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Sentimental Sacrifice

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Kirk: (regarding self-destructing the Enterprise) My God, Bones, what have I done?
McCoy: What you've always done; turned death into a fighting chance to live.

If the situation is dire enough, nothing will be held back and Anyone Can Die. But a harder issue may be when a favored object is to suffer the same fate. This trope is where that favored object is sacrificed for a greater cause, possibly even a result of The Worf Effect; the item in question was unable to match the enemy's equivalent.


It may be your #1 Dime, your Cool Car, your Favorite Shirt or your Weapon of Choice (especially the ones with names). If it is important to you it will have the same impact as if a person died, in fact sometimes loosing the cool car is giving more importance than the entire Red Shirt Army.

Much like Tonight, Someone Dies, this tends to go hand in hand with Season Finales and Grand Finales. Pay close attention that this is a conscious decision made and not an accident in the heat of battle.

Compare Heroic Sacrifice, "Gift of the Magi" Plot, It's All Junk, I Want My Beloved to Be Happy.



Comic Books

  • Marko of Saga carries his ancestral sword when he goes off to war. After his conversion to pacifism and its brief lapse, he offers the sword as a sacrifice to a rocketship tree to persuade it to take his wife and child onboard.


  • Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles novel The High King. The protagonists are freezing to death in a blizzard. Fflewdur Fflam breaks up his beloved magical harp into firewood and burns it to save their lives.
  • In one of the Little House on the Prairie books during the family's migrations west Ma insists on lugging along her heirloom spinet piano. During the course of their moves they abandon object after object but she refuses to leave it behind. She's finally convinced that the weight of the thing is just too much so they leave it on the side of the trail.
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  • In The Lord of the Rings, Sam is forced to leave his cooking gear behind to lighten the load. He's saddened, but he does it willingly.
  • In the Dutch book Koning Van Katoren there's a wizard collects and sacrifices things of sentimental value. Of course people hate him for it, but if they don't submit to him they get turned into a clock and he takes sentimental things anyway. He never tells people he does this in order to prevent an entire city from falling to death into an abyss. In the end, he sacrifices himself to safe the city from himself to give the city centuries to safely balance above the abyss.


  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had Kirk getting caught in a battle with a Klingon ship with an already-crippled Enterprise. Instead of simply surrendering, he lured a boarding party onto the ship and self-destructed it. He was clearly distressed, but their mission (recovering Spock) was the greater priority.
  • In The Blues Brothers the Bluesmobile falls apart when they get to the Cook County building. The boys stop for a moment and take their hats off in silent salute.
  • In a film version of War and Peace, when a noble family was tearfully leaving their mansion in Moscow and the daughter says, "They're just things. We can always get more things."
  • At the end of Super 8, the alien activates its super-magnet that sucks metal objects toward so they can be assembled into a starship for him to go home. One of the objects is Joe's locket from his deceased mother, which he reluctantly lets fly away.
  • Subverted in Damage: Reno is forced to pawn a set of Cartier cufflinks that once belonged to his father in order to get enough purse money for John to participate in the underground fighting circuit. The pawnbroker sells them before Reno could pay back the loan, but it turns out John bought them and returns them to Reno.

Live-Action TV

  • Burn Notice
    • The show has a track record of doing this with their cars. The end of the second season had Sam acquire a cherry red Buick, which ended up destroyed in the mid-season three finale. Then there is Michael's black Charger, which he got early on in the series. He ended up strapping C-4 to it as a decoy against the bad guys when the car was already dying.
    • Towards the end of the series, Madeline burned down her house, where she'd lived since before Michael and Nate were even born, in order to prepare to go into hiding with the rest of the team.
  • Doctor Who
    • The Doctor takes Clara to an alien planet that values items of sentimental value. That is to say, they basically absorb the essence of sentimental value in object by destroying to get glowy energy and use sentimental value as literal valued currency. Clara is forced to give up the leaf that led to her parents meeting in order to save the day.
    • Rory convinces Amy of his unconditional love by cutting off his ponytail, which she has expressed dislike for. It's more emotional than it sounds.
  • In the last season of Psych, Henry sells the house where he raised Shawn as part of his effort to start a new phase of his life.
  • In Agents of Shield this is something of a Running Gag for Coulson's collection. Aside from his baseball cards in the first Avengers movie (which Nick Fury ruined as part of a deception to motivate the Avengers), he has to use one of his vintage radio watches to set off a trap.
  • In Supernatural, when the angel Castiel becomes a human, he leaves his trench-coat behind in a laundromat after realizing that if he washes his coat, he will not have money for water or food. He clearly wishes to keep his stained and dirty coat that he has been wearing since his character was introduced, but ends up stealing a clean set of clothes from the laundromat.

Video Games

  • In Crisis Core, Zack's mentor Angele notes that he rarely, if ever, uses his sword (the Buster Sword, which would eventually be passed to Zack and then to Cloud) because it was a gift from his father and he doesn't want to damage it. Then he uses it to save Zack from a Hopeless Boss Fight. While it isn't lost, he pretty much invokes the spirit of the trope by saying he'd rather lose his sword than fail to save Zack.

Web Comic

  • In 8-Bit Theater, when Sarda tells Black Mage that he'll have to make a sacrifice to gain a new power, he finds it hard to make BM understand that "sacrifice" means giving up something important to him, not just Human Sacrifice.
    Sarda: No, it has to be something you care about!
    Black Mage: K'air??

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • The group ends up on the run and having to traverse into Fire Nation territory. Aang's glider, one of the few remaining relics of the Air Nomads, ends up damaged. Instead of trying to repair it, he decided to leave it behind and let it be incinerated, as it would only attract attention to him as the Avatar.
    • In the final episode, Sokka throws his special sword of Thunderbolt Iron to cut the tail wing that his enemy stands on, sending him down to the ground. Sokka then says "Goodbye space sword..."
  • In DuckTales (1987) Huey, Louie and Dewey like to play with marbles, and are very good at throwing them by hand or using them as slingshot ammo. On one episode, they manage to use a One In A Million Chance throw to detonate a torpedo heading towards a ship they're on, and immediately afterwards they pay their respects to the marble as if it had been a person doing a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Adventure Time establishes how much Marceline loves her stuffed teddy Hambo, a toy that Simon gave to help cheer her up when he discovered her in the rubble After the End. One episode is dedicated to her and Princess Bubblegum trying to recover Hambo from a witch. Later on, when the Ice King reverted back into Simon, Marceline had to say goodbye to Hambo for good, and use him as a catalyst to open up a portal into the past so Simon could say goodbye to the woman who ran away from him.


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