Created By: Protar on April 28, 2013 Last Edited By: StarSword on August 24, 2014
Troped

Deadly Deferred Conversation

Characters promise to talk to one another about something when they next meet, almost guaranteeing one of them dying.

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"I am sorry we could not continue our conversation from earlier, but the mission comes first. All hands, abandon ship. Live long and prosper, Captain Kanril."
— last words of Lieutenant Commander T'Var, The Wrong Reflection

Two characters are about to part for what may be a very long time, but there's an important topic of discussion for the two to discuss. Whether it's nerves, lack of information or whatever the conversation is deferred until the two meet again...practically guaranteeing that one or both of them will be dead before they can meet up again, or at least that they will never get to see one another again.

Part of the Rule of Drama, as Real Life doesn't have a narrative. Compare Retirony, If We Get Through This, and Fatal Family Photo, all of which are tropes involving an indication that a character is slated for death. See also How to Kill a Character.

As a Death Trope all spoilers on this page will remain unmarked.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Before a major battle, with the beast men, Kamina and Yoko kiss, and Kamina says when he comes back "he'll return that 10 times more". He tragically dies from a fatal wound in the subsequent battle.
  • In one Rinne story, one ghost was a Cute Sports Club Manager for a baseball team. The captain of the team said he had something to tell her, right after the team wins this game. But they don't win, so he puts it off, and the team goes into a long slump. Finally, the team wins and the girl is so excited by the win and the captain at last completing the conversation that she leaps up and smashed her head on the dugout ceiling. She died, and the ghost has been holding out ever since waiting to hear what he had to say.

    Comic Books 
  • This happens in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #15 between Chromedome and Rewind, after Rewind finds out that Chromedome not only used his dangerous mnemosurgery skill after he asked Chromedome not to, but also hid the fact that he did so from Rewind, who is the Cybertronian equivalent of his husband.
    Chromedome: You're angry.
    Rewind: No, I'm past that. It's - what I feel is worse than anger. In fact I don't know—
    Chromedome: What?
    Rewind: I really don't know if I can forgive you for this.
    Chromedome: We'll finish this conversation later. We will. I promise.

    Fan Works 
  • At the opening of chapter three of The Wrong Reflection Eleya is catching up with her old friend and former subordinate T'Var, but has to break off the conversation to go change into her vacsuit, saying they'll talk more later. In the subsequent battle T'Var uses her ship to stop a ramming attempt against Eleya's ship. Despite ordering her crew to abandon ship, she doesn't make it to the escape pods in time.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In the 2002 adaptation of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine Alexander is arguing with his friend after the death of his fiance. They agree to continue the discussion in a week but by that time Alexander is stuck in the future.
  • Versions of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope starting with the Special Edition restore a deleted scene right before the attack on the Death Star where Luke and his old friend Biggs Darklighter promise to meet up after the battle so Luke can tell him how he got there. Biggs is killed by Darth Vader while covering Luke during the trench run.
  • In Hot Fuzz, Tim Messenger tells The Hero Nick Angel to meet him behind the church for he has important information on the deaths that have been occurring about town. When Nick arrives, Tim is killed before his eyes.
  • Parodied in Hot Shots! when Dead Meat tells his wife he can save talking about his life insurance, his solution to global warming, and his JFK assassination evidence until after he returns from his mission.
  • In The Train, Burt Lancaster plays the leader of a group of French Resistance fighters who are trying to prevent the Nazis from taking a trainload of paintings to Germany. In one scene, one of the fighters asks Labiche (Lancaster's character) if he has ever seen the paintings. Labiche says no. The other man says maybe they should go to a museum and see them after the war. He gets killed shortly thereafter.

    Literature 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • A Game of Thrones has several examples. Ned Stark promises his bastard son Jon Snow that they'll talk about Jon's mother after he returns to the capital, Jon's Uncle Benjen promises to talk about Jon becoming a ranger after he returns from a scouting mission, and King Robert tells Ned they'll discuss the exiled princess Daenerys after Robert returns from a hunt. Ned is unfairly accused of treason and executed, King Robert is manipulated by his wife into being killed by a boar and Benjen has been missing for two years and is possibly undead.
    • A Feast for Crows: Jaime Lannister recalls the last conversation he had with Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, about how the prince had realized how badly his mad father King Aerys was ruling the realm and he had planned to summon a council and make changes. He promised to speak more on the subject when he returned from what became his final battle.
  • Subverted in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The lines quoted below sound like they are going to be this trope, but both characters survive and the conversation presumably happens at some point. Faramir to Frodo:
    "I would gladly learn how this creeping Smeagol became possessed of the Thing of which we speak, and how he lost it, but I will not trouble you now. If ever beyond hope you return to the lands of the living and we re-tell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief, you shall tell me then."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the TV adaptation of A Murder Is Announced, Miss Hinchcliff realizes "she wasn't there". Miss Murgatroyd tells her they'll talk about it later—and Hinchcliff is murdered while Murgatroyd is getting some dogs.
  • In the Comic Relief short Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, Hugh Grant's Twelfth Doctor's last words to his companion are "I'll explain later."note 

    Video Games 
  • In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Togami talks about "things" in his past he can't tell anyone about, yet defers the question when Hinata asks him to elaborate, saying only that he can (and indeed may have to) explain later. Unfortunately for interested players, Dangan Ronpa is a murder mystery game, and Togami ends up being the first victim.
  • In Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Dr. Eli Vance talks to the player about "Our mutual friend" (the mysterious figure that fans call the G-Man) and promises to explain more. The episode ends with Gordon and Alyx having to set off immediately, with the Fade to Black coming after a Combine attack during which Eli is killed by an Advisor.
  • In Empire Earth's Greek campaign, this is how king Phillip of Macedonia's death is presented: Alexander asks to speak to him after a battle, but the king is busy, and is killed by assassins before he has a chance to talk to his son.

    Web Comics 
  • In Homestuck, Vriska messages John, telling him they'll talk more when they actually meet up in person, right before Terezi confronts and kills her.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom. Before leaving to round up the ghosts needed to save the world, Danny says he has a few things he needs to talk to Sam about after the world is saved (namely, their relationship). While everyone (except the audience) thinks he perished in an explosion, he survived and saved the world, with the episode ending on Danny and Sam's Relationship Upgrade.

Indexes: Adverbly Adjective Noun, Death Tropes, Rule of Drama

Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • April 28, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    This needs a better name. I like the name as is, but the rules have been getting stupid in regards to dialogue-style names, and a trope under this name will get TRS-ed fast.

    That said, this is a very nice Tempting Fate subtrope, and one that's especially bad for those who Cannot Spit It Out.
  • April 28, 2013
    Protar
    Any suggestions for a rename? Deferred Conversation of Death?
  • April 28, 2013
    StarSword
    ^That works. Could also try Fatally Deferred Conversation or Fatal Deferred Conversation.

    As this is a Death Trope, spoilers will be unmarked.

    Film:
    • Versions of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope starting with the Special Edition restore a deleted scene right before the attack on the Death Star where Luke and his old friend Biggs Darklighter promise to meet up after the battle so Luke can tell him how he got there. Biggs is killed by Darth Vader while covering Luke during the trench run.
  • April 28, 2013
    Eddy1215
    • Subverted in the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom. Before leaving to round up the ghosts needed to save the world, Danny says he has a few things he needs to talk to Sam about after the world is saved (namely, their relationship). While everyone (except the audience) thinks he perished in an explosion, he survived and saved the world, with the episode ending on Danny and Sam's Relationship Upgrade.
  • April 28, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Since this is a death trope it should have a spoiler warning. You can just leave the examples without spoiler marks too. Since it's a trope about people talking and then dying, spoiler marking it is redundant, and could make the examples harder to read than they need to be.

    How about Tragic Planned Meeting?. Because in a lot of cases they're not just having a conversation. They're planning to meet in the near future, but death tragically keeps that from happening.

    Anime and Manga
    • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Before a major battle, with the beast men, Kamina and Yoko kiss, and Kamina says when he comes back "he'll return that 10 times more". He tragically dies from a fatal wound in the upcoming battle.
  • April 29, 2013
    Protar
    Ok I've updated the title and added in all of the examples, as well as removing spoilers and adding a spoiler warning at the top.
  • April 29, 2013
    StarSword
    Question: does the A Game of Thrones example apply to just the one book or to A Song Of Ice And Fire as a whole?

    I cleaned up the italicization and formatting of the draft (you can copy commenters' wiki markup straight into the draft by clicking the pencil), but left the Game of Thrones one unfinished because of that question.
  • April 29, 2013
    Protar
    • In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Togami talks about "things" in his past he can't tell anyone about, yet defers the question when Hinata asks him to elaborate, saying only that he can (and indeed may have to) explain later. Unfortunately for interested players, Dangan Ronpa is a murder mystery game, and Togami ends up being the first victim.
  • April 29, 2013
    Protar
    Those examples are all from A Game of Thrones specifically.
  • April 29, 2013
    DracMonster
    Deadly Deferred Discussion (or "delayed"?) for mo' alliteration?
  • April 30, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    In the TV adaptation of A Murder Is Announced, Miss Hinchcliff realizes "she wasn't there". Miss Murgatroyd tells her they'll talk about it later--and Hinchcliff is murdered while Murgatroyd is getting some dogs.
  • April 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Compare Retirony, If We Get Through This, Fatal Family Photo.

    There may be some examples of this trope on the first two pages above.
  • June 27, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Tempting Fate and possibly Genre Blind should be mentioned as well.
  • June 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Added italics to the Game Of Thrones example.
  • June 27, 2013
    Earnest
    This can probably be a subtrope of Poor Communication Kills.

    ^^^^^ Also, will it be an issue when launching this that ending the wikiword in "Discussion" links to Deadly Deferred's discussion page?
  • June 27, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    We seriously don't have this one already? I was looking for spy thriller cliches a year ago and this was top of my list - I just assumed we had it already and didn't even bother to look. This is practically mandatory for spy thrillers so it should go on the Espionage Tropes Index. Also the Mystery Tropes index since it happens in noir and crime dramas too.
  • June 27, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Um. I have no idea. Taking a query to Ask The Tropers.
  • June 27, 2013
    StarSword
    Ok, so Fast Eddie says he doesn't like the alliteration anyway and to use Conversation, not Discussion.
  • June 28, 2013
    Larkmarn
    If we're cutting the alliteration, maybe we should open it up to other names? Never Tell Them Later?
  • June 28, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    ^ I like it, but for the sake of creating more options: Lost The Chance To Talk? Unrevisited Topic?
  • June 28, 2013
    Larkmarn
    ^^^^^ I don't think this needs to go on those tropes list. This is more about sentimental discussions, while I think you mean more along the lines of His Name Is. That said...

    • In Hot Fuzz, Tim Messenger tells The Hero Nick Angel to meet him behind the church for he has important information on the deaths that have been occurring about town. When Nick arrives, Tim is killed before his eyes.
  • August 22, 2014
    StarSword
    Page quote:
    "I am sorry we could not continue our conversation from earlier, but the mission comes first. All hands, abandon ship. Live long and prosper, Captain Kanril."
    Lieutenant Commander T'Var, The Wrong Reflection

    Fan Works:
    • At the opening of chapter three of The Wrong Reflection Eleya is catching up with her old friend and former subordinate T'Var, but has to break off the conversation to go change into her vacsuit, saying they'll talk more later. T'Var dies in the subsequent battle by using her ship to stop a ramming attempt against Eleya's ship.

  • August 22, 2014
    DAN004
    I believe this is more about tendency and pattern than a true cause-and-effect trope.
  • August 22, 2014
    SatoshiBakura
    Web Original
    • Played for laughs in Red Vs Blue when then Blue team Captain Butch Flowers explains to Church and Tucker that he will tell them the secret of beating the Reds tomorrow...only to die of an aspirin overdose. Though as Season 10 reveals what Flowers might have been trying to tell Church and Tucker was more important than they thought.
  • August 22, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Possibly see also Never Got To Say Goodbye.
  • August 23, 2014
    arbiter099
    to go alongside A Game Of Thrones under A Song Of Ice And Fire:

    • A Feast For Crows: Jaime Lannister recalls the last conversation he had with Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, about how the prince had realized how badly his mad father King Aerys was ruling the realm and he had planned to summon a council and make changes. He promised to speak more on the subject when he returned from what became his final battle.
  • August 23, 2014
    Stealth
    Comic Book
    • This happens in Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #15 between Chromedome and Rewind, after Rewind finds out that Chromedome not only used his dangerous mnemosurgery skill after he asked Chromedome not to, but also hid the fact that he did so from Rewind, who is the Cybertronian equivalent of his husband.
      Chromedome: "You're angry."
      Rewind: "No, I'm past that. It's - what I feel is worse than anger. In fact I don't know-"
      Chromedome: "What?"
      Rewind: "I really don't know if I can forgive you for this."
      Chromedome: "We'll finish this conversation later. We will. I promise."
  • August 23, 2014
    Arivne
    • ^ x10: Changed the title to Deadly Deferred Conversation as per Fast Eddie's relayed order above.
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Examples section formatting
      • Changed media section title(s) to our standard style.
      • Added a space between asterisks and the first word following them.
      • Alphabetized media sections.
  • August 23, 2014
    patches365
    • Parodied in Hot Shots when Dead Meat tells his wife he can save talking about his life insurance, his solution to global warming, and his JFK assassination evidence until after he returns from his mission.
  • August 23, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In Doctor Who The Curse Of Fatal Death the (noncanonical) 12th Doctor's last words to his companion are "I'll explain later."
  • August 23, 2014
    Bisected8
    • In Half Life 2: Episode 2, Dr. Eli Vance talks to the player about "Our mutual friend" (the mysterious figure whom fans call the Gman) and promises to explain more, when the lab/base is suddenly attacked. Needless to say, the episode ends with Eli killed by a Combine Advisor before he can explain anything.
  • August 23, 2014
    StarSword
    All right, I'm going to just go ahead and take this over.
  • August 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ", practically guaranteeing that..."

    ...How?
  • August 23, 2014
    SatoshiBakura
    I repeat the one from Red Vs Blue:

    Web Original
    • Played for laughs in Red Vs Blue when then Blue team captain Butch Flowers explains to Church and Tucker that he will tell them the secret of beating the Reds tomorrow...only to die of an aspirin overdose that night. Though as Season 10 reveals, Harsher In Hind Sight what Flowers might have been trying to tell Church and Tucker was more important than they thought.
  • August 23, 2014
    StarSword
    ^^The guarantee is the whole point of the trope. Bob tells Alice he'll tell her something later, the author Dropped A Bridge On Him after that.
  • August 23, 2014
    SatoshiBakura
    I accidentally made an error in my example. It should have been "what Flowers might have been trying to tell Church and Tucker was more important than they thought", not "Harsher In Hind Sight what Flowers might have been trying to tell Church and Tucker was more important than they thought".
  • August 23, 2014
    Chabal2
    In Empire Earth's Greek campaign, this is how king Phillip of Macedonia's death is presented: Alexander asks to speak to him after a battle, but the king is busy, and is killed by assassins before he has a chance to talk to his son.
  • August 23, 2014
    StarSword
    Thoughts on names? Deadly Deferred Conversation works but it's not as nice as Deadly Deferred Discussion (but Eddie vetoed that).
  • August 23, 2014
    SKJAM
    • In one Rinne story, one ghost was a Cute Sports Club Manager for a baseball team. The captain of the team said he had something to tell her, right after the team wins this game. But they don't win, so he puts it off, and the team goes into a long slump. Finally, the team wins and the girl is so excited by the win and the captain at last completing the conversation that she leaps up and smashed her head on the dugout ceiling. She died, and the ghost has been holding out ever since waiting to hear what he had to say.
  • August 23, 2014
    DAN004
    I mean, how's that "guaranteeing"? Where's the train of logic here? (Or is it just Rule Of Drama?)
  • August 23, 2014
    videogameboymichael
    In Homestuck, Vriska messages John, telling him they'll talk more when they actually meet up in person, right before Terezi confronts and kills her.
  • August 23, 2014
    StarSword
    ^^Yeah, it's mostly a Rule Of Drama thing. In real life it would be coincidental because real life has no narrative.

    @SKJAM, videogameboymichael: Adding.
  • August 23, 2014
    TwoGunAngel
    @DAN 004: It's yet another form of Tempting Fate.
  • August 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ okay, okay.

    See also How To Kill A Character.
  • August 24, 2014
    jayoungr
    Film:

    In The Train, Burt Lancaster plays the leader of a group of French Resistance fighters who are trying to prevent the Nazis from taking a trainload of paintings to Germany. In one scene, one of the fighters asks Labiche (Lancaster's character) if he has ever seen the paintings. Labiche says no. The other man says maybe they should go to a museum and see them after the war. He gets killed shortly thereafter.

    Literature:

    Subverted in The Lord Of The Rings (The Two Towers): The lines quoted below sound like they are going to be this trope, but both characters survive and the conversation presumably happens at some point. Faramir to Frodo:
    I would gladly learn how this creeping Smeagol became possessed of the Thing of which we speak, and how he lost it, but I will not trouble you now. If ever beyond hope you return to the lands of the living and we re-tell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief, you shall tell me then.
  • August 24, 2014
    StarSword
    ^Loaded up.

    And we've got five hats now, so I'll launch this in about half an hour. Last call for examples.
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