In movies and TV shows, some supposed enemy appears: an alien from another planet, some unidentified earth-based target, or something else that it appears the only way to defend against it (whether or not it has hostile intentions) is the Army, Navy, and/or Marines. So the military comes out, and they start shooting, and they discover the enemy has shields, or that for some reason the military's best ordnance attacks do not have even the slightest effect. Or, worse, their opponent has ray guns or other equipment that can shoot down and/or incinerate attacking equipment and/or aircraft.
So, you would think that, since the material they are using is being destroyed, the military commander would stop wasting ammo or equipment (not to mention the personnel being vaporized, killed, or seriously injured). No, they keep right on shooting, wasting ammo and getting their ass kicked, as if the purpose of the military is to continue to throw away its ordnance on invulnerable targets after it's been shown that there is no effect.
Of course, it can be argued that in truly hopeless situations in which it seems that the aliens' intention is to utterly wipe out humanity, running away does not make all that much sense either, and dying in battle might even be seen as a preferable fate. At best it might even buy time for the rest of humanity to discover the aliens' weakness.
It's a play on the 19th Century surrender poem ("I Will Fight No More Forever") of the Chief of the Nez Perce Indians, when he realized that they could not win against the U.S. cavalry. In this trope, the cavalry can't come to the realization that it's not going to win, but it will keep on fighting, wasting ordnance and quite possibly people.
See also Attack! Attack! Attack!. For the villainous equivalent, see Shooting Superman. Along with We Have Reserves, this represents the bulk of General Ripper's tactical and strategic repertoire (raising the question as to how he could actually make it to general...). Also compare Five Rounds Rapid, in which an armed force only uses small-arms fire to try to take down a monster, and never thinks to use some of the bigger weapons in its arsenal.
- Used in Dragon Ball Z, when the King's army tries to defeat Cell. Unfortunately for them, it turns out to be the 'Entire Army Vaporized' variant, because Cell is just that sadistic.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the military being deployed against an Angel is either a token gesture as they usually know it won't work, or is used as a diversion while the EVAs do their thing.
- Lampshaded by Fuyutsuki on episode 3: "They're just wasting taxpayers' money."
- In the English dub of Uchuu Senkan Yamato / Star Blazers, Captain Gideon's parting words to the Star Force regarding the Comet Empire are to aim for the bottom half, as the upper half is impenetrably shielded. Advice he fails to act on, even though he still has a couple of minutes left after he gives it.
- The marines in One Piece have a horrible knack of continually shooting a guy who's Immune to Bullets while he runs around throwing trees and crushing buildings. Shown WHY they do this during the Marineford arc. If they ever stop fighting or retreat, a higher-ranking commander is authorized to just kill them. Few of the marine officers are that brutal, but then you have Akainu...
- The Eleventh Division in Bleach is pretty much the poster child for this. They manage to be completely devastated multiple times, and in fact the motto they live by is "Die in battle, and fight forever." Not exact wording but close enough.
- Just about every human soldier, guard, or police officer in Elfen Lied; granted, they don't really know her full capabilities. The first seven minutes or so are a pretty good example of this trope: Lucy escapes and begins walking toward the guards. They fire. She deflects the bullets with her invisible vectors. She continues to walk towards them. They die. Horribly. Variations on this happen multiple times in the first seven minutes, and throughout the series. In general, only the protagonists can survive an encounter with Lucy, even if they're not in one piece afterward, but common grunts seem quite willing to stand their ground and continue firing, even when bullets visibly have no effect, despite the fact that people around them are being literally ripped to pieces by invisible hands. There is only one Nameless non important grunt to attempt to subvert this, the guard who grabs a high power sniper rifle, and, on Kurama's orders, tries to blow Lucy's head off from the safety of his office. It fails of course, but the blow does give her amnesia.
- Aldnoah.Zero has the UE Kataphrakts stay in place and continuously fire upon VERS mechs, even when it becomes obvious that their bullets have no effect whatsoever. Apparently, their pilots have never heard of retreating as a strategy.
- Notably averted in Fullmetal Alchemist; all the important characters are intelligent people who adapt their tactics and learn from their mistakes. Even when they are simply pouring firepower at an enemy they know can heal from it, it's a deliberate plan to distract them or force them to waste their power reserves protecting themselves rather than killing people.
- An example of this trope being actually subverted (since one might well have expected a textbook of example of this trope) comes during Sloth's rampage through Fort Briggs; as progressively heavier weaponry either has no effect or gets healed immediately, General Armstrong immediately orders her forces to withdraw and accepts that she can't destroy him and has to settle for slowing him down, so she douses him in fuel and forces him out into the snow, where he promptly freezes solid.
- Averted in Godzilla: The Half-Century War: Ota and Kentaro keep firing on Godzilla in their little Sherman tank because it keeps his attention on them, and not the fleeing civilians.
- The War of the Worlds, the 1953 version. Despite the Martians having impenetrable shields and using disruptor rays, the U.S. Marines keep on shooting at them and allowing their troops to be vaporized, resulting in losses to the tune of nearly 60% men and 90% materiel.
- In the original novel they were more effective; the narrator witnesses one tripod being destroyed by an artillery barrage, before the Martians start deploying chemical weapons. A single ironclad took out two tripods in a kamikaze attack, which doesn't seem like much until you realize there are at most thirty on the planet.
- The movie shows many of the troops and vehicles retreating (or trying to). Also, Major General Mann ordered the Marine commander to "Hold them as long as you can".
- In the 1953 movie, the waves of soldiers are depicted as being used as a "heroic sacrifice" which while at best a distraction, is giving the scientists time to figure out how to stop the Martians. The military's top scientists do approach the problem rationally, as after a nuclear weapon doesn't even make a dent in Martian energy shields, they don't give up, but plan to turn to biological weapons. The problem, unfortunately, is that by this point the civilian population is in full panic mode, and a mob steals the bio-warfare lab trucks and smashes all of the equipment - in one scientist's immortal words, "they've cut their own throats!" The film ends with everyone praying in a church and just as a Martian is about to kill them, it dies from some earth disease, ending the movie with a monologue about how the Martians were defeated by bacteria, the "smallest creatures that God in his infinite wisdom put on this Earth"... the irony being that using a bio-weapon was the concept the scientists had come up with and which just might have worked!
- Also happens in the 2005 remake: the Army deploys to fire on the tripods—not in the hopes of destroying them, but simply to delay them until the civilians can escape.
- The Incredible Hulk, the military keeps attacking despite the fact all they're doing is making him mad as he throws their tanks back into each other, turning them into slag. This is a carryover from the comics, where the military was so obsessed with stopping the Hulk that they couldn't seem to figure out that every time they tried, it cost millions of dollars (and no lives). General Ross in particular was fond of throwing wave after wave of his own men into battle, despite the fact that the Hulk would just get angrier and stronger with each successive attack.
- Godzilla. So much so that the absence of this trope is one of the (many) reasons the first American Remake is considered Canon Discontinuity.
- Subverted in Independence Day, after dropping a nuke on the alien destroyer over the city of Houston (and obliterating the previously undamaged city below), the Secretary of Defense thinks that using another nuke on another American city might still work even though the first one failed utterly. The President overrules him.
- In Evolution, the army tries this against alien life forms that evolve at an alarming rate. Their General, shortly after being told fire makes them evolve faster, tells the main characters to shut up and makes things go to Hell. Tell someone that a weapon will make the threat of the week stronger and that's the first thing they'll try to kill it with. The general never finds out about the fire thing before detonating the napalm. They try to call him, but he refuses to pick up the phone.
- In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it seems that the super secret human/Autobot task force has one tactic: send the humans in, let them get slaughtered, then hope that delays the Decepticons long enough for the Autobots to kill them. The sequel shows NEST developing pretty effective tactics that allow humans to take out Decepticons with assault rifles (presumably, with armor-piercing ammo) without Autobot assistance. Sniper rifles also prove surprisingly effective at taking out their eyes.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: In the Rogue Cut, despite the fact they cannot win against the Sentinels, Blink suggests continuing to fight anyway. She still goes along with everyone else's plan, and at the climax since Iceman died earlier, she's the last one to die before the timeline changes, still fighting even when swarmed on all sides.
- The Outlaws: This is thehe best way to describe the attitude of those Freikorps soldiers who took part in WW 1. Some of them believe that the war hasn't finished and it is their duty to continue fighting for Germany. Others were simply molded into Blood Knights by the horrible experience of modern combat.
- Vorkosigan Saga: Lampshaded by Miles Vorkosigan in Brothers in Arms:
Galen: The revolt must not die.
Miles: Even if everybody in it dies? 'It didn't work, so let's do it some more'? In my line of work they call that military stupidity. I don't know what they call it in civilian life.
- World War Z has the narrator interviewing a Chinese submarine commander who defected. Apparently his reasons weren't political, but rather the truly horrific mindsets of the top Chinese government officials who refused to believe that using massive numbers of poorly equipped soldiers was a bad idea. This despite the fact that every soldier killed by the zeds meant another zombie enemy. Of course, fridge logic dictates that the zombies usually tear humans apart if they got ahold of them, and even a crappy army should be able to average a better than 1/1 exchange ratio, but shh.
- Babylon 5: The Earth-Minbari War, the final battle of which is the Last Stand variant, and was fought to ensure the escape and survival of the human race. Heart-wrenchingly narrated by Londo.
Londo: The humans, I think, knew they were doomed. But where another race would surrender to despair, the humans fought back with even greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it; they would weep, they would pray, they would say goodbye to their loved ones, and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself, never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage. Their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns. When they ran out of guns, they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes in the end. They did this for two years; they never ran out of courage. But, in the end, they ran out of time.
- The WWI Blackadder described the Allies' secret plan as "climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy" with the drawback being that "everyone always gets slaughtered in the first ten seconds." The depressing thing is that this is very close to the tactics the Allies used in Real Life, at least early in the war.
- In Real Life, both sides developed more innovative tactics over time - for example, climbing out of the trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy, behind one of your tanks or a rolling barrage of artillery shells and smoke.
- Doctor Who:
- In "Revenge of the Cybermen", the Vogans keep attacking the bulletproof Cybermen with weapons that can't hurt them. (This is especially weird as Voga is full of gold, which can hurt them; and the Cybermen are the Vogans' prime enemy.)
- In "Dalek", there's a scene with groups of soldiers attacking the eponymous Dalek from three different directions. It's got a force field and bullets do not penetrate. It shoots, and one Redshirt gets Death Rayed. It turns, and shoots another. Then again, another. One by one, in no particular hurry. The bullets are still not having any effect whatsoever. However, instead of saving their bullets (and lives) and leaving to come up with a better plan, they keep going until all are slaughtered.
- "The Parting of the Ways": While fighting the Daleks invading the Gamestation, Jack Harkness uses up every bullet in all of his guns even as they have no effect and he is backed into a corner. "Last man standing!" When he finally runs out, he gives them a Bring It gesture and spreads his arms.
- In "Mummy on the Orient Express", Captain Quell continues to shoot at the mummy even when it's clear that the bullets pass right through him. He seems aware it's pointless but remarks, "What kind of soldier would I be, dying with bullets in my gun?"
- Averted in "Resolution": As soon as it becomes clear that their weapons are useless and the "unknown drone" they're fighting is heavily armed, the leader of the squadron engaging it orders them to run. Not that it does much good, but credit for making the right call in the circumstances.
- Invasion: Earth (1998) had the military destroying a massive alien...thing that appeared, only for another one to appear in its place. It was theorised that an infinite number of these aliens were stacked up in alternate realities, waiting to replace each one that's destroyed. Nevertheless the general in charge gives a defiant speech about how they're going to nuke each one that appears, no matter how many, because the fate of the human race is at stake. The series ends without us finding out whether these "all or nothing" tactics are effective.
- Basically the aliens want to turn all life on Earth and everywhere else into Organic Technology slaves. Most races are pacifists and kill themselves rather than be used. Humans being awesome bastards decide to do as much damage to the aliens as possible and exterminate all life on Earth in the process out of spite.
- The British General Ripper Expy gives this speech, "They are going to learn that we won't roll over and die like the Echo's. We are going to fight. And even if we lose we'll make damn sure that they don't win." I was never so proud to be a human.
- "Barroom Hero" by the Dropkick Murphys. Basically it's about a big tough guy who loves to get drunk and fight, but he's a much better drinker than a fighter, apparently.
- Thirty Seconds To Mars - This Is War. The soldiers depicted by the band see tanks and helicopters and jets and humvees flying by, and shoot at them. Repeatedly. To be fair, it's not something they were probably trained for. They eventually catch on that what they're doing is useless.
- Twilight: 2000: The destruction of civilization happens pretty much because the world's militaries didn't know how to stop fighting, and they kept throwing good resources after bad until there was nothing left to fight with and the infrastructure that kept civilization going had been destroyed.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- This trope describes just about every single faction save the Tau and Eldar. Orks keep on attacking because they're orks, Chaos keeps on attacking because getting their own men killed still counts as killing people in the name of their dark gods, and Imperial troops keep on attacking because of Honor Before Reason, faith, and Commissars for the Space Marines, Sisters of Battle and Imperial Guard (those who aren't secretly worshiping Chaos, at least) respectively.
- The Imperial Guard itself sometimes seems to be half made up of General Rippers. Kubrick Chenkov in particular uses his men to clear minefields for tanks or attack fortified positions without tanks. The casualties are hideously high even for the Guard, but the fact that it hasn't failed him yet means he's still in charge. The main reason is that We Have Reserves is in play to a ludicrous degree; human lives are the only resource in the Imperium considers completely inexhaustible.
- And then there's Khorne's Warrior Heaven where fighters attack each other forever, spilling blood in his name. There's even a few orks there, after he noticed their enthusiasm in travelling halfway across the galaxy to the Eye of Terror solely looking for a good fight, and while they didn't quite manage to kill the last daemon prince they fought, managed such a good Defiant to the End that he brought their souls to the foot of his throne.
- You're up against a ghost Pokémon trainer with your Mons knowing nothing but normal or fighting moves. You can't run from a trainer battle... note
- The Jak and Daxter series's titular One-Man Army, Jak, is constantly laying the smackdown on hordes of Krimzon Guards, Metal Heads, and pretty much anything that moves in a vaguely threatening way. And no matter what, they just keep coming.
- He himself falls into something similar to this trope. Everyone Jak ever works for seems to solve problems simply by chucking Jak at them, and then when this leads to more trouble, they chuck Jak at those. Of course, being Jak, he wins.
- Subverted in the conclusion, seemingly. When the final boss of the third game is damaged enough, Erol abandons the spider legged frame of the terraformer, and tries to fly away in the body. It is implied to be some kind of escape attempt, but he crashes for no apparent reason, leading to final phase of the battle
- He himself falls into something similar to this trope. Everyone Jak ever works for seems to solve problems simply by chucking Jak at them, and then when this leads to more trouble, they chuck Jak at those. Of course, being Jak, he wins.
- Averted slightly in Universe at War. While humanity is never shown as being capable of bringing down a Hierarchy walker by themselves, human tanks, fighters, and trained infantry are shown to be perfectly capable of killing Hierarchy ground troops, albeit with heavy casualties. When Earth finally manages to launch a nuke against a Hierarchy ship, it's implied that it does decent damage, and a high-ranking Hierarchy commander considers it a humbling lesson.
- [PROTOTYPE]: Given that Alex Mercer doesn't have much difficulty with destroying helicopters or hijacking them for a joyride (and then probably using them to blow up some more military property), it's a wonder that the military keeps sending them after him. Same thing for the Supreme Hunter the first time at least, they're kinda useless the second and Elizabeth Greene in a way: Mercer does a better job at avoiding her attacks and actually damaging her in one, but if the military didn't keep sending tanks and helicopters in, the player couldn't yoink them and shoot rockets at the boss with some degree of protection.
- In the early game, at least, when you've got barely enough health to trash a few tanks, the military is a mild annoyance. Maybe they're hoping to be a critical annoyance at exactly the right time? Those strike teams do a good job of it, at least...
- Helicopters, tanks, rocket launchers, and grenade launchers are at least vaguely dangerous, in the sense that they could hypothetically kill Alex. A better example would be the guys shooting regular bullets.
- It actually makes sense for them to keep throwing rocket launchers, tanks, helicopters, etc. at you when you're fighting the bigger things on the infected side. They know damn well that they can't hurt that monster, and that you'll do less damage than it will, so they have an interest in making sure you win even if they'd prefer to see you dead under other circumstances.
- Also, most of the tanks and helicopters are there primarily to fight the other infected, which they're very effective at.
- Subverted occasionally in Assassin's Creed, since the first installment but particularly from Assassin's Creed II onward. Enemy Mooks have a hidden morale meter that gets depleted as they watch their fellows die. If you take out enough Elite Mooks or disarm them, there's a good chance that the lesser Mooks will turn tail and run, begging for mercy.
- In later games, you can kill a number of enemies with precisely-timed actions. Essentially, when Ezio is killing a guy, you can give the strike command with a direction, and he will almost instantly rush towards another guy and stab him, and so on. Needless to say, seeing a dozen well-armed soldiers slaughtered by one guy in under 10 seconds can drop the morale meter faster than a rock.
- Inversely they can invoke this on you depending on the player. The guys tend to act cautiously upon first encounter, but put aside Mook Chivalry after landing several good hits and pile up against you. So if they start geting the upper hand RUN. If you try to stay and fight good luck with that.note
- In Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Gordon Freeman is at a train station, and must evade a Combine Strider. You're supposed to run around and underneath it using the storage crates as cover, but if you abuse your full supply of under-barrel grenades and nearby hopper mines you can slowly kill it. Your reward? Another Strider spawns in, and will continue to do so until you finish the obstacle course, open the crate of rockets, and kill the Strider with the RPG.
- This is what makes humans special in Sword of the Stars. The game's resident Proud Warrior Race, the Tarka, are Combat Pragmatists who will surrender or flee if the situation is hopeless. Humans, on the other hand have been known to keep on fighting, and that scares the shit out of them. The Artificial Stupidity can get pretty thick, though. You can be sweeping enemy planets away turn on turn and the AI will usually refuse to beg for peace or surrender, even all the way to their end.
- In-Universe in Dissidia Final Fantasy. The secret reports and cutscenes indicate that the side of Cosmos has never been victorious in any of the numerous cycles of war, yet her warriors continue to fight relentlessly. This is partly helped by them not knowing that they're repeating it in the first place—when they find out in the 12th, two of them decide to frag their own allies in hopes of better odds next time—but it does pay off eventually after thirteen goes.
- In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, an Alternate History Hearts of Iron IV mod set in a world where the Axis powers won World War II'', there is a story about Huang Kecheng, a former Chinese Communist soldier and follower of Mao Zedong, refused to believe that the Chairman was killed during the battle of Chongqing during the Second Sino-Japanese War and continued to resist the Japanese rule for decades, surviving due to banditry and raids in villages in Eastern Shandong. Eventually, he is captured by Kempeitai and executed, denying that Mao died to the end, even after seeing the photos of Mao's corpse.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the episode "The Drill" shows us a general commanding a squadron of earthbenders, and his order to them is to keep dropping rocks on a target far below—keep dropping rocks even after hours have shown that it has no effect. This is consistent across the series as a weakness of earthbenders, as a whole—they lack the imagination of water-or-airbenders, they're bad at changing their strategies, and they're stubborn as... well... as rocks.
- This is Zapp Brannigan's modus operandi in Futurama to simply throw men into a hopeless battle until something happens. It actually works against the kill bots because they have a kill meter and once they reach maximum kill counts they shut off. Fridge horror occurs when a deleted scene reveals this limit is 99999 kills per Killbot.
- After the death of Superman in Justice League, supervillains go on the offensive with no Superman to stop them. The police are putting up resistance, but their guns are worthless against the villains. They immediately cite this trope as the reason why they keep shooting despite that.
Policeman 1: This is hopeless! It isn't working!
Policeman 2: What do you want to do? Give them the key to the city? [keeps shooting]
- Lampshaded in The Powerpuff Girls, when a typical giant monster appears to wreak havoc in the city...
Fighter Pilot: Roger, Bravo Delta, this is Sitting Duck. I have Bogie Queen in my sights, and I'm, uh, going to shoot bullets at it now.
- "As if the purpose of the military is to continue to throw away its ordnance on invulnerable targets after it's been shown that there is no effect" is a pretty good description of the entire First World War, most notably the Battle of The Somme, although in WWI it was "ordnance and men."
- The Somme was really an attempt to force the Germans to refocus away from Verdun, another really lossy battle.
- US Navy torpedo squadrons at the Battle of Midway were equipped with obsolete TBD torpedo bombers, which were very easy prey for the A6M "Zero" fighters that protected the Japanese fleet. The torpedo planes pressed home their attack anyway, and were mostly wiped out, with Torpedo Eight from the USS Hornet famously only having one survivor. However, destroying the torpedo planes drew the fighters down near the water, leaving the carriers wide open when the non-obsolete dive bombers arrived at high altitude right as the Japanese were rearming their attack planes. The torpedo bomber pilots' Heroic Sacrifice allowed the dive bombers to inflict massive damage on three of the Japanese carriers, putting them out of action, and greatly contributed to the eventual U.S. victory.
- Several additional waves of attackers from Midway itself were also just about wiped out by the Japanese. Something like seven separate attacks suffered atrocious losses. The only result was to disorganize the Japanese forces to the extent that the final attacks were outstandingly effective. One of the best books about the battle was named Incredible Victory for a reason.
- Those attacks also prevented the Japanese from launching the second wave of attack planes they had held in reserve, ensuring they were caught in the middle of re-arming and re-fueling the first attack wave.
- The reason for the sequential attacks by the Americans was a lack of training and experience (each group set out as soon as it took off). Notably, only the squadrons from the Yorktown (the only battle-experienced carrier) arrived together, at almost the same time the Enterprise's bombers arrived from the opposite direction (which was pure luck— the timing was unintentional).
- On the other side, the Japanese were the ones playing this trope straight after the tables turned. A few units and isolated officers held out for years after the surrender before they were convinced that the war was over.
- The last Imperial Japanese Army soldier to surrender was Pvt. Teruo Nakamura, who was contacted on the Indonesian island of Morotai in December 1974, twenty-nine years after the war ended. Nakamura doesn't quite fit the trope, however, as he did not exactly choose to keep fighting; rather, the island he was on was highly isolated, and he further isolated himself by breaking away from his unit sometime in the 1950s. He was also not ethnic Japanese, but rather Aboriginal Taiwanese (i.e. he was not ethnic Han Chinese like the vast majority of Taiwanese people today, but rather a member of one of Taiwan's native Austronesian-speaking peoples) , who chose to be sent to Taiwan rather than Japan after Indonesian soldiers "arrested" him. He died of a heart attack in 1979.
- The last clear example of this trope among the Japanese holdouts was the last IJA officer and last ethnic Japanese person to surrender, Lt. Hiroo Onoda. Onoda formally surrendered a few months before Nakamura, in March 1974, after Norio Suzuki, a young Japanese adventurer (born in April 1949, nearly four years after the war had ended), made contact with him and reached out to Onoda's commanding officer. Onoda's unit had received leaflets announcing Japan's surrender dropped from aircraft, but concluded that they were American forgeries rather than the genuine article. On arriving in 1974, Onoda's old commander formally advised Onoda that the surrender of the Japanese forces was real, and ordered Onoda to stand down—which Onoda promptly did. He returned to Japan, where he became involved in Japanese right-wing politics; he died in 2014 at the ripe old age of 91.
- In the European Theater, the Germans attempted the same thing with Operation Werwolf, an SS-coordinated guerrilla campaign that persisted as late as 1950, although with the SS effectively destroyed its activities were uncoordinated and caused comparatively minor damage.