• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

This is the kid, calls me 59 days in a row, wants to be a player. There ought to be a picture of you in the dictionary under persistence, kid.
—Gordon Gekko, from Wall Street, on Bud Fox.

 Kyle Reese: "He'll find her! That's what he does! It's all he does! You can't stop him! He'll wade through you! He'll reach down her throat and tear her fuckin' heart out!"

    • Given the hellhole of a future he lived in, Reese himself must have been one to survive. Also, Sarah embraces her inner Determinator in the climax of the first movie, and practically becomes a Terminator in the second, to the point she's halfway to shooting a defenceless, wounded man in front of his wife and children for something he hasn't actually done yet. Even after that, she's still perfectly capable of firing a 12-gauge shotgun repeatedly after minutes earlier having an inch-thick metal spike rammed straight through her shoulder. In fact, if she hadn't run out of ammo, she would have destroyed the T-1000 herself, without the T-850's help.
    • Even more so in The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
    • The cyborgs played by Arnold in the second and third films get as much damage as they can, but don't give up on the mission of protecting John Connor and only stop after the enemy's been neutralized (in the third, in quite a literal way).
    • In the newest Terminator film, the last lines spoken are this trope to a T.

  John Connor: This battle has been won, but the war against the machines races on. Skynet's global network remains strong, but we will not quit, until all of it is destroyed.

  • James T. Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek movie fits this trope perfectly. He doesn't believe in no-win scenarios and is certainly one stubborn fellow once he sets his mind to accomplishing something, be it graduating from Starfleet Academy early, finding a way to beat the supposedly unbeatable Kobayashi Maru, or stopping Nero. He takes more beat-downs than any other character and is consistently degraded or doubted by those around him, but keeps coming back for more in order to protect his homeworld. He is certainly not too worried about getting himself killed in the process, either.
    • Kirk pretty much sums up his no-win scenario beliefs by saying, in regards to the Kobayashi Maru and many of his persistent actions, "It depends on how you define 'winning', doesn't it?"
  • Carl Brashear in Men of Honor put up with bigotry, an insane instructor, and losing his leg and was still unbowed.
  • Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth. This makes him an utterly terrifying villain, while at the same time almost pitiable. (In fact, when he got shot in the head, he actually had the time to feel it!)
  • The Black Knight from Monty Python and The Holy Grail - is actually a Deconstructive Parody of this, based on the old British idea of never surrendering, no matter what.
  • Paul Newman's character Luke in the movie Cool Hand Luke is a perfect example of a Determinator. Acts of sheer determination include eating fifty eggs in under an hour to win a bet, multiple attempts to escape from jail, resisting the worst the warden could give him, and "winning" a boxing match by repeatedly getting up, no matter how many times he was knocked down, until his opponent, who was so far unharmed, refused to hit him any more. His nickname came from his habit of keeping going and refusing to quit when he has absolutely nothing - specifically, the time he won a poker game by bluffing.

 Dragline: Nothin'. A handful of nothin'. You stupid mullet head. He beat you with nothin'. Just like today when he kept comin' back at me — with nothin'.

Luke: Yeah well, sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.

  • Both Neo and Agent Smith of The Matrix are up there - Smith possibly even more so. During their final battle, Smith's inability to understand Neo's refusal to stay down drives him out of his mind.

  "Why, Mister Anderson, why, WHY DO YOU PERSIST?"

  • Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men has a belief system that revolves around this trope.
  • Alex Forrest, the character played by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.
  • Nana from Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a parody of the trope.
    • Also in the sequel a shark so determined to take a bite at Mort that it chased him onto the shore, across the jungle and up a volcano.
  • John Creasy from Man on Fire. Being severely wounded with a partially collapsed lung does not deter him from hunting down, torturing and killing the kidnappers of his charge or anyone else involved.
  • Ethan Edwards, the Confederate soldier-turned-Indian hunter in The Searchers.

  Ethan: Injun will chase a thing till he thinks he's chased it enough. Then he quits. Same way when he runs. Seems like he never learns there's such a thing as a critter who'll just keep comin' on. So we'll find 'em in the end, I promise you. We'll find 'em, just as sure as the turnin' of the earth.


 Larry: She's not a woman. She's the Terminator!

  • The paperboy in Better Off Dead. "I want my two dollars!"
  • Timon in The Lion King 1 ½.
  • Jason Bourne. At various times, he's shot, thrown off buildings, beat to a bloody pulp, put through horrendous car crashes, been right next to an exploding bomb. And he just gets up, hunts down who did that to him, and keeps on trucking.
  • The crew of the Leper Colony in Dr. Strangelove will complete its mission, no matter what.
  • Porter from Payback wants the money he is owed, will not be stopped by anyone.
  • Two Words: Tony Jaa
  • The Yul Brynner robot in the film Westworld.
  • Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire: "I'll take them all on, one by one, and run them off their feet."
  • Will 'Elizabeth goes free!' Turner in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. He has a one track mind about saving her, and he's certainly not too worried about getting himself killed in the process, to the point that he was one of the inspirations for the Martyr Without a Cause trope.
  • The protagonist of the 2007 remake of Three Ten to Yuma certainly doesn't Know When to Fold'Em, and it's not even about the money. No one (maybe even not he himself) knows why he's so determined to keep going until the end, though one reason is to make his son proud of him. He wins everyone over by sheer amazement about his stubborn determination. Not that that's enough to save the day, but pretty close.
  • "Never give up, never surrender!"
  • Avatar. Quaritch. Good God, Quaritch.
    • And Jake Sully himself.
    • And Norman, in the battle. Right after getting killed as an Avatar, which was almost fully Your Mind Makes It Real, he picked up a machine gun and charged back to the battle in his puny human body.
  • Ariel and Eric from The Little Mermaid are quite the Determinator couple.
  • The protagonist from Taken. Nothing will stop him from saving his daughter. NOTHING.

 Bryan: I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

  • Sheriff Beuford T. Justice. Run him off the road, plow through his car with an 18-wheeler, run him through a minefield which reduces his police cruiser to nothing but a chassis, engine, and steering wheel. Nothing will stop him from chasing The Bandit.
  • Chev Chelios takes this trope to its logical extreme: if he stops, he literally will die.
  • Patch Adams has a weird vibe on this. Adams is "determined" not to do simple things like obey the rules in a hospital or dress up in clothes for his graduation ceremony because he believes that giving people joy override everything else. It's ironic because he doesn't understand that basic people skills like not alienating your professor to the point where he wants to expel you, will also allow you to go far with your goals.
  • Rudy was about a guy who never gave up and that was his redeeming quality. The real-life story is also interesting. He was so determined to make a movie about his life, that the coach agreed to let himself be portrayed as a villain so that the movie would be greenlit.
  • This is the basis of the Clousseau's success in The Pink Panther according to David Niven's character. He says in an interview in the last sequel to The Pink Panther, he says that Clousseau was a bumbling idiot but he succeeded because he obeyed "The 11th Commandment. Never Give Up." This doesn't really make sense, Clousseau succeeded because the writer's needed him to succeed because he was the hero. But it's a nice afterthought.
  • Inception deconstructs this trope. The practice of Inception involves placing a simple idea deep into an unwitting subject's subconscious so that it will define who they are for the rest of their lives. The main protagonist and antagonist show how this can go horribly right.
  • Sands (Johnny Depp) in Once Upon a Time In Mexico. Halfway through the film, the villains start to catch on and decide to drill his eyes out. It doesn't stop him. AT ALL.
  • Apollo 13. Pretty much everyone in NASA will not give up until the astronauts make it home. Gene Kranz in particular. "Failure is NOT an option."
  • Many examples from Lord of the Rings, but particularly Sam. He wades into a river chasing Frodo even though he can't swim, resists the lure of the Ring, and literally carries Frodo through the last leg of the journey even though both are near death from exhaustion.

 Sam: I can't carry it for you... But I can carry you!

(cue Reprise of Awesome of the Fellowship Leitmotif)

  • Garcia from the Sy Fy movie Yeti. Survives a plane crash, travels out into the wild to find the spare radio in the other end of the plane. Breaks his legs running from a yeti, splints the leg with the severed arm of his body, gets chased all the way back to the plane, dragging the radio with him, shot in the eye with a Flare Gun when the Jerkass of the movie panics and thinks he's the yeti, and wakes up at the end of the movie to see one of the yetis' arms popping out of the snow.
    • and the movie started with his coach telling him that he "needed to show more heart"
  • Any Russian character in a Guy Ritchie film, ever.
  • Watanabe from Ikiru keeps on pestering the bureaucracy till they give in and build a park over the mosquito-infested cesspool.
  • The title character of The Book of Eli takes his 'mission' seriously enough to continue walking after he's been shot in the gut.
  • Vincent "Jerome" Freeman in Gattaca; judged to have a life expectancy under 31 years and subject to debilitating heart weakness, he nevertheless becomes an astronaut despite everyone, from his mother to the original owner of his donor identity, telling him it's impossible. Also, he gets to come home to Uma Thurman.
  • My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
  • Angus from the movie Black Sheep. After being turned into a sheep monster, he gets into a Helicopter Blender, GETS BACK UP, gets turned back into a human and is shown to be missing most of his skull, GETS BACK UP, and wanders into the horde of monster sheep to... rejoin the flock. It ends poorly for him.
  • Ace Rothstein's initial description of Nicky Santoro in Casino highlights exactly why you should NEVER pick a fight with him:

  "No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And if you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he'll keep comin' back and back until one of you is dead."

  • Detective Murakami in Stray Dog. After his gun is stolen, he does not stop looking for it. And each time he finds out it's used in a new crime, he only becomes more determined.
  • One Hundred and Twenty Seven Hours: Aron Ralston (also under Real Life examples). His arm is crushed under a boulder while he's hiking, trapping him in a crevice with only the food and water he'd brought for a one day hike. Just surviving as long as he does (five days!) is a feat unto itself, even if he hadn't amputated his own arm with a dull multitool, rappelled down a cliff, and walked for eight miles before he found rescue.
  • Hoffman in Saw 3D. He wants Jill. He isn't going to let anything, like a police station full of cops, get in his way.
  • Unstoppable: Frank, in pursuit of 777. Lampshaded somewhat when he tells Will that he gives up too easily.
  • Die Hard, John McClane.
  • The Bride in Kill Bill.
  • Godzilla He is a prime example of a Determinator, fighting to the death even when its clear he's gonna lose and has a tendency to solve any problem he's faced with with Brute force or cunning. Flying Enemy? No problem, use atomic breathe to propel you. World destroyer in your base killing ur dudez? Gather up the posse and take it down.
  • Winter's Bone: Nothing will stop Ree from saving the family home. Nothing.
  • True Grit's Mattie Ross. A 14-year-old girl in pigtails, alone in the American West, is nobody's idea of an arbiter of justice. Nonetheless, she's bent on catching her daddy's killer, and no concerned mother, nor Texas Ranger, nor eyepatch-wearing bounty-hunter, nor wide river, nor bitter weather, nor cold trail, nor misfiring gun, nor band of outlaws, nor 100-foot-deep pit filled with snakes is going to keep Tom Chaney safe from retribution.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: 'Nothing can stop the Thief once he spots something shiny.
    • Subverted at the end of the original, where he and Tack are fighting over the balls, and the Thief just decides that they're not worth it and walks away.
  • Aguirre in Aguirre, the Wrath of God, who carries this out as tragically as can be imagined. Actually, a common trope in Werner Herzog's films, to the point that the Mockumentary Incident At Loch Ness parodied this, with Herzog himself cast in this role as a director determined to complete a disastrous film production.
  • Michael Myers from the Halloween series spent fifteen years in a mental hospital, waiting for a chance to escape so that he could kill his sister. When he failed in killing her, he then spent the next ten years massacring everybody related to her. Then, depending on which canon you follow, he spent 10–20 years searching for his sister again.
  • Po from Kung Fu Panda stuck around with Master ShiFu despite Training From Hell that was specially designed to drive him out of the temple. And he was an unfit panda with next to no kung fu training who was undergoing stuff that kung fu masters many times his level did. Not to mention the fact that he was once kicked off the temple and had to climb up a few thousand steps to return. He Took a Level In Badass when his natural kung fu abilities were discovered.
  • Malcolm Reynolds proves himself to be The Determinator over and over again in his Big Damn Movie. At one point in Serenity he takes a sword to the gut and keeps on fighting. That's determination. His antics can also be found on the Live Action TV page.
  • Jason in Mystery Team.
  • Abbot Cellach in The Secret of Kells. He gets shot by an arrow that's on fire, stabbed through with a sword, is left for dead during a winter night, and he lived for over a decade afterwards.
  • Spirit. As in, the horse. There are scenes in which it looks like his spirit's been broken, only for him to fight back again with renewed vigor.
  • Maximus; that horse will never give up.
  • Ginger in Chicken Run.
  • Pixar must be fond of these characters. Going down the list, we have:
    • Woody. In all three Toy Story movies. He never really gave up on Andy, even when he gave up on himself and even when the other toys gave up on either him or Andy. Or both.
    • How about Marlin from Finding Nemo? Not exactly a Badass but VERY persistent.
      • Actually, his persistence does come across as somewhat badass, just in a kind of unconventional way. And let's not forget Marlin's friend Dory, or Nemo's friend Gill.

 Nemo: How many times have you tried to escape?

Gill: Eh, I've lost count. Fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid.

  • Samwise Gamgee. Is Frodo's only companion to stay with him clear from the shire to Mt Doom, in spite of being turned away from Frodo twice, and in spite of Frodo and others twice more secretly conspiring regarding the journey without Sam or the other hobbits. He also saves Frodo from an Eldritch Abomination and Orcs, then carries him partway up Mt Doom on his own back. The only incentive he gets to do any of this is when Gandalf says "Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee" once right at the beginning.
  • The final assassin (Yan Xiaogou) from Bodyguards and Assassins is a realistic version: As a highly-skilled martial artist he is unstoppable in close quarters against the mostly untrained opponents he fights. After mowing down a lot of bodyguards, though, including major named character - who admittedly Could Barely Stand - one of the last few empties a pistol into him. Reality Ensues.
    • "Empties a pistol into him" means that the gunner hit him twice out of 6 or 8 shots. Also, for a relatively "realistic" movie, there are multiple examples. Shen Chongyang (naturally, this being about the only role Donnie Yen ever plays) and the guy he dueled. Fang Hong. Wang Fuming aka "Stinky Tofu". Deng Sidi for the non-combatant version. Of course, this being something of a patriotic film about men struggling to be free from oppression...
      • Winner for the film, though, must go to Liu Yubei. Introduced as an unkempt tortured drunkard beggar. Appears in bishonen form as The Cavalry to the convoy, already minus several named characters, with a Grand Staircase Entrance. Literally. Holds his choke point on the stairs alone against dozens of trained assassins who, to this point, have barely met an even match in single combat. Wielding an iron fan. The assassins resort to using chains and hooks, slowly wearing him down to the point where he could barely stand, yet Yubei kills or incapacitates every single one aside from Yan Xiaogou. And still goads Xiaogou into delaying long enough to cut him down thoroughly by cutting off the tail of his queue.
  • DA Frank Scanlon in Green Hornet is a comical example. when he is revealed to be the main bad guy, he chased the Duo from one part of the city to the other, went all the way to the top of the Daily Sentinel news building. By the time he caught up with the duo he was so out of breath that he couldn't even remember what the name of the flash drive was that had evidence against him.

  Scanlon: Alright Reid, hand over the thing.

  • Vincent in Collateral. After getting in a 100 mph car crash without a seatbelt, he just gets up and runs away. A few minutes later, he gets shot in the face...and just walks it off.
  • Matsu in the Female Prisoner Scorpion series. Lock her up, tie her up, beat her: she just waits for a chance, manipulates the people around her, and escapes to pursue her grudge. Thrown in a freezing, dark underground cell for a year, hands and feet shackled, what does she do? Carve a spoon into a shiv - in her teeth.
  • Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, in Captain America: The First Avenger. Much like his comics counterpart, the man does not know the meaning of the word "quit", whether he's being beat down by regular bullies or superhuman Nazi despots.

 "I could do this all day."

    • Even when Steve's undergoing the Super Soldier transformation procedure, we have the staff telling Dr. Erskine to stop the experimentation, in fear of Steve potentially dying. However, Steve won't have any of that, actually yelling for the Doctor to keep going with it.


  • Bud Fox, from Wall Street, is definitely persistent in trying to work his way up the stockbrokers' world.
  • In The Guardian we meet a guy named Hodge who has washed out so the Coast Guard rescue swimmer school twice and is back for a third go.
  • All the Ghostfaces in Scream. They are beaten by anything the stalked victims have at hand (including doors), trip, fall down stairs... and still keep on going after the victim. (and only a Plot Armor saves you)
  • Obviously, Walter qualifies. Especially with the Dude, when bowling or trading people.

  Walter: The ringer cannot look empty.