"Help me into some house, Benvolio,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.
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!"
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
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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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.
- Both Lust and Envy spend their last breaths to tell their killers that they're still going to lose (though the latter's is undermined by the rest of the scene). "I look forward...to the day when those eyes will be wide with agony. It's coming...it's coming." and "How much further will that simplistic outlook take you?" respectively.
- 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 Greater Scope Villain gave 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.
- In the flashback arc of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Yuuko dies swearing revenge on the people who sacrificed her, and offers her life to the malevolent god she was sacrificed to in exchange for an opportunity to make good on it.
- 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 My Little Pony: Fiendship Is Magic #1, Sombra, aware that he will be defeated not long after taking complete control of the empire and releasing the umbrum forces, and that he cannot hope to defeat Celestia and Luna, uses his final days to curse the Crystal Ponies to a thousand years of suffering as repayment for his horrible life among them.
- 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".
- In The Return of Bruce Wayne, Bruce Wayne's ancestor Nathaniel Wayne judged a woman named Annie to be a witch and hanged her (she was a witch, but she wasn't evil). Right before she died, she angrily cursed Nathaniel and his entire bloodline, implying this is one of the reasons why Bruce's life sucks so much. For extra irony and tragedy, Annie had been in a relationship with a time-displaced Bruce at the time, but since he arrived with amnesia, she named him Mordecai and had no idea he was a Wayne.
- 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.
- 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!" The Big Bad of the movie turns out to be Rackham's descendent, just as Captain Haddock is to Sir Francis (it's implied reincarnation is also involved).
- In Hercules (2014), when the bad guys sentence Ergenia to death and say they will kill her son next, she angrily starts screaming things like, "I curse you! The gods will punish you! Stay away from my son!" Hercules steps in before the executioner can take her head.
- Moby-Dick: Captain Ahab's curse "from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee" turns out to be a dying curse, as moments later the line of the harpoon he has struck into Moby Dick gets wrapped around his neck and pulls him overboard, never to be seen again.
- 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: Immediately before Queen Dido of Carthage commits suicide because Aeneas left her, she prays to the gods that Aeneas' mission may fail, and that the Carthaginians may forever be enemies to the descendants of Aeneas' Trojans and may one day avenge her. While part of the curse comes true, it ultimately fails: Aeneas succeeds despite many obstacles, and although Carthage came close to defeating Rome in the Second Punic War, in the end Rome turned out victorious.
- 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!"
- 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.
- In Joseph Payne Brennan's "Canavan's Back Yard" one Goodie Larkins, accused of turning a child into a wild dog was cornered in a marsh and torn to bits by seven fierce dogs which had been deliberately starved for two weeks.
"Let this lande I fall upon lye alle the way to Hell!" she had screamed. "And they who tarry here be as these beastes that rende me dead!"
- The Saga of Grettir the Strong: Defeated and right before his (second and final) death at the hands of Grettir, the revenant Glámr curses Grettir to never grow any stronger, to never live in peace, to be outlawed, and to always see Glámr's dreadful eyes in the darkness before him.
- Subverted in "Fáfnismál" in the Poetic Edda: After stabbing the dragon Fafnir to the heart, Sigurd initially conceals his name in his conversation with the dying monster, because he fears Fafnir could lay a curse on him with his dying breath. But when Fafnir taunts him for this, Sigurd does tell him his name; only for Fafnir to make no use of this—instead, he warns Sigurd (truthfully) that his treasure is cursed and that Regin will betray him.
It was the belief in those times that the words of dying persons were of great power, if they cursed an enemy by his name.
- In Coffin Princess Chaika, among the many rumours surrounding Emperor Arthur Gaz is one that claims he placed a curse with his dying breath on the Eight Heroes who defeated him. By the time the series opens five years later, a majority of the eight are some combination of traumatized, destitute, or dead.
- 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.Dalek: Yes, we know who you are.Harriet Jones: Oh, you know nothing of any human. And that will be your downfall.
Davros: Never forget, Doctor, you did this! I name you, forever! YOU ARE THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS!!!
- Later in "Journey's End", when this prophecy comes to pass, Davros has this to say:
- In Battlestar Galactica (2003), 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.
- On an episode of Yes, Dear, Greg gets a message on his answering machine about his sick aunt in the hospital who is on her deathbed and wanted to see him one last time. However, it was a wrong number and Greg doesn't even have an aunt with that name, but he uses the message as an excuse to get out of doing something he didn't want to do. After revealing this to Jimmy, Jimmy is appalled and makes him go visit the dying woman for real. The woman is quite old and can't see all that well, so she thinks Greg really is the nephew she called for. She tells him to come closer so she can say goodbye, then proceeds to browbeat him for being a no-good bum who has brought nothing but shame and disappointment to the entire family, and lays a curse on him right before she dies. In The Tag, Greg tracks down the woman's actual nephew, and passes the curse onto its intended target.
- 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).
- There are rules for laying a powerful, lingering Dying Curse that can only be lifted by major personal effort or the strongest magic. The option is rarely used because it requires the person laying the curse not to come Back from the Dead and interferes with resurrection magic; most people powerful and vindictive enough to make their killer suffer forever can make arrangements to get raised and see to it in person.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- WORSE. It's inverted. Each of the Virtues realizes that Bayonetta's fate is FAR worse than what a sociopathic hero deserves. They're basically praying to Jubileus not to drive her to omnicidal madness - that's Jubileus' job. Note that they're busy praying for mercy for Bayonetta just before she REALLY gets serious in the torture / murder spree.
- 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.
- In the backstory (as read in the logbook in the Adventurer's Guild), it turns out that Erana did this to the Dark One as well.
- 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!!"
- Warcraft III: "I hope there's a special place in hell waiting for you, Arthas." - last words of Uther the Lightbringer. Arthas ultimately gets stuck in a place worse than hell: darkness.
- In World of Warcraft, it turns out that the Sha infesting Pandaria are the result of Y'Shaarj pulling one of these.
- 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.
- Telepath Tactics has a non-supernatural example: Hee'la's Last Words if she dies in battle are "Choke on...my blood..."
- Pony Island: After defeating Azazel, when you load up the Task Manager, you see one of the processes is him, cursing.
- 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.
- Parodied in an early Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, with the seldom-used emoticon for "Your mother was just crushed to death in a trash compactor and cursed your name with her dying breath". Its "][>:~+".
- 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 Red vs. Blue it's actually done quite frequently. Mostly 'Son of a Bitch'.
- Whateley Universe: Both Aunghadhail and The Kodiak make vows to see the Bastard defeated as they were being destroyed in The Sundering.
- SCP-1510, otherwise known as the Tarnished Legionnaire, came about when a Roman legionnaire refused to free the captured King Jugurtha the night before his execution. The king responded by cursing the legionnaire's body so that it rotted overnight, all while he remained conscious for it. When his body was gone, his mind/soul was left in his helmet, taking over any man of a similar age who wears it.
- "With my last breath, I curse ZOIDBEEERRRGG!!!"
- At the end of the Justice League Unlimited episode "Alive", Tala, after a failed attempt to turn on Lex Luthor, is used as a Living Battery to reassemble Brainiac, a process that ends up killing her. She invokes this trope in a different sense by tampering with the process and bringing back Darkseid instead as a final middle finger to Lex.
- Joe of Family Guy says while he has never killed anyone as a police officer(at the time), one inmate did cursed his name just before being executed.
- 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.
- During the chaos of the Reign of Terror during The French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre through a complicated Gambit Pileup ended up sending his former friends Georges Danton and Camille Desmoullins to the guillotine. Danton on the day of his execution was escorted to the guillotine on a cart called tumbrel which passed through the streets of Paris. On the way, he passed Robespierre's house and yelled out:
Danton: You'll follow us shortly, your house will be beaten down and salt sown in the place where it stood!
- Nearly four months later, Robespierre met his end.
- 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.
- A policeman asked the mortally-wounded Tupac Shakur to name his shooter. Tupac's reply (and dying words)? "Fuck you.""