A character dies, but their death is exactly the way they wanted it to be. They have no regrets, they accomplished their goals, and while people may mourn their death, they know that it was not in vain. The character dies satisfied, with no unfinished business. They know that whoever they leave behind will be okay, or might even benefit from their death. They might not even have accomplished anything significant, but just lived a good life and believe that death is only the natural last step.
Of course, what the dying character's perfect death is like will vary wildly depending on said character's personality and outlook in life. A character who's in love might sacrifice themselves to save their love's life, or die so that they may go on living happily
. Both The Unfettered
and The Fettered
will both be willing to die as martyrs, for their beliefs. A just Hero
might do a heroic sacrifice
for their friends or to save the world. A chronically depressed, Death Seeker
, or sick person might see death as a release and welcome it with open arms. A jaded Blood Knight
might be happy about being defeated in fair combat. An Immoral Nihilist
might just die happy in the knowledge of how much destruction and death they caused before dying.
An evil character who dies this way will ALWAYS Face Death with Dignity
, since their death is a culmination, and may lead to an Antagonist in Mourning
. A heroic character who dies like this will always leave behind people inspired by their death. Also, note that this is not a PRETTY death: there might not be much of a body left, the character might get blown up, get murdered... The mechanism of the death is not important, it's the fact that the character dies without regrets. However, Cruel and Unusual Death
rarely comes into play, and Undignified Death
is unheard of. The character from a storyline perspective, is given a dignified death, even if it's not a neat one.
Tropes that have good synergy with this one include:
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Quite simply, the character reached the zenith of existence and become one with the universe. Pretty much could be considered the ultimate form of this trope.
- Die Laughing: Usually the most benign form of this trope is the one at play: the character laughs because they die genuinely happy.
- Died Happily Ever After: If the work in question has the element of the afterlife present, the character dying will ALWAYS express their happiness beyond the wall of death.
- Dying as Yourself: The character dies knowing they are free from the influence that held them in life, and is thankful and relieved, possibly smiling in their moment of death.
- Dying Declaration of Love: The character dies happy in the knowledge that they were finally able to spit it out.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: VERY common with this trope.
- Go Out with a Smile: Almost universal with this trope.
- Heroic Sacrifice: No trope invokes dying without regrets as much as a heroic sacrifice.
- I Die Free: A character is free from bondage in death and welcomes it.
- The Last Dance: This trope happens often in the lead-up to dying without regrets. Setting all your earthly affairs in order before dying is a good way to minimize any regret you might have in the end.
- Last Stand: Many heroic (or even villainous) characters will rapturously enjoy their last moments of death in the middle of one of these.
- Peaceful in Death: As long as a body is left behind in a decent state, this trope will almost always be in effect.
- Redemption Equals Death: Pretty self-explanatory: the character has finally been able to redeem themselves and dies content in that knowledge.
- Together in Death: The character knows that their death will finally reunite them with their beloved.
: There are NO Subversions
with this trope. If a death is not specifically a Good Way To Die, it then belongs to another trope, not this one. It may be averted
, but it should only be recognized as such if a particular situation stops it, at the last minute, from being a Good Death.
This being a Death Trope, abandon un-spoilage all ye who enter here.
Anime And Manga
- In the 1930s film The Petrified Forest, Leslie Howard demands this from Humphrey Bogart and gets it. Arguably, Bogart later gets one of his own, ultimately being gunned down because he couldn't bear to give up on love.
- The Evil Robot Bill and Ted go out like this, surprisingly enough, congratulating the "good human usses" for outwitting them, and die smiling.
Evil Bill: Evil Ted, I think we may have met our match.
Evil Ted: Kudos to you, Good Human Usses!
- In ''The Crow, after being done with his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Eric Draven lies against his tombstone dying, but right before death, he is visited by his lover Shelly's spirit, and he dies fully content that both his revenge was done and that he was reunited with his lost love.
- In The Last Samurai, Katsumoto and his Samurai brethren choose to die the way they lived; with honour, as warriors fighting with traditional weapons in a hopeless battle against an overwhelmingly superior force.
- V's death in the V for Vendetta film.
Evey: I don't want you to die!
V: That is the most beautiful thing you could have ever given me...
- Bill dies this way. Not only did Beatrix prove to him she was the better fighter, but he also died with their business concluded and their daughter in good hands.
Bill: How do I look?
Beatrix: You look ready.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. You should know this one.
- In 13 Assassins, most of the samurai protagonists willingly join a Suicide Mission, knowing that it's the only way to die a warrior's death in an era of peace.
- The Avengers: Before Phil Coulson dies, he tells Nick Fury:
It's okay, boss. This was never going to work...if they didn't have something to-
- In Resident Evil: Extinction, Carlos Olivera is bitten by an infected, so he decides to buy the other survivors some time and clear the way for them... Which he does by driving a tanker truck through a giant horde of zombies, crashing it, then triggering an explosion that takes out a large portion of the zombies surrounding the facility they are trying to break into. The best part? He finds a marijuana joint (after the whole survivor convoy ran out of cigarettes) and manages to take a puff just before he blows up!
- Edward's death in Big Fish, both in the story Will tells of how he dies and in reality, knowing that his son finally understands him enough to tell that story.
- In Stranger Than Fiction, Harold Crick initially refuses to die as required in Helen Eiffel's newest novel. However, after reading through the draft, he realizes that his death is required to truly make it a literary masterpiece, and accepts his impending death as this trope.
Live Action TV
- The Loreena McKennit song "Skellig" is about a monk dying of old age after living a life doing exactly what he wanted to do and passing on his legacy to another monk to continue.
- Grunt's death during the Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2 is this. His Famous Last Words are "Good fight, Shepard. Good fight."
- Zaeed's too: "Always figured it might end something like this."
- Mordin's death in Mass Effect 3 as he cures the Genophage. If Shepard expresses regret he has to die to do it, he merely responds "Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong."
- Thane in his best ending, dying of a combination of his disease and wounds sustained saving the Citadel Council, with his son and Shepard (possibly a romantic partner) at his bedside.
- The Legend of Dragoon: While Lavitz's actual physical death is a rather needless Heroic Sacrifice, his undead spirit ends up trapped in an ancient Wingly city. Once freed, he manages to use the last of his life energy to give the protagonists a way to avert The End of the World as We Know It, and passes to the afterlife after a warm reunion with his friends.
- Psycho Mantis's death in Metal Gear Solid. He actually says so himself, stating that helping Snake before he dies feels "nice".
- Similarly, The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, who has the nickname "The Joy" for the emotion she feels in battle, has a final showdown with her most beloved apprentice, Naked Snake, from which she does not intend to survive but does not intend to throw either. It is clear from her words and expressions before, during, and after the battle, that this was the way she wanted to go.
- In Persona 3, Chidori dies not only saving Junpei from death at the expense of her own life, but also declaring her love for him. She even shows her love beyond death, with her Persona fusing with Junpei's to form Trismegistus.
- Prior to that, Shinjiro dies satisfied after Taking the Bullet for Ken, whose mother he'd accidentally killed two years before. In this case, he's satisfied not only because he's saved Ken, but because he was concerned about what effect it would have on Ken if Ken avenged his mother personally as he was planning to (and Shinjiro was prepared to let him) do. His Famous Last Words sum it up: "This is the way it should be."
- The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts gives us The Survivalist, who, after surviving The End of the World as We Know It (with extreme guilt issues), finds his way to Zion National Park. Afterwards, he 1) kills off a pack of ghouls alone, 2) kills almost 100 members of an expeditionary force from Vault 22 (and falls in love with one of the women that got caught in a bear trap of his, 3) watches his new wife and son both die during childbirth (more guilt), and 4) comes across a group of children that had wandered into the valley. After caring for them for many years, he was finally starting to wear out. After saying his good-byes, he tells them all to be good and climbs to the top of the Red Gate to finally pass. It's definitely believable that he had a smile on his face the whole time.