Created By: mythbuster on October 4, 2012 Last Edited By: BartekChom1 on March 24, 2015

Last Wish Marriage

Character gets married because he/she knows [[YourDaysAreNumbered death is near.]]

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Trope
Marriage is a big decision, and one that normally shouldn't be entered into lightly, because it will affect you for the rest of your life. However, long term planning goes out the window when Your Days Are Numbered. Many people want to get married at some point (or experience sex, and their morals demand marriage), and when you're terminally ill or headed off into a battle where your odds of survival are slim, it's now or never. A result of this is that the people in question may have never even considered marrying each other under any other circumstances, but instead are just two terminally ill patients who don't want to die alone or an otherwise platonic friend volunteering to marry the patient because he/she is not long for this world. Alternatively, the two could be High School Sweethearts who are still in high school. Very much Truth in Television.

Subtrope of Altar the Speed.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Kanon pulls this off with the end of Makoto's route as she declines in both health and intelligence. Though she indeed doesn't last much longer, the 2006 anime does hint that she may return next spring.
  • At the end of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Simon marries Nia just before she Goes Out With A Smile.
  • Played with in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. In case 2, Alita Tiala wants to marry Wocky Kitaki because she knew that his heart could stop at any time, and when that happened, Wocky's fortune would become hers.
  • In Angel Beats!, would Hinata proposing marriage to Yui in order to fulfill her final wish and allow her to move on from Purgatory count as an example of this trope?

Fan Fiction
  • The Lois and Clark fic A Gift for Life has Clark getting Leukemia from Kryptonite exposure. He marries Lois...because she's agreed to have a baby for him, and even though actual sex will not be involved, he wants the child to be legitimate and have a "real" family. (The theme of the story is the controversy of conceiving a child to use as a donor).

Comics
  • In V3 of the Legion of Super Heroes comics Shadow Lass married Mon-El when he was dying (and he died an issue later). In this case Shadow Lass initiated the marriage. Whether this is still in continuity is uncertain.

Film Live Action
  • Independence Day. Just before Steven Hiller goes on his incredibly dangerous mission to implant the computer virus in the alien mothership, he finally marries his girlfriend.
  • Happens to the main character and his girlfiend in Deep Impact. Despite being very young teenagers, they want to (and are allowed to) get married due to the possibility that they might die soon anyway because of the meteor.
  • In Forrest Gump, Jenny marries Forrest because she knows she's dying.
  • In the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, during the final battle, Will proposes to Elizabeth. Knowing that there's a good chance they could die, Elizabeth asks Barbossa to perform the marriage ceremony right then and there (as he's a ship's captain and is legally able to), which he does - while sword-fighting with Davy Jones' minions the whole time.
  • Not exactly this, but Anakin and Padme from Star Wars first expressed their love and wish to marry when they were scheduled for execution by the Separatists. The actual marriage took place after they were rescued, that's why it's not quite this trope.
  • In Love and Death, Sonya agrees to marry her nebbish cousin Boris because he's been challenged to a duel and fully expects that he'd be killed, and she figures that she can do him a simple kindness. She's a bit taken aback when he actually survives and she actually has to live with him.
  • In The African Queen Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnut are captured during their attempted bombing of the German warship. The German captain asks if they have a Last Request before they're hanged, and they ask the captain to marry them.

Literature
  • In both the book and film versions of A Walk to Remember, a teenage boy discovers that his girlfriend is terminally ill so he proposes to her. They get married at the end of the story.
  • In In the King's Service, Lord Ahern de Corwyn is engaged to Zoe Morgan when he becomes ill from a ruptured bowel. The couple exchange wedding vows at Ahern's insistence (he refuses the Last Rites until this is done), and he dies a bout an hour later.
  • In The Shadow Rising, Perrin and Faile are married in Emond's Field as a demand from Faile to leave the village, which is due to be assaulted and overrun by Trollocs. She returns with The Cavalry, in the form of villagers from the neighbouring villages that she recruited.
  • In Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the protagonist is rushed through a marriage (to a woman he almost certainly intended to marry anyway) because the following day, he's going to do something potentially suicidal but necessary.
  • In Cry, the Beloved Country, Absalom marries his pregnant girlfriend after he is sentenced to death.
  • In When Darkness Falls Idalia accepts Jermayan's marriage proposal after she's already learned she must willingly sacrifice herself to foil the demons' plot. Shortly thereafter, however, she's reincarnated as the daughter of the elven king, and as Jermayan is an elf as well a Jailbait Wait isn't a problem.
  • In Tomek wśród łowców głów (Tom among the headhunters) from Polish novel cycle by Alfred Szklarski, Tomek's love interest from Australia, Sally, marries him when she is seriously injured. It was penultimate chapter Sally's last wish and she said that when he is hers, she can die, but nobody wanted do believe it and she really recovered soon.

Live-Action TV
  • Buffy and Charmed both pulled this in the face of their respective supernatural apocalypses. With Charmed it was Cole and Phoebe but after killing the Big Bad he Came Back Wrong and their relationship was doomed. On Buffy Xander proposed to Anya who was hurt because she thought he was only proposing for this reason, and he'd never have to go through with it.
  • William and Daisy are married in Downton Abbey Series 2, with William on his death bed after his war wounds. It is Played for Drama since Daisy didn't move William, but she is pushed to the marriage by the rest of the staff.
  • Cameron on House once married a man that had been diagnosed terminally ill with thyroid cancer. He made it six more months after their wedding before he died.
  • A possible variation in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Matthew and Ingrid, convinced the world is going to end, want to get married. They were already boyfriend and girlfriend, but they hadn't been planning to do it quite so soon. It doesn't happen because the preacher is too busy hearing last-minute confessions.

Mythology and Religion
  • Hindu Mythology: A folktale tells of the Mahabharata hero Aravan (who becomes the Tamil god Kuttantavar), who was married to Mohini, before his self-sacrifice. Aravan agrees to become the sacrificial victim for the Kalappali ("sacrifice to the battlefield") to ensure the victory of the Pandavas, his father, and his uncles. Before being sacrificed to goddess Kali, Aravan asks three boons from Krishna, the guide of the Pandavas. The third boon was that Aravan should be married before the sacrifice so that he could get the right of cremation and funerary offerings (bachelors were buried). To fulfill this wish in the Kuttantavar cult myth, Krishna turns into Mohini, marries Aravan, and spends the night with him.

Western Animation
  • In one episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball and Darwin believe the world is going end. Gumball then asks Penny to marry him. After her rejection he immediately proposes to the nearest girl.
  • In an episode of Family Guy Brian falls in love with an old woman. As she is in the hospital dying he brings a virtual reality helmet for her to wear so she can see a long life married to him before she dies.

Real Life
  • An inspiring Real Life example is the charity Wish Upon A Wedding. It grants terminally ill people weddings and vow renewals.
  • Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Incredibly, in a Berlin that was 80% over-run by the Red Army, they still found a civil registrar from the Berlin local government (such as was left)who was brought to the Bunker to officiate and make it legal and write out a formal marriage certificate. Mr and Mrs Hitler both required death certificates the following day.
  • The US Government takes this trope into consideration with survivor benefits. For the spouse to qualify for survivor benefits, the marriage must have lasted at least nine months or produced a child, unless the death was in the line of duty.
Community Feedback Replies: 52
  • October 4, 2012
    StrixObscuro
    • In both the book and film versions of A Walk To Remember, a teenage boy discovers that his girlfriend is terminally ill so he proposes to her. They get married at the end of the story.
  • October 4, 2012
    shaduf
    In one episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball and Darwin believe the world is going end. Gumball then asks Penny to marry him. After her rejection he immediately proposes to the nearest girl.

  • October 5, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Buffy and Charmed both pulled this in the face of their respective supernatural apocalypses. With Charmed it was Cole and Phoebe but after killing the Big Bad he Came Back Wrong and their relationship was doomed. On Buffy Xander proposed to Anya who was hurt because she thought he was only proposing for this reason, and he'd never have to go through with it.
  • October 5, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Independence Day. Just before Steven Hiller goes on his incredibly dangerous mission to implant the computer virus in the alien mothership, he finally marries his girlfriend.
  • October 5, 2012
    FunSunnyDayz
    An inspiring Real Life example is the charity Wish Upon A Wedding. It grants terminally ill people weddings and vowel renewals.
  • October 5, 2012
    FunSunnyDayz
    • vow renewals.
  • October 5, 2012
    FunSunnyDayz
    An inspiring Real Life example is the charity Wish Upon A Wedding. It grants terminally ill people weddings and vow renewals.
  • October 5, 2012
    Damr1990
    On Hindu Mythology
    • A folktale tells of the Mahabharata hero Aravan (who becomes the Tamil god Kuttantavar), who was married to Mohini, before his self-sacrifice. Aravan agrees to become the sacrificial victim for the Kalappali ("sacrifice to the battlefield") to ensure the victory of the Pandavas, his father, and his uncles. Before being sacrificed to goddess Kali, Aravan asks three boons from Krishna, the guide of the Pandavas. The third boon was that Aravan should be married before the sacrifice so that he could get the right of cremation and funerary offerings (bachelors were buried). To fulfill this wish in the Kuttantavar cult myth, Krishna turns into Mohini, marries Aravan, and spends the night with him.
  • October 5, 2012
    MrRuano
    Kanon pulls this off with the end of Makoto's route as she declines in both health and intelligence. Though she indeed doesn't last much longer, the 2006 anime does hint that she may return next spring.
  • October 5, 2012
    Shnakepup
    • Happens to the main character and his girlfiend in Deep Impact. Despite being very young teenagers, they want to (and are allowed to) get married due to the possibility that they might die soon anyway because of the meteor.
  • October 5, 2012
    Quatic
    In Forrest Gump, Jenny marries Forrest because she knows she's dying.
  • October 5, 2012
    arromdee
    In V3 of the Legion Of Super Heroes comics Shadow Lass married Mon-El when he was dying (and he died an issue later). In this case Shadow Lass initiated the marriage. Whether this is still in continuity is uncertain.
  • October 5, 2012
    AgProv
    Another Real life example: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Incredibly, in a Berlin that was 80% over-run by the Red Army, they still found a civil registrar from the Berlin local government (such as was left)who was brought to the Bunker to officiate and make it legal and write out a formal marriage certificate. Mr and Mrs Hitler both required death certificates the following day.
  • October 5, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Downton Abbey Series 2, William is about to die so Daisy marries him.
  • October 5, 2012
    DracMonster
    Anime & Manga

    This will need a Death Trope unmarked spoilers warning.
  • October 5, 2012
    IsaacSapphire
    There is a trope (not sure if we have it yet) where someone's deathbead wish or will requires some other character to get married (sometimes to someone specific, usually its not specified who they should marry, just that they do). Could the name of this trope be made more clearly not to be about this other trope?
  • October 5, 2012
    mythbuster
    I'm not sure about Deep Impact. The motive in that case was so that she would be family, and since his family was pre-selected for the shelter, he could bring his wife and infant sister-in-law with him.
  • October 5, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Does this count? Or is it more Altar The Speed? They would've gotten married anyway, they're just doing it now since they could die.

    • In the third Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, during the final battle, Will proposes to Elizabeth. Knowing that there's a good chance they could die, Elizabeth asks Barbossa to perform the marriage ceremony right then and there (as he's a ship's captain and is legally able to), which he does - while sword-fighting with Davy Jones' minions the whole time.
  • October 7, 2012
    phoenixy
    I think the trope should mention that the cause of the marriage is often for legal reasons, especially in Real Life Examples. Albert Goering married his housekeeper on his deathbed so that she could get survivorship benefits.

    If it's just as easy to come up with real as fictional examples of this, is it really a trope?
  • October 7, 2012
    lilliterra
    I think this is a trope even though it is Truth in Television. Lots of tropes are that way.
  • January 15, 2013
    randomsurfer
    See also Wartime Wedding.

    • In an episode of Family Guy Brian falls in love with an old woman. As she is in the hospital dying he brings a virtual reality helmet for her to wear so she can see a long life married to him before she dies.
  • January 15, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    There's one in Downton Abbey in the second season.
  • January 15, 2013
    batgirl1
    Fan Fiction
    • The Lois And Clark fic A Gift for Life has Clark getting Leukemia from Kryptonite exposure. He marries Lois...because she's agreed to have a baby for him, and even though actual sex will not be involved, he wants the child to be legitimate and have a "real" family. (The theme of the story is the controversy of conceiving a child to use as a donor).
  • January 16, 2013
    aurora369
    Not exactly this, but Anakin and Padme from Star Wars first expressed their love and wish to marry when they were scheduled for execution by the Separatists. The actual marriage took place after they were rescued, that's why it's not quite this trope.
  • January 16, 2013
    GeminiSparkSP
    Played with in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney. In case 2, Alita Tiala wants to marry Wocky Kitaki because she knew that his heart could stop at any time, and when that happened, Wocky's fortune would become hers.
  • August 27, 2013
    mythbuster
    The US Government takes this trope into consideration with survivor benefits. For the spouse to qualify for survivor benefits, the marriage must have lasted at least nine months or produced a child, unless the death was in the line of duty.
  • August 28, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Literature:
    • In In the King's Service, Lord Ahern de Corwyn is engaged to Zoe Morgan when he becomes ill from a ruptured bowel. The couple exchange wedding vows at Ahern's insistence (he refuses the Last Rites until this is done), and he dies a bout an hour later.
  • August 28, 2013
    lexicon
    I'd say the Star Wars example counts. Is someone grabbing this or shall I?
  • August 28, 2013
    kjnoren
    The Star Wars example is rather Dying Declaration Of Love or similar. Another related trope is Must Not Die A Virgin.

    TV Series:

    • William and Daisy are married in Downton Abbey, with William on his death bed after his war wounds. It is Played For Drama since Daisy didn't move William, but she is pushed to the marriage by the rest of the staff.
  • August 29, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ @lexicon: The OP mythbuster just posted again on 8/27/13 so it isn't Up For Grabs anymore.
  • August 29, 2013
    kjnoren
    Literature:

    • In The Shadow Rising, Perrin and Faile are married in Emond's Field as a demand from Faile to leave the village, which is due to be assaulted and overrun by Trollocs. She returns with The Cavalry, in the form of villagers from the neighbouring villages that she recruited.
  • August 29, 2013
    Melkior
    Literature
    • In Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, the protagonist is rushed through a marriage (to a woman he almost certainly intended to marry anyway) because the following day, he's going to do something potentially suicidal but necessary.
  • August 29, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    How about this for a description:

    Marriage is a big decision, and one that normally shouldn't be entered into lightly, because it will affect you for the rest of your life. However, long term planning goes out the window when Your Days Are Numbered. When you're terminally ill or headed off into a battle where your odds of survival are slim, it's now or never. Thus, a person facing The Long Dark asks (or even demands) to marry as soon as possible, and those close to that person accommodate their wishes.

    Often, there is some prior relationship between the dying person and his/her intended; they may even be already engaged, so the marriage would've happened anyway. A relatively new or recent attraction can be hurried along towards this by the impending threat of death. In still other cases, the people in question may have never even considered marrying each other under any other circumstances. Perhaps they're just two terminally ill patients who don't want to die alone, or an otherwise platonic friend volunteers to marry a dying patient because he/she is not long for this world.

    Very much Truth In Television. Subtrope of Altar The Speed. For war-specific instances of this, see Wartime Wedding.
  • August 29, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Cameron on House once married a man that had been diagnosed terminally ill with thyroid cancer. He made it six more months after their wedding before he died.
  • August 30, 2013
    Prfnoff
    In Cry The Beloved Country, Absalom marries his pregnant girlfriend after he is sentenced to death.
  • September 11, 2013
    mythbuster
    New description sounds good.
  • September 13, 2013
    Synchronicity
    New description could link to Wartime Wedding, as this trope is mentioned in the description.
  • September 13, 2013
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • In When Darkness Falls Idalia accepts Jermayan's marriage proposal after she's already learned she must willingly sacrifice herself to foil the demons' plot. Shortly thereafter, however, she's reincarnated as the daughter of the elven king, and as Jermayan is an elf as well a Jailbait Wait isn't a problem.
  • September 13, 2013
    Xelloss08
    In Angel Beats, would Hinata proposing marriage to Yui in order to fulfill her final wish and allow her to move on from Purgatory count as an example of this trope?
  • June 2, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    A possible variation in Dr Quinn Medicine Woman. Matthew and Ingrid, convinced the world is going to end, want to get married. They were already boyfriend and girlfriend, but they hadn't been planning to do it quite so soon. It doesn't happen because the preacher is too busy hearing last-minute confessions.
  • June 6, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Film Live Action
    • In Love And Death, Sonya agrees to marry her nebbish cousin Boris because he's been challenged to a duel and fully expects that he'd be killed, and she figures that she can do him a simple kindness. She's a bit taken aback when he actually survives and she actually has to live with him.
  • June 7, 2014
    BartekChom
    In Tomek wsrod lowcow glow (Tom among the headhunters) from Polish novel cycle by Alfred Szklarski, Tomek's love interest from Australia, Sally, marries him when she is seriously injured. It was penultimate chapter Sally's last wish and she said that when he is hers, she can die, but nobody wanted do believe it and she really recovered soon.
  • June 8, 2014
    MetaFour
    Can also be a Wartime Wedding.

    Film:
    • In The African Queen Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnut are captured during their attempted bombing of the German warship. The German captain asks if they have a Last Request before they're hanged, and they ask the captain to marry them.
  • June 19, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    We already have Last Request, so why not make this Last Request Marriage?
  • June 19, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Pulled a hat from this one. It doesn't even have a single example listed yet...
  • July 26, 2014
    BartekChom1
    I have collected examples. But is it going to be published?

  • July 26, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: In 2013 a lesbian couple was allowed to get married before the date that gay marriages were to be officially allowed in their state because one of the two had breast cancer and would be dead before the new law would go into effect. [1]
  • March 23, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump?
  • March 24, 2015
    LadyEvil
    • Quite possibly the reason Francis I of France allowed his daughter, Madeleine of Valois to marry James V of Scotland. She died 6 months later from tuberculosis.

    • In Frozen, Hans claims that he married Anna in accordance with her last wish, thus making him King of Arendelle. Yeah, this is why weddings require a witness.
  • March 24, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In This Is The Army Johnny Jones marries his girlfriend before being sent overseas, which at the beginning of the film he's against doing.
  • March 24, 2015
    Chabal2
    The Count Of Monte Cristo: A variation where the wedding is wished for another person. As the Count writes his will on the eve of a duel he has agreed to lose, he asks that Morrel marry his slave/adoptive daughter Haydée so she'll have someone left to help her in life. In the morning, he asks Morrel if he has a fiancée, when he learns this is the case he just sighs and puts it down to fate. And in the end the duel was cancelled.
  • March 24, 2015
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Last Request

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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