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“Big Damn Heroes, Sir”- Top Ten Heroic Sacrifices- A Mexican Standoff

Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of awesome movies and television and several subpar G.I. Joe sequels. This is a Mexican Standoff, a categorical list of things having to do with movies and television- the essentials of life.

Big Damn Heroes. It’s what everyone wants to be. If you’ve ever played any kind of role play game, you know that everyone thinks they’re the fire hose swinging, yippie-kay-aying hero man John McClane. But in reality, most of us are Ellis, doing cocaine and poorly pronouncing German until we meet our inevitable and unceremonial demise.

But fortunately for the peeps on the following list, they did get to be Big Damn Heroes. For clarification’s sake, these people didn’t necessarily have to die from these sacrifices, but if they didn’t then they totally got off easy. More like Medium Damn Heroes.

Katniss The Hunger Games

10) Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in The Hunger Games

This one is fairly new and directed primarily at squealing preteens, but come on. Katniss saves her sister by agreeing to participate in a Teen Death Match (Coming to MTV 2015). If we ignore the love triangle, it’s a very triumphant story of sacrifice. If we ignore the love triangle…

Saving Private Ryan

9) Tom Hanks and the Men (Tom Hanks and the Men) in Saving Private Ryan

“You have to earn this.” Those are the last words Tom Hanks says to Matt Damon’s Private Ryan right before he dies (Spoilers wear off after 15 years).  And Damon really has to do some big things considering only two members of a fairly large team survive the mission to save Private Ryan. They had to get him back, and they did… At the cost of Vin Diesel.

On the Waterfront Marlon Brando

8) Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) in On the Waterfront

Brando’s Malloy is one of cinema’s first big and thrilling anti-heroes, at least to my knowledge. And he takes a hell of a beating for it. For the sake of a union and the disenfranchised workers affected by it, Malone allows himself to be beaten by the mafia in front of Eva Marie Saint and everyone. My heart has not stopped wrenching since I saw it over a year ago.

Iron Man The Avengers

7) Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) in The Avengers

Tony didn’t end up dying from his efforts at the tail end of Joss Whedon’s superhero game-changer, but he didn’t know that when he started it. And, as I’ve talked about before, it’s not whether or not he died, it’s whether or not he was willing to die for the safety and preservation of his precious Earth. Or, probably more realistically, to save his tower.

Simon Firefly

6) Simon Tam (Sean Maher) on Firefly

Besides getting shot for it (which, admittedly, most Firefly characters have done at some point), Simon Tam has given up everything for protection of his sister, River. He left his medical practice and spent nearly all of his money and now has to spend the rest of his life traversing the ‘verse with a bunch of smarmy, sarcastic pirates. And because of it, he’s like everyone’s least favorite character.

Brendan Gleeson In Bruges

5) Ken (Brendan Gleeson) in In Bruges

Tears. Tears just remembering this one. I’m actually not going to say anything about this one because I want you all to go watch it. Just know that it’s great and Mad-Eye Moody gets to fight Voldemort.

Lily Potter

4) Lily Potter (Geraldine Somerville) in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone–or Philosopher’s Stone if you’re weird

The death that haunted your childhood more than probably most real deaths that happened during your childhood. The brave and noble Lily Potter sacrificed her own life so that her titular son might live. And then Harry married a personality-less girl who looks exactly like her, finally solidifying his Oedipus Complex.

Mordin Solus Mass Effect 3

3) Mordin Solus (William Salyers) in Mass Effect 3

Again, just an abnormal number of tears at the memory of this one. Having been on the modification team for a disease that keeps an entire race from being able to properly reproduce, Salarian scientist Mordin Solus uses his final actions on this Earth to undo his work and hopefully bring about a new period of prosperity for the Krogan people. And he also sings a really sad song, that bastard.

It wasn't.

2) Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) on Lost

I’ve talked about this one before, and no amount of me telling you about it is going to do much for any of us. Just stare at that image. Stare at it and feel the feels you feel, man. Namaste.

Liam Neeson Schindler's List

1) Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) in Schindler’s List

If you don’t know about this one, then screw you. Seriously. Block out four hours in your schedule this weekend and watch this movie. Three of those hours are for the movie. The last hour is so you can find your heart after this movie makes it soar. I understand that the real Schindler faced some awful stuff after the events at the end of this film, but in the film it really is the perfect heroic sacrifice. Just watch it, people.

You can find Kevin on Twitter if that’s your thing, and you can just keep checking back here. We post a new piece on movies and TV every two weeks, one of these Mexican Standoffs every Wednesday, and regular reviews of Community and Game of Thrones. Now get off my lawn.

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4 thoughts on ““Big Damn Heroes, Sir”- Top Ten Heroic Sacrifices- A Mexican Standoff

  1. Maggie on said:

    Mordin! I can’t tell you how much I cried when Mordin started singing in that tower. Mass Effect 3 was a tear fest for me, with Thane and Legion, along with Mordin, giving up their lives. And I didn’t have Tali killing herself. I don’t think I would have continued playing if she had.

    I would have added Lee’s sacrifice from The Walking Dead, with him chopping off his arm and using his last living days on earth to bring Clem to safety.

    …Damn games making me cry.

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