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Last Stand

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That's one hell of a last stand!

Englishmen! I am waiting here!
In my heart, I know not an ounce of fear!
We are waiting here my trusted axe and me!
Just come at me, I will not flee!
Death! I know that it awaits!
Soon I will enter Valhalla's gates!
Amon Amarth, "The Berserker at Stamford Bridge"

If you were looking for the flash game, look under The Last Stand. For the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, see here.

The Siege has not killed you all, but the battle is over. Victory is impossible. Escape is impossible or futile. Surrender will not be accepted, or is dishonorable, or will lead to a Fate Worse than Death. The chance to cross the Line in the Sand has come and gone. The Cavalry might not be coming.

There is only one thing to do: make them pay. In blood. Make them pay for every inch they take. For every drop of blood you shed — shed a gallon of theirs. No matter that they outnumber you so badly that you can kill a hundred of them and still be overwhelmed. Take as many of the bastards with you as you can.

You can even hope that the casualties you inflict may aid others on your side when you are gone. Maybe. Even if no one will ever know.


If the forces are in a place with good defences, Truth in Television. Vastly disproportionate forces may be needed to get at such forces in Real Life. It usually ends badly for the smaller force but can become a Pyrrhic Victory for the larger.

Sometimes, The Cavalry or the Big Damn Heroes do show up. Sometimes, the enemy will run out of supplies, victuals or ammunition, or decide a Pyrrhic Victory is not worth the effort, and leave the battlefield. Sometimes, the dogged opposition causes the enemy forces to decide to take an end-run around you. Sometimes, the news of newly-made peace will reach both the defenders and attackers and resolve the situation without a fight. In very rare cases, the defenders even manage to impress the attackers so much that they offer them extremely favorable terms of surrender that are not only perfectly acceptable but can be considered a victory. More usually though, this trope is a set-up for a Downer Ending, perhaps sweetened by one or two survivors Left for Dead, or sent away to Bring News Back of the loyalty, friendship, and unyielding honor of the doomed forces, leading to It Has Been an Honor — and the Dying Moment of Awesome.


In rare cases it ends with Kill 'Em All and a full blown The Bad Guy Wins. Sometimes the villains are forced into a Last Villain Stand, in which case Villainous Valor is often invoked.

Tip-offs when the character is wounded, or stays behind to allow others to escape, include:

May overlap with You Shall Not Pass!, but in that case, the characters want to maximize the time they hold out. They will sacrifice the chance to slaughter more enemies if it would cost their lives when they could buy more time.

When the characters make them pay in one grand swoop, it's the subtrope Taking You with Me. This can drag out a long time, as the characters send as many people as possible ahead of them. Individual characters (especially wounded ones) may introduce several Taking You with Me incidents.

At least one Moment of Awesome is likely, even if the characters know each one to be a Pyrrhic Victory. From the enemy standpoint, it is a Self-Destructive Charge.

Compare Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which often expresses similar sentiments about those killed. On a larger scale, Hopeless War. Bolivian Army Ending often implies such a stand. In Its Hour of Need often leads to one. May also be related to Doomed Moral Victor. Stand Your Ground orders this. Characters who do this can also be considered Defiant to the End. Compare Do Not Go Gentle when it is individuals doing it. Compare And Contrast The Last Dance that is considered a one on one version of this trope. Contrast To Win Without Fighting.

It has nothing to do with a person being the possessor of the final Stand.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked. The final battle between the crew of the Solo Ship and the Buff Clan turns into an absolute no-win scenario.
  • The climax of End Of Evangelion sees Nerv make a last stand against the rest of the world. They lose everyone except the Bridge Bunnies, and in the end, not even the Bridge Bunnies survive!
    • Special mention should go to Asuka's final fight against the MP Evas.
    • Then the end of the world as we know it happens, as basically everyone returns back to the Lifestream. NERV also wanted this outcome, so it's a Lose/Lose/Lose Scenario since NERV existed to prevent the Angels from wiping out humanity. Apparently, for the rest of the world it would be a Win Scenario, since otherwise Humanity will kill EVERYTHING else also instead of just Humanity. Depending on your interpretation, the Angels Attacks may be this for the Earth itself. No, this is not a Happy Mythos, why do you ask?
  • Saito from The Familiar of Zero faces an army of 70,000 men, eventually dying but he managed to hold them off for four entire days in order to allow the rest of Tristain's army to evacuate. He gets better though.
    • Later he comments that it was easier to face an army of 70,000 men than a pissed off Louise.
  • The last few episodes of both seasons of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The first by a Narc Hit squad, of all things, and the second by a proper False Flag operating military industrial complex JSDF. Eventually subverted in the first one, as Section 9 retreats and is later captured.
  • Reborn! (2004) is somewhat like this... After the Choice Battle which Vongola lost, they fly straight back to Namimori only to battle Byakuran and the Funeral Wreaths for the final time. And they managed to destroy all seven bad guys!!!
  • Towards the end of Transformers Cybertron, Scourge returns to Jungle Planet, hoping to save it from the Unicron Singularity. Seeing no way to prevent his world's destruction, he rallies the other inhabitants to the temple with the full intention of making a last stand. Subverted when Leobreaker and Primus manage to save the lot of them anyway.
  • In Kakurenbo, this is how the Creepy Twins choose to go down after being cornered by the demons.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura versus The Walpurgis Night. The darned thing won't go down even though Homura unleashed the arsenal of JSDF at her/it/them. And that was not the first time it happened to Homura.
  • There are two last stands in Highschool of the Dead (at least, in the anime—possibly others in the manga). The first was when the gang was cornered at a wire barricade. They slaughtered dozens of zombies, but more kept coming, but just as things approached the end they were rescued by the timely arrival of a group of people with firefighter equipment. The second time happened at Saya's parents' estate. The zombies broke through the gate and flooded the compound, leaving Saya's parents and their guards to try to hold off Them long enough for the civilians to escape. Their fate was left unknown, but it didn't look good.
  • Go Shogun: The Time Étranger has an interesting version: the heroine, Remy Shimada, alone fights a giant surrealistic beast that represents Death itself. She's exhausted, she has hurt her wrist due to excessive shooting her heavy revolver (Truth in Television, as 44. Magnum is likely to cause it) and has one last bullet left. Remy gets up, stands with her back to a stone cross, ties the revolver to her hand to not drop it and takes her last shot. She wins.
  • In the Digimon movie X-Evolution, a number of Digimon, including WarGreymon X, MetalGarurumon X and Dukemon X battle a never-ending swarm of Death-X-DORUguremon even as the Digital World falls apart.
  • From Naruto, we get one as part of the Third Raikage's backstory. He held off an army of enemy ninja, 10,000 strong to cover his comrades retreat. He fought for three days and nights before he finally succumbed to chakra exhaustion. Note, its only possible he died of exhaustion instead of any injury, considering he could No-Sell a fricking Futon: Rasenshuriken.
  • Hilshire and Triela in Gunslinger Girl. During the climactic confrontation, Triela is crippled by enemy fire and unable to fight with the rest of the SWA, so she stays behind to mop up anyone trying a rear assault. Hilshire goes back for her when he realizes what's happened. Their bullet-riddled corpses are shown later.
  • Around two-thirds through the series in Legend of Galactic Heroes, Alexandre Bewcock led the Free Planets Star Fleet on a last stand against the Galactic Empire in the Battle of Mar-Adetta. He lost eventually, but not without inflicting considerable damage on the Imperial forces.
  • Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer is also a proper example, particularly the last half: 12 fleets of the Earth Sphere Federation's Space force, an old spacecraft meant for deep space travel (outfitted with a Wave-Motion Gun), and another Spaceship belonging to the paramilitary organization which fought against them before... against God-Knows-How-Many alien shapeshifters. Lots of From Bad to Worse moments, until a Messianic Archetype of the series arrived in his new Gundam... Just to initiate the final phase of the organization's founder's larger plan - the dialogues to come. In the end the humans had a somewhat narrow victory, after having more than 70% of the fleet "assimilated".
  • Long before 00, there was "Big Zam's Last Stand" in Mobile Suit Gundam. Zeon was on the verge of losing the asteroid base Solomon and, in a last ditch effort to buy the soldiers time to escape, Dozle Zabi hops into the massive Mobile Armor Big Zam and launches into combat. It takes a Heroic Sacrifice from Sleggar Law to allow Amuro in to take out the Big Zam and even then Dozle refuses to surrender, hopping out of the Big Zam and shooting at the Gundam with a machine gun in utter defiance before the Mobile Armor finally explodes.
  • Happens a few times in The Ambition of Oda Nobuna:
    • The first is in episode 3 when Yoshiharu attempts to rescue Saitou Dosan, who is fighting his son, Saitou Yoshitatsu, after being betrayed due to the son refusing to accept Nobuna as the rightful heir. He was prepared to die until Yoshiharu convinces him to live for Nobuna's sake.
    • The second time occurs during episode 6, when Yoshitatu's forces attack the hastily built fort Yoshiharu built. Nobuna arrives to see it burning to the ground, and believing she didn't make it in time. Until she saw him waving the gourd she gave him earlier.
    • The third instance occurs during episode 11. Yoshiharu volunteers to stay behind with a small force to buy Nobuna time to escape a trap set up by the Asai/Asakura forces. As expected of a larger force attacking a much smaller one, it doesn't go too well for him, and nearly every single man who stayed behind with him ends up dying, but he does succeed in his objective, and manages to take out quite a few of the enemy thanks to utilizing concentrated musket firing. note .
  • Attack on Titan is all about this trope. When the last remnant of humanity is locked within walled settlements and Titans clawing at their gates trying to eat them, the Survey Corps, the branch of the military devoted to reclaiming lost territory, is a firm believer in this.
    Mike: We will have lost only the moment humans give up fighting.
  • The Tournament of Power arc of Dragon Ball Super has a lot of this, with the last fighters of defeated universes giving it their all trying to prevent the end of their universes. Among the stands include (in order):
    • The Trio of Danger of Universe 9 against Goku and Vegeta.
    • Obni and Rubalt of Universe 10 against Gohan and Piccolo.
    • Zirloin, Zarbuto, and Rabanra of Universe 2 against Goku and the Androids.
    • Saonel and Pilina of Universe 6 against Gohan and Piccolo.
    • Damom of Universe 4 against Goku and Android 17.
    • Agnilasa of Universe 3 against the remaining members of Team Universe 7—which consists of Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Gohan and the Androids.
    • And, of course, Jiren of Universe 11 against the remaining members of Team Universe 7—which consists of Goku, Vegeta, Frieza and Android 17. That quickly turns in the remaining members of Team Universe 7 against him. It ends with 17 as the last warrior standing.
      • And of course, the last stands inside the one above: after remaining temporarily alone and too tired to even go Super Saiyan, Vegeta throws everything he has left at Jiren in the desperate attempt to break his arm or at least tire him a bit, enduring a terrifying beating until he's finally knocked off the stage and sending Goku the last of his energy before being eliminated; after Goku masters Ultra Instinct, Jiren fights a desperate battle and suffers the beating of his life, barely resisting enough for the strain from Mastered Ultra Instinct to take Goku's out; after that, a heavily worn down Jiren and the equally worn down Frieza, Goku 17 fight a desperate battle, that ends with Goku and Frieza dragging Jiren out of the ring knowing that if they failed Android 17 still had his infinite energy and would have a better chance against an even more worn down Jiren.
  • One Piece Film: Z ends with Z, after having battled Luffy to technically a draw, both of them and their crew's are beset by the Marines sent to eliminate both of them. Z, having finally gotten over his overzealous nature, feels he has to own up for his actions and goes to fight them to give the Straw Hats and his subordinates time to escape. Aokiji separates him from the others with his ice powers and he proceeds to go to town on the Marines as "one last lesson" note  We never see Z go down, just his busted up arm canon he had used earlier as a makeshift cross for his grave. However, it is heavily implied he didn't go down easy.

    Comic Books 
  • In El Eternauta the decimated resistance decides to go down fighting when cornered and hearing the as-of-yet unrevealed "ultimate mook" approaching. Still, it gets double subverted since they manage to discover a weakness in the enemy's "ultimate mook", but are soon surrounded and defeated by lesser mooks. There are a few survivors though.
  • One Star Wars story portrays the Imperial stormtroopers as simply men, rather than faceless villains, and, in a deliberate homage to Zulu, they struggle to hold a small outpost against an overwhelming force of tribal natives.
  • The last fortress guarding a magical portal in Fables. Only so many could leave so the commander had the women, children and non-human sentients go first. The rest of the spaces were done by lottery. Well known characters such as Robin Hood and Friar Tuck make their last stand, taking as many of the bastards with them as possible. This barely even works; fortunately the Nine Crow brothers (down to seven) were flying aerial support. Four more die allowing the refugees to escape to Earth.
  • Superman a number of times. The first was Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? then there was The Death of Superman.
  • The Mighty Thor. Bill, Born of Bills, went out like like a damn BEAST.
  • In the Green Lantern Bat Family Crossover Lights Out, Relic's invasion of Oa is so fierce, the Lanterns have to evacuate Oa before it explodes. The chapter the invasion take's place is even called "Oa's Last Stand".
  • In Birds of Prey issue 14, volume 1, a group of federal marshals, along with the super-powered prisoners they had been transporting, Black Canary, and Catwoman, were transported to Apokolips, where they were attacked by Darkseid's military forces. Stranded with no hope of rescue or escape, they resolve to make sure that the parademons know that they were in a fight. Ultimately averted in that most of them survive and make it back to earth. Lampshaded with one of the most badass speeches ever:
    They might overrun us. They might beat us. They might kill us. But they'll never forget us.
  • The ending of Secret Six has the team making a last stand against an army of superheroes. They're all captured with the last shot of the series showing a battered and bruised Bane being dragged off to Arkham Asylum.
  • The final two issues of Godzilla: King of the Monsters involve many of Marvel's heroes and Godzilla duking it out in New York. Although neither side lost any life, the feeling is still there.
  • The season two finale of The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye has the Lost Light crew making an epic last stand against a Villain Team-Up consisting of the Decepticon Justice Division, an army of renegade soldiers, and Overlord. They manage to survive, but only thanks to a huge number of Chekhov's Guns and most of the villains deciding that killing them isn't worth the losses. And even then they don't come out unscathed; Ravage and Skids die during the battle and Ten loses an arm.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW), the Metal Virus Saga sees more and more characters being converted into Zombots and more territory being lost, until finally the only safe zone left is Angel Island. Issue #29, the climax of the saga, then sees the remaining heroes desperately fighting to protect the island while the Zombots attack it, hoping to buy enough time for Sonic and Silver to use the Chaos Emeralds and Warp Topaz to destroy the virus and cure everyone. They ultimately succeed, curing everyone, but Sonic disappears when the Topaz overloads and explodes.

    Fan Works 
  • In Along Came a Spider, with the invasion collapsing, Aidan Pryde leads a galaxy of Jade Falcon troops into the teeth of the counter-attack in order to recover Clan Civilians.
  • Renust Nju talks about these when he fights Padmé in the Jedi Padme Trilogy.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, Princess Luna does this with her remaining Nightmare forces in the Battle of the Everfree forces. Knowing the war is lost, she personally sits this one out as she orders her armies to take out as many of Celestia's forces as possible. It ends with most of her forces dead or fleeing to be captured later.
  • The TSAB – Acturus War has the Sacred War holding off a large number of TSAB vessels by doing Explosive Overclocking on its relativistic particle cannon.
  • The Immortal Game: The Battle of the Everfree is an interesting play on this trope. By this point, Titan has lost all of his top lieutenants and his ability to create Puppets, and the Loyalists are assaulting his Citadel. However, he still controls the monsters of the forest, which all combined vastly outnumber the decimated Loyalists. On top of that, he's preparing to enact a spell that will strip the world of its free will, so Twilight and the others know that they have to finish the war with this last battle, or they lose everything. So really, in a way it's a Last Stand for both sides.
  • In the Pony POV Series, this is how the Dark World version of Cadence went down. Having long since become the new Queen of the changelings and acted as Rebel Leader against Discord, her base is finally overrun by him and his enforcers, the discorded Mane Six. In order to buy time for her subjects to escape, she names a successor before proceeding to fight all six Villain Protagonists and kicking their asses before Discord literally stabs her in the back and she dies. While she lost, she still managed to succeed in her goal to protect her people (since they're still around five centuries later).
  • Another My Little Pony example is I Did Not Want To Die.
  • Every combatant in the Tamers Forever Series- willingly or not- is forced to make a last stand against Daemon's forces during the final chapters of Silent Sorrow.
  • In the titular future of Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, when Voldemort is taking over and everything is going to hell, Voldemort's forces mass against Azkaban. Mad-Eye Moody breaks past the sentries and rallies the vastly-outnumbered guards against Voldemort. They held the fortress for twenty-two days, and killed so many of Voldemort's followers that afterwards a captive of the Death Eaters could earn a quick death by shouting "Constant vigilance!" at their captors.
  • Discussed in Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover by Aria T'Loak, of all people, after her venture to retake Omega (which was probably never going to work anyway) heads south—"Until every last one of us is dead!" is her answer to how long the force will fight.
  • Eugenesis has Kup holding the rear and buying time for the rest of the Autobots to escape an oncoming horde of Sharkticons. Only he's not doing it to be heroic, he just can't take anymore. We later get a lovely description of what's left of him once the Sharkticons are done.
  • Fallout: Equestria: The Battle of Dragon Mountain has the Applejack's Rangers, Unity alicorns, Talon Company, groups of freed Fillydelphia slaves, and various other random wanderers and Wastland vagabonds team up to defend The Gardens of Equestria megaspell chamber from the Enclave. Less than one-fourth of them survive.
  • A Scotsman in Egypt:
    • Happens all the time — to Scotland's enemies. Due to the AI behaving the same way every time, a besieged city will end up with its walls breached and its army retreating to the city square for its last, ineffective, stand. And in one instance, the surviving army consisted of one spearman. Then the Scottish commander rides up with his army and bodyguard.
      "Och, I dinnae lads, do ye think we can take him?"
    • After the Mongols are defeated, the last remnants of their army are run down by the Scots, who allow them to make a last stand: the Scot officer is a bit of an Ensign Newbie, and offers their commander a Duel to the Death, promising them safe passage if he wins (and if he loses, the officer will have proven that he's as much a Proud Warrior Race Guy as his troops).
    • In typical 40K fashion, this story has gone far beyond a Last Stand, with many Krieg insisting Terranis still "holds" after more than a century surrounded by Warp storms and being engulfed by a Tyranid splinter fleet, and the planet has taken on a religious reverence not just to them, to the extent that it's regarded as part of the afterlife.
      Contact was lost before the invasion began, and nearly everyone assumes that the place was lost when the xenos hit it. I mean, one planet against an entire splinter fleet. I asked the next Krieg soldier I saw about this, why they believed that a planet that was by all reasoning most likely a dead rock, was their place of salvation and reward. The Krieger soldier just saluted and said the first words I've ever heard a Krieger speak: "Terranis holds."
    • Upped to insanity in a later fanfiction, where it turns out that Terranis did hold out until warpstorms ended, but due to the fact that the legend about it was demoralizing other regiments it was intentionally put into the warp by an inquisitor, so that it would only stay as a sort-of paradise to Kriegers. It seems that the world is dead and overrun with demons? No. Why? Because orks were so terrified by the legend that Kriegers reincarnate until they earn the honour of joining others in Terranis, that this actually starts happening. And because of this Terranis is locked in an eternal last stand in the warp, constantly reinforced by new Kriegers who earned their right to go there.
      Terranis will hold. Always.
  • The Shape of the Nightmare to Come, a fan-created theory of what the Fifty-first Millennium of the Warhammer 40,000 universe might look like, has a few of these; the Adeptus Custodes and Gray Knights on Titan and the Imperial Fists on Terra and later all across the Galaxy are most notable. Almost all of the Orkish race makes a final stand against the New Devourer in the largest battle the galaxy has ever seen. And they lose.
  • The Lunar Rebellion: The pegasi, Proud Warrior Race as they are, have a tradition of engaging any invader to the last rather than ever surrendering their city to outside forces. The story generally discredits the concept, noting that most of the time the choice to fight in a Last Stand rather than accept surrender is only a needless waste of lives.
    • In a footnote, Cloud Kicker notes that this has historically resulted in a great deal of ponies dying needlessly over matters of pride, and that as a survivor of a near last stand herself she sees little appeal in the concept. A short while later in the story proper, Shadow concedes that it’s easy to speak of dying gloriously when you’re not the one who’s actually going to have to die.
    • In the end, after the Siege of Canterlot is broken, Steel Striker and his army choose to fight and die at the Maresidian Fields, caught between two royalist armies, knowing that the cause they fought for is already lost and preferring a honorable death to a humiliating peace through surrender. Steel even briefly wonders if there will be any stories about the last stand of the last ponies not to answer to immortal rulers. They don't get the chance. The royalists, taking advantage of a drought, burn the entire rebel army alive with a tremendous fire spell.
    • In the last true battle of the war, the remnants of the rebels engage the loyalist army in a last huge, hopeless charge once the latter reaches Cloudsdale, rather than face the humiliation of defeat. The last surviving rebel leader, Rightly Doo, chooses to dress as a common soldier and die alongside his army rather than submit to the ignominy of captivity. This is later decried as a useless sacrifice of hundreds of lives for the sake of maintaining national and personal pride, as the loyalists would have readily accepted a surrender.
  • The Negotiationsverse:
    • Twice in the prequel story Warfare, which describes how the last days of the series' Great Offscreen War played out.
      • Luna was killed in battle when the ponies attempted to launch an attack on Jerusalem. She stayed behind to hold off humanity's forces long enough so her own forces could escape. She met her end after being Brought Down to Normal by the presence of humanity's newly unveiled Anti-Magic weapons and was then promptly riddled with bullets. Her death was the first major blow to the Equestrians' morale and got many ponies to wonder if what they'd thought was a guaranteed victory may not be possible anymore.
      • After the double whammy of the barrier being brought down thanks to the aforementioned Anti-Magic generators and the Crystal Empire getting nuked as retaliation for the destruction of Mecca and Vatican City, humanity offered Equestria the chance to surrender peacefully, but Celestia instead chose to keep the fight going. While the ponies prepared themselves for the invasion by using every resource they had and even developed some firearms and tanks to even the playing field out, they were still hopelessly outmatched, with the first line of defense getting utterly plowed in the first few minutes as humanity proceeded to rain fire and death down onto Equestria. Twilight finally surrendered after Celestia was rendered comatose due to using the last of her power to protect everyone from a brutal aerial assault.
    • Defied in the climax of the fourth story in the series, Useless, where Applejack and Rainbow Dash make a pact to go out in a blaze of glory and kill as many humans as possible before they bite the dust (even bantering that they want to make it a Body-Count Competition), only for the human soldier that finds them to kick the door in, gun them both down, and then move on to the next room uncaring of who he just killed nor breaking stride, all in the blink of an eye.
  • The Raven's Plan actually opens with one of these, as the last survivors of Westeros gather on the Isle of Faces to protect it from the Night King's forces as Bran and Melisandre prepare a ritual to send everyone's minds back in time to try and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. The defenders get slaughtered, but succeed in their goal, leading into the main plot.
  • In An Empire of Ice and Fire, the remaining forces of the Targaryen Empire go into the Battle of Winterfell with this mentality. They know that if they fail to defeat the Night King at this point, there'll be nothing left to stop the Army of the Dead from overrunning all of Westeros. Therefore they all acknowledge that there's no option to retreat this time — win or lose, their war ends here.
  • In The Victors Project, the Peacekeepers attack the Control Center, where the mentors are stationed, after Katniss destroys the Third Quarter Quell arena. All the oldest Victors present stay behind to fight, allowing the younger ones — Haymitch, Abram, and Cotton — to escape and help start the Mockingjay Revolution.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Flight of Dragons: Sir Orin Neville-Smythe is under no illusion that his final fight with Breog is not going to be this. All of his friends either dead or in a magically induced sleep, his lady love slain, the objective of their quest nowhere in sight, and facing down the powerful dragon enhanced by evil magic, this will most likely be the end of his life of Adventure. But damned if he isn't going to make sure Breog does not get to enjoy the victory. Fortunately Ommadon's defeat in the end makes this less permanent than most cases.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has this when Ryan Whittaker is pinned down in the wreckage of a vehicle. He insists to be left behind, and assists the rest of the group's getaway from afar with a large rifle until the phantoms claim him.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Faced with a hopeless battle against the Green Death, Stoick orders his people to the far side of the island while he faces the giant dragon alone:
    Stoick: Gobber, go with the men.
    Gobber: I think I'll stay, just in case you're thinking of doing something crazy.
    Stoick: I can buy them a few minutes if I give that thing something to hunt!
    Gobber: Then I can double that time.
  • Invoked by Stoic Woobie Blackavar the rabbit in Watership Down when it seems their Great Escape has been cut off. Foreshadowing the bloodiest death in the movie, when Blackavar goes on a Dying Moment of Awesome by staying behind and attacking General Woundwort (that wasn't in the book).
    Blackavar: It nearly came off... We'll take one or two of them with us before the end!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Buliwyf in The 13th Warrior ends up being fatally poisoned by the Wendols and is for all intents and purposes bedridden from it. He still comes stumbling out, dragging his sword and accompanied by his dog, to fight in the final battle because that's just how Vikings do it. To make matters better, he actually survives the battle and dies peacefully sitting on a log watching the enemy retreat as his dog howls over his death.
  • 300: "Give them nothing! But take from them everything! Tonight we dine in hell!"
  • Films based on the siege of the Alamo. In the John Wayne movie The Alamo (1960) the women and children are give safe passage. The men will stay and fight to the death. Someone suggests that Jocko be allowed to go since his wife, Nell, is blind and who will protect and support her? Then Nell steps forward (pretty brave for a blind person with all the horses) and says "Oh, no you don't! Why Jocko is more of a man than any of you and you can't send him away like that. He has the same right as you to stay and fight." And, no, despite what you might expect, Jocko doesn't wang her on the head with a shovel and explain she's having one of her spells. No, Jocko, volunteered by his wife, stays and dies.
  • In Alatriste final scene the Tercio Español decides not to surrender even when they are as screwed as they can be.
  • PFC Hudson, Bill Paxton's memorable character from Aliens started out as a self-proclaimed "ultimate badass", before giving us the quote "Game over, man! Game over!". However, at the very end, when the Aliens burst in the complex and the few survivors are in a very bad position, Hudson's response is to flip out and go down fighting. Pretty badass for somebody who five minutes ago was panicking.
    • When the Marines first enter the complex, one of them name drops the trope after observing the Colonists' breached defenses.
  • At the climax of Avengers: Endgame Iron Man and Thor are unconscious. Hawkeye is in some underground tunnel running for his life. Hulk, Rocket, War Machine and Ant-Man are trapped under the ruins of the Avengers base. It's Captain America alone with half his shield against Thanos and his entire army. It seems like this trope is about to play out, until a familiar voice speaks into his ear and says "on your left".
  • Bataan: The climax of the film is one of these as the last five US soldiers face off against a much stronger force of Japanese soldiers. This is taken Up to Eleven in the last couple minutes as the last remaining soldier digs his own grave, hops in it, and resumes his last stand as the credits roll.
  • In Black Hawk Down, Delta Force snipers Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart fight to the death to defend the second Blackhawk crash site, shooting on until they are down to their final few pistol rounds before they are overwhelmed.
  • The Charge at Feather River: Having been pursued by the Cheyenne every since their raid on the camp to rescue Anne and Jennie, the Guardhouse Brigade finally run out of places to run at Feather River. They dig into the bank and prepare to hold off Thunder Hawk and his braves for as long as possible.
  • Wikus does this in the Mini-Mecha at the end of District 9.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls:
    • In the film (and the novel), wounded Robert Jordan stays behind with a machine gun to hold off the advancing troops so the others (and the woman he loves) can escape.
    • However, it's also heavily subverted by El Sordo's death earlier in the story. After being tracked down by nationalist cavalry, him and his band of guerillas are eventually cornered on top of a hill. At first it seems that they're set up to bring as many of them down as possible (and that is Sordo's intention), but they're denied the opportunity when the nationalists simply kill them all with an airstrike. An aversion to War Is Glorious if there ever was one.
  • Jason Nesmith/"Peter Quincy Taggart" in Galaxy Quest is, if less eloquent, much more succinct: "Never give up — Never surrender!" Though when he actually means it, it's not the human race that's in danger, but the Thermians.
  • In Garden of Evil two men and a woman (the last survivors of their party) are escaping and one man stays behind to hold them off. When the woman asks why anyone has to make this sacrifice she's told "Because someone has to do it. Someone has to stay behind and make sure the job gets done."
  • Gran Torino, when Eastwood's character goes to confront the gang. Unique in that he came unarmed.
  • The Grey. Ottway stumbles into the wolves' den and, knowing he's going to die anyway, decides to go out fighting. The after-credits scene shows Ottway resting on top of the alpha-wolf's corpse.
  • Independence Day is a big one. In fact, this trope seemed to be largely the premise of the entire film.
    "We will not go quietly into the night...we will not vanish without a fight! We are going to live on! We are going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!"
  • Invasion U.S.A. (1985): A villainous example. Once surrounded by the National Guard, the terrorists fight to the last man rather than surrendering to them.
  • Nearly happens in John Carter, where the titular character, his Love Interest, and a friend are being chased by a horde of Tharks. In a scene of epic badassery, he tells his friend to grab the Love Interest (an Action Girl herself) and take her to safety, while he alone holds off the horde (although Woola chooses to stay). He then jumps into the fray and starts hacking at the Tharks, killing dozens of them until they finally just pile on top of him. He only survives because a Helium airship arrives to scare off the surviving Tharks and provide immediate medical help. The scene is all the more memorable because it's overlayed with his memories of coming back from the American Civil War to find his wife and daughter dead and burying their bodies.
    John Carter: I was too late once, I won't be again.
  • Khartoum depicts the futile last stand of General Charles Gordon in Africa defending the city of Khartoum from the army of the Mahdi. Effectively sent off to die by his superiors as they refused to provide any support for his mission and chose him knowing that he would go rogue rather than abandon the non-British citizens of the city.
  • Invoked in Kingdom of Heaven. Balian threatens Saladin by saying that if his men have to make a Last Stand, they would kill ten Saracens for every Christian Knight. Saladin immediately offers generous terms that would allow Balian to peacefully evacuate Jerusalem, which Balian accepts.
    • Averted, though, in that Saladin has no interest in a fight to the death, and he isn't so much intimidated by Balian's senseless bravado as he is amused by it. Consider that when Balian threatens to burn the entire city to the ground, Saladin grins and whispers, "I wonder if it would not be better if you did."
      • Of course, Balian's only real goal is to get the people out alive and relatively unharmed. The bravado is meant to convince Saladin that letting them surrender is a better idea than forcing a Last Stand scenario. Balian misinterprets Saladin's intentions, thinking that he wants the Christians all massacred rather than to retake the city in order to appease his followers. And in revenge for the horrors the Christians inflicted when they laid siege to the city before. Saladin is insulted at the latter idea.
  • Averted in The Last of the Mohicans : At The Siege of Fort William Henry, there's no solution for colonel Munroe, between dishonor and massacre. But, thanks to the Marquis de Montcalm, he finds his way least for a while
  • The climactic battle in The Last Samurai is one.
  • In the 1930 German film Die letzte Kompagnie (The Last Company), Conrad Veidt is a captain who after the defeat of Jena and Auerstedt (1806) tries to buy time for the Prussian army to make an orderly retreat by defending a mill against the advancing French with the last twelve men of his company. They all die, as does the miller's daughter who fell in love with him.
  • From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King comes this speech:
    A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you STAND! MEN! OF THE WEST!
  • Not present in Mankind's Last Stand, but the more accurate title Mankind's Small But Significant Battle would be less exciting. (A neglected outpost stumbles across, and defeats, a plot to re-supply the remnants of the alien invasion).
  • General Decker tries to invoke this in Mars Attacks! during his final moments, even quoting Churchill. He is unceremoniously killed.
  • The Matrix Revolutions centres around the defence of the last human city of Zion against an overwhelming machine army. Eventually the humans' last gambit of retreating and collapsing their tunnels behind them fails when the machines are able to salvage one of their diggers. In response, the humans name drop this trope as they fall back to the caves, where all the civilians are hiding, and prepare to sell their lives dearly. As it turns out, they didn't actually need to, as Neo brings an end to the war just as the sentinels reach the barricades.
  • None Shall Escape: When a trainload of Jews are to be deported (presumably to an extermination camp), the rabbi tells them to fight instead. They put up a valiant effort, but the Nazis massacre them all with a machine gun.
  • The Outpost tells the story of the Battle of Kamdesh, when the Taliban attacked an isolated Army outpost in Eastern Afghanistan. The camp itself had been explicity compared to Custer's Last Stand even before the final attack occured.
  • Pacific Rim has the governments putting their differences aside, pooling their resources and start creating Jaegers to fight the Kaiju. The general attitude is summed up nicely in the prequel comic by Stacker Pentecost:
    Stacker Pentecost: I've never believed in the End Times. We are mankind. Our footprints are on the moon. When the last trumpet sounds and the Beast rises from the pit — we will kill it.
  • At the climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the ravenous Kraken, that's kept Jack Sparrow running scared through the whole film, finally catches up. It's huge toothy maw opens, vomiting slime all over it's victim (incidentally also regurgitating his missing hat.) But with all hope gone, Jack's fear vanishes too. He calmly replaces said headgear and, with a maniacal smile and eye gleam, growls "Hello, beastie!", draws his sword and charges. Jack knows he has no witnesses. It's a moment of insanity, clarity, and raw courage all at once.
  • Sahara (1943), both the Bogart and the Belushi versions.
  • The end of The Sand Pebbles has Jake Holman staying behind, pretending to be an entire squad, to cover the escape of his companions.
  • Scarface: Toni Montana goes on a drug-fueled killing spree against the assassins sent to execute him, gunning down nearly a dozen of them before being shredded by a hail of gunfire.
  • The last portion of the climactic three-way battle in Serenity looks like one of these (along with buying some time for Mal's transmission), up until the point where River takes out the Reavers. All of them.
  • Almost every zombie movie has a not-yet-turned infectee left behind to do one of these, such as Ed in the basement of the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead.
  • John Wayne's character in his very last film, The Shootist, tries to engineer one of these. After a lifetime of gunslinging, he has two things: terminal cancer, and lots of enemies. He lets a few enemies know where he'll be drinking on his birthday. To his apparent disappointment, he wins the shootout. The bartender shoots him in the back.
  • In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi the Rebels go along with the idea of charging the Imperial fleet entrapping them at the Battle of Endor. The idea was that they were buying time so Han's team could knock out the Death Star's shield generator, as well as making it harder for the Death Star to one-shot their cruisers without risking some Imperial ships. Plan B, assuming they couldn't buy enough time or Han was already dead, was to damage the Imperial war machine as badly as they could in a Last Stand (with an option on punching a hole through the blockade so at least some ships could escape).
  • Many movies based on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, aka "Custer's Last Stand". 1941 film They Died with Their Boots On presents a completely fictional version of the Last Stand in which Custer deliberately leads his regiment to destruction in order to buy time for the Army to evacuate white civilians from the Black Hills. 1991 TV Movie Son of the Morning Star shows a far more accurate version in which the Last Stand is chaotic and short, and is brought on by Custer's own tactical errors and those of his subordinates Reno and Benteen.
  • Towards the end of Transformers: The Last Knight, Quintessa and the Decepticons are just about start the final stage of destroying the Earth and currently have the upper hand, Edmund Burton decides to take matters into his own hands by taking his cane, which turns out to be a Cybertronian firearm] and shooting at the Decepticons with it. He did manage to deliver a few good shots before being blasted by Megatron's arm cannon.
  • Wake Island: Ends with the massively outnumbered and outgunned Marines on Wake Island, who have no means of escape, fighting to the last man, until they're wiped out by the Japanese. (This was fictional, as in Real Life the garrison surrendered when the battle had obviously been lost.)
  • The Wild Bunch ends with the gang deciding to save their friend, but as such has to face off an entire Mexican garrison.
  • Subverted in Zombieland Tallahassee goes into the booth at Pacific Playland, surrounded by zombies on all sides. It has all the makings of a Last Stand, complete with dramatic music as he empties round after round into the zombies, but when it cuts back to him later he's revealed to be completely unharmed, surrounded by a mass of zombie corpses.
  • Zulu. Based on historical events and rivaling 300 in raw badassitude. Peter Jackson specifically references Zulu in the commentary for The Two Towers, when referring to Helm's Deep. It's made even more badass by the fact that it's a rare last stand that succeeds.

  • The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. It describes the actual military implications of a last stand situation, or as he put it 'being on deadly ground'. Specifically, it states that this should be discouraged if you're the attacking Army. An enemy that is cornered will always go into a last stand and inflict disproportionate losses on the attacker, so it is better to give them an illusion of escape, which would allow them to be defeated with relative ease. It also (very subtly) implies that a Commander who has got his force stuck in a Last Stand is incompetent rather than brave (with exceptions, of course). Thus the discouragement of such tactics.
  • This sort of thing happens a LOT in Warhammer 40,000 (see the Tabletop section for more). Crapsack World, and all that.
  • Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium, is unusually privileged in having had two official Last Stands, and at the same place! It really bugs him that people keep calling them that, too. Just to make it more ridiculous the local name for the area is Cain's Last Stand, so in the novel Cain's Last Stand Cain's Last Stand is at Cain's Last Stand, famous site of Cain's Last Stand.
  • At the end of Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, the betrayed Space Marines know they can not escape the planet on which they had been virus-bombed. So they set out to make defeating them as costly as possible. Loken and Torgaddon leave the rest because they have a chance to kill the other members of the Mournival, which would hurt Horus; when Tarvitz says they may not meet again, Loken is certain that there is no "may" about it. And when the Dies Irae comes into play, Tarvitz tells Vipes to kill Space Marines, because they can not damage that machine.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In the novel Grey Knights, Justicar Alaric and a small team of his Grey Knights were about to face one of the most terrible daemons in the galaxy. In fact, it was one so terrible that it once massacred over 300 Grey Knights in one battle. To inspire his men:
    We do not know what our chances of survival are, so we fight as if they were zero. We do not know what we are facing, so we fight as if it was the dark gods themselves. No one will remember us now and we may never be buried beneath Titan, so we will build our own memorial here. The Chapter might lose us and the Imperium might never know we existed, but the Enemy — the Enemy will know. The Enemy will remember. We will hurt it so badly that it will never forget us until the stars burn out and the Emperor vanquishes it at the end of time. When Chaos is dying, its last thought will be of us. That is our memorial — carved into the heart of Chaos. We cannot lose, Grey Knights. We have already won.
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Sabbat Martyr, one squad of Ghosts return too late and see the gates closing on them. Their leader gives order to fight. They kill over a hundred enemy before their deaths, even though no one will ever know.
    Nineteenth [Platoon] lasted seventeen minutes from the time the gates closed. They accounted for one-hundred and eighty nine enemy casualties. No one witnessed their heroism.
    • In Only In Death, when they are running out of ammunition, Rawne gives the order to fight with knives and takes as many as they can.
    • In Necropolis, the entire defense of Vervunhive is based around this trope - even the civilians get in on it, digging in and generally wreaking havoc among the attacking Ferrozoicans. Only a last-ditch counterattack, which manages to kill Heritor Asphodel, stops the Zoicans from winning, although not long after that the Imperial Navy, several squads of Space Marines, some Titans, and a massive reinforcement army of Imperial Guard arrive. In the end, the hive is still too badly damaged, with too many dead, to stay intact, and is officially decommissioned.
    • In James Swallow's novel Deus Encarmine, in the opening, the Blood Angels are convinced after the death of their captain that they are fighting a last stand. A brief surcease is followed by an even more devastating attack; they must give up the port they were defending, and one is so dispirited that only the suggestion that he kill himself stiffens his resolve to fight on.
    • Later, Iskavan learns that his forces were thrown away as The Bait. He sets out to slaughter as many as he can before death (starting with women, children, and the wounded). Unusually, he goes to aggressive attack. Then, he knows a way to destroy the planet if he had succeeded.
    • Dawn of War: In Chris Roberson's Dawn of War II, the defense against the Tyranids looks like a Last Stand by the end and to nearly the very end when The Cavalry arrives.
    • In Ben Counter's story "Words of Blood", Athellenas orders repeated retreats and has to threaten Valerian who objects to the dishonor, preferring a Last Stand. Turns about that Athellenas had worked out how to provoke an Enemy Civil War.
    • In the Imperial Guard novel Cadian Blood, the Cadian forces are unimpressed by the Last Stand of some New Meat: they can tell by where the bodies fell. Later, Seth makes a more impressive Last Stand in the Battle in the Center of the Mind, and though the daemon kills him, he dies laughing and saying the look at the daemon's face made the fight worth it.
    • In Henry Zhou's novel The Emperor's Mercy, Imperial Guardsmen are surrounded by Chaos forces and are fighting on, despite dying of hunger and disease. Roth tells Celemine that they had no choice but to stay with them. The commander hears and instantly wants to fight a last charge: they can get them to their ship and hold off the enemy — and that way, they can be remembered. (They are. In fact, their eighteen minutes defense of the ship is immortalized in a mural on Terra.)
  • In Steve Parker's novel Gunheads, the 98th is staging a Last Stand — the colonel refused to try to escape and went to hold up their regimental banner to encourage them — when the Gunheads arrive. (The colonel is perfectly willing to escape if the tanks can open up a corridor where his men can escape.)
  • In Chris Roberson's ovel Sons of Dorn, Captain Taelos starts to tell the surviving Scouts and sergeant that he is So Proud of You in preparation for a force they can not overcome — when The Cavalry arrives.
  • In Legion of the Damned a half-strength company of Space Marines is making a desperate Last Stand against an entire Chaos Blood Crusade. They are supported by a few units of the local planetary defense force and a few thousand untrained civilians. The attacking force consists of an army of crazed cultists, mercenary units led by Chaos Space Marines and horrifying warp demons. However, this Last Stand is really a Thanatos Gambit. Once the defenders are all dead, the Chaos army might leave the planet before discovering where the women and children are hiding.
  • The Acoma warriors in The Riftwar Cycle (specifically, XXX of the Empire) say this a lot.
    • The Serpentwar Saga opens with a last stand of the beaten Saaur race as they try to hold the rift long enough for their young to escape the unstoppable demon forces in Shadow of the Dark Queen.
  • There are several in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
    • Towards the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, the titular Fellowship discovers a journal in Moria written by one of the final survivors of Balin's company. While the actual last stand is not described, the journal ends with the sentence "They are coming."
    • At the very beginning of The Two Towers, Boromir has a last stand. (Or is that a spoiler?) A variation, in that it takes place off-screen: the fight itself is left entirely to the reader's imagination.
      ...Aragorn saw that he was pierced with many black-feathered arrows; his sword was still in his hand, but it was broken near the hilt; his horn cloven in two was at his side. Many Orcs lay slain, piled all about him and at his feet...
    • Later in The Two Towers, Aragorn convinces Théoden and the last remaining Rohirrim defending Helm's Deep to ride out with him against thousands of Uruk-hai in a glorious last charge. They are saved by Gandalf and either Erkenbrand (book) or Éomer (movie) leading The Cavalry.
      • This is a regular motif for Théoden...he keeps wanting to die in battle, taking so many of the orcs with him that his people will become the Ghouls in the Night for little orc children once Mordor has taken everything over.
      Théoden: "If this is to be our end, let us make such an end that they quake at night at our memory!"
    • In The Return of the King, the Mouth of Sauron's claim that Frodo and Sam have been captured leads Aragorn and his army to firmly believe themselves to be fighting a last stand.
    • In The Silmarillion, Húrin makes his Last Stand at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Out of the bodyguard of Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs, 70 trolls were killed by Húrin before he was overborne by an endless supply of cheaper orcs and taken away to a Fate Worse than Death.
    • The fall of Gondolin and the demise of High King Turgon. Amongst the few escapees are Tuor, Idril, and their young son Eärendil.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son recounts the efforts of some characters to locate the lord's body among his slaughtered guard. Based on an Old English fragment about the Battle of Maldon, recounting how the guard had refused to retreat when their lord died.
  • The Old English poem The Battle of Maldon itself.
  • The Iron Tower trilogy gives us the Battle of Challerain Keep, the ripoff of the Battle of Pelennor Fields from The Lord of the Rings, in which almost all of the good guys are massacred trying to hold the city built up on a hill. About four important characters escape to make the Sauron-ripoff regret messing with them.
  • Ganner Rhysode in Traitor: Holding off an entire army of the Yuuzhan Vong single-handedly with nothing but Anakin Solo's lightsaber to aid him — and finally pulling down the building around him to take out the rest of the army, including their tank. This earned him a statue among the Yuuzhan Vong that was placed next to the statues of their gods, and he became immortalized in their mythology as "The Ganner", a guardian of the dead who kept the spirits from returning to life. This statue, though it belonged to the Vong, bore an inscription in Basic that simply read "NONE SHALL PASS".
    • Princess Leia gets a speech like this in Star by Star, though admittedly its an entire galaxy she's encouraging to fight back against the evil invaders and not "just" the human race.
    • Quoth Wedge Antilles: "While I don't think I can hold Borleias, I might be able to make it a name that causes little Vong children to whimper." And then he can. And for his next trick, he actually evacuates the majority of the Borleias garrison before things finish going to hell.
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, the bear-cows when the Marines take their ship.
  • David Gemmell's novel Legend features an army of 10,000 half-trained peasants and outlaws attempting to hold a six-walled city while being attacked by a professional army of 500,000. If they can hold out for three months, the kingdom may be saved from the enemy. The names of the six walls pretty much tells the tale: "Exultation", "Despair", "Renewed Hope", "Desperation", "Serenity", and "Death".
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • In The Last Battle, the protagonists prefer this to the Calormene offer of slavery for some and Human Sacrifice for others.
    • In The Horse and His Boy, when the Narnians discuss escaping the city, the raven says that these sound all very well in story but in reality, after the first attacks are repulsed, the enemy sets fire to the house.
  • The revolutionaries have a pretty impressive one in Les Misérables.
  • The defense of the Russian embassy from a huge angry mob in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar. CMoAs for all (except for the guy who lives).
  • The Song of Roland
  • In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Terminal, the Prof, badly injured by a sniper, prepares to do one of these. However, Burke's crew manages to get him out of there before anything happens.
  • This is almost the standard operating procedure of Bolos. Any force strong enough to threaten one is overwhelmingly strong in comparison to a human; the Bolos are programmed to protect human beings, so they are often left to cover the meatbag's retreat, and a 32000 tonne moving mountain of metal armed with multi-megaton nuclear beam cannons is as much of a target as it is a threat.
  • Bjakamál, last stand of Rolf Krake's hird is a stirring poem based on an unknown 5th-6th century struggle in Denmark, it was recited by Olav Haraldssons (Digre/Fat) Skjald before the Battle of Stiklestad (1030) where he fell and became Olav the Holy to strengthen the resolve of the Royalist army. The Song of the Battle at Maeldon could be added here as well, though that is definitely a RL event.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: In Memories of Ice, the third book, there is one during the Siege of Capustan. Gruntle and his 'troops' (recruited from pissed off/scared citizens and routed soldiers) hold out on top of a multi-story apartment building until point where the building itself begins breaking apart from all of the bodies and blood bloating inside of it, and the Tenescowri become able to make a ramp of their dead to get to the top.
  • A chilling example in A Practical Guide To Evil: the Lone Swordsman, together with half of his party and a good chunk of his rebel army, comes after a patrol of the Legions of Terror (the army he fights to get out of his home-country). The patrol, seeing they are wastly overwhelmed, form tight ranks, sing a sort of funeral-song for themselves, and then fight the rebels tooth and nail. They still all get slaughtered.
  • In the backstory of Steve Perry's The Man Who Never Missed, Lord Thomas Reserve Shamba replied to a surrender demand with the message: "To the Commander, Confederation Jumptroopers. Sir: Fuck you. We stand until the last man falls."
  • When the title unit of John Dalmas' The Regiment faces this situation, the captain who's now in acting command gives the trumpeters the order, "Sound the dirge, then the attack."
    The trumpet call was something Varlik had never heard before. Not mournful. Not even solemn. Not like any dirge he'd heard or imagined. More like a fanfare—a fanfare on two trumpets, an announcement of death without regret. Then abruptly it changed, became an exultant battlecry, quick-paced, and the T'swa nearby rose up, rifles in hand, bayonets fixed, the captain vaulting over the fallen tree. The trumpets were almost drowned out by the sudden shattering roar of gunfire.
  • The fort "Charhan's Despair" in David Weber's The War God's Own is named for a warlord who made his stand there against an invading army. And guess where the heroes are making theirs?
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", the fate of the palace guard.
    The guards were fully armed and drawn up in a square, but there were only five hundred of them. They took a heavy toll before they were cut down, but there could be only one conclusion to such a battle.
  • In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Rupert goes to join his king in hopes of helping him, and if it fails, for this trope.
  • Quite a few people have done or attempted this sort of thing in the course of the BattleTech series. Famous examples include Khan Natasha Kerensky holding off the Jade Falcons on Twycross (invoked deliberately—as a Khan of the their hated rivals, Clan Wolf, she had made herself into a high priority target to get the rest of her force away), and Aidan Pryde decimating the Com Guards on Tukayyid (more traditionally, he held the line to allow his unit to escape the battle, and for his only recently revealed daughter to be rescued).
  • In the Wheel of Time:
    • The last Stand of Manetheren
    • Ingtar in Falme.
    • The Kandori defenders all along the Blight when the Shadowspawn flood south.
      • And a ton of successful ones where the "stander" survives: Loial in the Stone, the people of Emonds Field, the Malkieri at the start of Tarmon Gaidon, the whole forces of the Light at Merrilor and a couple more.
  • When the Toralii board the Beijing in Lacuna, Liao has her sailors stage a last stand in the Operations room.
  • At the very beginning of "They Were Expendable" the author explains what that word means. Your commander gives you a machine gun and tells you to hold off the people chasing them. You ask how long and he says, it's not how long, just do it. The machine gun, and the soldier, are being sacrificed to give the others a chance to escape.
  • Subverted in The Goblin Corps: the protagonists are sent away on a mission deep within enemy territory, and return to find their entire kingdom lost. However, this was the Charnel King's plan all along - his "last stand" had an escape clause no one else knew about.
  • In Jasper Fforde's The Last Dragonslayer, the Duke of Brecon is convinced his duchy will have one after the last dragon dies. He personally intends to die with the soldiers.
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Stars novel Tarnished Knight, the ISS forces always do this rather than face the people they tormented. One who attempts surrender is "accidentally" killed.
  • In the second book of the Gone series, Hunger, a girl named Brittney tries to hold down against four Freak mutants. To wit, Britney is a normal, and a random Red Shirt as well. The mutants are a very strong and very smart child, a boy with a whip for an arm and a serious case of sadism, one of the two most powerful Mutants in the FAYZ with psychic abilities able to throw cars half a mile away. And the fourth is just a random with no real combat skills.
  • In the Dirk Pitt Adventures book Sahara, Dirk and the UN team have one at Fort Foreau against attacking Malian forces.
  • There are a few of these in the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant:
    • Hile Troy's army puts up a series of them, finally taking a stand against a far superior force with their backs to a sentient forest that eats anyone who enters.
    • Lord Mhoram attempts to break a siege by riding out alone to try to reach and kill the Raver leading the enemy army.
  • In Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series, several novels end with this. Some result in the deaths of protagonists. The novel Dabog is particularly notable as it involves a group of volunteers jacking into the titular planet's missile defense network instead of boarding evacuation ships in order to buy time for said ships to run the Earth Alliance blockade, knowing that their eventual fate is to be nuked by the angry admiral whose attempts to take the planet failed. Given that the colonists are the ones who eventually win the drawn out war, the memory of Dabog (which even centuries later remains uninhabitable) and those who fell defending it is still strong. In the novel Black Moon, one of the frozen defenders of Dabog is revived and arrives to a battle between two Confederate fleets. He announces himself over radio as belonging to the Dabog defense forces... and the battle stops on the spot.
  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel appropriately titled The Last Stand, the Enterprise encounters a pre-warp race descended from the survivors the Lethanta who have fled their homeworld after it was nuked by their neighbors the Kreen (the Lethanta previous enslaved the Kreen who revolted but were then nearly wiped out by a plague for which they blamed the Lethanta). After centuries of fleeing in modified asteroids, the Lethanta have settled on a world they called Nem Ma'ak Bratuna ("the last stand" in their language). At the same time as the Enteprirse, the Kreen arrive in a large sublight fleet having been following their enemies and building up their forces for a final strike. However, the Lethanta have prepared a doomsday device that will cause a nova-level event wiping out everything in the system (they have previously sent a group of their people away in those same asteroids).
  • From Fred Saberhagen's Berserker universe: "When they came, you [humans] were waiting and dug in on a hundred worlds. Because you were, some of you and some of us are now alive." The alien narrator also comments on his race's perception that humanity had suffered war for its entire history, against the day when nothing less would serve for the survival of all life.
  • In the novel Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, it's not so much that the humans can't be made to surrender — it's that they won't stay surrendered, which confuses and freaks out the alien invaders.
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, especially the attack of the torpedo ram HMS Thunder Child against the Martian machines. The 1953 movie version had the following lines: "The redoubtable Finnish and Turkish armies, Chinese battalions and Bolivians worked and fought furiously... The people of Britain met the invaders magnificently, but it was unavailing."
  • Redwall has one really good example in "Long Patrol"
    • Rockjaw Grang one of eponymous hares is speared through the middle when he's trying to buy time for his comrades Tammo and Midge Manycoats to escape the Rapscallions. What does he do? Why rip it out and take as many vermin with him as he can.
      • The last line Brian Jacques wrote about him is as follows.
      • "He bought the time for his friends to escape safely, for even within sight of Dark Forest gates, Rockjaw Grang was a perilous hare."
  • Animorphs has several examples of this throughout the series, and it could be said that the entire premise was at least partly based on this trope.
    • Indeed, even the aliens acknowledge this: one major difference between Yeerks and humans is that Yeerks will give up if they know they're going to lose, while humans won't. Some, like the Yeerk that controlled Jake or Visser Three, think this is basically pointless, but Visser One was smart enough to realize this would make conquering humans a harder task to accomplish.
    • Stated almost flat-out by one of Visser One's hosts:
      Allison: "You think you know us. You know nothing. You’ve seen the world through the eyes of a defeated soldier and a junkie bimbo. You know nothing. We’ll defeat you, Edriss."
    • From Ax's "Earth Diary": "Give me liberty, or give me death. A human named Patrick Henry said that. I wonder if, when the Yeerks invaded, they knew humans said things like that. I wonder if they truly knew what they were getting into."
  • E.E. Knight's The Vampire Earth series has a heavy dose of this, at least when it comes to the humans that aren't Quislings.
  • This is on a smaller scale, but still significant, in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Over and over, individuals and small groups figured out what was going on. Over and over, they were captured and replaced. Yet more keep cluing in and trying to sabotage the invasion, until the aliens eventually give up and go home as the protagonist quotes Churchill. Sadly, the movie replaces it with a Downer Ending.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Memory, Miles repeats a joke about his ancestors: that when they were invaded, they tried to surrender, but were so backwards they couldn't find anyone who could read the terms of the treaty, so they kept fighting and eventually won. This also sparks an epiphany as to which of his dual identities is the true him; because Admiral Naismith strove for victory, but Lord Vorkosigan could not surrender, so in the end Lord Vorkosigan was the persona he chose.
  • The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt:
    • The president of a planet that has just discovered a possible world ending catastrophe is approaching, gives a speech about perseverance that ends with "And if our world should endure for a hundred million years, it will always be known that this was our finest hour." Alex Benedict is an archeologist/treasure hunter and is the only member of the cast familiar enough with history to realize that he is cribbing, and who from.
    • Earlier in the same book, the main characters had found a copy of Churchill's speeches in the president's personal library among ordinary books, and had commented it was a disgrace to see something so valuable sitting there unappreciated.
  • The Cynian army make a last stand against the Burgid horde in An Army of the Dead. They are killed to a man. The entire army then gets resurrected as an army of unstoppable undead and proceed to Curb Stomp their opponents.
  • In Codex Alera:
    • Academ's Fury: Amara, Bernard, and other heroes are trapped by a powerful zerg-like creature called the Vord Queen. They have little in means of weapons and food. Their magic can be countered by those humans who were taken and now are zombie-like forces. Even with all the odds against them, they choose to make one final attack because they need to kill the Queen. If the Queen escapes, she can make two more in a short time and will not stop until all of the world is under their domain. The fact they, sentient beings, would willingly choose death just to see her dead confounds the Queen, who has no such understanding. She can see the action but fails to understand why. This distraction is enough to finally kill her.
    • Princeps' Fury: The Vord have returned and have continued towards the capital of the nation. Gaius Sextus watches the battle from his castle tower before ordering the withdrawl of the men. He gives his aide, Ehren, two letters and his will, before he personally enters the battle. He awakens the ancient volcano under this mountain city, destroying it, a secret weapon which if it fell into their hands would secure their victory, transforms into a metal version of himself, and flies into battle. The horde of Vord is reduced to a mear tithe of its former numbers, and allows the surviving soldiers and civilians to regroup.
    • In the series' Grand Finale, First Lord's Fury the combined forces of Alera's military are facing down an even larger Vord army, and after months of defeats and slowly surrendering ground, they've been boxed into their final fortress, with nowhere left to go, and millions of Vord drones barreling down on them. They decide to go down fighting to the last man which gives a separate force enough time to track down the last Vord Queen and kill her, disorganizing the horde enough for the Alerans to win.
  • In Leviathan Geary goes into the final battle with the AI warship fleet knowing he's massively outgunned, and soon realizing he's trapped because the Hypernet gate has been set to prevent his ships from fleeing the star system. Knowing there's no way to win and no way to escape the fleet and their allies, the Dancers, have a single goal: destroy all the AI support infrastructure and take as many of them as they can, fighting to the last ship, so the Black Fleet will be weakened and can be taken out by allied forces if they appear again. But then the Heroic Sacrifice of a civilian allows Geary to get all his surviving ships out and destroy the Black Fleet all at once by blowing the gate up.
  • Half's Saga: Half and his warriors manage to break out of the Asmund's burning hall and hold out against the overwhelming numbers of Asmund's warriors for an entire day before being cut down.
  • In Cthulhu Armageddon, Gamma Squadron gets one of these, combined with Doomed Moral Victor. Having managed to defeat a small army of Cthulhu cultists, they find all of them have been pre-dosed with Herbert West's Re-Animator formula and rise as indestructible zombies. They still manage to hold the line far better than any other protagonists should in a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • The Stormlight Archive: It's mentioned that at the Last Desolation Talenel'Elin, Herald of War, managed to win an impossible battle by holding an important waterway at the cost of his own life. Due to the fact that he always resurrected along with the rest of the Heralds at the next Desolation, he got to do this a lot, and none of the other Heralds are particularly surprised. Unfortunately, all the other Heralds were so exhausted from millennia of fighting and torture that they decided to abandon Taln in Damnation in order to save themselves from the same fate. They told the people that the war had finally been won, and that there would be no more Desolations. Four and a half thousand years later, at the end of the book, Taln appears at the gates of Kholinar.
  • Guy Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier is perhaps an embellished autobiography, of a French-born soldier conscripted into the Wehrmacht owing to his mother being German. One of the episodes involves an older soldier, one who has survived in the German Army since 1939, realising, as the Russians break into German territory in 1945, that it's completely hopeless and he's tired of fighting for a lost cause. He elects to stay behind and hold off the Russians for as long as it takes for the boy soldiers, inclusing Sajer, to get to safety. Sajer recollects getting to safety and realising the fighting behind them goes on for a long time until - the shooting abruptly ends.
  • Desperate Last Stand is a well-used trope in the Aeon 14 shared universe of M. D. Cooper et al. Notably Tanis and her Desperate Last Stand on Pyra. The Marines with her, her pilot, and finally ISF Marine Commandant General Brandt give their lives to save Tanis, expounding large numbers of tropes such as It Can't End Like This and Give Me the Grenades, followed by We'll Come Back. Finally Tanis is brought to bay, out of allies, out of ammo, out of nanites, out of formation material, out of power, and her armor is failing. The Cavalry is too late. Tanis merges with her AI Angela, ascends to a higher plane, gathers all the matter around her, and expels it against her enemies in a plasma bolt which rivals the sun and is visible from orbit. Then, and only then, her rescue assured, does she pass out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Yoren refuses to surrender his charges even in the face of certain death.
    • In the backstory of Robert's Rebellion, the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy was the last stand of the Targaryen forces who refused to surrender. Ned Stark managed to slay them and then found out they were protecting Rhaegar Targaryen's last surviving son.
    • Barristan Selmy goes down in an almighty blaze of glory saving Grey Worm from the Sons of the Harpy.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Any time SG-1 goes to an alternate reality and it isn't a Crapsack World that tries to imprison/kill them, expect the alternate SG-1 to do this. As Sam Carter (in an alternate reality) elegantly put it, "I also wish to blow us all to hell," just before dropping a live hand-grenade. But then again, we don't really care about any reality but ours.
    • Notably subverted in the season 2 premiere. O'Neill has just disabled the Ha'tak's shields with a grenade to the generator.
      O'Neill: What now?
      Bra'tac: Now we die.
      O'Neill: Well, that's a bad plan. Where's the glider bay?
  • Two Starships Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation from the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise". The first is the displaced USS Enterprise-C under Capt. Garrett, which is doomed to be destroyed defending a Klingon outpost from Romulans. Then there's the alternate Enterprise-D under Capt. Picard which has to allow itself to be destroyed by Klingons so that the first Enterprise can make its move.
    Jean Luc Picard: Let's make sure that history never forgets... the name... Enterprise.
    • Followed by his defiant "That'll be the day" as he takes over the tactical station for a dead officer when the Klingons inflict massive damage and order them to surrender.
  • An alternate NX-01 Enterprise does this in order to reverse a timeline in which humanity is destroyed in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Twilight".
  • The Grand Finale for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has a doozy. With Cardassia changing sides mid-battle, the rebellion working its way to the capital, and the Federation, Klingons and Romulans on the Dominion's doorstep, what does the Female Changeling do? She orders her troops to go across Cardassia and kill every last man, woman and child. Then, she orders the remaining forces to form a wall around Cardassia, intending to bleed all three powers dry. It takes Odo linking with her to finally get her to give up.
    Female Changeling: I think they'll find the cost of victory very high indeed…
  • Angel's finale is a Last Stand against hordes of demons.
    Gunn: OK, you take the thirty thousand on the left...note 
    Illyria: You're'll last ten minutes at best.
    Gunn: Then let's make it memorable.
    Spike: And in terms of a plan?
    Angel: We fight.
    Spike: Bit more specific?
    Angel: Personally, I kinda want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work.
  • A recurring theme in Lexx, starting with the opening scene of the first episode.
    • The fan-beloved Brunnen-G Fight Song was traditionally sung by the Brunen-G on just such occasions: a hopeless battle which is being fought anyway because it's better to go out fighting than to give in to despair. The last line translates to "We will fight AND die, forever Brunnen-G"
  • In The Wire episode "Final Grades", we have Bodie when Chris and Snoop come to kill him for snitching. Unfortunately he's killed by a guy who comes up behind. But he dies fighting like a true soldier in his own Dying Moment of Awesome.
    Bodie: Yo this is my corner, I ain't runnin nowhere.
  • Blake's 7: In "Blake", Avon realizes the others are dead, Blake himself is dead by his own hand, and he's surrounded by Federation troops...He put on his best Slasher Smile and raises the gun one last time before the scene fades to black.
  • Red Dwarf has one in Out Of Time, which is a cliffhanger at the end of Series 6. The cast's future selves attack them (knowing they would also die) because they refuse to live as the current cast do, because they have become corrupt and seduced by power. They kill three of the characters, leaving only Rimmer, the most cowardly and weasely one of the lot. He immediately sets off to destroy the time drive that allowed them to time travel and become corrupt in the first place, before Starbug is blown up in a last ditch move. Series 7 claims that it was the act of Starbug blowing up that meant the future selves couldn't attack them as they'd not exist. However, some people believe Rimmer was successful, so he can be a hero.
  • Jenny Shepard of NCIS, trapped in a diner with four Russian hitmen and the prospect of a painful death from a debilitating disease ahead of her...four against one doesn't look so bad when you have an incentive to not make it out alive.
  • Subverted Spartacus: Vengeance: After fighting their way through a forest Spartacus, Mira, Naevia, and Nasir finally make it to Mount Vesuvius, only to hear an army approach them from behind. Nasir is too wounded to fight and Naevia is too traumatized, so Spartacus tells Mira to take them and run. She refuses to abandon him, and the two prepare to make their final stand, only for the approaching forces to be revealed to be their own.
  • Both the classic and revived series of Doctor Who often features variations on The Siege plot, leading to numerous examples of these moments occurring when Red Shirt characters end up performing a Heroic Sacrifice. The Doctor and his companions can also attempt to perform these on occasion, although they (usually) tend to be averted.
    • During "The Parting of the Ways", Jack and the rest of Satellite 5 attempt a futile last stand to buy the Ninth Doctor time to complete a weapon that will wipe out the Daleks. Jack only survives after Bad Wolf!Rose brings him back to life.
    • "The Name of the Doctor" reveals that the Doctor would ultimately die performing one at Trenzalore against countless armies. This nearly comes to pass in "The Time of the Doctor" when the Eleventh Doctor maintains the Siege of Trenzalore for centuries until he starts dying from extreme old age, revealing that he's lost the ability to regenerate because this was his final body. This fate is only narrowly averted by the Time Lords, who grant him a new regeneration cycle for saving Gallifrey in "The Day of the Doctor".
  • Near the end of Day Four of ''Torchwood: Children of Earth", we're led to believe that this will happen. Then the trope is horribly, horribly subverted.
  • Babylon 5's backstory has The Battle of the Line, the last stand of humanity against the Minbari in the hope of getting as many refugees off Earth and into neutral territory as possible before the Minbari glassed the planet. Humanity suffered 90% casualties while inflicting minimal losses and were about to break when the Minbari, mysteriously, withdrew and sued for peace. Why they did it is a recurring mystery for the series' first season.
  • Space: Above and Beyond was all about this trope: humanity banding together against the evil "chigs". In the pilot, the Secretary-General of the United Nations makes a very Churchillian speech about "the coming storm", then quotes Churchill directly (the Battle of Britain "Never has so much been owed by so many to so few" speech) after the Wildcards' first major victory.
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode, "Poisoning the Well," subverts this when the SG team helps the Hoffans develop a treatment to make them unpalatable to the Wraith. When it is discovered that not only does also kill Wraith who attempt to feed, but also kills 50% of those treated, the SG team are horrified to find that the Hoffans consider that acceptable even if the Wraith would likely strike against them as a threat. When the SG team leave in disgust, they mention it is reminiscent of the Churchillian spirit of victory at any price, but they are forced to disagree.
  • Discussed in Wizards vs. Aliens:
    Lexi: Still! We stand together at the end, Tom Clarke. Facing impossible odds, on a ruined spaceship, above a planet doomed to die. What a wonderful way to go!

  • Sabaton's eighth album The Last Stand is a Concept Album about this and Hold the Line 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 
  • The Japanese fleet in Victory in the Pacific is usually reduced to making one of these at the end of the game, due to their lack of reinforcements.
  • One of the standard scenarios in Warhammer. 3rd edition actually had maps and paper counters for a scenario called "Fornerond's Last Stand," in which a High Elf force had been ambushed by greenskins.
    • Warhammer: The End Times is this for basically all the good factions and characters on a global scale as Chaos and the Skaven join forces to destroy the world. It's so blatant that whole factions like Bretonnia are wiped out offscreen. Which leads to Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
  • Warhammer 40,000's setting gives everyone ample opportunities to die heroically, both on and off the tabletop. A 4th Edition scenario, typically the last mission in a campaign, revolved around one side's Last Stand; the defenders won if they had any surviving models at the end of the game, meaning they held out long enough to let their comrades escape, or that they killed enough of the enemy to have their names forever etched into their opponent's minds.
    • One famous example from the fluff is the Battle of Macragge, in which the Ultramarines' homeworld found itself facing the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Behemoth. The Ultramarines' 1st Company, comprised of the best warriors in the chapter, made their stand in a polar fortress. When reinforcements finally arrived, they had to clear the Tyranid corpses with flamethrowers, and eventually found the bodies of their battle-brothers in the heart of the fortress, back-to-back and surrounded by walls of alien dead.
    • The rest of the truly famous examples all seem to revolve around Sisters of Battle for some reason - The Bloodtide, Sanctuary 101, Hive Tempestus, Shield of Baal...
    • The Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden were prepared to make one against Hive Fleet Kraken, but were saved by the timely arrival of the exiled Prince Yriel. It was a Pyrrhic Victory, however - four-fifths of the Craftworld's population was dead, Prince Yriel doomed himself by taking up the cursed Spear of Twilight, and Iyanden was forced to use the spirit stones of the dead to field armies of Wraithguard to supplement their forces. To quote Yriel, "We may have won the battle, but our ancestors have lost their souls."
    • The Imperial Guard are particularly good at this. General Sturmm of Dawn of War fame summed up a Guardsman's duty as "We die standing."
    • The Necrons actively avoid this, preferring to teleport away without a trace rather than lose a battle. In earlier editions this was even the army's Achilles' Heel - once it had been reduced to a certain percentage of its starting models, the rest would phase out, giving the opponent the victory.
    • The Tau don't believe in Last Stands - unlike most of the other races, Tau military dogma is highly mobile and considers the amount of territory controlled in a conflict to be meaningless compared to the armies that fight on it. Soldiers lost holding a position are therefore throwing their lives away for no reason, and a Tau commander who would commit himself to a Last Stand is incompetent rather than courageous.
    • In the ominously-named "Fall of Cadia", the entire Cadian 8th Regiment, along with their commander, Lord-Castellan Ursakar Creed. The planet broke before the Guard did.
    • Basically the entire setting represents a massive, galaxy spanning last stand by the forces of good (relatively speaking) against the forces of evil, that has been going on for the last ten thousand years.
  • An actual card in Magic: The Gathering, from the Apocalypse set. It has a lot of interesting effects, as it represents, effectively, the entire planet's Last Stand against The Legions of Hell.
    • Reappears in the Dark Ascension set as the Fateful Hour mechanic, granting certain spells and creatures special bonuses if the user's life total is at 5 or lower. Many of the cards with the mechanic have flavor to this effect.
  • Also a card in the Schizo Tech Six Samurai archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh!, called Backs to the Wall. It drops your Life Points to 100 (By comparison, most duels start you with 8000 Life Points), but you can summon as many Six Samurai monsters from your graveyard as possible.
  • In the Shadowfist card game (inspiration for the tabletop RPG Feng Shui), there is a card depicting the death of signature character Kar Fai, called "Kar Fai's Last Stand." The flavor text says it best:
    "You can't win."
    "I don't need to."

  • There Shall Be No Night is set during the 1939-40 Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland. Miranda's husband and only child have both been killed during the fighting and Soviet troops are rapidly approaching, but as the play ends Miranda and Uncle Waldemar are planning to go down fighting. At the first sight of Soviets they're going to burn down the house, take their guns to the stone wall in the garden, and hold out for as long as they can.
  • The aptly-named "The Final Battle" in Les Misérables. The revolutionaries realize that the people have not risen up and that there are no reinforcements coming, and that this must be their final stand. See below:
    Enjolras:Let us die facing our foes / Make them bleed while we can
    Combferre: Make 'em pay through the nose
    Courfeyrac: Make 'em pay for every man!
    Enjolras: Let others rise / To take our place / Until the earth is free!
    They are quickly gunned down as the National Guard storms the barricade.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core's version of Zack Fair's death has him fighting a few hundred Shinra soldiers by himself in his attempt to protect Cloud. It's sadder when you know that Tseng had commanded the Turks to find him in order to reunite him with Aerith.
    • Which ends up being a huge surprise in Final Fantasy VII Remake where thanks to Cloud rewriting the timeline, Zack actually survives his last stand.
  • The Last of Us has a recently-bitten Tess send Ellie and Joel away so she can buy them time to escape the incoming militia and kill as many as she can before she's gunned down, since she refuses to become an Infected.
  • In Ragnarok Online, the Gunslinger's Last Stand, gives bonus to attack power and attack speed at the cost of the ability to move (works with all weapons). May also be combined with Gatling Fever.
  • Brutal Doom features numerous AI enhancements to the zombie soldiers from the original Doom. Among these, zombie soldiers (both regular troopers and sergeants) have a chance, when one of their limbs is blown off, to sit up and draw a pistol, firing off a few shots at you before collapsing. While they can't do very much damage this way, they can still kill you (particularly on the Realism Mode difficulty) if you don't notice them immediately.
  • Used as a last resort in RTS games. It's an interesting challenge and a new form of gameplay, a sort of Kobayashi Mario.
    • In StarCraft skirmishes, the AI doesn't do so well with things like "saving resources" and "wars of attrition".
  • The Unwinnable by Design Sol mission series in the losing ending of Wing Commander III consists of endless waves of enemy fighters along with a Kilrathi Dreadnought fighting a desperate (and failing) battle to hold off the triumphant Kilrathi armada.
  • Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, after the events of GaoGaiGar FINAL.
  • Reversed in StarCraft: Brood War. The last mission is a Last Stand of three factions against Kerrigan. And you're Kerrigan.
    • Then in Wings of Liberty, the last protoss mini-campaign mission is set in the Bad Future where Kerrigan was killed, resulting in the Fallen One using Hybrids to enslave the Zerg and annihilate the Terrans. The mission is a last stand mission where you fight until the very last Protoss in existence dies. The mission isn't won until you take down several thousand zerg. The Protoss went out with a bang.
  • Odin Sphere: Mercedes's battle against King Onyx. The forest is in ashes, Onyx feels gleefully destructive, but Mercedes decides she must be a queen to the very end and takes him down by herself.
    Mercedes: I won't stop drawing my bow...
  • In Punch-Out!! for the Wii, there's a mode called Mac's Last Stand, where you have to fight random Title Defense opponents. If you lose three times, that's it. GAME OVER. Mac retires and the Career mode is locked. It really is Mac's Last Stand. Fortunately, a locked Career Mode simply means the "story mode" of that profile is over. You're still able to fight anyone anytime in Exhibition Mode (and Last Stand only unlocks after you've beaten all of the regular fighters in both their modes, so you have the run of them). The main goals of the Last Stand are to unlock Champion's Mode (where every hit on you is a One-Hit KO), and fight the Guest Fighter, which in turn adds him to the Exhibition roster.
  • Red Dead Redemption has John Marston make it through dozens of towns, cities, settlements, states, and shootouts, only for it to end at his farm. The gunfight that makes up the final mission is quite frankly epic, with the player shooting an assload of soldiers and defending Marston's family. Sadly, Marston tells his family to leave and ride far away from the farm, and walks outside just before being gunned down by a large group of men shooting alongside Edgar Ross. Though it makes for a Downer Ending, it's a hell of a final fight, though.
  • In a rare villainous example, Suikoden II features the mad Highland King Luca Blight. To be precise, he takes on three six member parties, countless archers, then a final one on one duel with the hero before finally falling.
  • COD 2 Spanish Civil War Mod: The final mission for the Republicans has the remnant of the Francoist army defending Burgos, the capital of the provisionary Nationalist government.
  • In Call of Duty 4, downed enemies (unless slain by headshots or explosives) have a chance to pull their sidearm and take a few spiteful potshots at you before dying. A multiplayer Perk lets players do the same to each other, though be prepared to take some flak for choosing it. Modern Warfare 2 even included a Death Streak letting players do this with their primary weapons.
  • One of the Survival Mode maps for Left 4 Dead (the one introduced alongside the mode) is actually called The Last Stand. To quote the map's tagline, "It doesn't end well."
    • The saferoom graffiti has some thoughts on this as well. One from "Swamp Fever" in the sequel was written by the last survivor of the small bayou village: "We held out longer than Shreveport. We held out longer than Baton Rouge. We held out longer."
    • In the official storyline of the Left 4 Dead/Left 4 Dead 2 DLC The Sacrifice, Bill holds off a massive horde, including three tanks, to let his other three companions escape on a sailboat to the Florida Keys. Sadly, it does not end so happily for him.
    • If a player goes down, their first thought is usually to kill every single zombie they see. Justified as that makes it easier for their teammates to get them up. Or if they have something like a gas can near them, bring a defib. He will beat the shit out of those bastards by lighting them on fire (and himself, too). Bodies will pile up.
  • If you've played Hitman, then you've done this at least once. Alarm goes off, and instead of (or at the same time as) cursing the gods for your failure, you whip out the dual silverballers and make things messy before you go.
  • A substantial part of the premise of the Iron Grip games, especially the second installment (which is basically a blend of tactical Tower Defense and War FPS).
  • Done a few times in Final Fantasy XI. Raogrimm holds off the Ark Angels after you defeat him as the Shadowlord to let the party escape. Aphmau's Blue Mage bodyguard protects the party from an oncoming wave of Mamool Ja, likely casting Self Destruct. Lehko Habhoka in Wings of the Goddess does the same, having hidden his mortal wound from the previous fight. And in Rhapsodies of Vana'diel you see the biggest gathering of FFXI characters ever as the Cloud of Darkness attacks the last remaining place in Vana'diel, the far eastern island of Reisenjima.
  • Dawn of War II:
    • In the campaign, the final mission turns into this after you successfully complete your objectives only to have your evac craft shot down. Your units resign themselves to heroic deaths, and then Captain Angelos arrives with reinforcements, joining your side while allied drop pods rain upon the battlezone.
    • A patch introduced a full-fledged Last Stand gamemode, where heroes from each faction fight together against waves of hostiles. It's been used to surprise players with an Early-Bird Cameo, as those who managed to reach the final wave found themselves facing Bloodletters and a Chaos Lord before the release of the Chaos Rising expansion. DLC also allowed players to choose a Tau battlesuit commander, even though the Tau aren't playable in Dawn of War II.
    • At the end of the Tyranid campaign of Retribution:
      Blood Raven losses: Total... They refused to retreat.
    • When the Eldar Stronghold in Dark Crusade falls, Farseer Taldeer tells her forces to escape while she holds off the attacking army on her own. Canonically she is killed by the Blood Ravens and her soul stone has been taken to Kyras.
  • The final battle of RefleX is a mix between this, Mêlée à Trois and Heroic Sacrifice. Earth and the Raiwat finish off the war by destroying their last forces. The Ophiuchus, after defeating Libra and the two Kamui fighters, destroys itself and seals away the ZODIAC so that the horrific war will never resurface again.
  • Halo:
    • A meta-example from Halo 2: After Microsoft shut down the Xbox Live servers for the game, the "Noble Fourteen" were players who simply refused to log off and stayed in the game, continuing the game's final deathmatch. At one point, Bungie tried to bribe them with Halo Reach beta codes, but twelve remained. The last of them was disconnected (involuntarily) on May 10th, more than a month after the official shutdown date.
    • A straight example occurs in Halo: Reach. The UNSC Pillar of Autumn has left the planet, SPARTAN-B312 having stayed behind to give them cover fire in a Mass Driver turret. More and more Covenant dropships are landing, and the enemy is everywhere. Among the last of the UNSC forces on Reach, you have one final mission. Objective: Survive.
      • While in gameplay it would nearly impossible to last that long, canon states that Noble Six's last stand lasted for several hours. He single-handily held off an entire Covenant Army where the battle escalated to the point that the enemy started directing their tanks and airships against one soldier. After hours of constant fighting Noble Six was finally subdued in close combat by several Elites, some of whom he took down with him as he was dying. Keep in mind, he/she was taking on multiple Ultra-class and General Sangheili in hand to hand combat. He/she was finally killed by a Zealot Elite from behind with an Energy Dagger. Defiant to the End, the Lone Wolf went down clawing and biting at his killers.
    • The Firefight multiplayer mode in Halo 3: ODST and Reach is basically up to four ODSTs or Spartan-IIIs using whatever they have at their disposal to fight off endless waves of Covenant that get progressively more difficult.
  • Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance sets one of these up, complete with actual Last Stand for a major character, though the player still 'wins' by surviving the massive onslaught long enough to be beamed up.
  • In the flash game Steambirds: Survival, you are a British pilot, outnumbered 1000 to 1, allowing the citizens of London to evacuate before the German armada arrives, dropping a toxic gas on the city and killing them all. Done wrong, you could utterly fail and take exactly none of them with you. Done right, 50 or more German planes/airships will be going down with you.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy 012's climax is all the new characters, including fan-favorites such as Lighting, Kain and Laguna against a Mankin horde. An endless Mankin horde. Needless to say, they don't make it.
    • Though it is worth noting the actual context of the scene: The group who opted into this fight went there knowing full well that survival would be nearly impossible, that part was never a factor to them. Their only purpose here was to seal the rift in order to stop the flood of mankins so that whoever was left in the next cycle might be able to get a clear shot at actually ending the war. It might have taken all of them getting totally erased from the cycle to do it, but they DID succeed, leaving a MUCH smaller force of mankins to deal with for the survivors and contributing hugely to the success of Cosmos's final plan.
    • At the same time, the Warrior of Light is seen facing off and then fighting a massive hoard of Manequins by himself to protect Cosmos. He actually does hold out just long enough, Shinryuu resets to the next cycle just as Warrior of Light falls and Cosmos is about to be attacked.
  • Mass Effect:
    • At the end of the last DLC for Mass Effect 2, a Paragon Shepard also gives this trope to Harbinger right after s/he already flipped them off again.
      Shepard: Maybe you're right: maybe we can't win this. But we'll fight you regardless. Just like we did Sovereign, just like I'm doing now. No matter how insignificant we might be, we will fight. We will sacrifice, and we will find a way. That's what humans do.
    • Another example from Arrival has an achievement called Last Stand, earned by surviving the Hopeless Boss Fight against five waves of enemy forces coming in to put you down. Even if you survive, you still get knocked out, you single-handedly fighting off all the enemies while they talk about how they can't bring you down.
    • Garrus in Mass Effect 2 is forced into this scenario, when after being lured away from his squad, returned to watch the final two die and held out against the three merc gangs for several hours before Shepard arrived.
    • Mass Effect 3 is this on a galactic level, but it starts on Earth. The turians start out knowing that they cannot hope to fight off the Reapers, being constantly ground down, just holding the line while the transports escape, and you get emails during the game where people you saved in the first game such as Aresh and Kal'Reegar make heroic last stands protecting people from the unfolding apocalypse.
      Admiral Steven Hackett: Never before have so many come together from all quarters of the galaxy. But never before have we faced an enemy such as this. The Reapers will show us no mercy; we must give them no quarter. They will terrorize our populations; we must stand fast in the face of that terror. They will advance until our last city falls, but we will not fall. We will prevail. Each of us will be defined by our actions in the coming battle. Stand fast. Stand strong. Stand together. Hackett out.
    • Grunt has one in Mass Effect 3, against a group of Reaper-modified Rachni. Bonus Badass points because if you secured his loyalty, he survives. And asks if you've got anything to eat.
  • Jaffar does one of these in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade to aid Nino in escaping. The role of the player is to attempt to subvert this trope.
  • Sol: A History (a fanmade Freespace 2 campaign that takes place in the Sol system while it is cut off after the events of the first game) begins with the Terran fleet preparing to make a last stand against the invincible destroyer Lucifer. As the Lucifer is destroyed in hyperspace, the last stand is averted.
  • Protection Warriors in World of Warcraft have an ability called Last Stand that can be used as this trope. It boosts your HP for 15 seconds, but when it wears off, you lose all of the HP it gave you, meaning if you're not healed, you're at 1 HP and the next hit is fatal.
    • In the quest "Last Stand", the player does this with several other characters against a horde of werewolves.
    • Kilrogg Deadeye has a special mechanic "Vision of Death" which causes players to witness the moment of their death: A hopeless last stand against the Burning Legion as Azeroth burns. Each demon killed grants a stacking buff; after killing 20 demons or dying the player returns to the battle.
      • Kilrogg himself is making a last stand as years ago he saw the vision of his death. He knows he is destined to die against the players but won't make it easy for them.
    • In the Legion expansion, during the attack on the Exodar, you have Nobundo's Last Stand, a quest where you and several Non Player Characters hold the line against seemingly-endless waves of demons while the demon commander gloats between throwing increasingly-strong waves of troops at you.
    • Back in III, there's Sylvanas facing Arthas. She knew she didn't stand a chance against him as the undead closed around Silvermoon, her strategies to try to stall him failed. Too bad for her that Arthas had another, far crueller fate in mind for her.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Link's final memory shows him in a desperate last stand against a pack of Guardians. He fights to protect Zelda, but is badly wounded and his Master Sword is dull and rusty from overuse. He collapses from his wounds, and he and Zelda would've died if she hadn't awakened to her latent power which shut down the Guardians, giving her time to have Link taken to the Shrine of Resurrection to recover so he can continue the fight against Calamity Ganon later.
    • The Akkala Citadel, location of the Akkala region's tower, also featured one, that you can find about from a nearby NPC; when Castle Town was destroyed, what was left of the royal army fell back to the citadel to make their last stand against the Guardians. It's evident that they were all killed, but the number of wrecked Guardians strewn all over suggests that they made their killers pay for it.
  • Plants vs. Zombies has a Mini-Game called Last Stand where you are given 5000 sun to build fortifications to defend against five waves of zombies. Unlike normal game modes you gain no additional sun during play except for a small amount in between waves. Survival modes could probably be seen as this as well, especially Survival Endless.
  • In the finale of Dead Space 2: Severed, mortally wounded Gabe Weller fends off a tide of necromorphs while forcing open an airlock so his pregnant wife Lexine can escape Titan Station.
  • Umineko: When They Cry Episode 2. Rosa's Dying Moment of Awesome. Proof that she does care for her daughter, despite everything.
    • Also, all of Episode 8. The Fantasy side and the Ushiromiya family ally against Erika and an endless army of demon goats.
  • Jaou, one of the Fourve in Tales of Xillia, stays behind to hold off the enemy forces to let Gaius and his comrades escape. Having been gravely wounded beforehand, there was no way he could possibly survive...though he actually succeeded in killing off all the enemy footsoldiers with a single attack containing all the strength he could muster, before getting killed by a cannon mounted on an aircraft overhead.
  • The defense of your castle at the end of Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening can be this if you went to help protect the city instead. If you've done your administrative work properly, as in getting your troops properly equipped and the castle repaired, it isn't.
    • In the base game, this is pretty much the whole point of the Legion of the Dead, who's members have forsaken the safety of Orzammar for glory or to regain their lost honor, in order to venture into the furthest reaches of the Deep Roads to hold back the endless hordes of Darkspawn. They do not cease fighting, until they are either dead or physically unable to keep moving.
    • The Calling is a longstanding tradition for Senior Grey Wardens, where they embark into the Deep Roads, with the intention of taking down as many Darkspawn as they can before they are finally slain. While many younger Wardens believe this is to avoid their eventual death from the Taint, in reality, they do this in order to die as themselves rather than undergo ghoulification.
    • One path in Dragon Age: Inquisition has a Bad Future segment end with the local versions of companion characters making one of these as the Inquisitor and a new friend desperately try to return to their own time. They Hold the Line just long enough.
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations: Yusuf has one offscreen. Near the end of the game, the villain sends a horde of templars to kidnap a woman to use as leverage for the keys to Altaïr's library. When Ezio happens upon the scene, he finds Yusuf lying lifeless in her house, on the other end of a carpet of dead Templars. A quick count tallies up at least fifteen dead Templars left in the shop, and that's not counting any that he wounded or that managed to get away unscathed.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Online, "Last Stand" is a signature skill of the Captain class that prevents the Captain from being defeated for its duration. What really makes it fit the trope is another Captain skill, "In Harm's Way" that redirects incoming damage from the rest of the party onto the Captain. Enforcing the trope further, the default duration of Last Stand is five seconds shorter than In Harm's Way.
    • Lord of the Rings Online has a few missions where the player temporarily takes control of a character in an encounter from the books. Several of these are Heroic Last Stands where the win condition is not to actually defeat the enemies, or even to survive, but simply to do as well as the character canonically did (for example, holding off the enemies long enough to allow another character to escape or finish a task). Examples include the Chamber of Mazarbul in Moria and the Falls of Rauros.
  • In the Lonesome Road DLC of Fallout: New Vegas, if you manage to talk down Ulysses in the finale, he'll tell you that the Marked Men of the Divide will be coming in as part of his original plan to kill you. He'll then offer to team up with you to make a final stand against all of them.
  • The Tarka from Sword of the Stars are noted in the supplementary materials to view last stands as one of those incomprehensible human customs they can never understand, since from their moral point of view it's essentially a form of grieving. Their logic goes that you can only gain honor in battle by winning, and if you're losing your best option is to cut and run in an attempt to come back another day. If you commit yourself to a last stand not only do you prevent yourself from erasing the stain on your honor later, you're also making the opponent gain less honor from his victory by lessening it at the cost of your own life.
  • Last Scenario features Felgorn, an Atoner for the other side who demonstrates Heroic Sacrifice and One-Man Army during his last stand against two-hundred soldiers that ended in a tie.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light's final sector, The Last Stand. The last bits of The Federation's fleet holds off the Rebel fleet, but you can subvert this trope by destroying the Rebel Flagship. If the Flagship reaches the Federation base and stays here for three turns, it's an instant Game Over.
  • The entire X-COM series is pretty much about this. The original UFO Defence game even gave you a terrifying cutscene to show the final fate of Earth, if you get a Game Over.
  • Partly subverted by The Ur-Quan Masters (AKA Star Control II). At the beginning, humanity has, indeed, been defeated, trapped beneath planetary shields in "Fallow Slavery", and the small detachment of humans left in a space-station outside the shields are nice and obedient to the eponymous Ur-Quan masters. (It helps that they can't maintain life support without Ur-Quan assistance.) Until the player character shows up with a Precursor spaceship. Then they rebel, and put together The Alliance with great speed, before taking on the Ur-Quan directly. The Ur-Quan specifically chose to use planetary shields to avert this trope. Any race too courageous to agree to serve them would end up trapped in an impenetrable force field. This allows the Ur-Quan to win against enemies who were too dumb to know when they're beaten, without having to Kill 'Em All. If you talk to Commander Hayes, he reveals that Earth kept the war going right up to the point where Ur-Quan ships were positioned in orbit, ready to glass the entire planet.
  • Supreme Commander's President Riley fits this trope in spades, many times going out of the way to inform you in the campaign briefings, and even during the last mission how the UEF will never surrender. Perhaps subverted slightly in that the enemies are actually other factions of humans, and that by the time the Seraphim roll around, he's already dead.
  • In Dead Lock, the human faction is mainly known for its prowess in the realms of trade and diplomacy — greatly suited for winning the game in peaceful ways. But if they're forced into a fight, they have a special weapon too — all Human Infantry can use the 'Berserk' command in battle, injecting themselves with Super Serum that whips them into a frenzy, granting them the incredible strength and durability they need to take on vastly more powerful alien foes. Unfortunately, any survivors will either be killed or crippled for life by the drug's body altering effects. Even the Tarth find this fanatical dedication to be downright disturbing.
  • Elite Beat Agents and the second Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan game feature this as a penultimate level. The final level involves some truly epic Sprit Bombs. Heck, EBA's second-last song is "Without A Fight"!
  • The villain equivalent of this is The Helghast from Killzone. They know to a man they cannot win, but they keep fighting for their home.
  • In Legaia II: Duel Saga, this is the reason why humanity defeated the Kabel in the ancient war, according to Chief West Wind. The Kabel had the power of magic, but they had lost their human spirit. Humanity retained its fighting spirit and will to survive, and was able to overcome the superior foe and endure.
  • In Might and Magic X Legacy, though your party does not engage in one, while exploring Dunstan's memories in the Tomb of Thousand Terrors, your party observes the dwarf of the group attempting this to buy time for the other remaining three party members to escape. Notes that you find along the way also talk of the same scenario and mention he managed to put up quite the fight.
  • The Advent Rebel's Eradica Titan in Sins of a Solar Empire has its ultimate ability which makes it more powerful the more damage it takes and when it's health finally runs out it gets 2 minutes of invulnerability before being destroyed.
  • The Total War series has this as a mechanic. Normally, soldiers fight until their morale crumbles and they run away. However, if they cannot retreat (being encircled or on a wall), they switch to "Fighting to the Last Man", and will fight until the last one falls. With a melee damage bonus and reduced fatigue.
  • In Hatred, the Villain Protagonist known only as Not Important is a nihlistic Death Seeker who's out to take as many people with him to the grave as possible before he dies, so he begins his genocide crusade which ends with a Suicide by Cop just before he nukes the entire town.
  • Mission 45 in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Everything about this basically screams 'your last stand together'; the opposition against you, the BGM that plays during so, but most predominant of all: the inevitable, heartbreaking departure of your deadliest ally.
  • In the Star Trek Online mission "Battle of Caleb IV", the 23rd Century Player Character invokes this, attacking an entire fleet of Klingons to get their former captain/now admiral and the rest of his fleet to safety. The history books says that you and your crew are killed in this fight. Agent Daniels thinks otherwise.
  • In Evolve's ambiguously canon Deepest Dark mission shows the last stand of the hunters. After being stranded on Shear and reduced from twenty to just a handful by the Hybrid, the few remaining hunters take up their weapons and delve into the nest of the Queen Gorgon to kill her and destroy her brood.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In the series backstory, in the old Nordic religious tradition, the Top God and War God Shor was served by two other gods as shield-thanes, the brothers Stuhn and Tsun. According to that religious tradition, Tsun pulled one of these defending Shor against "angry foreign gods". While they eventually got to and slew Shor, it was at great cost. Tsun continues to serve Shor in Sovngarde, guarding Shor's Hall of Valor and testing warrior spirits for their worthiness to enter by battling them in single combat.
    • In his "opus", series' recurring character St. Jiub the Eradicator recounts his quest to eradicate the much reviled Cliff Racers from Vvardenfell. As he was hunting a lone Cliff Racer, it led him into a trap where hundreds of Cliff Racers suddenly descended upon him. Jiub believed this to be his Last Stand, fighting for two days and slaughtering hundreds of Cliff Racers. Jiub finally collapsed, exhausted and wounded. Ultimately Subverted, in that he would have died there if not for the timely rescue of the Dunmeri Physical God Vivec, who was so impressed with Jiub's actions that Vivec declared him to be a saint.
    • During the 4th Era Great War between the crumbling Cyrodiilic Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, Emperor Titus Mede II made a strategic withdrawl from the Imperial City in order to regroup with fresh reserves in the north. Only the Eighth Legion is left in defense of the city. They perform a heroic last stand on the walls of the city, winning them great renown, but it ultimately falls to Dominion forces under Lord Naarifin. Naarifin captures and sacks the city, committing many atrocities on the city's populace. A year later, in the Battle of the Red Ring, the Imperials get their revenge as they repulse the Dominion forces from Cyrodiil and capture Naarifin, who is hung from the top of the White-Gold Tower but kept alive to suffer for 33 days.
  • In Undertale the Final Boss of the Genocide route is a last stand with a twist: it's the boss doing the last stand. The boss is aware of the player's ability to load and save the game and as such knows that he cannot win, but fights anyway in the hope of making the player give up. Given the extreme difficulty of the boss fight, it's not really that much to hope for.
  • The entirety of Radiant Silvergun has the pilots of the Tetra and the three Silverguns waging one against the Stone-Like, which killed absolutely all life on Earth prior to the beginning of the game. At best, the two Player Characters transported back in time, get destroyed by the Stone-Like, and the Creator uses the DNA of them to repopulate Earth in the same past, in hopes that humanity will learn from its mistakes and not invoke the wrath of the Stone-Like. The cycle repeats.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn. With the Faro Plague having destroyed most of the earth, the last remnants of the world's militaries enact operation Enduring Victory. They arm every single remaining human that can still hold a gun, and tell them that they need to buy time for Project Zero Dawn and humanity's salvation. They lied.
  • In Metro: Last Light, the final mission consists of a last stand. After you finally reach Polis and are helped by the Baby Dark One to force Moskvin to reveal the Red Line's plans to take over D6 and use its supplies to take over the Metro, you rush to the Spartan's military bunker, D6. The rest of the mission consists of an epic last stand where you fight off hundreds of Reds (in a metro system that only has around 50,000 people, mind you!) with only a few dozen of the most elite fighters in the Metro tunnels. Mid-fight, you are seriously wounded and have to fall back to the second line of defense. But oh no, Artyom (that's you) keeps gunning down multiple reds with his gun while downed! and you know what comes after you retreat to the second position? AN HONEST TO GOD HOMEMADE MINIGUN. More Dakka in action, baby. You use your guns to kill a bunch of shield-bearing reds protecting a guy with a flamethrower, then DESTROY AN ARMORED, MISSILE SHOOTING TANK WITH AN ANTI-MATERIEL RIFLE. Eventualy, Miller reveals that there are only biological weapons in D6; the food, guns and medicine was a lie. D6 is a biological warfare bunker. Miller also reveals D6 has been prepared to blow up if they fail at their defense. Just then, the Reds reach your position with an armored train. Miller's legs get torn off from impact (although in Metro Exodus he has prosthetics), Ulman is killed, Khan is (probably) wounded and nearly everyone is dead. In a final act of fuck you, Artyom drags himself to the switch and the game counts your moral points. If you don't reach a secret amount, you get the normal/bad C'est La Vie ending, where Artyom flips the switch and all of D6 blows up, the spartans pulling a Taking You with Me and killing nearly all the Red Line's army and Korbut himself. This is ultimately averted if you get the Redemption/good ending though.
  • The entirety of Akane is about the titular character facing off against neverending waves of Yakuza until she dies.

    Web Comics 
  • Nodwick: Bracing for a last stand. Surprise! It's the henchmen!
  • In Drow Tales, the Sharen clan is ultimately faced with one of these against the Sarghress as the District War enters its conclusion.
  • Erf World:
    • First half of the comic is this. Stanley's side is desperate enough to summon a "perfect" warlord. Unfortunately, this person is Parson.
    • When things start to completely fall apart, Parson has a few words to say in the subject of last stands.
      Parson: So this'll be the last of the last stands...
      [enemies start pouring in instead of waiting for reinforcements]
      Parson: All right, boop this. Wanda! Fall back to the Portal Room and tighten the perimeter until it holds! Call it the last — of the last of the last stands.

    Web Animation 
  • At the end of Season 13 of Red vs. Blue, the Reds and Blues are trapped aboard the Staff of Charon, pinned down in Hargrove's trophy room by enemy gunfire with the room about to be breached, leaving them with no choice but to fight their way out. They survive, with the exception of Church.

    Web Original 
  • Happens to Nahman, member of the GI Proz during the "Mount and Blade" video. He is one of the few remaining members of the Austrian military who try holding out against Freikorps that are storming their hill.
  • Survival of the Fittest had one near the end of version three, during the escape attempt. While the majority of the students went to the coast (where the escape boats were waiting), one group stayed behind to buy time for the others, fighting the platoon of Danya's soldiers sent to stop them. Only two of them - Adam Dodd and Neil Sinclair - made it out alive, but the others not only succeeded in delaying the soldiers, they wiped out the platoon by blowing up the armory.
  • No Spanish Civil War in 1936 gives us an impressive Last Stand in Zaragoza done by the Spanish Army, led by Francisco Franco. The German siege of Zaragoza starts in March 28, 1941. They send their best Wehrmacht and SS troops into the city, and they are fighting soldiers, militias and civilians that don't want to leave the city (a "ragtag force of Spanish and British regular troops, militiamen, and simple civilians", literally). The German estimation is that it'll take 10 days to take the city. It takes them that much (April 7th) to surround the city completely, pitting 50,000 Allied soldiers and militias against 200,000 German soldiers. It takes them 45 days (May 12th) just to take the northern half of the city. Zaragoza doesn't surrender until June 3rd. The result? A good chunk of the German army invading Spain has been held up in Zaragoza for more than two months, the Germans have lost a boatload of tanks and they got 100,000 casualties. The Allies have just 50,000 casualties, mostly Spanish, plus some planes that were trying to drop supplies to keep the siege going.
  • The Salvation War has this trope as what seems to be its dominant feature.
  • The Chaos Timeline has a Sir Winston of Marlborough fighting the Socialists who's quite similar to him.
  • The Last Angel involves quite many, the pacification of Varissha and the battle of Earth stand out in particular.
  • Malê Rising has a last stand during the Great War at Saragarhi, where Ibrahim Abacar was stationed.
  • In Mahu in "Crownless Eagle" sees several last stands taking place, both from the new Commonwealth Republic and its many foes. The former often become victories thanks to the superior leadership, training and technology of the republicans. The latter however...

    Western Animation 
  • Heavily implied with Monk Gyatso in Avatar: The Last Airbender. When the trio of Aang, Katara, and Sokka happen upon his body, it's laying on top of dozens of firebenders' (who were powered up by the comet, it should be noted) and none of the bodies are burnt. He very likely suffocated all of them as well as himself. Airbenders are pacifists and it's usually a defensive form of bending but this was the first time in the franchise that it was implied that airbending could be used in a lethal manner. The only other time it's used in such a manner is when Zaheer uses it to bend the air out of the Earth Queen's lungs towards the end of season 3 of The Legend of Korra.
  • Transformers:
    • Beast Wars:
      • Dinobot's last stand against the Predacons in Code of Hero.
      • And of course, Optimus Prime himself is no stranger to this trope, having done it twice in two separate movies. And both were also pretty darn awesome.
    • Transformers: Prime:
      • The series starts with Cliffjumper's last stand... and he does not go quietly.
      • But what goes around comes around for at the end of the penultimate episode of the series, the odds have never been more in the Autobots' favor when they attack the Nemesis: The Decepticons have lost the Insecticons, most of their bog-standard Vehicons, and their juggernaut Predaking, and their only assets at this point are the Dark Star Saber and Soundwave. Shockwave, Knock Out, Starscream, and Megatron are all easy prey for at least one of the incoming Autobots (Megs being no match for the upgraded Optimus). Needless to say, Megatron gleefully accepts the situation to make things more pragmatic.
      Megatron: If Optimus wishes to wage a battle, for the fate of both Earth and Cybertron, then I shall oblige him. This will be our last stand....
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 3, Episode 3, Jedi General Ima-Gun Di (lampshaded "I'm a Gunn(a) Die") and the clone troopers under his command take on the Separatist forces to keep them from attacking the Twi'leks until supplies are delivered, likely knowing they won't be coming back alive. They truly go down as heroes, fighting to the bitter end, holding the droid advance until relief troops arrive and supplies are dropped to starving Twi'lek citizens.
    • With droids (including R2) on a mission to recover precious intelligence, they stumble across an amnesiac clone commando. After he recovers his memory, he joins the mission—but they're made, and a droid army is sent to keep them from escaping the planet. Alone, Grigor stood against an army of droids to buy time, proving that the clone commandos really were the best in the Grand Army, and assuring the droids and officer who'd helped him that he'd find his way home. (Ultimately averted in this case; Grigor did survive the war, apparently didn't participate in Order 66, and showed up on Star Wars Rebels.)
  • Speaking of Star Wars Rebels: Ahsoka Tano's desperate Last Stand and You Shall Not Pass! against Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader at Malachor.
    • Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus/Caleb Dume holding off a massive fuel dump explosion with his force abilities so that his love Hera and the crew can escape. He is granted Dying as Yourself apparently by the Force itself and seems to regain his sight so that he can look on Hera one last time with his own eyes.
    • Ahsoka's Last Stand was also eventually revealed to not have ended in her death, as Ezra, finding a "world between worlds" that offered access to all of time and space, managed to reach in and pull her out of the battle before Vader would have killed her, then sent her back to moments after she had left; Vader, distracted by the collapse of the temple, presumably thought Ahsoka had died in the collapse and limped away.
  • In the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Armada", the Crown Forces vastly outnumbered the League's and were pretty much ready to steamroll Earth. Commander Walsh even invoked the trope. It was only at the last minute that Shane and Niko arrived, exposing a critical flaw in the Crown's experimental engine design.
  • Winx Club has a villainous example. After failing to capture the fairies in the Dark Abyss, Ogron, Gantlos, and Anagan run to the Omega Dimension prison planet to hide. When they're followed, Anagan wants to surrender, but Ogron decides to take on the fairies even though they're outnumbered and low on magic. They end up frozen and stuck in Omega for their efforts.
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles featured C.H.A.S. rescue Higgins from a minefield by stepping on the mine him/itself. As the bugs swarm in C.H.A.S. opens up with every gun he has to buy the others time to get away. Notable in that he gets two Pre-Mortem One Liners. The first is "I am out of ammunition" so he starts punching bugs to death. When that fails he lets the bugs crowd in close and... Takes his foot off the mine. "ROUGHNECKS, HO!"
  • In The Simpsons couch gag where the couches come to life and start killing people, Moe downs an entire bottle of (presumably) quality liquor before taking his shotgun and firing at all of the bar stools and booths that had come to life. It cuts to the next scene before showing what happened in the end.
  • In Godzilla: The Series, we learn that Godzilla does this offscreen in a Bad Future in the episode Future Shock. He dies fighting, protecting the last of humanity from a race of genetically engineered monsters called the Dragmas, and it sounds like he took a few of them down with him. He has a memorial statue in that timeline to honor his sacrifice.
  • In Green Lantern: The Animated Series Kilowog confronting the entire Red Lantern Armada alone. "It may be just a matter of time, but I'm not makin' this easy on ya... Well if it's my time to clock out, at least I know I went down swingin'..." leading to a moment where the cavalry arrives in the form of the Green Lantern Mogo the Living Planet and the Blue Lantern Saint Walker.

    Real Life 
  • This article, as the title implies, chronicles some of the most badass one man last stands in history.
    • Special mention goes to #1, Thomas A. Baker, for he was the embodiment of I Can Still Fight!, Obi-Wan Moment, You Shall Not Pass!, Taking You with Me, and especially Too Cool to Live. His battalion was severely overpowered by the Japanese, so they began to retreat. Baker was mortally wounded and his guns destroyed, and his comrades began to carry him with the group; however, he refused, and instead wanted to hold off the advancing enemy with whatever shred of life he had left. The group agreed, and gave him a Colt M1911 pistol and propped his dying body against a tree trunk. When the Americans regrouped and captured the spot later on, they found Baker's body, with eight bullets fired, and eight Japanese soldiers lying dead in front of him. He was given a Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts on the brink of death.
    • A more recent article's number 4 slot, Benjamin L. Saloman surpassed even that. While stationed as a field surgeon in Saipannote , the impromptu hospital was invaded by Japanese troops, killing some of the wounded he'd just saved. After killing the 4 who'd entered the tent, he provided covering fire for the wounded to evacuate - when they returned later, they found him dead with 70 bullets in his body, and 100 Japanese soldiers dead in front of him. Needless to say, this also earned him a post-humous Medal of Honor.
  • The 1941-1942 Philippine campaign, specifically the battles of Bataan and Corregidor. Although the Filipino-American defenders gave up in the end (which in turn led to the infamous Bataan Death March), the tenacious defense of Bataan and Corregidor slowed the Japanese advance towards the South Pacific and into Australia, which was further slowed at the Battle of Kokoda Track and finally stopped at the Battle of the Coral Sea.
  • Battle of Thermopylae. Note that Spartan law forbade them to retreat.
    "Go tell the Spartans, passer-by, that here, by Spartan law, we lie."
    Simonides, epitaph for the Spartan dead at the Battle of Thermopylae
    • The Spartans were bound by their law and honor to stay and fight, but the contingent from Thespiae, who lacked the strict, lifelong military training of the Spartans and had no particular reason to stay, also decided to stand and fight with them as they covered the rest of the Greek army's retreat.
  • The Theban Sacred Band (a homosexual warrior fraternity) at the Battle of Chaeronea did even better then the Spartans and Thespiae at Thermopylae. Not "just" guarding a mountain pass they stood in the open field and thumbed their collective noses at Alexander the Great himself. Unlike the Spartans however, their cause died with them.
  • Averted with the siege of Masada, where the Judean Zealots killed each other rather than surrender. When the Romans finally stormed the fortress, they found every single person dead, including many of them who hadn't wanted to die, including the women and children.
    • There were seven survivors, all women and children, who had managed to hide. The Romans pardoned them.
    • Masada is also a pilgrimage place for the Israeli soldiers, and their oath states "Masada will not fall again".
    • Sadly, not as heroic as they may seem. As they killed each other rather than themselves, it's very likely that the women and children didn't have a choice in the matter.
  • Remember the Alamo!
    • The Chapultepec Battle: Although the Mexican history likes to boast up the Niños Héroes, many still don't remember the Batallón de San Blas. Of the 300 men defending Chapultepec, only a few survived the battle.
  • In the months following the end of the Civil War, the US government resumed its focus on westward expansion, ordering the Army to establish forts along the Bozeman Trail. Fearing encroachment, Sioux Chief Red Cloud formed a tenuous alliance with the Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne to resist this move, kicking off Red Cloud's War. On December 21st, 1866 a large war party led by Oglala war chief Man Afraid of His Horses (who was actually a serious badass) and his young protege Crazy Horse attacked a woodcutting party to draw out the defenders of Fort Phil Kearny. Captain William Fetterman took the bait and led 81 cavalry and mounted infantry (most of whom were brand-new recruits with only the most rudimentary training; some hadn’t even fired their weapons yet) to respond. One of the only experienced Soldiers was Private Adolf Metzger, a German immigrant and Civil War combat veteran who was assigned as bugler. A notorious Glory Hound, Fetterman ignored orders not to cross Lodge Trail Ridge and led his force out of range of the fort’s artillery, and straight into an ambush by over 1,000 warriors. The Curb-Stomp Battle was over in less than twenty minutes, and a patrol from the fort that evening found all 81 men dead (in exchange for about a dozen Indian casualties). 80 of them had been stripped naked, scalped, gruesomely mutilated, and left face-down, but Adolf Metzger’s body was untouched apart from the wounds that killed killed him, and was not only still in his uniform, but left face-up and covered in a buffalo skin, with his bent and blood-covered bugle placed on his chest. According to Lakota accounts of the battle, the untrained US soldiers quickly panicked and lost all unit cohesion. Fetterman failed to direct his men to any effect, and is said by some to have killed himself. Metzger tried in vain to rally the new recruits into something resembling a cohesive defense, but was soon the last white man left alive. He fired his pistol until it ran dry, and then fought several warriors in close combat, swinging his bugle as a bludgeon, killing at least one of his attackers with it before being fatally wounded himself. Man Afraid of His Horses witnessed Metzger's bravery and ordered that he be honored in death, exempting his body from mutilation and, according to Lakota custom, sending him to the afterlife as a hero. When the Oglala warriors celebrated their victory the following night, Crazy Horse himself sang a death song in honor of Private Metzger.
  • The famous quote from Napoleon's Imperial Guard ("the Old Guard dies but does not surrender") at their last stand at the Battle of Waterloo. However, the quote is a complete fabrication - the quote actually given was "Merde!" - and the survivors surrendered anyway.
    • More like they did not surrender as a body, but not long afterwards joined the general rout and were captured individually. What was said, is a matter of dispute. Count Cambronne, who is supposed to have uttered both versions, steadfastly denied he said the first one, which is hardly surprising given that he did not die but did surrender to colonel Hew Halkett of the 3rd Hanoverian (militia) brigade. But he did not confirm or deny the one-word alternative either.
  • When defending a breach in the colony against ant invasion, a phalanx-like formation of termites will thrust themselves into the breach to buy workers time to rebuild the wall. However, the wall is sealed up behind them, allowing no return, and the defenders are invariably annihilated.
  • A semi-aversion: the battle of Rorke's drift, where 150 British note  soldiers held off a force of 4,000 Zulus through proper use of fortifications and sheer tenacity. The soldiers inflicted enough casualties on the Zulu warriors to convince them that taking the outpost was unnecessarily costly, and most of the defenders escaped with their lives.
    • Speaking of the Anglo-Zulu War, a Zulu account from the British defeat at Isandlwana tells the story of a big Irish soldier of the 24th who alone stood guard over Lord Chelmsford's tent and Union flag. He kept them back with his bayonet until he was finally overwhelmed by several Zulu warriors.
    • France has its own last stand from the Zulu War, in the form of Louis-Napoléon, only son and heir to then-Emperor Napoleon III. Louis-Napoléon, eager for action, tagged along with the British army and was ambushed while out on patrol by some 40 Zulus. After his horse ran off (trampling his right arm in the process), Louis-Napoléon was cornered and went down fighting with first his pistol, and then with a spear he pulled from his own leg.
  • The Samson Option is a speculated response should Israel fall. It basically consists of firing every single nuke (well... if they have any) at their attackers in a last ditch effort to turn the tides, or at the very least take some (or most) down with them. Let us hope we never find out.
  • "My center is giving way, my right is retreating; situation excellent. I am attacking." - Ferdinand Foch, World War I
  • The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. About 70,000 Jews, after being starved for years, with homemade weapons and a few stolen guns took on the Germans. The German commander Jürgen Stroop reported:
    "When we invaded the Ghetto for the first time, the Jews and the Polish bandits succeeded in repelling the participating units, including tanks and armored cars..."
    • The Germans finally resorted to burning down the ghetto.
      "We were beaten by the flames, not the Germans." — Resistance leader Marek Edelman
      • The Jews held out in the Ghetto for 27 days.
  • Not to mention the later Warsaw Uprising. Even handicapped by bad planning, bad intel and severe weapons shortages, the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) of occupied Poland held off the Waffen-SS for 63 days...and forced the Germans to treat them as POWs, not "bandits" according to the Geneva Conventions. As they marched out to surrender, many Germans saluted.
    • Although, they never intended to hold out indefinitely. They expected the Red Army (which was approaching at a blistering pace) to relieve them, but apparently didn't understand that the Red Army's latest offensive had neither planned to nor was capable of maintaining a bridgehead over the Vistula so close to Warsaw, a then-improvised but strongly-held lynchpin of the Germans' defensive line there. The Poles had already rebelled when the mobile force closest to Warsaw (as little as 10km, apparently) had to halt for fear of a German counter-attack while they were still nearly out of ammunition and fuel and their men were fainting with hunger and exhaustion. While it Red Army might have executed an improvised offensive within the 60 days of uprising and taken Warsaw in the face of fierce German resistance and counter-attacks, they wouldn't have had the numbers or ammunition for it to be anything but an act of suicide.note  Thus, the uprising of Armia Krajowa, although valorous, achieved much, ''much'' less than it potentially could.
      • The Soviets were over 10 kilometers from the city center. The Germans who were on the frontlines had been soldiers from the Eastern Front, and been given a hammering the whole time they were retreating. Even if the Red Army couldn't send troops in, they could have at least been more giving in sending the resistance air support and supplies. However, Stalin was not interested in Poland having it's old government back at all. The fact he directly ordered the Red Army to halt before Warsaw after being informed of the plans for the Uprising tells you exactly what he wanted in the long run. Declassified Soviet documents actually show Stalin ordered the Red Army to prevent outside help from getting to the Uprising.
  • Then there's the Battle of Wizna. Outnumbered over 58:1, with no tanks or air support, in only half-completed fortifications and horribly outgunned, the Polish commander "swore that he would not leave his post alive". And the Polish forces proceeded to inflict remarkably severe casualties upon the Nazis - before, of course, ultimately being annihilated.
    • Sabaton wrote a song about the battle. Though the song seems to imply the Polish Soldiers survived.
      • According to The Other Wiki, the last surviving 40 of the 720 Polish soldiers surrendered after being directly ordered by their commanding officer to do so. The commander chose to kill himself rather than surrender his position.
    • The Polish held the Germans for three days, September 7-10. Yes, outnumbered that much, they brought Blitzkrieg to a halt for nearly half a week. And they would have held longer, finally surrendering their last bunkers only when they ran out of ammunition.
  • The Battle of Camerone in which 65 officers and men of the French Foreign Legion held off a Mexican force of approximately 2,000 for ten hours. When first asked to surrender, Capitaine Jean Danjou replied simply with, "We have munitions. We will not surrender." The battle ended with a five-man, zero-ammo bayonet charge against the mexicans, after which the last two men on their feet were finally persuaded to surrender on terms. The nineteen surviving legionaires had their wounds tended and were repatriated along with their arms and the bodies of their fallen comrades. Camerone is commemorated annually by the Foreign Legion to this day.
    "The Legion Dies, it does not Surrender!" — Battle cry of Capitaine Jean Danjou, commander of the Legionnaires.
    • As a consequence of this, to this day, whenever a Mexican soldier/officer encounters a Legionnaire, the Mexican will always salute first, no matter what their ranks are.
  • Battle of the Bulge, early days of the battle. As related by Hugh M. Cole in "The Ardennes: The Battle of the Bulge": "A small group of [American] stragglers suddenly become tired of what seems to be eternally retreating. Miles back they ceased to be part of an organized combat formation, and recorded history, at that point, lost them. The sound of firing is heard for fifteen minutes, an hour, coming from a patch of woods, a tiny village, the opposite side of a hill. The enemy has been delayed; the enemy resumes the march westward. Weeks later a graves registration team uncovers mute evidence of a last-ditch stand at woods, village, or hill."
    • For that matter, the defense of Bastogne absolutely should have been one of these for the 101st Airborne Division. Utterly surrounded, so low on ammunition Hollywood producers would laugh at it, sitting in the dead of winter, everyone on both sides considered them as good as dead. General Luttwitz of the German army was so impressed with their tenacity his party offered them (supposedly, and relatively) reasonable terms for surrender, prompting one of the most famous replies in history: "Nuts!" History records that their desperate last stand was averted by Patton's army leading a Big Damn Heroes moment to rescue them. The surviving member of the 101st, to this day, deny that they were in any need of rescue.
      • One WW2 history I read said that troops of General Luttwitz had even less ammo than the 101st so not needing rescues might be true.
    • From the German side, the Battle of the Bulge is partially seen as a last stand. For one of their last offensives of the war (with Operation Nordwind in Alsace, Konrad in Budapest, and Spring Awakening at Balaton), Hitler had organized all the panzer forces not needed in Hungary to attack the weakest point of the Western Allies, in the hopes that doing so would cause them to negotiate peace terms. The wider logic was shakier, assuming that the Germans would still be able to hold the Soviets off afterwards despite being outnumbered by 4:1 and outgunned by 10:1. Hitler's very last stand ever would take place against the 1st Belorussian Front and 2nd Ukrainian Front in Berlin.
  • Ireland has had a few of these. While taking part in a UN Peacekeeping mission in Congo during the 1960's, an army of Katangese separatists attacked the UN position at Jadotville. The Irish force of about 150 were armed with nothing heavier than personal weapons and some WWI-era machine guns. The attackers had 4,000+ troops, mortars, a field gun, and a frakking jet. The Irish held them off for 5 days, when they finally ran out of bullets and food. Note this transmission the Irish troops made to headquarters:
    "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey."
  • Spartacus' Slave revolt culminated in a Last Stand of epic proportions as Spartacus and his 100,000 slaves faced Crassus and his army. Spartacus and his army had marched from Capua, in the south west, to the Alps in Northern Italy - and then all the way back to the southmost part of Italy, where they were trapped when boats taking them to Sicily failed to arrive. Crassus built a 30 mile wall to cut them off and they still got through it before being defeated. Crassus then decided to crucify 6,000 surviving slaves along Rome's main highway.
  • The Brest Fortress. On June 22, 1941, Brest Fortress was one of the first Soviet defenses to be attacked by German troops. Surrounded, a few defenders continued fighting for more than a month, facing overwhelming German troops and heavy artillery. The last defender of the Brest Fortress, Major Pyotr Gavrilov was taken prisoner on July 23, unable to fight any longer due to starvation and exhaustion. Apocryphal stories extend the resistance well into August and claim it only ended when Germans were forced to flood the fort's basements using the local river in view of an impending visit by Hitler and Mussolini to the city.
  • The nine month defense of the 'Hero City' of Sevastopol and the fortress which overlooked the city. Besieged from the aftermath of the September 1941 Kiev Offensive until it fell in June 1942, more than 100,000 men died and 200,000 were wounded in its defense. The Soviets used secret underwater submarine pens built into the hill overlooking the city to supply, equip, and reinforce the defenders and evacuate the wounded. After several unsuccessful assaults the Germans under General Erich von Manstein had to use four Super Heavy Railway Guns (based on the main guns of Battleships), several batteries of Heavy Artillery, flamethrowers, and poison gas to take the fortress.
  • Sergeant Yakov Pavlov and his platoon, trapped behind enemy lines in a half-collapsed apartment building in Stalingrad, constantly beating the crap out of attacking German troops for 59 days. Badass...
  • The entire 62nd Army, which defended Stalingrad itself while other forces attacked the Germans' flanks, could be considered this. The fate of Soviet prisoners in German hands (death through starvation or hard labor) and the fact that they could not retreat because the Volgar river was behind them, apparently made it a little easier for them to be brave. The 62nd Army lost 100,000 men dead and the same again in wounded.
  • The Battle of Berlin was this for Those Wacky Nazis. The Soviets blew the absolute shit out of the city, making the most of their total superiority in artillery and airpower. The last bastions of the Third Reich held out for a while, but were ultimately fighting a battle every sane man among them knew they weren't going to win. As it drew to a close Adolf Hitler decided that it was Better to Die than Be Killed, and shot himself in the head when even he realized there was no way out.
  • The Battle of Sadarapat, a turning point in the Armenian-Turkish War of 1918 in which the bigger and stronger Turkish army was bitterly defeated. It was said by historian Christopher J. Walker that had the Armenians not won the Battle of Sardarapat (which won Armenia's independence for a brief period), the word 'Armenia' might today only be an antique geographical term.
  • Despite giving up in the end, Dien Bien Phu rightly belongs here. The casualties suffered and inflicted by the core battalions in this "Hell in a Very Small Place" before finally surrendering were appalling. Some of the Para and Legion battalions were down to 25- 40 walking wounded, and no unharmed, at the end from their supposed strength of 600-ish. Yet even on the last day they would counterattack enemy full-strength battalions when they lost a position, and succeed! CMoA from the most Badass Army of its time (the French Paras). You could add Stalingrad as well, both the German attack on it and the Cauldron itself.
  • The fall of Constantinople in AD 1453 marked the end of the Roman Empire, which had been by far the most ancient country in the Western world, 2,206 years old. The last emperor, Constantine XI, chose to go out with a fight, rather than have the empire dismantled by submitting to the Ottoman sultan. With the Roman army barely being a city garrison by this point, he managed to get 7,000 defenders inside the city, both Greek and foreign. The night before the final battle, native Orthodox and foreign Catholic defenders held a joint service in the Hagia Sophia. The emperor's final address to his troops was as fitting as one could be for such an occasion, thanking them for their service and and calling them "worthy heirs of the heroes of Ancient Greece and Rome." During the final assault, when the Ottomans finally breached the defenses, the emperor said, "The city is fallen, yet I am alive," and led his remaining troops in one last charge. His body was never found, and he became the Greek people's King in the Mountain.
    • His final words have alternately been recorded as, God forbid I should live, an Emperor without an Empire! As my city falls, I fall with it! He then tore the imperial insignia from his armor and, together with a handful of friends, charged into a mass of Janissaries. This was the death of the last Emperor of Rome. Somewhere Romulus is smiling.
    • 1,000 of the surviving Greek soldiers charging the mass of 120,000 Ottoman soldiers swarming over the walls in an effort to allow the rest of their comrades to escape. Courage doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • A Last Stand is one of the few actions that would make a soldier eligible for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Naturally, the vast majority of these medals are awarded posthumously. Possibly the greatest example would be Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart in the Battle of Mogadishu. Both men volunteered to go down to a crashed Blackhawk and attempt to protect the surviving crew from hundreds of hostile militants. They were both overrun and killed by the attacking militants, but took at least 24 men with them. Michael Durant, the pilot of the Blackhawk, survived.
  • Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were tasked with defending the Union flank at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Chamberlain held his position, despite repeated attacks by the Confederates, mounting casualties, and low ammo, because retreat would mean the collapse of the entire Union line. It was only after running out of ammo that he ordered a full bayonet charge as a desperation move, which was so bold and unexpected that the Confederates were forced to retreat.
  • The 21 Sikhs at the Battle of Saragarhi. Twenty-one Sikh soldiers defending a small but vital outpost on the Indian border were faced with twenty thousand Pashtun tribesmen armed with rifles and heavy cannons, and all of them volunteered to stay. They staved off the enemy army for most of a day before being overwhelmed, killing an estimate of eight hundred enemy troops and warning the British army of the attack, giving them time to prepare a defense and counterattack. When the British Parliament heard of the battle, it resulted in a standing ovation, and September 12 is now considered an official holiday in India.
    • The battle itself also had a last stand within a last stand: the Sikh signalman, the last soldier still standing, defended the signal shed with his bayonet, singlehandedly killing eighteen enemy soldiers. The tribesmen could only kill him by setting the entire signal shed ablaze, since no one was willing to go in and fight him.
  • The Battle of Shiroyama
  • Richard Grenville sailed his one ship against a whole Spanish fleet, as narrated in Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet," and inflicted incredibly disproportionate damage before finally being forced to surrender by his crew...after he'd been mortally wounded. The Spaniards were so awed that they promised to release the English sailors who survived.
  • The Battle of Vukovar featured a force of around 2,200 Croatian infantry (with next to no armor, air support or artillery) fighting against a much larger Serbian force that had significant armor and air support. Despite being horribly outmatched and surrounded, the Croats held out for 87 days and inflicted heavy casualties on their enemies in brutal street-to-street fighting.
  • Zig-zagged in the Battle of Churubusco. Despite orders from President Santanna to not give the US troops any resistance, treason from the aformentioned President, and facing more than double his number in US troops, General Anaya managed to hold them off, even causing two retreats. Ultimately, he was forced to surrender, but when told to hand over any remaining ammunition, he delivered the following epic line:
    "If I had ammunition, you wouldn't be here."
  • The Battle of Stamford Bridge, Harold Godwinson's 1066 battle against Harald Hardrada, had one of these, as the Norwegian forces retreated across the eponymous bridge in order to regroup and prepare for battle after a devastating English attack. As they retreated across the bridge, a lone viking volunteered to stay behind and hold off the English. He took down around forty men on his own, before a Saxon soldier got the better of him by floating under the bridge and hitting him from below with a spear.
  • Edward Teach, A.K.A Blackbeard and his crew made their (unexpected, since they were about to retire) last stand against Lieutenant Robert Maynard, who laid an ambush on his crew. Before the battle began, Blackbeard reportedly said "Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.". A fierce battle ensued between the two crews, Blackbeard proceeded to slaughter the greatest number of people he could, and managed to survive five shots and twenty stabs. Ultimately, Blackbeard and Maynard ended up locked in a fierce duel amidst the battle, when Blackbeard was about to kill Maynard once and for all, a British sailor attacked him from behind, sliced his neck and chopped off his head, finally killing Blackbeard. The rest of his crew put up a fight even after the fact, but were outnumbered by the Sailors and ultimately surrendered.
  • The siege of Misrata in the Libyan Civil War. After the chaos of the early war solidified into Gaddafi holding western Libya and the rebels holding eastern Libya, Misrata was one of a few rebel-held settlements in western Libya. Gaddafi's forces laid siege to the town, and given how far it was from the rebel lines, most assumed it would eventually fall. However, despite Gaddafi having things like tanks and heavy weapons, the people of Misrata held on, becoming a town of Action Survivors, until the siege was finally lifted. Afterwards, the Misratan militias served with distinction for the remainder of the war.
  • Musashibo Benkei deserves special mention, despite being listed in the first Cracked article, as he Died Standing Up while enforcing this. After fighting to buy time for his lord to commit Seppuku, none of the enemy wanted to test his wrath, believing him to be a demon from hell, as he'd killed 300 soldiers that had tried to cross. It was only after a long while that they realized he had died, due to their fear to approach. Medically speaking, it's believed that the lactic acid his muscles produced from the fighting caused a sudden onset of rigor mortis, causing his body to "lock up" while still standing and holding his halberd. He has a small shrine today where this happened.
  • Harry Tracy had his in the middle of a field in Creston Washington.
  • The Shangani Patrol during the First Matabele War. British Major Allan Wilson let a group of 37 hastily assembled scouts, including two Americans (the well known American adventurer Frederick Burnham was one of them) and an Australian. The small group came upon 3,000 strong Matabele warriors. Going into badass mode, the 37 men killed several hundred warriors before running low on ammo, Major Wilson ordered Burnham to break out with two other troopers and bring back help. Burnham and the two others broke through the lines but reinforcements did not arrive in time as Wilson fought to his very last bullet, at which point, the few remaining British stood, sang "God Save the Queen", and shook hands with one another preparing for death. Wilson and his second in command Henry Borrow were the last killed.
  • Two Finnish words: Kollaa kestää. (Kollaa will hold). It did.
  • An example that got included in Call Of Duty 3, the Polish defense of Hill 262, Mont Ormel. A combination of You Shall Not Pass! and Last Stand. In the final three days of the WW2 event known as the Falaise Pocket, the Polish armored divisions pushed to take a section of the mountain that would allow them to rain fire down on escaping German troops. As the United States took Chambois, this left Hill 262 as one of the few pathways to escape the pocket. 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. The quote below is from their CO, Lt. Col. Stefanowicz, as he broke the news to his remaining.
    Gentlemen, all is lost. I do not think that the Canadians can come to our rescue. We have only about 110 able-bodied men [of 3500 in the division] 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 Battle Off Samar, a part of the massive naval Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. The Japanese battle plan for Leyte Gulf was to send its carrier forces north, to draw the US Navy's battle fleet northward and expose the Leyte landings to annihilation by the still-powerful Japanese battleship fleet. This actually worked - Admiral Halsey, in charge of the extremely powerful US Third Fleet and believing the surface battle was essentially over, took all his forces northward while failing to notify anyone at Leyte that he was no longer defending nor even monitoring their northern flank. Admiral Kurita slipped through the San Bernadino Straight with the the Imperial Japanese Navy's Center Force, consisting of the superbattleship Yamato, three additional battleships, six heavy and two light cruisers, plus eleven destroyers. With Third Fleet hundreds of miles away on Halsey's snipe hunt, Kurita's force was poised to steam directly for the Leyte landings and unleash an unsurvivable naval barrage agains the defenseless beacheads and the tens of thousands of Marines and sailors occupying them.
    • Before this could happen, Center Force came across Task Force 77.4.3 ("Taffy 3"), a group of 6 escort carriers defended by 3 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts. This was a portion of Task Force 77.4, in total 18 escort carriers and defending destroyers. These units were equipped for land bombing and close air support as well as defense against submarines, patrol boats, and other small vessels - none of the Taffy 3 carriers had any anti-ship weaponry such as armor-piercing bombs or torpedoes.
    • Not knowing Halsey left the San Bernadino Straight open, Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague, in charge of Taffy 3, had no warning prior to seeing the unstoppable Center Force in gun range. With nowhere to run (only his destroyers were fast enough to flee Japanese battleships), and heavy US units at least hours away, Admiral Clifton Sprague had only one thing to say: "Small boys attack." Utilizing the cold equations, the more precious escort carriers (in both men and material) were withdrawn under cover of smoke. Meanwhile, a handful of destroyers and destroyer-escorts took the initiative to engage the guns of the Japanese battle line, with no hope beyond drawing lethal Japanese gunfire away from their defenseless escort carriers.
    • Stunningly, this worked. A fair portion of this can be ascribed to Japanese incompetence, likely magnified by Admiral Kurita's sleep-deprived state (he was going on three days straight without sleep). Kurita's forces incorrectly identified Taffy 3 as 3 full-sized fleet carriers, 3 cruisers, and 3 destroyers (the relative sizes of these ships being comprable to escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts). This caused him to make a series of errors:
      • For reasons unfathomable, instead of organizing a battle line and destroying every ship of Taffy 3 in a matter of minutes, he ordered "general attack" so that each of his ships could fire and maneuver individually rather than contribute to an organized attack plan.
      • Thinking he was engaging armored ships, he ordered armor-piercing shells, which do not detonate when passing through unarmored ships. Many shell hits against Taffy 3 did minimal damage.
      • Thinking he was engaging much larger ships, his gunlayers had a terrible time determining range (they weren't big ships far away, they were small ships much closer)
      • Thinking he was engaging 6 fleet carriers, he believed he was facing Halsey's all-powerful Third Fleet, which meant the attempt to draw this heavy force northward failed, and it was Kurita who was in a trap and not the other way around. As such, he profoundly overestimated the risk of these (brave but ill-equipped) second-line air attacks.
    • Regardless of the above advantages (which the Americans could not have known at the time) Taffy 3 effectively found itself embroiled in naval gunfight where its only hope was to dodge battleship and cruiser guns while taking potshots with 5-inch shells and desperately manuvering into torpedo range.
    • The ferocity and bravery of the US destroyers and destroyer-escorts frightened the Japanese gunlayers to the point their fire control broke down; destroyers and destroyer-escorts successfully manuvered into knife-fighting range and tore apart the Japanese cruisers with well-laid 5-inch guns and torpedoes.
    • The end result? One of the most lopsided battles in history, and a crushing defeat. Of the Japanese. For the loss of two destroyers, a destroyer escort, and two escort carriers, the Americans sunk three of the heavy cruisers and severely damaged three more, and drove off the largest battleship in history. Taffy 3's defense of the landing beaches was so tenacious and ferocious that Kurita, commander of the Japanese task group, thought he was tangling with the entire Seventh Fleet and withdrew. Taffy 3's desperate assault against Yamato and her consorts has since been immortalized as The Last Stand Of The Tin Can Sailorsnote , earning Commander Ernst Evans, captain of Johnston, a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor, while Samuel B. Roberts would be remembered as "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship." So courageous was their defense that survivors of one of the three destroyers sunk by the Japanese(Johnston, Samuel B. Roberts, and Hoel) would later report that, as they were abandoning ship, they were passed by a Japanese destroyer whose crew manned the rails armed with rifles, at which point the survivors feared they would be shot. But then one of the officers saluted, and the enlisted crew came to attention and presented arms to honor the Americans. note 
    "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can," Lt. Cmdr. Robert W. Copeland, commanding officer USS Samuel B. Roberts
  • The seige of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Nazi-occupied Prague. The church was the hiding place of Jan Kubiš, Jozef Gabčík, and a handful of other Czechoslovak resistance fighters who had participated in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (who was the highest ranking Nazi official ever assassinated). The Nazis, enraged, sent a unit of 750 soldiers to the church. Armed with no more than small handguns, the resistance group held off the soldiers' attempts to storm the church for more than two hours, despite the Nazis being armed with machine guns, grenades, and tear gas (there was also an attempt to flood the church which the resistance fighters thwarted). When the Nazis finally broke through, all of the resistance fighters either went down shooting or committed suicide rather than be captured.
  • The battle of Raseiniai in World War 2 was an utter catastrophe for the Soviet Union—it lost the vast majority of its 750 tanks, while German losses were fairly light. However, when dawn rose on June 24th, 1941, a lone KV-2 heavy tank was seen parked in front of the crossroads in front of the city of Raseiniai...where it proceeded to hold off the entire 6th Panzer Division by itself for an entire day. The KV-2 No Selled German fire for hours, destroyed a half-dozen anti-tank guns, burned supply convoys, and sent Pz35s scuttling for cover. The Germans didn't actually kill the tank directly; the KV-2 inevitably ran out of ammunition for its 152mm howitzer and took hits that put holes on its armor without damaging components or injuring the crew. The tank itself simply could not be destroyed with the materiel the Germans could throw at it—the only way that the Germans managed to knock it out was throwing a grenade through one of the previously made holes into the crew compartment. The Germans so admired the incredible tenacity of the KV-2's unknown crew that they respectfully buried the fallen Soviet tank crew rather than abandoning their bodies in the tank.
  • The battle of Hill 3234 during the Soviet-Afghan War.
  • During the 1527 Sack of Rome, the Swiss Guards, who numbered only one hundred and eighty-nine, stood up to an invading force of more than twenty thousand mutineering mercenaries from Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, fighting on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. Their final stand allowed the Pope to escape to the Castel Sant'Angelo, and once the occupation of Rome ended, the Swiss Guards were reconstituted and remained the Holy See's guards into the modern day. This event is considered so central to the ethos of the Guard that all new recruits to the Guard are sworn in on the anniversary of this event, May 6.
  • The defense of the Arnhem bridge by the 2nd Battalion/The Parachute Regiment, divisional engineers and a scattering of other British paratroops in 1944. They held out twice as long as the entire division was planned to hold out without relief. The survivors did not surrender until they had run out of food, ammunition and medical supplies, and were mostly wounded. The Germans still were unable to use the bridge until they cleared it of the many (German) vehicles the paras had destroyed during the battle. One of the last radio messages sent from the bridge, according to a German officer who intercepted it, was: "Out of ammunition. God save the King."
  • During the Siege of Osaka in the last times of Sengoku Period, Japanese soldier Sanada Yukimura noticed that his side, the Toyotomi, was losing. He conceded that the war was lost... and the last thing he would do was to take his trusted 10 men, and then charge like a madman towards the enemy camp, aiming to take the head of Tokugawa Ieyasu. With just his trusted men, Sanada broke through the Tokugawa defense line, taking as many men as he could until he nearly was able to lop off Ieyasu's head, but at that point, fatigue caught up to him and he succumbed to his injuries, or some of Tokugawa's men struck back before he could take another step. Either way, Yukimura died, but not after he made one hell of a Last Stand that Tokugawa praised his burning warrior spirit, dubbing him 'Japan's #1 Soldier'.
  • The reason why Bonnie and Clyde were machine-gunned to pieces in an ambush by several policemen was because they explicitly wanted to defy this trope — the cops knew that they Outlaw Couple was The Dreaded for a good reason, because it would fight to the last (and surely expected to go out like that), and was very heavily armed. They didn't wanted to give them the satisfaction.
  • The last battle of the Wehrmacht's 9th and 12th armies during the fall of Germany. Well aware of what the fate would probably be for civilians stranded in Russian territory rather than American territory, the surviving soldiers of these two forces formed a literal corridor and fought to the last man to evacuate as many civilians to American lines as they could. They ended up saving some 250,000 people. Immortalized by Sabaton's song Heart's of Iron, particularly the line in German: It's not a battle, it is a rescue mission.
  • Italian forces had two during World War I in the aftermath of the annihilation of the Second Army at Caporetto and the consequent retreat of the Italian armies:
    • During the retreat, the Duke of Aosta, commander of the Third Army, had an infantry brigade and a cavalry one hold a rearguard action against pursuing Austro-Hungarian and German forces totaling three divisions. They were almost wiped out, but held long enough to allow the Third Army to retreat.
    • After Caporetto it was pretty much expected that the Austro-Hungarian forces, temporarily supported by the Germans, would overrun the Veneto region, and the Fourth Army was deployed on the Grappa Massif and the Piave river with orders to resist to the last so to allow the retreat of the remaining forces to the Mincio river, where British and French reinforcements were being deployed. In the First Battle of the Piave, the Fourth Army, supported by the remnants of the Second Army and the spontaneous decision of the soldiers from the other armies to fight on that river, held until the enemy forces had to stop to regroup and resupply, at which point the decimated German Alpenkorps was redeployed to France.
    • The Third Battle of the Piave, also known as Battle of Vittorio Veneto from the site of the decisive breakthrough, was the last stand of the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire, as they offered a formidable resistance even as the nation they were fighting for collapsed under the weight of the battle.
  • During the Fort Vaux siege of World War I, German army outnumbered the French defenders by more than 8 to 1. Yet the French army managed to hold out by attacking the German invaders from inside the fort's underground tunnels and managed to inflict a 50% casualty rate on the Germans. Although the French were forced to surrender due to dwindling supplies, their defense became a landmark moment on the western front with the Crown Prince Wilhelm, commander of the German forces, presenting a French officer's sword to the captured Major Raynal as a sign of respect.
  • The german assault on Osowiec Fortress, aka the Attack of the Dead Men, where Paul von Hindenburg initially gave the order to bombard the fortress with poison gas rather than assault it outright. The 7000 german troops did not expect any resistance when they subsequently moved in to take the fortress, but suddenly found themselves meeting a counter charge consisting of the surviving defenders (a 100 or so in total) who had wrapped themselves in clothes in order to act like homemade gas masks and with visible chemical burns and rooting flesh from the chlorine/bromine gases. The sight of these "zombies" made the unprepared germans panic and many ended up shoot dead as they pulled a uncoordinated and hasty retreat. The Russians managed to hold on to the fortress for another 12 days before they had to withdraw or risk being encircled.
  • During the Third Punic War, the Carthaginian people knew that it was all over for them...Rome had backed them into a corner and forced them to war with impossible demands. Their response? An all-out defense of their city, holding the Romans at bay for three years, and when the Romans finally battered their way in, fighting house-to-house and selling their lives and city as dear as they could. Rome won the war, but paid a very high price, and Scipio, the Roman general in command, was seen to weep over the destruction.
  • The Aztecs may have been bloodthirsty conquerors, but nobody ever called them cowards. Even with their empire mostly revolted against them, racked with diseases they couldn't fight, and up against vastly superior technology, they fought like maniacs to defend their capital of Tenochtitlan. Hugh Thomas said: "For a time, (Cortes) and his friends seem to have been looked upon by some Mexica at least as being reincarnations of deities. But in the end, to be honest, it had been the Mexica who fought like gods."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Eternal Churchill


Say Hello to My Little Friend!

Tony Montana makes his drug-fueled last stand against Alejandro Sosa's army of hitmen.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / LastStand

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Main / LastStand