You Shall Not Pass

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Horatius suggesting to the Etruscans that bridge-crossing and Rome-sacking isn't happening.[1]


"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! YOU! SHALL NOT! PASS!"

A specific kind of Heroic Sacrifice.

Things are looking real bad for Our Heroes. Ultimate Evil has run amok, civilization is crumbling around them, and an endless army of monsters is hot on their heels, with the Hero-Killer leading the charge. Things are looking truly grim, when one character (sometimes two), usually one of the older or stronger ones, falls behind—possibly insisting that the others go on. In order to allow the other heroes to escape/reach their destination/BringNewsBack, this character singlehandedly holds back the enemy horde, often losing their life in the process. Just as often, however, they get a Disney Death, either being resurrected through Applied Phlebotinum, or showing up much later, having miraculously survived when No One Could Survive That. If shown on-screen, it could actually be used to improve the odds, thanks to the Law of Conservation of Ninjitsu. In cases were the person does succeed and stop the enemy forces and survive, it's normally a good sign they're just that Badass.

In extreme cases, where they must Bring News Back, one character gets 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.)

If the character is wounded, they may say I Will Only Slow You Down and Go On Without Me. This may allow an exception to the rule 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.

The 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, the character having been deranged by his suffering.

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!" (Which might be the second or third person, as in "ustedes no pasarán" [second] or "ellos/ellas no pasarán" [third]) In response to which General Franco later said "Hemos pasado," meaning "We have passed." The Spanish phrase became an international anti-fascist slogan. Hey, don't refuse free education!

Tip-offs when the character is wounded, and stays behind to allow others to escape, include:

See Self-Destructive Charge, which is a similar situation but from the view of the one not allowed to pass.

Frequently a Crowning 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 Stand Your Ground.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of You Shall Not Pass include:


  1. As recounted in the Lays of Ancient Rome.