Not So Final Confession
When death is upon you, sometimes you have a burning need to get something off your chest. Something that embarrassment or social stigma has prevented you from saying. Perhaps you want to share a particularity cringeworthy secret, come out of the closet, or admit your undying love to the person you can never have, or rant about how stupid everyone around you is. Well, now is definitely the chance, you think; it is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ruffle all the feathers you'd ever want without having to sit through the fallout. Who cares what your friends and family would think? Certainly not you, seeing how you soon won't care about anything ever again. Regardless, no sooner do you make it known than you find out that, no, you're not going to die today. Often, but not always, a comedy trope. When Played For Comedy, the more embarrassing the secret, the higher the probability that you'll survive. If someone is instead admitting something they've wanted to admit but couldn't and would rather survive the upcoming danger, it's If We Get Through This. Can be a subversion of many of the Death Tropes. Compare Crossing the Burnt Bridge. See also Aborted Declaration of Love.
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- The Authority has two firemen about to die, one of them confesses to the other that he was the one responsible for all his little miseries at work (stealing food/equipment/money...), the other guy responds that it doesn't matter, since he fell in love with him the day he saw him. Then Swyft arrives to fly them to safety.
- Halo: Helljumper: As the two squadmates are about to get consumed by an explosion, Dutch admits to his partner Romeo that he put in for a transfer. He expected Romeo to be angry about it and so wouldn't have to face any consequences if he died... except they don't die and Dutch thus has to deal with his very upset teammate.
- An Entry With A Bang has a man confessing his love and proposing to a girl while they expect a nuke to hit their Dropship. She accepts... then it turns out Earth only had time to put warheads on half the missiles. Oh, and he proposed in front of the entire bridge crew.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Lord Guru thinks he's about to die, so he confesses that he drank enough water to send the planet into a drought, and blamed it on the albino Namekians, which led to a global genocide. Then he doesn't die, so the rest of the (now enraged) Namekians eat him.
Films — Animation
- In the second Madagascar, as the main characters are in a plane falling, Alex confesses that he was the one who broke Marty's iPod, which Marty doesn't take well. Melman confesses his love for Gloria, who isn't listening because she's fast asleep.
Films — Live-Action
- In Kind Hearts and Coronets, Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini has been sentenced to death for the one murder that he didn't commit. While awaiting execution, he writes his memoirs in which he confesses to all of the murders that he did commit (every D'Ascoyne ahead of him in the line of succession to a duchy). Just before his hanging, exonerating evidence is discovered and he is pardoned. However, his realization that he has left the manuscript of his memoirs with the confessions to the murders of his family in his prison cell may make this example a subversion...
- Die Hard: In a tense scene, John McClane tells Al Powell that he doesn't expect to make it through the terrorist situation (and considering he's pulling glass out of his feet, it's shown to be a pretty bleak situation). He then proceeds to apologize to his wife and tells Al to pass the message on. Al simply tells him that he will get through it (which of course, he does).
- Almost Famous: A plane apparently is about to crash and passengers deliver many not-so-final confessions, including Ed's only line ("Fuck it! I'm... I'm gay!") just before the plane decides not to crash.
- In Attack of the Clones, Anakin and Padme have been keeping their feelings for each other under wraps because of their duties to the Jedi Order and their government, respectively. However, when they're set to die in the Gladiator Games, they confess their feelings for each other and share a kiss...and then eventually escape the arena. They later end up in a Secret Relationship, which plays a role in Anakin's descent into the dark side of the Force.
- In the Belgariad, Adara is shot with an arrow and believes herself to be dying. When Hettar appears by her bedside, she confesses her love for him, only to be told soon afterwards that she's fine.
- This is how the plot of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novel The Confession of Brother Haluin begins. After being horribly injured in an accident the eponymous Haluin makes his confession to Abbot Radulfus and Cadfael. After he makes a miraculous recovery, Haluin decides that his 'deathbed' confession is no longer sufficient and insists on doing penance as soon as he is fit enough to walk (or rather hobble).
- Sword Art Online: Kirito and Asuna, after dying in SAO believe they will be Killed Off for Real, and thus reveal their real-world names and ages. Kirito wakes up realizing that while he "died" in game, the Nerve Gear did not kill him. He eventually finds Asuna in the real world.
- In the Relativity story "Pressure Cooker," Sara and her brother Michael have been trapped in a coal mine by Phanthro, and the temperature is rising. Fearing that they'll die before they're rescued, Sara admits to Michael her last remaining dark secrets (finally!). After they're rescued, Michael tells Ravenswood that he now wants to kill her ex-boyfriend.
- In The Gods Are Bastards, a schoolmate of the protagonists is attacked by a rare and powerful demon and calls Trissiny to her bedside to reveal her true feelings. Only afterwards is she informed that she'll be fine in the long run. Since Triss is straight, this leads to a certain amount of awkwardness.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Xander share a passionate kiss when they think they're going to be killed by Spike — only to be interrupted by their rescuers who happen to be their respective significant others.
- Seinfeld: In the first part of the two part finale, as the plane crashes, several secrets come out; most importantly, George cheated in The Contest.
- In an episode of Father Ted, a group of priests are aboard a plane that seems set to crash. One priest makes a confession of love to the priest sitting next to him. After the plane is saved, the episode ends with a long, silent shot of the awkward looks on both their faces.
- Red Dwarf: Rimmer creates a copy of himself and, following an extreme case of Other Me Annoys Me, everyone agrees that one of the Rimmers has got to go. Lister persuades the unlucky Rimmer to tell him his embarrassing secret about gazpacho soup before the procedure - then reveals that he's already erased the other Rimmer.
- The Closer: A man involved in a serious car crash is administered last rites by a priest and confesses murdering his wife, only to survive. Even though the priest keeps the man's secret, the man murders the priest a few months later in fear that the priest will talk.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- The episode "The 37s" has the crew find a group of humans who vanished from Earth long ago, including Amelia Earheart and her co-pilot. The co-pilot gets shot and whilst being treated by the Doctor, tells Amelia he loves her. He then finds the Doctor has cured him and tells Amelia to forget everything she heard.
- In the episode "Renaissance Man", the Doctor starts making a list of confessions believing he is about to go offline (including telling Seven of Nine he loves her). After finding he will not go offline, he hides in sickbay for a week out of embarrassment.
- At least two cases from Lois and Clark. One is during the pilot , when Lois has earlier said she'd never sleep with a colleague, and later, when they are tied to an exploding bomb, tell of case when she did. In a later episode, Lois and Jimmy are tied to a mast when a Doomsday Device is about to be activated, and Jimmy tells Lois about a wet dream he had of her.
- The Nanny: When Fran & Mr. Sheffield are in an airplane that's about to crash, Mr. Sheffield tells Fran that he loves her. Then after they survive, he takes it back. (He eventually un-takes it back and they get married.)
- In Get Smart as they're in an unwinnable situation, Max tells 99 he loves her and if they get out he'll marry her. Cue 99 going medieval on the asses of the KAOS agents who have them surrounded.
- A less lighthearted example: an episode of Torchwood has Tosh tell Owen that she loves him, thinking that he has only a few minutes left. Tosh then tells Owen she didn't mean it (though we see contrary to this later in the season).
- The The Flash (2014) episode "Out of Time" features a couple of odd examples:
- Barry and Iris have this moment just before a supervillain inundates Central City with a tidal wave. Not only does he reveal his secret identity to her, they also confess their feelings to each other and share a Big Damn Kiss. Another is given by Dr. Wells to Cisco, right when Cisco discovers Dr. Wells' identity as the Reverse-Flash. He tells Cisco that he's Like a Son to Me, and then that it's Nothing Personal—and then puts a vibrating hand clean through his heart. These seem like game-changing reveals, and they're treated as such In-Universe. The only thing that makes them this trope? Barry accidentally travels back in time and undoes both of them.
- In an episode of Series/Babylon5, Delenn and Lennier are together on a ship when they are about to be hit by Centaur missiles. Lennier confesses, "I love you," to which Delenn responds, "I kmow." Cue Big Dam Hero moment from Sheriden. Later, she simply states that in stressful times, sometimes it's hard to heard things.
- Red vs. Blue Season 9 features Simmons calling his teammates idiots as they stand around in an open field while a bomb counts down from 30. Thankfully it was a dud.
Sarge: Did you want to finish your thought there, Simmons?
Simmons: Well, this is awkward.
- The Simpsons
Smithers: There may never be another chance to say: I love you, sir.
- One episode features Smithers, thinking that an Apocalypse of some kind is coming, getting the nerve to kiss Mr Burns. They exchange a very awkward "see you in the office" after the Apocalypse turned out to be just a promotional gimmick by a Shopping Mall.
- In another episode, where there's about to be a nuclear meltdown:
Mr. Burns: Oh, hot dog. Thanks for making my last moments on Earth socially awkward.
- In the Family Guy episode where everybody thinks the Earth will get crushed in a black hole (but it turns out to be an April Fools' Plot by the local news), Peter admits that he hates the kids. They settle their differences when he buys them a new Xbox.
- Subverted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of My Excess". After Spike goes back to being a baby dragon, he tries to admit to Rarity, who's falling to what could be her death with him, that he has a crush on her, but she just shuts him up because she already knew, before being saved by Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.
- Batman Beyond has a variation in the episode "Sneak Peek." Terry, knowing his secret identity is about to be revealed on a tabloid-y news show, confesses to his mother and brother, wanting them to hear it from him. They laugh at him. The broadcast ends up being canceled.
- The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Graveyard Shift" has SpongeBob and Squidward doing this has the Hash Slinging Slasher approaches them.
Squidward: SpongeBob, no matter what I've said, I've always sorta liked you.SpongeBob: Squidward, I use your clarinet to unclog my toilet.Squidward: Huh?
- In the Danny Phantom episode "Teacher of the Year", Danny and Tucker are playing an online game and fighting against another player called Chaos. After Chaos thows a bomb at their feet, Tucker takes a moment to confess that he accidentally killed Danny's gerbil in the third grade, despite the fact that they aren't really gonna die. Danny reacts in shock just before the bomb blows.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Society of the Blind Eye", the characters are about to have their memories erased by the titular group and Soos decides to get something off his chest by confessing that he always thought Mabel's name was "Maple", Mabel then confesses that she doesn't love every one of her stuffed animals, Wendy admits that even though she's always laid-back, she's actually stressed out because of her family, and Dipper admits that he uses big words that he doesn't always know the definition of. But then, Old Man McGucket breaks free and saves them.