Often, our favorite films and TV shows feature a group of characters who, for the greater good of all in their world, will embark on a mission from which they do not expect to return. The latest show to send its characters on such a mission is Game of Thrones, with Jon Snow and a rather ragtag group of companions setting out beyond the wall to prove that the threat posed by the White Walkers is real.
In celebration of the first mission of Game Of Thrones' very own suicide squad, let's take a look back at the brave characters whose footsteps they will be following. WARNING: Spoilers for the films mentioned to follow.
1. The Scooby Gang — Buffy The Vampire Slayer
In the final season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Buffy, her friends, and a gang of young potential Slayers end up in the fight of their lives as the First Evil arrives to wreak havoc on the town of Sunnydale. The First brings with it The Bringers, tasked with exterminating The Potentials and wiping out the Slayer line, as well as the Turok Han, and Caleb, a creepy priest who becomes a vessel for The First's physical strength.
Towards the end of the season, with evil gripping Sunnydale as the final battle approaches, the town's civilian residents flee, leaving only Buffy's Scooby Gang (including super witch Willow, ensouled vampire Spike and Xander) and the Potential Slayers behind. They know not all of them will survive the battle, yet all choose to stay. Extra points to Xander, who sticks around even after losing an eye to Caleb. Ultimately, thanks to a spell from Willow that grants the Potentials full Slayer status, the group's losses during the final battle were fewer than expected, with Spike and Anya being the only major casualties. The Scooby Gang lives on, battling any evil that may crop up in the world.
2. The Fellowship Of The Ring — The Lord Of The Rings
In The Fellowship Of The Ring (the first film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) we are introduced to the world of Middle-earth in a time of peril. The powerful One Ring has been discovered, slowly returning strength to the Dark Lord Sauron. Frodo, the young hobbit in possession of the Ring, offers to take it to Mordor to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. The Fellowship of The Ring, a mismatched group cobbled together from Middle-earth's best warriors and a few of Frodo's fellow hobbits, is formed to aid and protect Frodo on his quest.
While the trip is said to be very dangerous, the members of the Fellowship end up with a remarkably high survival rate by the time the trilogy is over. The only true loss is that of Boromir, killed in battle with Orcs at the conclusion of the first film. While Gandalf the Grey does die early in the adventure, he is resurrected as Gandalf the White in the second film, The Two Towers, after which he survives to the end of the trilogy.
3. The 100 — The 100
The 100 is a series set sometime in the future after a nuclear apocalypse wiped out most life on Earth. The survivors take refuge in a large space station called The Ark. When The Ark's life support systems begin to fail, 100 teenage criminals are sent to Earth to see if it has become habitable again. This is mostly done as a way to cull the population and extend The Ark's resources, with the teens not actually expected to survive.
Sadly, the 100, also referred to as the Delinquents or the Sky People, have a much lower survival rate than many on this list. Some are killed before the adventure even begins, in the unexpected crash-landing of their ship. While Earth does turn out to be more habitable than expected, the group is soon faced with other dangers, such as groups of unknown survivors from the initial nuclear incident. Many more of the delinquents are killed in conflicts with these groups. By the end of the first season, only 48 of the original 100 remain alive, while by the ending of the most recent fourth season, only 40 remain.
4. The Eleventh Doctor — Doctor Who: 'The Time Of The Doctor'
Throughout the latter half of Matt Smith's tenure as The Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, the character is aware that he is destined to meet his end on a planet called Trenzalore. It is later revealed that this death would apparently be the end of The Doctor for good, as this was his final regeneration.
Still, when a crack in time opened up in the small town of Christmas, making the town a magnet for his greatest enemies, The Doctor stayed to protect it without question. Christmas is located on Trenzalore, so in staying (knowing that the planet is where he is destined to die) The Doctor essentially embarks on a very long one-man suicide mission. His bravery pays off, letting him defy destiny as he is gifted with a brand new set of regenerations.
5. The Guardians Of The Galaxy — Guardians Of The Galaxy
At the time of its release, the original Guardians Of The Galaxy film was considered the biggest risk Marvel had taken so far. Based on a lesser-known comic series, the film centered around a group of space-trotting former criminals who eventually come together to save the Galaxy.
Towards the end of the film, Star-Lord formulates a plan to retrieve a powerful Infinity Stone from Ronan, the film's main villain. He is aware that it is not necessarily a great plan, and will very likely get them all killed. His fellow Guardians follow him anyway, and after an epic battle, they successfully retrieve the stone. Though Groot appeared lost after sacrificing himself to protect the rest of the team, he is reborn from a twig salvaged by Rocket Raccoon, becoming the adorable Baby Groot we see in the sequel.
6. The Angel Investigations Team — Angel
A spin-off focusing on Buffy's vampire ex-boyfriend, Angel's final season saw Angel and his team accepting jobs with the series main villains, the evil law firm Wolfram & Heart. They do this in the hope of bringing the firm down from the inside. Unfortunately, all does not go quite to plan.
By the series finale, Angel has formed a plan to kill the demonic members of the Circle Of The Black Thorn, who give Wolfram & Heart much of its power. While this plan succeeds, Wolfram & Heart open a portal to Hell, allowing countless demons and a dragon to spill into Los Angeles. While outnumbered by hundreds of thousands and facing almost certain death, Angel and his surviving companions choose to fight on anyway.
"Let's go to work."
Anyone desperate to know what happens next can always read the comic sequel.
7. Task Force X — Suicide Squad
Formed by Amanda Waller, Task Force X, otherwise known as the Suicide Squad, was a group formed from dangerous villains, including the likes of Deadshot and Harley Quinn. The purpose of the group was to take on extremely dangerous missions instead of risking the lives of good men. Succeed in the mission, and the squad earns a reduced sentence. If they die in the attempt, well, they're only villains.
Task Force X's first mission takes an unexpected twist when they are forced to take on the ancient, evil Enchantress. While fire demigod El Diablo is lost in battle, the rest survive to earn their reduced sentences, with a few extra perks included.
8. The Crew Of Serenity — Serenity
After an unprecedented effort by fans, Serenity, a film sequel to the cult classic series Firefly, was commissioned. The film was intended to wrap up the series' central story of what the Alliance (the universe's evil government) had done to the mind of River Tam. The film also revealed the origins of the series' secondary villains, the cannibalistic Reavers.
After discovering a recording proving that the Alliance are responsible for the existence of the Reavers, Mal Reynolds, the Captain of the Serenity, decides — with the full support of his crew — that the information in the recording needs to be made known throughout the universe. Unfortunately, they are being pursued by both Reavers and the Alliance. They are surrounded, knowing their efforts will most likely end in their death.
The ship's pilot, Wash, is killed soon after landing on a planet with the equipment they need, while the rest of the crew stay behind to fend off the Reavers while Mal broadcasts the message. Despite a few injuries, the crew miraculously survives, thanks to River's newly awoken battle skills. They then set out to explore the universe once more.
9. The Survey Corps — Attack On Titan
The popular anime series Attack on Titan is set in a dystopian world where the few remaining humans live in fear of the Titans — giant humanoid creatures who seemingly exist just to eat and destroy. What remains of humanity has fled to live in just a few large-walled communities.
Specially trained soldiers known as the Survey Corps, of which lead character Eren Yeager is a member, regularly venture beyond the Walls in a last-ditch attempt to take back territory from the Titans. The Survey Corps have an extremely high casualty rate, with even the most skilled among them often facing death between a Titan's teeth. Any progress they make has been agonizingly slow, any mission they undertake could become a suicide mission. Still, these brave soldiers continue to fight.
10. Rogue One — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One was the first Star Wars Story to be announced, beginning a new series of side stories to be released in between the main Star Wars films. The film's story was inspired by a line in the opening crawl of A New Hope referencing the brave group of rebels who had stolen the plans for the Death Star.
In the film, it is revealed that the mission to steal the plans was rejected for being too risky. A small splinter group of rebels — lead by Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor — decide to go anyway. Most of the rebels are killed making sure Jyn obtains the plans. Jyn and Cassian are then killed when Grand Moff Tarkin turns the Death Star on the planet, but by then Jyn had already safely transmitted the plans to another rebel ship, where they soon reach the hands of Princess Leia. Though the crew of Rogue One were lost, they will always be remembered, with their efforts resulting in many lives being saved.
Bonus: The Team Beyond The Wall — Game Of Thrones
As mentioned, the latest show to feature a suicide squad is Game Of Thrones. Lead by Jon Snow, a team including a number of Westeros' best warriors ventures beyond the Wall to capture a wight and prove the existence of the army of the the dead. The mission is successful, but this success did not come without heavy losses. Time will tell how this group ranks among the others on this list.