Another Man's Terror
This trope takes place where one character is thrown into the shoes of a dead man to experience his final moments. Either the player reads a pamphlet in Timmy's brutal demise before the monster which comes to try to kill the player, or he has to complete a dead man's task, witnessing and experiencing what killed the person before you.
Related to Apocalyptic Log
- During one arc of Ghost Hunt, main character Mai, who is a sensitive, undergoes a psychic dream where she is forced to experience the last moments of a maid who was murdered in the house her group is investigating. She is woken up at the last possible instant, and it is likely that she would have really died otherwise.
- Hidan in Naruto is an immortal who uses a technique that causes a target to suffer any wounds inflicted upon Hidan. He usually tortures them by slowly hurting himself before delivering a fatal blow which he, being immortal, survives. The link causes him to experience the full pain and terror of their final moments. Though he actually enjoys the experience
- Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl, was raised to be the perfect killing machine. As a child, she never realised what it meant or what death even was - until the first time she kills and her ability to read people's body language means that she experiences the man's death as if it were her own. She then proceeds to become a Phlebotinum Rebel, finally becoming Batgirl.
- In The Dresden Files graphic novel Ghoul Goblin, Harry soulgazes a dying man to learn what he knows, and feels death beginning to suck him down too. The victim's last thoughts warn him to remain behind and protect his surviving siblings.
- In Strange Days, a full-sensory recording of a thrill-seeker's stunt ends in his (unintended) death. A dealer in black-market sensations views it, gets to the finish, and then rips the playback-cap off his head in revulsion, yelling at the would-be seller that he doesn't deal in snuff.
- The earlier film Brainstorm ends with the protagonist viewing a similar recording of a woman's natural death, and nearly gets dragged down into the afterlife himself.
- In Source Code, Jake Gyllenhall is mentally dropped into the shoes of a train passenger in the eight minutes before said passenger dies in a terrorist attack, with the task to find the planted bomb that destroyed the train the first time around. He has to go through the same eight minutes a lot during the course of the film.
- In Jurassic Park, Ray Arnold leaves to power up the park's generator. After he doesn't return, Ellie and Muldoon leave to find him and discover the raptors have escaped. Muldoon sacrifices himself so that Ellie can reach the generator, where she finds Ray's severed arm.
- In Dragon Bones, touching a stone of an ancient ruined temple causes Ward to briefly see through the eyes of one of the last priests of that temple. His sister Ciarra gets to be possessed by what is implied to be the god of that temple later on. And there is also Oreg ... who is immortal, but still able to make his traumatic memories real. It hurts no one but himself, but Ward is pretty horrified when he hears the sound of the whip and sees Oreg's clothes and then skin be ripped apart. It is explicitly said that this thing would have killed Oreg if it had been done to him by the one person who can kill him.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Book II the Fellowship finds a journal in Moria chronicling how Balin and the other dwarves were besieged by Orcs and could not escape. The last entry says "They are coming." The Fellowship is ambushed by Orcs shortly afterwards.
- In The Return Of The King, the Palantír of Minas Tirith will only ever show the last image seen by Denethor — two burning hands.
- The Dresden Files book White Night plays with this: When Harry gets someone to magically witness a murder victim's last moments, it turns out she was killed by a White Court vampire, and the viewer got a rather different impression from "terror." Dresden, considering the kind of things he tends to see, considers this terribly unfair.
- In The Curse of Chalion, Cazaril prays for a death
magic miracle. If it succeeds, it will kill both himself and his target. After he completes the ritual, he hallucinates that he is his victim, who chokes to death on his own tongue. The next morning Cazaril is disappointed to wake up, until he learns that Dondo did indeed miraculously die at that moment, in the way Cazaril dreamed. However, every night thereafter he is haunted by Dondo's ghost, as a second miracle has kept both Cazaril and Dondo in this world.
- In Otherland Orlando has used VR simulations that play out fatal accidents or other forms of death. There's an urban legend that they're made by monitoring someone's actual death, but this is dismissed as ridiculous as someone would have to be loaded up with expensive recording devices in advance. He has reason to be preoccupied with the experience.
- Used to grim and varied effect in the story-within-a-story in Thomas Ligotti's "Notes On The Writing Of Horror: A Story".
- In Unseen Academicals, Glenda Sugarbean is shown a vision of the last moments of a soldier who was slain in battle by an orc. She manages to see enough to notice the orcs were being driven into battle by men with whips, which means they aren't naturally vicious like people have come to think they are.
- In Emma Bull's Finder, psychically gifted Orient discovers that laying hands on a murder victim's body enables him to dream their deaths.
- The Skins of Dead Men has this right in the title—a particular medicine, together with skin grafts, brings dreams of what happened to the skin's previous owners.
- In The Truth, Mr. Tulip is given what amounts to post-life therapy by Death, who shows him the last moments of the numerous people he killed.
- Ghosts in Pact have the ability to do induce this trope in others by forcing them to experience their feelings as they approached their death, which, as psychic impressions of trauma, is effectively all that they are. These can include frostbite, suffocation, and having your legs crushed in a car accident and slowly bleeding out.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- The crew encounters a race that punishes murderers by implanting the final memories of the victim (which they also use as evidence) into the convict for him to experience at regular intervals. Then Tom Paris gets framed for murder.
- In "Flesh and Blood", some holograms used for Hunting the Most Dangerous Game put the Doctor through a simulated hunt so he can know what it felt like.
- A similar episode to the Voyager example occurs on Stargate SG-1, when Colonel Mitchell is drugged, has false memories of committing the murder placed in his head, and then left at the scene of the crime.
- The Twilight Zone: in "Judgment Night", a Nazi captain is forced to experience being on a ship that he torpedoed for all eternity.
Mythology and Religion
- Johnathon Coulter's "Creepy Doll" song has the main character swap places with the doll just as it is being burned in a fire.
- The title necklace in King Diamond's The Eye has this effect, as its wearer gets to go through its last owner's demise. The latest person to try this gets to know how being burned at the stake feels like.
- The belief that one must burn to ash the snake one killed: the other snake might glance into the dead snake's eyes, witness the dead snake's final moment, and exact revenge upon the person that killed the fellow snake.
- Geist: The Sin-Eaters: What happens to a Sin-Eater when they are resurrected (the second time and after) by their geist: somebody else dies in their stead, they experience the unfortunate person's demise, and then the Sin-Eater finds themselves alive once more, having shoved their death on someone else. This is a traumatic experience that hits the Karma Meter hard, and if it happens too often, the Sin-Eater will end up disconnected from their geist, with both descending into insanity.
- Fallout 3 has Vault 106, where the lone wanderer has hallucinations throughout the vault.
- There's a lot of this in Fallout 3. Most of the vaults have logs and computers which tell you you're going through the same thing the occupants experienced, as well as the Dunwich Building, which has logs scattered throughout chronicling one man's descent into madness as he encounters exactly what you encounter.
- In Dead Space, you encounter a dying man who fought his way through the ship. He gives you a note and then dies. You have to finish what he started, scary beasts chasing you and all.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, this comes up a few times. In one sidequest, you come across two corpses and one scared Adventurer who all have notes speaking of the same fabled treasure. Obviously, all except the extremely freaked survivor met with gruesome ends. You can finish the quest by confronting the author of the notes...who turns out to be an expy of the lich Kanggaxx from Baldur's Gate. His name? Gaxkang.
- In another sidequest, the Player Character can stumble upon a corpse in Denerim's back streets. The man was a templar who stumbled upon a cabal of bloodmages. You can then clear out the warehouse and finish what he started.
- Yet another example occurs in a quest for the Mage's collective. One man sets out to find his wayward apprentice, but finds that the apprentice has turned into a horrifying abomination. The player character finds his corpse, then is attacked by the same abomination and must defeat it lest they end up the same way.
- Part of the premise of Soul Hackers is this. By doing so, you learn vital clues that help you solve the present-day mystery. For example, during one such "Vision Quest" you play a character who sets a password that your present-day self can then use.
- In Halo, the Master Chief watches a helmet-cam recording of Sgt Johnson's squad being overrun by the Flood. Immediately before they attack you, naturally.
- Anyone who reads the Tome of Eternal Darkness experiences every previous reader's interactions with the book. Reading the tome doesn't typically end well so the player plays through many people's last moments.
- The entire point of Final Fantasy XIII's Missions. The party has the option of completing the Focuses of other, failed l'Cie, who have been transformed into Cie'th Stones, doomed to eternal suffering and pleading for someone to help them, to kill the demons they were tasked with destroying yet could not. (Being a l'Cie really sucks).
- Alex Mercer of [PROTOTYPE] is a horrific Anti-Hero who gains the memories of the people he consumes. He comments on this now and then (apparently not finding it pleasant) and in the ending narration, he describes seeing the dying moments of his thousands of victims every time he closes his eyes.
- Cryostasis has this as a regular gameplay mechanic whenever you walk up to a corpse that isn't a zombie. In a subtle variation of Set Right What Once Went Wrong, you need to complete whatever task the dead man was trying to do in order to clear the Broken Bridge in front of you. Also, this somehow saves the dead man's soul from whatever entity is taking over the ship.
- The Dark Eye (not to be confused with Drakensang: The Dark Eye) is an obscure horror game based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. In it, you not only are living through a tale worthy of Poe - you're also subject to experiencing three Poe tales (The Tell-Tale Heart, Berenice, and "The Cask Of Amontillado") through both the eyes of the killer... and their unlucky victim. So enjoy watching yourself get smothered and chopped up by someone who is driven mad by your eye, getting buried alive and then having your fiancee pull all your teeth out, and getting slowly bricked into a grotto while you're forced to watch.
- In the beginning of Penumbra: Black Plague, you can listen to a tape of someone talking about the Tuurngait, only for it to turn into screaming as one of them attacks him. Shortly after, you encounter the same one...