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We Have Reserves / Film

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T'Challa: You are in Wakanda now. Thanos will have nothing but dust, and blood.
Proxima Midnight: We have blood to spare.

We Have Reserves in film.


  • In Dark Fury, Junner apologizes to Antonia that he allowed Riddick to kill a lot of mercs in his capture. Antonia shrugs off the loss, stating how little they mean to her and ordering Junner to unfreeze more mooks. Later on she unleashes a huge carnivorous monster after sending a team of mercs after Riddick, even though it has a habit of killing people indiscriminately and indeed ends up eating them.
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  • During the climax of Kung Fu Panda 2, Lord Shen orders Boss Wolf to fire his cannon at the heroes. Knowing that the other wolves will get caught in the crossfire, he refuses and Shen kills him before doing it himself.
  • In Shrek, Lord Farquaad views the knights as expendable, saying when he describes the assignment to Save the Princess, "Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make." Then whoever won the tournament would be sent to save the princess, if he died whoever was second would be sent, and so on. (Shrek, since he's an ogre, is even more expendable, so Farquaad doesn't end up sending any knights.)
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the general preparing for battle splits his soldiers into two operations: Operation Human Shield, consisting of the black soldiers, the all-important first attack wave expected to take heavy losses, and Operation Get Behind the Darkies, consisting of everyone else. Naturally, OHS, being lead by Chef, subverts the entire plan—by ducking.
    Chef: Operation Human Shield, my ass!
    • Operation Human Shield members were tied to the outside of tanks to supplement their armor!



  • 300.
    Xerxes: Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory.
    Leonidas: And I would die for any one of mine.
  • In Alien, Ripley learns that Special Order 937 is "Priority one Insure return of [xenomorph] for analysis. All other considerations secondary. Crew expendable."
  • In Batman Forever, Two-Face fires indiscriminately at Batman while one of his goons is in the way.
  • As illustrated by the quote on the main page, Edward the Longshanks of Braveheart. He actually does it twice during the Battle of Falkirk; in addition to the example in the quote, he begins the battle by ordering his commander to send in their Irish conscripts first because "Arrows cost money. The dead cost nothing". This bites him on the ass as they promptly switch sides. Not that it helps them since Longshanks actually wins the battle.
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  • Slightly indirect version in The Dark Knight. The Joker pulls a bank job working with what are at least some highly skilled thieves, who kill each other one by one under orders, leaving the Joker with all the money. Apparently the Joker has no worries about finding other people to work for him.
  • Downfall (2004) takes place during the final days of World War II, as the Red Army lays siege to Berlin. Hitler keeps acting like they have reserves left, even though they're reduced to using children and old men.
    General Weidling: In the fight for Berlin, we've already lost 15 to 20,000 of the younger officers!
    Adolf Hitler: But that's what young men are for.
  • Enemy at the Gates opens with the Red Army advancing on the German front lines at Stalingrad. When each troop passed the Commissar, they were handed either a rifle or a single clip, and were then forced to charge against the well-armed Germans, and were gunned down by NKVD machine gunners if they tried to retreat.
    Commissar: "The man with the rifle shoots! The one without follows him! When the man with the rifle gets killed, the one who is following picks up the rifle and shoots!"
  • In Galaxy Quest, the Big Bad shows no regard for his underlings when, during a Villainous Breakdown, he orders them to keep looking for the Galaxy Quest crew on the Protector even though the self-destruction countdown nears zero and evacuating his men would be the most logical option.
  • In Gallipoli, Colonel Robinson orders three waves of men to attack the Turkish Trenches at The Nek, even though all three are completely gunned down. He justifies it as a diversion for the British on Suvla. In reality, it was a diversion for a New Zealander attack.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the rebel attacks shown in Districts Five and Seven don't have the finesse of a trained army, nor are they particularly well-equipped. What they do have is a lot of people fully willing to die if it means sticking it to the Capitol. This is especially true of District Five, whose rebels don't even have weapons. The entire plan was a suicidal Zerg Rush at a hydroelectric dam in order to destroy it, which took out everyone who managed to charge through the gunfire.
  • Indiana Jones
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark has Indy in a fight with a group of Major Toht's henchmen. Towards the end of this, he ends up wrestling one of them for a gun. Toht gives his other henchman the order to "Shoot them. Shoot them both!". This backfires, as it gives Indy and the Mook a common enemy to aim at.
    • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Mola Ram pushes his own men off the bridge as he attempts to make Indy fall off.
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Walter Donovan sends one mook after another into a series of Death Traps before Indy shows up and he figures out how to force him to do it.
  • In the Vietnam War documentary In the Year of the Pig, Generals Curtis LeMay and Mark Clark make the case that an important difference between the two sides of the conflict is that the lives of the soldiers are more precious to the Americans than to the communist enemy – that the communists are willing to lose men in larger numbers than the Americans, and that it would therefore be prudent to make the means with which the war is fought material rather than people.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Dr. Arnim Zola suggests to his boss Johann Schmidt to lighten the workload for their prisoners since overworking them could cause their prisoners to die of exhaustion. Schmidt easily convinces him otherwise by telling him they could always get more prisoners.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Odin is ready to get as many Asgardians killed fighting the dark elves as needed. When Thor asks how Odin is different from Malekith (who sacrificed most of his own race in the past) Odin replies that unlike Malekith he intends to win.
    • In Black Panther (2018), this is the rationale for Wakanda's isolationism: Wakanda has superior technology, but the modern world powers have vastly superior numbers. So when Killmonger becomes king and prepares to declare war on the world, T'Challa and his allies are concerned that Wakanda would lose the resulting war. Killmonger knows this, which is why he is counting on the oppressed of the world to join them to make up the numbers.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, as the heroes and the Children of Thanos stand off in Wakanda, Black Panther says that the latter will get nothing but "dust and blood". Proxima Midnight promptly replies that "We have blood to spare", releasing armies of rabid alien Outriders.
    • Avengers: Endgame: In the Final Battle, when Wanda has Thanos caught in her telekinetic power, Thanos orders his ship to fire on the battlefield. Even Corvus Glaive is shocked as some of their own forces would be hit by the blast, but when Thanos tells him a second time, Corvus does not dare defy him.
  • The Matrix Revolutions: After the Zion shipyard is overrun, dozens of Sentinels sacrifice themselves by transferring all their energy reserves to the giant drilling robot to reactivate it.
  • Done humorously in the movie Mystery Men, where Casanova Frankenstein kills his own men for no other reason than to mention to the heroes he is so evil and uncaring that he kills his own men.
  • The 1957 Kirk Douglas film Paths of Glory.
    • It's about a French general in World War I ordering a desperate plan to at long last break through the German lines, knowing full well the attack is certain to kill most of the men used in it (he even has the statistically probable numbers worked out). And he's doing it mainly to earn a promotion.
    • During the battle, when the rest of the French soldiers have come up out of their trench and advanced across the no-man's land, a SNAFU has caused the French B Company to still be hanging back in their own trench. The French General orders his artillery to fire on B Company in the hope that they'll be scared out of the trench and attack.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jack is at least willing to hire a hundred men to his crew and then give up their souls in order to pay off his debt to Davy Jones, an act which even Jones can't believe Jack is capable of. But in the third film, after a brief taste of death, Jack is willing to throw the entire population of Shipwreck Island — his brothers in arms — at Jones and the IETC armada.
  • Saving Private Ryan
    • Downplayed when Captain Miller started to fall into this tactic while still shell-shocked from landing on Omaha Beach during D-Day, twice ordering small groups of his squad to try to charge a machine gun position. After this he realizes what he's done, and instead has his Cold Sniper take out the machine gunner, while Miller risks his life to distract the gunner.
    • Alternatively, Miller may have realized that a single good sniper is simply worth more than four regular infantrymen. After all, snipers have more training and expertize, while also being less common and capable of filling the role of other infantrymen. In some occasions, some lives really are worth more than others.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has Moran trying to shoot Watson from a sniper's nest, but his own henchman is blocking his view of Watson. He finally shoots the henchman ("Toldja!") to get a clear line of sight.
  • In Starship Troopers, both the Bugs and the humans apparently follow this philosophy, with the former obviously benefiting more from this tactic. Special mention goes to the attack on Whisky Outpost. After the Mobile Infantry shoots hundreds of Bugs from the compound, the dead Bug soldiers simply leave so many piled-up corpses in their wake that the next wave can simply walk right over the walls.
  • Star Wars:
    • Imperial Stormtroopers and TIE fighters are considered 100% disposable. Even Star Destroyers, massive expensive warships crewed by 37,000 people, were treated casually by Vader; in The Empire Strikes Back, he ordered these enormous ships into an Asteroid Thicket. While his captains were in a holoconference with Vader to update him on the status of the pursuit of the Millennium Falcon, an asteroid took out the bridge of a destroyer and its commander fades away. Not only does Vader think nothing of it, but neither do the other captains assembled at the holoconference.
    • Solo shows a legion of Imperial troops getting mowed down in a World War I style human wave attack against trenches in one of its first scenes, and in another has a Star Destroyer destroy itself by blindly chasing a smuggler into a wormhole. In neither case do their superiors think anything of the losses.
    • Palpatine, Vader's boss and the leader of the Galactic Empire, is even worse: In Deleted Scenes for Return of the Jedi, and also the movie's Novelization, Palpatine orders Jerjerrod to fire the Death Star's superlaser at Endor should the Rebels capture the shield generator. When Jerjerrod voices his reluctance to carry out the order due to the presence of their troops on the planet, Palpatine tells him that he will go through with the command. At least one legion, if not several battalions were stationed on Endor at that point, meaning that the Emperor has absolutely no qualms with murdering several populations of his forces if it meant destroying the Rebels.
    • The Prequel Trilogy puts an interesting twist on this already-established trope, in that the droid armies of the Separatists are cannon fodder compared to the clonetroopers. The EU and novelizations make this a bit more clear, but it's obvious even in the movies. The Separatists co-opt all of the big industrial groups in the galaxy, who already have their own large mercenary armies (think Haliburton and Blackwater), composed of droids. They can manufacture billions upon billions of droids, rolling off the assembly line ready for battle. They're completely willing to expend these droids because they're not really "alive" and utterly replaceable. In contrast, the clonetroopers/early stormtroopers were actually a step away from this trope when they first appeared on the battlefield. Clonetroopers take about 10 years to create, which is drastically less than a normal soldier, and you can make them in large numbers but that's nowhere near the matter of hours it takes for a droid to roll off the assembly line. However, as the films explicitly state, droid soldiers tend to be fairly stupid, while the clonetroopers have free will and can think for themselves, adapting to the situation and gaining experience. The Separatist forces actually consistently outnumbered the Republic for most of the war, because they could just keep replacing war droids. The problem was that the clonetroopers ultimately proved to be a better fighting force, repeatedly winning against numerically superior droid armies.
    • The Stormtroopers themselves are this even compared to their Clonetrooper predecessors; Clonetroopers took a minimum of 10 years to mature because they still needed a reasonable amount of time to develop mentally and physically. Even then most Clonetroopers are genetically altered to be less biologically complex, allowing them to absorb information and have less physical defects (ARC Troopers, by comparison, had a much more complex genome and much more rigorous selection process). Clone equipment is also far better, with them being universally mechanized in contrast to the stormtroopers (more vehicle support) and even their armor is superior (as Captain Rex notes with some annoyance when forced to use stormtrooper gear in Star Wars: Rebels). The Stormtroopers, by contrast, are a much larger force of volunteers with inferior training and more fanaticism, so it's no surprise that they're given less to work with and viewed as expendable. It's also justified in that the clones were meant to be the spearhead formations in a peer war scenario, while Stormtroopers spend most of their time taking potshots at insurgents in Imperial garrisons, suppressing small rebel and pirate fleets, or conquering weak planets that can barely fight back.
    • And then there's the Imperial Army Troopers, the infantry of the Imperial Army proper. While the mechanized and heavy units are fine (in fact that's where the Clonetroopers heavy units were moved to with their transition into Stormtroopers) and their blasters are the same as the Stormtroopers, their personal armors are more minimalist and cheaper compared to Stormtroopers' (a Stormtrooper in full armor being even able to survive in vacuum indefinitely, provided he has a respirator pack available. An Imperial Army Trooper, not so much), their training is further reduced, many of their officers are less than capable, and their numbers are mostly filled with conscripts and washouts (though the Stormtrooper Corps washouts are actually appreciated, as they make excellent lieutenants). To make things worse, for a time they were even deprived of repeating blasters due supposed efficiency experts considering them useless, and it took many battles with heavy losses against the Separatist Holdouts for the generals to be able to restore them.
    • The most expendable troops are the CompForce, the infantry of COMPNOR (Commission for the Preservation of the New Order). Organized and equipped on the standard model of the Imperial Army (thus lacking repeating blasters, as that was not a formal addition) with the exception of not having security platoons as they're considered too loyal (for comparison, Stormtroopers were assigned security platoons), their skills were subpar (often described as "CompForce troopers can't shoot straight and don't care about anything except shooting") and, as appropriate for their role, mostly replaced by fanaticism. Imperial generals would often use them to soak up enemy fire and preserve standard infantry, partly because normal infantry, while more numerous, is more competent, and in part because nobody liked them.
    • Played with by the First Order in The Force Awakens. They aren't shown executing soldiers that fail their duties, most likely because they don't have the resources, budget, or the man power of the former Empire, and therefore, replacing soldiers is more difficult. But those that die in combat are regarded as "too weak" for the First Order.
    • In Rogue One, Grand Moff Tarkin uses the Death Star to eliminate their under-siege Database Archives on Scarif, an act which kills more Imperials than Rebels (most of whom were already dead). But because it kills his rival, Director Orson Krennic, who'd just realized there was a purposefully-planted weak spot in the Death Star, Tarkin unknowingly dooms himself and the Death Star, setting the stage for the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope.
  • In A View to a Kill, after gleefully gunning down scores of his own miners, and detonating bombs which drown the others, Max Zorin simply looks at his watch and says "Good. Right on schedule.".
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Diana calls out the whole British War Council and Field Marshal Douglas Haig in particular for willingly sending thousands of their men to die, and she argues that a good leader would fight and die alongside his men.
  • In The World's End after more or less clearing a pub of the Blanks, the group has a Mass "Oh, Crap!" when the exact same Blanks walk in through the front door, realising how screwed they really are.
  • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto takes a step away from his usual place as an Anti-Villain to order a group of weak mutants to lead a charge. He holds back his eager new apprentice Pyro from joining the charge, telling him "In chess, The Pawns Go First." When they get mowed down (revealing the other side's secret weapon, guns that shoot Power Nullifiers), he comments "That's why the pawns go first".
  • In Zulu, a 1964 film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift, the Zulu open the assault by getting close enough to the defended position that the British can easily shoot those in the front ranks. Lieutenant Chard remarks that King Cetshwayo is "testing our firing strength... with the lives of his men."