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When a Rousing Speech... isn't.

A hero -- or, well, anyone -- is about to go risk their neck for something. A sidekick or other people begin "motivating" them, sometimes in song, by thanking them for the dangerous task they are about to undertake, which may cause their deaths, describing To the Pain what the hero might suffer and -- really, it would be better if the hero hadn't heard this speech at all. Especially in comedy shows.

The trope is named after a passage from the song "When the Foeman Bares His Steel," from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.

Compare with Stop Helping Me!, where good intentions don't outweigh the negative effects of the "help". Contrast with the Rousing Speech, which "Go, Ye Heroes, Go And Die" subverts.

Examples of Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die include:

Anime & Manga

  • Azumanga Daioh: Right before taking the entrance exam for college, Tomo declares "All right, let's fail this thing!" Only Osaka remains cheerful.


  • "Bravely, bold Sir Robin", from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, is the song of a bard on how Sir Robin will suffer (his bowels unplugged, his nostrils raped, and his penis...) in his heroics. Robin's reply?

  "That's... quite enough music for now."

    • From the same film, another famous line:

  Tim: "Follow. But! Follow only if you be men of valor, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived! (...) so brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further! For death awaits you all with nasty big pointy teeth."

    • What an eccentric performance....
  • Admiral Fred gives one of these in Yellow Submarine just before The Beatles board the submarine. Fortunately, the Beatles are not fazed for more than a few moments.
  • Theoden has a remarkably short one in the Return of the King movie. "No, we can't [defeat them]. But we will meet them in battle nonetheless." No wonder Aragorn took over the duties of rallying his troops in the next battle...
    • The one Theoden gives just before the battle was originally Eomer's encouragement for a Last Stand in the book. That's why it basically boils down to "let's at least try to die heroically".
  • Kermit rallies the Happiness Hotel together to foil a robbery in The Great Muppet Caper, only to ruin everything by warning them of the probability of violence. Fozzy, of all people, is the one to get them all back on the band wagon.
  • An intentional version from the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup as Harpo is "volunteered" to break through enemy lines in the final battle between Freedonia and Sylvania:

 Rufus T. Firefly: You're a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you're out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.

  • In Erik the Viking, Erik makes a dramatic speech about the quest he and his men are going on, mentioning the dangers they might face. He only succeeds in making the families of his crew start mourning their deaths before they even clear the dock.
  • When Linguini of Ratatouille gives his "inspiring" speech in preparation for the arrival of food critic Anton Ego, he depresses his kitchen staff so much that by the end only Colette can muster the energy to stand up straight.

 Lalo: Dis is very bad juju right here...


  • In Jingo, Captain Carrot rallies his troops with a rousing cry of "If we succeed, no-one will remember. And if we fail, no one will forget!" Noted to be perhaps the worst battle cry since "Come on boys, lets all get our throats cut!"
    • It's a subversion, though, in that it actually works. But only because it's Carrot, who could have led a thousand armies into war under the battle cry of "Eggs! Milk! Bread! FLOUR!"
    • It also fits a running theme of the book; leaders who got their men pointlessly killed are remembered forever, but ones who prevented bloodshed are quickly forgotten.
  • In the first book of the Sword of Truth series, Zedd invokes this by using it intentionally: He gets a mob that wants to burn him for witchcraft to convince itself that warlocks are powerful, evil quasi-deities, and then compliments them on their courage to fight such a dangerous foe. And then convinces them that he made their *ahem* "manhoods" disappear, as none of them want to admit they are gullible enough to believe him by checking in front of everyone else.
  • In the Wheel of Time, Mat Cauthon notes that he hates it when his troops sing songs like this when they pass through towns. Interestingly, his hatred stems from the fact that it causes his recruitment to go up massively making it that much more expensive to feed the army. The more brutal and gory the song makes war sound, the faster the recruits sign up.

Live Action TV

  • Subverted in the Musical Episode of Lexx, where the tale of a noble but doomed last stand genuinely inspires the heroes to do the same. The rousing finale:


We will honor the past

And fight to the last

It will be a good way to die

    • In this case they know that if they do not fight now, they will still suffer the same nasty death a short time later. If they fight now they at least have a chance at hurting the enemy.
  • An amusing example on British panel show Mock the Week, on the subject of "Worst things to say before going into battle":

 Frankie Boyle: Just remember, soon you will all be back home with your families. In a jar... on the mantelpiece...

  • Buffy gives one in the final episode of season 5:

 Buffy: Everybody knows their jobs. Remember, the ritual starts, we all die. And I'll kill anyone who comes near Dawn.


Spike: Well, not exactly the Saint Crispin's Day speech, was it?

Giles: We few. We happy few.

Spike: We band of buggered.

  • An ITV Panto had a song in which Jack (played by Neil Morrisey) declares his intent to climb the beanstalk, while a chorus of villagers sung how brave he was for risking certain death. In the second verse he starts explaining why he can't climb the beanstalk right at the moment...
  • At the beginning of The West Wing episode "Election Day", in the moments before the polls open it is suggested that Josh Lyman, the Santos Campaign Manager, might want to say a few words to thank, rouse and inspire the troops. Unfortunately, Josh is in the process of allowing his own neuroses about the occasion to overwhelm him, with the result that his speech quickly derails into a rant about a key tactical mistake that someone he's already fired made months ago. And he forgets the whole 'thank you' part. Needless to say, the troops are neither roused nor inspired by this.
  • The pilot of Community contains a non-death related variation; the Dean's Rousing Speech to welcome the new students in the pilot becomes one of these when he manages to lose the middle, which is unfortunately the bit that contains the 'Rousing' part. The rest is just basically a list of all the stereotypes (which, unfortunately, match our heroes quite closely) of the kind of 'loser' who attends community college. Naturally, no one listening is particularly roused.
  • Another non-death variation happened in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will has bet a lot of money on his college football team and seeing their regular motivator/mascot Carlton isn't available he tries to fill in and proceeds to give a Rousing Speech to motivate the team urging them to give it their all since winning this game will be the greatest moment of glory of their lives...literally, because the chances of any of them making it to the NFL are slim to none and a fair proportion of them probably won't even graduate. Naturally, they get bummed out and lose despite Carlton returning.

Newspaper Comics


  • In The Marriage of Figaro, the melody of the Count's remarks to Cherubino, "Non più andrai" can be considered as this.
  • "When the Foeman Bares his Steel", from The Pirates of Penzance, is the Trope Namer. The policemen sing about how they could use some incentive. Then the women sing about how heroic they are to be facing certain death. Lampshaded by the leader of the policemen:

 "We observe too great a stress

on the risks that on us press,

and of reference a lack

to our chance of coming back.

Still, perhaps it would be wise

not to carp or criticize,

for it's very evident

these attentions are well meant."

Video Games

  • The Exile can give one of these deliberately in a Dark Side option during the defense of Dantooine in Knights of the Old Republic 2.
    • If your Persuade or Speech skills are too low, the most you can tell them is "Try not to get shot".
  • During a Serious Sam 2 cutscene, the hero tries to give a rousing speech, but an enemy mook messing with the microphone cable manages to time his disruptions of the speech so that it turns into one of these. It still works.

  Sam: "If we go now [...] we'll never have a chance [...] to defeat Mental. [...] go now [...] enter those starships [...] that fate awaits you.

  • In Mass Effect 3, if Javik goes to the Citadel, he'll attract attention from some civilians due to being a Prothean. When asked if whether or not they'll have a chance to defeat the Reapers, he'll bluntly tell them that if his people were wiped out then this generation has absolutely no shot at beating them. However if Shepard steps in, he'll turn the speech around and make a Rousing Speech instead.


Web Originals

  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, the dumb and callous Captain Hammer tries delivering a Rousing Speech in song form with "Everyone's A Hero", which ends up being filled with Stealth Insults and comes off more as "The Reason You Suck" Speech directed at homeless people and muggles about how they'll never be as great as he is no matter what. Naturally, as a revered superhero, the audience chews it up save for Penny, though the fact that he openly boasts about sleeping with her in the song probably didn't do him any favors.

Western Animation

 You may get stabbed in the head

with a dagger or a sword

you may be burned to death

or skinned alive or worse

but when they torture you

you will not feel the need to run

for though you die, La Resistance lives on

[...] They may cut your dick in half

and serve it to a pig

and though it hurts you'll laugh

and dance a dickless jig

but that's the way it goes

in war you're shat upon

though you die La Resistance lives on

  • Invoked in the Sandokan cartoon. In his speech to the Mooks occupying the goodies' island stronghold and awaiting a counterattack, 'Admiral Zenay' delivers such inspiring lines as "the pirates outnumber us ten to one" (leading the Major to add, in his follow-up speech, "the pirates will be overwhelming us at any moment"). Since 'Zenay' is actually Yanez, Sandokan's second-in-command, in disguise, demoralizing them is all part of the plan.
  • Nathan Explosion from Metalocalypse provides one in a college graduation ceremony in the episode, appropriately titled, "Go Forth and Die".
    • In this case though, it's him trying to make a decent speech but isn't eloquent enough to do so. He then ends up snapping and telling them that even though he's less educated than they are, he's still way richer than any of them will ever be and tells them that they'll all die anyways.
  • On the King of the Hill episode "Peggy the Boggle Champ", Hank tries to motivate a crying Peggy with a speech his football coach used to give: "Loser! You're a loser! Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Well, you should be, cause you're dirt! You make me sick! You big baby! Baby want a bottle? A big dirt bottle?" Naturally, all it does is make Peggy cry harder.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: "Sonic Rainboom" sees Fluttershy trying to reassure Rainbow Dash, who is nervous about pulling off a difficult maneuver in her routine for the Best Young Fliers' Competition: "But Rainbow Dash, just because you failed the Sonic Rainboom a hundred thousand times in practice doesn't mean you won't be able to do it in front of an entire stadium full of impatient, super-critical sports fan ponies!" Rainbow Dash's reaction, as can be expected, is to panic.
    • Later in "Green Isn't Your Color", Photo Finish tells Fluttershy, right before her first big fashion show, "Nervous? Don't be ridiculous. You're only facing a large crowd of ponies who will be watching your every moves and silently judging you."
    • Fluttershy is kind of a magnet for these, since Rarity delivers one to her in "Hearth's Warming Eve". There are many ways to stop Fluttershy worrying about going on stage; talking about how many ponies are coming to watch is not one of them.
  • In the Animaniacs episode "King Yakko", Yakko addresses his army with "I'm not going to lie to you. Some of you might not come back from this battle. And the rest of you? Definitely won't." Naturally, as he goes on about potential horrible death, the army abandons him.

 Dot: Maybe you should have lied just a little.

Real Life

  • Paul McCartney gives one of these early in the Let It Be sessions. (Yes, one of these made a Documentary.) It did not go over well.
  • Too many Real Life recruitment appeals to count, back in the 19th and prior to World War One when death on the battlefield was still considered the highest honor. Before the horrors of mechanized warfare in the trenches began to seep down to the general public, it was considered inspirational to tell New Meat that "perhaps you'll die in battle... but you'll die with honor!!!"
    • In the days when the alternative was returning to die an extended slow death in an urban slum, of disease or starvation or coal miner's lung or whatever, it probably was sweet and fitting (or at least more so than the alternative) to die for one's country.
    • A particularly significant one was a speech from Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian Wars of Independence: "Follow me, ye generous souls who abhor oppression and the chains of slavery. Follow me. I cannot offer you ammunition not barracks; all I can offer you is hunger, cold, sun, battles and death. If you love your country, follow me."
    • Kemal Ataturk at Gallipoli (1915) to his Turkish soldiers when trying to stop the Allied invasion, outnumbered, out of ammunition and left with nothing but bayonets to meet the attackers: "I don’t order you to attack, I order you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops and commanders can come and take our places."
    • Johnny Got His Gun was pretty much a rebuttal to this kind of thinking. If you didn't get that from the lengthy tirade about what the dead would say if they could speak, you're obviously illiterate.
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