The noble sacrifice as a movie trope is popular for obvious reasons: it's an opportunity to land a cheap emotional punch and as long as the character work has been put in, it's also an easy means to pull on the collective audience's heart-strings.
These are the moments where a character decides to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good and gives up their own life in order to try and save the day and give others a better chance of survival. Truly the noblest of heroes.
The boldness of this gesture and the significance of what it fully entails, all but guarantees that these characters will achieve iconic status amongst film fans. Which is precisely the reason why it's been utilised so many times over the years...
As a result there are numerous honourable mentions that didn't quite make the cut including Jean Grey in X2, Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino, Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan and of course, Billy from Predator. Gone but not forgotten.
10. Baymax - Big Hero 6
Right from the off Big Hero 6 proved it wasn’t afraid to deal with strong emotions when it killed off young Hiro’s big brother in the opening act. However there was a moment that caused an even stronger tug on the old heartstrings later on after the inflatable robot Baymax has flown himself and Hiro into a teleportation portal in order to rescue a stranded pilot. Once inside, Baymax’s equipment is badly damaged and as they try to return to the real world, the portal rapidly begins to close on them.
Baymax has become a special friend to Hiro over the course of the film, a much needed support network when he needed one the most. As a result, when he suggests that he sends Hiro and the pilot back through the portal using his own rocket-powered fist, despite this meaning he'd be stranded in the portal indefinitely, it’s another hammer blow for Hiro to take.
While Hiro’s pained reaction and Baymax’s strangely emotive delivery contribute greatly to making this a touching farewell, it’s also aided by a wonderful shot taken from Hiro’s point of view as he is fired to safety and looks back at Baymax stranded alone in the portal forever (sort of).
The sense of sadness after losing yet another loved one is etched all over Hiro’s face and it makes for a decidedly bittersweet ending. Equally though, it also shows Baymax’s unflinching loyalty and love for his friend. His lot in life is to make people feel better and that's exactly what he has achieved, regardless of the personal cost.