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Last Villain Stand

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"You wanna play, huh? Okay, wanna fuck with me?! Okay. You little cockroaches... come on. You wanna play games? Okay, I play with you; come on. Okay. You wanna play rough?! Okay! Say hello to my little friend!"
Tony Montana, Scarface (1983)

A Last Villain Stand is where the villain has lost his army (if he had one), his plan has been ruined, and he decides to fight the heroes on his own. Usually, he uses Applied Phlebotinum or a Plot Coupon to take on a One-Winged Angel form (or at least grow to giant size) and becomes more powerful than ever before.


Usually, this is a desperate play by the villain when he has nothing left to lose, has gone through a Villainous Breakdown, and all that he's driven by now is a mad thirst for revenge for the heroes thwarting his plans to rule the world, the universe, or whatever he was after. He may take things to such an extreme that he doesn't care what happens to him as long as he destroys the good guys. Also, he may be deluding himself with the thought that it's not all over and that he will win somehow and may even tell it to his enemies, even when it's impossible to see how the tide can turn now. It usually ends with the villain being destroyed and the heroes coming out alive.

There are some cases where this trope is inverted when the villain is a One-Man Army, his one man stand is not so desperate and he's still able to carry out his diabolical plans on his own. If this is the case, the villain is usually defeated when a miracle happens and the heroes gain the power needed to defeat him. This requires a certain amount of Villainous Valor, and if played correctly, it may shift the audience's sympathy a bit more toward him.


Unlike a Last Breath Bullet, the villain is still very much alive. However, this can still lead to Taking You with Me. Compare with Last Stand, where it's the heroes who are the ones making the desperate play. May be a form of Villainous Valour if the villain could easily escape but instead chooses to be noble and fight to the last. Contrast with Villain: Exit, Stage Left, where the villain flees instead of staying to fight to the end.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Just about every villain in Digimon Adventure has one of these. In fact, the dub version of the episode where Piedmon, the literal Monster Clown, met his destruction was called "Piedmon's Last Jest". Of course, these examples could be considered inversions as they were able to successfully deal with the heroes only to be defeated when one of the members unlocked their digimon's newest evolution, thus giving them the strength to overpower the villains — in Piedmon's case, it was when Angemon was able to digivolve into his Ultimate form.
  • Frieza's last shot at Goku, in Dragon Ball Z, certainly counts. Frieza had lost all his minions, failed to obtain immortality, had been demonstrated as not being the strongest in the universe, had even been cut in half (by his own attack, no less), and was only alive because he begged his enemy to give him enough energy to survive his injuries. Instead of using that energy to try to escape Namek before it exploded, he tries to kill Goku one last time, only for Goku to blast that energy right back in his face.
    • He recovers, though, albeit only for a time-traveling Trunks to effortlessly blast him and his father to pieces.
  • Sugou, the Big Bad of the Alfheim arc in Sword Art Online, attempts one last chance to kill Kirito in the real world, after being defeated which causes him to suffer a complete breakdown and had lost everything he planned to achieve, he came close to winning, but Kirito gradually beat the crap out of him and left him nothing but a broken wreck.
  • Megatron at the end of Transformers Cybertron. After he loses the Omega Lock, his minions have deserted him, and his plan to reshape the universe to his own desire is foiled, he decides to go all out and ruin the Autobots' plan to save the Jungle Planet for no logical reason while challenging Optimus Prime to a final battle.
  • During the battle of Narita in Code Geass, Viceroy Cornelia is cornered by the Black Knights and opts to pull one of these rather than surrender and be taken prisoner, complete with appropriate last words. This is Subverted when Suzaku shows up in his Super Prototype just in time to pull a Villainous Rescue.
  • During his final battle against Ichigo in Bleach, Grimmjow is sliced twice in the torso and stabbed in the heart, but refuses to go down until he is sneak-attacked by Nnoitra.
  • Gundam has had more than a few of these:
    • The Mobile Suit Gundam episode "Big Zam's Last Stand" serves as one for Dozle Zabi and the titular Big Zam. With his forces defeated by the Federation, Dozle sorties in the Big Zam, a prototype mobile armour, buying his troops enough time to retreat before he is killed by Amuro Ray. In the process he kills about half the Federation fleet, and nearly takes the Gundam with him.
      • And then, after the Big Zam is crippled by the Gundam and about to explode, he walks out in space and shoots the Gundam with an assault rifle. Amuro sees his determination to fight to the end embodied by a demonic spirit, and not only nearly craps himself from the vision, but almost forgot to get the Gundam away from the imminent explosion.
    • The last five episodes of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam serve as one of these for Big Bad Paptimus Scirocco and the Titans. Outlawed by the Earth Federation, hunted by the AEUG, with their leadership in tatters and superweapons totalled, the Titans ally themselves with Haman Khan (the Big Bad of the next installment, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ) who is planning to use then discard them and throw themselves into one last battle with the pursuing AEUG. There is no question that, no matter the outcome of the battle, Scirocco and his followers are going down, whether at the hands of their enemies or their allies. The only question remaining is how many heroes are going down with them? Thanks to Yazan Gable, the answer is "most of them."
  • In Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin, for the final chapter, the Big Bad takes on a whole legion of dogs. The entire chapter is nothing but the Final Battle, and the guy does not go gentle.
  • One Piece does it relatively scarcely, since thwarting the Big Bad's plan typically has Luffy pummeling them enough to kill a normal person… ten or a hundred times over. However, there have been cases:
    • The first Big Bad that actually does it is Gekko Moria of the Seven Warlords of the Sea (Shichibukai in Japanese); Luffy and his crew have wrecked his base and have just defeated his most powerful monster, and he himself is rather the worse for wear. So, in order to avenge himself upon them, he assimilates the 1,000 shadows he has on the island into his own body, absorbing all of their power and growing into a giant monster. Even in spite of the reduction in speed it gives him, and the fact that it's hard for even him to control that many shadows, it's still an effective One-Winged Angel form considering that the Straw Hats were on the brink of exhaustion and he was just buying time for the sun to risenote .
    • It's scarce in canon thus far, but there's a non-canon example at the start of the Grand Line saga with Dragon-in-Chief Eric, user of the Kama Kama no Mi (Sickle-Sickle Fruit). He sought out Millennial Dragons in order to obtain dragonite, a substance made from their bones which created the elixir of immortality. When the Straw Hats find the dragons' nest, Eric is ready to reap his rewards, but Luffy ends his hopes by sending him flying as a Twinkle In The Sky. Later, as the pirates are climbing Reverse Mountain, Eric confronts them, having stowed away, and announces his intent to reap Luffy's bounty as compensation for what he had done. Subverted, however, in that before he can fight, Nami pulls a Look Behind You and then knocks him overboard.
    • Surprisingly, of all the antagonists, Donquixote Doflamingo has one of these in the Dressrosa arc. His toy slaves have been freed, he's been outed as the fiend he truly is to his subjects and lost his stranglehold on Dressrosa, all his executives have either been defeated or pulled a Heel–Face Turn, and he's been thoroughly trounced by Luffy's new Gear Fourth mode. As such, he decides to terminate everyone on the island by having his birdcage shrink around the island and destroy everything in its path while fighting Luffy for the last time. Fortunately, Luffy defeats him and in doing so, brings down the birdcage before it was too late.
  • Pretty much each and every time in the Pokémon when Team Rocket's plans are uncovered, they'll attempt a Pokemon battle. The large majority of these are culminate in a ten second Curbstomp Battle that sends them blasting off again, though even now and then they get in a Not-So-Harmless Villain offense....but still get sent blasting off again.
  • In the finale Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, after losing the godly power he had sought, an enraged Father decides to confront his enemies the Elrics in one final battle alongside every one of their allies. Of course, even without the power of Truth, he was still extremely powerful, and nearly won in his one-humoncolus stand.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: In Volume 19, Fugil is left with a damaged Bahamut copy and Ouroboros's main body is destroyed, cutting him off from his most powerful abilities. On top of that, Lux and the AI version of Arshalia tell him that his mission is impossible because Sacred Eclipse's inherently flawed design prevents it from being properly controlled. He still continues fighting Lux until he dies because he can't think of any other solution to balance the world and because he doesn't think Lux is qualified to be a hero.

    Comic Books 
  • The Anti-Monitor, multiple times during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. After his fortress and army get destroyed, he decides it's time to take on all the heroes by himself at the dawn of time. When this partially fails, he gets so angry that he essentially forgets his goal of multiversal conquest and concentrates solely on destroying Earth, slowly and painfully. And when that fails, and the heroes think him defeated, he clings to life through sheer force of will, multiple times, finally fighting a one-on-one duel in a weakened state with the original Superman.
    "SUPERMAN... I... WILL... NOT... DIE... UNTIL... YOU... DIE... WITH... ME..."
  • In the prologue of Crossgen's Sojourn, Evil Overlord Mordath's armies and even his entire fortress have all fallen before the hero Ayden and his alliance. Mordath rises up from the rubble wielding his battleaxe demanding that Ayden face him. At this point, he knows he has no chance of winning anymore. He just wants to meet the person responsible for his downfall face to face so he can have one good crack at him.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: When Wismerhill finally betrays Big Bad Evil Sorcerer Haazheel Thorn, the latter arrives in the royal palace with his elite guard to punish Wismerhill. When his forces are all killed by Wismerhill's, Haazheel snaps and transforms into a giant humanoid demon. He almost wins the battle singlehanded in this form, killing pretty much all of Wismerhill's allies before Wismerhill rips his heart out and destroys his former mentor for good.

    Fan Works 
  • Children of Time has Professor Moriarty making one final play at hurting the heroes and being restored to normal aging. He has the heroine Bound and Gagged and viciously breaks the Doctor by talking. It ends in three bullets: one from Moriarty to Beth's arm, one from Watson to Moriarty's body, and one from Moriarty to his own brain.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, during the Equestrian Civil War, Princess Luna, upon losing the bulk of her forces at the Battle of Canterlot and knowing the war was lost, pulls this tactic with her remaining forces in the Battle of the Everfree Fields; in order to take down as many of Celestia's ponies with her army as she can.
  • The Pony POV Series has this happen with General-Admiral Makarov/The Shadow of Chernobull, the Big Bad of the Shining Armor Arc. Over the course of that arc's Final Battle, all of Makarov's superweapons are destroyed, while his army starts being forced back by Equestria and its allies, all throwing his "script" off the rails. Finally, due to the interference of Shining Armor and his squad mates, he finds himself facing down the Blank Wolf, which seeks to erase him; this makes him break completely, and he ends up fighting like a cornered animal, desperate to stay alive. He loses.
    • The Changelings as a whole do this at the climax of the Wedding Arc. With their masquerade broken, most of their higher ups captured, and their brainwashed Slave Mooks/Equine Shields freed, they barricade themselves in Canterlot castle to face down the rebellion started by the Mane Six.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage does this at the end of Season 2: Ganondorf's armies are crushed by the allied pony forces at the Battle of the Crystal Empire, his power is sufficiently drained by his own personal battle with the Princesses, and by this point the Mane Six and their allies have regathered all of the stolen Elements of Harmony (except Magic, which he's kept on himself), defeating all his Boss-level monsters in the process. So, he flees back to occupied Canterlot in an attempt to regain his strength, only to be hunted down and confronted for the Final Battle.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: At the end of "The Apokolips Agenda", Darkseid's army has been routed, his universal domination ploy has been ruined, his fortress has been breached, and the heroes are closing in on him. So Darkseid decides to take all of them on. At once. And he almost succeeds.
  • Chasing Dragons: With his rebellion going down in flames, all the rest of the Iron Islands overrun by royalist forces and Pyke itself being besieged, Balon Greyjoy goes completely mad and orders that every man, woman, and child on the island fight to the death. And true to form, he goes down fiercely himself when royal forces breach his throne room.

    Films — Animated 
  • An interesting case in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker; after the Joker's Kill Sat control console is sabotaged, reprogrammed to destroy the lair where he and Terry (Batman II) were presently, he attempts a Villain: Exit, Stage Left. Terry, however, doesn't allow it, and locks the door out to force him into one of these.
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas has this with Maestro Forte, the court composer who was transformed into an Ominous Pipe Organ with the enchantress's spell. His passion was gloomy music, which brought the Beast comfort after the curse took effect, making him a confidant and close friend to his Master. And he owed it all to the curse. In an effort to keep it unbroken, he tries to sabotage Beast's relationship with Belle, and he almost succeeds. But when love eventually overcomes the Beast's bitterness, Forte goes into a Villainous Breakdown and literally pulls out all the stops, attempting to use the sound waves from his pipes to bring down the whole castle and kill Belle and Beast, stating, "They can't fall in love if they're DEAD!"
    Forte: So, Beast gets girl and it's a happy ending for everyone. Enchantment lifted, and Forte fades into the background. No longer important. No longer needed. I THINK NOT!
  • The Lion King (1994): Scar is outed as the one who killed Mufasa at the end of the film, and begs Simba for mercy; when Simba opts to banish him, Scar makes as if to leave... but then kicks burning embers into Simba's face and attacks him.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2 Lord Shen has his entire army destroyed, has killed his own Dragon, and lost everything. When Po finds him on the wreckage of his flagship in the middle of a Villainous Breakdown and offers him a Last-Second Chance, Shen rejects it and does the one thing he'd been running from the entire film, fight Po himself in a final showdown. But as Shen attacks, he accidentally slashes the ropes holding up his destroyed cannon, causing it to fall and crush him to death. Despite his initial shock, however, he simply closes his eyes and waits for it to drop.
  • In Mulan, Shan Yu does this twice: after losing most of his army, he and a small band of his most badass henchmen come very close to victory anyway, and are prevented only by the Emperor's refusal to bow to him and Mulan's quick thinking. Following this, he tries to pull a Taking You with Me, and again comes very close to succeeding.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Big Bad Ratigan is utterly and completely defeated and Out-Gambitted - every single one of his options closed off by the heroes. He then resorts to attacking Basil head-on, with the singular intent of killing him.
  • In the climax of A Bug's Life, after the ants chase off his grasshoppers, Hopper decides to get revenge on Flik by kidnapping him as a rainstorm is starting, leading to him being pursued by Princess Atta and the circus bugs. After Atta saves Flik, Hopper pursues them, ultimately cornering Flik, saying that he hasn't won as he'll recruit a new army of grasshoppers to get his revenge on the ants, but not before he kills Flik. However, Hopper realizes too late that Flik had led him to a bird's nest.
  • At the end of The Incredibles, after the Incredibles have defeated the Omnidroid, his plan to be the world's greatest hero is ruined, and he's lost all his resources, Syndrome decides to invade the Incredibles' home and kidnap Jack Jack. Two factors that foiled it were Jack Jack's superpowers manifesting and Syndrome's genre savviness not including the concept of a Cape Snag.
  • Occurs during the climax of Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie with Lasombra after being hit with a poison dart and falling over the cliff, he climbs back up, still infected with the poison, in a last effort to reclaim the Corazon. He then gets into a scuffle with Eduardo, which leads to the Corazon falling off of the cliff, much to his anger. Once it falls over, he makes one last attempt to take out the gang, before finally succumbing to the poison from the dart.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The finale of Sanjuro with the duel against tragic villain Muroto.
  • Khan quotes Captain Ahab at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • Street Fighter: "What happened to the purity of unarmed combat?"
  • Avatar: Colonel Miles Quaritch. After Eywa's intervention turns the tide against him, he escapes from his burning aircraft in his AMP Suit and goes straight for Jake's human body.
    Jake: Give it up, Quaritch! It's over.
    Quaritch: Nothing's over while I'm breathing!
  • Most James Bond villains:
    • Auric Goldfinger escaped the destruction of his base, he cornered Bond and Pussy Galore on a plane to the White House, holding them up with a literal golden gun, only to miss his target and shoot a window before being sucked out of the plane and falling to his death.
    • His Stealth Yacht was burning but Elliot Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies still had a backup plan. Unfortunately, after kicking Bond in the balls and holding him at gunpoint, he felt the need to explain this backup plan, giving Bond time to strike back and force him into the path of his own ship-sinking drill.
    Carver: You're too late again, Mister Bond. It's a bad habit of yours! There's nothing you can do. (…) The missile's fully programmed, it can't be stopped. In a matter of minutes, my plan will succeed; and thanks largely to your efforts, the British Navy will destroy the evidence. And I'll be out of here, in a Carver News helicopter, covering the event. (Bond, unknown to Carver, switches on the sea drill behind him) It's going to be a fantastic show!
    Bond: I may have some breaking news for you, Elliot. (punches and kicks Carver while he's distracted by the sea drill activating, and grabs him) You forgot the first rule of mass media, Elliot! (holds him up as it gets closer) GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! (lets go just seconds before the drill shreds Carver)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: Pepper manages to obtain evidence of Obadiah's villainy and get it to the authorities. Realizing he's screwed, Obadiah snaps and enters the Iron Monger suit in a desperate bid to kill everyone involved. Pepper outright says that he's gone insane.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: After Loki summons Surtur on Thor's orders, there is no way left for Hela to win. She still fights Surtur to the end.
  • In Man of Steel, Zod does this when his entire army is sealed in the Phantom Zone with his ship and all of his weapons. He even masters a full set of Kryptonian powers for the fight.
  • In the climax of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, the Shredder, defeated and humiliated for the second time, drinks the last vial of mutagen, mutating himself into what Donatello calls a "Super-Shredder", an ogre-sized monster blinded by rage. Determined to crush his foes even if he goes with them he tears the entire pier they're under apart until it collapses; fortunately, the Turtles are able to survive by leaping into the river, and while it looks like the Shredder might make it out too at the end, he does not.
  • At the end of Serenity, the Operative didn't really need to come after Mal on his own, even if his Alliance support had their hands full fighting the Reavers. And yet, after failing to blow Serenity out of the sky due to said Reavers' arrival, he insisted on following Mal through an obstacle course with his sword.
  • In The Wolverine, Shingen’s battle with Logan could be interpreted as this, as he has lost everything by that point, and he just throws himself into a battle he can't win.
  • Interestingly, The Lord of the Rings starts with one, when, in the backstory, Sauron steps forward to oppose the Alliance army, after his orcs have seemingly all been vanquished. As covered by the second variety of the trope, he's quite capable of opposing them.
  • In the climax of Ernest Scared Stupid, after Ernest and Kenny wipe out his entire troll army which he had spent the entire movie raising, Trantor calls upon all the dark spirits within the tree to take on a One-Winged Angel form (becoming strong enough to overcome his weakness to milk) for a final showdown with Ernest.
  • Reality Ensues when the Big Bad of Ernest Goes to Camp tries this. Sherman Krader's construction company has been defeated by Ernest and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and Krader is pissed. Rather than simply go to the police (as his lawyer Blatz urged him to do: he legally owned the land the camp was on) he grabs his rifle and opts for this instead. Also a case of Hoist by His Own Petard as doing this is the last straw for Blatz who pulls a Mook–Face Turn and turns in Krader for getting the land illegally, leaving the man with nothing to show for his "stand" but charges of attempted murder and fraud.
  • Takes place off-camera and with the villain taken captive in Night at the Museum, where as the wind starts blowing against the old night guards, there's a moment where Reginald brandishes his cane at one of the exhibits as a weapon, offering that they can do this "the easy way or the hard way", and when he sees a sword leveled he just says, "Guess it's the hard way..."

  • The Alex Rider series:
    • Herod Sayle of Stormbreaker does this at the end of the book: his plans have been sabotaged, his Co-Dragons have been killed, and he's been publicly outed as evil. He plans to retreat far away and slowly build himself back up to power, but not before taking Alex's life. He fails in this because the criminal organization that he was allied with now saw him as a liability, and had him killed right before he would have shot Alex.
    • Also happens in Point Blank. Dr. Grief's plan has been exposed and consequently ruined, and he and his Dragon are killed by MI6. So, how does he pull this trope? Julius Grief, his last clone who had been surgically altered into a doppelgänger of Alex, tricks him into meeting him alone. Then he tries to kill him, pulling You Killed My Father as his motive. After a struggle, the villain is barely defeated.
      • One could also count the Dragon, Eva Stellenbosch. She meets Alex during MI6's invasion of the academy, and knowing that their plans were ruined, she decides to take what little vengeance she can by killing Alex.
    • A genuine example in Crocodile Tears: Desmond McCain confronts Alex after his attempt to become filthy rich at the cost of millions of lives is foiled, his Dragon and fiancée is killed, and he's left with absolutely no hope of ever being able to rebuild his life. He confronts Alex in a way that screams Villainous Breakdown, demanding him to kneel before him so that he can kill him. Alex survives thanks to his last gadget, an explosive pen that he attaches to an oil drum, which he then sends rolling over to McCain. They have enough time for one last exchange before the drum explodes and kills him.
    McCain: Goodbye, Alex. You're going on a slow journey to Hell.
  • This is Voldemort's situation in the climax of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. His horcruxes have all been destroyed, his best mooks are either dead or on the run, and the boy he thought he'd just killed is still alive and telling him that no matter what he does next, he's already lost. Naturally, he makes one last attempt to kill Harry — which backfires, leaving him Killed Off for Real.
  • In Middle-Earth:
    • Saruman in The Lord of the Rings ("The Scouring Of The Shire").
    • Sauron at the end of the War of the Last Alliance; after losing most of his forces, he came out himself and faced both opposing leaders (Gil-Galad and Elendil) in a duel. He killed both of them, only to die himself (temporarily) when Elendil's son Isildur cut the One Ring off his hand. Subverted the previous time someone assaulted Sauron's fortress- when he realized that the Númenórean forces were too powerful for him to defeat, he came out to talk, not fight- and he ended up wrapping them around his little finger.
  • Almost every villain in Redwall has already lost the battle before their final fight with the hero of the book.
  • Hagen in the ending of the Nibelungenlied, because given that among other things he murdered Siegfried and Kriemhild's and Etzel's infant son, there should be no question that he is a villain.
  • The first Mistborn book has this, of the One-Man Army variety. Throughout the book, killing the Lord Ruler is treated as the most insane objective of an already impossible-seeming plan to overthrow The Empire. When the final stage of the plan is put into action, Vin meets the Lord Ruler face to face and realizes that yes, he can indeed still kick all their asses singlehandedly. The garrison is mostly absent; what's left has either defected or been defeated; the nobles are all hiding in their keeps if they haven't outright surrendered; and the order of dragons has been destroyed from within. But even as the resistance army Zerg Rushes the palace, the Lord Ruler decries them as beneath his notice. Somehow, Vin has to figure out how to kill him. Cue Final Boss battle.
  • Septimus Heap: Merrin Meredith's fight against Septimus in the river in Darke can be seen as this, since he's just lost his dragon and the control over the Darke Domaine and has barely anything to lose.
  • Several Discworld villains do this, because most Discworld heroes try to foil the villain's Evil Plan first or break the villain's power in non-fighting ways: The actual physical showdown then comes afterwards when the villain's danger level has gone from 'dangerous to the world' to 'dangerous to the heroes personally' and are looking for payback for their ruined plan. For an incomplete list, this is pulled by villains in Guards! Guards!, Witches Abroad, Men at Arms, Hogfather, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch and Making Money. The villains of Snuff and Unseen Academicals actually have this trope defied on them when someone else decides to Shoot the Dog instead of letting them come back to haunt the heroes.
  • At the end of Watership Down, General Woundwort has been faced down by the heroes' Big Guy and his troops utterly demoralized by the Waif Prophet. Then the Down rabbits' real plan comes into play - turning a large dog loose against the Efrafans. Even now, Woundwort will not seek sanctuary with his enemies. He dies fighting.
  • The reason Sherlock Holmes ends up fighting Moriarty near a Swiss cataract is because Holmes' plan involved taking out all Moriarty's operation in a single stroke, even anticipating Moriarty following him to gain personal revenge.
  • New Jedi Order: Supreme Overlord Shimmra's epic final duel with Luke as the Yuuzhan Vong army suffers a final, crippling defeat seems like this trope, but in reality, Shimmra is the mind-controlled Puppet King of Onimi, and the dramatic last stand is actually just the real Big Bad leaving his pawn to die as a distraction while he pulls a Villain: Exit, Stage Left.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Power Rangers series has several examples of this:
    • In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, after Trakeena loses her entire army (though that was because she had them perform kamikaze tactics), her ship is destroyed, and all her minions are gone, she enters the cocoon her father made for her to take on the One-Winged Angel form she was destined for and in an act of pure desperation, powers up the remains of the Terra Venture and attempts to crash it into the planet Mirinoi where the colony had flown to in an attempt to destroy them and the Power Rangers. Either she overlooked the fact that she would die too if she succeeded, she felt she was powerful enough to survive the crash, or she was just trying to pull a Taking You with Me.
    • Power Rangers Time Force has Ransik taking a last stand as well. It is inverted when he nearly wipes out the Rangers single-handed - he gets his visor blown off, but it ends up with just him and a demorphed, barely-standing Jen. He's only "defeated" when he attacks his own daughter by mistake, at which point he realizes that being so obsessed with his hatred almost cost him the only one he loved. After that, he surrenders.
    • An inverted version of the trope appears at the end of Power Rangers Wild Force. Even though the Nexus is destroyed, he has no more monsters, and his Co-Dragons have walked out on him, Master Org's final form after completing his transformation using the Org Heart is that of a One-Winged Angel so powerful that he singlehandedly brings the rangers the closest they've been to being defeated by destroying all of their Wild Zords, stripping them of their powers, and causing the Animarium to fall out of the sky. He very nearly won until the Wild Zords miraculously returned with all the lost Wild Zords, giving the rangers more power than ever, enabling them to destroy Master Org once and for all.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder has this as well with Big Bad Mesogog: His minions are gone, his base is destroyed, his plans are ruined, and his Dragon-turned-Starscream's massive Zord failed to defeat the rangers. Mesogog then confronts the rangers, and states that he managed to absorb enough power from their Dino Gems to complete his transfiguration. After saying the line below, he evolves into Mesomonster, a self-replicating and nearly invincible beast. It takes literally everything the rangers have to destroy him.
    Mesogog: Witness the face of...your final battle!
    • In Power Rangers S.P.D., Emperor Gruumm ultimately takes a last stand as well. After his army is destroyed and Omni has fallen, Gruumm erupts from the rubble of Omni's mechanical body and challenges his nemesis Doggie Cruger to one last battle. When Doggie wins, Gruumm orders him to end it, but Doggie refuses, instead cutting his other horn off and arresting him.
    • In Power Rangers Super Megaforce, it's not the overall leader of the Armada, Emperor Mavro, who makes the last stand — as he was killed beforehand at the hands of the rangers. The remnants of the Armada, who are a colossal army of X-Borgs, do; making this a subversion of the Decapitated Army trope. It takes the efforts of every Power Ranger in existence to finish off the remnants.
  • Very common in the original Kamen Rider series. Many of the Generals/Commandants/Warlords, whatever they were called in their specific organization, would face down their Rider after he'd slaughtered their armies and ruined their plans enough, transform into a monstrous form with incredible power behind it, and fight the Riders one on one.
    • Subverted in Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider V3, and Kamen Rider Amazon however, as the Great Leader was literally torn apart without a fight in each series.
    • Happens by default in Kamen Rider Double, since Big Bad Jun Kazu/Utopia Dopant didn't actually have any minions or allies, and he's all that's left standing after original Big Bad Ryubee Sonozaki was defeated a couple of episodes before.
  • On Angel after her brainwashing powers are lost, Jasmine declares that if she can't rule the world she's going to destroy it. She shrugs off everything Angel tries to throw at her, but we don't get to see how she actually intends to accomplish her new goal because Connor, whose immunity to her powers apparently stretched to ignoring her invulnerability, shows up and kills her.
    • In the season 3 premiere, kills a vampire who he then realizes was Elisabeth, who, with her boyfriend James, were friends with Angelus and Darla for a time. James decides he has nothing left to live for other than revenge against Angel and undergoes an operation in which his heart is removed, guaranteeing he will die in 24 hours, but rendering him invulnerable until then.
  • The 9th season finale of Criminal Minds has Preacher Justin Mills do this against the FBI and the local police. It's actually invoked by the Dirty Cops in order to set him up as the killer, but by this point, the BAU has deduced he's being set up.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Tomb of the Cybermen", after the Cybermen have either been sealed back in their Tombs or destroyed, the Cyber Controller makes a last attempt to leave the Tombs. This is stopped by the Heroic Sacrifice of Toberman, who closes the doors giving them both an electric shock. Although it is revealed in "Attack of the Cybermen" that the Controller survived.
  • Wonder Woman: At the end of "The Boy Who Knew Her Secret", a shape-changing alien criminal has been cornered by Wonder Woman after his elaborate plan has failed. Desperate and outraged, he changes his form into one that can rival Wonder Woman in power.
    Wonder Woman: You see, you didn't get rid of me after all. You slipped up. That's what usually happens at the beginning of the end.
    Alien: Beginning of the end for whom, Wonder Woman?

  • Older Than Steam: Shakespeare's Macbeth:
    I will not yield,
    To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
    And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
    Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
    And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
    Yet I will try the last. Before my body
    I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
    And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'
  • Shakespeare's Richard III, who refuses a chance to escape so he can keep fighting. The play is one of the best examples of Historical Villain Upgrade but this is very much Truth in Television. Richard III died in battle, leading a cavalry charge that nearly killed Henry VII.

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  • While every Mega Man boss is willing to hop in a mech or whip out a new battle body when you finally confront them, Epsilon of Mega Man X: Command Mission is a little different in that he's fueled not by desperation, but by belief in his ideals and goal. He's also a little different in that he's not the Final Boss.
    "I can see you are determined. But Scarface...I will not run from this fight. For I know that this bridge must be crossed to achieve our ideal. They will tremble before the power of...Epsilon!"
    • Mega Man X6 is an odd example, with the Final Boss being, of course, Sigma. Only Sigma wasn't involved at all in the plot of the game, only being around because Big Bad Gate brought him back to life for some reason, and kills him when he tries to use him as his last resort. He's also in awful shape, having been brought back before he fully recovered from his defeat in the last game, and looks like a shambling zombie. The only reason he bothers to fight at all is because X and Zero sought him out, hoping to put him down again before he can regain his strength.
    • Late in Mega Man Legends you've blown up literally everything the Bonnes have thrown at you, foiled all of their plans, and shot down their flagship The Gesellschaft (which, if you played The Misadventures of Tron Bonne you'd know is a massively crushing blow to them), and all they have left is what amounts to an escape mech with a basic machine gun and missile launcher for weapons. Rather than flee or regroup they are pissed and bring it around for one final attack. Even when you're clearly more than a match for them they keep coming at you until all they have left is blown out of the sky along with them. Or so you think.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • At the end of Ocarina Of Time, Ganondorf, after all his temple bosses are destroyed, his soldiers have all been eliminated, and even his castle is demolished, flies into a Villainous Breakdown fueled rage and uses the Triforce of Power to transform into Ganon for one last battle with Link.
    • Minus the transformation (he did that earlier with some puppets), Ganondorf does the same thing at the end of The Wind Waker as the heavens actually the OCEANS rain down around them and Hyrule is lost to him forever.
    • And in Twilight Princess, after the Twilight has been purged from Hyrule and is unlikely to return, Zelda has been freed, and Hyrule Castle destroyed, Ganondorf does it again, first on horseback and then on foot.
    • Regardless of the above pattern, A Link to the Past provides an inversion, as the whole point of rescuing the maidens in the Dark World was to get Link into a position where he could kill Ganon before the latter could escape into the Light World. If the last fight was lost, Ganon would theoretically have been able to proceed with his plan.
    • In Breath of the Wild, Princess Zelda says that Calamity Ganon's final transformation into Dark Beast Ganon is a last ditch effort to kill Link and destroy Hyrule.
  • Desann in Jedi Outcast still chooses to duke it out with Katarn, despite losing his entire fleet and most of his strike troops having been wiped out by the Jedi. Admittedly he doesn't even know the attack has failed until Kyle tells him just before the fight, and the entire thing was a diversion to get him to the Academy basement where the fight takes place anyway.
  • The Elder Princess Shroob in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, after the Shroobs are defeated and the game is seemingly over, fuses with Bowser in a last-ditch attempt to kill the Mario Bros. and their baby selves.
  • By the time you reach Colonel Autumn in Fallout 3, the Enclave has been utterly annihilated by your indestructible 40-foot tall super-robot, and all that's left of Autumn's army is him and his 2 bodyguards. Despite this, he proclaims that "the Enclave is at the height of its power!" and seems suicidally overconfident that he can take you, despite being a massively underpowered Zero-Effort Boss.
  • Mook example: Behemoth Kings in Final Fantasy XIII start off pretty strong, and when their HP gets down to half, they stand up. But it's when they're at under 10% HP that they're at their most dangerous: they'll start spamming Sunder every few seconds! If you're not prepared for it, this will kill you then and there. (At this point it's easy enough to one-shot your Medic, and the battle is pretty much Unwinnable from there.)
  • Araman pulls this in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer after you win your Crusade against the Fugue Plane. Considering you've killed him once already, and your party likely consists of four 30th-level characters, this qualifies him as Too Dumb to Live.
  • Liquid Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Even after having most of his forces wiped out, from his Metal Gears being destroyed to his elite soldiers being essentially lobotomized after the destruction of the Patriots (long story), he still faces Snake in one final, climactic boss battle atop Outer Haven.
    • This is actually a rather interesting example, because at this point he's actually won. He chooses a Last Villain Stand because his mission is complete and he's now just an old soldier, looking for a worthy final battle (and believes the same is true for Snake).
    • Liquid in Metal Gear Solid is another great example. After losing his standing army, all his allies, and Metal Gear, with no hope of attaining any of his initial objectives, he survives getting a missile to the face (the very same missile that ruined the superweapon on him). Assuming they are going to be hit by an air strike and die anyway, he decides to take out the frustration on Snake. He sets up a one-on-one duel with snake, with a suitcase-nuke set to go off in three minuteson top of the superweapon with Snake to prove his superiority (even though, as previously stated, he took a missile to the face, said missile was also strong enough to knock out Snake; the one who fired it). After Snake defeats him, he seemingly falls to his death, yet still manages to chase them in a machine gun car fight. Then, after surviving a car crash, he still crawls after Snake, ready for murder. Only then does he finally die from a virus he received upon first coming into contact with Snake, meaning his entire encounter was one last stand even before losing everything else.
    • Solidus in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as well. The Patriots reveal right before the final battle that they have manipulated Solidus every single step of the way into doing their bidding, rendering his entire plan to stop them pointless. He still fights Raiden to the death anyway, with the implication that he didn’t entirely care who won or lost anymore as long as the winner continued fighting the Patriots. Ultimately he chooses to go out in a blaze of glory fighting his former protege after losing everything else.
  • Dahau in Valkyria Chronicles III. He refuses to obey the peace treaty, and with what remains of his troops, he activates a Valkyrian superweapon. In fact, in this battle, he can't die, even if you sic your Valkyria at him; you must deactivate the superweapon.
    • The Final Boss battle with Maximillian from the original Valkyria Chronicles. The Valkof, the whole reason he invaded Gallia to begin with, is destroyed, the Marmota, while still operational, is severely damaged, and Faldio is off setting it to self-destruct, and while Maxmillian still has his artificial Valkyria setup, it only works as long as he's on the Marmota. Him showing up to kill Squad 7 is really just a last desperate bid to regain control of the situation.
  • Fire Emblem games like this trope:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: Jarod, the Climax Boss of Part 1, is a scary example of what a villain in this situation is capable of. Towards the end of Part 1, he is scapegoated for the Begnion occupation army's tyranny over Daien by his superiors. He receives orders from the Apostle to stand down and await the Apostle's inspection team, which would all but certainly end with his execution for the crimes committed against the people of Daien. Knowing that he's a dead man walking, he tries to assassinate Micaiah but is stopped by none other than the Black Knight himself. With his back to the wall and nowhere to run, he decides that, rather than wait for his inevitable execution, he'll lead his troops in one last blaze of glory against Micaiah. He kills the Apostle's emissary, pretty much destroys the Daien capital with catapults, and gives a pretty damn good Rousing Speech to his men before engaging Micaiah's army for The Last Dance.
    • Happens about three times in Fire Emblem Awakening. After most of his forces are either decimated or deserted, Gangrel, the king of Plegia, makes his last stand in a wasteland with only the few troops left that are loyal to him. The second is against Emperor Walhart, where the player's army manages to corner him in his own throne room before finishing him off, after killing two of his generals. The last time is against Validar, whose attempt to corrupt the Player Character ends in failure and he is forced to defend himself the old-fashioned way. All three times, a foreboding tune with Ominous Latin Chanting is playing in the background.
    • Happens at least once on each of the routes in Fire Emblem: Three Houses
      • On Azure Moon, Verdant Wind, and Silver Snow, it comes with the final confrontation with Emperor Edelgard of Adestria. The One-Winged Angel form even makes an appearance in Azure Moon, which is the same route where Edelgard is the Final Boss. In the final confrontation, the player character's army batters down all available defenses until it comes down to close-quarters fighting in the city, the palace, and eventually the actual throne room. The map is even a two-part event with no break in-between, because there's no time to be wasted between taking the city and the castle itself. Afterward, the nation on the losing end ceases to be a politically significant entity.
      • In Verdant Wind and Silver Snow, those who slither in the dark are reduced to this after the loss of Edelgard and the Adrestian Empire and the discovery of their Elaborate Underground Base. Their leader, Thales, goes out in an attempt at Taking You with Me with ICBMs. Only in Verdant Wind does Nemesis come into play afterward.
      • On Crimson Flower, Rhea/Seiros, now well and truly insane deliberately invokes this during the final battle when the villain gives the order to set fire to the entire city in a last-ditch effort to kill the player character's army and refusing to let any of the civilians leave. The heroes are forced to engage the last remnants of the enemy's army in the burning city before facing the villain in her full One-Winged Angel glory, angrily ranting about how she's been betrayed.
  • In Resident Evil 5, Albert Wesker has lost practically everything by the end. He's killed off and betrayed all of his allies, his resources are gone, and the heroes have just managed to crash his plane robbing him of his only chance to unleash his bioweapon upon the world. All he has left is a single canister of the bioweapon. Wesker refuses to surrender and exposes himself to the bioweapon (which Word of God confirms would have eventually consumed him). All for one last chance to finally kill his hated Arch-Enemy Chris Redfield.
  • The ending of Baldur's Gate features this. Unmasked before the public as the mastermind of the entire iron shortage and attempted war with Amn, Sarevok flees into some caves underneath the city with his most loyal subordinates so he can go down fighting all the interest groups (the Iron Throne, the Flaming Fist, the Player Character) now out for his head.
  • Full Throttle has Ripburger pulling this after Ben exposes him as Malcolm's killer, ruining his plans to take over Corley Motors. He chases after Mo and Ben in a stolen semi, and his plan is to pull a Taking You with Me by driving them off of Poyahoga Gorge.
  • At the end of Donkey Kong 64, after the Kongs deactivate the Blast-o-Matic before it can destroy Kong Island and K.Lumsy thwarts his escape attempt, K.Rool has a Final Battle with the Kongs in a fixed boxing match.
  • In For Honor, this is how Seijuro plans to go out during the Samurai campaign, exhorting to his few followers that they will die like warriors when Ayu and her army shows up to take the Imperial Palace, which is the final obstacle to reuniting the Dawn Empire after a brief civil war erupts over the previous Emperor's death. Ultimately, it is averted; while Seijuro's guards are defeated by Ayu and the Orochi, the Orochi ends up sparing Seijuro because his skills as a general are needed for the war with the Blackstone Legion.
  • Kingdom Hearts:

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  • An inversion appears in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Despite no longer having his army of Mecha-Mooks, the newest Big Bad, Aggregor, doesn't need them or anyone else since his One-Winged Angel transformation. He had a tendency to do everything on his own anyway.
  • Code Lyoko has the final fight in the second-to-last episode of the series. XANA, after losing William, an incredibly powerful asset, goes all out in order to prevent Franz Hopper from sending Jeremy the data necessary to destroy him by promptly sending the Kolossus, his most powerful monster created through combinining the energy of HUNDREDS of supercomputers, along with possessing William in the real world one last time to take care of the heroes.
  • In Winx Club, near Valtor's end, he is humiliated by the Winx, loses most of the spells he stole, is abandoned by the Trix, and is nearly crushed by all the water of Lake Roccaluce. He survives and kidnaps the Specialists in order to lure the Winx to Andros and kill them with his last stolen spell, the Spell of the Elements. He ends up losing that and then loses control of his body to the Ancestral Witches before Bloom finishes him off.
  • Megatron of Transformers Animated pulls one after the initial test run of his superweapons fails and decides to just give up on conquering Cybertron in favor of destroying Detroit and the Autobots who have opposed him over the course of the series.
  • Said word-for-word by Megatron in Transformers: Prime at the end of the penultimate episode of the series.
  • Kuvira in the Grand Finale of The Legend of Korra (which is appropriately titled "The Last Stand"). She keeps fighting even after losing her Humongous Mecha, and only relents after Korra saves her life.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), during the Turtles' third showdown with the Shredder at the TCRI building, the Shredder, enraged that the Turtles allowed the Utroms to escape, vows to not let them leave alive, not caring about his implosion device that will take him with it. The Turtles manage to overwhelm him learning his true identity as an Utrom in the process before escaping the building before it implodes, taking Shredder with it, supposedly destroying him for good this time.


Video Example(s):


Shingen Yashida

Angered at his father for his obsession with Mutants and for passing him as the heir to the Yashida fortune for his own daughter, Shingen takes out his hatred on Yukio and Logan.

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