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Dying as Yourself
"Only... I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense? I don't want them to change me. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not."
has taken hold of this character. Fully ahold, leaving no trace of the original. Not a time for Driven to Suicide
or I Cannot Self-Terminate
; there is not enough mind left. Often it's not even a matter of Mercy Kill
— you have to kill in self-defense.
Or Cold-Blooded Torture
or Mind Rape
has utterly destroyed the mind. There is nothing left. Looming death may make Mercy Kill
unnecessary — but it may not.
But dying has strange effects. For just a moment, you know that this character is aware of you. This may be the point at which you recognize your friend — possibly because it coincides with This Was His True Form
, with physical freedom as well as mental, but possibly just the change in expression and the like. Gratitude, expressed in the form of Go Out with a Smile
or just a glimmer in the eye, is likely. Perhaps you can hold his hand so he is not Dying Alone
. Perhaps he can say My God, What Have I Done?
or shed Tears of Remorse
, or even undergo Villainous BSOD
, and you can try to console him. Some form of Last Words
is sometimes possible — possibly even a Last Request
. Often he will be Peaceful in Death
. May sometimes lead to a Tear Jerker
. This is also the way a Tragic Monster
often kicks the bucket.
A form of Death Equals Redemption
. Compare Died Happily Ever After
, I Die Free
. Contrast Fighting from the Inside
This is a Death Trope. Expect unmarked spoilers ahead.
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Anime and Manga
- Fate/stay night: Berserker (in a constant state of madness) gets one of these in the Fate route (covered by the anime) after being killed for good by Saber, holding a brief conversation with her about the weapon she just used. To a lesser degree, in the UBW route as well.
- Battle Royale: Kazuo when he is killed by a gunshot straight through his brain at the end of the manga. It "frees" his memories and he is able to remember everything. Also cue Tear Jerker moment.
- Inori, Gai, and Mana are given this at the end of Guilty Crown, the latter two getting a sweet Together in Death Moment and the former Absorbing the Apocalypse Virus from Shu and killing herself in the process
- When Kaien Shiba was possessed by a hollow, Rukia Kuchiki was forced to kill him to stop its rampage in his body. As he was dying he thanked her for killing him and apologized to her.
- Orihime's brother became a hollow after his death and attempted to kill Orihime. Ichigo beats him up and gives him a lecture about how older brothers are supposed to protect their younger sisters. For one brief moment, Sora manages to regain control enough to rip off his mask and share the goodbye with Orihime that they'd never been able to have before Ichigo finishes him off (at his request) to save his soul (the anime takes a Lighter and Softer approach by having Sora kill himself rather than the shounen hero doing it).
- Anime episode 291. When Kaname Tousen is stabbed and mortally wounded while in Hollow form, he returns to his true form and his mental state appears to return to normal as well.
- Digimon Frontier: Cherubimon loses his monstrous appearance right before he dies.
- In Code Geass, when Euphemia lies mortally wounded after being hypnotized to kill thousands of innocent Japanese, she finally manages to break the Geass order's power over her when it tries compelling her to kill her Japanese boyfriend... and then she dies.
- In Inuyasha, Sango's possessed little brother Kohaku becomes himself again just for a moment before he dies. He gets better.
- In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Shion gets a moment of sanity (and regret) before finally dying. ...Sometimes.
- Claymore. As Half Human Hybrids, every Claymore will eventually transform into a yoma monster. When they sense their time coming near, they send a "Black Card" to another Claymore close to them, requesting that they be killed while still human.
- Gankutsuou, The Count and Ferdanand get this when they kick it.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, When a Dark Signer loses a Duel of Darkness while possesed by his Jibakushin (Earthbound God/Immortal), he gets "unpossessed" for a few moments before he dies.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Most homunculi die as themselves (which are usually hideous monsters, so it's mostly an inversion). Even "Father" is eventually sucked into the Gate to "not die" as himself, in the form he loathes, presumably for the rest of eternity. In-world aversion to this (and one of the few cases this trope is played straight), Bradley dies as a gray-haired old man, as he originally was a human and a part of him thought himself as such, being the only one of the Homunculi to keep this form after fatal injury and death.
- Also The reason of why Scar killed the chimera Tucker created is because was the mix of Nina and her dog Alexander and there was no possibility of returning to them to their normal state.
- In the 2003 anime version, Sloth has been spending all her "life" trying to prove she's not Trisha Elric, but as she's dying, she tells them to "take care of each other".
- A combination of this and Staking the Loved One had Reinforce have Nanoha and Fate delete her permanently at the end of the second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha because she couldn't prevent her Self-Preservation Program from starting to regenerate.
- In Soukou no Strain, Ralph Werec's insanity loses hold of him just as his sister is forced to kill him to keep him from enacting his Omnicidal Maniac vision on the galaxy. To heap on the symbolism, his musical pendant snaps off when it happens, just like her identical one did when he destroyed her Flyssa in the first episode.
- Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. Vincent's death at the end of the film, and his choice to not kill Electra, having just remembered his life with her, definitely falls into this trope. "I remembered your face."
- In 07-Ghost, Teito's friend Mikage gets half his soul destroyed and is possessed by the big bad to attack and capture Teito. However when Mikage is defeated and is dying, he spends his last moments giving Teito one last smile and hug.
- In Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Kuma, said to have had so much of himself replaced by cybernetics that nothing of his original personality remained, shows there's still some humanity left in him after all before dying.
- While it doesn't fall squarely under this trope, the book burnings of Pamoon and Laila in Gash Bell have elements of this trope, as Pamoon's pride as a warrior is restored before he goes, and Laila's book burning is at her request, since she has no part in the battle to decide the present Demon King. Before this, they were controlled into near paralysis by Zofis' inflicted fear.
- Knuckle Joe's father in the Kirby anime, after being brainwashed and forcing his best friend to kill him, shakes Nightmare's control long enough to make one final request: that Meta Knight brings his locket to his son.
- In High School Of The Dead, Hisashi Igou is bitten by one of "them" and requests this of Takashi. Unfortunately, Takashi hestiates long enough for Hisashi to become one of them.
- Furthermore, in episode 6, Kouta and Takashi request this of each other in the event of being bitten... but only in the dub, for whatever reason.
- Saeko uses this to comfort a student who has been bitten and thus must be put down.
- The Manga for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had Volvagia being corrupted by Ganondorf during the seven years between Link's seal and Adult Link's awakening (long story short, Volvagia was actually a friend of Link whom Link managed to buy from a Bazaar.), and Link reluctantly fights Volvagia, with him continously attempting to get Volvagia to remember what it once was. It was only after Link was forced to decapitate Volvagia that it came back to its senses, and somberly tells Link that it "hurts." in one of the Manga's biggest Tear Jerkers.
- in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, C!Sayoran is a soulless enemy after Acid Tokyo, but after C!Sakura's death, he returns to what he was before. We only find this out in the few moments before his death.
- In Shadow Skill, insane Fallen Hero G is finally restored to sanity when he is forced to fight Gau in a lucid state. He self-destructs shortly afterwards as he was already a Paper TalismanLich Living on Borrowed Time but Death Equals Redemption.
- At the end of the Tower of Heaven arc in Fairy Tail Erza gives a Really Dead Montage for Jellal, who's body they never found. In it she theorizes that he returned to his good self before preforming a Heroic Sacrifice to save them. Turns out he didn't die, he was just in a coma, but as Erza predicted he did return to his old self.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, one of the alternate timelines in episode 10 ended when an imminently witch-ifying Madoka requested Homura to end her life. Homura complied with immense grief.
- A fairly creepy case in the second episode of the AD Police Files. The story centers around a woman who replaced her entire reproductive system with bionic implants so she'd stop having her monthly period. She eventually starts attacking prostitutes, ripping out their reproductive organs. At the end she is being chased by the AD Police, who are allowed to kill her on sight because she is categorized as a Boomeroid (someone who has more than 70% of their anatomy replaced with cybernetic components), and hence does not rate as a human being anymore. She ends up in an abandoned subway car filled with criminals; she rips off her clothes and allows them to rape her to death. The character Cara Iris realize that she chose to die as a woman instead of a boomer.
- Transformers Energon features the Autobot Inferno suffering from being corrupted by Megatron's power and being turned into an insane Decepticon. Eventually, as he was pulled into the Energon Sun, Inferno broke free of the influence and his Autobot symbol returned. Subverted somewhat as his spark (a transformer's soul) survived and was later given a new body, reborn as Roadblock.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, Miboshi's power as a Seishi is to possess the bodies of living people in order to prolong his own life, and spends most of the series in the form of a small child... until he possesses Chiriko, who has just enough will power to throw him off, just long enough to commit single-bodied murder-suicide.
- A Show Within a Show example, in Bakuman。 this is how the Muto Ashirogi team end their bestselling manga Reversi, by having their two main characters in it lose their demonic powers whilst plummeting towards Earth from miles above the ground. With it implied the characters chose to do so.
- Played with during one of the most known examples is The Dark Phoenix Saga. Jean Grey tapped into a source of infinite power, the Phoenix Force, and became Phoenix. But she got Drunk with Power later, and turned into Dark Phoenix, a being so insanely powerful that she may destroy complete solar system on a whim. The X-Men fought against her, attempting the "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight. Eventually, the good Jean does emerge, but asking her friends for a Mercy Kill. Neither Wolverine nor Cyclops could bring themselves to do that, they love her. So she eventually commited suicide.
- Another X-Men example: Karima, under the control of her Sentinel programming, attacks Utopia and is disabled during the fight by Hellion. When she briefly reasserts herself over her programming, she begs Hellion to kill her to prevent her from attacking everyone again, and he complies.
- Towards the end of Darwyn Cooke's run on The Spirit, the titular vigilante evokes the trope by name after being nearly beaten to death by Big Bad El Morte, ripping his mask off while saying "I want to die as me".... He doesn't actually die, but it does invoke this trope.
- In Usagi Yojimbo, Inazuma dies like this in her brother's arms after months of Fighting from the Inside.
- In Lucifer, when Lucifer kills the demon Musubi, he asks her if she's sure she wants to die wearing the form of a Heian lady and she replies that it's easier to kill.
- Possibly in Watchmen, when Rorschach dies at the end of Chapter 12, he takes off his mask and is killed while he has his human face visible, rather than, what he refers to as his "real" face, which is his mask. He said earlier that the mask is a face he can tolerate, face of someone who sees no grey areas in world. In the end he is killed by his friend, because he refuses to hide a terrible secret. Thus he gives up, abandons his face and tells his friend to kill him. Alternately, he doesn't need the mask to be his face; he is Rorschach through and through, sticking to his principles by accepting death rather than compromise, so it doesn't matter what face he wears on top anymore.
- In the Swamp Thing story "The Curse," a young woman's repressed anger at her misogynistic husband causes her, under occult influence, to transform into a werewolf and attempt to kill him. However, even in her frenzied state, she can't bring herself to do so. Upon hearing from the Swamp Thing that he can't release her from her "cursed" state, she impales herself in despair. She then transforms back into human form and, before dying, asks the Swamp thing if her husband's okay. When he assures her so, she dies happily.
- Jericho was possesed by the evil spirits of Azarath during the Titans Hunt. He managed to get rid of them for a moment and ask his father for a mercy kill. Understanding his suffering and what was a stake, Deathstroke crossed the Moral Event Horizon and killed his own son.
- An early Golden Age Batman Detective Comics story featured a man named Lamb, who after falling down stairs and hitting his head gained a split personality named Wolf, who would awaken at midnight and commit the crimes from the book he was reading at the time. At the end he is chased by Batman through the museum and fell down the same stairs, breaking his neck, and reverting to Lamb as he died.
- The Doctor Who fanfic The Moment Has Been Prepared For centers around Donna Noble's death from the perspective of her granddaughter by her side on her deathbed. Right before dying, Donna becomes Doctor-Donna again and remembers all her adventures with the doctor.
- Arguably a subversion— Donna regenerates and doesn't die after all. Link here.
- Gordon Freeman from Half-Life: Full Life Consequences. he was reanimated by Combines's science, but John Freeman broke it off of his face. He died, but had smiles on face.
- In Poké Wars: The Exigence, Harley's Ariados becomes animalistically hungry due to the dampener removal. He spends several chapters following May and her group, trying to figure out a way to kill them without the blame falling on him. During a Ursaring attack, however, the inner voice that represents his pre-removal self wins over the bloodlust, and he tackles Harley out of the way of a Hyper Beam that burns the bottom half of his body to nothing.
- In the Pony POV Series Recursive Fanfiction Fading Futures Twilight Tragedy manages to Set Right What Once Went Wrong via telepathic messages to her past self, preventing the Epilogue timeline from ever happening in the first place. However, as a result, the timeline begins to fade, everyone basically dying and being reborn as their Reharmonized counterparts. She spends the rest of her time before her impending final confrontation with Discord comforting her friends as they do this trope. Her original plan was to allow her pent up revenge and pain to consume her and become Nightmare Purgatory for one last Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Discord, but upon realizing that if she brutally kills him in cold blood when he can't defend himself, she'll have become She Who Fights Monsters. She manages to free herself from Nightmare form, lets go of all her pain and suffering, and forgives Discord, deciding to fade away as Twilight Sparkle rather than Twilight Tragedy or Nightmare Purgatory.
- Happens to Twilight Sparkle in Fallout: Equestria. After spending over two centuries as part of the Goddess' Hive Mind, including being used as a genetic template for one of the three sub-races of alicorn drones, she manages to temporarily free herself after the Goddess' demise by leaping into a host body. After helping Littlepip and company escape the exploding facility her consciousness 'died', represented by the cutie mark on the host body fading away.
- Averted in the Death Note fanfic, Story of the Century. Original Character Erin attempts to destroy the notebooks under Light's and Misa's ownership to restore them to their original personalities, and to keep L from testing the 13-day rule, but L blocks her. When Light is cornered and Ryuk writes his name in his notebook, he dies in his father's arms, defending Kira's cause with his last breath.
- In A Growing Affection, Sasuke has allowed Orochimaru to perform a Grand Theft Me in return for Itachi's murder. And he is forced to swear that if he interferes in a fight between Orochimaru and any of his former teammates, Sasuke's soul wil be ejected from his body. Uchiha chooses to do so anyway, so that he can give Naruto a chance to kill his body while he is in control.
Films — Animated
- Happens to King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph: though he is partially assimilated by a Cy-Bug, in his final moments he is not King Candy, his disguise, but Turbo, the identity he was trying to conceal.
Films — Live-Action
- In the first Return of the Living Dead, Frank does this by turning on the morgue crematorium and climbing inside, having just seen Freddy give in to the pain and become another brain-eating zombie. That he's doing this to try and preserve his humanity through his destruction is obvious; he solemnly removes his wedding ring, kisses it and hangs it up, then offers a short prayer to be forgiven before immolating himself.
- Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2: "I will not die a monster!"
- Fright Night (1985). After "Evil" Ed Thompson is converted into a vampire and turns on his friends, one of the characters presses a cross into his forehead, branding him. After he's killed by a wooden stake in the heart, the forehead brand disappears and his face relaxes, indicating that he's finally at peace. Subverted; in the end and the later canon comics, he's not dead, he's still a vampire, and still a bit of a creep.
- In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker's final wish before dying is that his son remove his mask so he can look at him "with [his] own eyes". And he does: his eyes are not the red-ringed sulfur-yellow of a Sith, but the blue eyes he had as a Jedi.
- X2: X-Men United has Lady Deathstryke who is kept under the control of the villain by use of a formula which periodically has to be renewed; as indicated by her eyes changing color. Under his control she has a fight to the death with Wolverine which ends when he runs her through—moments before the formula wears off. We see her eyes change and she looks at him before dying.
- Similarly, X-Men: The Last Stand has Jean changing from some nasty veined greeny-grey skinned demon with black eyes to herself, lit from behind somehow and smiling peacefully when Logan kills her.
- The alternate ending of Disturbing Behavior has this happening to Gavin. In his last words, he laments the fact that he'll never get to meet his idol, Trent Reznor.
- Russell in 2010 remake of The Crazies realizes that he's going to succumb to the craziness soon and goes down in a Heroic Sacrifice to buy time for his friends.
- Alia in the Children of Dune miniseries. Possessed by Baron Harkonnen, her suicide breaks his hold over her, returning her to her normal self for a final Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- In The Monster Squad, when the Wolfman is fatally wounded, he turns back into a human and manages to whisper "Thank you" before expiring.
- In TRON: Legacy, Rinzler turns out to be the corrupted Tron who has a Heel Realization and commits a Heroic Sacrifice. As he is drowning, his Tron Lines change from red to blue.
- Zartan in G.I. Joe: Retaliation reverts back to his real self after being impaled by Storm Shadow.
- In Van Helsing, the title character kills Mr. Hyde, who turns back into Dr. Jekyll right before he dies. Apparently, this trope applies to many of the monsters Van Helsing kills, which causes some people to consider him a murderer.
- In The Exorcist, Father Damien invites the demon who possesses Reagan into him in order to save her. This causes his skin to go white. The moment just before he flings himself out of the window, his skin returns to normal.
- A variation in Blade II. Nyssa has been bitten by Nomak and is succumbing to The Virus. Per her request, Blade gently carries her out into the sunlight, allowing her to die as a vampire.
- Priest asks for this earlier in the film, but it's too late.
- At the end of the 2010 version of The Wolfman (2010) Gwen fatally shoots Lawrence. As he lays dying he reverts to human form and thanks Gwen for doing what needed to be done.
- The Invisible Man becomes visible again when he dies.
- In the Hellraiser movies, Cenobites revert to human form when they are killed.
- Tear Jerker of a film The Notebook is based around the fact that people with dementia occasionally experience moments of clarity which can be comforting if slightly disturbing for the family. It's one of the most depressing chick flicks ever.
- In The Bourne Identity, The Professor has a lapse of humanity shortly before he dies in order to deliver the Arc Words to Jason: "Look at us. Look at what they make you give."
- The 1978 original Dawn of the Dead subverts this with Roger. Rather than accept Peter's offer to kill him as a human, Roger chooses to succumb because he "wants to try to not come back as one". He reanimates and is shot.
- Gage in Stephen King's Pet Sematary: "Daddy!"
- Averted in the film version: "No Fair!"
- Happens a LOT in the Warhammer 40,000 novels:
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunts Ghosts novel Only In Death, as Mkoll Mercy Kills victims of the Blood Pact's Cold-Blooded Torture, one of them looks up with awareness, and Mkoll feels like a priest handing out a final blessing.
- In William King's Space Wolf, when Ragnar faces a wulfen, an aspirant turned into a mindless wolf-like creature, he is tormented by the knowledge that it could be a friend of his. It attacks, and he kills in self-defense. It manages to speak: "Ragnar". He checks the body, and realizes it was his closest friend, Kjell.
- In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Larana Utorian, dying and deranged by her suffering at the hands of the Chaos forces, nevertheless manages to collect her wits and smile at Leonid, thus giving him the courage to set off a grenade, killing them and the monsters that could have pursued their companions who could escape.
- In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when Horus mortally wounds Temba, the Chaos taint leaves him, and he weeps at the scale of his betrayal. He is so obviously free that Horus immediately kneels beside him and comforts him.
- In Simon Spurrier's Night Lords novel Lord of the Night, the dying Inquisitor reveals to Mita that the eldar had been mostly mind-controlling him, but his failure to kill her stemmed from Fighting from the Inside.
- A variation is featured in Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand: Commissar-Cadet Donal, corrupted by the Compelling Voice of Warmaster Varan, has a brief moment of clarity when approached by Gunner Jurgen (an anti-psychic "blank") and uses it to end his own life. The Battle Sisters who were mind controlled by Varan did something very similar.
- In James Swallow's Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Sergeant Koris succumbs to the "red thirst," but mortally wounded, recovers his wits enough to warn Rafen about the danger.
- In Deus Sanguinius, Arkio dies like this, finding Rafen's tears over his death a great mercy, and while certain of his own damnation, begging Rafen's forgiveness.
- In Red Fury, the Bloodfiends have fragmentary memories of the Blood Angels whose blood they have drunk; after Rafen kills one — being reminded of various Blood Angels during the fight — its last breath might have been a word: Brother.
- Mentioned in the Horus Heresy "Collected Visions", once the Emperor realized there was nothing of Horus left, he used his psychic powers to strike Horus down for good. The Chaos gods, knowing their pawn was now worthless, withdrew their influence, leaving Horus to die by his father's hand, knowing the awful fullness of his deeds.
- Apparently inverted in C. S. Lewis ' Perelandra, where Mad Scientist Weston appears to break free of Satan's control and begs Ransom for his life. Ransom promptly bashes his head in with a rock. Readers cried What The Hell, Ransom?, but it seems Lewis intended it to be a fakeout on Satan's part.
- Mentioned explicitly in The Graveyard Book, when Bod is captured by the ghouls.
- Stormchaser features an interesting variation during Twig's fight against Screed. Just as Screed is about to kill Twig, the professor yells the name "Screedius Tollinix!", which causes Screed to pause. Twig immediately stabs Screed through the heart, realising only afterwards that Screed's demeanor has been completely changed by the memory of who he once was.
- In the original novel of Dracula, this happens with each of the vampires, including Dracula himself (in the moment before he crumbles into dust). It happens in the first stage adaptation as well, but for some reason tends not to happen in movie versions.
"There was, on the face, a look of peace."
- King Elias in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn gets a moment like this, when his daughter Miriamele is forced to kill him to prevent the Storm King from possessing his body.
- After one of their fights, the Animorphs demanded that a Yeerk leave a fatally-injured Controller, so that "he can live his last moments as a free man" - but the Yeerk can't due to the body's damaged state.
- Other Controllers do get this, at least, usually because the Yeerk is running for it in its natural form. Notably, this happens to John Berryman, AKA Visser Four.
- The Yeerk from MM 4 could have still released control even if he couldn't get out.
- One of the Jedi Apprentice novels featured a world where amnesia was a common punishment by the government. It turns out The Dragon is the sister of two rebels who Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon teamed up with, only mindwiped and basically turned all-out evil. When she takes a blaster bolt, she suddenly regains her memory.
- Played with in the Rebel Force series. A brainwashed assassin, X-7, finds that with extended time away from his master he's starting to feel emotion again, and flashes of memory, but he has no context and finds it all unsettling and disturbing. He does still want to find out who he was and so goes rogue to search, but time spent with the Rebel brother of who he (maybe) used to be, and exposure to old places and images, doesn't jog his memory. When X-7 is confronted again by his master the programming is reinforced; he believes he really is no more than a tool anymore, learning about his past is worthless, and he has to kill the brother and stop the Rebels. But X-7 fails - and while he does not suddenly recognize the brother when mortally wounded, he does beg to be called 'brother' again, to be told that he was someone, once. Not just a tool. That he mattered to someone.
- In the last Legacy of the Force novel, Jaina Solo feels her twin Jacen/Darth Caedus revert to his pre-Sith personality and call out through the Force to his wife... in the second before she kills him.
- In the Drizzt Do'Urden novels, his sister Vierna was probably most sympathetic to him—this was implied to be because she was Drizzt's full-blooded sister, not just Malice's daughter but Zaknafein's too. However, Drizzt escaped, most of the rest of the family was killed, and Vierna became a houseless rogue, she became ever more desperate to regain the favor of the drow goddess Lolth, becoming more like their late, vicious elder half-sister Briza, but with all of Malice's cunning. She decided to try one more time to bring Drizzt back and sacrifice him to Lolth. It didn't work, and Drizzt, despairing at how she'd changed, was forced to kill her. In death, he noted she seemed to be at peace, and gained some of her softness back.
- Exile kills two characters this way in a single set piece. One is treated as a Dying Moment of Awesome; the other is just sad.
- Violently subverted in George Orwell's 1984. Might also be seen as an Inversion.
"But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
- Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch - Candle and Liir help the dying Princess Nastoya return to her true form as an Elephant after a decaying spell leaves her half-human, half-Animal. A subverted trope, in that a Animal form is the character's natural form, and the human is the corrupted form.
- A werwolf girl is shot with charmed bullets while protecting the protagonist Anton in the Last Watch. Despite his warnings that in her lupine shape she has better chances of survivng she still morphs back explaining with her last bit of strength that she doesn't want to die as a beast.
- In Peter S. Beagle's sequel novella to The Last Unicorn, "Two Hearts," Prince Lir dies as a hero, killing a griffin, after his friends rouse him out of a prolonged period of mental and physical decay.
- The character of the Fool in Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana has a moment of clarity when Brandin draws on all the power available to him, including the enchantment keeping the fool under control. He uses it to kill Brandin.
- In Stephen King's "Cell" Ray shoots himself in the head to avoid having his mind controlled by the Raggedy Man.
- Actually, it was so the Raggedy Man wouldn't discover Ray's plan to blow up all the Phoners (which he hadn't told anyone else and hoped they'd figure out on their own).
- In This Rough Magic, Caesare has been used all book as a puppet by Czernobog. As he dies, the control lapses, and he says "thank you" to the person who killed him.
- In Vendetta, Picard stabs a recently assimilated borg in the chest. The borg disconnects from the collective a moment before actually dying, and thanks Picard.
- Similarly, in the Strange New Worlds short story A Private Victory, the assimilated Lieutenant Hawk is revealed to have had a brief few seconds of individuality after Worf shot him in Star Trek: First Contact.
- In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, Bruce, the Starflyer Assassin, has a brief moment of clarity after having his mind taken over, where he asks Gore to Mercy Kill him.
Bruce: Do it. Kill the alien.
Gore: Good for you, son.
- Interesting version in Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders: Kennit dies in Paragon's arms so that their souls can be reunited and both of them can be whole once again. Their separation was a major source of madness and corruption in both of them, but the moment of death restores their "missing pieces," thereby restoring their true selves.
- Toyed with, but finally averted in the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons: Reek fantasizes about dying with a sword in his hand, as he would have if he had retained his identity as Theon Greyjoy. However, he finally breaks free from his Reek identity while managing to stay alive.
Theon: You have to know your name.
- Mentioned by Peeta in The Hunger Games: "Only... I want do die as myself. Does that make any sense? I don't want them to change me in [the arena]. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not."
- Brought up again in Mockingjay, where the hijacked Peeta fights against his bouts of insanity and begs the other members of the Star Squad to kill him while he's lucid, implying that he wants to die as himself and not as what Johanna Mason calls the evil version of himself.
- Bluestar, in Warrior Cats, has a stage lasting a couple books where she develops some dementia, being confused and extremely paranoid: she is convinced that their ancestors have abandoned them and that all her Clan are traitors; she does not even trust Fireheart. Right toward the end of her life, she realizes she's been wrong, and performs a Heroic Sacrifice saving Fireheart from the dog pack. She has just enough time to reconcile herself with her long-lost kits before she dies.
- Marsh in the Mistborn series regains his identity a few times throughout, but most importantly at the end, to remove Vin's earring which was the last of the power that kept Preservation from her.
- Sadly averted in The Last of the Renshai; Colbey uses the last nodenal ("needle of mercy") on Episte precisely because there is no chance of the boy's mind coming back.
- Healers possessed by demons in Tales of Kolmar, if subdued by a powerful enough mage, may be able to speak for long enough to beg the mages to kill them while they are themselves. After a few healers are killed this way a mage figures out a way to get the demon out of the healer, leaving the healer much weakened but alive, but after that the mage starts finding healers whose souls were killed by their demons.
- In the HP Lovecraft story, "The Shunned House," the protagonist's uncle, Elihu Whipple, transforms into a rotting monster under the house's influence. It then takes the forms, in rapid succession, of all those who had lived and died in the house. As the monster is on the verge of disintegrating completely, it takes on, after an apparent struggle with itself, the kindly appearance of Whipple once again. "I like to think," says the protagonist, "that [my uncle] existed at that moment, and that he tried to bid me farewell."
- During the finale of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Jekyll realizes that Hyde is taking over his body, and his use of the potion will only transform him back into Jekyll for a short time before he turns back into Hyde. Quickly running out of the potion and unable to make more, Jekyll decides that his final transformation into Hyde will mark the 'death' of Jekyll, as Hyde's only options after that will be to face execution for his crimes or kill himself (Hyde ends up going for the latter).
- In Honor's Knight, second book of the Paradox Trilogy, Ren seems to regain some memory of her former identity as Yasmine just before dying.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville:
- Visage: Tina Greer dies as herself after her Karmic Death.
- Eternal, Davis tries to convince Chloe into doing a Mercy Kill, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. When Clark crashes in, Doomsday starts to emerge, and the fear for Clark's life overcame her guilt and she pulled the lever. Davis turns back to being himself as he dies. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick.
- In Doctor Who:
- Padmasambhava in "The Abominable Snowmen", released from the grip of the Great Intelligence and finally able to pass on in peace...
At last...my soul is freed. Thank you for returning, Doctor, and...saving me from myself.
- In The Age of Steel, The Doctor detroys all the cybermen's emotional inhibitors, causing them to remember their humanity and realise what they've become, which in turn causes their heads to explode.
- Cheetah Person Karra in "Survival" reverts to human form as she dies, and has time for a few last words with Ace.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Used in the season 2 finale, when Buffy defeats Angelus just as Willow completes her spell to turn him back to Angel. Although he is himself again, Buffy has to kill him anyway to close the gate that Angelus opened. It's reversed when he came back though.
- Spike's Mum, in the much much later (Season 7, near the end) ep "Lies My Parents Told Me". With particular reference to the moment of grateful self-recovery.
- In Dollhouse, a doll is programmed to murder an enemy of Rossum, but manages to resist and commits suicide. It's a slight variation in that it wasn't literally themselves, but rather an imprint that had managed to gain control.
- Mecha Zamusha in the Ultraman Mebius Ghost Reverse Gaiden tells Mebius to kill him before he becomes a revived Empera.
- In Kamen Rider Kabuto, the Scorpioworm as Tsurugi tells Tendou to kill him.
- Also counts as Suicide by Cop, since his Face-Heel Turn and everything that followed was a gambit to get most, if not all, of the Worms killed.
- In season 4, Dean says that at least Sam will "die as a human" if the demon blood detox kills him.
- Also happened back in Season 1. Meg, possessing an innocent human woman at the time, was thrown out a several story high window but her powers kept the body alive. Episodes later, Dean and Sam exorcise Meg out of her body and she thanks them right before dying from the injuries.
- In season 9, after being branded with the Mark of Cain in episode 11, Dean is corrupted by its influence and slowly becomes Ax-Crazy. In the season finale, after he's fatally wounded by Metatron and dying in Sam's arms, Dean admits he's actually relieved to be dying because the Mark "was turning me into something I don't wanna be." Unfortunately, dying is the final step in doing just that, and Dean is subsequently resurrected as a demon.
- A borderline example occurs in The 10th Kingdom, when the dying Big Bad reverts to her original, non-evil persona.
- Londo's death in Babylon 5; he's had a keeper on his neck keeping him controlled for the last 18 years or so. Only in rare times does it let him free as himself for a few minutes or hours, usually if he gets drunk. Takes the form of Prophecy Twist as he had a vision when he was very young of him being strangled to death by G'Kar, as shown in the first episode, but rather than being an act of hatred it's an old friend carrying out a Mercy Kill.
- A variation in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars: A 1984-style dystopia is using holographic simulations, endowed with the forms and (initially) the personalities of Sheridan, Delenn, Franklin and Garibaldi, to make a propaganda film discrediting the Interstellar Alliance. Rather than allow the film to be released and tarnish the legacy of his long-deceased friends, the Garibaldi hologram hacks into the system and broadcasts the plan, as well as the location of the secret base where the film's being made, to the enemies of the people making it.
- An example from Rescue Me may apply, though it does not involve death. Chief Jerry Reilly's beloved wife is rapidly deteriorating due to Alzheimer's disease. For weeks, she's been calling him "Bud," her brother's name. After she tries to kill herself while he's out, he realizes that he can no longer care for her properly and commits her to a nursing home for Alzheimer's patients. After he says goodbye to her and begins walking away, she calls after him on the verge of tears, "Jerry!"
- There's a Bonanza episode called "The Dark Gate" in which one of Adam's friends has lost his mind and started stealing cattle and abusing his wife. The poor man dies at the end, but when he does he acts like somebody waking up from a long nightmarish sleep.
- Subverted tragically in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Collective", where the oldest leader of a group of Borg children disconnected from collective continues to remains stubbornly loyal to the Borg after the other children begin to regain their individuality. When he is electrocuted, his last words are: "We are Borg".
- In Being Human, Lauren begs for an assisted suicide with this as justification. She says that pretty soon the girl who was afraid her parents catching her smoking won't be there anymore.
- In Twin Peaks it is eventually revealed that Laura is killed by Bob because she refuses to allow herself to be corrupted by him and do the Black Lodge spirit's will. James mentions that on the night she died, she had some sort of breakdown in front of him, and when she came out of it she was "the same old Laura", who then proceeds to go off and allow herself to be killed.
- In Merlin Series 4, this is Lancelot to Merlin after Morgana brings him back from the dead as a 'shade', controlled entirely by her, and forces him to stop Arthur and Gwen's marriage, leading to Gwen's banishment of Camelot. Just before Merlin gives him a proper funeral, he awakens as himself once last time to thank Merlin.
- Ashley in Sanctuary. She breaks free from the brainwashing just long enough to address Magnus, shed a tear, and decide to kill herself along with the last bad guy.
- Stargate Verse:
- A variation in Stargate Atlantis when Rodney comes down with "Second Childhood", basically advanced Alzheimer's. Ronon and Teyla want to take him to a particular location that will allow him to regain his identity long enough to say his goodbyes and die with dignity.
- Stargate SG-1: The end of "Forever in a Day", after Teal'c shoots Sha're to save Daniel. Ammonet (the symbiote) dies leaving Sha're just enough time to tell Daniel she loves him before she dies as well.
- In the final season of LOST, Sayid, who has been in an emotionless state and serving the Big Bad for the entire season, finally breaks out of it and performs a Heroic Sacrifice, dying to save his friends.
- Invoked twice, though no one actually dies, in the Season 2 Finale of Once Upon a Time. Greg and Tamara have activated a trigger that will destroy Storybrook and kill everyone. Grumpy gives Rumpelstiltskin a potion that he will cause Lacey to lose her cursed memories and return her memories of her as Belle, saying that she shouldn't die as Lacey. As Regina prepares to sacrifice herself to stop the trigger, she begs Emma to let her do it citing this:
Regina: Everyone looks at me as The Evil Queen, including my son. Let me die as Regina.
- In Warhammer 40,000 The Emperor of Mankind blasted the daemonically enhanced Horus with a mind spike of such power that it sent the Chaos forces occupying Horus' mind running home screaming. He could see the man that was once his most beloved son in his eyes. Sadly, the Emperor couldn't risk Horus getting possessed again, so he mind reamed him even harder.
- Ironically this is also an inversion: The god emperor had to discard the last of his innocence in order to strike the killing blow. Thus he lives as a horribly disfigured version of his former self in both appearance and heart.
- Dungeons & Dragons, Basic D&D module X2 Castle Amber. Theophile, the Abbot of Perigon, turns into a monster called the Beast of Perigon when a red comet is overhead. If killed, he returns to his true form.
- Some vampire characters in Vampire: The Masquerade seek to become human again, at any cost. The books suggest that if such a character dies in an act of true self-sacrifice, they die as a human rather than as a vampire.
- In the concept album for Jekyll & Hyde, as Hyde dies, his voice fades back to that of Jekyll.
- Peer Gynt has the protagonist dying as himself after a life of not being himself. He needed the power of love to get that far.
- In Baldur's Gate II, after you mortally wound the necromancer Lavok, he's revealed to have been possessed by some unknown force for centuries. Of course, he was a necromancer who murdered his family before that.
- Inverted in Halo 3. The Arbiter wants to kill The Prophet of Truth as himself, instead of as the Gravemind that had infected his body and was slowly possessing him.
Arbiter: I will have my revenge on a Prophet, not a plague.
- If you have some but not enough ranks in Persuade in Neverwinter Nights, Aribeth comes back to herself enough to beg for death.
- After you defeat Benezia in Mass Effect, her indoctrination wears off again for a short time before she dies.
- If you can make Saren realize he's being indoctrinated, he'll shoot himself.
- In Mass Effect 3, you can do the same thing with the Illusive Man.
- Also, in Mass Effect, Fai Dan does this to stop the Thorian from turning him into a thrall.
- In the third game, Samara's daughter Rila does this by detonating a bomb in the Ardat-Yakshi monastery to destroy several Banshees, as well as keep herself from becoming one due to her starting to become indoctrinated.
- Revolver Ocelot at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4. Noticeable when he makes his trademark hand gesture, saying "you're pretty good."
- In Mother 3, Claus's deliberate suicide. It's quite the Tear Jerker.
Claus fired an intense bolt of lightning!
Lucas's Franklin Badge reflected the lightning back!
Claus took mortal damage!
- There's also the Mecha Drago, who manages shed a single tear of sorrow (Presumably over having killed Hinawa) as it draws its last breaths.
- Subverted in this scene in Tales of Symphonia:
Mithos: Do it now! ...Before I too...am no longer myself...
Genis: Lloyd, please, help him! Let him die while he's still himself.
Lloyd: [hesitantly] ...All right...
Mithos: Farewell, my shadow. You, who stands at the end of the path I chose not to follow. I wanted my own world, so I don't regret my choice. I would make the same choice all over again. I will continue to choose this path!
- In Tron 2.0, a somewhat unusual example occurs when a major villain, namely Thorne, a formerly human computer virus reverts to his former, less villainous (although not good) self for a few minutes before dying.
- War Craft III contains an almost-example, when Grom and Thrall confront Mannoroth and kill him, Grom is fatally wounded but when Thrall rushes to him, we see the red glow in his eyes (a sign of demonic possession of all Orcs) slowly fading out:
Grom: "I have... freed myself..."
Thrall: "No, old friend... You have freed us all."
- In Starcraft: Brood War, the dark templar Matriarch Raszagal, after Zeratul mortally wounds her, is freed of Kerrigan's mind control long enough to thank him and place him in charge of the dark templar before dying.
- World of Warcraft is filled with various bosses and leaders that were corrupted by various evils to their side, most notably by the undead and the black dragonflight. Many of their original personalities and moral values still show to various degrees... either in Last Words, during the fight or even before. How much of the original personality shows depends on how powerful the being was beforehand, or how perverse is the corruptor - or both. This tends to fall into Fighting from the Inside - although many times they can't - their voice is the only freedom they have left.
- At the end of chapter 8 of Yggdra Union, Gulcasa, after losing everything and giving his body over to Brongaa, regains himself while dying and is even able to reach reconciliation (of a sort) with Yggdra. The scene is both incredibly touching and horribly sad.
- Towards the end of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Xion fulfills her programming and becomes a perfect replica of Sora. After Roxas kills her, though, Sora's memories fade away from her, and she spends her final moments as herself, lying in Roxas' arms.
- In Xenogears, a young Fei summons a fireball to kill himself and his own mother, possessed by Miang. She shields him from the blast, and dies with her arms around him.
- It is implied that every time Miang dies, her host body has a moment of lucidity before death.
- When mortally wounded, the final boss of Resistance: Retribution briefly regains her sanity long enough to warn the protagonist of the next big coming alien threat; then her mind vanishes completely and he sadly shoots her.
- In Metroid Prime 2, we learn through the logs of Luminoth warriors that, in the event that they are possessed by the Ing, they choose to kill themselves rather than be used as weapons against their people.
- Arguably Rundas in Prime 3: Corruption. All the hunters get corrupted and have to be fought and killed off, but when Rundas is beaten, he seems to look around, confused. He almost tries to speak, but is impaled by an ice spike. It is uncertain whether this was him euthanising himself or not. It makes it even more sad.
- Space Quest 5 used this on Klorox II, where a pukoid-infected colonist is fatally shot by Droole. In his dying moments, he thanks Roger and Droole for putting him out of his misery.
- Near the end of BioShock 2, Sinclair breaks into Persephone to rescue Delta (you), but is captured and turned into an Alpha Series Big Daddy. His mind is still intact (but fading) and he can still talk to you, but his body is being controlled by Lamb. He requests that you kill him quickly before his mind goes completely. Unfortunately, he has a key on him that you need, so killing him is your only option.
- The Legend of Dragoon provides an interesting example in the case of the demon-possessed ghost of Lavitz. Even though he's already dead, the demon possessing him prevents him from leaving, and forces him to attack his former friends. However, following the boss battle, Lavitz recovers just long enough to run himself through with his own spear, killing the demon in the process; Lavitz has enough time to share a moment with his friends before disappearing altogether.
- In the visual novel Eien no Aselia, if you don't recruit Kyouko and Kouin the former dies finally freed of the mind control/brainwashing that had been forced on them.
- In Odin Sphere, at the end of Cornelius' chapter, he fights and mortally wounds Belial, breaking him free of an evil sorcerer's control, and giving him just enough time to eat said sorcerer before dying.
- The same thing happens in the battle against the Beast of Darkova, who is a transformed Ingway. No matter which character you battle him with, in the final moments he reverts back to himself.
- Super Paper Mario had something slightly similar to the above mentioned Ocarina of Time manga: Mario ends up forced to fight Fracktail (Fracktail was originally supposed to simply let Mario pass without a fight, but Dimentio ruined it by casting a spell that caused Fracktail to undergo a glitch that forced it to fight Mario). Shortly after Mario delivers the coup de grace on Fracktail, Fracktail regains his senses and then apologizes to Mario for his error before self-destructing.
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star did something similar with Mizzter Blizzard, one of the bosses who went insane because of the Royal Stickers. Reverting back to himself after defeat, he apologizes and revealed he only got the Royal Sticker because he prayed for life, as he was about to melt. He dies, but asks Mario to return when it gets colder so Mario can remake Mizzter Blizzard and the become his friend.
- Feral Chaos in Scenario 000 in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, shortly after being defeated by the party of five, regains his sanity long enough to thank the party for saving Cid, his father, as well as restoring Cosmos and driving away Shinryu.
- After his evil and twisted monster form is defeated in the ending of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Volechek gives his life to save his sister before the player is treated to one last look of his character portrait as he says goodbye, smiles and closes his eyes as the screen fades to white.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Senior Grey Wardens nearing the end of their 30 years of service will often embark on the Calling. It's later revealed this is to prevent them turning into ghouls as the Darkspawn Taint takes control of them.
- Anders' mage friend in Dragon Age II, who was made Tranquil against his will, asks to be killed while he still has his emotions.
- If the rivalry path is pursued with him, Anders himself asks Hawke to kill him before the demon possessing him completely consumes him.
Anders: Kill me now before there is nothing left of me.
Hawke: I know you would have changed it if you could.
Anders: But I have proven I cannot! If I cannot control Vengeance now, I never will! I need to die.
- In Star Fox Assault, General Pepper, finding himself and his flagship taken over by the Aparoids, begs and pleads for Fox to kill him as quickly as possible, so that he can die with his identity and honour intact, rather than being assimilated.
General Pepper': You would make me an accomplice to these... Fiends?!
- In Cave Story, Mimigas that are subjected to red flowers turn back into their normal shape when they get killed.
- In Runescape, during the quest The Ritual of the Mahjarrat Arrav is finally freed from Zamouregal's mind control during the final battle by the player, and it able to turn on his master. After the quest is over, the player is given the task of finding Arrav, who is still on the battlefield. When the player finds him, he could die at any second as he body is thousands of years old. He asks you to free his soul so he can finally rest.
- Star Control 2s backstory has this. The Dnyarri can telepathically control creatures. But they withdraw from their minds at the moment of death, lest the Dnyarri experience that death with the being. A Ur-Quan notices this and guesses that this also counts for extreme pain. So he injects himself with acid. In the last moments before his death, when the Dnyarri have pulled out of his mind, he gets to a comm device and tells every Ur-Quan on-planet about it. They begin hacking at body parts and so forth to give themselves the few seconds of freedom needed to get to the nearest Dnyarri and kill it. So begins the fall of the Dnyarri slave empire.
- Some of Savoranola's brainwashed lieutenants in Assassins Creed II express regret with their dying words, with a few going so far as to say My God, What Have I Done? (though at least one is Not Brainwashed). Ezio's sympathy varies.
- In the video game of The Amazing Spider-Man, Smythe breaks free of prison and heads back to his lab, realizing he's mutating into a monster. He activates a Slayer unit and uses it to kill himself.
- Fire Emblem Akaneia plays this straight with Hardin, but the remake of Mystery of the Emblem has a particularly cruel twist on this trope: Eremiah was an orphanage caretaker brainwashed by Gharnef into creating Tykebombs. After the party defeats her, Gharnef un-brainwashes her as she's dying just so she can re-live the most horrible memories of her former life in her last moments. Just in case you didn't realise he was a colossal dick before...
- This is heavily implied to happen to the Grima-possessed Avatar from the Bad Future in Fire Emblem Awakening, who seizes control of their body long enough to allow Lucina to land the final blow, and apologizes to their child Morgan with their last breath.
- A scene in the prologue of Bayonetta 2 turns out to be this, as a result of the events of the game's ending. The Lumen Sage Balder regains his sanity just before his death as a result of the Jubileus fight from the first game. His return to sanity lasts just long enough for him to ensure that the soul of Loptr remains in his body, and dies with him.
- In Worm, Taylor, after having acquired an Eleventh Hour Superpower at the cost of her sanity in order to save the world, briefly retakes control of her body from the nearly mindless alien entity now controlling it to talk with Contessa, who offers her a chance at regaining control of her body if Taylor can fight back against her passenger. Taylor finds herself unable to give a reply, believing that she doesn't deserve the chance, and so Contessa shoots her twice in the head.
- College Roomies From Hell. Roger Pepitone's mother turns back into a human when Margaret kills her, the first time she'd killed a human at that point. Since she's destined to be a post-apocalyptic warrior, this seems to affect her more than it does Roger.
- People with dementia occasionally experience moments of clarity. It can be rather creepy but also comforting for the family if that person didn't have long to live.
- This is also the reason why some countries allow elective (as in: the sick person asked for it themselves) euthanasia for people suffering of dementia.
- Most antipsychotic drugs reduce symptoms of schizophrenia somewhat, but clozapine is the only one that ever really provides a cure. Unfortunately, it also causes side effects ranging from diabetes to agranulocytosis (severe loss of immune system function). Even though these are serious, many "super-responder" patients choose to risk death and remain on clozapine—electing to risk dying as themselves