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Delaying Action

 Delaying Action
type
FeatureClass
 Delaying Action
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Delaying Action
 Delaying Action
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DelayingAction
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A delaying action is a battle fought by a clearly outnumbered and out-gunned force to try to hold up a superior force. The aim is to buy enough time for other friendly forces to a) escape or b) arrive.
This may involve a Heroic Sacrifice, but ideally you aim to perform a Tactical Withdrawal before being slaughtered. The military equivalent of either You Shall Not Pass! or holding a position until the Big Damn Heroes show up.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })Examples:
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 Delaying Action
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DBTropes
 Delaying Action / int_1377df
type
Delaying Action
 Delaying Action / int_1377df
comment
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an entire film of Delaying Action. The T-1000 is so strong, Nigh Invulnerable, and cannot be stopped. Each encounter with it is merely trying to slow it down and escape it for the time being.
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 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
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Delaying Action / int_1377df
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The Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. The Rebels knew there was no way they could actually win: the Empire had better equipment (including heavy armor for which the Rebels had no viable counter) and too much of a numerical advantage. The ground forces and Rogue Squadron simply hoped to delay the Imps long enough to evacuate the base. The battle was considered an Imperial victory overall, though the Rebels technically achieved their objective. Though did the walker speed ever really slow down at all?
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 The Empire Strikes Back
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Delaying Action
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In The Silmarillion, the Men of the House of Hador delay the forces of Angband long enough for Turgon's Gondolindrim to escape unfollowed. All but one of them die, and it only gets worse for the survivor...
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 The Silmarillion
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The opening of Steambirds includes the line "You cannot save the city, but you can stall the armada long enough for London's citizens to evacuate."
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Honor Harrington:
In the novel In Enemy Hands, the heavy cruiser that Honor is on (as flag officer) jumps into a system to discover that the Havenites have already taken it and destroyed the local forces. Honor orders her ship to distract the attention of the enemy away from the point the convoy she was escorting would have jumped out of hyperspace, to give it the chance to jump back out. This done and the ship badly damaged, she orders the ship's captain to surrender the ship to the Peeps.
In the earlier novel The Short Victorious War, a large Manticoran fleet has been decoyed away from their home base at Hancock Station. A small task force left behind to protect the base has to delay the attacking Havenite fleet long enough to prevent them from either taking the station or retreating back over the hyper limit before the Manticoran fleet can return. Honor ends up in command of the task force during the course of the battle, although her flag officer, Admiral Mark Sarnow, was only incapacitated, not killed, and shows up again in later books.
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An episode of Lie to Me features a CIA agent who'd went over to the Taliban redeeming himself by delaying them long enough for Lightman and the others to escape a bunker.
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When a mission goes wrong in Invasion of Kzarch, and the rebel forces have to beat a fast retreat with the enemy right behind them, they're forced to use a sacrificial force, made up mostly of wounded, to buy time for the main force to break away. The sacrifical force is slaughtered to a man, but they get the job done (Salutes).
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In the third episode of Clear Skies, Commander Mallozzi jumps his Carrier the Magellan in to attack the rebel fleet to distract attention away from the Cynosural Jammer which is preventing the Caldari fleet from jumping into the system, giving the crew of the Clear Skies a chance to sneak in and blow it up without enemy realising. Unfortuately, the Cyno Jammer is more heavily defended than they expected and Captain Rourke tells Mallozzi he needs more time... and Mallozzi stoically accepts that his delaying action is going to have to be upgraded to a Heroic Sacrifice...
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Dawn of War: Winter Assault has a mission where the Imperial Guard agrees to ally with an Eldar force. Which of course triggers waves upon waves of orks to attack you culminating in a Squiggoth. Fortunately, the reinforcements you're waiting for include a Baneblade.
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Modern Warfare
The first is the level "Heat", where Bravo Six jury-rigs the terrain they hold with explosives and uses the minigun from a crashed chopper to slow down the advancing OpFor troops. Their goal is to retreat to the top of a hill while an extraction helo can land there, but the helo ends up landing at the bottom of the hill just ceded to the enemy.
"Sins of the Father", the very next level, has the enemy trying to slow down Bravo Six while Zakhaev's son escapes.
"Game Over" ends its car chase on a bridge, with our protagonists failing to hold out on said bridge long enough for reinforcements.
From the second game: "The Washington, D.C. evac site is getting hit hard, and we need to buy 'em some time. Hooah?"
Also from the second game. Once General Shepherd realizes it's Soap and Price in his base killing his dudes, he merely orders a scuttling of all intelligence items and an evacuation, having successive fire teams delay the pair.
The third game revisits the car chase and bridge holdout of the first game in the mission "Iron Lady". Metal 0-1 is successful at it this time.
With "Scorched Earth" being the two sides racing each other to the objective, both factions are trying to delay one another. The Ultranationalists are victorious once they resort to dropping a goddamn skyscraper on advancing forces.
And finally, yet another villainous example. In "Dust to Dust", Price and Yuri are rampaging through Makarov's hiding spot, forcing the Inner Circle to barricade themselves in until the chopper arrives.
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New Jedi Order: Wedge Antilles loves these, since his particular style of warfare makes them work. Case in point: the Siege of Borleais. All told, the siege involved an entire fake secret engineering project, an entire real secret engineering project, a planetary bombardment by the garrison defenders, a Super Star Destroyer dropping into the middle of the enemy fleet... oh, and the wholesale evacuation of the garrison before the final battle. Borleais cost two entire Vong fleets and a planetary garrison, and was a huge embarrassment to their command staff.
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The Dresden Files fifteenth book Skin Game has Waldo Butters realize the bad guys are about to burn the house he is in, killing him, an incapacitated Harry Dresden, and the children hiding there. So, he chooses to rush out, knowing he will likely die, but hopes the Cavalry will make it in time to save everyone else. This act of faith against extreme odds, culminating with others choices, allowed Butters to reawaken a broken power and defeat the evildoers.
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World War II: Fought by the French and British Expeditionary Force to buy time for the evacuation of British and French forces at Dunkirk while surrounded by the German invasion of France.
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Several times in Warcraft III. The final mission has your Night Elves and allied humans and orcs stalling Archimonde and the Burning Legion as they march on the World Tree, until Malfurion can gather enough Wisps to kill the demon lord when he tries to claim the tree's power.
A Bonus Level of the Frozen Throne has you preventing the humans from destroying the portal the Blood Elves are escaping through in a Tower Defense scenario. Succeed and you'll earn an extra hero for the next level.
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Happens by event during some battles in Hearts of Iron II and III. It slows the attacker down a bit and helps the defenders.
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300, recounting the Spartans at Thermopylae (see Real Life below).
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 300
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The Codex Alera third book has Acting-Captain Rufus Scipio having to hold a town and bridge against an invading force of 50,000 wolfmen, who are on average 8ft tall and some are powerful blood mages. If they take the bridge, they will have open access to much of Alera. He knows help isn't coming, but the civilians from the town are escaping still. He needs his men to hold until high noon, when he will have his own magic knights use telescope-magic, originally meant to allow people to see great distances, to create a magnify-glass-like section, intensifying the heat of the sun's rays onto a powerful fire-mage knight, who reflects it onto the wolfmen.
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The Second Battle of Deep Space Nine. Against a Dominion-Cardassian Fleet, the station manages to destroy 50 ships before the Starfleet crew is forced to abandon it. Before leaving, Sisko reveals that while they had focused much of the Dominion's ships, a Starfleet-Klingon task force destroyed a major Cardassian shipyard.
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X-Wing Series: Wraith Squadron's first real action was covering the evacuation of their training base when a Star Destroyer allied to Warlord Zsinj showed up. Things go from bad to worse when one of the transports is delayed in launching, but then we get a taste of what the squadron is capable of when a pilot wonders, "what if we gave them a juicier target to go after?" Cue an improv radio program where two Wraith X-Wings and two A-Wings pretend to be the Millennium Falcon suffering some engine problems.
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In Kung Fu Panda, Master Shifu decides to stay and fight Tai Lung, despite knowing that his former student has become too strong for him, knowing that, as long as Tai Lung is fighting him, he will not attack the Valley of Peace, which is being evacuated by Po and the Furious Five.
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The entirety of Mass Effect 3 is a delaying action meant to slow the Reaper assault long enough that the Crucible can be constructed.
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 Mass Effect 3 (Video Game)
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Dark Force Rising: Rogue Squadron did this, trying to buy time for Luke and Han to get into their ships and let Fey'lya escape with his force. Fortunately for them, Fey'lya was steered into an Engineered Public Confession and his people went back to help the Rogues. This wasn't enough. Karrde's smugglers showed up. This wasn't enough. Then Bel Iblis showed up. This was enough until a second Star Destroyer appeared, and it took two counts of Ramming Always Works before the day was saved.
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 The Thrawn Trilogy
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Played with in the final Protoss mission in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. It takes place in the Bad Future, and defeat is unavoidable, you're simply trying to take as many Zerg with you. An optional objective plays it straight, in that other Protoss are trying to Fling a Light into the Future, you need to hold out until they're done.
 Delaying Action / int_87b652bb
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 StarCraft II (Video Game)
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In the final episode of Robin Hood The outlaws, who have seized Nottingham, try a gradual retreat to delay the Sheriff's forces until forces loyal to King Richard can arrive. It turns out they're not coming and a change of plan is needed.
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 Robin Hood
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More than once in Falling Skies.
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The climactic Battle of South Moundtop in SaGa Frontier 2 is all about stalling for time. Unlike most of the other battlefield campaigns where there is either parity or conditions heavily in the players favor, this battle is against an army vastly your superior. Everything must go perfect for you to survive the necessary turns and your allies to arrive to finish the battle off screen.
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The level "Revenge of the Empire" in Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. Mirroring the Hoth example, Rogue Squadron is providing air cover to the evacuation of the base on Yavin IV.
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In Ark Royal, when an unexpected alien threat surfaces, and the modern Space Navies prove utterly incapable of dealing with them, the British Royal Navy sends in the obsolescent titular armored carrier to try to hold off the alien advance in the slim hope that her armor and railguns will allow her to survive and deal a blow to the enemy. The initial engagement is successful, and the Ark Royal ends up destroying several alien carriers, forcing a retreat. As a result, the ship is once again sent to confront the aliens, hoping to keep them away from Earth until the major space powers can design and build Ark Royal-type ships.
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Several mission types in Warhammer 40,000 have an outnumbered defender trying to hold out against the attacker until their reserves come in.
In-universe, this is usually the role of a world's Planetary Defense Corps in the event of enemy attack, to hold out until the Imperial Guard is mustered to come to its aid. If that's not enough, the Imperial Guard gets to hold the line until the Space Marines show up.
Most engagements with the Tyranids seem to fall into this pattern, with a beleagured world trying to survive until a fleet of reinforcements arrives. Problem is, the Tyranids project a "Shadow in the Warp" that disrupts interstellar communication.
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The 3rd Terran mission in StarCraft involves this, where you must hold off the Zerg until rescue arrives.
The Expanded Universe novel Speed of Darkness stars a group of Confederate Marines who fought a separate delaying action that apparently drew a sizable quantity of Zerg away from the Player Character. Though the fact that they had a psychic beacon with them might have contributed.
Played with in the final Protoss mission in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. It takes place in the Bad Future, and defeat is unavoidable, you're simply trying to take as many Zerg with you. An optional objective plays it straight, in that other Protoss are trying to Fling a Light into the Future, you need to hold out until they're done.
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One special scenario in Warhammer's Storm of Chaos campaign was "Halting the Tide," based around an Empire-Kislev alliance battling against the overwhelming Chaos hordes of Archaon, Lord of the End Times. The attackers outnumber the defenders two to one, but the defenders are grimly determined to tie up the attackers for as long as possible, and are immune to Panic during the battle. Another twist is that victory depends upon how many units the Defender kills, so if the Attacker completely wipes out the Defenders but loses half of his own forces in the process, it's still a loss for him.
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In The Third World War, NATO successfully delays Soviet forces long enough for reinforcements to arrive, then launches a decisive strike and turns the Soviets back around Krefeld.
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In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Commander Kugel attempts to do this to prevent the Hideauze from following their retreating forces into the wormhole after the Galactic Alliance is forced to retreat from the battle in the first episode.
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Levi does this twice in Trinity Seven. The first is against Liselotte to buy time for Mira to scan their opponent's abilities and spells, and the second is when fighting Lugh to give Arata and the others more time to get back before it's destroyed.
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Wing Commander has a single carrier being asked to hold off an entire Kilrathi fleet for 2 hours, while the main Confederate fleet gets into position.
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Star Wars Legends:
Dark Force Rising: Rogue Squadron did this, trying to buy time for Luke and Han to get into their ships and let Fey'lya escape with his force. Fortunately for them, Fey'lya was steered into an Engineered Public Confession and his people went back to help the Rogues. This wasn't enough. Karrde's smugglers showed up. This wasn't enough. Then Bel Iblis showed up. This was enough until a second Star Destroyer appeared, and it took two counts of Ramming Always Works before the day was saved.
New Jedi Order: Wedge Antilles loves these, since his particular style of warfare makes them work. Case in point: the Siege of Borleais. All told, the siege involved an entire fake secret engineering project, an entire real secret engineering project, a planetary bombardment by the garrison defenders, a Super Star Destroyer dropping into the middle of the enemy fleet... oh, and the wholesale evacuation of the garrison before the final battle. Borleais cost two entire Vong fleets and a planetary garrison, and was a huge embarrassment to their command staff.
X-Wing Series: Wraith Squadron's first real action was covering the evacuation of their training base when a Star Destroyer allied to Warlord Zsinj showed up. Things go from bad to worse when one of the transports is delayed in launching, but then we get a taste of what the squadron is capable of when a pilot wonders, "what if we gave them a juicier target to go after?" Cue an improv radio program where two Wraith X-Wings and two A-Wings pretend to be the Millennium Falcon suffering some engine problems.
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The Battle of the Line, in the Babylon 5 prequel movie In The Beginning:
 Delaying Action / int_f74b5f80
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 Babylon 5
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 Delaying Action / int_ff8d0a13
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 Delaying Action / int_ff8d0a13
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Mahu: In "Second Chance" one of the Galactic Commonwealth's generals stays behind with some of his surviving forces while the rest are evacuated out of the planet...a planet which will be destroyed in only a couple of hours.
 Delaying Action / int_ff8d0a13
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 Delaying Action / int_ff8d0a13
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 Mahu (Lets Play)
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Delaying Action / int_ff8d0a13

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