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Lethally Expensive

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"Many Bothans died to bring us this information."
Mon Mothma, Return of the Jedi

The importance of a piece of new information is underscored by relating the loss of life incurred to bring it to light. Compare Apocalyptic Log and That Was the Last Entry for the initial discovery of records left by doomed informants. Might have resulted from a Pyrrhic Victory.


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    Comic Books 
  • In DC Special #29, the origin of the Justice Society of America, a British agent tells the President: "We have received information — very reliable information, obtained at the cost of many lives — and it is now clear that Hitler plans to invade England — within weeks!"
  • During the "War of the Gods" crossover event Harmonia died to bring her father Ares the news of Circe's plan and bring a stop to the war. Ares then declared to the many fighting pantheons that the war was over, which got attention as he did not become contender for the title of Wonder Woman's arch-foe by being a reasonable war god.

    Fan Works 
  • Parodied in Darths & Droids when Mon Mothma (who is a Valley Girl for some reason) says "Our best spy, Wedge, died to bring us this information." Wedge points out that actually, he didn't and she replies "Oh! Wedge, I totally didn't recognize you. Love your hair."
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: Hondo Onaka mentions to the Jedi in Episode 10 that he lost more men on the mission to infiltrate Axum and gather intelligence on the Imperial occupation than he has on any other job.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • The page quote comes from Return of the Jedi, when Rebel leader Mon Mothma points out many Bothan spies had died to bring the information during the briefing for the Battle of Endor. And only succeeded because the Emperor allowed it, or so he says.
    • Rogue One shows that the first Death Star's plans were also costly to get, with all of the eponymous team giving their lives to give it to the rebellion, as well as all of Blue Squadron and a chunk of the rebel fleet.
  • In The Rocketeer, when Howard Hughes shows Cliff the Nazi propaganda film, he says "Keep watching, kid. It cost a man's life to get this out of Germany."
  • Happens in The Right Stuff, while the two White House staffers are showing the film of the Soviet space program.
    White House Staffer #1: This footage was assembled from sources operating under cover at great risk.
    White House Staffer #2: Very great.
    White House Staffer #1: We're fortunate this material didn't perish... with a couple of men.
  • Christopher Walken's butt-smuggled wristwatch from Pulp Fiction.
  • The crew of a hovercraft, the Osiris, dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to warn of an impending Machine invasion against Zion in "Final Flight of the Osiris," a digitally animated short story from The Animatrix. This adventure is canonically noted at the start of The Matrix Reloaded when Niobe, a hovercraft captain, presents the Osiris's information for all to see at a captain's meeting.
  • Under Ten Flags. Admiral Russell isn't happy about the lack of progress by British intelligence in getting hold of a German naval code. When informed that an attempt led to two Germans being hanged, he quips, "Well that's something!" His attitude changes when he's told about a female British spy being shot.
  • A number of James Bond's allies have sacrificed their lives getting crucial information to British intelligence.
    • Octopussy opens with a fatally wounded 009 delivering a Faberge egg to the British ambassador with his dying breath. The egg is subsequently revealed to be a forgery, triggering Bond's investigation into its origins.
    • A View to a Kill opens with Bond in Siberia, retrieving a microchip from the frozen corpse of 003. The microchip is an exact copy of an EMP-proof design from Zorin Industries, whom Bond is then dispatched to investigate.

  • Happens frequently in Dungeon Crawler Carl, since doomed crawlers are able to use the chat system to warn others of what they encountered. Carl eventually gets hold of the Dungeon Anarchist's Cookbook, which contains notes from crawlers in previous crawls, many of whom died obtaining their information.
  • In Heralds of Valdemar, Ylsa is killed while smuggling incriminating information. She dies before reaching her superiors, but gets close enough that her magically-gifted comrades can sense what's going on and teleport the message where it needs to go. The usurpers her killers were working for are executed the very next day.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Invoked in Babylon 5: Sheridan orders the Rangers to leak some information to the Shadows. However he is concerned that they won't believe it unless someone was...
    Sheridan: ... willing to fight for it, willing to... [he can't bring himself to say "die" in front of the very man he is ordering to his death]
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko and Garak hatch a plan to bring the Romulans into the war against the Dominion. One of Garak's contacts forges a data rod showing the Dominion leaders planning to invade Romulus, and Garak suggests Sisko tell a Romulan senator people died retrieving the data. The senator sees through the forgery, but Garak assassinates him and implicates the Dominion, which was his back-up plan the whole time.
  • Played for Laughs in the Saturday Night Live skit The Chosen One. The Chosen One is the Idiot Hero Chad; to highlight how dumb and careless he is, seconds after someone gives him a map that thousands of Centauri died for, he lets it slip through his fingers and blow away. And everybody thinks that, since he is the Chosen One, he is a mighty, charismatic warrior.
  • Sharpe's Eagle: In one of the best-known scenes in the miniseries, Colonel Sir Henry Simmerson has been summoned to the Duke of Wellington's office to account for a colossal screw-up which led to the South Essex regiment's colours being captured along with a lot of men getting killed for no good purpose. Simmerson's after-action report consists of Blatant Lies and shameless attempts to deflect blame, to the Duke's visibly growing annoyance, until he finally brings up the matter of losing the colours...
    Simmerson: The fault was not mine, sir. Major Lennox should answer-
    Wellington: (finally reaching his Rage Breaking Point) Major Lennox answered with his life! As you should, if you had any sense of honour!

    Video Games 
  • Shepard recruits Tali in Mass Effect 2 after rescuing her from an important surveying mission gone south. Tali's entire squad (aside from herself and possibly one other soldier) is lost getting the data, which concerns a star destabilizing much faster than it ought to be. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it ends up an Aborted Arc.
    Tali: That damn data had better be worth it.
  • Invoked in Dragon Age II, in which several Qunari soldiers die protecting what some thieves think is the formula for their explosive powder, simply to sell the illusion. The Arishok explains that the Qunari would fight to the last man to protect the real deal.

    Real Life 
  • While not exactly information useful at the time, this image was taken when a Japanese bomb hit the deck of the USS Enterprise (CV-6). The Navy Photographer that took the photo was killed in the explosion, but the camera and film survived, and can now be seen in many history books on World War II, particularly during the Battle of the Solomons.