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 FaceHeel 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 of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, 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 Door Jam, Hold the Line, and Stand Your Ground.
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- 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.