy team" to "try to survive with a crippled team until Saitama arrives".
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Some of the Event matches have conditions in this style (for instance, Olimar having to keep his Pikmin alive until they blossom).

    First Person Shooter 
  • Starting from Battlefield: Bad Company, the gamemode Rush involved one side protecting crates full of gold (later on they became M-COMS) while the attackers must take the objectives for themselves, pushing back defenders. With attackers the only ones given a limited amount of respawns, this makes "Hold the Line" the only goal for the defenders.
  • The BioShock franchise is all about this
    • BioShock 2 requires the player to defend a Little Sister against waves of Splicers until she's done harvesting.
    • There was at least one mission in the original BioShock where you had to defend a location without moving. One example is the lab defense sequence in Arcadia, where you have to fend off a Splicer assault while the Lazarus Vector is prepared for dispersal. Another is defending Little Sisters while they harvest Adam in the penultimate level of the game.
    • The final "boss battle" Bioshock Infinite requires you to defend the power core on Comstock's flagship while using the Booker-controlled Songbird to destroy the entire Vox Populi armada.
  • Borderlands 2:
    • One mission involves the player(s) holding off waves of bandits from destroying an electric generator while Tiny Tina hosts a "tea party" for Flesh-Stick.
    • The "Bright Lights, Flying City" mission in ends with the player(s) having to defend a beacon in order to establish a fast-travel link to Sanctuary. You're doing this while Handsome Jack does everything he can to stop you, throwing endless Hyperion robots your way. It's one of the hardest missions in the game whether you're playing solo or in a group; the enemies are as relentless as they are numerous.
    • One mission has you defending a Hyperion supply drop that landed in Slab bandit territory, with the help of some Slabs. In this case, there's a set number of enemies that Hyperion throws at you, but unlike in the above example (where you can repair the beacon if it's damaged and continue the mission), this mission is over if the supply drop takes just a few hits, and the last, most powerful enemies spawn just a few steps away from being able to hit it.
  • Brothers in Arms has quite a number of these.
    • Road to Hill 30 has holding positions just outside of Carentan until American Sherman tanks from the 2nd Armored Division can arrive.
    • Much of Hell's Highway revolves around holding vital towns and areas of the titular highway against counterattacking German forces. It culminates in having to recapture and hold a vital train station from the 2nd SS Panzer Corps late in the game.
  • The game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare includes a mission called "One Shot, One Kill." You and a wounded partner attempt to defend a landing zone next to the famous Ferris wheel near Chernobyl.
    • Another example immediately follows in the same game as the player's squad running a small retreat action to hold a landing zone for extraction, hitting the seemingly infinite enemy forces as they fall back. After taking out four tanks (not bad for a special ops squad of six), they are then told that the LZ has been moved... to the area they've just let the enemy overrun, forcing the squad to go from Hold The Line to Attack The Line, breaking through the enemy's heavy defenses to make it to the LZ. Gaz was pissed. Widely considered the Scrappy Level, more so than "One Shot".
    • In fact, there isn't a game in the Call of Duty series without at least a couple spots where you have to stop advancing and defend a position. Many of these follow a pattern: Get to the place you're defending, survive the infantry attacks until the enemies deploy armor and/or heavy weapons, then destroy the heavies to win the battle.
      • Or, in the case of levels like Loose Ends, get the hell out.
    • Call of Duty 2, in addition to a level actually called "Hold The Line", includes "Comrade Sniper", the second half of "The Silo", and "The Battle For Hill 400" (the crowning level of awesome).
      • Call of Duty 1, had two shining examples of these, but they were both pretty hard. One was Pegasus Day, holding the bridge you'd taken the night before, using a fixed gun emplacement to rout enemy tanks. The second was the ever frustrating Pavlov's House mission.
      • Before that is Dawnville, where you repel the Nazis from the village, only for them to retake the area a minute later, forcing you to "break through the line", complete with additional Tiger tanks.
    • 2 had so many of these the Medal Of Honor series is loaded with these kinds of objectives, such as defending the house in MOHAA's "Battle in the Bocage"(which is called back to in Brecourt Manor and Pointe du Hoc from Call of Duty 1 and 2, respectively), "The Bridge", which is also a Sniping Mission and Escort Mission, and the penultimate battle of MoHAA: Spearhead. In some levels you have to "Break the Line".
    • The new Medal of Honor game has a fairly epic one where you and three other rangers defend a "house" (loosely used, since its more of a shell) that gradually gets more and more destroyed as time goes on until you are sitting in the open with mooks coming at you from all sides.
    • The Demolition and Safeguard gamemodes in the Call of Duty multiplayer heavily run off this trope. In Demolition, the defense must protect two bombsites from destruction, while the offense attempts to destroy them. Much of the game revolves around the defense pinning the offense until one lucky saboteur sneaks through and plants a bomb, at which point it switches for the offense to hold the line until the bomb blows up. In Safeguard, the offense is tasked with escorting a non-combatant to the goal, while the defense uses every trick they have to prevent that from happening.
  • Destiny has several of these as part of the story missions and strikes usually culminating in a named elite enemy.
    • Some of the public events are like this such as defending a crashed Warsat or preventing Vex from sacrificing themselves to a conflux (the difference being the objective of the first is to hold out and not die while the second is to kill the enemies before they reach their target)
    • The Vault Of Glass raid has the initial defence of 3 control points from waves of enemies just to open the front door then several confluxes to defend further into the vault.
  • Doom³ often does this with swarms of spiders (Trites and Ticks), such as when waiting for a ladder to drop down.
  • In Frontlines: Fuel of War, the game ends on one of these. You just seized control of the Russian Ministries of Information and Defense, and now you're in what must be Red Square. You, along with a handful of fellow Western Coalition soldiers, must hold out against a massive Red Star counter attack.
  • Defending Natalya as she hacks the Control Room computers in GoldenEye (1997). On higher difficulties, this can be more challenging than the Final Boss.
  • Half-Life 2:
    • The game does this from time to time, with the player needing to protect Alyx (who is thankfully rather durable) as she completed some task or other. In Half-Life 2: Episode One, the developer's commentary at one point says that they specifically didn't include this sort of situation, because it just looked "robotic" to have her either just sit there and take the abuse from the Combine or zombies, or stop what she was doing to fight back and then start all over again.
    • Any HL2 player's hatred for the pesky turret guns that fall over if you look at them wrong will be raised to the power of itself after the level in Nova Prospekt, where they are hacked to be on your side and need to be used to keep the baddies at bay. The hacking does not improve their stability.
  • Halo:
    • The multiplayer has a bunch of these for their objective games, notably Capture the Flag, which is what you think it is; Assault, which involves one team trying to bomb the other; Land Grab/Territories, which fits this trope to a tee as it involves holding parts of the map to stop the other team from capturing it; and Warzone Assault, where one team has to defend its bases from taken by the other one.
    • The single player campaigns have several examples of this too; for example, parts of the second and third missions of Halo: Combat Evolved, the last part of "Sacred Icon" in Halo 2, defending the Outpost in "Winter Contingency" in Halo: Reach, waiting for the elevator in "Exodus" in Reach, and defending the Package in the eponymous mission from (again) Reach.
    • This is Halo 3: ODST's Firefight mode in a nutshell. 5 waves of enemies in a round, 3 rounds in a set, infinite sets in a game. Of course, they also activate skulls as you complete rounds and sets. Getting one of the seven Vidmaster achievements (you need all seven to unlock the Recon armor for multiplayer matches in Halo 3) requires a four player team to finish the fourth set on Heroic difficulty (which is easier than the first version, which required getting though the seventh set on Legendary. Good thing it was changed before release). A Firefight game ends in one of two ways: Everybody leaves, or everybody dies (or someone without a 360 hard drive, which is needed to play co-op, joins the game and causes it to abort). Later games' Firefight modes are similar, except you actually can win.
  • Land of War - The Beginning is a game set during the German invasion of Poland, with the players as the Polish side. The entire first half revolves around the Polish forces' efforts to defend Mokra from the invading Germans to prevent the capture of Warsaw, and should you make it through the first half and gets promoted, the game then sends you to Warsaw for a later assignment only for the Germans to capture Mokra off-screen anyways. So much for your defense...
  • Each of the finales from the Campaign mode of Left 4 Dead involves one of these situations, wherein the Survivors must fend of literally hundreds of Horde and dozens of Special Zombies until some form of evac arrives.
    • Specifically, it's two Hordes and two Tanks, alternately.
    • And then Valve added Survival Mode, where the rescue vehicle never comes. Oh, and the Tanks and Horde don't wait for each other. The Tanks also start showing up in teams. It's the longest (final) ten minutes of your life.
  • Happens several times in Medal of Honor: Vanguard, most notably the last section of 'Off Target', the bridge section in 'Requiem', the farmhouse section in 'Endgame' and the Final Battle in 'The Crucible'.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, there is a section where Samus must protect a portion of Skytown from Space Pirates until it's able to drop a bomb on a Leviathan Shield. Interesting in that while Samus is protecting the bomb, the Space Pirates are trying to protect something from Samus.
  • The Unreal Tournament Game Mod Operation Na Pali has two instances:
    • The Mercenary Base levels start with the Player Character allying with the Mercenaries inside of the ship in order to fend off the invading Skaarj forces.
    • After 046 finds the Instagib Rifle inside of the Vortex Rikers' remains, hordes of Skaarj Lords will appear to gang up on him.
  • Overwatch:
    • This is the object for the defending team in Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps. In all three map types, the attacking team has to complete an objective in a time limit (securing two control points on Assault maps, delivering the mission payload to its destination on Escort maps, and securing and then delivering the payload on Hybrid maps), and the defending team has to prevent the attacking team from completing its objective until the clock hits zero (plus Overtime).
    • The special holiday Player Versus Environment events, such as Junkenstein's Revenge, Uprising, and Retribution, generally require the players to withstand an onslaught of computer-controlled characters against their base until the clock runs out.
  • Primal Carnage:
    • The Get to the Chopper mode involves the human team having to capture a sequence of checkpoint stations in order to escape the Isle of Giant Horrors; every point captured moves their spawn closer and adds a few minutes to the time limit. The job of the dinosaur team is to prevent them from capturing the points and making it to the helicopter within the time limit.
    • The Capture the Egg mode more or less functions as an asymmetric game of Capture the Flag; the dinosaurs defend nests of eggs from the humans that are trying to steal them.
  • The end of the Island Estate mission in Rainbow Six 3 (console versions only). Given that you die very quickly(it's Rainbow Six no less) and there's very little cover, there's bound to be much frustration.
  • At the end of Soldier of Fortune's fifth mission, you have to hold the line while Hawk disarms the Lightfoot nuke. A Luck-Based Mission on the Challenging and Unfair difficulties, about as nasty as the Control mission in GoldenEye (1997). Sometimes the enemies stop spawning prematurely(you have to kill a set number for the mission to end), making the level unwinnable.
  • In Star Wars: Battlefront II, there are missions where defense of a post is necessary: one mission in particular is on Kashyyyk, where the Republic clone army must defend an oil refinery from the Confederate droid army while waiting on Jedi Master Yoda to come with backup.
  • Team Fortress Classic has a mode where one team try to defend all their control points in the map while the other team try to capture all of them, with a flag being required to capture it. Most maps gave you the chance to recapture the control points after losing the first time.
  • Team Fortress 2 on Payload and Attack/Defend style Control Point maps, this is the RED team's only job—in fact, you can earn achievements for accomplishing total shutouts in Gravel and Dustbowl. BLU, on the other hand...
    • This is the goal in the new gameplay mode "Mann VS Machine" - beating back progressively larger waves of computer-controlled robotic enemies, along with the occasional boss enemy; and a tank that, while having no direct attacks, can absorb a ton of damage and will dish out an instant loss if it can deploy its bomb before you destroy it.
  • From the Unreal series:
    • Unreal II: The Awakening has several missions where the objective is to hold off Skaarj invasions with the help of forcefields, turrets, and in some cases, AI fighters:
      • In "Swamp", your objective is to help your TCA teammates fend off the Skaarj until an evacuation ship comes to your aid.
      • In "Kalydon", your ship is undergoing repairs, and the Liandri has targeted it. You need to hold off five waves of Liandri assassins.
      • The last level set on Janus requires you and four Izanagi soldiers to protect a (very annoying) scientist from (again) Liandri assassins.
      • In the "Avalon" level set once you collect all the Artifact pieces, you're required to protect a TCA engineer from Skaarj assassins while he restores the power station, the consequence for letting him die being a Non Standard Game Over. You're given a Widowmaker Sniper Rifle to help him from a distance.
    • The Assault gametype in both Unreal Tournament and Unreal Tournament 2004 reenact 'historic' battles while each team trades off attacking and defending sides. The first attacking team can get a serious advantage if performing well in their round, since as defenders they only have to hold the line for the amount of time their victory took.
    • 2004 (and Unreal Tournament 2003's Epic Bonus Pack) feature the Invasion gametype, which pits you and the rest of the players, grouped as a team, against several monsters from Unreal. You have to survive up to 16 waves if you want to win, though that's easier said than done.
    • Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict features the Nali Slaughter gametype, which pits you against hordes of Nali (several of which can hurt you) in different waves.
    • There are some missions in Unreal Tournament III (namely, those taking place on Torlan_Leviathan) where you're required to fend off waves of Skaarj/Liandri bots who get two Darkwalkers while you get a Leviathan. The problem is that the AI is quite dumb and has a tendency to get stuck in your base with the Leviathan while the enemy keeps attacking. That makes even more difficult an already difficult mission.
  • Verdun is all about this. Justified, since you're fighting in trenches and the setting is World War I.
  • The first Viet Cong has two of these: The first one takes the player and his squad to a radio outpost on a hill, with VC swarming the hill from all sides, and the player has to hold the hill until evacuation arrives. The second one places the player himself within some ruins, and he has to stay alive for a few minutes until evacuation arrives again. Cue a large horde of VC closing in on you...
  • Xonotic features a version of UT2004's Invasion as one of its gamemodes.

    Hack and Slash 

    Light Gun Games 

  • Final Fantasy XIV
    • At the end of the post-A Realm Reborn storyline, a massive dragon is marching down the bridge to Ishgard, known as the Steps of Faith, with numerous smaller dragons supporting it. The player's goal is to stop the dragon from breaking through the lines of defense. Though currently a solo instanced battle, it was formerly an 8-man Trial, and was unique trial in that it's one of the few (if not the only) ones a fallen character can respawn in without having to be raised by another player, and its one of the few (again, if not the only) ones where you can outright fail the Trial if the dragon breaks through the last line of defense.
    • At the end of the post-Stormblood storyline, you enter a "Roleplaying" solo instance where you control Hien, facing off with Elidibus in the body of Zenos yae Galvus. Hien and his allies all know that either of these individuals alone has proven impossible for anyone but the Warrior of Light to defeat, and so his job is to make sure that the enemy is still here for you to fight.
  • Guild Wars loves this trope both in missions and challenges. Two that immediately spring to mind are the Factions mission "Arborstone" where the player must defend a character who is casting a spell to open a door, and the Prophecies mission "Sanctum Cay", where players must hold off waves of bad guys on a beach as a mage stands on a pier summoning a magical ship so that the party can escape.
  • Mabinogi holds two Shadow Missions (Missions taking place in the dark and foreboding Shadow Realm, a copy of the real world) that invoke this trope. The first is a mission where the party must assist other NPCs in battling Shadow Monsters while a scout is rescued off camera. If any NPCs die, the mission fails (but players can heal them, and taking out the Archers that can deal permanent HP damage first increases your chances of success tenfold). The second is called Tailltean Defensive Battle, and requires a party of 3-6 players to split up and defend the city's three gates from wave after wave of monsters for about 16 real world minutes. If too many monsters spawn, or they break the gate controls at any one gate, mission failed.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has a series of "Base Defense" emergency missions which task players with protecting a series of towers from increasingly powerful and aggressive Darker hoards. To better protect the base, players can collect Photon crystals to repair damage to the towers, erect barriers that can freeze nearby Darkers in place for a few moments, or summon a BFG-toting Mini-Mecha.
  • Much like its RTS predecessor, World of Warcraft also features this type of encounter. The time-travel dungeon Black Morass and the magic prison known as the Violet Hold both are Hold The Line missions, while other dungeons have segments that work this way. Not to forget the latest PvP additions, Strand of the Ancients and Lake Wintergrasp. In both cases, one side defends a keep against the other, but the previous one is played in two rounds, swapping the roles much like in the FPS mode it's rather obviously inspired by. In a very straight example of the escort mission followed by protecting your charge while he hacks into a computer variant, the Halls of Stone instance has you escort Brann Bronzebeard to the Titan mainframe and defend him from waves of mobs that attack as part of the security system while he tries to break through it.

    Party Games 
  • Mario Party:
    • Mario Party Advance: The Bowser minigame Mush Rush has the player use a mallet to repel all incoming Koopa Kids, who attempt to steal the mushrooms located behind. The total number of Koopa Kids to be defeated is selected randomly beforehand. Green Koopa Kids merely try to walk towards the mushrooms, Blue Koopa Kids require being hit twice to be defeated (the first hit simply bounces them back a bit, but get up for another try), and Red Koopa Kids tend to prepare a fast ram into the mushrooms. As Koopa Kids are defeated, the incoming ones will move faster, tend to switch sides to try to confuse the player, and will generally come in larger numbers to make their repel more difficult. After all of them are driven away, the player receives a Gaddget from Bowser.
    • Mario Party 8: In the minigame Saucer Swarm, each player (a total of 4 in Battle mode, and only 2 in Duel mode), has to shoot as many incoming UFO-like aliens as possible to both prevent any of them from reaching the player's position (if that happened, the alien would electrocute the player and leave them stunned, wasting time), and shooting at more than the rival(s). Whoever scores the highest after 30 seconds wins (while abduction from a larger UFO awaits for the loser(s)), but it's possible to have more than one winner if two or more players share the highest score. However, if that happens in Duel mode, both players are abducted by the aliens and the minigame ends in a zero-reward tie.
  • A good part of the WarioWare microgames involve preventing something from happening, as opposed to accomplishing a task yourself. For instance, one microgame simply requires you to prevent pinballs from falling into the drain.

    Platform Games 
  • Geezer in I Wanna Kill the Kamilia 2 starts a countdown after you reach his second phase, forcing you to dodge increasingly harder attacks while he constantly tells you to die.
  • Mega Man Zero 2 has one of these. Zero must keep enemies off Ciel for 90 seconds so she can defuse a bomb.
  • Rabi-Ribi has this with any boss with the Endurance buff, which renders the boss immune to all damage, but their health slowly drains away, turning the boss into an endurance match where you dodge wave after wave of Bullet Hell patterns until the boss' health runs out. Two bosses have it: Seana during her rematch (which is basically surviving until the end of her performance) and Irisu during her final phase, where she heals herself to full and then goes all out out of desperation until she passes out.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, on Planet Savali, Ratchet protects Kit from Nefarious' attack squad while she is deactivating the force field that has the monks trapped.
  • Sly Cooper: Each game has Hold The Line missions. The first game has Sly defending Murray from enemies as he runs to gather the key. In the second game, Sly and Murray protect Bentley as he hacks various terminals. During the third game, The Panda King takes on opponents as Murray brings the van back to the safe house.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The Quartz Quadrant boss in Sonic CD will automatically defeat itself once enough time has passed from when Sonic enters its chamber (which is about 2 minutes). There's no onscreen countdown timer, however. Rather, the conveyor belt Sonic runs on slowly grinds down the floor beneath Dr. Eggman, and once the floor becomes too thin, Eggman flees and stops the conveyor belt, allowing Sonic to proceed.
    • The boss in Carnival Night Act 1 in Sonic 3 & Knuckles can destroy itself after a set amount of time (again, with no countdown timer). A floating bladed spinning top floats around the battlefield. The boss will open up if hit by the top and then take damage once hit by it again. However, unlike most other cases of holding the line, Sonic can speed up the battle by opening it up himself, though he will still need to make it attack itself.
    • The Egg Cauldron in Sonic Unleashed's Tornado Defense Act 1 will fall out of the sky once the onscreen timer reaches 0, though it does have an HP gauge and can thus be defeated the normal way. The Egg Cauldron in Tornado Defense Act 2 is a Timed Mission, however, and will One-Hit Kill Sonic and Tails if the timer reaches 0.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Klax has Survival Waves where the goal is to survive through (catch) a set number of tiles.
  • In Tetris: The Grand Master 2, fulfilling a series of obscure and very, VERY difficult conditions results in the "M-roll," in which you continue playing the game during the credits, but pieces become invisible on locking down. This lasts for one minute, and failure to survive results in the "M" grade, while surviving it awards you the "Grand Master" grade.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Age of Empires III has at least one mission about this per Act in the campaign.
  • Age of Mythology has quite a few.
    • In the first mission of the main campaign, you need to defend the Atlantean docks from raiding pirates until the main Atlantian army arrives. At that point, you use the army to kill the last of the attackers.
    • In the first half of the sixth mission, you need to protect your base until your villagers build the Trojan Horse.
    • In the eleventh mission, you need to protect your base until your villagers excavate the sword of the Guardian.
    • In the final part of the twenty-third mission, you must protect the Dwarven Forge against the giant attacks until time runs out.
    • In the thirtieth mission, you need to protect your base against the attacks of Gargarensis until Odysseus arrives with his enormous army. You need to actually go on the offensive and kill "Gargarensis" in order to complete the mission, but with such a huge army at your disposal, it's just a formality..
    • In the ninth mission of the expansion, you must delay the Norse Titan until the timer runs out, at which point the Nidhogg arrives and can be used to kill him.
    • In the twelfth and final mission of the expansion, you must protect at least one of Gaia's summoning trees until the summoning can be complete.
  • AI War: Fleet Command: Going for the Spire Transceiver victory condition in this game and the sequel. Once you begin, a transmission to let the scattered Spire fleets regroup into a coherent fighting force in your area of the galaxy is initiated... one the AI is perfectly aware of. And it reacts appropriately by sending an utterly cataclysmic fleet pouring out of every nearby Warp Gate in order to crush you as fast as possible before they can arrive. Thus, before you begin, you must fortify every route, and the whole path to your homeworld, so that you can hold these tens and hundreds of thousands of ships at bay (with some giant Extragalactic War ships thrown in for flavor). This is naturally not easy; even at low Response Intensity the attack is bigger than anything you usually face in normal gameplay, and at high Intensity you can easily get 50+ thousand Strength pouring out into individual planets, with more trailing behind. You will lose multiple planets to this onslaught, and will very likely need to fend them off at the gates of your Homeworld. But if you hold out, the Imperial Spire will arrive with an even bigger fleet full of some of the strongest vessels in the game, and start stomping on everything the AI has at last.
  • Blizzard has invoked this trope so many times in the Warcraft and StarCraft series and grown wiser so many times that most missions of this kind fall into That One Level in harder difficulties.
    • Warcraft III has four five of these missions during the "Reign Of Chaos" campaign missions.
      • The first time against an upset sea witch in the extended version of the tutorial. The Orcs had to hold the line against a horde of Murlocks while their ships were being fixed.
      • The 5th Alliance mission has defending a town for 30 minutes against the Undead until your allies arrive.
      • The last Undead mission has you defending Kel'Thuzad for 30 minutes as he completes a ritual to summon Archimonde and the Burning Legion.
      • The final Night Elf mission pits you and your allies against the Burning Legion for 45 minutes to let Malfurion complete his Deus ex Machina.
      • Some fan maps are centered about this trope, often with two teams of players trying to hold out as long as possible while trying to sabotage the other teams efforts (and in some cases, summoning the enemies). One lesser known map of this type goes by the exact name of this trope.
      • The secret mission in The Frozen Throne involves a Tower Defense mini-game where you hold off up to forty-five waves of increasingly dangerous enemies with increasingly powerful towers; if you succeed, you get a special bonus hero in the next mission.
      • The first Scourge mission in The Frozen Throne uses an inversion of the trope. You are keeping your opponents from escaping while you hunt down and destroy their bases of operation. If twenty or more humans escape, you lose.
      • Another inversion is in the second-to-last Night Elf mission in The Frozen Throne, where the Naga try to hold the line for 30 minutes until Illidan's spell is completed, and your task is to break the line and thwart them.
      • And it's even apparent in cutscenes. In the Frozen Throne Night Elf Escort Mission, Tyrande attempted to hold the bridge against the Undead forces using her Ultimate, only to have the said bridge collapse (Which was actually intentional).
    • StarCraft had you defend a Terran base against a Zerg rush as the third mission. Being the third mission, your opponent isn't as well defended as expected, and a good player can wipe them off the map before the time runs out, instead of defending. Some lines removed from the final version suggested that was the intention.
      • The Expanded Universe novel Speed of Darkness justifies the apparent lack of enemies. A group of Confederate Marines fought a Last Stand in another area of Mar Sara at the same time that you were fighting the third mission, diverting mass quantities of Zerg away from you.
      • The fourth Zerg mission in the original campaign has you repel Terran forces for 15 minutes until the chrysalis opens. Once Kerrigan comes out, it reverts to a regular mission.
      • Like in the Frozen Throne example, the third-to-last Zerg mission plays with this. The two Protoss bases are trying to have Dark Templar try to escape through clearly-marked beacons (If one escapes, you lose), and you have to destroy said bases. However, the beacons have to remain guarded, so you need to hold the line against particular units while launching attacks.
      • The second-to-last original Zerg mission fits this trope, holding off a Protoss attack as you harvest from the Khaydarin Crystal Formation. The crystal formation is in the middle of three different Protoss tribes, each fully equipped with Carriers, Reavers and High Templars. You have to hold your base at the formation for ten minutes. That is, unless you only send a drone to the crystals AFTER you destroy the Protoss bases, in which it's just waiting until the timer runs out.
      • The final mission in Brood War's Protoss campaign is a version of this: you have to get your two hero units to a structure, then they go inside it, then you have to defend that structure until the task is complete. Like the Zerg mission above, this is rather easy to bypass by taking out the Zerg bases one at a time before starting the countdown. Doing so however, is a challenge.
    • StarCraft II has several of these missions spanning across its three games. In general, this kind of mission has been polished to the point that, in most cases, the enemy bases are either out of bounds (ensuring you will have to stay on the defensive no matter how well you do) or destroying them is gives you an Instant-Win Condition or an achievement.
      • The third mission in Wings of Liberty, "Ground Zero", is a Call-Back to the first game's third Terran mission, up to the point the battle happens in the same place. The Zerg bases are similarly lightly defended, and wiping them out nets you an achievement. Unlike the original mission, the Zerg get reinforced, so even if you destroy their base you'll still need to hold out against a final assault.
      • One of the artifact missions in Wings of Liberty is "The Dig". You have to defend the Drakken Laser Drill until it destroys the gates of a Xel'Naga temple. The drill can actually help you destroy the strongest Protoss units if you desire... but doing so will make the mission last longer. After all, if the drill is destroying enemy units it isn't breaching the temple gates. You can also go on the offensive and completely destroy the Protoss force (using the drill helps) which actually automatically wins the mission. Presumably, the in-universe explanation is that with the threat over, the Raiders could use the drill open the temple at their leisure. Waiting for the mission to end with nothing to do however would be very boring, so the missions then just ends.
      • The final mission in the Protoss mini-campaign, "In Utter Darkness", subverts this trope. The objective in this mission is killing as many Zerg and Hybrid units as possible, and defending an archive during the first 15 minutes (Then it becomes invulnerable and grants research points). The subversion comes from the fact the mission always ends with your forces being wiped out, but it's a success if you killed as many units as the main objective said.
      • Wings of Liberty's campaign mode closes with "All In". You have to defend an artifact for 30 minutes against endless Zerg forces (And Kerrigan that comes up from time to time). The artifact actually helps in that once in some minutes it can wipe out almost all Zerg units near you, but an achievement needs you to not use it more than once. Attacking the enemy bases is impractical at best (you're better off keeping your forces for defense), and even if you wipe the bases out, you get neither an achievement nor instant win.
      • Heart of the Swarm only has one mission that fits this trope, with it being "The Crucible", in which you have to hold out primal zerg forces for 30 minutes until Kerrigan hatches from her chrysalis. In this mission and all subsequent hold the line missions, the enemy has no base to destroy meaning defense really is your only option.
      • The first mission in Legacy of the Void's prologue campaign plays with this trope. Your Protoss forces have to destroy stasis chambers in which other Protoss are held in by the Moebius Corps, who are holding the line... but Kerrigan's Swarm arrives at full power to raze the entire facility, so your objective is to destroy the stasis chambers before the Moebius Corps cannot hold the line any longer.
      • The first mission in Legacy of the Void in this trope style is "Last Stand" - protecting the Xel'Naga temple on Shakuras until you destroy three pillars and the Zerg counter reaches 1 billion. Unlike other examples, after the counter reaches said mark, the mission does not end, and it only does so when you decide to overload the temple - a bonus objective requires you to hold out until 1.5 billionnote  and three achievements ask you to reach 1.8, 2.2 and 2.3 billion respectively, which are easier said than done.
      • The final mission in Legacy of the Void's main campaign, "Salvation", is very similar in concept to "All In" and map style to "In Utter Darkness" from Wings of Liberty. You (and your allies with their weak defenses) have to defend the Keystone until it's fully charged against Zerg and Protoss forces. Vorazun and Karax even mention the trope in some of their lines.
      • The epilogue campaign has its Terran mission, "Essence of Eternity", as one. You have to protect Kerrigan until she ascends to a Xel'naga in a similar way to "The Dig", except with much stronger attacks, and just like in "Salvation", you have allies that simply cannot set up an effective defense.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert:
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert featured a mission to protect the Chronosphere for what seemed an ungodly length of time given the siege you were under. If you got lucky or were good at micromanagement, it was actually possible to push the enemy back and even destroy their base. However... because Developer's Foresight, this was not an instant win, and instead caused the game to spawn two dozen Mammoth Tanks at the edges of the map, presumably as punishment for your insolence. This grim spectre descending on your base would have been devastating... were it not for the fact that they are so [dang] slow that the timer ran out before they could get there.
    • In Command & Conquer: Generals the Chinese had to defend a nuclear plant from the GLA until reinforcements, in the form of one bulldozer, can arrive.
    • And in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, a GDI campaign mission had you holding off Nod forces until reinforcements (in the form of an MCV) arrived. The catch was that thanks to low power, only a few of your defense buildings could be working at one time.
  • Dawn of War: In Winter Assault, the Imperial Guard must prevent the ork Waaagh! from overrunning their base and the Eldar they're protecting until reinforcements arrive. Said reinforcements consists of a Baneblade, eliminating the orks very quickly.
    • Stronghold missions in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm are essentially the player pulling this trope against the computer.
    • Inverted in Soulstorm: the Tau stronghold has a reinforcement fleet coming in, guided by three beacons, with each beacon destroyed delaying their arrival further. Unlike most examples, letting the countdown reach zero doesn't make it that much harder.
    • This is the Imperial Guard's main strength:
    General Sturnn: To each of us falls a task. And all the Emperor requires of us Guardsmen is that we stand the line, and we die fighting. It is what we do best: we die standing.
  • A mission of Dune 2000 for House Ordos has you protecting a starport for 30 minutes. It doesn't matter if your base is destroyed in the process (and it will be unless you save scum enough to build appropriate defenses), because once the countdown ends, you will receive a continuous stream of reinforcements that arrive at the starport every few minutes in relatively large batches. From that point on, the mission is a walk in the park.
  • The fifth mission of GrimGrimoire requires you to stay alive for 20 minutes against Imps and Skullmages while the others escape. Succeeding in this, however, triggers the "Groundhog Day" Loop portion of the storyline, and you're back to Day One. Also later in the game, you must stay alive for 30 minutes (on two occasions) while summoning the devil, Grimlet.
  • The final mission of the original Homeworld has you defend the Mothership against multiple waves of Imperial ships until the Taiidan rebels don't arrive to reinforce you and start an attack on the Imperial mothership.
  • Iron Marines has a good number of them, several of which are Protection Missions:
    • The end of Mission 1, "First Contact" has you hold a resource point from aliens. It's extremely simple and serves more of a tutorial mission.
    • The end of Mission 2, "Distress Call" has you hold a resource point from a neverending stream of aliens until the timer runs up. Thankfully, you have a Drop Turret to help you whittle down the enemies.
    • Once you capture the three main bases and generators in Mission 4, "Unto the Breach", you will need to defend all three from alien attack for 2 minutes so that they can power up a cannon and destroy the lot.
    • The Special Ops Mission "Uninvited Guests" requires that you prevent the aliens from reaching the teleporter in the center. You need to defend for three waves, and the mission is failed if more than six aliens touch the teleporter in the center.
    • The Special Ops Mission "Emergency Frequency" requires that you prevent a massive incoming stream of aliens from destroying your main base at the other side of the map.
    • The Special Ops Mission "Darkest Hour" requires that you defend the soldiers in three different areas from alien attack, until each group is able to teleport away. Made more difficult as the only unit you have deployed is your Hero Unit, but easier by the fact that your drop turret's recharge time is greatly increased.
    • The Special Ops Mission "In Brightest Day" requires that you defend two power cores near the center of the map from enemies attacking from multiple directions. Fortunately, you have some defenses set up as well as troops deployed to assist you.
    • Mission 9, "Eye Contact" has you capture and hack an enemy defense system, before having to defend it from unending streams of incoming Mecha-Mooks for 7 minutes.
    • Mission 12, "Overclocking" requires that you defend your main base at one end of the zone from Mecha-Mooks arriving from other areas of the zone for 10 minutes. You'll need to defend the consoles around the area too, because if the robots reach them, they'll open up bridges that grant them easier access to your main base. For the first 5 minutes, things are relatively simple, but the next 5 minutes makes things more dicey when the enemies start spawning from an area that's very close to your main base.
  • The Battle for Middle-earth:
    • The series is filled with missions of this type. Two classic examples are Helm's Deep and the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Somewhat subverted in that trying to hold your ground on the walls at Helm's Deep like they did in the movies is actually the worst possible strategy you can use. Sallie parties of cavalry can easily wipe out the enemy attack waves before they even make it to the walls and your relatively pathetic infantry.
    • The Battle for Middle-Earth 2 and its Expansion Pack, The Rise of the Witch-king, have missions like this also. The vanilla BFME 2 has missions of this type in Rivendell, Mithlond (the Grey Havens), and Erebor. In the Rivendell mission, you help Elrond repel a goblin attack force (since this is the first mission of the campaign, this is easier than it sounds). In Mithlond, you begin by pushing the Corsairs out of the area, only for the enemy reinforcements to arrive once you have done so, and they attack in three waves, each more powerful than the last. Finally, the Erebor mission involves Dain II Ironfoot leading the dwarves of Erebor and the men of Dale against three waves of troops: a horde of orcs, an army of Easterlings and Haradrim, and a final army of trolls.
    • ROTWK has only one mission of this type: at Carn Dum. The elves of Rivendell, Mithlond, and Lorien amass an army and launch an all-out attack on the Witch-king's capital. Rogash and Morgomir are coming with reinforcements, but you must survive long enough for them to bring help.
  • Men of War: Most of its missions have at least one objective that involves holding the line.
  • Myth has defense maps. In one, the player has to protect a MacGuffin from Brainwashed former allies. In the second, they simply have to hold a hill to keep the enemy from crossing the river and disrupting the hero's plans.
  • Republic at War:
    • While playing as the Republic in the "Core Assault" map, the player must stop the Confederacy from conquering Coruscant for 45 galactic days to win.
    • Confederacy players in the "Triad of Evil" map must defend Mygeeto, Felucia, and Saleucami from the Republic for 60 galactic days to win.
  • The Riftbreaker is a survival real-time strategy game inspired by They Are Billions. The game periodically spawns increasingly large and powerful waves of attacking alien hordes that you need to fend off lest they overrun your bases. It also has a survival mode is all about holding firm against waves of enemies for 90 minutes. Higher difficulty settings reduce the time between waves and increase their strength.
  • Several randomly-selected missions for conquering unoccupied territories in the Rise of Nations map campaign, as well as the first mission of the Napoleon campaign in the expansion, require defending a base (or several) against the barbarians/Royalist insurgents.
  • Sacrifice:
    • Pyro's seventh and ninth missions. In his seventh, you're being attacked by two wizards who both have way bigger armies than you; after five minutes, one of them disappears, and after a further ten (or if you manage to get near her altar) the other one snuffs it in mysterious circumstances. In the ninth, you have to fight off three wizards, one of whom was supposed to be on your side; after ten or so minutes, Acheron explodes because his God dies, making it (at least technically) possible to deal with the other two.
    • Charnel's fifth mission has you desperately trying to defend a scythe that's having a demon summoned into it from a pair of righteous wizards. When the ritual is done, you get to use it against your tormentors.
  • Supreme Commander:
    • The Spiritual Successor to Total Annihilation, the last mission of the UEF campaign is an epic one of these, as you have to hold out against IMMENSE incoming hordes long enough to get the superweapon Black Sun up and running. Possibly the most over-the-top part comes when the map expands to the north and a huge Cybran army including no less that four Monkeylord spiderbots comes stampeding down towards you.
    • The Forged Alliance expansion's 4th campaign mission, where Dostya is killed by a betrayer in the Cybran ranks and you have to hold off an EVEN MORE IMMENSE Seraphim attack in all directions until you can be recalled. Said Seraphim army contains dozens of experimental bombers. Cybran Razors is on loop for the entire mission.
  • They Are Billions has a survival campaign were you have to build and defend a Steampunk colony; ensuring its survival for a certain number of days, with 100 being the default setting, against waves of undead hordes.
  • Total Annihilation loved these missions. Including two naval missions that were literal hold the line missions. As well as the ever popular 'Surrounded and Pounded', near the end of the CORE missions and both final missions.
  • World in Conflict does this many, many times. About just as often as assaulting enemy positions, in fact. In some cases, it's not on a timer per se, but a secondary objective that remains active until the next primary objective is completed. Multiplayer also has several maps with that type of gameplay.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, the final boss plays out like this. Catie and her friends quickly realize they have no hope of actually fighting STORM, a nigh-invulnerable Mechanical Abomination with weapons that can literally erase reality. All they can do is survive and keep it busy while their mysterious ally, the Pale Wraith, tries to hack into its systems from the sidelines and make it shut down. The battle turns into a combination of Hold The Line and "Get Back Here!" Boss, since STORM keeps trying to fly out of hacking range, forcing you to pursue it and regain its attention.
  • The Champion of Cyrodiil takes part in one of these about two-thirds of the way through the main plot of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. You and the army you've gathered have to stop multiple waves of daedra while the Mythic Dawn open a Great Oblivion Gate, which you have to enter and steal the sigil stone from.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: If you side with the Imperials, the Battle for Whiterun has you holding the line against countless Stormcloaks. You can fall back through the city, but ultimately your goal is to protect the Jarl. And winning it treats you to Jarl Balgruuf giving you one of the coolest victory speeches in the entire game. If you're more sympathetic to the Imperial cause, that is.
  • Fable: The Lost Chapters has a side-quest wherein the player must protect an NPC while she recites a complicated spell.
  • Fable II has you defending Hannah a.k.a. Hammer from zombies as she fills a jug.
  • Fallout:
  • Final Fantasy VII had a minigame where you were supposed to send soldiers out to protect the phoenix egg... But it's much easier to just let them invade and fight them yourself.
  • A battle late in Jade Empire has you defending inventor Kang the Mad from enemies while he rigs a bridge with explosives.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: The fight against Shan Yu requires that he be beaten before front door to the Land of Dragons' palace is destroyed.
  • Manafinder: Mount Olov is a mountain-sized golem, which means the party has no chance of directly damaging it. The only way to win is to use Azain's Rockpoison item on it and survive for 10 turns so that the poison will kill it. However, it has such powerful party-wide attacks that just surviving against it is considered a feat in and of itself.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect:
      • Despite being the current page quote for the trope, the mission that speech occurs during is a quasi-aversion; it's an ordinary mission for you, though it's implied that the NPCs offscreen are going through one on your behalf.
      • There is a DLC mission where you take on a simulation of a mission by one of your commanders, which involves you waiting for 5 minutes fighting off wave after wave of enemies.
      • In the War Hero background, Shepard does this and single-handedly fends off the entire Skyllian Blitz.
      • There's also a mission on the minor planet Nepmos where your squad has to hold off several waves of Brainwashed and Crazy rachni in conjunction with a fireteam of Alliance Marines. You can do it either on foot or in the Mako.
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • The Archangel recruitment mission has you and your squad fend off an entire army of mercenaries trying to kill the local Vigilante Man.
      • The Downloadable Content Arrival has this as a sort of Optional Boss: Holding the line against five large waves of exceptionally intelligent attackers and one Mini-Boss. If you die, the mission continues to the next area. But if you succeed, you'll get an achievement, plus the attacker's fearful cries of how unstoppable you are, and another opportunity to flip off Cthulhu.
      • Mordin (who used to work with Kirrahe) uses this as an infrequent Catchphrase. If you let him get killed, it's even his last words. Of course when you first mention Kirrahe to Mordin, the good doctor mentions how he did find the speeches somewhat stirring ... if excessive. It's mentioned that "hold the line" is one of Kirrahe's favorite things to spout out.
      • Parodied in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, which includes dossiers on all the crew. Mordin's has a mission summary where he works with Kirrahe. Kirrahe repeatedly "reiterates the importance of holding the line," despite the fact that there is no line, and if there was it wouldn't need to be held.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • The prologue on Earth pits you against a mob of mutated husks while you wait for the Normandy to pick you up. Somewhat subverted in that the Normandy will arrive the moment you run out of ammunition instead of having to hold out for a set time. Double subverted by the fact that you can abuse a particular build (Soldier class, no weapons, spam concussive shot) to hold out nearly indefinitely. The Normandy still comes to pick you up anyway.
      • The second time occurs on the salarian homeworld Sur'Kesh. Your goal here is to guard the female krogan against several Cerberus enemy soldiers.
      • The last ever Hold The Line mission of the trilogy is a particularly difficult mission, that has you holding firm against waves of Brutes, Banshees, assorted Reaper husk forces and a Reaper destroyer targeting you with its Thannix cannon (even a glancing blow is a one-hit kill), while EDI upgrades a pair of missiles to strike a killing blow on that destroyer. Fortunately, if you're clever, you can manipulate the Reaper into firing on its own forces, annihilating them and sparing you some grief.
      • All multiplayer missions end with one of these as you wait for extraction from the area. It's easy to get overwhelmed though, so the best strategy is to play most of the wave normally and then run for the extraction zone at the last possible moment.
  • This is done 4 times consecutively in the third Mega Man Star Force game, in which you have to defend valuable equipment from several waves of Omega-Xis clones. A slight Unexpected Gameplay Change ensues, since you fight them off on the field (read: in real-time) as opposed to the traditional Starforce method of turn-based battling things to death. You can fight each one individually using the traditional method if you have far too much time on your hands, since killing each one individually takes much longer than wiping them out on the field, and eventually becomes both overwhelming and generally a waste of time.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • The series goes in this direction when you fight certain gigantic monsters, namely the huge crab Shen Gaoren in , Monster Hunter 2 (dos) and the even bigger dragon Lao-Shan Lung in the original Monster Hunter (and by extension the Ashen subspecies of the latter monster). Instead of hunting them like you do with other monsters, the creature shows up at one end of a linear area, and past multiple obstacles is a fort on the other end of the map. You have to prevent it from destroying the fort, by either killing it before the timer runs out, or repelling it by dealing enough damage that when the timer hits 0, it flees. If you run out of time before damaging the monster enough, get knocked out three times, or let the fort get destroyed, you lose.
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): The Jhen Mohran fight is a two-parter. The first involves chasing and causing whatever damage you can to it on your Dragonship, and the second is this trope. Again, if you clock out before hitting the "repel" damage threshold, you expire your faint tally, or the Dragonship is destroyed, you fail. It's possible, however unlikely, that the Dragonship will be wrecked on the first phase; hope your team isn't that sloppy. The fight against the Hallowed subspecies in 3 Ultimate and against Dah'ren Mohran in Monster Hunter 4 both operate this same way.
    • Monster Hunter: Rise has Rampage Quests, in which you are tasked with protecting the gate to Kamura Village from an entire horde of monsters using a variety of weapon installations such as ballistae and cannons, with backup from the people of the village. As long as the gate doesn't fall, the monsters will turn tail when the wave's timer runs out, if you don't wipe them out first.
  • Town and castle sieges in Mount & Blade, if defending. You and your company join the garrison (about 150-250 men) on the walls as the attacking army (usually at least seven hundred-strong with at least six lords leading it) spawn outside in several waves and attempt to kill everyone inside. With a combination of careful positioning and shooting the attackers while they're climbing the ladders, you can kill all six attack waves. If you do, you win, and then you have to deal with the problem of being in command of a severely depleted garrison that is now impossible to escape from.
  • Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark features two hold the line scenes played back to back as the invading army attacks on multiple fronts (though not at the same time), requiring you to move about the battlefield.
  • The final battles of every Paper Mario game start the boss off as being nigh invulnerable, and you simply have to hit it enough times and/or survive for enough turns before the game tosses you your 11th-Hour Superpower. Super Paper Mario actually does this twice.
  • The final chapter of Gustave's storyline in SaGa Frontier 2 is a hold-the-line tactical battle, in contrast to the previous tactical battles. It could be won outright (in fact, the game has defeating the enemies as one victory condition), but this required a great deal of luck and would make holding the line impossible if unsuccessful.
  • Several times in Star Ocean: The Second Story you will come across bosses that are immune to everything you throw at them, have defense so high that your attacks do almost no damage, and said bosses' attacks are nearly One-Hit Kill . You may think of it as a Hopeless Boss Fight, but then you're staring at the Game Over screen. Turns out, you have to last X amount of time (usually 60 seconds) and the battle ends, and the story progresses.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines:
    • A sidequest pits you against a whole cemetery of zombies, whom you had to keep away from the gates for five minutes, until the real caretaker returns. The problem was that there are two gates on the opposite sides of the graveyard, an you have to defend them both against exponentially growing hordes of zombies...
    • One of the final missions pits you against a Werewolf. Since a Werewolf is effectively invulnerable and kills you with two or three blows, your only hope is to evade it for full four minutes until the tram that brought you there returns. Unless, of course, you figured out the way to kill it by crushing it with observatory doors.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: During Chapter 8, your team has to protect the entrance to New Los Angeles from the incoming Ganglion army, which tries to invade and destroy the last bastion of humanity. For the first wave, you have to defeat any incoming enemy during three minutes, and for the second wave you have to do the same during five minutes. There's an Affinity Mission involving Fog and Frye with this gimmick (the duration of the line holding will depend on which character you choose to join during the mission (three minutes with Fog, six with Frye). Finally, there's a normal mission during the Playable Epilogue where you have to protect the city's entrance from an assortment of indigenous creatures, who were in their migration period and were inadvertedly approaching the city.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • Neo Contra's final stage, in which accessible on better ranks, has you fighting Master Contra in his true final form, a huge head. You can attack him using lock-on weapons, or simply dodge/evade all his attacks, or wiping the bullets out (if you have Katana or Fire Whip, depending on weapon sets), until he decays and burns up in the atmosphere.
  • Gradius:
    • Many games have penultimate bosses that are huge, walk around slowly, and in most cases fall under this; they cannot be harmed by your weapons, only waited out until they self-destruct. This is highly averted in some home releases such as V where you must shoot them.
    • The infamous Cube Rush in Gradius III Arcade's Crystal stage. The first game also did this with waves of a certain type of Mook before each fight with the Big Core.
  • Guns of Icarus: Each mission has a distance countdown marking how much farther you have to travel to reach your destination; you have to survive and protect your cargo until the Icarus makes it to the finish line. There is a twist—enemies will attack your engines, which makes the counter slow down and, if they reach critical condition, stop completely, so you've got to keep them repaired. The final stage, "Into the Breach", averts it by counting up instead of down for a survival mode.
  • Hellsinker has several bosses that must be defeated by time-out:
    • In Segment 5, if you unlock Perpetual Calendar's true form, it will only be destroyed once time runs out. You can, however, "kill" it repeatedly for Terra boosts, unless you've already run out of Terra.
    • Rex Cavalier in Segment 7 plays this trope straight at first, and then inverts it when the first timer runs out.
    • Lost Property 771, the True Final Boss, can only be defeated via time-out.
    • The Unnamed 771, the boss of the "The Way of All Flesh" extra stage, also cannot be defeated prematurely, as the entire stage is set to the music.
  • Missile Command: You can never actually destroy any of the unseen enemies launching the enemy missiles at you.
  • The final bosses of Radiant Silvergun and its Spiritual Successor Ikaruga disable your weapons and force you to survive their attacks for 60 seconds.
  • R-Type:
    • The final boss of Delta is immune to your weapons; the only way to beat it is survive until your Dose (effectively a Smart Bomb) meter slowly fills to max. The resulting blast is the only way to kill the boss.
    • FINAL has a tangentially-related gimmick for one of the final bosses; the only thing that can kill it is a fully-charged Wave-Motion Gun shot, but it's broken and requires about 45 seconds of dodging the boss' Desperation Attack to sufficiently charge.
  • In Sol Cresta's Dramatic Mode, during the final battle against Mandler, you have to let the dialogue finish and survive for a few seconds so the Yamato can reach its 11th-Hour Superpower and transform into a robot.
  • The Ur-Example is Space Invaders where the game is instantly over if the aliens reach the bottom of the screen.
  • Touhou:
    • In the final stage of the game Perfect Cherry Blossom, you have to survive the true spirit of Yuyuko, who is indestructible. This is repeated when you fight Kaguya and Eirin, or just Kaguya, in Imperishable Night. If you faced Kaguya, then once you reach this stage, you've already won. Many extra stage bosses have similar attacks as either their penultimate or finishing spell cards.
    • There are a lot of these; the fandom likes to call them Survival Cards. EX-bosses and final bosses tend to have them the most often, although Stage 4 bosses Aya (Mountain of Faith) and Murasa (Undefined Fantastic Object) have one each to compensate for the fact that they have a fixed spell lineup rather than a variable one, which was customary until then.
  • ZeroRanger: The last segment of the True Final Boss is one of these, where its weak point remains out of the player's reach for a solid minute.
    Whether you succeed or not, now depends solely on your resolve.

    Simulation Games 
  • One of the few mission types in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X, so expect to see it several times. Can either take the form of keeping waves of enemy air, ground or naval forces away from an important stationary object, or an Escort Mission where you babysit a big plane (a bomber, an AWACS, or Air Force One).
  • Used several times during the course of the MechWarrior series of games. One Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries mission had an incredibly short briefing that invoked this trope by name.
    Mission Control: Hold the line at Nav Alpha.
    * Nav Alpha lights up on the map. It is surrounded by a dozen enemy contact signatures.
  • Several missions throughout the Wing Commander series are escort missions of your home carrier, buying time for it to make it to the next jump point.
  • FreeSpace has a few difficult missions where you were defending a ship or convoy, while wave after wave of Shivan fighters slammed into them, sometimes literally. You often wondered just how vast some of those fighters' missile bays are, and how many of the "rare and elite" forces are actually in reserve.
  • The Rogue Squadron series has many, such as defending a crashed Rebel ship from TIE bombers and ground forces.
  • Some of the scenarios in Wolf require you to keep your mate or cubs alive for a certain number of days.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • Metal Gear:
    • One boss in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty cannot be hit at all; all you can do is dodge attacks until you get an important codec call.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has a few of these. One of them involved distracting a Gekko (a small mecha) until the MkII opens a door. The second one involves stopping a mass of suicide Gekkos from exploding until Raiden defeats Vamp.
  • A portion of a level in Blood Stone has 007 waiting for Tanner to hack into the refinery database as armed guards swarm the room.
  • The second Yemen level in Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain combines this trope with a Sniping Escort Mission. In the later half, Elite Mooks that can kill you in one hit start spawning.
  • Velvet Assassin: The last mission of Velvet Assassin is this where, after killing all the Mooks that are torching, shooting, or watching the town's church burn, three waves of Mooks with machine guns and flamethrowers come and try to finish the job. Sadly they're not needed to finish the job.

    Survival Horror 
  • The Evil Within has Sebastian protecting Joseph from an onslaught of incoming haunted as the latter figures out the complex electronic lock on the exit door.
    • The Evil Within 2 has Sebastian fighting alongside Esmeralda Torres to fend off a similar onslaught in an abandoned house in the woods.
  • Fever Cabin has the Player Character spending nights fighting off zombies and surviving until dawn. The next night adds new challenges to keep players on their toes.
  • Every single Five Nights at Freddy's has the protagonist have to survive against increasingly aggressive homicidal robots out to get them from 12 AM to 6 AM for at least five days. They are never able to fight back, and are only given a few varying measures to temporarily keep them at bay like doors that can be closed for short periods, a flashlight that can be shone to confuse them, or a mask to fool them.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 4:
      • Two sequences early in the game (the village and the cabin by the bridge) involves holding a house against zombie-like Ganados coming in every entrance. The former also includes Dr. Salvador in the mix.
      • During the fight against Verdugo, the player can either fight and kill Verdugo or survive for four minutes until the elevator arrives.
    • Resident Evil 5:
      • The first chapter does this. You're stuck in an area being swarmed by Majini and chased by an executioner wielding a gigantic axe. You don't actually have to shoot a single enemy or the boss, but each kill shortens how long you have to hold out, and the boss drops a special treasure if killed.
      • The penultimate chapter's boss is against Wesker and Jill. The only way to get through is to survive for 7 minutes, or shoot Wesker enough that he decides to leave. On the other hand, shooting Jill too much results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Both Pyramid Head battles in Silent Hill 2. Either shoot him/them until he leaves/commits suicide, or dodge him and wait it out.
  • Sleep Tight (2021): The objective of each night is to keep the endless onslaught of creatures from reaching you in the bed, using a flashlight to kill them before they get too close. New enemies are added each night to make surviving harder and harder.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • There are "defense" missions in Fortnite: Save the World where you must protect machines designed to fight a mysterious storm responsible for an apocalypse from the storm's ferocious monsters within time or kill limits, using your weapons, traps and fortifications built around the machines you protect.
  • Splatoon 2: In Salmon Run mode, the Salmonids will all stop attacking and retreat back into the water once time runs out. It doesn't matter if they've defeated everyone on the team but one and the last remaining player is cornered and helpless; the Salmonids are done fighting. Combined with Timed Mission in that if the players have taken enough Golden Eggs from them to meet the quota, the players all pass, and if there are more Salmonid groups to fight, any defeated players are revived good as new.
  • Warframe has those, in the form of Defense alerts/Infestation invasions, Survival alerts/Infestation invasions, Excavation Alerts, Excavation, Defense, Mobile Defense and Survival. Each of these missions have a twist.
    • Defense alerts make you protect a defenseless artifact for a certain number of waves (between 10 and 20). A wave is defeated when all the enemies in it are dead. Infestation invasions are similar, except that the enemy are a Zerg Expy.
    • Survival Alerts have you kill enemies to loot Life Support modules from them to extend the time you can survive, each enemy killed having a chance to drop life support, and each life support module giving you roughly 7 seconds of time. You start with 150 seconds, and can never go above that. Regularly, big life support capsules are delivered by your Mission Control, giving you 45 seconds of survival once activated. You must last 10, 15, or 20 minutes. The twist is, reaching the benchmark is not the Instant-Win Condition like in most games: you must reach extraction for it to count as a win (if playing in a group, at least 1 person must reach extraction alive to give completion rewards to all the group).
    • Excavation alerts have you go to locations where extractors are extracting a resource called Cryotic. They start with 50 seconds worth of power, and need 100 seconds to finish their jobs. Each second they stay active (up until 100) gives you 1 cryotic. You can give them power cells (looted from enemies) give them 20 extra seconds. When you have extracted 500 cryotics... You don't get an Instant-Win Condition, you have to reach the extraction point. The enemies will attack the extractors though, so you have to defend them.
    • Regular Defense have you protecting a defenseless artifact. There are 3 pools of rewards (A, B and C). killing 5 waves gives you a random reward from pool A, and you have a choice as whether to extract (and keep the rewards) or keep fighting (risking the rewards you already had for more). After wave 10, you gain another reward from pool A, and you get to choose wether to extract or stay. 15 waves, one reward from pool B and another choice of staying vs extracting. 20 waves, a reward from pool C, and another choice between extraction and battle. Then the cycle repeats: 25 waves, and a third A reward.
    • Mobile Defense mission have you carry a datamass to hack terminals. Hacking each terminal takes anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes, but the enemy would rather destroy the terminals than let you get away with the data, so you have to protect them.
    • Regular excavation follow an AABC cycle of rewards similar to defense, only you have to protect extractors for 100 seconds of activation to get rewards, and they still start at 50 seconds and thus need at least 3 power cells to get you rewards.
    • And lastly, regular Survival have you survive as long as you can like survival alerts, only they have an AABC cycle of rewards for every 5 minutes you manage to survive.

    Tower Defense 
  • This is the point of the entire genre of "tower defense" games: a series of enemies are attempting to get from point A to point B along a ridiculously torturous path, and it's your job to kill them all before they get to point B.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising, one of the Blue Moon missions pits Colin against an invading Lash, and he has to protect his HQ for two weeks. At the end Grit arrives with reinforcements and Lash surrenders.
  • Battle for Wesnoth:
    • In the final scenario of the elves branch in The South Guard, the heroes must hold of limitless amount of enraged elves until time runs out, in-universe explained as holding the line until the more reasonable elvish leader Ithelden arrives.
    • Heir to the Throne:
      • In "Blackwater Port", Konrad's side must help Sir Kaylan defend the port from the orcs until the turn limit runs out, when a literal cavalry arrive and make the orcs retreat. You can defeat the orcs yourself and gets a bonus though.
      • "The Valley of Death" has the heroes surrounded by powerful groups of undead and they need to hold off the undeads for two days.
    • Delfador's Memoirs: In "A Night in the Swamp", Delfador and Lionel's troops must defend themselves from skeletons magically appearing in a swamp until sunrise. Or destroy the generators using magical units to finish the scenario early.
    • In "Human Alliance" from Legend of Wemere, Kalenz's elves help the humans of Wesnoth defend Tath from the orcs until turns run out. Once turns run out, King Haldric II arrives with reinforcement and makes the orcs retreat.
    • Son of the Black Eye:
      • In "Clash of Armies", Kapou'e must defend Prestim from an alliance of humans, elves, and dwarves for four days until The Great Horde arrive and makes the enemy retreat.
      • In "The Human Attack", Earl Lanbec'h wants to take back Dorest from Kapou'e, so Kapou'e and his army have to hold off the humans. When time runs out, Howgarth III of Northern Aliiance suddenly arrives and calls for both sides to parlay.
    • In "A Stirring in the Night" from Under the Burning Suns, two groups of undead magically appear at night to fight each other, putting the elves camp in danger. The elves must defend themselves from the undeads (and a sudden orc raid) until dawn.
    • Northern Rebirth: In "An Old Friend", Tallin's side faces a massive orc army which will only grow bigger if you try to be aggresive. You only need to survive until the turn limit runs out and Tallin will decide to retreat.
    • A popular online maptype in the multiplayer mode is the "Survival" game, in which players cooperate against waves of themed enemies. Such scenarios that are mainline are "A New Land" (where you are declared winners once turn 25), "Isle of Mists" and "Dark Forecast" (where you win once all waves are defeated).
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 introduces the Defend objective, and uses it in Chapters 14 and 20.
    • The Blazing Blade:
      • The fourth mission has you protecting an injured woman from bandits in a crumbling building.
      • In "Talons Alight", Eubans's mercenaries are attacking Castle Laus after you took it and you have to defend the throne for 7 turns.
      • In "Pirate Ship", the Black Fang is attacking your boat and you have to survive until the captain shows up and mops the floor with the enemy. It's possible to end the mission early by killing the boss.
      • In "Kinship's Bond", you have to prevent Eubans's mercenaries from killing Nils for 11 turns, or until you kill the enemy commander.
      • In "Unfulfilled Heart", you need to survive the onslaught from Vaida's squad for 11 turns.
      • In "Battle Before Dawn", you need to prevent the Black Fang from killing Prince Zephiel for 15 turns.
      • In "Sands of Time", you have to protect the throne of Castle Ostia from the morphs until reinforcements arrive. 11 turns.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones:
      • The goal of Chapter 13 of Eirika's route is to survive long enough for Rausten's reinforcements to arrive. Alternatively, you can kill the enemy commander to end the mission prematurely (the game rewards you for doing so with an item, but if you're too quick defeating him you can miss out on a recruitable character).
      • Chapter 19 consists of defending a castle during Fog of War, much like a similar mission in the seventh game. You can end the mission early by killing the boss, but then you might not have enough time to loot all the treasure from the chests scattered around the map.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has a literal hold the line chapter, in which there is a thin blue line that your Lord cannot cross (your Lord receives a long-range magic spell to make up for this) and no enemies can be allowed to cross - this becomes rather annoying when enemies that can fly appear - since you never have enough people to cover every block of the line, you often fail the chapter when one of the hawks decides to attack one of the people holding the line, causing a Game Over instantly, when the hawk in question has 1HP left.
    • Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest has a hold the line chapter where the player must prevent Hoshidan forces from passing through a line of spaces that are highlighted green for 11 turns.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Lorenz, Ashe/Catherine, and Anna/Jeritza's paralogues all require you to survive for several turns.
    • This type of mission is added in an update in Fire Emblem Heroes. To prevent the mission from ending early, one unit possesses a seal that nullifies damage inflicted on them, and reinforcements appear. The mode is seen proper in the release of Chapter 10, during the formal introduction of Tellian heroes.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has a few missions where the enemy needs to be kept away from a certain area. Which is easier than it sounds because the AI doesn't seem to know that and will simply fight as usual. Just make sure the AI doesn't walk in there because of facing advantages... Not all of them are timed, mind you. Some of them require you to both defend a specific area AND defeat all the enemies.
  • Jeanne d'Arc has several of these missions, such as defending the gates of Orleans or keeping alive with no room for error.
  • Into the Breach doesn't strictly require that you kill any enemies. All you have to do is make sure at least one unit stays alive and that your power grid doesn't get wiped completely until the turn counter runs out.
  • In Scenario 4 of Langrisser, the hero and his guardians are ambushed in the night by a pack of slimes, who are extremely strong against conventional attacks from your soldiers. His goal is to survive long enough for the slimes to get bored and retreat. On the fifth turn, reinforcements arrive bearing weapons that can kill most of the slimes easily.
  • All battles in Pokémon Conquest require the attacking side to complete the objective within a set turn limit, otherwise they lose. For the ones being attacked, playing defensively to wait out the timer can be an effective strategy.
  • Prismata draws inspiration from Real time strategy, so it's fitting that one of the early missions requires you to build walls and defend against swarms of attackers.
  • The Rebuild series has the survivors do this every night (roughly) against the hordes of zombies surrounding them. Several of the endings have massive hordes show up every night until the objective is completed.
  • Super Robot Wars titles occasionally have missions where the player must prevent enemies from crossing a line or entering a base. Said base may or may not have its own completely useless garrison. One example is a Super Robot Wars Judgment mission with the player defending a city while it's being evacuated.
  • Wildermyth features periodic incursions by enemy forces. The win condition of an incursion battle is always to survive a set number of turns; though it's possible to win sooner by defeating all enemy units, it's not required. The player has the opportunity to add defensive features to an area in advance of an incursion, such as barricades and traps, to make holding the line for the required number of turns that much easier.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • The entirety of X-COM: UFO Defense is a Hold The Line mission. Every alien ship and base the player destroys only serves to hinder the aliens' progress until the player has the knowledge and technology to attack the alien home base. No matter how many weapons the player builds and no matter how many aliens they successfully destroy, the Earth will slowly but surely fall into alien hands unless the final mission is carried out.
  • This is mostly true for most of the games in the XCOM series and even lots of those inspired by it. In XCOM Terror From The Deep this unsurprisingly is the same as in the original. In Apocalypse, you actually take the fight to the enemy after a while (however, mostly you'll be holding the line at home while you carry out covops-style missions in the alien dimension. And the only way to actually win is to destroy the one last buildings the aliens have — and you can't skip buildings). In X-COM: Interceptor you are delaying the construction of a planet destroyer weapon designed to eliminate Earth (which is out of reach for the player). In UFO Extraterrestrials, you are holding the line to prevent the alien mothership which is parked near Earth (the game itself is set on a far away colony of Esperanza) from refuelling after being attacked by Earths La Résistance. Again, in the end you go and kick their ass. Most of the time though, you are fighting against better equipped and numerous aliens which are out of your reach.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has two variants of this mission type in the Enemy Within expansion. The first is a standard covert operative extraction where you have to protect transmitter and encoder from the EXALT organization. You basically end up fighting a running battle as EXALT troops swarm the objective area and try to hack the encoder and destroy the transmitter. The second mission is a one-off Base Defense mission where an XCOM squad, supplemented by Base Defense troops, must fight off half a dozen waves of increasingly angrier and more powerful aliens as they try to overwhelm XCOM's headquarters.
  • XCOM 2 has two variants of this mission type, both of which are similar to the aforementioned Enemy Within missions. The first is a standard "Protect Device" mission, where the player must keep a device from being destroyed by aliens within a set amount of turns. The other is "Avenger Defense", which can result from a Dark Event that sees a UFO ground XCOM's flying fortress. In this mission, players must destroy the device preventing the Avenger's escape, then get back to the ship, all the while keeping enemies from entering the ship. Unlike the other examples, there is no time limit. However, failing this mission results in an immediate Non-Standard Game Over.

    Visual Novel 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All: In Case 4, Maya Fey is kidnapped by an assassin to force Phoenix to defend Matt Engarde, the guy who hired him. On the second day of the trial, you must delay a guilty verdict as long as possible to give the police enough time to find Maya. In an odd turn of events, you can defend the line too well by throwing enough doubt on Adrian Andrews that the judge decides Matt couldn't have done it.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Saints Row 2:
    • The fourth Ronin mission has you defending yourself against the Ronin while you wait for a Saints lieutenant to transport you and Johnny Gat to the hospital after the latter takes a nasty stab wound... at which point it becomes an Escort Mission where you need to defend the car from them as well.
    • Revelation has you and Julius fending off Ultor's waves of private security. Like with the above example, once you've killed enough enemies, you then ride shotgun as he drives across town to try and lose your pursuers and have to fend them off until you arrive at your destination.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Happens often, usually to give the civilians time to evacuate.
  • At several points in Dragon Ball Z the Z-fighters' strategy was basically "Hold out until Goku gets back." After meeting the Saiyans, everyone else realizes they have little chance of actually damaging the threats and basically decides to simply keep them occupied away from civilians while trying not to die themselves as long as possible.
  • An amazing moment from My Hero Academia has Kirishima pulling this stunt during the Internship Arc, using Red Riot Unbreakable to give Fatgum a chance to gather the power needed to blow the villains away.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • Saitama gives a quote that just nails what being a hero is all about. "If the heroes run, then who will stay and fight?"
    • This comes up in the Sea King arc. After Genos goes down, the only Hero left is the powerless C-Class Mumen Rider. Against a creature that's beaten A-Class heroes easily, Rider knows he's totally outclassed. Nonetheless, he stands between the Sea King and the civilians because there's nobody else to. He still manages to last long enough for Saitama to arrive.
  • One Piece:
    • Battles involving King Elizabello are usually this on Elizabello's side. He has a Charged Attack, the King Punch, that requires a very long amount of time, ranging from hours to entire days depending on his intended output, and he cannot be interrupted during then. Once unleashed, it can destroy a castle at minimum or level an entire city at its strongest. As a result, his allies work to prevent enemies from reaching Elizabello until he can execute his King Punch, especially if a battle requires more than one.
    • The climax of the Dressrosa arc boils down to the country's citizens, the Marines, the Corrida Colosseum gladiators, the Tontatta Tribe and the Straw Hat Pirates holding off Doflamingo's Birdcage through whatever means available, with every ounce of strength they can muster, until Luffy can finish him off, or else the entire country will be painted red.
  • This is part of Team Taiyou's strategy in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds; to protect one of their weakest monsters from their opponent for a whole twenty turns, in order to fulfill the ridiculous summoning conditions for their god-like ace card. And they succeed in doing so, by using an All Your Powers Combined monster effect to form a Stone Wall.

    Collectible Card Game 
  • The Legend of the Five Rings set Seige: Heart of Darkness is based around this mechanic, as up to three players with normal decks try to defend a city from the Purposely Overpowered Dark Naga "Challenge Deck." After twelve turns, the Dark Naga player automatically loses. While it is technically possible to defeat the Dark Naga deck by attacking it, the best the opposing players can usually do is to hold it off and take actions that reduce the turn limit.
  • A Magic: The Gathering card goes by this very name. It gives blocking creatures +7/+7 (to their ATK/DEF) until end of turn. To put it in perspective, a similar card called "Righteousness" is the same rarity but only works on one creature. Hold The Line works for two or two dozen creatures.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! players who use cards such as Exodia and Final Countdown need to stay alive long enough to complete its requirements. Exodia requires the player to collect all 5 Exodia cards, and Final Countdown requires the player to last at least 20 turns to win the duel. Players who use them would usually wall themselves with monsters with high ATK or DEF till they can complete all the requirements.
  • Mill decks work in this way, as their objective is not to inflict damage or win individual battles, but to cause the opponent's deck to run out of cards, after which, in most collectible card games, they immediately lose. The Durant Mill and Rhyperior Mill decks in Pokémon Trading Card Game are an examples: one of the win conditions is to take all of your Prize Cards, which you earn by knocking out your opponent's Pokémon. These mill decks do pitiful, inconsequential attack damage, so the intended focus is to not let your opponent take all their Prize Cards, as you will win once their deck runs out, no matter how large the Prize Card deficit may be.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth: In the final issue, six Green Lanterns desperately struggle to hold Parallax back as sending the abomination back to the Central Power Battery.
  • JLA/Avengers: The entire final battle is just to get Supes (armed with Cap's shield and Thor's hammer) to Krona — everyone else's job is to clear the way, leading to many such moments, including Wonder Woman, who gets some help from Hippolyta and She-Hulk (see the Heartwarming page for details).
  • Superman:
    • In The Death of Superman, after chasing Doomsday cross-country, a heavily wounded Superman realizes that if he doesn't stop the beast soon, he'll devastate even more of the world and digs his heels in in Metropolis.
    • In Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga, Darkseid brainwashes three billion of Daxamites into becoming his conquering army. The Legion of Substitute Heroes, the Heroes of Lallor and several more heroes regroup in the Weber's World, at the edge of the United Planets, to try to hold the Daxamites back for as long as possible while the Legion figure out a way to stop them.
    • In Supergirl story The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), the Amazon army tries hold Darkseid's army back as long as possible.
      Wonder Woman: Then we draw a line in the sand and hold them there!
    • The Coming of Atlas: When Atlas has beaten the whole Super Family down, Krypto stops his rampage and holds him back for as long as Superman needs to come up with a workable strategy.
    • The Earthwar Saga: When the Khunds land on Earth, the Legion of Substitute Heroes are the last heroes left, and they bravely try to stop the invaders for as long as possible.
  • Tex Willer:
    • In the "Navajo Blood" storyline Tex, due to a couple of corrupt hicks firing unprovoked against some Navajo boys, the authorities refusing to punish them, and the nearest US Army fort being commanded by the idiotic colonel Elbert, finds himself in an Indian war, with his strategy boiling down to hold the line at the Monument Valley without killing any soldiers (but taking prisoner about two regiments worth and burning down Fort Defiance) long enough for a friendly journalist to be able to write down his defense and send the story to the newspapers on the East Coast, with the resulting press campaign causing the intervention of the Department of War and the Congress ordering to suspend all operations against the Navajos and to arrest Elbert and the corrupt hicks until things are properly investigated. In the end Elbert is cashiered and the hicks only avoid arrest and trial because they end up killing each other while trying to escape arrest (the Navajos declare this being divine justice), and Tex and the Navajos smooth things over with the US Army for Fort Defiance by paying for it to be rebuilt.
    • In the "Rangers of Patagonia" special, once the Argentinian Army has fully mobilized and is about to overrun Patagonia, Tex and a group of Patagonian Indians decide to stand behind at a mountain pass to hold off the Argentinians for a week, so the rest of the Indians (and Kit) will have the time to cross the frontier into Chile and get away. Not only do they succeed, but at the end of the week, Mendoza, commander of the Argentinian expeditionary force, upon learning of what Tex and the others had stood behind for, allows almost every survivor to just leave, keeping behind only the Indian chief Sayelque because he needs someone to sign the formal surrender.

    Fan Works 
  • A Brief History of Equestria: Star Burst's force does this at the Battle of the Corridor to allow civilians time to escape Talonhoof's horde. It works, providing a much needed morale boost.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Invisible Ties: In Chapter 24, Gregor offers to stay behind on the Valmese ships to Hold the Line against the reinforcements, so the rest of the Shepherds can escape and the fleet can burn. Robin flat-out rejects the idea, but unfortunately, Gregor doesn't give him a choice.
  • The God Squad:
    • It is revealed that this is how Discord was defeated. Tydal, Celestia and Luna's adopted father, holds Discord off long enough for the two to get the elements and turn him to stone, at the cost of his own life (he got better).
    • History repeats itself in the Tydal vs. Tirek arc. Discord, as his magic is stole, sending a psychic plea to his family and only Tydal answers. Even though he knows that Tirek is too strong for him Tydal tells Twilight and her friends to make for the Tree of Harmony, telling them he'll hold the line. The act costs him his life but saves Equestria once more.
      Tydal (to Sunset as he forces her to leave him to face his death alone): When you are an old mare, with grandfoals of your own, and they ask you who taught you your spells... tell them "He who held the line". And... let that be enough.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: In "The Apokolips Agenda" arc, an army of villains hold back an army of heroes while Darkseid learns and speaks the Anti-Life Equation which will allow him to enslave the universe.
  • A Hollow in Equestria: During the battle with Nightmare Moon, Celestia is out of commission, Ulquiorra is absent, and Luna is down for the count. It's implied Twilight and the others know they stand no chance of actually beating Nightmare Moon on their own, they're simply trying to invoke this trope to buy Luna enough time to recharge her magic, and for Ulquiorra to return to the battle.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • During the battle of Nellos Watch Tower, an Offscreen Moment of Awesome that happened between Chapter 3 and 4 of the original, twenty Red Shirts had to defend their outpost an orc war band led by the Black Dogs, with fifty in numbers. These Red Shirts successfully held them off until reinforcements arrive, said reinforcements include Kyril, Claudia, and company.
    • A villainous example occurs in Chapter 26, where the rebels under Grishom's command hold off the Eostian forces to defend him and his cathedral. From Grishom's narration, he's expecting Mandeville to support him any time soon, but in reality, this scenario would not even be an Instant-Win Condition, if one considers that they are fighting against Sir Kyril the Bloody. To add insult to injury, Kyril and his company deployed a tactic of setting the cathedral aflame to smoke the rebels out, only for them to be trapped within the cordon of Eostian forces. It goes without saying that the rebels are screwed in the end, with no reinforcements to save them.
  • One More Trigger: Glory Girl can't actually beat Shatterbird, she can only "Hold on... Hold on..." — long enough for the other members of New Wave to lethally ambush Shatterbird from behind. Vicky passes out from blood loss afterward, but the job is done and her family catches her before she can hit the ground.
  • The Raven's Plan:
    • In the old timeline, before the ritual was enacted, Jorah apparently died defending Moat Cailin from the Night King's forces so that everyone else could evacuate south of the Neck.
    • The story actually opens with this, as the Last Stand being made by the survivors on the Isle of Faces isn't expected to defeat the Others, but to keep them busy long enough for Bran and Melisandre to send them all back in time.
  • In "Stars Will Light the Way" when Strange Supreme ("What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?") travels to Earth-838 (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), at one point Captain Marvel and Professor Charles Xavier stay behind to battle Wanda-in-Chthon while Strange, America, Christine, Reed Richards and Captain Carter retreat to find the Book of the Vishanti.
  • This Bites!: During the attack on Enies Lobby, the Franky Family and Galley-La workers keep Baskerville busy so that the Straw Hats can advance further into the courthouse. Shortly after, the TDWS also stay behind to hold back the Jurymen so the rest of the crew can keep moving unmolested.
  • In Thousand Shinji, when the army was invading NERV, Shinji ordered his Rubric Marines to hold the tunnels while he rescued Misato.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In '71 the soldiers have to hold back an angry mob while the police search houses for guns.
  • The entire ending of the Korean war film, 71: Into the Fire, where from the original team of 71 student soldiers, upon reaching the checkpoint at Nakdong River, what remains of the 71 must band together and hold back a North Korean platoon of several hundred soldiers.
  • Subverted in April 9th. The Danish bicycle platoon trying to hold back the advancing Germans are unaware that their country has already surrendered.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: As the Dark Aster enters Xandar's atmosphere, the Nova Corps interlock their sky flyers to create a flying energy net to try and slow it down while the Guardians infiltrate the ship to engage Ronan and his forces. It works until Ronan blasts a hole in the net with his Infinity Stone-infused hammer, and the net quickly falls apart after that.
    • Captain America: Civil War: When it becomes clear that Team Iron Man is too powerful to take down, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Giant-Man choose to stay behind and hold them off long enough for Cap and Bucky to escape in the Quinjet.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Before going into battle against the Children of Thanos and their army, T'Challa, Okoye, M'Baku and the Wakandan Army shout out a Battle Chant of "Yibambe!", which is a real word in Xhosa that roughly translates to "hold fast."
  • In The Empire Strikes Back, this was the whole point of the Battle Of Hoth from the Rebel's perspective: they knew it was a battle they had no hope of winning, and were just trying to keep the Empire busy long enough to get as many transports away as possible.
  • Power Rangers (2017). Despite their constant attacks, Goldar proves too much for the Rangers as they try to hold it off from reaching the Zeo Crystal. When all options are exhausted, Jason drops this trope word for word as their zords line up and unleash everything they have to keep Goldar and Rita back.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, the final battle sequence has Cpt. Miller's Ranger squad join forces with Pvt. Ryan's depleted paratrooper detachment to defend a vital river crossing from a coming German advance. Cue 40 minutes of non-stop action where a dozen American soldiers hold their ground against more than 50 Wehrmacht troops and four tanks using nothing but small arms and improvised munitions, and they successfully defend the bridge until reinforcements arrive, though nearly all of them gallantly sell their lives in doing so. It's an awe-inspiring sequence that also refrains entirely from sugarcoating the horror of all-out war.
  • Invoked and defied in Star Trek: First Contact. Picard, clearly into his Moby Schtick, refuses to destroy the Enterprise-E and Lily clearly sees that Picard is Ahab chasing his white whale. She even realizes that, despite claiming he doesn't desire revenge, he clearly wants to ravage the Borg for what they did to him. It takes realizing that he smashed his display case and broke a model of the Enterprise-D in the process to realize what he's doing is truly wrong and goes to fix things.
  • At the climax of Tears of the Sun, a Navy SEAL team make a last stand against a far larger enemy force in a desperate attempt to buy time for a group of refugees to reach safety, the team leader Lt. A.K. Waters even invoking the trope by name.
  • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine says this trope almost word-for-word as he commands the X-Men to stand their ground and protect Leech, the source of the cure at Alcatraz.

  • Bazil Broketail: Eads main goal when the great Padmasan invasion is underway is to avoid contact with a numerically superior hostile army and retreat deeper into Argonath in order to rejoin the main forces. However, he does his best to slow down the advance, using ambushes and whatever choke points he meets on his way. Eventually, he makes his last stand at Sprian's Ridge, holding back Padmasan forces until Argonathi reinforcements arrive on the battlefield. He succeeds, at the cost of the lives of many soldiers, as well as his own.
  • David Gemmell's Drenai series:
    • Legend is one big case of holding the line, as an undermanned and undertrained garrison attempts to hold a pass against an invading horde that massively outnumbers them, in the hope of slowing the horde down long enough for reinforcements to arrive. They don't, but they do delay the horde just barely long enough for internal strife to force the horde to turn around and go home.
    • A prequel, The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend, also features a hold the line action in its last act, with a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of the Spartans holding the line at Thermopylae.
  • The Dresden Files: Changes: Susan Rodriguez takes this position when she defends her daughter on a sacrifical alter from the Red King of the Red Court of Vampires and his entourage from going through with the sacrifice. It must occur at a confluence of moments this night for the curse to go into effect, and if Susan, invisible from Fae magic, can stop them long enough, then her daughter will be safe. If she can kill the King and others, even better.
  • The Hunger Games: Foxface's strategy. The young girl from District 5 is not the strongest fighter, but she is one of the smartest. She knows she has no chance against any of the other Tributes in a direct confrontation, so she hopes to survive by hiding and evading all the others until she can be the last one left.
  • The Killer Angels depicts the Battle of Gettysburg. Union General Buford seizes the opportunity when he views Gettysburg and realizes that is the ground that the invading Confederate army will want to fight them on, taking the nearest high ground (Seminary Ridge) and holding it until Union reinforcements arrive. The Union is eventually pushed back on to a second ridge (Cemetary Ridge) and spend the next two days repelling Confederates until Lee finally shatters his own army through the disastrous Pickett's Charge and is forced to withdraw.
  • The short-story prequel to Jack Campbell/John G. Hemry's The Lost Fleet has the main character John "Black Jack" Geary in a situation of this nature as he has his ship and two others defending a merchant convoy. It actually manages to have three separate hold the line moments in one battle. First the military ships hold the line so the civilians can escape, then Geary's ship holds the line so the other military ships can escape, finally Geary starts controlling his ship single-handedly so the rest of the crew can evacuate.
    • The worst part is that, after waking up from cryosleep a century later, Geary learns that his actions have been warped and twisted by Alliance propaganda into a glorious charge at the enemy forces in a "damn the torpedoes" manner. This was to get the officers to accept the new battle style of charging at the enemy guns blazing without any adequate fleets tactics in play.
    • In the Genesis Fleet prequel trilogy, Geary's ancestor Robert has to do pretty much the same at least once per book, since he's almost always outnumbered and/or outgunned. He maneuvers all over the system to keep the enemy from getting to the planet while staying out of their line of fire and keeping them busy. In the second book, Melee Darcy does the same with her Space Marines aboard an orbital station while a ship is being repaired.
  • Generally the tactic for fighting the Demons (both the Urban Fantasy corrupted-humans type and the High Fantasy ancient evil type) in the Shannara series and related works by Terry Brooks. Unlike other forces, the Demons tend to be unkillable save by magic, which is usually in short supply on the side of good, so the goal is more to obstruct them from their goal until some magical defense can be put in place. Indeed, this is the goal of the military in two books in the series.
  • The entire trilogy by John G. Hemry of Stark's War can be described as this.
  • Uprooted:
    • At one point, Kasia is forced to bar a narrow mountainside trail armed with a single sword against a column of mounted soldiers led by Prince Marek and manipulated by the malevolent Wood. She is not in a great deal of danger herself as it is unlikely anything the soldiers have on hand can damage her; but despite her Super Strength she does not actually weigh all that muchnote , frankly does not know what she is doing, and is fully aware that if she is knocked off the cliff to one side or even forced back to a wider bit of the road where she can be bypassed before Agnieszka works out how to conjure herself and the children they are rescuing to safety then they (and in the long run much of the kingdom) are doomed.
    • The epilogue of the story involves Agnieszka freeing the grown sons of a village headman who remained behind alongside him to fight against the approaching Wood to let the villagers have time to escape (the headman himself, who was implied to be dying in any case, elected to remain part of a now purified heart tree).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, the final battle of the Earth-Minbari war is The Battle of the Line, a massing of Humanity's remaining ships in an attempt to hold off the Minbari for as long as possible to evacuate as much of Earth's population as can be. At the end of the battle the Minbari surrendered to the badly beaten Earth forces. Only the Grey Council (and a very few others) ever knew why, until The Reveal early in Season 2. It turned out there was more to the story, but no one, not even the Grey Council, knew about that part until midway through Season 3.
  • The battles at the end of seasons 5 and 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have elements of this, as they have to hold back forces that only have a certain time window to achieve their tasks. Buffy even says the trope name to Faith as she hands over the leadership after being almost mortally wounded.
  • There's a new show in the UK called Cleverdicks (yes, that's really the name of the show). The final money round requires the contestant to answer questions quickly enough to prevent the stack of questions from reaching the top of the game board (questions fall in from the top every few seconds, and you can have 8 questions queued up and still be in the game) for two full minutes. Oh, by the way, you can only ever answer the question that's currently at the bottom of the stack. Good thing you can drop two questions off the bottom along the way.
  • One physical challenge in Double Dare was an inversion of the common "fill this container past the red line" challenges, where the liquid started above the line, and when the challenge started, began draining out of three containers through spouts shaped like noses. The contestants had to stuff rags up the noses to stem the flow of the liquid. The containers had to stay filled above the line for 30 seconds; at least two playings of this challenge exist, one requiring two containers to survive the duration, and the other requiring all three.
  • Game of Thrones: Stannis's defence of Storm's End during the Rebellion despite dire straits and no support kept Robert's Rebellion alive and tangled the powerful Tyrells for almost a year. Had Storm's End fallen it would have been a critical blow to Robert's legitimacy, similar to Robb Stark losing Winterfell, and depending of the timing, could have finished his campaign to defeat the Mad King.
  • Several of the games on Minute to Win It require the player to keep up an activity for the full 60 seconds, rather than finishing the stunt within the time.
  • John Basilone's stand outside of Henderson Field on Guadacanal features in The Pacific. For about 3 days, wielding a machine gun at the hip Basilone held off the advancing Japanese troops. This actually happened in real life and earned him a Medal of Honor.
  • The Final Battle in Person of Interest involves John Reese holding off as many Samaritan's men as he can before the virus can upload and destroy Samaritan once and for all.
  • The primary objective in the original Japanese version of Run For Money Tousouchuu is to simply avoid getting tagged by a Hunter until time runs out. The second the clock hits 00:00, everybody left standing wins the jackpot.
  • Caroline has to protect Mrs Lockwood from the tomb vampire ghosts until Bonnie can send all the ghosts back in The Vampire Diaries

  • Toto: "Love isn't always on time. Woah, woah, woah."
  • The Beatles, "Revolution 9": "Hold that line! Block that kick!"
  • Many nationalistic songs and anthems emphasise this: Bok van Blerk's Afrikaanerhart anthem about The Second Boer War is packed with imprecations to the Boer people to draw a line in the sand, stand fast, mark your man, and if you can't hold them, let them know they've been in a fight.
    Hou jou lyn en staan jou man,
    Dis hier waar ons hul kan keer!
    Staan vas, Staan vas, Suid-Afrika!
  • Sabaton's album The Last Stand is all about this and last stands (obviously), with songs about the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Lost Battalion, the Swiss Guard in 1527, Rorke's Drift and the Samurai at Shiroyama.


    Tabletop Games 
  • This is essentially the mission of the French and the British in Avalon Hill's Third Reich for the first few years: hold out until the Soviet Union and the United States enter the war. In most cases, of course, France will fall; the question is when. The longer the French hold out, the better shape the Allies will be in later on.
  • Another Avalon Hill game, Advanced Squad Leader, has Victory Conditions that look like this in most missions: Player A needs to take X buildings or get Y squads across the board or something like that in Z game turns, player B wins by stalling.
  • The victory condition in Infernal Contraption is to be the last one with cards remaining in your Parts Pile.
  • Red Hand Of Doom: During the Battle of Brindol, one of the scenarios, "Streets of Blood", involves this. The players will have to fight off multiple waves of goblins, hobgoblins, manticores, Blood Ghost berserkers and even summoned demons in order to stop them from reaching the town center. If you did not complete certain parts of the campaign, this scenario is longer as you face more waves including the Ghostlord's undead!
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Crimson Fists Chapter Master Pedro Kantor had note  the "Chapter Tactics" special rule. This means that, in addition to his forces exchanging the "And They Shall Know No Fear" special rule for the "Stubborn" special rule, all Sternguard Veterans (Elites) gain the "Hold The Line" special rule, allowing them to hold objectives like other Troops.
    • This is drawn from the Battle of Rynn's World, the Crimson Fists' homeworld; while under siege from an ork WAAAGH!!!, a catastrophic failure by an anti-ship missile caused their fortress and most of the Chapter to get nuked into oblivion. Kantor rallied the survivors (exact numbers aren't stated, but it was anywhere from two hundred to sixteen Space Marines, out of a thousand-strong Chapter) and managed to hold for eighteen months against millions of orks before Imperial reinforcements arrived to drive off the Greenskins.
    • It's also the calling card and rallying cry of the Imperial Guard, particularly Cadian regiments. Paired with the army receiving the Overshadowed By Adeptus Astartes treatment in fluff, this has led to the sardonic fan joke: "The Imperial Guard. It's a thankless job, but if you're willing to stand your ground and give it your all... you just might be able to buy enough time for the Space Marines to take all the credit."
    • In the deep lore of 40k there was Ollanius Pius. A regular old human Imperial Guardsman who was accidentally teleported onto the Chaos flagship at the end of the Horus Heresy, who not only managed to avoid being killed immediately, but then stood up to the superhuman, power armour clad, chaos warped Primarch Horus, after Horus had knocked The Emperor to the floor in combat. Pius held the line as the Emperor tried to regain his sense, and was soul flayed with a glance. He did no damage to Horus, but it allowed the Emperor to realise there was truly no hope left for Horus to regain his humanity, and The Emperor rose again and defeated the heretical traitor. As is usual for Games Workshop, they couldn't help but ruin something and destroy it's meaning, as they continued to muck around with this piece of lore, making them a Space Marine Terminator, a member of the elite Custodes, and also turning Pius into a special immortal being.
    • The Tau, who are usually against this tactic. A world in the Farsight Enclaves is being nommed by the Tyranids, but a hidden base on the world is full of Earth Caste scientists working on a way to beat the hive. Farsight starts the evacuation but the swarm discover the lab. What results is a truly epic Last Stand where eight fully decked-out battlesuits (six Crisis, one Broadside and one Riptide) containing Farsight and his bodyguards holding off an entire swarm of Tyranids on their own to buy time for the scientists to escape with the secret weapon, which soon reveals itself: it's a biotoxin which causes the entire hive to rot and drop dead.
    • The Siege of Terra was this from the perspective of the defenders: they simply couldn't defeat the attacking traitor forces themselves, but they knew that the Ultramarines Legion were on their way to break the siege. They even had propaganda leaflets for their conscript forces to the tune that "Lord Guilliman is coming".

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In A More Personal Union, the French do this at Orleans during the Great War, knowing that if they fail to stop the Spanish advance, Paris will fall soon after. They last long enough for English reinforcements to arrive.
  • Omega Zell does the Multi-Mook Melee variation in Noob: La Quête Légendaire. He's supposed to demonstrate his abilities to a Non-Player Character, so the latter stops the fight after he has fought for long enough without getting killed.
  • Several battles so far in The Solstice War. Ayvarta is on the defensive, and the communist soldiers are repeatedly shown to be, on the whole, too poorly trained to carry out an offensive, forcing the whole country to stall until better trained and equipped armies can be raised. Delaying until evacuation is a common goal.
  • In Void Domain, the climax of book three ends up with two separate Hold The Line events at the same time, perpetrated by two separate organizations, splitting the protagonists' attentions between the locations.
  • At least three such fights have been described in Worm:
    • In Arc 8 (Extermination), after Clockblocker freezes Leviathan, Armsmaster explains that Plan A (winning the fight on their own) is no longer feasible, and all they can do now is hang back and try to minimize the damage until Scion arrives.
    • In Plague 12.7, Skitter's plan to tie up Mannequin with spider silk relies on doing this.
    • In Crushed 24.5, Exalt orders the surviving capes to make a stand at the temple to gain enough time to evacuate the wounded.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League: In "Hereafter", Batman uses his martial-arts skill to hold his own against the much stronger and tougher Kalibak. When Kalibak sneeringly asks if he thinks he can beat him, Batman replies that he's just trying to stall him. Kalibak asks what he's stalling for... just as Superman lands right behind him.
  • Samurai Jack's Series Finale has Jack's closest allies help him get at Aku. One of the Spartan 300 yells the trope by name, trying to hold back the Aku-infested minions.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: The last three episodes of Season Two have a lot of this. Of particular note: "X is for Xanadu" features Caleb, Vathek, and Matt trying to hold a mountain pass against Prince Phobos and his army. They're waiting for Drake's reinforcements. The reinforcements don't make it before an avalanche occurs in a totally natural manner.
  • Craig of the Creek has an example. Having challenged the King to a game of Capture The Flag with the loser having to vacate their side of the creek, Craig and his friends discover that Maya is already on her way back to the overpass with their team's flag. It's Kelsey who decides to Hold the Line and keep Maya from crossing despite being outmatched.
  • Invoked Trope in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes by Kang of all people, when he gives the order for his men to "Hold the Line!" as he teleports off his bridge to personally deal with the Avengers invading his ship. In this case, however, it's less this trope and more a sign of Kang's Villainous Breakdown beginning. Before, he was so smugly confident he could invade Earth and defeat the Avengers he predicted it would be done by lunchtime. Now, thanks to the Avengers breaking into his ship and Wakanda (amongst others) destroying his invasion force, they have him on the back foot, forcing him to invoke this (hoping his men can just keep things from getting worse) as he gets personally involved.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Battle of the Superheroes!", Batman and Krypto confront Superman, who has gone evil thanks to Red Kryptonite. They're basically trying to run out the clock on the Red Kryptonite's influence, but with Superman no longer holding back, it's easier said than done. Even with Powered Armor, Batman's completely out of his league with Supes and he's saved from having his head crushed by the influence finally running out.

    Real Life 
  • The Greeks at Thermopylae and Artemesium attempted this tactic during the Second Greco-Persian War. The fleet at Artemeisum managed to hold their line. The Spartans at Thermopylae...they had other objectives. Thermopylae was never intended to be more than a suicide delaying action (at least for the final remaining force) to buy enough time to organize the naval action at Artemeisum. It should be noted that the Spartans technically failed in their objective and were overrun too quickly because the Persians were able to get behind their formation by sending some men through a narrow mountain pass. Ironically, this partial failure may have saved Greece as the flight was mostly there to prevent a beach landing. The Greek fleet disengaged as they had no reason to stay when the Spartans fell and later defeated the Persian fleet instead of sacrificing themselves for the sake of the Spartans.
  • The Viking at Stamford Bridge. A lone Viking berserker, whose badassery is credited for creating the Horny Vikings trope, held the bridge against the advancing Saxon line determined to buy his brethren time to reorganize. And that he did: For close to an hour this one guy tore through the English like tissue paper, completely unfazed by the injuries he was taking. He was finally brought down by a Saxon who floated down the river in a barrel and stabbed him through the bridge with a spear in a fairly undignified manner.
  • When Augusto Pinochet and the rest of Chile's armed forces enacted the 1973 Chilean coup, members of then-President Salvador Allende's personal guard, the Group Of Personal Friends, made a desperate attempt to defend Allende, but in the end, their efforts were in vain, and the surviving members were put into the artificial death camps set up in the country along with other political dissidents.
  • During the First Crusade, in a rare moment of genuine heroism by the Crusaders who had otherwise been rather distinctly unheroic for much of that fiasco; there came the Battle of Dorylaeum, where the Crusaders under the command of Bohemond of Taranto held a shield wall formation that protected numerous noncombatants for nearly seven hours against the Turkish onslaught led by Kilij Arslan I, in full armor under the burning Middle Eastern sun in a marshy riverbank. The Crusaders then managed to win the battle after reinforcements arrived allowing the defense to rally.
  • Wellington held the line against Napoleon at Waterloo until Blucher could arrive with the other half of the Allied army. Had Grouchy marched to the sound of the guns, he might have brought enough troops to break that line. Then, to gain enough time to reach Waterloo without interference, Blucher left behind his III Corps, under command of general von Thielmann (with none else than Clausewitz as his chief of staff). Grouchy eventually managed to force the Prussian III Corps out of the way... The day after Waterloo, just in time for Blucher's triumphant army to arrive and cause Grouchy's retreat to not be wiped out.
  • The "Thin Red Line" at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854. The 93rd Highlander Regiment in a two-man deep firing line successfully routed a Russian cavalry charge, saving the vulnerable British camp in the process. Something of a subversion, in that it only worked because the Russian commander saw the tiny defense force, concluded they were bait for an ambush, and ordered the withdrawal before his charge connected.
  • The Mexican victory at Puebla on Cinco de Mayo during France's invasion in the 1860s delayed the French advance on Mexico City for over a year. This gave Mexican President Benito Juarez time to organize a Government in Exile and La Résistance before fleeing, it also prevented the French from linking up with the Confederates in the American Civil War and gave the Union time to turn the tables on the Confederates.
  • At the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, the 20th Maine Regiment was ordered to "hold the line" on the far left end of the Union line on Little Round Top. In keeping with standard strategy of the time, several Confederate regiments attacked Little Round Top to turn the Union flank and break through to the Union rear area. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the 20th's commanding officer, ordered his men to increase their spacing to extend his position, "refuse the line" (draw back at a right angle to the existing formation), and hold position. After taking multiple Confederate attacks, and with their ammunition almost gone, Chamberlain ordered his men to fix bayonets and launch a counter-attack. The tactic caught the Confederates off-guard and they retreated, saving the Union flank.
  • A less celebrated but even more notable example was on the Union right, where Union troops held on to Culp's Hillnote  with their fingernails against one after another attempt by the Confederates to dislodge them. For three days. With the most significant action finding a heavily outnumbered brigade of the Union XII Corps facing three brigades of Allegheny Johnson's division of Ewell's corps during the night of the second day.
  • The 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment also made such a stand, and (again) prevented the Union from losing the battle. In the 2nd day of fighting the Confederates were rapidly moving towards the Union's artillery. With little time to spare, Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock quickly rode out to the first unit he could find, which was the 1st Minnesota guarding the Artillery battery. He told them to "Attack that line". They were outnumbered five to one, but they fixed bayonets and charged up Cemetery Ridge with no hesitation. Their banner fell five times, and was picked up every time. 265 men charged up that hill, 47 came back. They hold the honor of the most casualities inflicted on a unit that wasn't wiped out completely in the US Military.
  • The Battle of Rorke's Drift was an example - although only the Zulu commander knew this at the time. Having been ordered to join up with the main Zulu army there was only so long he could spend trying to wipe out the British garrison.
  • During the Soviet-Afghan War, an army of 39 Soviet paratroopers held a defensive position on Hill 3234 against an army of 200 to 400 Mujahideen and Pakistan soldiers, allowing a caravan to pass on the nearby road.
  • Second Battle of Ypres. After the Germans used gas for the first time the French colonial units in position broke and ran leaving a 7 kilometer wide hole in the line. Before the Germans could take advantage, the Canadian First Division (responsible for defending a front a few hundred meters wide) along with some scattered French troops spread out to plug the breach, holding the line for a critical 48 hours in hastily thrown up defenses until reinforcements could be brought up. One in three of the Canadians were wounded or killed.
  • Comes up a lot in British military history, actually. The early years of World War II effectively had the entire country doing this.
    "We will stand and fight here. If we can't stay here alive, then let us stay here dead."note 
  • The evacuation from Dunkirk. Recognizing that their situation was untenable, but to ensure that the British could live to fight another day, the French forces covered the evacuations until much (though sadly not all) of the BEF were safely off the continent. Once they were, the French were evacuated as well, forming the core of what would become the Free French forces.
  • During the Battle of Berlin, Walther Wenck, along with the 12th Army, opened a corridor for German civilians and the remnants of the 9th Army to escape the Soviet army and retreat to the Western-occupied territories.
  • The early months of the Korean War (June and July 1950) went excellently for North Korea, taking over most of the southern part of the peninsula and pushing the UN force (mostly South Korean, US, and some Commonwealth troops) into a 140-mile defensive perimeter around the last major port outside the control of the Korean People's Army - Busan (then Romanized as Pusan). For about six weeks the KPA continued to try to break through the Pusan Perimeter to capture the city; the US-led force pushed to hold them off while ground forces from Japan could be ferried over to build up their troop strength. Eventually, the KPA were forced to retreat due to hampered supply lines needing to come all the way from the north, especially after the UN launched a successful amphibious landing behind their lines at Incheon on September 15.
  • During the 1527 Sack of Rome, the Swiss Guard held off the invading Holy Roman Empire long enough for the Pope to escape the city.
  • Non-military example: defensive stops in American football by a team holding a lead of 4 to 8 points (a deficit that could be overcome or leveled with a touchdown but not a field goal) near the end of the game. If they can just prevent the offense from gaining the first-down line (or for more drama, the goal line if the offense gets that close) until four downs or the clock runs out. In a more ordinary example, "pass blocking" is this. As opposed to "run blocking," where the intent to usually to "attack" defensive players and push them back and/or out of the way of the ball carrier, in pass blocking, offensive linemen, and possibly the RB if he's not running a route, let the defense rush at them, and try to stop them or steer them aside and form a "pocket" (basically the line they're holding) where the QB can make a throw unmolested. Given that pass rushers are usually similar in size and strength to offensive linemen, and blockers aren't allowed to "hold" (grab on to opponents' jerseys, though players can get away with mild/subtle holding) rushers or to "chop block" (hit below the waist of a rusher that is already "engaged" with another blocker) them, among other things, this is a very temporary measure. The QB is therefore expected to make a throw (or at least buy blockers time by running away from pressure) quickly, to cut the linemen some slack.
  • The battle for Castle Itter, in what is the only battle of World War II where the Wehrmacht and the US Army were fighting on the same side. When a castle in Austria was taken by the combination of Josef Gangl's German and John C. Lee's American forces, the SS were intent on reclaiming it, forcing the two (in addition to the prisoners) to make every attempt to fight off the SS until backup arrived.
  • The Italian front of World War I in a nutshell:
    • As Italy joined the war, the Austro-Hungarian militia on the border territory had to do everything in their power to hold off the Italians until the arrival of reinforcements from the Eastern Front. Due Italian troubles, they succeeded;
    • After the first few weeks, both sides engaged in this: Austria-Hungary, having the advantages of the high ground on the mountainous border, battle-hardened troops fighting mostly unexperienced soldiers and initially superior equipment, was to hold the line until they had a chance for an offensive against Brescia (where most of Italy's weapons and munitions were made) and Venice, while Italian commander-in-chief Luigi Cadorna, having entered the war with an underequipped force due incompetence from the bureaucrats and most of his predecessors and before having the time to even start to mobilize the army (why he didn't launch an offensive on Trento and then Vienna while most of the Austro-Hungarian army was out of position), planned since the start to use the static nature of trench warfare to sap the enemy strength while the Italian industry produced the necessary weapons, the Italian army mobilized, and, hopefully, the Russian army broke through. Had it not been for unexpected events allowing the Austro-Hungarian army and German reinforcements to throw all their strength on the Italian Front, Cadorna's strategy would have succeeded.
    • In 1916 Austria-Hungary launched the Punitive Expedition against Asiago, planning to break through and attack Brescia, resulting in the Italian First Army and the newly-formed Fifth Army having to hold the line waiting for the Russians taking advantage of the enemy moving troops from their front to Italy to launch their attack-and then the Austro-Hungarians had to hold the line on both fronts, as the Russians and the Italians coordinated their offensives.
    • After the Austro-Hungarian victory at Caporetto, the Italian Fourth Army was ordered to hold the line at the Grappa Massif and other troops to perform a delaying action on the Piave river to both protect Venice and Brescia and give time to French and British reinforcements to deploy on the Mincio river. Much to everyone's surprise, the Fourth Army not only held the line, but inflicted the enemy such a beating that the line stabilized on the Piave.
    • In summer 1918 the Austro-Hungarians launched their final offensive on the Piave river, with the Italian troops successfully holding the line until the Austro-Hungarians exhausted their supplies.
    • During the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in late October 1918 the Austro-Hungarians had to try and hold the line just long enough to negotiate an armistice that would preserve the empire and deny the Entente free passage in their territory, thus guarding Germany's undefended southern border. To the horror of the government in Vienna, the army and the empire instead collapsed as divisions retreated under Italian pressure and the empire's component states declared their independence, the latter causing the troops from those areas to just let the Italians pass as they weren't in the war anymore, thus forcing what remained of the empire to surrender unconditionally right before Austria itself proclaimed the republic.
    • As the above happened, the Entente forces in the Adriatic sea, later reinforced by the Italian navy, had established the Otranto Barrage to keep the Austro-Hungarian fleet from breaking into the Mediterranean and threaten their operations there, and had to take the brunt of multiple assaults.
    • At the same time, the Italian garrisons on the Lybian coast had to hold against the Central Powers-supported Senussi rebellion that had overran the rest of the recently-conquered Lybia until reinforced and relieved - in 1923, as even after the end of the war Italy had more pressing issues to send troops in Africa.
  • During WWII 22,800 US paratroopers of the 101st Paratroopers had to hold the line against over 54,000 German Troops with little to no air support for 7 days during the Siege of Bastognenote .
  • During the Battle of Albuera, part of the Peninsular War, the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment managed to hold long enough that they broke the French advance, who then retreated as British reinforcements arrived. The fighting was so fierce that they lost 422 of their 570 rankers, and 20 of their 30 officers. Early on, their commander, Colonel William Inglis, was wounded by French grapeshot, but refused to be carried away from the battle and stayed with the Regimental Colours. When the fighting was at its fiercest, he calmly proclaimed "Die hard, 57th, die hard!"note , resulting in the regiment being nicknamed "The Die Hards".
  • The Battle of Hill 262 (Mont Ormel). Polish armored divisions made a hasty push to take the mount, which gave them a position from which to rain fire down on German troops attempting to escape the Falaise Pocket. The United States took up positions in nearby Chambois, making the mount one of the few pathways to escape to safety. From 19 August 1944 to 21 August, the Germans pushed against the Polish with reckless abandon, and by the night of the 20th, the Polish were exhausted and dangerously low on supplies, leading to their CO, Stefanowicz, making the below It Has Been an Honor speech. In the early afternoon of the 21st, the Canadians arrived and relieved the Polish army, securing the line.
    "Gentlemen, all is lost. I do not think that the Canadians can come to our rescue. We have only about 110 able-bodied men left. Five shells per gun and 50 bullets per man. That's very little, but fight all the same. Surrender to the S.S. is futile; you know that. I thank you. You have fought well. Good luck, gentlemen. Tonight we shall die for Poland and for civilization! . . . each tank will fight independently, and eventually each man for himself."
  • The so-called "Olshansky's Landing" on March 26, 1944, in Nazi-occupied Mykolaiv (modern-day Ukraine). 68 volunteers from Soviet Naval Infantry landed on a bank of the Southern Bug river and occupied a number of port structures. Over the following day, they ended up repelling 18 attacks from 3 German infantry battalions and 2 tanks. In one case, a Soviet marine killed a German officer by tearing his throat out with his teeth. By the end of the day, only 11 of the volunteers were alive (Lt. Olshansky himself was, sadly, not one of them), but the 18 attacks cost the Germans over 700 men and 2 tanks, and they also failed to dislodge the Soviets.


Video Example(s):


Ikaruga (Stone-Like)

After beating the final boss of Ikaruga, Shinra has to survive a 60 second onslaught of absolute bullet hell without firing, before he can release the last attack and destroy it for good.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HoldTheLine

Media sources: