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Dying Curse
"Help me into some house, Benvolio,
Or I shall faint. A plague a' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me. I have it,
And soundly too. Your houses!"
Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet

With his dying breath, a character wishes ill fortune upon his killers, or some other personal enemy. It may be an actual invocation of supernatural power that is believed to (or, in settings where such powers exist, actually does) have the power to harm the target, or it may simply be a prediction of a well-deserved bad end.

Subtrope of Famous Last Words. Sometimes the last step in being Defiant to the End. With a little pre-planning, it can be a Thanatos Gambit or My Death Is Just the Beginning.

Compare Dying Declaration Of Hate, which is a venting of anger without any (expected or actual) supernatural consequences.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Codename: Sailor V (the comic which precedes Sailor Moon) the Big Bad Danburite/Kaito Ace/Adonis makes this prediction when Sailor V kills him. It isn't a curse per se but it seriously rattles her:
    "Your love will be hopeless for all eternity."
    • The fun part is that Danburite, who was in love with her, intended to give a dying blessing: Sailor V had always been torn between duty and love, and by making her realize she should and would always choose duty over love and stating it out loud he was telling her how to avoid tormenting herself. It still had the effect of a dying curse, alongside the desired one.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist during the annihilation of Ishval, Roy Mustang corners the injured leader of the Ishvallans. Mustang asks if he has something to say and, surrounded by his destroyed city, the old man answers smiling: "I curse you." Then Mustang incinerates him.
  • In Death Note, Light's final speech degrades into a screeching rant/plea for life as he realises that, despite the fact he's built his empire on the thousands of lives he destroyed, he doesn't want to lose his own.
  • In Mirai Nikki, Ouji Kosaka combines this with "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards Yukiteru.
  • Inukami!: The Bigger Bad told one to Kaoru after being outwitted and vanishing.
  • In Fate/Zero, after Diarmuid is forced to kill himself by his Master Kayneth, in turn forced on him by Kiritsugu, Diarmuid launches hate-filled cursesnote  on Kiritsugu, his Servant Saber, and the Grail itself. Each comes true; the Grail turns out to be a Jackass Genie that can only cause destruction, Kiritsugu is cursed by Angra Mainyu and undergoes a slow death, and Saber is forced to destroy the Grail without finding out it had been corrupted.
    "Inhuman monsters, who have ruined the honour of a knight, let my blood taint your dreams! Let the Grail be cursed. Let the wish it grants bring disaster! And when you fall into the pits of hell, remember the rage of Diarmuid!"
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Inverted with Sayaka. It's cursing herself that causes her transformation into a Witch (which is the equivalent of death), as it marks her final descent past the Despair Event Horizon.
    Sayaka: (To Kyoko, broken) I was stupid... so stupid.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman story "The Four Fates" (aka "The Curse of the Four Fates"), a dying Indian mystic predicts the deaths of the four criminals who kill him in a robbery attempt. Each comes true in an unexpected fashion. For example, the one who is told "water will be your downfall" heads to the desert, several kilometers from any body of water — and dies of dehydration.
  • In The Sandman, The Corinthian is very careful not to kill Loki because of this trope, instead just choosing to mutilate him, noting that "the death curse of a god is an evil thing".

    Film 
  • In Star Trek II, Khan echoes Captain Ahab's last words, directing them at Kirk, as he sets off the Genesis Device.
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Samantha Caine tells the villain who had put her and her daughter into a Death Trap, "You're going to die screaming. Look in my eyes. Tell me if I'm lying." She escapes, and makes the statement come true.
  • In 300, just before the last stand, Leonidas spots the deformed Ephialtes somewhere behind Xerxes. Leonidas tells Ephialtes that he hopes the man lives forever; a horrible curse for someone that wished to have been like a Spartan.
    • Leonidas didn't have any better luck with his curse than the battle. Apparently the probably not deformed but just greedy Ephialtes was killed ten years later if Herodotus is to be believed.
  • Apophis gets a damn good one in Stargate Continuum, just before he is executed by Ba'al:
    Apophis: May your reign be measured in hours, and your death in years.
  • In The Adventures of Tintin, Red Rackham curses Sir Francis Haddock as he sinks with the blown-up Unicorn declaring, "We will meet again, Haddock! In another time! In another *life*!"

    Literature 
  • Captain Ahab's line "From hell's heart I stab at thee" as he takes a last stab at Moby-Dick turns out to be a dying curse, as his attack results in his own death.
  • In The Chronicles of Amber, a dying curse from one of the royals was something with a large amount of magical power.
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Stormqueen!, a traitorous household servant curses Lord Aldaran with sterility before dying. It turns out that he indeed becomes sterile, but it is unclear whether the curse actually did it.
  • The Summoning Dark in Terry Pratchett's Thud!! A demon of vengeance summoned by a dwarf mine sign scrawled by a dying miner, it attempted to possess Samuel Vimes as its instrument for getting revenge on the dwarfs responsible for the death of the miner... which proved to be its first mistake.
  • In The Dresden Files, a Death Curse is an actual ability of wizards. When a wizard knows they're about to die, they'll use their last seconds to Cast from Hit Points in an attempt to take down the enemy with them. One Combat Pragmatist notes that the best way to avoid a Death Curse is to kill a wizard with a supersonic sniper rifle so that they wizard doesn't get a chance to react.
    • Harry himself is on the receiving end of one: DIE ALONE! It's not clear whether or not the curse is fulfilled when he's killed at the end of Changes, given that he's back in the following novel and there is a vagueness about what constitutes as "dead," but even before then, an encounter with his father's spirit in Dead Beat takes the edge off Harry's fear of the curse by clarifying that everyone dies alone: "It's a door. It's one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone. But it doesn't mean you've got to be alone before you go through the door. And believe me, you aren't alone on the other side."
    • Harry's mother Margaret Dresden pulled an impressive one against Lord Raith, King of the White Court of vampires, after he mortally wounded her with an entropy curse. Knowing that he'd just be replaced by another vampire if she managed to kill him, she instead used her Death Curse to take away his ability to feed, effectively rendering him powerless and crippling the entire White Court as Raith had to give up his expansionist agenda to conceal his new weakness from his numerous Starscreams. Raith managed to keep the curse's effect secret for nearly three decades, but after Harry found out about it, he exposed it to Raith's eldest daughter Lara, who promptly betrayed him and took control of the White Court for herself, keeping her father as a Puppet King controlled through incest. Squick.
    • Senior Council Wizard Simon Pietrovich, making him one of the roughest and toughest of wizards, had his home attacked by a large number of vampires at the start of the war against them. He did not survive the battle but his Death Curse took a great many of the monsters with him.
  • In Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Fëanor curses Morgoth three times before succumbing to his injuries.
  • The Aeneid: After Aeneas dumps her Because Destiny Says So, the Queen Dido swears either right before or while killing herself that their peoples will meet again, and this time in war (the Punica Wars, to be exact) . (Ancient Greek and Roman women have the worst luck when it comes to guys.)
    • If you know how the Punic wars ended, this curse ended up being somewhat poorly aimed. (Rome won. Carthage was razed to the ground. Twice.)
  • In Watership Down, it's mentioned that Vervain of Efrafa has received many such curses from prisoners he executed, without being fazed or believing that they held any power. Then he faces Fiver and his expectations (and the trope) are subverted three times over: First, Fiver isn't cursing Vervain, but genuinely pitying him for his eventual death; second, this unnerves Vervain enough that he chickens out of finishing off Fiver; third, Fiver's prediction comes true, and Vervain dies mere days later.
  • In the French series of historical novels The Accursed Kings, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay curses the King of France, his minister of Justice and the Pope from his execution pyre. His words : "King Phillipe, Knight Guillaume, Pope Clement, by the end of the year I summon you to appear before the tribunal of God to receive your just chastisement! Cursed! Cursed! You will all be cursed to the thirteenth generation of your race!"
    • This was actually inspired by a Neapolitan Knight Templar who said to the Pope that he and Phillip would have to answer for their crimes before a year and a day.
      • ...and which is mostly only notable historically because both the king and the Pope died within the year.
      • Also, although I don't know whether Pope Clement had issue, and the curse for 13 generations seems overdoing it a bit (but then again, 13 is a special number), Philip the Fair's three sons followed him as kings, none being any good and none reigning long. By 1328 the male line was extinct.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Rickard Karstark's final words to Robb Stark before his execution:
    "Kill me, and be cursed. You are no king of mine."
    • And given what happens later in the book, seems it worked.
  • A legend is related in Galaxy of Fear - people murdered the son of a Necromancer and challenged her to raise him; instead she spent the remainder of her life warning them not to disrespect the dead, and cursed them before dying herself. Their descendents don't seem to take the legend seriously, but they treat the dead with great formality and, when zombies appear, are quick to say that it's the curse responding to some offworlders poking about through graves.
    • The zombies are actually a product of a visiting Mad Scientist, but the local Crusty Caretaker, helping him, is found dead of suspicious causes, allowing our heroes to put a stop to it. One speculates that that was the curse in effect.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Rogue, Sam Phlean tells Lex to "Go to hell" as his last words as the latter demands to know Clark's secret.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "The Coming of Shadows", the Centauri Emperor's efforts at reconciliation with the Narn are ruined by the machinations of Londo Mollari and Lord Refa. Just before the Emperor dies, he says a few last words to Londo. Londo falsely tells everyone else that the Emperor had endorsed the launching of a war against the Narns... but privately admits to Refa that the Emperor really said that Londo and Refa were both damned. About a year later, Refa is beaten to death by a mob of Narns... and, compared to Londo's eventual fate, he got off lightly.
  • In the Friends episode "The One With The Screamer", a guest star utters the phrase. He's the director of a play that got bad reviews, where his girlfriend and Joey starred.
  • In Rome, after the death of her son and the extinction of her political cause (partly due to Atia's machinations), Servilia goes to Atia's house with a knife and waits until Atia comes out. Then, with the full attention of everybody around, she curses Atia to have nothing but "bitterness and despair" for the rest of her life. To seal the deal, she then stabs herself. While Atia achieves the goal she's been aiming for the entire series, she finds it's Lonely at the Top.
  • In the LOST episode "Outlaws", Sawyer hunts down and kills the man he thinks was responsible for causing his father's suicide and murder of his mother. He's wrong, and the guy's last words are, "It'll come round again."
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Stolen Earth", Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister foreshadows the destruction of the Daleks at the hands of two human-Time Lord hybrids this way.
    Harriet Jones: Harriet Jones, former prime minister.
    Harriet Jones: Oh, you know nothing of any human. And that will be your downfall.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), Gina, the female Cylon spy whom Admiral Cain had ordered tortured and raped for months, comes after Cain following her escape to get revenge. Gina echoes the same words Cain used against her, and Cain tells her to go frack herself. Gina responds "You're Not My Type" and shoots her.

    Music 
  • In Alestorm's song "Captain Morgan's Revenge," the title captain pronounces one of these upon the mutinous crew who has made him Walk the Plank: "As sure as Hell's my final fate, you'll all soon die or worse!"
  • In Rigoletto, Count Monterone curses Rigoletto with his final words.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Everway supplement Spherewalker Sourcebook. When Rasmadahan (the Dragon of Fire) died, the sword used to kill him gained magical power and became known as the Dragonbane Sword. Rasmadahan laid a dying curse on the sword that caused anyone wielding it to suffer from the ravages of old age even if they were still young. The curse can cause the sword's user to die of old age while in their twenties.
  • As part of its Gothic Horror Cliché Storm style, the Magic: The Gathering set Innistrad includes a new Enchantment subtype called "Curses". One of these, Curse of Death's Hold, has flavor text that fits here:
    "May you and all your kin waste and wither until your clan is no more!"
  • The Ravenloft setting for D&D 3.5 has rules for curses. Laying a curse with your last breath gives a huge bonus to your roll (being a woman or Vistani give bonuses too).
    • Dragonlance's Lord Soth, who became one of Ravenloft's infamous Darklords, became a Death Knight due to just such a curse, leveled against him by his second wife Isolde as she and their son burned to death as their keep burned down. Specifically, she cursed him to live out the lifetimes of every person to whom he had caused death on the day of the Great Cataclysm, which he had set out to stop before being taken in by three elf-maids, who lied about Isolde's infidelity and told him that she had sent him on this quest to die in order to get rid of him.
  • In the backstory of Exalted those of the Primordials that were killed by the victorious Exalted Host placed the Great Curse upon them.

    Theater 
  • After he accidentally gets into the middle of the ongoing Montague-Capulet feud and is fatally wounded by Tybalt, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet curses both families up and down. He also makes an Incredibly Lame Pun or two in the process.
  • They must have liked this trope in the English Renaissance. Barabas, the title character of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, curses the "Damned Christian dogs and Turkish infidels!" who brought about his death - as he boils in oil.
  • The whole plot of Ruddigore comes about because a burning witch cursed the whole line of the Baronets of Ruddigore. Heck, the subtitle is The Witch's Curse.
  • A possible interpretation of Caesar's legendary last words, "Et tu, Brute?" (You too, Brutus?). Instead of a question, asking if even Brutus is betraying him, it is sometimes thought as a statement, basically meaning "Your turn next." Marc Antony made the curse come true.

    Video Games 
  • As she lays dying in Borderlands 2, Angel sums up her feelings towards Jack quite succinctly: "Dad, I have to tell you something... you're an asshole."
  • Each of the Four Cardinal Vitrues in Bayonetta screams "May Jubileus, The Creator, grace you!" at Bayonetta as they die. This may sound benevolent, but Jubileus is a being they want to awaken in order to destroy the world, so their asking her to "grace" Bayonetta is their own way of telling the one who killed them to go to hell.
  • Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC has rogue Spectre Tela Vasir's final moments, in which she tries to justify working for the Shadow Broker and expresses her disgust at Commander Shepard for working with the pro-human terrorist organization Cerberus before succumbing to her wounds mid-sentence.
  • Zaros from Runescape had one of these, and it was rather powerful, turning all humans involved with his assassination into barely-perceptible spirits. Of course, Zaros is probably Not Quite Dead.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, the first major plot event sees the townspeople capture a gypsy on the (false) accusation of murder. If you fail to either clear his name or break him out of jail within a couple of days, the gypsy is burned at the stake. With his dying breath, he curses the town to share his fate, and you get a Have a Nice Death screen saying that his curse came true.
  • When you fail to save a prison guard trapped in an active gas chamber in The Suffering (and you will), he'll die shouting, "Fuck you! Those are my last words, you urrrgghhhh...."
  • The plot of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness centers around a curse like this uttered by Dracula when he met his end from Trevor Belmont, in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse.
  • From The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: "CURSE YOU, SAGES! CURSE YOU, ZELDA!! CURSE YOU... LINK!!"
    • And before his transformation into Ganon and the aforementioned quote, the human Ganondorf uses his "last breath" to bring the house down on Link... literally.
    • Ganondorf's very existence is due to one of these by Demise, the demon king.
  • Warcraft: "I hope there's a special place in hell waiting for you, Arthas." - last words of Uther the Lightbringer.
  • Shiro Tagachi's death wail in Guild Wars Factions might as well have been one...I mean, it bloody petrified an entire forest, and turned an entire sea to Jade.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil, the dying General Kheck uses his final breath to deliver a final insult, right in Jade's face — she's doomed to fail, she will be consumed by the Eldritch Abomination who has been looking for her soul for centuries, and even if she does succeed, it will be meaningless because everyone she ever loved is already dead. She stares him down fearlessly, though — not only because she's a Plucky Girl, but because she still has the two most steadfast members of her True Companions with her, and for the rest, well, now death is a minor technicality.
  • In the Diablo series, Lachdanan and his knights are cursed to eternal damnation by King Leoric, who they were forced to slay to put an end to his madness.
    King Leoric: Traitors! Even in death, the armies of Khanduras will still obey their king! Even if you will not...
  • Since Generation III of Pokémon, the move Grudge could count. When a Pokémon uses it and then feints from a direct enemy attack, Grudge drops the PP of the attacking move to zero.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, if you decide to kill Mr. House, he might have this as his last words.
    "May there be... A hell for you! A Tartarus! Bleak... Unending..."
  • The Great Will's last words in both the Neutral and Chaos Paths of Shin Megami Tensei II are both a Dying Declaration Of Hate (Aleph, his killer, was supposed to be the Messiah) and an extremely cruel example of this trope. It's implied in Nocturne said curse leashed the guy to a horrifying "Groundhog Day" Loop for eternity until he finished recording the entirety of the war between Law and Chaos by being reborn over and over in each world, having no way to ever change any of their destinies as they fell one by one to their doom.

    Web Comics 
  • In Achewood, a dying king, cheated out of his last meal by a servant (Pat's ancestor), curses him with, "MAY ALL YOUR SONS, AND THEIR SONS AFTER THEM, ON THEIR TWENTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY, BECOME QUEEEEEEEER!" (which was apparently a common curse back in the day). Needless to say, it comes true.
  • The Order of the Stick #623:
    "Elf, if you're still here... I hope you choke on your useless goddamn magic."
  • In Suburban Jungle, Kurt quotes this before leaving the college he and Dover went to.

    Web Original 
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Anna Vaan to Lenny Priestly (one of a pair of twins).
    Anna: My mother's dead, and so's my sister, just like yours is gonna be at the end of this god damn GAME!
  • In Redvs Blue it's actually done quite frequently. Mostly 'Son of a Bitch'

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Dying Declaration is a recognized hearsay exception, allowing someone's last words to be used against their killer in court in some instances.
  • The original source of the trope was a commonly-held belief in various cultures that dying and/or dead people were extremely close to the supernatural and, thus, their words were extremely powerful. This is evident in the mythologies and legends of numerous ancient civilizations (the ancient Greeks come to mind) and a dying foe was considered extremely dangerous (in some ways moreso than a healthy one) for his ability to call down curses on those who had killed him, particularly if the death was a result of foul play.
  • When Shaka of the Zulu was assassinated by his half brother Dingaan he told Dingaan that the white people, not he, would rule.
    • Dingaan did rule for twelve years though, and was overthrown by another half-brother (who admittedly had British backing) not directly conquered. That happened later.
  • The Master of Knight Templars Jacques de Molay cursed the engineers of his chapter's demise — King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V — from his pyre. Before long both died and then a long streak of lethal calamities haunted Philip's descendants.
  • Sarah Good was one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. Before she was hanged, Minister Nicholas Noyes gave her one last chance to confess. She replied "You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink." Years later, Noyes suffered from an internal hemorrhage and choked to death on his own blood.

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alternative title(s): A Plague On Both Your Houses
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