With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"
Things are looking really bad for Our Heroes; an endless army of monsters is hot on their heels, with the Hero Killer leading the charge. Death is certain. Then, one character (sometimes two) falls behind and insists that the others go on. In order to allow the other heroes to escape/reach their destination/Bring News Back, this character single-handedly holds back the enemy horde, often losing their life in the process.
Just as often they get a Disney Death and are resurrected through Applied Phlebotinum / Functional Magic or they show up much later, having miraculously survived when No One Could Survive That! If shown on-screen, it could be used to improve the odds, thanks to the Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu. A character who successfully stops the enemy forces and survives qualifies as a One-Man Army.
In extreme cases, where they must Bring News Back, one character is sent on and everyone else stays to give him time to escape.
May overlap with Last Stand, where the characters want to make the opposing forces pay. On the other hand, in Last Stand, if they can maximize their damage by a suicidal action, they will do so; in You Shall Not Pass, the characters try to maximize the time even if they inflict fewer casualties that way. (When the aims don't conflict, a character can do both.)
Characters likely to do this include The Mentor so he can have an Obi-Wan Moment or The Big Guy to maximize the move's effect. If the character is wounded, he may say I Will Only Slow You Down and Go On Without Me. This may allow an exception to the rule that No One Gets Left Behind, but often the other characters are driven on only when it is impossible to return, or the character is dead.
This character, if Not Quite Dead, may suffer a Face–Heel Turn on recovery and turn on his companions for abandoning him. Logic and facts about the impossibility of their saving him seldom make an impression when he has been deranged by his suffering. Worse, he may face Reforged into a Minion.
The phrase was originally used in World War I by the French at Verdun: "On ne passe pas!" (Although, technically, that's "None shall pass!" but who's keeping track?) Later used during the Spanish Civil War: "¡No pasarán!" (in this case, "They won't pass!") in response to which General Franco later said, "Hemos pasado," meaning, "We have passed." The Spanish phrase became an international anti-fascist slogan. The Trope Namer is Gandalf the Grey from Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, who declares this directly to an ancient demon that pursues both him and his Fellowship of friends across a bridge spanning an immensely deep pit; he meets the demon half-way along the bridge, blocking its path directly, after all of his friends have crossed it already.
Tip-offs when the character is wounded, and stays behind to allow others to escape, include:
- "I've gone as far as I can go. Keep going! I will hold them off as long as I can."
- Leader: "Where's so-and-so?!" Protagonist: (silently shakes head) or "He Didn't Make It"
- "I'll take a few of them with me before it's done!"
This is a specific kind of Heroic Sacrifice.
See Self-Destructive Charge, which is a similar situation but from the view of the one not allowed to pass.
Frequently a Moment of Awesome (especially Dying Moment of Awesome.) Contrast with The Rest Shall Pass. If enough of the cast get in on this, it results in a Dwindling Party. See also Delaying Action, Door Jam, Hold the Line, and Stand Your Ground.
- Anime & Manga
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- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- Happens in a very early arc of Prince Valiant. After being given the Singing Sword, Val uses it to stop Viking raiders who have abducted his beloved Ilene from crossing a bridge (pictured here) while his rival-turned-ally rides to get The Cavalry. He eventually passes out and is captured too, but at least lives to fight another day. Year. Decades.
- At the end of The Lonely Island's "Space Olympics", after the titular space sporting event goes wrong due to how unrealistic it is to try to do the Olympics IN SPACE!, a horde of aliens has invaded the space station where the event is being held. The narrator distracts the aliens in order to protect the athletes and crew fleeing to their escape pods.
And as you file to your escape pods,
I'll distract the alien hordes
And as I stare death in the face
I know my sins will take me to hell!
- Radio Tapok's "Battle for Moscow" tells the story of the Soviet Union's all-out defense of Moscow against the German Army in 1941.
- Sabaton, being a heavy metal band themed around dramatic moments in military history, covers a lot of these.
- The Art of War: "40:1" is about the Battle of Wizna in World War II, where a regiment of 700 Poles held off two German divisions for three days, while "Talvisota" covers the Finnish defense of their homeland against the Soviets in the Winter War.
- "Coat of Arms" covers the valiant Greek defense of their homeland against the Italians and Germans in the Greco-Italian War.
- "1648" covers the Battle of Prague at the end of the Thirty Years' War, where the ancestors of the Czechs fought ferociously to defend their city against a siege and attempted sack by Sweden.
- Heroes: "Resist and Bite" is about the stand of the Chasseurs Ardennais, a Belgian guards company that battled the Germans so ferociously in the invasion of the Low Countries that the Germans thought they were up against a formation several times larger. "Hearts of Iron" covers the bold counterstoke by the German 9th and 12th Armies in the early stages of the Battle of Berlin, where they forced open a corridor through Soviet lines for several hundred thousand people to flee into Western Allied-occupied territory.
- The Last Stand is a themed album around these; the title track is about the Stand of the Swiss Guard.
- "Fields of Verdun" from The Great War the titanic French defensive effort at Verdun, repeating General Philippe Pétain's famous slightly misquoted order, "They shall not pass!" in the bridge (not coincidentally, the first snippet of the song to be revealed, in a Sabaton History video). The French managed to hold out for 303 days and eventually drove the Germans back to their starting point, making it the longest sustained single battle in history.
- "The Valley of Death" from The War to End All Wars covers the 1918 Battle of Doiran, where a Bulgarian division soundly repulsed a Greek-British force twice its size in two days of battle.
- In Achievement Hunter, Michael to Ray when he's on the verge of being shot to death. Followed immediately by Ray's moment of awesome.
Michael: "Run, Ray, run! I'll hold them off! Run! Run! RUN!"
- Parodied in The Nostalgia Critic during the "Son of the Mask" review.
Santa Christ: YOU! SHALL NOT! PLAY!!!
- In To Boldly Flee the U.S.S. Exit Strategy has taken heavy damage in the climactic battle. Suddenly, Linkara appears in Comicron-1, parks his ship between the dueling ships and states, "Now they have something else to shoot at."