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Face Death with Dignity
"It seems like there are no chances, 10-20%. Let's hope that at least someone will read this. Here's the list of personnel from the other sections, who are now in the ninth and will attempt to get out. Regards to everybody. No need to be desperate."
Dmitri Kolesnikov, on the Kursk

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, I Don't Want to Die in which a person goes through an emotional breakdown as they die, 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.

As a Death Trope, many spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 Code Geass, Lelouch orders his own assassination.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 no Naku Koro ni: Rika in Meakashi-hen.
    • Later in the same arc, Satoko:
    "If stabbing me pleases you, then stab until your heart's content! But I will not cry! Never! Never!"
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Gold Roger from One Piece. In fact it's said to be a trait with many people with the middle inital 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Villain ous 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.
  • From Shaman King, when Silva was about to die, he simply smiles and allows Yoh to deal the final blow.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler qualifies as this since at the end of episode 24 of season one, 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.
  • 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.
  • Roy Fokker in 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.
  • Iason from Ai no Kusabi barely winces when 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. 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 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. They didn't even fight back, stating 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. 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.
  • In Bleach, Charlotte Cuulhorne tells the Shinigami who has fatally injured him in battle "You're such a piece of work" and smiles quietly as he fades away. Quite an odd contrast, considering how he was a Large Ham and had just gone through quite the Villainous Breakdown before Yumichika defeated him.
    • Despite having one of the most painful deaths in the seriesnote , Ulquiorra Cifer is able to remain poised and collected as he dies and even has a poignant moment with Orihime.
    • After having his arm ripped off and thrown through a building, Gin Ichimaru accepts his death gracefully after seeing Ichigo appear, ready to face Aizen.
  • 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.
  • Some of the pilots in Bokurano face their impending deaths this way. For example, Daiichi, before finishing off his opponent, 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's is Zearth's last fight ever.
  • In Anatolia Story, Ursula falsely confesses to assassinating the king, 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 beloved Kash meets her in prison the night before her execution, she tells him how 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.
  • 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. They spend their remaining moments happily playing games and die holding hands together.
  • Deconstructed in Attack on Titan. Being eaten by a Titan is a horrible way to die. Rarely does anyone have a calm, dignified response to their deaths, the majority of which are screaming, crying and begging. Eren's mother was initially relieved that at least her children 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.

    Comicbooks 
  • In 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 vengence. Knowing she would die regardless, she hires "The Salesman" to give her a Mercy Kill.
  • 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*
  • 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 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 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 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 All Fall Down, Siphon manages to achieve this.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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 apparantly 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.o
  • Calvin manages to do this at the end of "Our Solemn Hour" in Calvin & 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 dyes 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 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.

    Film 
  • In Back to the Future, Doc Brown when facing the terrorists.
  • 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.
  • Commander Kril in The Last Starfighter. Distinguished himself from his second-in-command by not panicking when facing imminent death.
    Kodan 2nd: The helm's not responding! We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull! What do we do?!
    Cmd. Kril: (calmly) We die.
  • Dark Victory is practically the Trope Namer.
    Judith: Is that you, Martha? I don't want to be disturbed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mary in Mary, Queen of Scots
  • In Inglourious Basterds, where the German sergeant Werner Rachtman prepares to face death with dignity, rather then betray the location of his comrades, while Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine goes "Donnie! 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:
    "There's a special circle in Hell for men who waste good Scotch."
  • Another Tarantino example: 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.
  • Ravenous: Captain John Boyd.
  • 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.
  • Many of the deaths in Titanic, 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
  • 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 Andersonville, a prison gang called The Raiders was put down. The gang was given a trial, and 6 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 idiotically lack of firearm disciplines. He doesn't know that events would conspire to give him a second chance.
  • 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.
    • One could say that Billy Fish also qualifies, showing no fear, wishing his companions the best of luck before before charging head-on and being mobbed to death.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dennis Hopper's character in True Romance on realizing he won't make it out alive.
  • 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.
  • Hans' wife faces her death with dignity in Seven Psychopaths.
  • In Ink, the Storyteller faces down the Prince while meeting his eyes, with her expression filled with nothing but stoic defiance.
  • Jor-El and Lara before Krypton blew up in Superman. A Mythology Gag with Lara in Man of Steel.
  • 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".
  • Dr. Ferreiro of Pan's Labyrinth has quite a dignified death:
    Captain Vidal: "No. You could have obeyed me."
    Dr Ferreiro: "I could have, but I didn't."
  • 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."

    Literature 
  • 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 a enormous amount of courage for him to do something so hard. But he made it through.
  • 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.
  • Occurs near the end of A Tale of Two Cities.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in Star Wars by 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.
    • Played straight by the 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."
  • 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.
  • Bartimaeus, in the end of Ptolemy's Gate.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The thane of Cawdor in the same.
    Nothing in his life became him as the leaving of it.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Rogues in the House Conan the Barbarian, assuming he sees his executioner, "surveyed him with interest."
  • 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 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.
  • In the Left Behind book series, this is common with Christian believers who become martrys in the Tribulation, much to the irritation of Nicolae Carpathia and the GC forces.
  • Enjolras and Grantaire definitely do this in Les Misérables. 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.
    • Also subverted with Javert, who is exposed as a spy at the barricades, and accepts his impending execution at the hands of the Amis with calm stoism. He is then saved from this fate by Valjean, who volunteers to be the one to do the deed but instead lets him free. Too bad that he doesn't take it well.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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."
  • 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 episodePassing 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.
  • Rome: Marcus Tullius Cicero, who goes so far as to rebuke a loyal slave trying to defend him for making a fool of himself.
    • 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.
    Octavian: Your life is over. You stand at Pluto's gate. Do you wish to sully his door with lies?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Thomas More and Anne Boleyn on The Tudors.
  • 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.)
  • 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, Isaac hat 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 limps 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."
  • 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.
    • 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:
    Harriet: Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister.
    • Although not technically "death", Yvonne Hartman faces her inevitable, painful conversion into a Cyber slave with nothing but dignity.
    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.
    • 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 cast,note  meets death with dignity.
    Blackadder: Good luck, everyone. [blows whistle]
    • Subverted, Word of God states that Blackadder pretended to be shot and when the gun fire stopped got up and walked away.
  • 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.
  • Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad. After 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Wilson in House: After his chemo doesn't work and his cancer becomes terminal, he decides to enjoy the 5 months he has left to live, rather than spend years wasting away in a hospital bed.

    Music 
  • In "Daughter of Evil" by mothy, we have the princess' 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, the servant who vowed to protect her and did damn near anything if she wanted it, including killing the girl he loved. Naturally, he saved her from death, too, by dressing in her clothes (because she and Len have similar figures) and giving her his, effectively reversing roles.
    • Speaking of Vocaloid, 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!
  • 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."

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy XII, Judge Drace accepts her condemnation, knowing that Gabranth will take care of Larsa in her stead.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • While Faceless Mooks simply fall over and die, there is no Instant Death Bullet for bosses in the Metal Gear Solid 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, a House Redoran quest has you convincing another member of the house to do this via a duel to the death in the arena. He will almost certainly die (unless you aid him from a distance.)
    • In The Elder Scrolls IV: 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.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, 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:
    "Let the Dragonborn be the one to do it. It would make for a better song."
    • 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
  • 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 suprisingly well, keeping calm and doing whatever they can to slow down the Reaper advance as much as they can.
    • Mordin goes into a collapsing tower in order to cure the Genophage.
    Shepard: I am sorry.
    Mordin: I'm not. Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.
    • 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 recieves 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.
  • In all routes of Hakuōki 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.
  • 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.
      • To say nothing of the creepy smile of Junko Enoshima, the mastermind, during the Super Duper Nasty Torture.
    • In the sequel, Super Dangan Ronpa 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. In chapter 5, Monomi was also executed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Umineko Episode 6 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...

    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.
  • 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?"

    Webcomics 
  • Part of the reason that even many Order of the Stick fans who disliked Base Breaker 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 she never said that she had done wrong.
  • 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.

    Web Originals 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This also happens in Toy Story 3, when all the toys are about to fall into the incinerator.
  • 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...
  • In the most badass instance ever in his animated filmography, Donald Duck does this with great patriotism and pride in the short "Commando Duck".
  • Quite a few characters in Exo Squad.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • 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 Snow Queen (2012), Vergard and Una embrace and say they love each other before the North Wind kills them.

    Real Life 
  • 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 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.
    • Many nobles and other people executed during the Reign of Terror were similarly dignified. Some credit the beginning of the end of the Reign to one woman who didn't go out with dignity, and instead screamed, begged, and fought all the way, and helped awaken the mob to the horror of the executions.
      • That woman, ironically enough, was Jeanne Bécu, aka Madame du Barry, who died two months after the Queen. Better known as The Mistress to King Louis XV in his last years, which made Marie Antoinette (at the time merely the Dauphine) du Barry's Privileged Rival for the aging king's affections. It didn't help that in the decades since she'd actually used her wealth to support the towns and neighborhoods she was known to reside in, as well as to send money to those who'd been displaced by the French Revolution. Hence, it was more obvious that the regime was only killing her for her money. Hence her reaction to the whole thing.
  • How defeated Romans were supposed to die. Many did.
  • The sinking of RMS Titanic provides a whole wealth of examples, a couple of the real standouts are:
    • Benjamin Guggenheim, who when he realised that escape was no longer an option returned to his cabin to change into his finest clothing. He handed a note to a survivor that stated, "Dressed in our best, going down like gentlemen". Guggenheim and his valet Victor Giglio were last seen seated in deck chairs in the Staircase sipping brandy and smoking cigars.
    • John Jacob Astor helped his pregnant young wife into a lifeboat, but was denied entry himself. He simply stood back, lit a cigarette and waved goodbye.
    • The Strauses: Ida was granted a seat in a lifeboat, but the officer in charge initially refused Isidor entry. This prompted Ida to give her seat up to remain with her husband. The officer relented and said that nobody would really object "an elderly gentleman" like Isidor taking a seat in the lifeboat, but he insisted that he would not leave the ship before the other men. Isidor tried to convince Ida to get back on the lifeboat, but she only responded, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." They both perished in the sinking.
    • A notorious subversion is J. Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Line, who climbed aboard a lifeboat and survived. He was pilloried for his actions which were seen as an act of supreme cowardice (though he got in the lifeboat after he had helped with the loading and lowering of several others and only when he was sure that no women were in the vicinity) and he was never welcome in polite society again. He eventually died alone.
      • One possible reason for his pillorying may have been that he had a fairly poisonous feud with William Randolph Herst.
    • Senior Marconi Operator Jack Phillips stayed at his post and continued to key out his distress call even as the fading power made the radio inoperable. The (equally heroic but somewhat more fortunate) junior operator Harold Bride had this to say about him:
      The water was pretty close up to the boat deck. There was a great scramble aft and how poor Phillips worked through it I'll never know. I learned to love him that night, I suddenly felt for him a great reverence. To see him there, sticking to his work while everyone else was raging about, I'll never live to forget the work Phillips did in those last 15 minutes.
  • 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 face 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 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 a famous example from America's history, Giles Corey was tortured for not offering a plea before his trial for witchcraft. 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.
    • On the British side we have 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, 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!"
  • 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 palunquin 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."


Adieu.
Even Evil Has StandardsDignity TropesFamily Honor
Electrified BathtubChoosing DeathForgiveness Requires Death
Explosive StupidityDeath TropesFaking the Dead
Dying Moment of AwesomeTear JerkerFace-Heel Turn

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