A character has been killed. One of the survivors recalls the last conversation they had with the deceased, and wishes they had chosen their words more carefully. Maybe they said something hurtful, perhaps even wishing them harm
and never got a chance to take it back. Maybe the conversation was about something mundane and trivial, and they wasted to opportunity to express their true feelings to the person. Whatever the case, they look back on the incident with regret.
Sometimes inverted where the dying person feels the regret. Related to Never Got to Say Goodbye
and I Wished You Were Dead
. This is a Death Trope
, so expect spoilers.
Anime & Manga
- In Fruits Basket Tohru regrets not saying "take care" before her mother left on the day she died. She had pulled an all-nighter for a test and simply couldn't wake up when Kyouko went to work...
- In Bleach, Orihime regretted not giving her brother Sora her usual fond farewell when he left for work on the day he died because they had an argument earlier. When Sora came back as a Hollow and was defeated/purified by Ichigo and Rukia, Orihime took the chance to say farewell to his departing spirit.
- In the dub of Digimon, a very young Ken Ichijouji yelled at his older brother Osamu that he wished he'd disappear. The same day, Osamu was hit by a car...
- In Attack on Titan Shortly before Wall Maria is breached and the Titans enter his hometown, Eren has an argument with his mother Carla about wanting to join the Survey Corps. Minutes later, he is forced not just to flee, but to leave the seriously injured Carla behind to be devoured by a Titan lest they would all perish. He bitterly regrets spending his final moments with Carla having a foolish argument, while furiously vowing to eradicate the Titans.
- Elfen Lied: Kohta's last words to his little sister Kanae were a threat that he'd "hate her forever" unless she apologized to his friend Lucy, who Kanae had just accused of murdering people at the festival they were at. He then sees her bifurcated in front of him... by Lucy herself. He shows clear regret in present times for fighting with her just before she died.
- Victor Alvarez the second Powerman after Luke Cage gave up the name has this in his origin story. Victor's parents were getting ready to divorce, and Victor was upset that his dad wasn't trying harder to make the marriage work. Victor accused his father of not being strong enough to fight for his own family. When Victor saw how much his words hurt his dad, he immediately tried to apologize...and that's when the bombs Bullseye set in Hell's Kitchen exploded. Victor survived by somehow absorbing chi from the other victims, including one of Iron Fist's students but he could never forget his dad's wounded expression.
- One Batman story had a flashback that showed 8 year old Bruce getting angry at his parents for some reason and saying that he hated them. In an effort to cheer up Bruce, his parents took him to watch Zorro the very next night. Bruce was about to apologize to them on the way home right when they entered Crime Alley...
- Soul Chess: "Look if you want to go and get yourself killed that's fine by me. Don't expect me to be at your funeral." -Shinji Hirako to Hiyori
- In the Katawa Shoujo fic Second Beats, Hanako is implied to have faced this fear when Hisao suffers a heart attack immediately after the events of her bad ending, in which she tells him she hates him for pitying her.
- She is not so fortunate, however, in Reconciliation, in which eight years after the same bad ending, (she is unable to face him due to her guilt), he dies of a heart attack.
- In the 2010 The Karate Kid Mr. Han recalls he was arguing with his family before they died. He doesn't remember what it was about, but he hopes it was important.
- In the first Spider-Man film Peter laments the argument he had with Uncle Ben, just hours before Uncle Ben gets shot.
"I can't help thinking about...the last thing I said to him. He tried to tell me something important, and I threw it in his face."
- In Upstream Color, a man is revealed to be constantly rehashing the last words he had with his wife before she lapsed into a coma. She was trying to reconcile, but he was angry and dismissive.
- In Forrest Gump, In Vietnam after Forrest carries a heavily wounded Bubba to safety.
Narration: If I’d a known this was gonna be the last time me and Bubba was gonna talk, I’d a thought of something better to say.
Forrest: Hey Bubba...
Bubba: Hey Forrest. Forrest, why'd this happen?
Forrest: You got shot.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after Harry and the Weasley children have a brush with Death Eaters, Mrs. Weasley mentions that she'd never forgive herself if Fred and George had died when the last time they'd talked she was chewing them out for their bad grades.
- In The Shattering Prelude to Cataclysm, Thrall, while leaving for Outland, finds his old friend Cairne Bloodhoof waiting for him, who bitterly complains about his choice of Garrosh as Warchief. The two have an argument, and Thrall's last words are telling his friend that he has made his decision and it's up to him whether he helps Garrosh or undermines the Horde by being stubborn. Thrall considers apologizing, but the next thing he hears about Cairne is his death, which is partly Garrosh's fault.
- In The Last Guardian, book 8 of the Artemis Fowl series, as Foaly is racing to save his wife, he tries desperately to remember his last words to her. He thinks it was "I love you", but he isn't sure. Fortunately, he's able to save her.
- In Burn Notice, Fiona and her sister had a fight before her sister was killed in a shooting and she's always regretted it. Her sister's death motivated her to join the IRA.
- Inverted in How I Met Your Mother. After Marshall's dad dies, his family decides to have the funeral eulogies based around the last words he said to each of them. Marshall gets distressed because the last thing his dad said to him was that he should rent Crocodile Dundee 3, whereas everyone else has profound, meaningful moments to talk about.
- But then it turns out there was a rather touching message waiting for Marshall on his voicemail... And he still goes with the Crocodile Dundee story when talking at the funeral.
- An episode of Home Improvement has Jill telling her father that she was too sick for him to visit. He dies shortly thereafter, and the rest of the episode focuses on how Jill regrets lying to him.
- The George Lopez Show has a tear-jerking scene where Angie remembers that the last time she spoke to her mother before her death, she said she would never forgive her for cheating on her father and called her a "selfish tramp".
- Parodied in "The Trouble with Ricky", where he blames Ricky for the burning of his garage and bemoans the "death" of his golf clubs, saying that the last words to his lucky putter were "I hate you".
- In Criminal Minds, Elle's father died when she was eight and the last thing she said to him was "I hate you, Daddy!" (she was angry that he didn't have time to teach her to ride her bike). Years later, she still regrets this.
- In the Cold Case episode Disco Inferno, the father of the murder victim the detectives investigate confesses to this, for the last words he said to his son, in reaction to said son's future life choice, were "I... renounce... you." The son died later that night.
- In the episode "Shuffle, Ball Change", the victim and his brother got into a shoving match that resulted in the brother injuring his knee, possibly derailing his wrestling career. Their infuriated father told the victim, "God help you, Maurice". The boy disappeared soon afterwards, leaving the father thoroughly haunted by the thought that his son had run away from home thinking that his father hated him, and even more torn up when he learned that his son had in fact been murdered, and that either way, those were the last words that he said to him.
- In That '70s Show, Red's mother dies as Eric is driving her home. Because she was being a heartless crow (like usual), no one had anything good to say about her, but were still heartbroken when she was gone.
Red: I didn't say "I love you," or even "See you later." No, the last thing I said to her was "Show me tail lights."
Eric: ...Dad, the last thing I said to Grandma was "It wouldn't kill you to be nice once in a while." But I guess it did, because then she died.
- In 8 Simple Rules, the last thing that Bridget said to her father before he died was "I hate you."
- Played for Laughs in Community when the group worries that Pierce is dead after he's late for a meeting:
Troy: Oh, man, the last thing I said to him was 'suck it'.
Britta: Me too.
- In the season 3 premiere of The Borgias, Rodrigo is dying of poison (although he eventually pulls through), and Lucrezia feels guilty because the last thing she said to him was that she was glad her brother Juan (Rodrigo's favorite) was dead.
- Supernatural - Bobby became a hunter after his wife, Karen, was possessed by a demon, but what really eats at him is the last conversation they had.
"Biggest regret of my life, this fight. You’d think it was when I had to stab her to death
, but...no. All through that - I was thinking we never got to get past this. If I’d have known, I’d have said anything she wanted to hear."
- Invoked by Phil on Modern Family to get Claire to tell the truth. As he falls asleep before his surgery he points out that the dangers and says "And if I never wake up, I'd hate for the last thing you ever said to me to be a lie".
- A late episode of Barney Miller depicts the murder of Mr. Cotterman, a recurring guest star throughout the series. A stunned Det. Harris says he can't even remember if he'd said goodbye to the man or wished him well when he last saw him. (For the record, he did.)
- The song "The Last Thing She Said" is all about this trope, except that the woman with regrets is actually the one in danger of dying.
- In Get Medieval, Asher spends the whole story arc regretting that his last words to his girlfriend before ending up stranded on medieval Earth were to tell her to buy cat food.
- In this Buttersafe comic, a sailor realizes ahead of time that this is the last time he'll ever see Claire, and somehow he still manages to screw up his goodbye.
- Referenced in this article published December 15, 2012, the day after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, in which the author describes how she made a vow that the last words that she said to her children before going to bed at night would always be "I love you," and encourages others to do the same.
- Mike Starr, the former bassist of Alice in Chains, admitted to having this during his appearance on Celebrity Rehab. He told those in attendance, which included Layne Staley's mother, that the last time he talked to Layne, he urged him to call 911 due to his ailing condition from drug use. Layne refused, and this sparked an argument that ended with Starr storming out. As he left, he heard Layne call out to him "Not like this, don't leave like this." Since Layne is believed to have died the next day, this was the last conversation they had. Starr blamed himself for Layne's death until he died nearly a decade later in 2011.
- Waylon Jennings lost a coin flip with Buddy Holly, and was forced to take a bus to Minnesota while Holly took a plane. When Holly joked "I hope your bus freezes!", Jennings joked back "I hope your damn plane crashes!". Tragically, the plane did crash, killing Holly and everyone else aboard on "The Day The Music Died". Jennings was haunted by this for many years.