Follow TV Tropes


Sentimental Sacrifice

Go To

Kirk: [after destroying the Enterprise] My God, Bones, what have I done?
McCoy: What you had to do. What you always do — 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 choices (especially the ones with names). If it is important enough, it can have the same impact as the sacrifice of an ally.

Much like Tonight, Someone Dies, this tends to go hand in hand with Season Finales and Grand Finales.

Compare Heroic Sacrifice, Gift of the Magi Plot, It's All Junk, I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, Mourning an Object, and Sell What You Love.

When adding examples, please ensure that the sacrifice is a deliberate action, and not just a result of battle damage or similar.


    open/close all folders 

    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.

    Film - Animated 
  • In Turning Red, Grandma Wu breaks her jade bracelet in the climax since it is her talisman and contains her red panda spirit in order to save her daughter.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fred in Short Circuit 2 seems quite proud of his expensive silk shirt, to the point that it's the only shirt he's ever seen wearing. When Johnny 5 is brutally smashed up and bleeding battery fluid, Fred doesn't hesitate for a second in tearing off a sleeve and using it to patch up the leak.
  • 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, as was preventing Starfleet technology from falling into the hands of an enemy state.
  • 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.

  • Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain 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 the Dutch book Koning Van Katoren, there's a wizard who 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 their 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 save the city from himself to give the city centuries to safely balance above the abyss.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Misery:
    • Annie forces Paul to destroy his beloved manuscript of Fast Cars because she hates the swearing.
    • Paul pays her back by burning the book he was writing for her, Misery's Return. However, she manages to save it before he kills her. Played with, though, in that he isn't a big fan of it until it becomes a huge bestseller.
  • A downplayed example in There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns. Ruli gives Delta a bag of what initially appears to be trash. Even though her Dungeon can consume pretty much anything to gain mana, Delta still thinks it's a bit rude. Until Ruli explains that it's Sentimental Shabbiness; a fork that was bent when she used it to fend off a wolf, a lone holey boot that served her well until its companion was lost in a swamp, and so forth. By the time Ruli is done explaining the true worth of what she's handed over, Delta feels guilty for her earlier reaction.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 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.
  • 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.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: At the end of season One, Galadriel has to sacrifice Finrod's knife in order to craft the rings that will allow the Elves to remain on Middle Earth. She is hesitant because sacrificing the knife also means finally giving up her obsessive quest to kill Sauron.
  • 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.
  • Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye: In "The Newlywed Game", the FBI investigates when suburbanites Joseph and Betty Vanderwylen start getting phone calls from a long-disappeared terrorist, suspecting one or both may be involved. While the FBI are looking in the Vanderwylens' house, Joseph starts making his way back. Dmitrius says he'll need ten minutes to set up the listening equipment, which is unfortunately too long. Jack instructs Myles to get into a fender bender with Joseph to delay him. Myles complains about it, griping that he just got through groveling to Randy for this car. He reluctantly does it, though.
  • 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 Angeal 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.
  • At the end of Disco Elysium, if you have made the right choices, you may end up having to sacrifice the Horrific Necktie you've likely worn throughout the entire game by using it in Molotov cocktail. The Gut Punch is especially pronounced if have points in the Inland Empire skill, because if you do than the tie has been a full-blown Companion Cube to you, one you've had lots of fun conversations with and which has regularly given you advice. It really does manage to make you feel like an old friend has just given his life for you.
  • In The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, the alternative ending for the "Escape Pod" has Stanley setting the Reassurance Bucket inside of the escape pod to set it free since he can't fit inside. He even gently carasses and "shushes" it before it blasts off into space. It's a somber moment and the bucket disappears for a few runs... before an unamused Narrator gives him a new bucket and tells him not to lose this one. In the Epilogue, if the player previously did the bucket version of the "Escape Pod" ending, the pod can be found crashed into the ground, and Stanley can grab his original bucket.


    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kid Cosmic: In "Kid Cosmic and the Planet Killer", Papa G gives up his healing stone in order to stop Erodius' rampage.
  • In Love, Death & Robots episode "Lucky 13", the heroic Ace Pilot has to sacrifice her airplane in order to fight off enemy forces. It became heartbreaking to activate the Self-Destruct Mechanism sequence and leave with a parting goodbye.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Robustus forces everyone who falls victim to his Brainwashing virus to surrender whatever they cherish most in the world to him. His reasoning is that any of the Miraculous holders will naturally cherish their Transformation Trinkets the most, meaning that if they fall under his control, they'll automatically surrender them to him.