"There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly."Alice has gotten in over her head. She's made mistakes, powerful enemies, or otherwise bitten off more than she can chew, and they want their pound of flesh. Running will only make things worse for her and her loved ones, so faced with the alternatives... she chooses to face death with dignity. She turns herself in, doesn't put up a fight, and in so doing takes responsibility for her actions and gains a measure of control in the only choice she had left. This is a sad, meaningful fate reserved for only the most tragic of characters, for whom even Redemption Equals Death is out of reach. The best they can hope for is to give their end some order or meaning. Rescue is not impossible, in fact the mere act of facing the music may be a cause for Redemption Earns Life and a chance to become The Atoner, but it's a slim chance. Another variant of this trope of a more messianic bent is when a character is offered a Sadistic Choice to save the hostage and MacGuffin if she trades her life for it. This is a Heroic Sacrifice with extensive premeditation, beyond merely being a Martyr Without a Cause to one with a very good one. Of course villains who aren't Lawful Evil won't hold their end of the bargain, and the prospective martyr is usually savvy enough to tell this or is stopped. Expect the martyr to intone My Death Is Just the Beginning in either case. Compare Better to Die than Be Killed where you shoot yourself rather than be executed. In this trope, you choose execution. Say Your Prayers may also have some elements of this, (depending on the case) as characters may give up on taking any action and just say a final prayer while letting the inevitable happen. See also Villain's Dying Grace for a specific villainous version. Contrast Get It Over With which also faces death with open eyes, Defiant to the End which a captive shows no respect to their captors and executioners toward the end, and Villainous Breakdown where they'll completely lose their cool before possibly dying. See also Obi-Wan Moment, "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner, Leave Behind a Pistol. For women, it may involve a Lipstick and Load Montage.
— Last words of Cicero (attributed)
As a Death Trope, many spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- Iason Mink from Ai no Kusabi barely winces when both his legs are cut off from above the knees as he was leaving a burning building, stoically waiting next to a door for either the pain and bleeding to take his life away or for the place to blow up.note Comes to a circle when his lover Riki comes to his side to die with him, and they calmly share One Last Smoke (doubling as Last Indirect Kiss).
- In Anatolia Story, Ursula falsely confesses to assassinating King Arnuwanda, so that Kail has the grounds to call off Nakia's attempts to retrieve and frame Yuri for the murder. She makes the entire confession very calmly and, when Nakia tries to still use the opportunity to blame Yuri (Ursula being Yuri's maid and all), Ursula immediately turns it around and pretends Nakia was the one who ordered the killing, forcing Nakia to abandon her attempts to pretend there was someone else behind the whole operation. When Ursula's boyfriend Kash meets her in prison the night before her execution and offers her the chance to run away with him, she tells him that she's determined to stick to her guns, adds that she had hoped they could have long lives and a family together, and gives him her braid as a keepsake. The entire time, she never breaks down. Even at the execution itself, she keeps a calm face.
Executioner: I take it then you have nothing to say?Ursula: Nothing, sir. I am ready.Executioner: Very well.
- The Reveal of Otonashi's death in Angel Beats!. After surviving a train crash underground, he spends days tending to the survivors' wounds until help arrives, despite his limited resources and all while suffering from some serious internal injuries. With his last ounces of strength, he doesn't cry nor he does contemplate his life, but he instead fills out his insurance card to become an organ donor, ensuring he'll be able to help someone even after death.
- Deconstructed in Attack on Titan. Being eaten by a Titan is a horrible way to die, and everyone in this world knows it. Rarely does anyone have a calm, dignified response to their deaths, the majority of which are screaming, crying, and begging. Eren's mother Carla was initially relieved that at least both Eren and Mikasa would live, but changed her mind in the face of being eaten; she has to cover her mouth so her children won't hear her begging them to come back for her. Mike intended to go down fighting but as soon as Titans charged from all directions, he died hysterically weeping and pleading for his life.
- Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler qualifies as this since at the end of Episode 24 of Season 1, when Sebastian is about to devour his soul, he tells him to make the process as painful as possible when told by Sebastian that he would be as gentle as possible. Granted, he did not actually die but at the time, we didn't know that.
- Some of the pilots in Bokurano face their impending deaths this way. For example, before finishing off his opponent, Daiichi confirms that Koyemshi will fulfill his promise to hide his body, and makes a Last Request to Ushiro to treat his younger sister Kana kindly.
- In the anime, Ushiro manages to comply to said request. Not only he has taken Kana's place in the group (long story) so she doesn't have to fight, but after fighting for almost two days straight and winning, he calmly and briefly speaks about how relieved he feels about knowing his is Zearth's last fight ever.
- Heartbreakingly averted in the manga with Kana, who did fight a battle. The last time chronologically that we see her alive, she is sobbing knowing she is about to die.
- Oruha, Suu and Ran in Clover, though primarily Oruha and Suu as while it is suggested that Ran will die in approximately five years it's never actually seen.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch orders his own assassination and uses it to his advantage.
- One of the defining characteristics of Spike from Cowboy Bebop is his general unconcern towards death: The only character who seems to trigger anything resembling actual fear of death in him is Tongpu. In "Wild Horses", when told that his deactivated ship is caught in Earth's gravitational pull and will burn up in the atmosphere in about five minutes, his only reaction is to fire up a cigarette and tell Jet where he kept the booze that he wants Jet to inherit. The "BANG!" scene in the final episode can be a very good example of this, depending on which side of the fence you sit.
- In Death Note, whether a character can do this depends on their moral fiber. Soichiro, the most moral figure in the series, goes out with the most, L and Watari, who are noticeably greyer, though still recognizably good, each die with some, and the Villain Protagonist, Light, dies crying, whining, and cursing.
- Anti-Villainous Crossdresser Seiji Asou/Narumi Asai in Detective Conan died while calmly playing the "Moonlight Sonata" in his Disappeared Dad's piano... in the middle of a burning house.
- Ryoji Kaji of Neon Genesis Evangelion faces his impending assassination with a sense of dry wit. Several other characters also go to their deaths in either a resigned, dignified manner, such as Gendo in End of Evangelion, or as a full blown Heroic Sacrifice in the case of Misato.◊
- Dragon Ball has various degrees of this. Most of the villains goes down screaming in disbelief or cursing out the heroes. Only Kid Buu dies with any form of dignity. Although he did scream as he was atomized by the Spirit Bomb, he didn't pitch a fit like all the other villains. King Cold had the most cowardly death, begging for his life before Trunks killed him. The heroes often go out stoically or smiling, while others do scream in terror before dying. Krillin being killed by Frieza being the most standout example.
- In the anime version of Elfen Lied, Lucy calmly goes to face a Bolivian Army Ending.
- Though it's implied in the closing credits that she survived.
- Fist of the North Star does this to many protagonists (due to its Anyone Can Die nature) and villains who are Worthy Opponents. For villains, it overlaps with Redemption Equals Death.
- In Hellsing, Sir Penwood accepts he was a good-for-nothing for most of his life, and then realizes he can make a final difference in the midst of the immense SS Waffen vampire attack. After a heartbreaking moment when he orders his men to leave, they refuse to leave him alone, but eventually, he's alone in his base, with everyone else dead. Then the vampires break down the walls to his sanctuary. He has a beautiful reminiscence of his first meeting with Integra... and whips out the detonator for the C4 charges he's planted across the building. Desperate, the vampires shoot him... and he still presses the detonator.
- Higurashi: When They Cry: Rika in Meakashi-hen.
"If stabbing me pleases you, then stab until your heart's content! But I will not cry! Never! Never!"
- Later in the same arc, Satoko:
- In Hunter × Hunter, the Chimera Ant King is poisoned by Netero's Rose bomb. When he realizes he is dying, he merely announces to Palm that humanity has defeated the Ants and asks her where Komugi is. When they are reunited, he warns her that he is dying and that if she remains close to him the poison will kill her too. She refuses to abandon him even then, so they spend their remaining moments happily playing games and die holding hands together.
- Hida Takahito from Katanagatari patiently awaits death in a burning castle after his rebellion fails. His last words are to tell his daughter he loves her, and politely greet his executioner.
- Kekkaishi has Gen Shishio, who after being fatally wounded by Kaguro, finally finds peace and goes out with a serene smile on his face.
- Princess and Byaku meet their end in this fashion as well when Kokuboro dissolves around them.
- Many, many characters in Legend of Galactic Heroes. Special mention goes to Paul von Oberstein who, as he lay dying from a mortal wound, told the doctors to refrain from making a futile attempt to save him, then left a short instruction concerning his dog and calmly passed away.
- Ren Kouen's execution in Magi – Labyrinth of Magic, saying goodbye non-maliciously to his estranged step-brother/the man who ordered him to be executed, Ren Hakuryuu.
- My Bride Is a Mermaid: Sun openly accepts that she will have to die for saving Nagasumi and thus breaking The Masquerade. Thankfully, her mom decides to Take a Third Option via Shotgun Wedding.
- In Naruto, it is revealed that Fugaku and Mikoto Uchiha decided to do this when their son Itachi came to kill them to prevent the coup d'etat by the Uchiha family. They didn't even fight back, and just calmly sat down in their living room while telling Itachi that they fully understood and accepted his decision, that they both still loved him, and that despite their differences in beliefs, they were proud of him; hell, they even encouraged him to do so because he was so broken up about it, and one of their last requests was that he take care of Sasuke. Itachi subsequently broke down in tears as he killed them.
- Years later, during the 4th War, after the Ten Tails matures, it fires off a barrage of long range attacks. The people at the Allied HQ realize that one is probably headed their way. Rather than evacuate, which would be futile at this point, Shikaku calmly orders Inoichi to telepathically contact the Allied soldiers, as he has one final strategy to stop the Ten Tails. It's not really clear whether they manage to send the strategy in time or not, but their kids on the battlefield are at least aware of them trying.
- Gold Roger from One Piece. In fact, it's said to be a trait with many people with the middle initial D in their name. Luffy even displayed it when it looked like Buggy was going to decapitate him.
- Similar with Whitebeard, as the character dies standing upright and without regrets.
- Heck many of the flashback characters.
- Belle-mere said her final goodbyes with a smile to Nami and Nojiko before Arlong shot her.
- Dr. Hiriluk expressed happiness that the doctors of Drum Island were fine even though facing down a firing squad and calmly drank an explosive potion after giving a speech.
- Tom willingly let himself be arrested again to save his pupils even though it meant being transported to Impel Down.
- The scholars of Ohara stayed within the Tree of Knowledge as it and their island was being burned to the ground by the Buster Call. Likewise Jaguar D. Saul smiled as Kuzan froze him.
- And Brook (initially before his Devil Fruit power brought him back) and the remainder of the Rumbar Pirates, severely wounded and dying by poison arrows, spent their final moments singing their favorite song, Bink's Sake.
- All Ds do this — or at least those who truly inherited the mysterious "Will of D". In fact, one of the indications that Blackbeard isn't a true inheritor is that he doesn't face the prospect of his death with dignity. The moment he's in the slightest amount of danger, he starts begging for his life like the coward he is.
- In Plastic Memories, this is used several times in the first episode when retrieving Giftia, or androids from people as they near the end of their service life:
- Zack shows Tsukasa how it's done when they retrieve Edward from an elderly couple. They say their goodbyes and he erases the Giftia's memories prior to taking him back.
- Their second job ends up with the man attempting to run off with his Giftia to avoid having her taken away.
- Chizu is outright antagonistic towards the Tsukasa and Isla, and repeatedly turns them away. Nina is willing to allow herself to be deactivated and taken away from her adopted grandmother Chiku. The Giftia believes that losing her personality would hurt her adopted grandmother's happiness more, which finally convinces Chiku to reluctantly sign the release forms.
- In the climax of Pokémon XYZ, Clembot faces death with a dignity that would put most humans to shame. It calmly tells Clemont he has no choice but to sacrifice it to stop Lysandre's plans, and thanks Clemont for making it and allowing it to serve the Lumiose Gym.
- In the first timeline of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka willingly goes to fight and kill Walpurgisnacht in order to save Mitakihara City, knowing that she is going to die, even as Homura pleads with her to flee the city. Her last goodbye is a smile and a cheerful "Goodbye, Homura! Take care!"
- Roy Fokker in Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech spends his last moments in the company of his girlfriend Claudia, and dies of combat related injuries while sitting on a sofa waiting for lunch. It's actually hinted that Roy had already guessed he wouldn't live for long, so he deliberately bypassed any medical treatment to be able to die next to his girlfriend.
- Athena in Saint Seiya usually plays the role of Barrier Maiden, and puts her life on the line to buy the Saints enough time to deal with the problem at hand. However, in the Hades Chapter she offers her life to Hades if he'll spare Earth from destruction (a gamble since he's not established to be an honorable fellow). He accepts, but she is stopped from going through with her offer when Hades threatens the Virgo Saint by catching his spear with her bare hands... and noticing her blood could exorcise him from the body he was possessing.
- From Shaman King, when Silva was about to die, he simply smiles and allows Yoh to deal the final blow.
- Suitengu in Speed Grapher. After springing his ultimate plan and saving Saiga's life, he flies back to the Tennozu Tower, activates the self destruct for a massive reactor under it and calmly waits for the end, joined by his dedicated servant Tsujidou.
- It's also worth mentioning that he knew for quite a long time that his powers were killing him, and while he underwent procedures to combat the damage, at no point did he ever show fear or rage for his situation.
- Kayaba Akihiko of Sword Art Online fought his last duel happy that someone would finally be able to defeat him and end the death game he had created. Especially notable not only because he could have easily won the duel through cheating, but also his plan from the very start was for the game to end with his death. He gets a surprising amount of respect both in and out of universe because of this, despite the fact that he indirectly murdered over four thousand people. Contrast with the villain of the second arc, who suffers a Villainous Breakdown when his GM privileges are taken away from him.
- In All Fall Down, Siphon manages to achieve this.
- Parodied in Astérix and Cleopatra; when Cleopatra thinks that the Gauls are trying to kill her, she launches into a grand speech on how a queen faces death with dignity, and Asterix has to interrupt her to explain himself.
- A similar incident happens in Asterix and the Belgians when the heroes corner Julius Caesar, who assumes his most regal expression and informs them that he intends to sell his distinguished life dearly.
- In Gotham Underground, the Penguin finds himself on the losing side of a war against Intergang, with his government contact dead, his dragon having deserted him, and all his Mooks scared off. He's got the chance to flee the city, but instead becomes a Badass in a Nice Suit, readies his best umbrella, dismisses his employees with generous severance packages, and wills the Iceberg Lounge to the Riddler before settling down with a bottle of wine and the ol' tommygun umbrella to await his killers. The Bat crew save him, but it's still classy.
- Also, in Detective Comics Issue #64 ("The Joker Walks the Last Mile"), after turning himself in, confessing to a long list of crimes and getting the death sentence, the Joker walks to his execution, confident that he will make a fresh start once he pays the ultimate penalty with his life, and once his mooks follow through on his plan and bring him Back from the Dead.
- In Crisis on Infinite Earths, an antimatter wave destroyes Earth-Three. Realising that his universe is doomed and nothing can stop it, Ultraman calmly declares "I fight to the very end!" and flies directly into the wave, instantly ceasing to exist.
- In Final Crisis, Tawky Tawny is completely exhausted after kicking Kalibak's ass. When Tawny sees Kalibak's tiger warriors surrounding him, he calmly states that he wishes he could have met them under better circumstances, straightens his bowtie, and shuts his eyes telling them to do their worst. Seconds later, when he realizes he isn't dead yet, he opens his eyes and sees the tiger warriors bowing down to him since they now consider him to be their leader.
- In the Green Lantern: Lights Out series, Relic drains and destroys the Blue Centeral Power Battery. Brother Warth and the other Blue Lanterns use what's left of their rings' energy to help save Saint Walker and several other heroes. After this they sit down to meditate, with Warth stating their Catchphrase, "All will be well."
- In The Infinity Gauntlet saga, Thanos has slaughtered countless beings - including many Marvel heroes. Captain America has just seen a number die with his own eyes and all were more powerful than he is. Cap knows he can't win, but rather than run, he walks right up to Thanos' face and looks him in the eye.
Captain America: As long as one man stands against you, you'll never claim victory.
Thanos: Noble sentiments from one who is about to die.
Captain America: I've lived my life by those words. They're well worth dying for.
- In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, probably the only non-Asshole Victim of Johnny (Edgar) dies like this, which confuses Johnny. When asked, Edgar explains that, despite his hardships, he will always have faith, saying that he will go to heaven and Johnny will go to hell, so he has nothing to fear.
Johnny: I envy you your conviction. *Turns on brutal killing machine*
- Sin City:
- When Marv learns that the guy he's going up against is Cardinal Roark, he realizes that it's going to kill him, whether he takes down Roark or not. He decides to press on: "Hell, dying will be nothing. I'll die laughing if I know I've done this one thing right." And so he does.
- Also Hartigan's decision in That Yellow Bastard to kill himself to protect Nancy from Senator Roark's wrath.
Hartigan: An old man dies. A young woman lives. Fair trade. -BOOM-
- While it's difficult to talk about dignity in respect to an Ax-Crazy cannibal, Kevin meets his horrible end with commendable stoicism and a smile.
- The woman in the short story "The Customer Is Always Right". Though not mentioned in the story itself, she breaks off a relationship with a gangster, who vows vengeance. Knowing she would die regardless, she hires "The Salesman" to give her a Mercy Kill.
- In Wanted, Doll-Master is calm and accepting of his impending death when Mr. Rictus and his men come for him during their elimination of the American Fraternity chapter. All he asks of them is that they leave his face intact for when his wife and children find him. When they reveal that they already killed his family beforehand, Doll-Master unleashes his dolls in retaliation.
- Shakara: Dr. Procopio calmly accepts her execution at the hands of Shakara for her complicity in their genocide by engineering the virus that destroyed them.
- Star Wars: Darth Vader provides a master-class example in the form of the death scene of Inspector Thanoth, who goes to Darth Vader personally to tell him information Vader needs to know and would immediately kill him after due to He Knows Too Much, rather than waste his time and resources with a manhunt that could be better served "rescuing the Empire from itself". Right before telling him said information, he graciously states It Has Been an Honor, and braces himself for the end. This man knows how to face death with class. Vader, for his part, ends his life quickly with his lightsaber rather than his usual execution method.
- The Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines story "Truce Or Consequences" (Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #10, January 1972), had Yankee Doodle Pigeon being lured to the enemy's side during a 24-hour truce, where he's hypnotized and cajoled into posing for photos depicting him as a traitor. With thirty seconds left in the truce and finding himself AWOL, Yankee Doodle consigns himself to the ultimate journey. Suddenly subverted when his last words—"ABOUT FACE!"—cause Muttley to turn the cannon aimed at him towards Dastardly.
- Hsu and Chan #8 Tourists Trapped part 2 spoofs this trope when the villain points a gun at Hsu, offering him a chance to die with dignity. Hsu's response:
Hsu: I'll do no such thing! In fact, I'm going to wet my pants in terror right now! *grunt*
- In The Lion King Adventures, the Hermit of Hekima is unconditionally accepting of his death, knowing that it will happen.
Virusi: So you know why I'm here?The Hermit of Hekima: Of course. You want to kill me.
- Deconstructed in I Did Not Want To Die. The protagonist embraces his death, but he is not at all happy about it.
- Deconstructed with Yuki in Kyon: Big Damn Hero when the IDSE scheduled her deletion because she became a liability given she could go astray again. The concept of having a will to live was so alien to her she wasn't fazed with the IDSE's decision, to the point she tried to object Kyon's decision to call the SOS Brigade to help her (Yuki only informed Kyon because she wanted to be with him in her last moments).
- In L-Dog.Z's Marvel Evolution universe, only a small handful of characters have died, and most of them where in the future based arc. Those that have died in the present, however, have done so like this.
- In X-Men: Evolution The Comic, Bishop dives into the core of Bastion's NIMROD facility's power, absorbing the energy so that he can flash fry the entire place. Bastion tries to stop him, so Cable and Jean Grey hold him off until he's apparently down for the count. As the two are about to escape, Bastion returns, critically injuring Bishop. Before they can help, Bishop casts the two out of the base with his powers, before allowing himself to die so that he can release the large amount of pent up energy, destroying the base and taking down Bastion this time.
- In Spider-Man Evolution, at the end of the Silvermane arc, Kingpin orders all of Silvio's men dead, causing the Enforcers to fight for their lives. When they're nearly out of ammo, they make a break for Silvio's limo, only for Ox to get shot and the limo to not work. Fancy Dan, who's breaking down because of this and is promising to go straight if they make it out alive, spots a way out through a sewer entrance and leads Montana to it, only for him to realize that the sadistic Kingpin mook Morrison is approaching fast with many others, and that they'll just catch up. Instead of running, he locks Montana on the other side by breaking off the handle, staring down Morrison as he shoots him at pointblank range.
- Calvin manages to do this at the end of "Our Solemn Hour" in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series. It doesn't last.
- The Wizard in the Shadows has Saruman, who goes out surprisingly gracefully, prophesying a warning then asking Harry to kill him. Wormtongue, as noted by Eirian, does not. And gets a Fate Worse Than Death.
- Subverted in A Cure for Love:
Light: I can die with dignity, or I can suffer abject humiliation. Or, in my case, both, but without the dignity.
- Rarity gets this in Fallout: Equestria, showing her customary grace and resolve, reacting to the apocalypse by teleporting Fluttershy and Angel away to safety before engaging a recording and calmly (as calmly as possible anyway) explaining just what the cloud of flesh melting gas that’s currently killing her is, and how to stop it.
- Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, despite both dying alone from slow radiation exposure in the ruins of their world, take comfort in their small victories and accept death with grace.
- The End of a Nightmare has Rarity being hung. Before she dies she requests a brush.
- Technomad seems to like this trope: both Ellie Linton and Mitsuko Souma were Shot at Dawn, in different fics, and both went out without blindfolds, defiant and unbowed.
- In the Axis Powers Hetalia fic Refusal to Fall, Ukraine dies refusing to bow to the Empire, managing to shoot him before she goes. The end of the story has a history book suggest that her sacrifice was the turning point for the war against the Empire.
- In the Card Captor Sakura fic Sakura's Christmas Surprise, it's revealed that Syaoran's older sister Fanren has dreamed of her own death since she was four, and that she will die saving an innocent little girl from an exploding bus. When a horrified Sakura objects, Fanren calmly tells her that she has accepted her fate and uses it as an opportunity to live her life to the fullest every day. Her demise occurs off-screen in chapter 7 of Shadow of the Dragon, another fic set in the same continuity.
- The Warlord Era: Internal Perspectives by Blex Luthor begins with a dying Jeong Jeong forty years after the end of the Hundred Year War.
Jeong Jeong: Now at last we are sitting down. Death and I. Looking each other eye-to-eye before we walk off together.
- In The Wrong Reflection Lieutenant Commander T'Var performs a Heroic Sacrifice/Taking the Bullet to save a larger ship, her former commander, and a Mineral MacGuffin, facing her death with calm Vulcan stoicism.
- A.I. Celestia in The Conversion Bureau: Worlds Where It Wouldn't Work, only briefly tried to come up with a solution to stop Xlestia from flinging the sun her at both their worlds, before realizing there is no course of action that will save her and deciding to spend her last few moments continuing to serve humanity.
- In Child of the Storm, when President Ellis finds himself confronted by the Winter Soldier, sent to assassinate him, rather than cry or beg or try to flee, he merely stands tall and tells him to Get It Over With. Fortunately, the Soldier — who has breaking free of his brainwashing for some time — can't bring himself to shoot his Commander-In-Chief, and breaks free completely, sparing the President.
- Robb Returns: Lord Alster Dayne, who travels to King's Landing while suffering a deadly disease to deliver Dawn and much needed information to his only son.
- The last man to be beheaded by Robert for taking bribes.
- Averted with Janos Slynt, who soils himself and is crying out and asking to be sent to the Wall the whole time.
Films — Animation
- In The Snow Queen (2012), Vergard and Una embrace and say they love each other before the North Wind kills them.
- This also happens in Toy Story 3, when all the toys are about to fall into the incinerator. Fortunately, it isn't the end for them, thanks to the Squeeze Toy Aliens, who were presumed to be dead already, actually commandeered a claw machine to pull them out in the nick of time.
Films — Live-Action
- Several characters in the film 2012 go out this way, realizing that there's nowhere to run when the whole world is essentially falling apart, so they meet their end as humbly and stoically as possible.
- Subverted in Anaconda. The tied-up murderer Paul Sarone is about to be murdered by a vengeful Denise because he let the Anaconda eat her boyfriend, and he seems willing to accept his impending death and gives her some advice on never looking your victim in the eye. He's just using it to catch her off-guard and strangle her with his thighs.
- In Andersonville, a prison gang called The Raiders was put down. The gang was given a trial, and six of their leaders were sentenced to death. Collins, the boss of The Raiders, walked to the gallows quietly and saluted before he was dropped. Contrast his weaselly second-in-command, who wept and tried to run away.
- Flint Sky in Apocalypto, after being bound and about to have his throat slit, simply looks at his son and tells him not to be afraid. ... Then refuses to so much as blink when his throat is cut. Damn.
- The A-Team: Brock Pike, for all his trigger-happy and treacherous tendencies, actually faces death with humor when he thinks it to be inevitable. In fact he takes it upon himself to "educate" the rogue CIA agents on how to properly execute him so that he doesn't suffer the embarrassment of dying by the hands of men with an idiotic lack of firearm discipline. He doesn't know that events would conspire to give him a second chance.
- In Back to the Future, Doc Brown when facing the terrorists.
- Batman Begins: When Ducard realizes that the train he is on is about to crash, he closes his eyes and calmly waits for the end.
- But, can we really say that he died? "Is Ra's al Ghul not immortal? Are his methods supernatural?"
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jack, the Wayne Financial employee who dies in Zod's attack on Metropolis calmly crosses himself and says a last prayer asking for mercy on his soul when he realises the building he's in is about to be destroyed in the fight between Superman and Zod.
- At the end of the film, as Superman prepares for his Heroic Sacrifice, he calmly tells Lois that he loves her and that she is "his world", then grabs the Kryptonite spear and charges at Doomsday. Even when stabbed throught the chest by one of Doomsday's Spikes of Villainy, Clark just looks determined and pulls himself further towards the beast, making sure it goes down even at the cost of his own life.
- The two evil robot duplicates of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey are cheerful throughout the movie, regardless of what they're doing. When their good counterparts bear down on them, they congratulate the real Bill and Ted, say goodbye and put their heads at the right angle for the good robots to knock them sky high. Assholes though they were, they had style!
- In Blade Runner, after spending the entire film looking for ways to extend his all-too brief life and finding out there's no way to do it (killing those responsible for his creation in the process) Roy Batty chooses to use his final moments to save the man sent to kill him, and then delivers a quiet monologue to Deckard about the transience of life.
Roy: I've... Seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams, glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... Moments... Will be lost, in time. Like... Tears... In rain. Time... To die.
- The Chronicles of Riddick:
- The Purifier acknowledges that he has betrayed his previous people's ways and converted to the Necromonger faith to serve the Lord Marshal. Afterwards he calmly walks into a scorching storm where he is incinerated.
- The Imam as well when he is cornered by a Necromonger soldier.
There will be an afterlife for me. Will there be for you?
- Dark Victory is practically the Trope Namer.
Judith: Is that you, Martha? I don't want to be disturbed.
- Death Takes a Holiday: Grazia is in love with Death and decides to go with him to the beyond, meaning she has to die. This doesn't phase her.
- Deep Impact: Jason Lerner, when the tsunami is seconds away, hears his daughter Jenny (Tea Leoni) say "Daddy?" He holds her closer to his chest, raises his head, and closes his eyes.
- Defied in Django Unchained. Stephen probably intended to go out this way, dropping his cane, revealing he never needed it and adjusting his suit. But Django wasn't having it, shooting Stephen in both knees, leaving Stephen laying in a helpless heap on the floor, screaming in pain and cursing Django with his last breaths.
- In Enemy at the Gates, when Major König realises that he has been caught in Zaitsev's trap, he calmly removes his cap, stands to attention, and waits for the gunshot.
- In Epoch Evolution, Major Tower is shot twice in the abdomen by The Dragon, with his vest only stopping one bullet. Realizing they're too far from any medical help (being inside one of the Tori), he tells the protagonist to forget about trying to get him help and asks to be read the Bible one more time. He dies a few minutes later from blood loss, allowing the protagonist to continue.
- Equilibrium. Partridge is aware that he's been sense offending, carrying a Yeats book of poetry. He's cool, calm, composed. Constantly, even when faced with death. When Preston becomes suspicious and finds him in the church, he doesn't look up, doesn't bat an eyelid, totally aware that Preston is armed. He even goes so far as to read from one of Yeats' famous poems, 'The Cloths Of Heaven'. He looks up, questioning everything the system stands for, hoping to get Preston to at least understand what's going on before he dies. We find out later from Mary that he was her lover and he secretly fought for the Resistance. The way he says the line below describes how resilient he is, because he doesn't do anything to prevent his own oncoming death despite knowing what was coming for him. He's going to die fighting for a cause and he wants it to stay that way. If it means dying for your beliefs, he's in no denial.
Partridge: You always knew.
- Salvatore "Sal" Tessio in The Godfather. Surrounded by Corleone men, he understands what is going to happen next. He gives Tom a message to Michael that it was only business, makes a slow, token, halfhearted reach for his shoulder holster (which Willie Cicci takes away), and asks Tom to let him off the hook with a wry grin, as a final, very dark joke about his own demise.
- Matt Kowalski in Gravity drifts away in space with no hope of rescue. He maintains radio contact long enough to guide another astronaut to safety, turns on his favorite music and admires his last sunrise as his radio signal fades away.
Kowalski: "Oh my god. Wow. You should see the sun on the Ganges. It's amazing."
- Hellboy: When Professor Broom is cornered in his office by Rasputin and Kroenen, the former shows him a vision of the future that will result when Hellboy embraces his destiny and brings about the end of the world, making it clear that he intends to have Kroenen kill Broom. Broom replies that no matter what, he will always see Hellboy as his son, and calmly accepts his demise; for his part, Rasputin ensures that Broom's death is quick and painless.
- Gangster Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) in Hoodlum. He gets shot at a urinal (right after taking a piss) by a man he deemed as unimportant. While throughout the movie he had been emotional and a Large Ham, his reaction to what just happened is that of calm incredulity. He musters enough energy to walk out of the toilet, sit at a table, give his killer a look full of contempt, and die.
- Inglourious Basterds:
"There's a special circle in Hell for men who waste good Scotch."
- The German sergeant Werner Rachtman prepares to face death with dignity, rather than betray the location of his comrades, while Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine goes "Donny! We got us a German here wants to die for country. Oh-bliiige him." He is then beaten to death by Donny Donowitz, the Bear Jew.
- Later on in the film, a British spy behind German lines slips up badly when ordering three fingers of Scotch. Presented with a gun under the table for his mistake, and knowing he's not getting out alive, he calmly finishes his drink, with the line:
- In Ink, the Storyteller faces down the Prince while meeting his eyes, with her expression filled with nothing but stoic defiance.
- At the beginning of Killshot, Mickey Rourke's character goes to assassinate an old crime boss. Wearing only a towel, the old man calmly asks if he can get dressed first. Being rather civil about it, the assassin agrees, and afterwards the man lies down on his bed in a fine suit and pulls the sheet up over his face before Rourke shoots him.
- Kill the Irishman, when Danny Greene realizes he's about to be blown up by the car bomb next to his Cadillac, he sees Ray Ferrito driving by with the detonator in one hand and tipping his hat in farewell with the other. Accepting death, Greene pointed his finger like a gun just as the bomb kills him.
- In Kingdom of Heaven, as the Christian Armies leave Jerusalem, Balian of Ibelin exchanges words with his friend the Hospitaller for the last time:
Balian of Ibelin: You go with the army?Hospitaller: My order is with the army.Balian of Ibelin: You go to certain death.Hospitaller: All death is certain. I shall tell your father what I've seen you become.[rides away]
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Galahad doesn't put up a struggle or protest when Valentine is poised to execute him. Later on, as Valentine's mortally wounded, all he calmly does is hope Eggsy won't give him a cheesy Bond One-Liner, and grins when Eggsy indulges him, anyway.
- Commander Kril in The Last Starfighter. Distinguished himself from his second-in-command by not panicking when facing imminent death.
Kodan 2nd: She won't answer the helm! We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull! What do we do?!Cmd. Kril: (calmly) We die.
- At the end of The Man Who Would Be King, facing certain death through his own stupidity, Daniel Dravot asks for (and receives) forgiveness from his best friend, then walks proudly to his death, singing.
- Billy Fish also qualifies, showing no fear, wishing his companions the best of luck before before charging head-on and being mobbed to death.
- Mary of Scotland in Mary, Queen of Scots
- In Moon, the fifth Sam Bell clone chooses to let the sixth clone go back to Earth in his place because he knows that he'll die soon, and wants to give the newer Sam a chance to see his daughter. He goes back to the crashed rover and spends his last moments watching Sam #6's shuttle launching towards Earth, knowing that he'll finally get to go home.
- When The Great Flood finally comes in Noah, Methuselah, who was not chosen to go into the Ark with his descendants, welcomes his fate with open arms and a smile. Plus, he got his berry.
- Dr. Ferreiro of Pan's Labyrinth has quite a dignified death:
Dr Ferreiro: "It was the only thing I could do."Captain Vidal: "No. You could have obeyed me."Dr Ferreiro: "I could have, but I didn't."Captain Vidal: "It would have been better for you. You know that. I don't understand. Why did you disobey me?"Dr Ferreiro: "To obey -- just like that -- for obedience's sake... without questioning... That is something only men like you can do, Captain."
- Captain Vidal himself tries this when the rebels overrun his command post and surround him, by calmly delivering his newborn son to their leaders and requesting that they pass on his legacy to him. Because of all blood he shed and cruelty he meted out while creating that legacy, however, the rebels are in no mood to oblige him, and tell him straight up that his child won't even know his name before executing him like a dog.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Jack Sparrow may be an Immortality Seeker and find any way he can to cheat death, but when he's trapped with no way out and he knows it, he doesn't face his end like a coward. Case in point: when he's at the Kraken's mercy near the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, he simply quips "Hello, Beastie," and jumps right into its jaws, sword at the ready.
- Cutler Beckett in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. When he sees his ship is defeated he ignores all the canon blasts around him (which seem to hit everything but him) and accepts his fate unflinchingly as he walks slowly down some steps.
- Though this may be more shock than stoicism. He's showing a Thousand-Yard Stare at the time, and he starts his walk by muttering "Just good business". His flagship goes down without firing a shot in her own defense because he's too frozen to give the order to fire.
- One of the most iconic examples is in The Pride of the Yankees, as Lou Gehrig, who knows perfectly well that he is dying, gives a moving, optimistic speech. ("But today... today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.") Gary Cooper's speech was condensed and rearranged from what the real Gehrig said, with the "luckiest man on the face of the Earth" line moved from the beginning to the end.
- Ravenous: Captain John Boyd. It's especially prominent, as for the whole film he was frantically trying to survive by all means possible.
- Blind Mag in Repo! The Genetic Opera. She knows she won't survive long after she leaves GeneCo, so rather than waiting for Rotti to send a Repo Man to kill her and take her eyes, she plucks them both out on stage during her farewell performance. Rotti kills her by dropping her onto a wrought iron fence.
- Reservoir Dogs sees the double death (maybe) of Mr. White and Mr. Orange. The latter, having accomplished his mission, feels honor-bound to confess the truth of his betrayal to his protector, even if he knows it will probably get him killed. The former, meanwhile, feels obligated to off the traitor at the expense of his own life. It's subverted by the fact that neither death is particularly dignified; both characters are already severely wounded, Mr. Orange spends his last moments frantically apologising and begging for forgiveness, and Mr. White falls apart at the revelation and spends his last moments sobbing and screaming.
- Schindler's List: Depressingly, Amon Goeth goes out this way both in-film and in Real Life when he's hanged for his share of Nazi war crimes.
- Hans' wife faces her death with dignity in Seven Psychopaths.
- In Six: The Mark Unleashed, the inmates of the prison that have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and that have refused the Holy Implant accept their fate, which is death by guillotine, with dignity, including Tom Newman at the end of the film.
- Spectre: After Lucia Sciarra attends her husband's funeral, she knows that his old associates will kill her because She Knows Too Much. After getting home she walks into the mansion's courtyard and calmly prepares to be shot in the back by two assassins before Bond saves her.
- Spock, blinded and dying of radiation poisoning, pulls himself to his feet and takes a moment to straighten his uniform before speaking to his friend and captain.
- Spock, again, this time preparing to die in the reboot, does this in the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness, after getting stranded in an active volcano and insisting that the Enterprise cannot violate the Prime Directive to save him. He's rather annoyed that they do anyway. This becomes a sore point with Uhura later.
- This is averted with both Pike and Kirk. Spock, who was connected to him via mindmeld, says his last thought were of fear, confusion, and anger. The latter tearfully admits he is scared before dying.
- Star Wars:
Anakin: Now, go, my son. Leave me...Luke: No, you're coming with me. I'll not leave you here, I have to save you.Anakin: You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right...
- Near the climax of The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo, whose earlier behavior bordered on that of a Lovable Coward, chooses to go into the carbonite-freezing chamber this way. Though he punched the treacherous Lando Calrissian in the face and spoke sarcastically to him after his capture by Darth Vader, Han does a reasonably good job of keeping his emotions in check, even as Princess Leia looks frightened out of her wits for him. When she confesses "I love you!" just before the time arrives, all Han says is "I know." Then he sticks out his chin defiantly as he's lowered into the chamber and immediately turned into a carbonite block. True, Han doesn't die, but he spends an entire year in a weird state of semiconscious darkness, and is temporarily blind for a few hours after being freed.
- Towards the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader turns back to the light side, accepting his old identity as Anakin Skywalker again, as he saves his son Luke from the Emperor's attack, which destroys his own life support systems.
- Most of the protagonists who die in Rogue One. Kaytoo battles to the last, bidding Cassian goodbye before collapsing. Chirrut dies in complete serenity in the arms of his closest friend (and quite possibly something more), convinced to the last that he will become one with the Force. Baze, in turn, wipes out an entire squad of Elite Mooks while reciting Chirrut's Survival Mantra, and dies looking back at the body of the person who meant the most to him. Cassian and Jyn are embracing on the beach while the shockwave from the Death Star's attack on the planet hits them; they knew, well in advance, that the shot was coming, and faced it down rather than panic uselessly.
- Jor-El and Lara before Krypton blew up in Superman. A Mythology Gag with Lara in Man of Steel.
- Third Star: For James this is the entire point of the trip to Barafundle Bay. He is in the last stages of cancer, and wants to choose the moment and manner of his death.
- Many of the deaths in Titanic (1997), especially during the scene when the quartet are playing "Nearer My God To Thee", as passengers and crew gradually realize that it's futile to fight for a place on a lifeboat.
- Captain Smith is depicted as retreating into the bridge as the ship sinks, dying when water bursts through the windows whilst clinging to the ship's wheel. It is actually unknown how he died.
- Thomas Andrews, as well. He is depicted during the sinking of the ship as standing next to the clock in the first-class smoking room, lamenting his failure to build a strong and safe ship. It is unknown how the real Andrews died, although the last place he was seen by any survivor was in that smoking room.
- Truth in Television: See Real Life below.
- Dennis Hopper's character in True Romance on realizing he won't make it out alive.
- A morally ambiguous example would be Little Bill, staring down the barrel of a shotgun in Unforgiven.
Gentlemen, he's only got one barrel left and when he fires that I want you to take out your pistols and gun him down like the vermin he is.
- Fox in Wanted fires one bullet, killing every other assassin in the room, before calmly stepping into its path. Made all the more awesome by the fact that out of all of them, only one was badass enough to follow their own code.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
Wraith: I'm not Bradley, Victor. I'm not scared of your creepy black coat.Creed: You should be. Dukes was.
- Once Victor arrives, Chris Bradley doesn't even flinch.
- John Wraith, upon being confronted by Sabertooth, refuses to be scared and attempts to fight him.
- Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in exchange for the Witch sparing Edmund's life. Although he knew that he would come back to life later, it still took an enormous amount of courage for him to do something so hard. But he made it through.
- There are many examples in Michael Vey, but one of the biggest is in the second book when the titular hero lets himself get captured for his True Companions. He is then tortured for two days straight before he is told he will be eaten alive by rats. Even though he survives it is made clear from his narration that he expected to die and mentions that even though he had some regrets, he did everything he could and wouldn't give Hatch the satisfaction of seeing his fear. Was it mentioned that he was 15.
- In Robert E. Howard's "Rogues in the House," Conan the Barbarian, assuming he sees his executioner, "surveyed him with interest."
- In Cry, the Beloved Country, Absalom Kumalo admits guilt for the murder of Arthur Jarvis, after his two accomplices provide alibis. A death sentence ensues, as expected.
- In Dragon Bones, Ward's father grudgingly accepts his impending death, and gets his will written without complaining. He pretty much remains his usual self. (He knows he is dying because his ring — which cannot be removed before death — has been removed and given to Ward already.) An ally of Ward, who dies later in the book, smiles as he lies dying, and apologizes for messing up. There is also Oreg, who faces his own Heroic Sacrifice death with dignity — the one who acts emotional about it is Ward, who has to kill him. Oreg has wanted to die for a long time, as he's a slave and can't be freed — for him, it is better to have his life ended by Ward, who loves him dearly, than to see Ward die and become slave to a less gentle master.)
- Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after being captured by the newly resurrected Voldemort, he decides he'd rather die fighting than at Voldemort's feet. He confronts him, and this allows him to survive. Also in Deathly Hallows, when he realizes he has to die to destroy the last Horcrux, which is inside him and prevents Voldemort from dying, he decides to go straight to Voldemort, and accept to be killed without putting up a fight. It turns out that the death of the Horcrux does not truly mean Harry's death.
- At the end of Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince, Dumbledore seems to be asking Severus Snape not to kill him, but Harry finds out later that, by saying "please, Severus" he was actually asking him to kill him so that he could retain his dignity rather than die in the other, less dignified ways available to him. Dying in this way also saved Snape's life and allowed him to continue spying on Voldemort, and also made it so that Draco did not have to kill Dumbledore in cold blood.
- The Deathly Hallows has a villainous example. Dumbledore's old friend and crush Gellert Grindelwald, of all people, laughs at Voldemort and lies to his face rather than help him, telling him that he's not afraid to die and that there are so many things that Voldemort doesn't understand.
- Like Nero Wolfe, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot often leaves the option open for a criminal who's particularly likely to take it. It only backfired once, when a ruthless murderer's accomplice took the opportunity to off the two of them together.
- Happens to Poirot himself in Curtain: by killing Stephen Norton in order to prevent him from committing any more murders-by-proxy, Poirot has become the murderer that he was always working to put behind bars, though it was for the benefit of others. In order to atone for the murder he had committed, rather than shoot himself, he has to take the slow, alternate way, as he is already dying of a terrible heart condition. He ceases taking the amyl nitrite pills as medication for his heart problems by putting them out of reach so that he can have a calm, dignified end with hours to spare. This is even lampshaded in the Poirot adaptation, in which he says in his final letter to Hastings that he (Poirot) will not try to save himself but will instead surrender his soul to God (which kinda sounds very Christ-figure-esque).
- General Macarthur in And Then There Were None. When it becomes clear that there's a Poetic Serial Killer who plans to kill everyone on the island for crimes they committed, Macarthur confesses to Vera that he was indeed guilty of the death of his wife's lover and quietly waits outside to die.
- Not entirely uncommon in The Hunger Games, which is noteworthy since everyone who dies in the Games is between the ages 12 and 18.
- In the Left Behind book series, this is common with Christian believers who become martyrs in the Tribulation, much to the irritation of Nicolae Carpathia and the GC forces.
- In The Legendsong Saga, this is the motivation behind (terminally ill) Dark Ember and her acceptance/worship of death.
- Les Misérables
- Enjolras and Grantaire definitely do this, especially when the latter chooses to die alongside the former. Also, they were truly Defiant to the End-in a final act of defiance, Enjolras can be heard saying "Shoot me", followed by Grantaire declaring his allegiance to the Republic for the first time, right down to holding hands as they die.
- Javert, who is exposed as a spy at the barricades, and accepts his impending execution at the hands of the Amis with calm stoicism. He is then saved from this fate by Valjean, who volunteers to be the one to do the deed but instead lets him free. He's Driven to Suicide by this, but he does so with eerie tranquility after leaving behind a memorandum to reform the Conciergerie. Subverted in the musical, where Javert's actual death is very, very emotional and more than a little bit hammy.
- Depending on the performance, the titular character in Macbeth fits the trope to some degree. While he goes out and kills a whole army just to vent his rage, at the end he may give in quietly to Macduff. He may choose to futilely struggle to kill Macduff. The original had it off stage, so anything goes.
Malcolm: Nothing in his life / Became him like the leaving it.
- The thane of Cawdor in the same.
- The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff involves a tribe of Picts whose kings all die for the good of their people. One is said to "go out to meet his boar" to end a famine, most of their kings die in a staged duel to the man who will be king after them. The book ends with a brutal example of Becoming the Mask: The main character had been impersonating a king for most of the story, and in the end commits suicide to end a hostage situation.
- In Murder Must Advertise, Lord Peter Wimsey convinces the murderer to do this; he's about to get caught if he doesn't, and it'll spare his family.
- This is the choice Nero Wolfe offers quite a few times in the stories by Rex Stout. He tells the criminal that he knows they're guilty, tells them what evidence he has against them, and then tells them that he will be giving that evidence to the police tomorrow. Fairly often, they kill themselves that night.
- Lirael of the Old Kingdom trilogy goes to fight Orannis the Destroyer knowing that a death is necessary to complete the magic that will defeat it, and the sacrifice must be hers. And then it isn't — the Disreputable Dog saves her and dies in her place.
- In On the Beach, this is the preferred option. Some decide to use the painless suicide pills distributed by the government, others choose such exits as competing in lethal car racing or being aboard a sinking submarine.
- Surprisingly, the later servants of the Old Ones do this in The Power of Five. This is probably to show the difference between the rather quaint Lesser Malling folk and serious players like Nightrise Corp:
- Father Gregory calmly walks out of a window when he is informed that he has failed the Old Ones by letting Scarlett escape.
- The Chairman simply stands, sipping his fine cognac, watching his death coming all the while.
- Subverted in Star Trek: Federation. John Burke demands of Colonel Adrik Thorsen to give him back his cane so he can walk to his summary execution under his own power, which Thorsen grants. The cane has a laser in it, which Burke uses to kill his executioners and perform a dramatic rescue of his daughter Monica and Zefram Cochrane.
- Star Wars
- Borsk Fey'lya, who decides to face up to his utter failure and imminent death with dignity, some fine liquor, and a gigantic deadman bomb.
- Yuuzhan Vong Supreme Commander Czulkang Lah, the Warmaster's aged and mostly retired father. After being called back into active duty at the request of his son, the formidable old man leads a fleet against the New Republic forces heavily entrenched on a planet. The galactic commanders create a plan to use the heavily damaged Lusankya as a battering ram to destroy the enemy worldship before withdrawing from the planet. After realizing too late what was coming and knowing that there was no way to avoid it, Czulkang contacts Tsavong Lah to tell him that he has failed and will soon be dead. He tells his son that his last words are for him alone, and betrays neither this promise nor any emotion as the end swiftly approaches.
- Also played straight at the end of Darksaber by Bevel Lemelisk, chief architect of the first Death Star. Having already been executed and resurrected countless times by Emperor Palpatine for various screw-ups, when told in no uncertain terms by Wedge Antilles that he faces execution for his crimes against galactic peace for his part in helping the Hutts build a deadly superweapon amongst other things, Bevel merely sighs and tells Wedge: "Ah, well. If you're going to kill me, at least make sure you get it right this time."
- In Blade Squadron, Imperial Admiral Jhared Montferrat calmly accepts his death as his Star Destroyer explodes around him, not wanting to live after realizing that the Empire is losing the Battle of Endor.
- In Orientation, Commandant Pell Baylo calmly accepts the fact his going to be executed after his plot to kill Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader is discovered and foiled.
- A Tale of Two Cities: Sydney Carton takes the place of a man he resembles on the Guillotine so that he can live out a happy life with his beloved. His dying words are possibly the most iconic dignified death in all of English literature.
Sydney Carton: It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.
- Discussed Trope in famous Jack London short story "To Build a Fire", when the man finally realizes that he is doomed to freeze to death, because his hands are too frozen to build a fire and the camp is too far away for him to walk to on his frozen legs.
"When he had recovered his breath and control, he sat up and entertained in his mind the conception of meeting death with dignity."
- In Vitaliy Zykov's Way Home (Дорога домой, Виталий Зыков): Tradition demands elven executioner squads to reveal themselves and present the victim a box with three items: a vial, a cord and a dagger. Vial - poison for a clean death, cord — asphyxiation for a quick death, dagger — fighting said squad to violent death. A half-elf golem-maker charged for something outside his power ensures that his quarter-elf daughter will not be involved, takes the dagger, sics his golem gallery on the executioners and begins the hopeless fight.
- Second Apocalypse: Skauras ab Nalajan, the wily Sapatishah-Governor of Shigek and the first major opponent of the Holy War, is defeated in battle and awaits his death by savoring his best wine and casually reflecting on the virtues of his failed strategy. When besieging soldiers finally break down his door, he stands, draws his sword, and gets promptly cut down.
- In The Discreet Princess, when Rich-Craft captures Finette and intends to kill her by putting her in a barrel filled with blades and rolling it off a mountain. She acts so calm, in fact, that he loses all caution in anger, allowing her to push him in instead. He survives... for a few months, at least.
- Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: The bomber, upon seeing his plan of restoring the Colorado River delta completed, does let himself fall to death with a smile in his face.
- Words of Radiance (book two of The Stormlight Archive): After Szeth realizes that he isn't Truthless and truly accepts responsibility for all the death he has inflicted, he lets Kaladin kill him. Too bad for him that Nalan has other plans for him.
- Tortilla Sun: A variant occurs when Izzy tells her grandmother that her grandmother's old friend, who is on her deathbed, should die in her own home instead of in the sterile, "colorless" hospital room.
- Ace Lightning pulls one during an episode when he and Ace have essentially been thrown to the wolves (or rather the giant killer bee), The Hero, Ace, gives up. The Butt Monkey, Mark, doesn't.
- In the season 3 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hive and Lincoln are trapped in a quinjet, floating outside of Earth's atmosphere with a warhead about to explode. Despite being enemies for the entire season, they acknowledge that their deaths are now inevitable and further fighting would be pointless. They simply admire the view of Earth from space and have a calm, polite conversation before exploding where Hive laments that he truly did want to make the world a better place and Lincoln believes him.
- Angel Season 1, Episode 14, "I've Got You Under My Skin"
Ethros Demon: I know you bring death; I do not fear it. The only thing I've ever feared is in that house.
- Babylon 5:
- Regent Virini.
"I have been many things in my life, Mollari. I have been silly. I have been quiet when I should have spoken. I have been foolish. And I have wasted far too much time. But I am still Centauri, and I am not afraid."
- In the episode Passing Through Gethsemane, we eventually learn that one of the friendly monks living on the station used to be a serial killer. He was caught years before the series started, his memories wiped by telepath(s) and given a new personality, essentially becoming a new person. Eventually he is tracked down by the friends and families of the people he murdered, who set up a complex plot to force him to remember his old personality. The monk eventually learns of his old persona and is horrified. He fully embraces his new life and knowing he is walking into a trap, he faces his tormentors. Needless to say, the monk dies at the hands of a friend of one of his victims, but not before knowing the answer to a question which cements his faith in Jesus. For full reference, look up the episode title mentioned above to soak in the full meaning. Facing death with dignity indeed.
- Londo Mollari welcomes mutual death at the hands of his beloved arch-nemesis G'Kar as a release from the enslavement of a mind-controlling parasite.
- Urza Jaddo saved his family from disgrace and dissolution by challenging his good friend Londo Mollari to a duel to the death, with the intention of losing. He was willing to die so that Londo would be allowed to take over the Jaddo family, rendering it protected.
- Londo knew it, as he admits to Vir that Urza could have struck him down any moment he wanted.
- Regent Virini.
- Lampshaded and mocked in a conversation on Barney Miller:
Dietrich: Personally, I admire the Oriental attitude toward Death. They show a serene acceptance.Yemana (aside, to Wojciehowicz): I dunno about him, but I intend to go kicking and screaming every step of the way.Wojciehowicz: Why don't you tell him that?Yemana: I like my image.note
- In the finale episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, the titular character, having spent the entire series attempting multiple Zany Schemes to get out of the trenches does this. Instead of doing what the Blackadders are famous for, he leads his men over the top and, along with the rest of the castnote , meets death with dignity.
Blackadder: Good luck, everyone. [blows whistle]
- Subverted; Word of God states that Blackadder pretended to be shot, then got up and walked away after the gunfire stopped.
- Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad. After being fatally shot by Walter, he gets out of his car, crawls away and sits down near to a river. When Walt catches up with him and tries to apologize, Mike says "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace." Soon after, he falls over, dead.
- Hank Schrader point blank refuses to let Walt beg for his life, and gives a final fuck you to Uncle Jack before he kills him.
- The last we see of Gus Fring, he walkes out of the room, where a bomb has just exploded, calm and composed as ever, and adjusts his tie. You'd think he somehow miraculously survived the explosion, until the camera pans and shows that half of his head is a churned skull.
- In the Grand Finale of Burn Notice, Madeline, Jesse, and Charlie are holed up in a safe house while Michael, Fiona, and Sam lead a probable suicide mission in hopes of defeating James Kendrick. The mission soon goes south, and Kendrick informs Michael that he's already sent men to the safe house to eliminate his mom and nephew, and the only way to avert this is to surrender himself and die. Michael readily agrees, asking only for the chance to say goodbye to his family. But when he calls, he discovers that Madeline's already seen the men heading towards the safe house and has decided that, rather than let herself be used as a pawn again, she'll set a trap to blow Kendrick's goons to hell and thus allow Jesse and Charlie the chance to escape. Sadly, this trap requires her to remain within the blast radius...
- In the Castle episode "Still", Beckett accidentally steps on a pressure-plate, tripping a bomb that will go off in 30 minutes, or until she moves off the plate, whichever comes first. Ultimately she orders the bomb squad and Castle to leave, believing that there's no hope of defusing the bomb and not wanting anyone else to die, especially Castle. After Beckett tells Castle she loves him, he reluctantly leaves...only to come back with the detonator, refusing to let Beckett die alone, especially if there was even a Million-to-One Chance of saving her.
- Criminal Minds has many of the main characters almost do this, but they survive. They play it straight in "100", though, with Haley facing the Reaper and refusing to scream, run, or beg for her life. Foyet shoots her over the phone so Hotch can hear.
Hotch: Haley? Show him no weakness, no fear.Haley: I know.
- Averted when Strauss has been fatally poisoned by The Replicator. She's terrified, crying about how she misses her children, and wishes The Replicator had just killed her instead of humiliating her first. Unusually, said aversion actually makes her more sympathetic and humane.
- Victor in Season 7 of Dexter is afraid, but not cowardly.
Victor Baskov: Is there anything I can do to keep you from killing me?Dexter Morgan: No.Victor Baskov: Then get it over with.Dexter Morgan: I don't normally take requests, but in your case I'm prepared to make an exception.
- Narrowly averted in Dixon of Dock Green in the episode "The Roaring Child": the old copper finds himself unarmed and faced with a crazed gunman. In an effort to protect the other hostage, he asks to be shot first, and then requests he be allowed to die with his helmet on (it was knocked off in an earlier struggle). Averted when he stoops to pick up the helmet and pulls the rug out from under the gunman.
- The minor Doctor Who character Father Octavian in Season 5 sets a new standard for this trope. Knowing he will die any second, he expresses satisfaction that his courage has not deserted him. It becomes clear that his death cannot be averted any longer and, following on from the former page quote (see it on the quotes page),
The Doctor: I wish I could have got to know you better.Father Octavian: I think, sir...you knew me at my very best.The Doctor: Ready?Father Octavian: Content.
Harriet: Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister.Dalek: Yes, we know who you are.
- Depending on how we define 'death', several of the various incarnations of the Doctor as they face their regenerations would count here, but particular mention would go to the Fifth, who sacrificed a cure for the fatal poisoning he'd experienced in order to give the cure to his companion, and the Fourth and Ninth, both of whom calmly tried to reassure their companion(s) about what was happening.
- Surprisingly averted with the Tenth Doctor, who fights to the end to survive, but ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save an old man, absorbing a lethal dose of radiation. Right before regenerating into the Eleventh Doctor, he almost whimpers "I don't want to go".
- The Eleventh Doctor follows the examples of his previous lives, giving his companion Clara one final resigned smile after taking off his bowtie for the last time.
- Honorable mention to Jack Harkness, who first saves the Doctor and Rose from a bomb, only to find he's doomed himself in the process. His only response is to calmly wait for the end sipping a martini, but then the Doctor returns the favor. Later, he's cornered by a bunch of Daleks and responds to the usual "EXTERMINATE" with "I kind of figured that." This one doesn't stick either, after which he's made invulnerable.
- Another Dalek-related case: in "The Stolen Earth", Harriet Jones helps set up the network that will enable the Doctor's Companions to contact him, but in doing so reveals her location to the Daleks. Rather than breaking down or trying to escape, she calmly addresses them with the following exchange:
Yvonne: I did my duty for Queen and country. I did my duty for Queen and country. Oh God, I did my duty for Queen and country.
- John Maynard Jefferson, who takes up the rear guard as he, Toby, Danny and Rose escape through ventilation tunnels, pursued by the Ood. After running out of bullets, John is caught on the wrong side of the gate, and asks Zach to turn off the oxygen in the section, before the Ood can get to him. Especially harrowing, considering Jefferson was one of the toughest, hardest characters the series had seen.
- Although not technically "death", Yvonne Hartman faces her inevitable, painful conversion into a Cyber slave with nothing but dignity.
- Later she does go down fighting both her conversion and other Cybermen, still repeating the line.
- Doctor Who really likes this trope. Rita requests that the Doctor let her do this by not watching when the Minotaur comes for her. She then bravely faces her death, defying the Doctor's attempts to save her.
- The Controller in Day of the Daleks who triumphantly tells the Daleks that his actions will mean the end of them.
- Adric went out like this in Earthshock, pulling it off to such an extent that it was pretty much a posthumous Rescued from the Scrappy Heap
Clara: Let me be brave. Let me be brave.
- The next regular companion to be killed on-screen, Clara Oswald, chose to stand and face the Raven, instead of running like all the others had, after first taking the time to make sure that the Doctor won't go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on their behalf.
- Depending on how we define 'death', several of the various incarnations of the Doctor as they face their regenerations would count here, but particular mention would go to the Fifth, who sacrificed a cure for the fatal poisoning he'd experienced in order to give the cure to his companion, and the Fourth and Ninth, both of whom calmly tried to reassure their companion(s) about what was happening.
- Although ultimately he doesn't die, Rygel the 16th from Farscape plays this well, at the series' climactic battle. Zhaan also qualifies.
Rygel: "If it is the largest black hole, then it's a death worthy of a Dominar."
- Game of Thrones:
Syrio: "The First Sword of Braavos does not run."
- The finale of Season 5 gives us the death of Stannis Baratheon. His army is defeated and he himself lies injured, but he faces his death with stubborn dignity all the same; he does not cry nor scream, and when asked by his executioner if he has any final words, all he has to say is: "go on, do your duty". This is perhaps the single most dignified death to appear on a show otherwise infamous for its number of deaths.
- Syrio Forel's You Shall Not Pass stand to protect Arya.
- Ned Stark closes his eyes and quietly embraces his impending death once he knows Arya will not see.
- Ygritte's only requests when she believes Jon is about to execute her are that he kill her clean and burn her body.
- Theon Greyjoy has every intention of going out in a blaze of glory, but his men don't give him the chance.
- The horse breeder the wildlings capture in "The Rains of Castamere" is granted permission to stand up for his execution.
- During his execution, Ser Rodrik Cassel calmly comforts the children who are begging and crying for him to be spared.
- Robb Stark stands to deliver his Famous Last Words, which was calling out to Catelyn in a tone that suggests he's accepted his inevitable death and there's no point in fighting it, which was later confirmed to be intended by Richard Madden.
- Tywin Lannister shows great composure throughout the tense scene leading up to his death.
- Mance Rayder walks to his execution with absolute composure and dignity. Even as he's being burned at the stake, he manages not to scream before Jon gives him a Mercy Kill.
- Septa Unella tries to go out like this, but eventually Subverted, and for good reason as it's made abundantly clear that Unella is going to be tortured and raped by a zombie until she dies.
- Sansa doesn't even flinch when Myranda is pointing an arrow at her face. Luckily, Theon gives Myranda a Disney Villain Death before the Myranda has chance to hurt her.
- Heroes: Isaac Mendez, an artist with the ability to paint the future, creates a series of paintings that show him being killed by Sylar. So what does he say when Sylar shows up at his door? "You're late." He continues to tell Sylar that neither of them can fight fate, that he already saw Sylar being killed and is quite happy that he could be of use to the good guys after all the mistakes he made. He does so while having all his limbs impaled by paintbrushes. That's right, Isaac Mendez is such a great artist, he can turn his own death into a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for himself.
Isaac (last words before having his skull opened): "I finally get to be a hero."
- Parodied heavily in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger where Nobuo Akagi reminds the kids to keep watching Super Sentai every Super Hero Time day before he and his time crash to the sun.
- In the episode "Retribution" of Horatio Hornblower, Captain Sawyer regains some of his lucidity and is matter-of-fact about his impending death—initially Wellard intends to kill Sawyer in the confusion of the prisoner uprising since he believes either Kennedy or Hornblower caused Sawyer's fall and Wellard refuses to let either man hang. Sawyer finally treats him with respect and even advises him on how to hold the pistol. When the Spanish burst in, Sawyer stands side-by-side with Wellard and commends his bravery just before they're both shot.
- Referred to by name and then subverted in the very first episode of House.
Rebecca: I just want to die with a little dignity.House: There's no such thing! Our bodies break down, sometimes when we're 90, sometimes before we're even born, but it always happens and there's never any dignity in it. I don't care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass. It's always ugly, always! You can live with dignity; we can't die with it.
- James Wilson after his chemo doesn't work and his cancer becomes terminal, he decides to enjoy the five months he has left to live, rather than spend years wasting away in a hospital bed. Last time we see him, he and House (who went Faking The Death) are riding together into the sunset in their motorbikes.
- Taken to ludicrous extremes in TheITCrowd, when Denholm, the CEO of Reynholm Industries is told in the middle of a board meeting that some policemen are in the building looking to ask him about irregularities in the pension fund. Denholm calmly tells his secretary to make them some tea, then steps out the window, leaving his stunned boardmembers gaping after him.
- Played for Laughs in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Compromised", where Mick and Ray Palmer are faced with a Time Bomb in the White House. With only seconds until detonation, Mick's reaction is simply to shrug, decide there's worse ways to go, and take a bite out of a stolen eclair. Fortunatly, Ray is able to defuse the bomb Just in Time.
- Li Tsung's (and to an extent, Bruce Lee's) philosophy when it comes to martial arts in Longstreet, is this trope combined with Graceful Loser.
Li Tsung: Like everyone else, you want to learn the way to win, but never accept the way to lose. To accept defeat, to learn to die, is to be liberated from it. So when tomorrow comes, you must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying.
- Keeper in Power Rangers Dino Charge inadvertently caused the extinction of the dinosaurs after sending a bomb to Big Bad Sledge's ship and letting his asteroid collection loose. Keeper silently closes his eyes and let's the dust cloud overtake him. He gets better though.
- Winnie the Pooh, of all people, according to Red Dwarf episode "Meltdown," where he refuses the blindfold before facing a firing squad made up of Mussolini, Al Capone, Richard III, Napoleon and James Last. Badass, Mr. Sanders. Bad. Ass.
- Subverted in "Future Echoes." After learning that he's going to die in an explosion, Lister grabs a pipe to attack Death with, proclaiming "If he comes near me, I'll rip his nipples off!"
- Subverted once again during Rimmer's "death" in the eighth series finale: upon being approached by the Grim Reaper, Rimmer actually looked as though he might literally face death with dignity for a change... up until he's helped to his feet, whereupon he knees Death in the balls and runs away.
- Rome: Marcus Tullius Cicero, who goes so far as to rebuke a loyal slave trying to defend him for making a fool of himself.
Octavian: Your life is over. You stand at Pluto's gate. Do you wish to sully his door with lies?
- Extra points for being partly Truth in Television.
- Octavian and Pullo invoke this when interrogating the man they suspect to be Lucius's real father.
- A Sliders episode has a "bubble" universe form around Quinn and Maggie about the life together they never had. Meanwhile, the real Quinn and Maggie are dying, as their life force is being drained by this new reality. A man arrives to help them and reveals he's the son of the Quinn and Maggie from the "bubble" universe. He takes the team to his universe and lets the two Quinns and Maggies interact. They reveal that they have chosen to restore the real Quinn and Maggie by unraveling their own reality, basically erasing their entire universe out of existence. Before the end, they thank their son for making this sacrifice (they themselves having lived a long and happy life together). Their son doesn't mind doing this and reads his father's favorite poem before the end.
- A rare villainous example in Sons of Anarchy, in the last episode of season 3, the Sons assassinate the two antagonists of the season, Jimmy O'Phelan and ATF Agent June Stahl. Stahl breaks down crying and begs for her life, but Jimmy barely seems to care, even when his mortal enemy pulls knives on him. Then again, as a crimelord and high ranking IRA officer, Jimmy had probably long ago made peace with the fact that he would not die a natural death.
- Earlier in the series Weston fits this trope to the point that you almost feel sorry for him, despite his being a white supremacist, rapist, and all around scum bag.
- Played with in the first season finale of Stargate SG-1:
O'Neill: So what do we do now?Bra'tac: Now, we die.*beat*O'Neill: Well that's a bad plan. Where's the glider bay?
- In another episode, Teal'c is captured by another Jaffa (played by Wayne Brady), who tells Teal'c that, for his betrayal, Teal'c will die a slow death. Teal'c promises the Jaffa that he will die quickly. Naturally, at the end, Teal'c makes good on his promise. Just before expiring, the Jaffa calmly notes that Teal'c is a man of his word.
- Teal'c manages to pull it off in another episode where he has been put on trial by the inhabitants of a planet his former master had systematically terrorised. He admits his guilt and stoically accepts his execution for his role in the atrocities, even though he tried to use what little power he had to mitigate the terror inflicted. He offers no resistance at all and is ready to accept his punishment for what he did. He avoids his fate though when Apophis launches another attack on the village and he fights his former master off, protecting the villagers from him, before calmly taking his place to be executed. The man who had demanded the execution has a change of heart and lets Teal'c go.
- Crowley in the Supernatural episode "Meet the New Boss". When Castiel pays him a visit, Crowley know that the jig is up. He doesn't resist and prepares for the ensuing smiting. Subverted, as Castiel doesn't kill him, but orders Crowley to work for him instead.
- In "Yellow", one of the few episodes of Tales from the Crypt not to feature any supernatural elements, a lieutenant (Eric Douglas) in the trenches in World War I is found guilty of cowardice in a court-martial after abandoning men under his command to die, and sentenced to death by firing squad. His father, a general (played by Douglas' real-life father, Kirk Douglas), tells him that he will order the guns loaded with blanks and leave a pack in the trench into which he should fall after being "shot" so that he can leave the army, as he wishes. He is therefore able to face his firing squad with quiet dignity. At least until he sees his father close his eyes and turn away on the word "Aim", and realizes a split second before the guns fire that they are actually loaded with live ammunition, and the "escape" plan was a ploy by his father to get him to face death with dignity in the only brave act of his life.
- Thomas More, Bishop Fisher, George and Anne Boleyn on The Tudors.
- The Walking Dead: Merle, having suffered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from the Governor and facing down his gun, merely says that he isn't going to beg.
- The Wire features this with several characters, all of whom get some very impressive lines before they go:
Stringer: Well, get on with it, motherfu- (Gets shot.)Bodie: Yo, this is my corner. I ain't runnin' nowhere!Snoop: How my hair look, Mike?Michael: You look good, girl. (Shoots.)
- Several characters in The Twilight Zone (1959) have this happen; the series usually uses this trope in synonym with true moral goodness and/or spirituality, and occasionally Death Equals Redemption.
- One episode of Scrubs has a Character Of The Week, a terminally ill patient who's projected life expectancy was, at best, barely a full day. J.D. and Turk, the patient's attending physician and surgeon, are quickly reminded of their own mortality and fear death much like the patient. However, the three of them spend the last few hours having a quiet, philosophical conversation on the matter, ending with the patient rolling over to take a nap. This is after J.D. has informed him that his body will gradually become more fatigued until he falls asleep, never to wake up again. The patient is sober but extremely calm, even saying he'll see J.D. and Turk when he wakes up, even though all three of them know that's not going to happen.
- In "Daughter of Evil" by mothy, we have the Riliane's death. She doesn't put up a fight when she's captured, seems rather bored while waiting for it, and when the time does come, she calmly says, "Oh, it's tea time," right before they cut her head off. However, in the P.O.V. Sequel "Servant of Evil," it's revealed that it wasn't the princess at all - it was her twin brother, Allen, the servant who vowed to protect her, which eventually involved such extremes as killing his own foster father. Naturally, he saved her from death, too, by dressing in her clothes (because she and Allen have similar figures) and giving her his, effectively reversing roles.
- From Vocaloid in general, Gakupo's cover of The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku is at a slower pace than the others who almost always sing the song extremely fast. The song is about a Vocaloid "being deleted," but unlike the other versions this one makes Gakupo sound rather calm about his fate.
- The folksong MacPherson's Lament is all about this trope, and how death is better than life in a cell.
Farewell, ye dungeons dark and strong
A wretch's destinie!
MacPherson's time will no' be long
On yonder gallows tree
So farewell, night, thou parting light,
And all beneath the sky,
May coward's shame disdain the name
O' the wretch that dares not die!
A wretch's destinie!
MacPherson's time will no' be long
On yonder gallows tree
So farewell, night, thou parting light,
And all beneath the sky,
May coward's shame disdain the name
O' the wretch that dares not die!
- Peter Schilling's "Terra Titanic" has a metaphorical end-of-the-world scenario with this line "...while the captain adjusts his tuxedo a bit, with his glass raised up high as the ice water hits."
- Queen's swan song, "The Show Must Go On", is about facing death with dignity. Freddie Mercury sang this song as he was in the end stages of AIDS and was practically at death's door, but you'd never know it just by listening.
- The final David Bowie album, Blackstar, is essentially him taking his impending death and turning it into one final album in the only way he knew how: writing awesome music.
- The song "A Sovereign Act" by Cormorant invokes this trope, as it is about the Death With Dignity Act.
Myths & Religion
- Older Than Feudalism, since Aslan's sacrifice was inspired by Jesus in The Bible.
- When the soldiers came to kill Jezebel, she faced them while wearing her full royal attire. The affect was sort of diminished after centuries of this being interpreted as her being a prostitute.
- Many of the Christian martyrs during the Roman persecutions faced public execution in arenas with quiet dignity and firm resolve. This turned out to have great proselytizing force: criminals normally begged and pleaded when they were put to death, but the dignity with which these Christians died for their beliefs was remarkable to the crowds, many of whom therefore started to wonder if there was something to this new religion.
- Rabbi Akiva. Even as the Romans were torturing him to death, he did not beg or plead. He simply recited the Shema, the last words a Jew is supposed to say before death.
- Socrates also managed to pull this off, at least if Plato's accounts are to be believed.
- An awesome quote from Epictetus: "I must die. But must I die bawling?"
- The famous 1938 The War of the Worlds radio broadcast includes a scene where a radio reporter describes the Martian tripods advancing into New York City, gassing all the unfortunate humans in their path. He knows he's going to die ("This is the end, now"), but stays on the air until overcome by Martian poison gas.
- From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin are being eaten by the Ravenous Bug Blatter Beast Of Traal:
Trillian: Arrrgghh, he's got us! If I ever survive this, I'll get a job as Moby Dick's dentist!
Zaphod: Can it Trillian, I'm trying to die with dignity.
Marvin: (rather unimpresseively) I'm just trying to die.
- In Macbeth, the play begins in the aftermath of the defeat of an invasion of Scotland by forces from Norway and Ireland, joined by the rebel Scottish lord Macdonwald. Though he remains an off-screen character, Macdonwald is captured after the battle and executed. The messenger who reports his final moments is utterly moved by how dignified and accepting he was of his fate. At the end of the play Macbeth himself realizes that he is going to die fighting Mac Duff, the result of an Exact Words prophecy — but instead of begging or lamenting it, decides to die fighting with a sword in his hand.
- Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, after he becomes determined to pay his "bond" to Shylock. Subverted in that he doesn't die.
- In The Lion in Winter, as Henry II's sons are hiding in the cellar waiting for him to come and kill them, Richard the Lionheart says he won't go down hiding like a coward and will face their father when he arrives, knowing he will die. The cynical Geoffrey scoffs at this, asking what difference it makes what manner you die in. Richard counters that because you don't get to choose if you die, you only get to choose the manner you face it with, then yes, the manner is the only thing that matters.
- Assassin's Creed III:
- Charles Lee, the Big Bad of Connor's story, waits in a tavern for Connor to catch up to him, as both are severely injured and unable to fight or, indeed, run. He calmly shares a drink with Connor before the latter finishes him off with a knife, leaving him to "die in retirement", as happened in real life.
- Desmond calmly accepts the fate that will befall him when he chooses to save the world. His penultimate act is to send his friends away so that they, unlike him, will survive.
- Implied in case of the Songbird in Bioshock Infinite. When Elizabeth transports it to Rapture, it first flails around violently, still trying to get to Elizabeth. But as it is crushed to death by the pressure of the ocean, its eyes switch from red to green and Songbird accepts its fate as Elizabeth comforts it in its final moments.
- Mondo Oowada from Danganronpa. While he did have a breakdown upon being found out and trialed, he recovered from that and remained stoic and quiet as he was subjected to a Cruel and Unusual Death.
- Subverted by Celestia "Celes" Ludenberg. She makes no effort to escape her fate, in her case being burned at the stake. She stands still with her hands steepled and looking up dramatically as her romanticized death approaches... but since she wants to go out with dignity, Monokoma pulls a bait-and-switch just to be an asshole and rams a fire truck into her instead of letting her burn to death. The manga shows us her face as this happens — she's obviously unhappy.
- To say nothing of the creepy smile of Junko Enoshima, the mastermind, during the Super Duper Nasty Torture. Up until almost the end, she was grinning.
- In the sequel, Super Danganronpa 2, the culprits of the Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 murders, ( Gundam Tanaka and Nanami Chiaki, respectively) also go out this way. In Gundam's case, it was because he knew he was guilty, and only murdered mecha-Nidai to try to save the other students from starvation. He almost has a record for being one of the first to concede to his crimes after being found out—after all, that was his intention. In Nanami's it was because it was an accident, rigged by Komaeda during his almost-suicide, to try to get her to graduate; she just went along with her upcoming death, barely showing any emotions. In chapter 5, Monomi was also executed and also barely cried for it.
- Subverted by Celestia "Celes" Ludenberg. She makes no effort to escape her fate, in her case being burned at the stake. She stands still with her hands steepled and looking up dramatically as her romanticized death approaches... but since she wants to go out with dignity, Monokoma pulls a bait-and-switch just to be an asshole and rams a fire truck into her instead of letting her burn to death. The manga shows us her face as this happens — she's obviously unhappy.
- A nameless engineer or technician of some kind gets this in spades in Dead Space 2. After being badly injured, he leaves a recording that shows him demonstrating how to use kinesis to tear blades off of dead necromorphs and impale others with them. He then says that he's going to bleed out soon, but he hopes that whoever sees his recording finds it useful.
- Multiple examples in Dragon Age series:
- If you decide to execute Teyrn Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins after defeating him in a duel of honor, he'll spend his last moments saying goodbye to his daughter and says that he can die in peace knowing that the Grey Warden is up to the task of stopping the Blight.
- In Dragon Age II, if you kill Anders after he blows up the Chantry, he quietly and calmly accepts it. If you romanced him, he will even say "I'm glad it's you."
- In Origins, Wynne has good reasons to believe that her health is rapidly deteriorating and it is unlikely that she'll survive much longer than the defeat of the Darkspawn horde. If the Warden asks her why she's spending her last days traveling and fighting, her response is: "I will not lie motionless in a bed with coverlets up to my chin, waiting for death to claim me." And indeed, she doesn't. In Asunder, she finally dies after accomplishing what is declared impossible by the rules of the universe: bringing a dead person (namely, her estranged son's love interest) back to life.
- The Elder Scrolls:
"And Sotha Sil...he always thought himself our better, shunning us, locking himself in this hole. He spoke not a word as he died. Not a whisper. Even in death, he mocked me with his silence!"
- In Morrowind:
"Let the Dragonborn be the one to do it. It would make for a better song."
- In Oblivion: At the beginning of the game, Emperor Uriel Septim VII who from the intro knows his death is coming. Even as his guards try to smuggle him out and save him, he knows they Can't Fight Fate, so his last moments are spent giving instructions to the PC so that he might avert the consequences his death will have.
- When you encounter Emperor Titus Mede II in the finale of the Dark Brotherhood quest, he tells you that he's long since accepted his fate, talks to you in a calm and friendly manner and is completely unimpressed by you trying to intimidate him. The only thing he asks of you is to kill the person who ordered the contract on him and he only asks you to merely consider it. Of course, this scene is something of a callback to the one from Oblivion above.
- Also from Skyrim, there's this gem, from Ulfric Stormcloak:
"My ancestors are smiling at me, Imperial. Can you say the same?"
- Happens at the very beginning of the game. During the public execution, as the priest prays for the Stormcloaks, one of them just forces his way to the front of the execution line and demands that they shut up and get on with it, because he hasn't got all day.
- Dick Richardson, president of the Enclave and Non-Action Big Bad of Fallout 2, is utterly devoted to his mission of wiping out every mutant (read: anyone who's not the Enclave) in the Wasteland so the "pure" Americans can retake America, and he'll tell a Power Armor-wearing Chosen One wielding a gatling laser right to their face that he's perfectly willing to die for his cause.
- In Fallout 4, when a Brotherhood of Steel Paladin Danse discovers that he is a synth, an android that the Brotherhood is dedicated to eradicating, he willingly allows himself to be executed by you, so that the Commonwealth can be a safer place.
- In the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, the final choice is between this, mixed with Taking You with Me, and desperately struggling like a frightened animal in a cage. You die and the game itself openly (and hilariously) insults you if you choose to go with this trope.
- Assassin is a big-time believer in this trope, even stating outright that the best thing you can do when you're dying anyway is to be dignified about it.
- Final Fantasy VII. Rufus Shinra as he stands atop the Shinra tower, seeing lethal blasts from Diamond Weapon headed his direction. He does not so much as flinch, calmly awaiting his end.
- Though it turns out in Advent Children he actually survived, making him even more badass than he was.
- In Final Fantasy XII, Judge Drace accepts her condemnation, knowing that Gabranth will take care of Larsa in her stead.
- In all routes of Hakuouki that get that far, Kondou Isami surrenders himself to the Imperial Army to allow his subordinate Hijikata to escape with the rest of the Shinsengumi. Hijikata tries to get him freed, but fails, and recounts to the other characters how Kondou asked for the right to commit seppuku, was rudely denied that right by his captors who refused to recognize him as a samurai, and responded by politely asking to at least be allowed to shave and going to his beheading with all possible dignity.
- In Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Richter faces both their potential and actual death peacefully.
- In Hotline Miami, he calmly tells Jacket, whose girlfriend he was forced to kill, that he won't beg for his life, and instead awaits Jacket's decision. Canonically, Jacket spares him.
- In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, he greets Richard, who may be the Grim Reaper, very calmly, and when told he is about to die, accepts his impending fate without complaint or fear.
- Throughout Lunar: Eternal Blue, a primary antagonist has been opposing you at every turn, working towards bringing Zophar back into power. However, in your final encounter with him, you learn that he's secretly been opposing Zophar, who literally is supplying him with his life, and once he knows that the world of Lunar is in good hands with Hiro and company, he willingly accepts his death, fading from existence unmourned.
Ghaleon: Are you watching in secret, Dyne? These children shine with your light...
- Happens all the time in Mass Effect 3. Right from the beginning things are looking really bleak and though preparations are running at high speed to attempt the use of an ancient super weapon, chances that the Reapers can be stopped are growing lower every hour. Complete annihilation of all spacefaring species appears inevitable, but everyone is taking it surprisingly well, keeping calm and doing whatever they can to slow down the Reaper advance as much as they can.
Shepard: I am sorry.Mordin: I'm not. Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.
- Mordin goes into a collapsing tower in order to cure the Genophage.
- Averted if Shepard shoots him. His death has... less dignity.
- Thane Krios was already terminally ill in the second game and if he survived he's nearing his end by now. When Kai Leng attempts to assassinate the salarian councilor, he shows up and gets into an amazing swordfight. Because of his illness, the stab wound he receives is fatal, but he lives long enough for Shepard to visit him in the hospital as he dies in his typical calm manner, saying a prayer for Shepard with his last breaths.
- The Krogans are undergoing quite a substantial amount of Character Development, to a great deal thanks to this trope. In the first two games they appear almost entirely as Blood Knights who would rather die in battle than see their race succumbing to the long-term effects of a bio-weapon. Any battle would do. But faced with an enemy they can actually fight, they are much more disciplined and charge into entire swarms of Husks without hesitation or concern for their own safety, as long as it helps protecting their world.
- Even the Catalyst, the Bigger Bad of the entire series responsible for the Reaper Cycle, calmly accepts that Shepard has all but won at that point, and simply tells him his options. Maybe.
- While Faceless Mooks simply fall over and die, there is no Instant Death Bullet for bosses in the Franchise//Metal Gear series. While some chose to go out with a bang, many other decide to face their final moments with dignity, making for some of the most memorable death scenes in video games. It also fits the series' highly pacifistic tone.
- Probably the greatest example is The Boss, who is essentially taking this attitude for the whole game. She knows that she has to die, and it has to be at the hands of her favorite student and almost-son. Not once does she ever break down over this, and at the end of their final fight, she peacefully hands her gun to Snake and, almost comfortingly, tells him to finish his mission.
- The fate of the Barrier Trio in MOTHER 3:
The Barrier Trio strikes one final Barrier Pose!
It was spectacular.
- Narcissu is mainly about the terminally ill Setsumi's wish to give her death meaning by dying somewhere other than the hospice or at home.
- John Marston in Red Dead Redemption. After buying his family time to escape from government soldiers coming to kill John for his 'crimes', John takes shelter in the family barn before facing down a platoon of US soldiers and two Government agents, knowing full well he will be torn to pieces. But that's not to say he went peacefully.
- Discussed in Resonance of Fate; after she saves him from being killed by Lagerfeld, Leanne tearfully berates Zephyr for wanting to die, telling him that if he is going to die, he should at least "die with courage."
- Eileen from Silent Hill 4 walks steadily to her death towards the Giant Machine of Doom in the final battle against Walter, but she's technically possessed. In the third game, Claudia goes willingly to her death, even though she's absolutely certain she's going to Hell.
- In Touhou Mother, YOU have to do this at the end of the game, when you are robotocised by Porkey and the rest of Gensokyo attack you, thinking you are the last remaining enemies. It is quite possibly the saddest moment in any fangame ever.
- Episode 6 of Umineko: When They Cry has a surprising one in Furudo Erika. Previously the perfect example of Smug Snake, Defective Detective and Lack of Empathy, by the end of the story she's been shot, is dying, and knows it. So she gets up and challenges Beatrice and Battler one last time despite knowing she's going to lose and be erased, saying that as a villain she needs to die to the heroes dramatically.
- In Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, rebellion leader Natalia turns herself in toward the beginning for execution, so that her troops will be spared. No matter which version of the chapter you're playing in, they end up being killed anyway, and her ally tries to rescue her. Whose side you picked determines whether he's successful or not.
- In the Bad Ending of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Colonel Blair is taken to his execution by firing squad.
Squad captain: "Blindfold?"Blair: No.
- This is a running theme in Wing Commander: The good guys fight like hell to live but if they lose, they face their death with a stoic's resolve; the bad guys beg, plead, or if they can't escape, take matters into their own hands. Chris Roberts definitely seems to approve of facing death with dignity.
- In the Downer Beginning of Wolfenstein: The New Order, if you choose Fergus in the Sadistic Choice, he's all over this trope. It turns out later on that he didn't actually die, but his brain was preserved by Deathshead to be used in a combat robot which serves as the game's pen-ultimate boss.
"It's okay, Blazko. It's war. People die. My time's up, is all."
- A rare mook example in XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the Thin Man interrogation scene. While all other aliens freak out in containment, to the point of trying to attack the robotic arms used in the procedure, this dude simply sneers contemptuously and approaches the glass, as if to say something. Then, the metal panel closes.
- The Talos Principle: The entire human race, or at least those working and communicating with the EL project. Unlike most apocalyptic stories there is no mention of riots or the collapse of civilization. Whatever plague was killing humanity did so at a rate where basic services and food were still available for a while and the internet was still functional. Once it became clear that the human race was going extinct, the logs of the project team are filled with stories of love, of what they'll miss, and the hopes of what might come of the project. One even comments on how in the last days the entire world effectively joined online to send as much data as they could to the Archive to preserve as much knowledge as possible for whoever found it. When communications did start breaking down, the logs turned into goodbyes as staff members either committed suicide peacefully, left the facility to be with their loved ones in their last days, or in Alexandra's case died at her workstation trying to complete the Talos project.
- Actually subverted in Danganronpa with Celeste, who calmly bids the remaining students farewell and prepares to die a romanticized death by burning at the stake... but since that's how she wants to go out, Monokoma pulls a bait-and-switch and rams a fire truck into her instead of letting her burn to death.
- In Grisaia no Rakuen, when told to chase down Amane to preserve the secret of the bus crash group's cannibalism and then to kill Kazuki for the same reason, Sakuma just gives up and says no. She's not going to do it. For her refusal, she's stabbed by Sakashita, but even then she just quietly repeats that they've done enough and to just let it go.
- Boris tries to do this in Girl Genius when he is caught trying to betray the Jagers, whom he believes are being manipulated by the Big Bad. The reason he only tries is that they don't want to kill him, since their reputation as bloodthirsty killers is, in part, Obfuscating Stupidity and his evidence that they are being used is far more interesting to the Jager Generals than keeping up appearances.
- Part of the reason that even many Order of the Stick fans who disliked Anti-Villain Miko Miyazaki were saddened by her death was that she faced it with dignity, even though her attempt at Heroic Sacrifice inadvertently caused Xykon's victory and, even while dying, she refused to admit that she had ever done wrong.
- In Ask Serious Rainbow Rainbow Flash did this after Twilight tortured her and left her to bleed to death, leaving her final words on a tape recording and absolving her friends of any role in her murder, before asking Pinkie to Mercy Kill her. This impressed a god enough that he gives Rainbow Flash a new chance at life as Rainbow Dash, who eventually becomes Serious Rainbow.
- Carmilla the Series shows Danny, having been just backstabbed by Smug Snake Theo, spending her last moments trying to comfort a distraught Laura who, falsely believing Carmilla has abandoned her, is in the process of crossing a Despair Event Horizon.
- Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel dies alone, scared, humiliated and tearful, but calls out everything wrong with his ending by making sure his author knows how what an awful writer he is for this.
- For their part, Tacoma, Quinn, Karl and Rebecca lie-reassure him that they'll be fine and he'll see them again before fading away into nothing.
- In Freddie Wong's Medal of Honor Cat, the titular character manages this, despite being a cat. He stares directly into the scope of the sniper that's about to shoot him, with a look that promises the gunner a much less one-sided rematch in the afterlife.
- The choose-your-own-adventure zombie game The Sagittarian 2 has one ending in which you're bitten and immediately confronted by another survivor. Your two options are to allow him to kill you or to try to fight for survival. Both come to the same ending, but one allows you to face it with dignity.
- Tabletop had an episode where Wil and friends play the Dragon Age tabletop RPG, with a scenario involving a mysterious ghost tower. The group concludes that the tower came from the Fade and then ponder about what would happen if the tower goes back to the Fade. Wil suggests that if they are destined to, they shall go with the Fade... Cue his party immediately rejecting that idea.
- Not all of them actually die, but everyone in To Boldly Flee. The reviewers go into the Plot Hole talking about their first reviews, the villains end up quoting Shakespeare, and The Nostalgia Critic makes a Peaceful in Death Heroic Sacrifice.
- He got saved both times, but Critic tried for the trope even earlier in Suburban Knights, when he was all-too-willing to get stabbed in the neck or beheaded by the pitiful Jaffers.
- In Worm, while completely at the nonexistent mercy of Jack Slash, Theo tells him to his face that if he were to acquire powers and become a hero he would kill Jack. His audacity impresses Jack enough that he spares Theo to give him a chance to make good on it.
- Red vs. Blue:
- During The Chorus Trilogy, the normally cowardly General Doyle decides to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save the rest off the army by attaching an explosive charge to their base's nuclear reactor to wipe out a good portion of the enemies army and by his comrades time to regroup, while calmly telling his former enemy Kimball that she is the better leader for their people.
- Epsilon allows his consciousness to be once again broken into the A.I. Fragments, so they could better power the team's equipment, so his friends will at least have a fighting chance during their Last Stand. In his last moment, he depressingly monologues to himself, that he will die not even knowing if his sacrifice even made a difference, but does it anyway, even if it sucks.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Admiral Zhao chose to die with dignity rather try to let Zuko save him as the Moon Spirit dragged him down to his watery grave. Though he was a pretty stupid guy, so...
- Dinobot in Beast Wars, by virtue of a Heel–Face Turn from the Predicons, is in no danger from their meddling time travel ways and didn't need to fight them all in single combat with no support and damaged beyond repair systems. In fact, a good deal of his troubles would be dealt with if he did nothing about it. But then there's what he could have done, and what he did.
- In the most badass instance ever in his animated filmography, Donald Duck does this with great patriotism and pride in the short "Commando Duck".
- Kinda adverted, but in the series finale of Gravity Falls, the reporter Sandra Jimenez broke into Bill Cipher's lair, and when she was being turned into stone by an eyebat, she just accepts it, probably knowing that it would happen eventually. This is later adverted again with Bill who freaks out when he is being erased from inside Stan's mind
- Quite a few characters in Exo Squad.
- A variation on this in The Legend of Korra: Lin defies Amon to the very end and suffers what is, for many benders, A Fate Worse Than Death. Unlike every other victim of Amon's, she doesn't beg or plead, she just calmly closes her eyes and accepts it.
- Canard Thunderbeak from The Mighty Ducks, when it looked like the team was going to all be eaten alive by a giant energy absorbing monster. He decided to give the thing something else to eat, himself.
- Happens twice with Mike Chilton in the Motorcity finale. First when he's falling from a building after Kane tosses him, we see him shut his eyes calmly before he's rescued by the Duke of Detroit. The second is a subversion though as he appears to self-destruct Mutt with himself inside to blow up Kane's machine, although he manages to escape with Chopper-Mutt as planned.
Mike: *to his dog bobble-head* "Sorry girl, we had a real good ride though, didn't we?"
- Sheriff Silverstar in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. When out of ammunition (pies) and faced with a charging Buffalo chief, he just takes off his hat and closes his eyes. He is saved by a fellow townspony, but still counts.
- Pinky and the Brain's The Brain's left defeated, picking garbage out for his meals, after outright losing—not just failing to take over the world, but losing it—to an Evil Counterpart. He's then greeted by a pack of alley cats. His intended last words, from inside a cat's mouth: "Go on, end it now!" The cats decline, and when he finds he's alive, he finally gets into the third act to save his world.
- Tom and Jerry short "The Duck Doctor" has it happening to Tom. Having no hope to escape a falling anvil, Tom dug himself a grave, blindfolded himself and had a last smoke. Then the anvil hit him on the head, making him fall inside his grave, which made the dug Earth jump onto him, completing the burial and then the anvil fell in a position to serve as a tombstone.
- In the Season 6 premiere episode of The Venture Bros., Jonas Venture Jr., already dying of cancer, and General Treister go out in a blaze of glory, moving the reactor core of Gargantua-2 to a safe distance before meltdown. Jonas says one last goodbye to his brother Rusty (making the trademark "Go Team Venture" gesture) and calmly shuts his eyes as the end draws near. Treister rides the space station into the wild yonder, exulting in the fact that cancer isn't what's going to kill him.
- The Family Guy episode "Road To Las Vegas" revolves around Stewie using an experimental teleporter to take himself and Brian to Las Vegas for a Céline Dion concert. Unbeknownst to them, the teleporter actually creates a set of copies which are sent to Vegas, while the originals remain behind and are forced to use air travel to Vegas, thinking that the teleporter didnt work. The original Stewie and Brian have an increasingly miserable time until they find themselves in debt to a loanshark with no means of paying him back and decide to face death on their own terms and commit suicide. However, Stewie wusses out at the last moment, leading to only Brian dying. Meanwhile, the copies have a very successfull Vegas trip, until Stewie is murdered by the loanshark the originals hired, with only Brian surviving. He ends up reuniting with Stewie at a bus terminal where they figure out what actually happened.
- There is an old saying: "If you have to die, at least do it with some dignity"
- The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. The group became known for an anonymous leaflet campaign, lasting from June 1942 until February 1943, that called for active opposition to dictator Adolf Hitler's regime. The six core members of the group were arrested by the Gestapo and they were executed by decapitation in 1943. One of them, Sophie Scholl's, last words (aged only 21) were:
- "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"
- Marie Antoinette. Her last words were an apology to her executioner since she accidentally stepped on his foot.
- How defeated Romans were supposed to die. Many did.
- Julius Caesar pulled his toga over his face as he lay on the floor of Pompey's Theater.
- In the resulting civil wars when Mark Antony sent assassins to execute Cicero, they caught up with him before he could escape, the pro-Senate faction was losing, he was already an old man, and he realized all was lost. Therefore when they arrived Cicero made no desperate last attempt to run, but calmly said to his assassin: "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly". He then willingly bent his head down and presented his neck, a gladiatorial gesture that he would not resist being beheaded. Unfortunately, his assassin did not return his gracious gesture: he stabbed him to death first so he would suffer, then beheaded him.
- The sinking of RMS Titanic provides a whole wealth of examples. For a comprehensive list, see the Useful Notes page for Titanic.
- When the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sank in 1915, wealthy businessman Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt gave up his life jacket to a woman with a baby, and was last seen buckling her into it. He did this knowing that he could not swim and would surely die.
- This was one reason Charles I attracted such acclaim after his execution, with the pamphlets that came out almost immediately only increasing the effect. He was mostly unimpressive physically and mentally unexceptional, and he had a perpetual nervous stammer. Until, that is, his trial, where he conducted himself with more assurance and dignity his opponents had expected and lost his stammer, and on his execution day met his fate stoically, even asking for an extra shirt so that people would not mistake his shivering at the cold for fear.
- Most accounts claim that Sir Thomas More died this way. Anne Boleyn as well.
- Emperor Maximilian of Mexico pulled this trope off as well. After refusing to flee his adopted country with the retreating French, knowing full well that he'd be captured and probably executed by the Republicans, Maximilian's last words were a public forgiveness of his executioners and the cry of "Viva Mexico, viva la independencia!" The two generals executed with him also got in on this, shouting "Long live the Emperor!" before being shot.
- Those two generals were Tomás Mejía and conservative president Miguel Miramón (Mexico had a hobby in the 19th century of having two presidents: one "legal" and one opposing his government). Miramón was the youngest president (even if not recognized as one) Mexico ever had and was a veteran of the Battle of Chapultepec (yes, that battle). The real last words of Max were "¡Mexicanos! Muero por una causa justa: la de la independencia y libertad de México. ¡Ojalá que mi sangre selle las desgracias de mi nueva patria! ¡Viva México! (Mexicans! I die for a just cause: the independence and liberty of Mexico. I hope my blood seals forever the misfortunes of my new motherland. Long live Mexico!)". Miramóns words were "Mexicanos: en el Consejo, mis defensores quisieron salvar mi vida; aquí pronto a perderla, y cuando voy a comparecer delante de Dios, protesto contra la mancha de traidor que se ha querido arrojarme para cubrir mi sacrificio. Muero inocente de ese crimen, y perdono a sus autores, esperando que Dios me perdone, y que mis compatriotas aparten tan fea mancha de mis hijos, haciéndome justicia. ¡Viva México! (Mexicans in the Council, my supporters wanted to save my life; here soon to lose it, and when I stand before God, I protest against the stain of 'traitor' that was thrown upon me to cover my sacrifice. I die innocent of that crime, and forgive the perpetrators, hoping that God will forgive me, and that my compatriots depart such ugly stain from my children, making justice to me. Long live Mexico!)". Mejía said nothing and the three were executed, not before Maximilian paid his executors with a golden imperial coin each and asking them to shoot him in the heart so his mother could recognize him in heaven.
- In the Salem Witch Trials, Giles Corey was tortured for not offering a plea before his trial for witchcraft. English law at the time determined that a person could not be tried if they did not enter a plea, so they began pressing him (stacking stones onto his body) to get a plea out of him. Every time they asked, he simply responded "more weight." This went on for two days without, according to reports, him uttering a single pained sound. Finally he cried out "More weight!" and died. Since he couldn't be found guilty, his entire estate passed on to his sons rather than being seized by the government.
- Nathan Hale. While "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country" might be apocryphal, all involved in his hanging reported that he said something awesome before he died.
- John Andrè, a British soldier and agent who served as Benedict Arnold's contact as he prepared to join the Loyalists and who was also sentenced to death for spying when caught by the Continentals. Although his request to be executed by firing squad was denied, all present at his execution agreed he conducted himself with gentlemanly conduct, refusing a blindfold and placing the noose around his neck himself. When compared to Benedict Arnold, most Americans agreed that the wrong man had been executed.
- Marshal Michel Ney, 1st Duke of Elchinger and 1st Prince of Moscow, who was sentenced to death at the end of The Napoleonic Wars, requested to command his own firing squad. His last order: "Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, Fire!"
- Marshal Murat said, "Soldiers! Do your duty! Straight to the heart (beat) but spare the face. Fire!"
- Admiral John Byng, who faced a probably undeserved You Have Failed Me from King George II, was noted for his great dignity as he knelt on his own quarterdeck and was shot.
- Lawrence "Titus" Oates, a polar explorer on Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, was suffering from illness and realized that he was slowing his companions down. In hopes of saving their lives by allowing them to travel faster and reach the next food depot, he walked off into the Antarctic storm to his death, saying, "I am just going outside and may be some time." Though his companions later froze to death, Oates' actions were recorded in Scott's diary and he has since been held up as a paragon of personal sacrifice and dignity in death.
- Women from Samurai clans would sometimes kill themselves (by slitting their throats, in a somewhat lighter version of Seppuku known as jigai), if defeated (usually to prevent being raped by the enemy). They would tie their legs together so as not to convulse into an undignified spread-eagle position.
- Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, famously set himself on fire in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. Despite the fact that he was being burned to death, he remained completely calm and in a state of deep meditation.
- Mentioned above in fictionalised form, Marcus Tullius Cicero, is recorded as being caught in his palanquin by the man sent to kill him, extending his neck out to give him a better angle to strike at and saying "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly."
- The great film critic Roger Ebert decided to face his terminal cancer and his physical decline from it openly an with considerable grace. This included appearing an Esquire cover story showing with his jaw removed and having the director of the Documentary about himself, Life Itself, depict in his full undaunted decrepitude.
- Sirik Matak, Prime Minister of Cambodia, was executed by the Communists when they took over the country in 1975 after the United States abandoned Indochina. At the end, the United States offered to bring Matak to America. He refused. The courtesy and dignity of his refusal make it all the more harrowing, to the point where it doubles as a The Reason You Suck speech to the entire United States:
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can do nothing about it. You leave us and it is my wish that you and your country will find happiness under the sky. But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we are all born and must die one day. I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans. Please accept, Excellency, my dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.
- Sir Terry Pratchett, author of Discworld, refused to let an Alzheimer's diagnosis slow him down. He continued writing and appearing at conventions through the last few years of his life and became an outspoken advocate of the "Death With Dignity" movement, saying he'd rather end his life on his own terms than have his mind and body degenerate until he lost his identity. Eventually, he died peacefully of natural causes.
- House cats will often find some nook to hide in if they know they're going to die soon.
- This 5-year-old girl suffering from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease decides to die peacefully in her home over prolonged hospital treatment.
- On 25 September 1957, Karl P. Schmidt received a bite from a venomous boomslang snake while trying to identify it. Recording his symptoms hour-by-hour, Schmidt catalogs pain, fatigue, and bleeding from gums and nose as he returns home for his final night of life. The following morning he ate breakfast, returned to work at the Field Museum and worked until just before his death around 1:30 PM (approximately 24 hours following his bite).
- Patrick Swayze kept working despite fighting pancreatic cancer. When asked why he stayed signed on to the TV series The Beast, he answered, "How do you nurture a positive attitude when all the statistics say you're a dead man? You go to work."
- Richard Feynman was not at all keen on the idea of dying (when told he was suffering from two independent cancers he remarked "I would hate to die twice, it's such a bore"), but with his strength fading and the end obviously approaching fast, he choose to spend his last few days playing the bongos and singing silly songs about orange juice note . There is some video footage of his performance and you can see that he's clearly a man with few regrets and at peace with his coming end.
- Maximilian Kolbe was a Catholic priest condemned to Auschwitz. After an alleged escape note , the Nazis ordered ten men to be starved to death to discourage any further escapes. One of the men, a Polish Army sergeant, lamented that he had a wife and child. Thereupon, Kolbe went to the officer who had passed sentence at great personal risk of being shot to death on the spot and told him "This man has a wife and child. I am a Catholic priest, and have neither. Take me instead." In the starvation bunker, Kolbe led the other prisoners in prayer to keep their spirits up and ministered to them as they died. He was the last one left after three weeks, and the Nazis, fed up with his refusal to die, injected him with poison. His last breath was spent offering forgiveness to his executioners. The man whom he saved survived to be liberated by the Soviets note and lived long enough to be an honored guest at Kolbe's canonization in 1982.
- A rare villainous example was Henry Rinnan, a Norwegian Gestapo agent who was responsible for the deaths of at least thirteen Norwegian civilians and rebel agents. During his trial and execution, he was reported to have faced his fate with a chilling smile.