Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Unsatisfying are These Pyrrhic Victories?

Yesterday we covered the most satisfying moral victories ever. Well, buckle up, because today isn't going to be nearly as pleasant. We're covering the five worst Pyrrhic victories of all-time. In other words, we'll be looking at the victories with the most unpleasant consequences attached to them.

Bottom 5 Pyrrhic Victories

1. The Original Pyrrhic Victory
The term originated in 279 BC when the army of King Pyrrhus defeated the Romans. Even though his army won, it suffered heavy losses, including many of Pyrrhus' friends and best generals. Afterwards, Pyrrhus said that another victory like that one would mean defeat for his army. And so the term Pyrrhic victory was born. As we'll soon see, most Pyrrhic victories are not pretty.

2. The Normandy Invasion
While the entirety of World War II could be called a Pyrrhic victories for the Allies, the invasion of Normandy was especially Pyrrhic. The good guys sent 160,000 men onto the beaches and into the rest of Normandy, with around 5,000 dying on D-Day. The death tolls are hard to compute, but the Nazis lost somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 soldiers. Watching the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan proves very quickly that the Allied "victory" was definitively Pyrrhic.

3. De Niro in The Deer Hunter
In the 1978 classic, Robert De Niro's character went back to Vietnam to find his buddy, played by Christopher Walken. De Niro won the film's final game of Roulette, but it definitely came with a cost.

Warning: If you've never seen The Deer Hunter, this scene is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you haven't seen the movie, skip the clip and go rent the entire thing right now.

4. Thunder 4, Rockets 2
This might have sneaked onto the list because it happened so recently, but I feel like OKC's series victory over Houston a few weeks ago was extremely Pyrrhic. After Russell Westbrook got hurt, the Thunder's fate was a foregone conclusion. A team that had been favored to win the West all season was suddenly a one-man squad. It didn't matter much that OKC dispatched the Rockets, or even that Durant willed his team to a win in Game 1 of the ensuing Memphis series. There was no way the Thunder was (were?) living up to pre-season expectations. I wonder if Serge Ibaka screamed "PYRRHIC!" in the locker room after the Game 6 triumph over the Rockets.

5. Animals that die because they follow their instincts
Some flies die after giving birth, honeybees die after stinging a predator, and many species of male animals die after mating. "Hey, guys, check out that hot chick I hooked up with, aaah, I'm dead!" Talk about Pyrrhic.

Then there's this guy:
Survival of the fittest, m-f'er!

Honorable Mention: This Garfield Cartoon

That lasagna-eating prankster cat just cracks me up.

I added the honorable mention because I felt like this post was a bit of a downer. Sorry about that. But hey, if there was much about these victories to savor, they wouldn't have been Pyrrhic.

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