Martyr Without a Cause

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Why is Tony Stark sacrificing himself today, folks? We're taking all bets! [1]

"You Optimuses do love to sacrifice yourselves, don't you?"

Megatron, Beast Wars

Heroes are heroic; it goes without saying. So it shouldn't come as a surprise when one makes a Heroic Sacrifice or takes the shot to protect a friend or loved one; even his allies might form a Hero Secret Service to protect him before facing the Big Bad.

Then, there's heroes who seem to have a near suicidal insistence on being the one to die... even if the situation isn't all that dire! They'll put the Overprotective Dad and Mama Bear to shame in their zeal to ensure no one around them but themselves is in any risk. They'll discourage alternate plans for a given threat if any friends have to be in the slightest danger, even if they increase the odds for success and their own survival, and said friends are willing to take the risk. If someone gets hurt (or his litte sister forbid, dies) he'll be eaten up with guilt. This is often the Character Flaw of The Messiah, and often combines with Chronic Hero Syndrome.

Expect friends, family, and loved ones to scold him repeatedly on this risk-hogging behavior, and villains to use Flaw Exploitation to make the most of it by engineering threats. If it's that kind of show, expect an episode or two about how the hero needs to learn to trust his teammates, and realize he can't control fate and protect them from all harm.

Generally, this is also part of the motivation for why a hero will give themselves up without a fight when a love interest is held hostage at knifepoint and give said love interest up afterwards, to save them from any perceived danger.

Occasionally, such a character may be a member of a Martyrdom Culture for whom death is not necessarily a bad thing, potentially resulting in misunderstandings when dealing with those with different backgrounds.

See Honor Before Reason for the idea behind this trope, and compare Suicidal Pacifism and Leeroy Jenkins. For the more depressing and less heroic version of this, see Death Seeker.

Examples of Martyr Without a Cause include:

Anime and Manga

  • Umi and Fuu (well, mostly Umi) in Magic Knight Rayearth are constantly yelling at Hikaru for this.
  • Haruka and Michiru in Sailor Moon S were notoriously this.
    • And Usagi, though her non-causes were often more dire. The other senshi repeatedly call her out for offering herself or the crystal to the enemies for the other soldiers' lives.
  • Watanuki from ×××HOLiC has more than a few elements of this, though it is brought up eventually, and even more eventually justified into a backstory-defining plot point. As early as volume 8 of the Manga, he offers to give up his left eye to a spider demon if she'll release a friend, the Zashiki-Warashi, who was trying to recover his stolen right eye, leading to the monster deconstructing this trope and giving him an epiphany.

Jorō-gumo: [...] The Zashiki-Warashi went to these lengths to get back your right eye, and you'd throw that away like it was nothing?... In other words, you consider her an absolute fool who would try to protect worthless trash such as yourself.
Watanuki: That isn't it!!
Jorō-gumo: It is it. [...] You hold in disgust those who would hurt others... and yet you do it yourself. Looking at the scars you've allowed to be inflicted on yourself, I can't imagine the amount of scars your actions have inflicted on others.
Jorō-gumo: It's that particular attitude... that I just loathe.

  • It's hard to say which of the Bronze Saints in Saint Seiya suffers the most from this. There's Shiryu, who blinded himself to save his friends; there's Hyoga, who allowed a Forgotten Childhood Friend to injure one of his eyes to settle a score; then there's Shun, who takes self-sacrifice to such an extreme that Shiryu himself commented on it.
    • In the case of Shiryu, it is hard to tell if that's a bad trait of him; he seems to become more powerful/skilled whenever he starts getting disadvantages, like being blinded or losing his armor off (though in Saint Seiya universe, warriors can still be a deadly threat as long as they are alive, and losing perceptions ACTUALLY allows reaching enlightenment, as Virgo Shaka vs Ikki lampshades). There's even a running-gag between fans that say "if Shiryu isn't blind or naked, the battle isn't done yet". Hell, he only managed to perform Excalibur the first time after his enemy pointed out he was hiding behind his resurrected Bronze Cloth (with protective ability nearly on par with Gold Cloths), and him accepting that he was unconsciously relying on his armor to protect him, and consequently casting it off. He was too immature (this gets lampshaded at several times in the series, too) at this point to channel his full power normally, so he HAD to put himself in a truly desperate situation, to bring out the power level necessary to activate Excalibur. He has to become a Martyr to get the proper motivation.
    • Averted with Athena, who puts her life on risk while fully knowing that the Saints will fight for her sake and the worlds. They're the one who fight her battles, but it's thanks to her that they even have time and chance to do that too.
  • Negi, the protagonst of Mahou Sensei Negima, is repeatedly scolded by Asuna for that.
    • Kurt Godel may be one of these too. According to Nodoka's artifact, he himself was not involved in the attack on Negi's village, however Godel says that he has no intention of running from his sins and promises, once everything is over, to let Negi beat him to death if that's what it takes to satisfy Negi's desire for revenge.'
  • The title character of Naruto leans in this direction occationally, especially during the Pain arc, telling everyone else to stay the hell away. When one of them doesn't, gets hurt and, well, it's not pretty. He is better most of the time though, trusting his teammates, but he'd rather fight the most dangerous enemies himself.
    • Considering that Pain was slaughtering everyone, Red Shirts and Heroes alike, and that Naruto was litterally the only one who had a chance of beating him, it is understandable for all of those other characters that Can't Catch Up to get the heck out of the way. Martyr Without a Cause would have been if he submited to Pain for Pain's twisted idea of Peace.
    • Naruto later gets called out on this behavior by Itachi, of all people, who points out that trying to do everything by himself is disrespectful to his friends, and that it's egotistical to think that only he can solve all the world's problems.
  • Chrono from Chrono Crusade constantly feels the need to do this. Almost every time there's an attack on his group, he'll push away his comrades and jump in front of the attack. Argubly this is justified since Chrono is a demon with the ability to heal himself, but he still seems almost ridiculously obsessed with being the only one to take any damage.
  • Nagi Kirima from the Boogiepop Series sees herself as a vigilante meant to clean up the world, and often goes to great lengths to deal with things herself. At one point she even temporarily gets killed by Manticore but Echoes' intervention saves her life. Notably, in her backstory her dying father's request for her was that she not be normal, and she seems to have taken it to heart (perhaps a bit too much).
  • Miaka from Fushigi Yugi does this every single time she and her friends are attacked. "This is all because of me!"
  • Vash The Stampede takes this to ludicrous levels. His body is covered with scars he's suffered while protecting others—including his enemies. He'd rather die than allow ANYONE around him to get killed, and the people who are shooting at him are not exempt from that. Good thing his Improbable Aiming Skills are just as overpowered as his morals...
    • In a rare subversion of the trope, both his Improbable Aiming Skills and his near-immortality are completely justified by the story.
    • When finally, near the end of the series run, he's forced to choose between killing an enemy or letting the two girls he has befriended (and he might as well be in love with one of them) die instead, he pulls the trigger, kills the guy, and saves the girls -- and then promptly breaks down crying.
      • One of very few shows that actually faces the consequences of a stridently non-killing hero- usually, they allow the hero to Take a Third Option, which typically feels like a copout.
  • Akagi Shunsuke's salaryman ethos extends to piloting Dai-Guard: during the competition with Kokubogar, he's the only one even trying despite being delirious with fever. He's also willing to tear his robot apart for impromptu "rocket punches" when nothing else seems to be working.
  • In Pandora Hearts, the fact that he cares nothing for himself is both Oz's strength and weakness. Hell The Abyss holds no fear to one who doesn't give a damn what happens to himself.
  • In Princess Tutu, Mytho is a prince from a fairytale that destroyed his own heart to seal away an evil raven. Because of his heart being missing, he's emotionless, but one key part of his personality remained intact—his desire to protect others. Because of this, he mindlessly throws himself into danger in order to protect anything and everyone: jumping out of a window to protect a baby bird (which can fly, by the way), running into a burning building to save a bird in a cage, throwing himself in front of a little girl in danger... for the people that care for him, it's one of the things that makes them love him, but many of them also express frustration with it.
  • Baccano!'s Jacuzzi Splot has regularly demonstrated that he is willing to risk (or even hand over) his life for someone he's known for hours at most. His Victorious Childhood Friend has this to say about it, "He comes out on the lossing end a lot but he's got a lot of friends."
  • Allen Walker in D.Gray-man wants to save everyone. He usually forgets in the process that he's one of only about 20 Exorcists fighting off millions of Akuma. At one point his friend Lenalee had to Bright Slap him to get him to act remotely rational about it.
  • Touma of A Certain Magical Index is even pointed out by certain character to be a Martyr Without A Cause. He helps any girl who comes to him with trouble and inexplicably ends up in the hospital after helping. He even helps Misaka Mikoto who tries to near kill him and stalked him before he lost his memory and is someone he hardly even knows to begin with. Every girl he helps also appears to fall in love with him after he helps them.
  • In the Digimon franchise, the heroic death of heroic Proud Warrior Race Guy Leomon has become a Running Gag, happening at least once every season, even in different continuities. It's usually a sign of things getting dark and serious, even.
  • In Pokémon Special, Team Galactic once trying to kidnap Platinum aside, Pearl tells Diamond that there's no reason to put themselves in danger by being involved with them after Diamond nearly gets himself killed stealing a camera from Cyrus. Diamond states that he refuses to standby and do nothing when there's an obviously evil and dangerous group running around.
  • In Double Arts, the apparently cheerful and playful Sister Heine turns out to be one of these. She gave up all her hobbies and became determined to keep healing people until it killed her, to atone for arriving too late to save a Troi-infected patient, even ignoring the advice of her superior Sisters to slow down.
  • Ryou Bakura of Yu-Gi-Oh! fame has a couple of moments like these.
  • Kimba the White Lion acts like this at times.

Comic Boos

  • The Legion of Super Heroes's post-Zero Hour continuity gave Leviathan (Colossal Boy) something of this mentality, resulting in tragedy when Shrinking Violet attempts to use the Emerald Eye of Ekron to give her teammates their "hearts' desires". Leviathan's heart's desire turns out to be "to die a hero".
  • Yorick from Y: The Last Man. He had an actual death wish for a while, being the last man on earth and all, but he got over it after a session of good old-fashioned S&M-themed psychiatric assistance.
  • Tony "Iron Man" Stark's third answer to everything appears to be "Electrocute/asphyxiate/experiment on myself" right after "Build more guns" and "Jump in front of the thing being aimed at my better armoured teammate famous for his use of a shield." It's probably a complex.
    • Interestingly, the recent[when?] Avengers film makes this part of his Character Development: Captain America initially calls him out on his un-willingness to to sacrifice himself (while Stark claims he can always Take a Third Option), making his (almost) sacrifice to save the city from a nuke at the end a pretty big turning point for him.
  • Cable. He made himself a giant target to prove to the world that things could be better if everyone put aside their differences and worked together—to kill him. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that meddling Deadpool and his pesky insanity! (Well, the dying part anyway.)

Fan Works

  • This is an extremely common quality for the lead character in Peggy Sue fanfics, due to the very nature of a Peggy Sue. Knowing that their True Companions have failed once before, they insist on going it alone to protect them and conceal their knowledge. They do this even though the knowledge they possess makes them the least expendable, as their death will likely seal everyone's fate.
  • Averted in A Very Potter Musical: As in the original Harry Potter, Voldemort asks Harry whom he will be using as a human shield this time. Harry has already told everyone not to interfere, but Ron steps forward to volunteer before Hermione yanks him back.


  • In the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Orlando Bloom's character Will seemed to have a curiously puppyish eagerness to sacrifice himself if that was at all likely to help matters. "Ooh, oooh, ME! Kill ME!" Jack even congratulates him as their fortunes take a dire turn, "And you get to die for Elizabeth...!"

Jack: She's safe. Just like I promised. And she's all set to marry Norrington just like she promised, and you get to die for her just like you promised, so we're all men of our words, really... Except for Elizabeth, who is, in fact, a woman.

  • In Secondhand Lions, Hub McCann expresses little interest in waiting to die of old age, and it is strongly implied that he possesses a severe deathwish, as his only love died years before. However, he is old and retired to a ranch with his brother, and those impulses cause him to risk his life for no reason.
  • In Letters From Iwo Jima, the main (Japanese) characters' platoon is ordered to fall back and fortify another position after the American troops have broken through the first line of defense. Their Lieutenant disobeys and orders his men to take their own lives instead. The main characters refuse and instead fall back, reasoning that it makes sense to go down fighting rather than kill themselves pointlessly, especially since those were their orders anyway.
    • This was because of the heavy tradition of honor in the Japanese military. Although a respected gesture, any general worth his salt would consider a waste to make his officers commit suicide in case of failure, as much as a good incentive for avoiding failure it may be.
  • Red Planet seems to have a spaceship full of people only too happy to sacrifice themselves for no apparent reason. You'd think NASA would pick astronauts who wanted to, you know, come back.
  • Played for Laughs with Forrest Gump's lieutenant. One of Lieutenant Dan's relatives died in each war since the American Revolution and he wants to live up to that. He doesn't. Die, that is.
    • Although, in the original book's sequel Gump and Co., he gets killed by friendly fire in the first Gulf War.
  • In the 2007 Transformers film, Optimus Prime spends considerable effort on convincing Sam to shove the All Spark into the opening on his (Optimus') chest, destroying it but killing him in the process. The All Spark has the potential to be pretty dangerous, so this seems reasonable... until we learn that it can also be destroyed by shoving it into Megatron, killing him instead. Since they presumably have to defeat Megatron one way or the other anyway, why is killing Optimus to destroy the All Spark even on the table? It was probably meant to seem heroic, but it comes off as pointlessly suicidal.
    • It seems like a strangely suicidal plan until you realize that Optimus couldn't simply beat Megatron into submission in the middle of a densely populated city, and it's not like the he thought Sam could push the Cube into Megatron's chest without being crushed by him in the process. The Autobots were trying their damnedest to keep the All Spark away from the Decepticons; had Optimus attempted to push the Cube into Megatron's chest instead, he would have risked the latter getting a hold of it and flying away. They were desperate and Sam acted on a whim at the last moment, so it does make sense.


  • Harry Potter has elements of this, sometimes exasperating his friends.
    • Making it worse is that Voldemort quickly figures that out. In one of the few times he shows any savvy, he uses Harry's willingness to rescue loved ones by sending fake memories of capturing Sirius Black in Order of the Phoenix. By the time of The Deathly Hallows, Voldemort accuses Harry of letting others die protecting him in order to guilt-trip Harry into sacrificing himself during the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • All Tamora Pierce heroines have this as a defining quality, to the exasperation of their various comrades.
    • So far, none have succeeded.
  • In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Rand al'Thor suffers badly from this, at least if it's a woman on the line. He wangsts on endlessly if even a single woman is killed and he is sort of to blame—regardless of whether said woman was trying to kill him and everyone else around him. This is much to the reader's chagrin, since most women in Wheel of Time are jerkasses whom no reader would miss.
  • Bella in Twilight is a variant—it's not that she wants to be a hero, it's that, as other characters sometimes lampshade, she blames herself for anything and everything that goes wrong. This leads to the same type of self-hatred (if not the same quantity) as The Atoner, and while she doesn't often have the opportunity to risk her life, she clearly considers herself more expendable than those around her, particularly Edward, but also her mother, father, unborn baby... (This also seems to be responsible for a good deal of reader hatred, particularly from those who think she's merely Too Dumb to Live, but that's neither here nor there.)
    • Well, it also comes from the fact that she's ready to kill herself when keeping her SAFE is the entire point of the event. There's being a Martyr Without a Cause, then there's that.
  • The title character from Percy Jackson and The Olympians does have the tendency to put the deaths of his friends right on his own head.
    • In fact, he's explicitly told that is his fatal flaw, that he will always do anything to save a friend. Percy doesn't get how that's a flaw.

Live-Action TV

  • The three Winchesters in Supernatural are all quite prone to this. It's even gotten to the point where when one dies, another family member will make a Deal with the Devil (and they know they'll pay a high price) to bring them back to life. The Yellow Eyed Demon even comments that they make it "too easy". In all three cases, however, the motivation hovered somewhere between this and that of the Death Seeker -- (Sam's death-wish stemmed from the loss of his girlfriend, John's from the loss of his wife and the realization of the damage he'd done to his sons, and Dean's from... oh, everything.)
    • Dean is particularly gifted in this area. In Faith, he willingly doesn't fight back against a Reaper who came to kill him in exchange for another (because he thinks she deserves to live more) and then seems disappointed and upset when the Reaper is stopped, he tries to sacrifice himself to stall the Seven Sins in 3x01 (much to Sam and Bobby's displeasure), deliberately uses himself for bait to catch the Monster of the Week's attention, and so on. All of the Winchesters run the fine line between this and the Deathseeker but Dean's is even finer than most.
  • Let's not leave out The Doctor's ability to completely forget that his death would make the universe a worse place given the number of times he has saved planets, and even the entire frickin' universe! The Tenth Doctor has a particularly egregious example when he is prepared to destroy an entire Sontaran Fleet, which is about ready to end all human life. Now, the Doctor isn't foolish enough not to realize he has to Shoot the Dog, but he insists that he goes up with the bomb to give the Sontarans a chance to surrender. Given that the one weak point in Sontaran armor is designed at the back of the neck, to ensure that they never run from battle, one might imagine a single Sontaran fleet would consider their death fully worth it to kill The Doctor. The Doctor is dragged out at the last moment so that someone else can sacrifice himself in a redeeming moment, but his death seemed rather pointless.
    • This fact is even addressed in a Fourth Series episode, "Turn Left", where the Doctor dies before he can regenerate. Earth is then pretty much shot to hell, the Torchwood team all dies, and various other happenings occur that weren't supposed to.
      • The episodes does show the Earth could survive without the Doctor for a while, but only because he was able to teach former companions what they needed to know to save the world. Even then the world took substantial damage before it finally ended.
    • The Doctor's tendency to do this is parodied in one of the comic strips, wherein in order to defeat the monster he steals a helicopter equipped with canisters of nerve gas and plans to make a suicide crash-run into the beast itself. After his farewell speech to his friends, one of his friends points out that the helicopter comes equipped with an ejector seat, which he then sheepishly uses.
    • In the finale of the "Silence in the Library" two-parter, the Doctor explains that he'll have to hook his brain up to a computer and fry his brain to save the day. River Song then knocks him out and handcuffs him to a pole so she can sacrifice herself instead. He proceeds to throw a fit about someone else sacrificing their life for the good of others, without any apparent irony.
    • There are many instances of this in the classic series as well, though the most egregious might be in "Mawdryn Undead" when he's willing to sacrifice his life so the villains can succeed in their plan (which happens to be their own deaths), in order to save two companions from extreme aging/de-aging (depending on which direction through time the TARDIS travels). Luckily the Brigadier touches himself (not in that way)...
  • Zhaan does this in an episode of Farscape. Somebody had to activate the separate-the-ships sequence, so of course the one person too weak to even bother trying to cross back into Moya is the one they choose to do it. Given the twenty-minute before-death speech, why couldn't they just get a ten-foot pole and press the buttons from across the room?
    • Because the writers needed to find a way to write Zhaan out of the series, due to the fact that her actress's health was being severely damaged by all the blue body paint she had to wear. You'll note that in the season leading up to her death, Zhaan tended more and more towards full-body clothing whereas in the first season she'd been seen mostly (sometimes entirely) naked. Virginia Hey's kidneys were reacting startlingly badly to something in her makeup. One might call it Executive Meddling, if one considers her doctor to be an executive.
  • In Babylon 5:
    • Commander Jeff Sinclair actually gets called out for this by the fourth episode of the first season.
    • Delenn's willingness to sacrifice herself at the drop of a hat is one of her defining characteristics.
  • Stargate Atlantis:

Sheppard: It's not like it's the first time. How many suicide missions have I flown?
McKay: I don't know. I lost count.

    • Although, technically, most times he does have a cause (it's just a question of which one he's going to do today), he just happens to get saved.
  • Jack from Lost always insists on personally going on the most dangerous missions, despite being the doctor and unofficial leader of the survivors, and thus arguably the most indispensible one. He especially insists that Kate never ever risk her life by coming on these missions, despite the fact that she's handy with a gun and a skilled tracker.
  • Malcom Reed on Star Trek: Enterprise is obsessed with dying heroically.
  • Faith is a firm believer in redemption by death, particularly in Angel. It comes to a head in "Orpheus" where its revealed she was a little too willing to go along with Wesley's dangerous plan.
  • One episode of This Is Wonderland involved an ex-cop, played by Ron White, who was caught in a self-destructive cycle after someone shot a gun at his face. The gun didn't go off, but he seems to have felt that it should have.
  • Kryten of Red Dwarf is practically made of this trope. Whenever danger threatens he offers to kill himself and save the crew, this being the only logical solution. (Such as suggesting he be loaded into the reverse-thrust tubes so that his body be used as decoy fodder for a pursuing spacecraft.) Rimmer will then agree immediately.

Lister: Sit down, Kryten! I'm not doing me own smeggin' laundry...


Tabletop Games

  • Mage: The Awakening has a Legacy called the Tamers of Void, who train themselves to be martyrs, then spend the rest of their lives looking for a cause to die for. If they become powerful enough and are still alive, they can get the ability to bring someone back to life, in exchange for their own death.
  • The Imperium in Warhammer 40,000 has this trope as official government policy, with phrases like "it is better to die for the Emperor than live for yourself" as their mottos. Naturally, considering the setting, Senseless Sacrifices abound. May be justified, as there's plenty more where that came from.


  • Cyrano De Bergerac: This trope is Lampshaded, Deconstructed and justified with Cyrano. Lampshaded by Le Bret when Cyrano fights against one hundred men when all Ligniere asked was to sleep at his house. Later, Cyrano will rescue De Guiche white scarf from enemy lines… just he can boast to De Guiche. Cyrano is badass enough to survive and win, but then the play deconstructs this trope showing how this attitude arises not only at perilous situations, but in all aspects of the life of a person: Cyrano throws away every chance of glory or love he has. Le Bret continuously scolds Cyrano about this attitude. Cyrano simply says that he is trying to live without compromises, but the sad truth is that this trope is justified because Cyrano attitude is the logic conclusion of a badass without any self esteem raised in a Martyrdom Culture.

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy X, the resident Cid's first instinct when presented with any problem seems to be "catastrophically crash the airship into it". Other characters treat this with a mixture of humor and exasperation.
    • All of Yevon is based on this. Not only do the martyrs' sacrifices not work, they give the local Eldritch Abomination a new host body.
      • Well, they do kind of work, since it earns the world around 10 years of peace while Sin is growing back to the point where it can resume Gozilla-ing around...
  • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, both the heroine Micaiah and the king Pelleas display definite traits of the trope; Pelleas is quite happy to discover his death means freeing his country from the Deal with the Devil he unwittingly signed, and Micaiah can prevent this by throwing herself in front of the weapon meant for him.

Micaiah: No, I'm fine, really. I'm just confused... Is the goddess telling me that I'm not worthy to become a martyr for Daein?
Pelleas: Or maybe she is saying that you're just too important to lose... But this is my fault! It was all because I signed that blood pact! I can only amend my mistake by giving my life!

    • It doesn't help that Micaiah's special ability is Sacrifice. She can take her own HP and transfer it to an ally. For a mage character with low HP and defense, this doesn't work too well...
  • One of the biggest strikes against Fallout 3 is that you inexplicably turn into one of these in the ending
    • YMMV unless you do a Complete Monster playthrough (which given how the quests are setup, what you are most rewarded for doing, and the canon ending created by Broken Steel is out of character for the player character). Not that inexplicable. Something Broken Steel fails to properly address is that people can't live without water. If you choose to poison the water supply, "not drinking water" is considered a viable strategy to not "poisoning yourself to death." So, heroic sacrifice, die in a few days due to dehydration, or hope you might be able to get to another clean supply of water before dying.
      • Or you could have your radiation immune Robot companion turn on Project Purity. Or your radiation immune Super Mutant companion. Or your radiation HEALED Ghoul companion. Or you could use the thousands of radiation-resistant/radiation-cure items you have on you by this point instead of just standing around like a loon inside a irradiated control room. In and out should have taken a few seconds, not the FIVE MINUTES the game requires to kill you. The original ending made a hell of a lot less sense than the Broken Steel ending. Even then, the game considers sending someone else better suited for the situation a coward's way out.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 2, Axel will sacrifice himself during a cutscene to save you from hordes of Dusks, even though they aren't much of a threat and you could continue fighting for hours.
  • In the second Shadow Hearts, Gepetto accuses Yuri Hyuga of being this.
  • In Turgor Sister Death becomes this halfway through the game. Partly justified as it's a Heroic Sacrifice / Driven to Suicide.

Visual Novels

Web Comics

  • Rikk Oberf in Fans has an obsession with ensuring that the people he cares for come to no harm in his adventures, and seems inclined to do this at times.
  • Torg of Sluggy Freelance will literally sacrifice himself at the first hint that any one of his friends might be in danger if he doesn't. This actually puts his teammates in a lot more danger because every time he tries this, they (duh!) have a mad scramble to rescue him. Then he yells at them for putting themselves in danger while he was trying to die, but is too stupid to take the hint that they're going to keep saving him. They're all messed up that way.
  • In Homestuck, after achieving God Tier, it's become a Running Gag that he repeatedly tries to sacrifice himself to save people on the basis that he's now immortal, even though he's repeatedly reminded that a Heroic Sacrifice would invalidate his immortality.

Western Animation

  • Transformers. Optimus Prime (in various incarnations) has heroically sacrificed himself so many times, it's become a running joke. Of course, given that he's guaranteed to come Back from the Dead it may be some sort of Genre Savvy.
    • This was deconstructed in the text story Prime Spark, where, after dying in the show, Armada!Prime meets the ghosts of his Generation 1 and Beast Machines counterparts; both tell him that it's more important for a leader to lead his troops than to sacrifice himself for some perceived mistake.
    • This tendency may have hit its limit way back in the 1980s Marvel comic in which the big red truck sacrifices himself after discovering he has accidentally cheated in a computer game.
    • It should be noted that the situation that inspired the page quote was an aversion. While Optimus was going to attempt a near-suicidal mission by ramming a Kill Sat with an exploding stasis pod, but he had every intention of bailing out before he could die. Megatron sabotages the pod, which turns this into an unintentional Heroic Sacrifice. (Don't worry, Optimus got better.)
  • In Code Lyoko, Aelita is always ready to sacrifice herself when the situation becomes too much to handle for the heroes. Somewhat justified in that, throughout Seasons 1 and 2, she's the only reason Team Lyoko keeps the Supercomputer on instead of just cutting the juice to finish off XANA—and also, Aelita believes she's an artificial being and not a human. She actually makes the Heroic Sacrifice in the episode "Just in Time", although Jérémie manages to bring her back. Even after learning she's human after all, she still tries to cut off the Supercomputer in Season 2 final "The Key".
  1. 1. I was sure my breastplate/cyborg heart had at least another hour's worth of power.