: [gathers Alice in his arms
] "Alice! What's wrong?"
or if that's obvious "Hang in there! I'll get help." Alice
: "I'm cold... so cold..."
— Bob and the audience start to worry for real.
They're right to be bothered: Saying "I'm cold" means that a character is seriously unwell. It can be a sign
that a character will be Killed Off for Real
and these are their last words. When a new, unknown character says this it can even mean that they are a ghost. This is also something dead people are traditionally expected to tell anyone they talk to on the telephone.
This is because death
... is cold
There's sense in the trope: cold skin is a sign of shock. Coldness can also indicate blood loss or impaired blood circulation and, of course, corpses lack body-warmth. Additionally, a person suffering from a rising fever will feel cold and shiver. A mythological reason might be that Purgatory (which can sometimes include wandering the earth as a ghost) was depicted as being a cold and miserably damp place. Sleepiness or Blood from the Mouth
tend to go hand in hand with this. Perversely, one emergency that often does not feature this is hypothermia
: cold becomes an emergency if the victim stops being able to feel it, or too tired to shiver; in fact, exposure victims are often found partly undressed because the lowering of their internal temperature makes them feel too warm
A common variant, also due to the above, is "I'm tired...so tired."
Is dangerously on the verge of becoming Narm
See Evil Is Deathly Cold
for a motif. Compare Ghostly Chill
; and see Incurable Cough of Death
for another example of a symptom which is moderate in Real Life
but presented as a sure sign of death in the world of tropes.
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- A recent Pillsbury Pizza Pop ad has a young man cradling the head of a robot, whimpering his name, as the robot says that he can't feel his legs and is "so...cold". As it happens, an exploding pizza pop the robot was too slow to catch blew his body off.
Anime and Manga
- A scene in The Crow which was never adapted into the film: This trope invoked because of shock, bloodloss, and death when Eric removes one of his first targets at the shins. Quite possibly the most unpleasant scene of the lot.
- Justified in the second Silver Surfer series, when Frankie Raye, a fire elemental, is fatally injured◊. Her flame then starts to dwindle before dying out.
Films — Animated
- From Shark Tale (mafia movie about fish) we have this exchange:
Frankie: [dying] Lenny, is that you?
Lenny: I'm here, Frankie.
Frankie: Come closer.
Lenny: What is it, Frankie?
Frankie: I'm so cold.
Lenny: That's because we're cold-blooded.
Frankie: [Frankie slaps Lenny] Moron. [dies]
- Fly in Help! I'm a Fish! says a variation of this after sustaining a bad injury due to a crab.
Fly: I-is it getting cold?
Films — Live-Action
- In Catch-22, the rear gunner, Snowden, who Yossarian tries and fails to save mutters this repeatedly as Yossarian tries to patch up his leg. Yossarian thinks this is because they're high in the sky in the tail of a plane with holes shot it in it. It's also because the gunner has been nearly shot in half - though is still alive - and Yossarian doesn't realize he's had his gut torn open by shrapnel which got underneath his flak jacket.
Snowden: "I'm cold . . . I'm so cold . . ."
Yossarian: "Don't worry. Don't worry, you're gonna be fine."
Snowden: "I'M COLD!"
Yossarian: [panicky] "IT'S VERY WARM ON THIS PLANE!"
- While he never says the trope, the Marquis de Carabas from Neverwhere describes death as "very dark, and very cold".
- Animorphs has this in a rather chilling portion with this exchange:
So cold. Just... Can you just get me a blanket or... I'm scared. Does that... Does that make you happy, Andalite?
—> Jake: No. No, it doesn't make me happy.
- Although he never records himself saying these exact words, Frodo spends a lot of the time after he has been stabbed with the Morgul knife shivering and describing how cold he feels.
- Wuthering Heights.
'I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement....'I must stop it, nevertheless!' I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. 'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly....'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on the moor!'
- From Fool Moon:
Harry (thinking Murphy shot him): "I'm so cold."
Murphy (angry): "We're all cold, moron....it must be below forty, already, and we're wet besides."
- In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Prometheus does a variation of this with: "I'm tired now, so tired. It will be good to rest." He then proceeds to die in the arms of his daughter. Bonus points because the aforementioned daughter had just revived him, but he made her let him die.
- Last words of a Drachelander (German-descended) knight in the first book of the World of Tiers series, after he was swarmed by enemies and the protagonist arrived just too late to save him: "'siz kalt."
- Bill Bryson discusses the dangers of hypothermia to Appalachian Trail hikers in A Walk In The Woods, and the 'Paradoxical Undressing' phenomena (see below). He also recounts a day when he went off hiking and forget to pack his waterproofs. He gets soaked by the incessant drizzle and starts to lose track of time... it turns out that his watch had stopped.
- In the Redwall series book Lord Brocktree, Fleetscut dies with a smile on his face; "Funny. Don't feel hungry anymore. Jolly cold, wot!"
- Justified by Demnor in The Stone Prince even before he nearly dies of battle wounds; he's a Rebel Prince, and his very angry mother is the avatar of a fire god, able to withdraw Its warmth from her son.
- Inverted in The Lost Fleet: Geary feels increadibly cold after being revived from 100 years of being a Human Popsicle.
- The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Tatiana says this after Alexander rescues her from a bombed out building, but it's because she's in shock from several broken bones, not because she's near death. Shock can be life-threatening if not treated, but fortunately Alexander is there to share his bodily warmth.
- "Second Birth" by Obsidian Shell starts with "So cold... am I dying?"
- An infamous The Stephanie Miller Show sketch ends with Yogi Bear's sidekick Boo Boo being killed off by Sarah Palin; this phrase is part of his death scene.
- Somewhat subverted in the radio play version of the second (or fifth) Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke (still played by Mark Hamill) nearly freezes to death in the ice planet Hoth. As Han Solo finds him delirious in the snow, Luke moans about being cold, followed by "Warmer now," which causes a deeply concerned Han to yell "No, Luke, that means you're freezing!"
- In the musical Rent Mimi complains of being cold in the finale, where she appears to be on the edge of death but subverted in that she doesn't actually die.
- Invoked, then poignantly subverted in Puccini's Opera La Bohème (the 'original' Rent). As she lies dying, Mimi is 'cold, so cold' and longs at least to warm her hands. Her friends rush out to buy her a fur muff. She is happy, and murmurs as she drifts off to sleep that she feels warm at last. These are her last words - she dies quietly, while the dramatic focus is on the other characters.
- In Les Misérables, the dying Fantine tells Valjean that 'the night grows ever colder'. Whether this is an actual temperature change or the trope is debatable.
- This is a common death line in Fire Emblem.
- In Baldur's Gate, this is Imoen's last words before her hit points drop to zero.
- In Baldur's Gate 2, "I feel so cold" are Aerie's last words before her hit points drop to zero.
- There's also a ghost in the expansion who complains of this. He won't say anything else until you light a fire in the hearth for him.
- Shai-Gen Corporation cronies in Crackdown tend to spout this as they die. Even if they died from immolation.
- Justified in the Golden Sun series— the Fire Clan members who say it are freezing to death, having been deprived of the strength to warm themselves or escape.
- One of the enemy officer death lines in the Dynasty Warriors / Samurai Warriors crossover Warriors Orochi is 'Such a cold embrace...'
- In Pathways Into Darkness, one of the dead Nazis you encounter has completely forgotten about everything except that death is cold.
- In one of the Slayers videogames, the gang barely manages to rescue Amelia, but when they do, she says "I feel...so cold..."
- MadWorld works this trope into the form of a song, aptly titled So Cold, which takes over the previously boastful boss theme halfway through the final fight.
- In Apollo Justice, Apollo actually watches someone die... and the victim says 'I'm cold... so cold' as he tells Apollo who the witness is.
- In Shannara, Shella, as she lies dying, says to Jak 'I'm cold...so cold'
- Among the many theories for why Touhoues wear such silly hats is that it prevents them from freezing to death.
- At a certain spot in Amnesia: The Dark Descent you'll hear this phrase as a disembodied whisper.
- The skeletons from later parts of They Hunger sometimes mutter, "...Cold..."
- In some unused dialogue in Left 4 Dead that would have been used in a cutscene immediately after completing the "No Mercy" campaign implies that the helicopter pilot had been infected before he picked them up, and was about to make the transformation mid-flight. The pilot then uses the "I'm cold" line.
- It was cut it from the game because the developers felt that it would be like punishing the players for completing the campaign.
- In the DLC campaign "Crash Course", it's revealed that the chopper they were in ended up crashing, anyway. They still all survived. Unscathed, too.
- Played for laughs in this Order of the Stick interlude.
- In Sluggy Freelance a man has this reaction after having to put gym shorts on a Duh-Mentor.
- Subverted elsewhere, when it turns out Jane's been playing with the thermostat to make Gwynn think she's died and risen as a zombie.
- Subverted in Terinu. When the title character is badly wounded, he starts feeling warmer as he slips into shock, since his body is losing the ability regulate temperature correctly. The comic's author is a nurse, so this counts as a case of Shown Their Work.
- A variant is spoken by one of the drowned children in Solstice Twins as seen here.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this doesn't actually happen, but is the topic of a ghost story Katara tells to the Gaang. Of course, said story is set at the South Pole, and the death did occur during a weeks-long blizzard.
- In Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, the Jetsons arrive in Birdman's office, but have to walk to his desk, as there is no conveyor belt. Eventually, Astro collapses during the trek, saying "Ro rold, ro rold..."
- In The Simpsons episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily", when Bart is discovered to have head lice on class picture day (as a result of playing with a monkey Milhouse found), he comments "Nothing ever happens to Milhouse." We then see Milhouse standing there pale, wrapped in a blanket, muttering "Cold, so very, very cold."
- In a recent episode, the GPS from Homer's car says "So cold, so cold..." after Homer rips it out and throws it in a nearby fountain.
- Happens in an episode of Ben 10 when Ben offers another character a piece of chocolate, which ended up poisoning him due to him ingesting foreign food.
- Ren says this in an episode of The Pirates of Dark Water. Justified in that Tula was purposefully lowering his body temperature in order to kill him so they could save Ioz.
- In one episode of The Venture Bros., a group that seems oddly familiar infiltrates Dr. Venture's mansion and snoops around. At the end, they run afoul of a berserking Brock Sampson, who promptly kills the Fred, Shaggy and Scooby equivalents. As Shaggy dies, gutshot and bleeding out on the floor, he whimpers, "So cold, man...."
- A disturbing example from an obscure BBC children's cartoon called The Brollys, about a boy making friends with a man and a woman who control the weather. While most of the weather is rather pleasant, the ice and snow brings with it the terrifying Jack Frost, who not only freezes Mr. and Mrs. Brolly, but also tries to kill the little boy by making him succumb to sleeping in the cold.
- In the Danny Phantom episode Urban Jungle, Danny complains about being really, really cold, despite the warm weather. Later, this turns out to be a sign of his ice powers awakening.
- Also, Danny's ghost-sense, which is mentioned to be related to his ice powers, apparently feels like the sudden chill caused by a ghost's presence.
- Victims of shock frequently complain of feeling cold, and cold clammy (diaphoretic) skin is a major sign of shock, along with rapid heart rate and low blood pressure. Sudden complaint of cold in a trauma patient or one with known risk of shock (from infection, heart failure, internal bleeding, etc) is a very ominous sign indeed.
- Cold itself is also a leading contributor to morbidity and mortality in shock patients, as it forms one of the three bases of the "trauma triad" or "triad of death": cold induces massive shivering as the patient attempts to maintain body heat, which generates lactic acid buildup in the bloodstream through anaerobic metabolism, which in turn impairs tissue oxygenation and promotes coagulopathy (inability to clot blood properly). Survival rates in this situation are dismal. Modern care of the shock victim frequently involves aggressive rewarming measures in addition to the usual protocols (fluid and/or blood product replacement, pressors where indicated, etc) in recognition of the risks of this outcome.
- In cases of drowning and hypothermia, severe cold serves as a protective mechanism in a euvolemic victim (i.e. one not in shock to begin with). Below a certain point (usually around 32 C), low core temperatures drastically slow metabolism, preserving organs from hypoxic damage, and occasionally allowing successful resuscitation in a victim who would otherwise be long past saving. To that end, an old aphorism of emergency medicine states that hypothermia victims "aren't dead till they're warm and dead." The same effect is also exploited in active cooling therapies for heart attack and stroke patients, in which the patient is deliberately rendered hypothermic in the ICU to protect the heart or brain from further ischemic insult. This has also been used as an effective treatment for those suffering from spinal injuries.
- In severe hypothermia cases, the victim may engage in 'paradoxical undressing' wherein they remove all their clothes. No one has experienced this and survived but it has been suggested that at such a late stage the blood vessels close to the skin 'give up' and widen as they do when experiencing heat causing the victim to feel too hot and strip. In this case, I'm hot... so hot might be more appropriate!