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Stand Your Ground

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"I will not sacrifice the Enterprise. We've made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far — no farther!"

You and your mates face your foes. They may be equally matched or they outnumber you. However your leader decides that if a fight is to break out, everyone's to stand their ground and not run away. There's a choice of running away, but defeat in any form or fashion means humiliation and dishonor. Or in other cases, you simply just die a dog's death. The only honor is in victory.

Frequently combines with In Its Hour of Need — if the person giving the order has any honor.

A cousin to the Last Stand. Related to Hold the Line. Compare Tired of Running. Contrast Tactical Withdrawal and Run or Die, where he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.


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    Comic Books 
  • In 666, the priest and his soldiers are tasked with defending a science facility while the scientists are being extracted. It turns out to be a trap and they have to hold against a demon legion or two.

    Fan Works 
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris justifies not fleeing to some other country because she's an American, and this is America and she's not going to be run out of her own country. Besides that, she doesn't know how to speak any other languages. She also justifies finally taking a stand against SHIELD, the Avengers, and the Registration Act itself in Miami because she's tired of running and its time someone stands up to the bullies who are running the US government.

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: During the blackout, a group of citizens who find themselves facing Mutant gang members who escaped from jail don't back down, but pick up axes, fire extinguishers, and the like to fight back with before Batman arrives. Of course, the citizens are looters themselves, so it isn't exactly a Black-and-White Morality situation.
  • This is how the plant eaters drive off the Carnotaurus in Dinosaur
    Aladar: Don’t move! If we scatter, they’ll pick us off! Stand together!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 3 Ninjas: In Knuckle Up, when several truckloads of thugs show up at the Native American reservation to try and steal back evidence that they've been dumping toxic waste. The local leader, Jo's dad, yells for the people to stand there and face their assailants down.
    Charlie: Don't run! Don't run!
  • In the closing sequence of The Colony (2013), Viktor tries to invoke this, but he lacks both the leadership and combat skill to pull it off.
  • Green Street is a movie about Elijah Wood's character learning what it means to stand his ground with a bunch of hooligans his sister's fiancé used to run- during the events of the movie, the fiance's younger brother runs the firm. The trope name is in fact one of the tag lines for the movie (probable trope namer?)
  • The Princess Bride: The gate-keeper shouts this order to the guards facing the "Dread Pirate Roberts" aka Fezzik on a wheelbarrow, but to no avail.
  • Star Wars: In Return of the Jedi, Lando convinces Admiral Ackbar that they must do this to get more time for Han and his strike team to disable the shield protecting the incomplete second Death Star. They opt to engage a blockading Imperial fleet at point-blank range, which is only slightly less suicidal than being out in the open as a shooting gallery for the surprise attack from the Death Star's superlaser.

  • Sun Tzu made this point in The Art of War "Throw the troops into a position from which there is no escape, and even when faced with death they will not flee." He also was warning against forcing the enemy into this position, his suggestion for this scenario was to always leave your enemy a possible escape route, then ambush him when he takes it.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Nightmares: Arthur and Cai do so when faced with Gwynn ap Nudd and his hounds in Master of the Hunt, which turns out to be the right thing to do. As Merlin explains later, if you have courage and stand your ground, even the lord of the dead can't force you into the netherworld — you have to go of your own free will (even if that choice is brought on by being terrified out of your wits).
  • In Mercedes Lackey's By the Sword, mercenary Captain Kerowyn gives her company the choice between this and running to safety. They unanimously vote to make a Last Stand.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "A Good Man Goes To War", Madame Vastra declares as the Headless Monks advance on Amy and a flesh duplicate of her daughter Melody, "The child! At all costs, protect the child!"

  • Sabaton have published many songs about real life battles where soldiers stood their ground, including most of the album The Last Stand.
  • Within Temptation has a song called "Stand My Ground" which is basically this.
  • Afrikanerhart, the nationalist anthem by Bok van Blerk which celebrates The Second Boer War, explicitly states this:
    Hou jou lyn en staan jou man!
    Dis hier waar ons hul kan keer!
    Staan vas, staan vas, Suid Afrika! note 

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Draconis Combine, which is culturally themed after ancient Japan, has this mentality. A samurai who retreats without being ordered to by his superiors (which usually means the Coordinator himself) will typically be required to commit seppuku unless there are extraordinary circumstances. This means that they sometimes succeed in turning the tide unexpectedly, but also means that they often wind up dying against overwhelming odds instead of retreating to fight another day. This was especially bad for them during the Clan Invasion, as the Clans' superior omnimechs were able to pick off Combine machines at much greater ranges than the latter could retaliate due to their superior weaponry, and samurai honor demanded that they keep marching into the teeth of the invaders.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.X edition has the Dwarven Defender Prestige Class. Its signature ability, "Defensive Stance" bestows sizable defensive buffs but limits movement to one square.
  • The Dwarfs in Warhammer have a special ability which essentially forces them to stand their ground. They sacrifice their movement for combat bonuses.
  • This is the theme of the Oath of the Gatewatch set of Magic: The Gathering, where Zendikar is being ravaged by the Eldrazi. The titular Gatewatch is a group of Planeswalkers (Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Chandra Nalaar and Nissa Revane) who could leave the plane at any time, but instead choose to remain and fight the Eldrazi for the sake of the multiverse.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Subverted by the T'au, who will quite sensibly retreat to find a better position, which gets them labeled as cowards by the We Have Reserves-happy Imperium (and infuriates them when the T'au how up with non-depleted forces). The Tau do have some cases of last stands, but view it as proof of the commander's incompetence if he let the situation degrade that far.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 4's Hot Springs Episode, after the guys are caught by the girls in an Accidental Pervert situation where they look like The Peeping Tom, you're given the choice whether or not to tell the men to stand their ground against the girls in the hot springs. Regardless of choice and your courage, you are forced to fall back after the girls' Naked Freak-Out manifests as a barrage of projectile washtubs.
  • Pokémon: the ability Suction Cups prevents a Pokemon from being switched out. The move Ingrain roots a Pokemon to the ground and prevent it from being switched out whether by the opponent or its trainer.
    • The abilities Arena Trap and Shadow Tag force the opponent the Stand Their Ground.
  • In the Total War series, archery units have their default tactics set to "Skirmish", which has them automatically withdraw if an enemy unit gets too close to them. You can disable these orders, ordering them to "stand and fight;" this is usually most effective in urban environments where the archers would get close enough to trigger the "retreat" condition without actually getting into melee with enemy units, or if the archer units are equipped with good melee weapons and you need them to bust heads.
  • In Stellaris, the "No Retreat" War Doctrine available to Militarist empires disables the Disengage mechanic. Your ships will fight to the bitter end, every gun blazing until they are all destroyed. This is good and bad: on one hand, it's good for Battleships because they have massive firepower and unlikely to be able to flee anyway, and it ensures your ships always fight at full capacity; on the other hand, losing a battle is catastrophic as you will have to rebuild your fleet from scratch.

    Real Life 
  • Real Life example in Josef Stalin's WWII Order #227: "Not one step back!" Stalin ordered than a unit would stay at the rear of a battalion to shoot anyone not advancing, and any deserters would be rounded up and used to check for mines. This produced mixed results; on the one hand, desertions and retreats without order dropped very sharply, very quickly; on the other, Stalin was so insistent on taking no step back, he often ensured that his generals would not give out the order to retreat even when it was the sensible thing to do, losing a lot of men and material in situations that would otherwise be at least partially salvageable.
    • The precise mandate of posting rear units to shoot retreating troops was at the very least disliked by commanders for wasting their manpower on not fighting the enemy, and the requirement was withdrawn after three months.
    • Some reports allege this has been revived in 2023 as a desperation measure in Russia's war in the Ukraine, with the Wagner mercenaries providing the blocking detachments in the rear.
  • Another Real Life example, which predates Stalin by quite some time (1863): in Mexico, the French Foreign Legion, numbering 65 (including officers), held 2,000 soldiers from the Mexican army at bay for days at Camaron. After they ran out of ammo, they (all five on them still on their feet) ended it with a bayonet charge. Keep in mind that currently, each and every member of the Foreign Legion considers that battle an ideal to aspire to. Don't Cross Them.
    • Due to that Moment of Awesome, all Mexican servicemembers are required to salute ALL Legionnaires.
  • The Battle of Watling Street. Queen Boudica had almost completed her Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Roman Empire. The situation had gotten so out of control Emperor Nero was seriously considering giving up on occupying Great Britain. Gaius Suetonius Paulinus assembled a force of about ~10,000, wedged it inside a gorge, and braced against a force about ~20 times larger. Two volleys of javelins routed the over-confident Briton army, allowing the Romans to give chase. With Boudica herself dying in the battle, the Roman victory completely turned the tables on the ongoing revolution and ensured southern Britain would remain an imperial province until the fall of Rome itself.
  • Often more inefficient than romantic. The best way to deal with a force that is standing its ground is to march around them, cut of their supplies, and let them starve. This was exactly the tactic used by the Allies against the Japanese forces in the Pacific in WWII.
  • During the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein would repeatedly execute generals who ordered retreats from unwinnable battles. This proved very costly to the Iraqi war effort.
  • These two Chinese guys who fought back against a group of thugs trying to evict them.
  • Adolf Hitler also liked using this. When his forces in the eastern front were being beaten back by the Soviets, he ordered them to stand their ground. Any attempts to retreat or desert their post would be executed. German armies were forced to fight a defensive war, with dwindling resources and manpower, while the Soviets ground their way with thousands of troops and everything they could throw at them.
  • The Stand Your Ground, Castle and similar laws in some states of the USA, which state that a person can defend themselves against an attacker and has no obligation to try to evade or retreat. SYG applies anywhere in the state, while Castle applies in the home.