Some Gave All: My list of memorable deaths and sacrifices in Pop Culture.
Memorial day is fast approaching and while many viewed this sacred holiday as a means to kickstart their Summer vacations,( well, not so much due to the Coronavirus pandemic.) others take the time to reflect and reminisce about the sacrifices made by Men and Women within the armed forces, have made in the name of freedom and democracy...while we still have it.
In honor of Memorial' Day, here are my picks of fictional characters who made the selfless call for the greater good!
Terminator 2 T-800
While the first Terminator film involved the T-800 model mercilessly killing anyone who gets between him and his intended target, Sarah Connor, in this sequel, things took a different, albeit unique term.
After finally destroying the liquid Cyborg T-1000, the earlier model, played by "Ahhnuld" Schwarzenegger, lowered himself in a vat of molten steel, in order to prevent any chances of having his CPU chipset reverse engineered.
No one saw that coming and just when the now good guy Terminator has grown on most of us, decides to give up the ghost, we can't fault James Cameron for implementing this scene as it was inevitable, that in order to prevent another apocalypse where machines ruled over mankind, Termy would have to pay the ultimate price. He may have been a machine, but inside, he was "more human than human".
Casshan: Robot Hunter (1995)
And speaking of Terminator, this OVA reboot was originally based on the Anime series from 1974. Although Casshan shared the same premise with the Terminator franchise, it's Tatsunoko's 1970's series which debuted over a decade prior to James Cameron's Terminator.
In a post-apocalyptic world, where machines and artificial intelligence, has deemed humanity inferior, thus explaining why they conquered the human race. However, one lone Warrior along with a tiny pocket of resistance fighters, are dedicated to stopping the robot army led by Black King.
The story of Casshan, deals with what it means to sacrifice oneself for the greater good, as young Tetsuya Azuma volunteers to merge his body into that of a machine, although humanoid in appearance, he's become the ultimate weapon!
During a final battle against the Black King, Casshan utilizes the last of his robotic frame's energy, thus ending his existence as well as the Black King!
Darth Vader (Return of the Jedi)
The "OG" of Space Opera as we know it, Sith Lord, child killer and mass murderer, Darth Vader aka Anakin Skywalker, intended for his son, Luke Skywalker to join the Galactic Empire, "or die", of course, Skywalker Jr. wasn't having it! Instead, while being held captive, Luke tried to convince Vader that there is still good in him, but dear old dad wasn't convinced...until he witnessed Luke being electrocuted by the Emperor after refusing to kill his father.
After a moment of hesitation, Vader lifted the sadist emperor and threw him down a power shaft. Mortally wounded, he asks Luke to remove his mask so that he can see him with his own eyes.
This pivotal scene was the highlight of the sequel plagued by too many muppet like creatures, Harrison Ford's underperformance as Han Solo and the cheap death of Boba Fett. So not only has Darth redeemed himself, but so did Return of the Jedi.
Sandor Clegane (Game of Thrones)
During the controversial penultimate episode of season eight's Game of Thrones, often referred to as “Gleganebowl” Clegane Sandor (Aka The Hound) and Arya Stark head toward what's left of the castle of Winterfell, to enact vengeance upon Cersei and Gregor Clegane (The Mountain and Sandor's brother, in case you haven't figured it out!) while the castle is slowly crumbling to pieces, thanks to Danys revenge binge, Sandor at the last minute, gives Arya a bit of "Fatherly advice" telling her to go back and not waste her life on revenge. Acknowledging his parting words, Arya thanks Sandor prior to fleeing the castle's ruins. Soon afterwards, the Hound and the Mountain has a final face off, the nearly unstoppable Gregor is tackled the edge by his dear brother as both fall into a fiery grave.
"The Bells" serves as a benchmark episode from the series, not only because major characters were killed, but Sandor's final noble act to save Arya, (a former enemy and traveling companion who he grew to respect, like the daughter he never had.) while taking it upon himself to face his evil brother for the last time, fully knowing that there's no turning back. Sandor not only beat the Mountain, when going over the edge, but faced his own fears in the end. (Fire) Very poetic within its simplicity.
Iron Man (Avengers Endgame)
Well, we all knew this would make the cut. Endgame as with Season eight of GOT, will be remembered for a few losses of established i.e. well-liked characters. As if Natasha Romanoff's sacrifice for the soul stone, wasn't heartbreaking enough, Tony Stark, who started off a cocky, narcissistic inventor, was given the opportunity to stop Thanos from destroying half the population again. Just when the mad Titan thought he had the upper hand as in the Infinity gauntlet, Dr. Strange helps to perform a big switcheroo, giving Stark the stones.
While wielding the makeshift gauntlet, Tony in a boastful gesture, tells Thanos, "I am Ironman "!
Then performs the "snap", eliminating Thanos minions as well as the mad Titan himself. Mortally wounded by the energy of the glove, Stark dies in Pepper's arms. He can rest now, knowing that the universe is spared another tragic fate and how his daughter Morgan can live in a world without a menacing threat as great as Thanos, but instead, a happier life enriched with Cheeseburgers!
Endgame, despite its flaws, was a great way to close out the early phases of the MCU, after 11 years and 22 films. A tale of redemption, reflection, and sacrifice.
Spock (Wrath of Khan)
In arguably the best Star Trek movie, the Wrath of Khan or TWOK, for short, has a Superpowered villain fueled with vengeance, surprising revelations regarding a signature protagonist and of course, the death of everyone's favorite Vulcan, Spock!
After a ship battle between the USS Enterprise and a hijacked vessel, the Reliant, a mortally wounded Khan Singh uses the stolen Genesis device as a means of enacting his last gesture of vengeance to Kirk.
With the Enterprise suffering damages, the crew are unable to use the warp drive to escape the explosion..until Spock enters the engine room despite warnings from Dr. "Bones" McCoy. With the drive repaired and the Enterprise escaping the devastating explosion caused by the device, the crew's celebration is shortened after receiving word, that Spock is dying from the effects of radiation poisoning.
Before giving his last breath, the noble Vulcan utters; "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of a few, or the one". Followed by"I will always be your friend".
The final 20 minutes of WOK was the highlight of the sequel, as it emphasized the noble qualities of the stoic Vulcan unselfishly gave his life in exchange for his extended family. Spock not only died a hero, but a friend and brother to James T. Kirk . Due to a backlash from diehard Trekkies, Paramount decided to walk back and resurrect Spock for the 3rd film and the succeeding ones afterwards. Spock was once again, killed off during Star Trek Beyond where the new Spock learns of his passing. This was not the decision of the writers since actor Leonard Nimoy had unfortunately died from lung disease.
Gatchaman (Gatchaman F)
The Anime staple of Superhero Sentai, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is more than Bird costumed heroes fighting armies dispatched by fanatical alien overlords, but when you throw in cool vehicles, giant bizarre mechas along with action, pathos and messages of environmentalism, you have a gamechanging series! Gatchaman ran for over four seasons and in its final installment, Gatchaman F as in "Fighter", our heroes are faced with a much bigger threat than Berg Katse and the first Galactor!
During the latter episodes, the evil, enigmatic alien lifeforce, Leader Z threatens Earth by having a gigantic radioactive meteor plummeting the big blue planet's atmosphere, extinguishing the human population in turn.
In the series' finale appropriately titled, "Gatchaman Eternal", the Science Ninja Team make their way into the meteorite- to destroy it before it could harm Earth's population, Ken weakened by previously using Gatchaman Fencer, a powerful hypershot saber, manages to destroy Leader Z, thus eliminating the threat. The team expires from the poisoning rock, yet during the final moments of this episode, there is a giant fiery entity that watches over the earth. What does it mean? Speculation is that the spirits of the team, has merged into a Phoenix, watching over the Earth.
This theory is further elaborated in 1994's Gatchaman OVA.
It is without a doubt that Jim Starlin's 1974 opus featuring Marvel's Cosmic Messiah was space opera, long before the likes of Star Wars! Filled with trippy Science fiction nihilism akin to Heavy Metal magazine along with religious allegories albeit, cynical, Warlock set the benchmark for bold storytelling in Comics without the need to sacrifice its tone or compromise Starlin’s narrative.
Case in point, during the events of Warlock issue #11 titled, "The Strange Death of Adam Warlock", Adam travels to a parallel continuum in which he will manifest into a darker version of himself called the Magus. In order to destroy the timeline that will allow the Magus to exist, Adam must kill the future version of himself.
Although Adam is still alive, the clincher was courtesy of Avengers Annual #7 where Adam Warlock really dies after being mortally wounded during a conflict with Thanos!
This is where his earlier version comes from the past to absorb his soul into the Soul Gem as first seen is in Warlock #11 where Adam is sacrificed as a preventive action. In this segment, feeling despair as he lost his friends to the Mad Titan and seeing his life as this abject failure, Adam welcomes his death like a long-lost friend.
Thus, his younger self ends his life. However, Adam is briefly "resurrected" by Lord Chaos and Master Order for one final attempt to stop Thanos' plans for complete annihilation. After Warlock turns Thanos to stone, he reenters the Soul Gem realm surrounded by Pip and Gamora. Adam feeling redemption, is now at peace....well, until the Infinity Saga.
Quick Kick G.I. Joe
Now many of you should know that when it comes to Comics, no one really stays dead. However, there are a few exceptions as seen in G.I. Joe
issue #109. where Quick Kick and a few other Joes were captured by Cobra during a mission in Trucial-Abysmia. Quick Kick used a hidden knife that leads to his and the Joes' escape by commandeering a Cobra Rage tank. Cobra forces pursue the tank, and despite Quick's efforts to fend them off with a machinegun, they are no match for Cobra's heavy artillery. Quick-Kick, Breaker and Crazylegs are killed by the exploding rounds.
While overlooked and underrated by many fans of Anime, 1981's Detonator Orgun deserves a spot on my list of heroes who gave up their lives for a noble purpose. In this three-part OVA series, Orgun who was once an Astronaut, now serving the Evoluder, an advanced alien species, hellbent on Galactic conquest and annihilation.
"Sound familiar " for you Captain Marvel fans out there?!?
This series is part science fiction mystery and part Superhero lore with a kick ass theme. A much better tale than Independence Day. In the final episode, Zoa, the Evoluder's military commander, fires the antimatter cannon. Orgun uses his Grand Cross attack as a final effort to defeat Zoa while destroying the cannon.Depleted of all his energy after using the Grand Cross, Orgun crashes onto a beach and dies while his human host Tomoru survives. Mhiku resumes ruling the Evoluder, who peacefully leaves the Earth as centuries later, Tomoru is well remembered via an exhibit, while Orgun’s remains are proudly displayed at the museum.
Anyway, these are my most memorable moments, in which the hero saves the day, even if it comes to paying the ultimate price.Dedicated to all those who gave their lives for the greater good. From Soldiers to essential Workers, Poptic Nerve, salutes you!