When death is upon you, sometimes you have a burning need to get something off your chest. Something that embarrassment or social stigma has prevented you from saying. Perhaps you want to come out of the closet, or admit your undying love to the person you can never have, or rant about how stupid everyone around you is
. Regardless, no sooner do you make it known than you find out that, no, you're not going to die today.
Often, but not always, a comedy trope. When Played For Comedy
, the more embarrassing the secret, the higher the probability that you'll survive.
If someone is instead admitting something they've wanted to admit but couldn't and would rather survive the upcoming danger, it's If We Get Through This
. Can be a subversion of many of the Death Tropes
. Compare Crossing the Burnt Bridge
- An Entry with a Bang has a man confessing his love and proposing to a girl while they expect a nuke to hit their Dropship. She accepts... then it turns out Earth only had time to put warheads on half the missiles. Oh, and he proposed in front of the entire bridge crew.
- In Kind Hearts and Coronets, Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini has been sentenced to death for the one murder that he didn't commit. While awaiting execution, he writes his memoirs in which he confesses to all of the murders that he did commit (every D'Ascoyne ahead of him in the line of succession to a duchy). Just before his hanging, exonerating evidence is discovered and he is pardoned. However, his realization that he has left the manuscript of his memoirs with the confessions to the murders of his family in his prison cell may make this example a subversion...
- In The Belgariad, Adara is shot with an arrow and believes herself to be dying. When Hettar appears by her bedside, she confesses her love for him, only to be told soon afterwards that she's fine.
- This is how the plot of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novel The Confession of Brother Haluin begins. After being horribly injured in an accident the eponymous Haluin makes his confession to Abbot Radulfus and Cadfael. After he makes a miraculous recovery, Haluin decides that his 'deathbed' confession is no longer sufficient and insists on doing penance as soon as he is fit enough to walk (or rather hobble).
- Sword Art Online: Kirito and Asuna, after dying in SAO believe they will be Killed Off for Real, and thus reveal their real-world names and ages. Kirito wakes up realizing that while he "died" in game, the Nerve Gear did not kill him. He eventually finds Asuna in the real world.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Xander share a passionate kiss when they think they're going to be killed by Spike - only to be interrupted by their rescuers who happened to be their respective significant others.
- Seinfeld: In the first part of the two part finale, as the plane crashes, several secrets come out; most importantly, George cheated in The Contest.
- In an episode of Father Ted, a group of priests are aboard a plane that seems set to crash. One priest makes a confession of love to the priest sitting next to him. After the plane is saved, the episode ends with a long, silent shot of the awkward looks on both their faces.
- Red Dwarf: Rimmer creates a copy of himself and, following an extreme case of Other Me Annoys Me, everyone agrees that one of the Rimmers has got to go. Lister persuades the unlucky Rimmer to tell him his embarrassing secret about gazpacho soup before the procedure - then reveals that he's already erased the other Rimmer.
- The Closer: A man involved in a serious car crash is administered last rites by a priest and confesses murdering his wife, only to survive. Even though the priest keeps the man's secret, the man murders the priest a few months later in fear that the priest will talk.
- Star Trek: Voyager episode "The 37s" has the crew find a group of humans who vanished from Earth long ago, including Amelia Earheart and her co-pilot. The co-pilot gets shot and whilst being treated by the Doctor, tells Amelia he loves her. He then finds the Doctor has cured him and tells Amelia to forget everything she heard.
- Another Voyager example. In the episode "Renaissance Man", the Doctor starts making a list of confessions believing he is about to go offline (including telling Seven of Nine he loves her). After finding he will not go offline, he hides in sickbay for a week out of embarrassment.
- At least two cases from Lois and Clark. One is during the pilot , when Lois has earlier said she'd never sleep with a colleague, and later, when they are tied to an exploding bomb, tell of case when she did. In a later episode, Lois and Jimmy are tied to a mast when a Doomsday Device is about to be activated, and Jimmy tells Lois about a wet dream he had of her.
- The Nanny: When Fran & Mr. Sheffield are in an airplane that's about to crash, Mr. Sheffield tells Fran that he loves her. Then after they survive, he takes it back. (He eventually un-takes it back and they get married.)
- In Get Smart as they're in an unwinnable situation, Max tells 99 he loves her and if they get out he'll marry her. Cue 99 going medievel on the asses of the KAOS agents who have them surrounded.
- A less lighthearted example: an episode of Torchwood has Tosh tell Owen that she loves him, thinking that he has only a few minutes left. Tosh then tells Owen she didn't mean it (though we see contrary to this later in the season).
- One episode of The Simpsons features Smithers, thinking that an Apocalypse of some kind is coming, getting the nerve to kiss Mr Burns. They exchange a very awkward "see you in the office" after the Apocalypse turned out to be just a promotional gimmick by a Shopping Mall.