Secretly Dying
A character tries to keep his Time Delayed Death a secret.


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-12 11:20:11 sponsor: DracMonster (last reply: 2011-08-16 15:46:11)

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A character has some form of Time-Delayed Death and tries to keep it from becoming known. If he's diagnosed with The Virus or an Incurable Cough of Death, Herr Doktor may be begged or ordered to keep silent about it. If he's harboring a Secret Stab Wound, he may wear extra shirts and haphazard bandages to avoid a Mortal Wound Reveal. This may invoke Fridge Logic of the Stupid Sacrifice variety if medical treatment could have prolonged the victim's life.

Why? Perhaps he doesn't want his friends treating him with kid gloves or passing the Despair Event Horizon, or he wants to spend his last days seeing his sweetheart smiling rather than grief-stricken. Alternately, he might want to keep his enemies from getting a morale boost out of it. It can also be a selfish act if his condition represents a danger to others, such as with The Plague or a Zombie Infectee.

Very much Truth in Television, some people prefer normality if they're dying. Also, many terminal diseases such as cancer and AIDS used to have (and in some cases still have) huge stigmas attached to them. Political figures often need to do this, otherwise The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.

This is a Death Trope, the standard unmarked spoilers disclaimer applies.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Roy Fokker's death in Macross. After coming back from a mission where his fighter got shot up, he spends a quiet night at his girlfriend's place strumming his guitar... then keels over, revealing bloody wounds in his back. Possibly a Stupid Sacrifice since the injuries weren't severe enough to debilitate him -- he might have lived if he'd gotten immediate treatment.
  • In Dear, Subaru's Evil Hand is painfully consuming him. He keeps quiet about it so Komomo wont worry.
  • In Trigun when Wolfwood is mortally wounded in his battle with Chapel, he speaks briefly to Vash, then heads to an abandoned church to confess his sins. Vash is too busy angsting to notice the trail of blood droplets in his wake.
  • In Darker Than Black season 1, Huang hides a Secret Stab Wound to sacrifice themself as a distraction. Also in DTB, November 11 believes Amber's precognition that he's not long for this world, but keeps it to himself.
    • Also in Darker Than Black, Amber spans a Batman Gambit to detonate the Gate using judicious use of her time manipulation power. The price she pays for using her power is Cast from Lifespan in reverse, causing her to age backwards. She worked it all out so that she had exactly enough lifespan left to see her plan to fruition, and unmakes herself the last time she uses her power.

Film
  • One of the most famous movie examples is in El Cid, when the eponymous hero tells those around him to keep the fact that he is dying a secret so as to avoid demoralising the Spanish troops and boosting the morale of the besieging Moors. This ends with the famous scene when the now-deceased Cid, strapped to his horse, "leads" his army out of the city gates to victory.
  • Tony Stark in Iron Man 2.
  • In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun's Mum doesn't let anyone see their zombie bite to avoid worrying anyone. This leads to the movie's biggest Tear Jerker when Shaun has to kill her when she turns.

Literature
  • Near the end of the Harry Potter series, Harry learns that Dumbledore had been hiding an unbreakable death curse from destroying a horcrux.
  • In The Curse Of Chalion, Cazaril has a supernatural tumor in his gut haunted by the ghost of the Complete Monster he killed with magic. He tries desperately to keep it under wraps, both for political reasons and so the girls he's trying to protect won't worry about him.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". Dr. McCoy learns that he's suffering from a disease called xenopolycythemia which will kill him in one year. When he tells Kirk about it he asks him to keep it to himself so he'll be most effective in his job in the time left.
  • Professor Arturo on Sliders had an incurable disease which will kill him in a number of months, but didn't want anyone to know.
  • Hiro from Heroes hides the fact that he has cancer from everyone at the start.

Real Life
  • Admiral Yi Sun-Shin died this way, suffering a mortal injury due a chance shot during the Battle of Noryang. Witnessed only by three people, his final orders were to press the attack home and to hide his death from the crew and fleet, to avoid ruining morale at a critical moment. His final victory was thus won posthumously.
  • Bill Hicks never told anyone but his doctors that he had cancer until he died from it, just weeks after his last live performance.
  • One version of the death of Turkish Sultan Murad I at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 is that he was killed in his tent before or during the battle by a Serb pretending to defect, and asked his entourage to make sure the news didn't get out to his army. Unfortunately for colourful historical tales, there are other versions in which he is killed fighting during the battle or even afterwards.

Theater
  • In Act Five of Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano tries to keep his mortal wound from showing to his beloved, Roxanne.

Video Games
  • Proto Man from Mega Man knows that his power supply is flawed and will eventually run out of energy. He'd prefer to not tell others about it and just accept when his fate will come.
  • In inFAMOUS 2, Zeke catches The Virus and hides it from Cole until Cole's powers allow him to plainly see it.
  • Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3 is slowly killing himself with power-inhibiting drugs. He refrains from mentioning his poor health to anyone, mostly because he's expecting one of two other things to kill him before the side effects of the drugs manage to do it, and because he thinks he deserves it. Even when it comes out that he was taking the suppressants, he waves off any concerns about the side effects, and only comes close to hinting how little time he has to the female protagonist in the last few stages of his Social Link.

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