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
, and occasionally overlaps with Distracted from Death
. This is a Death Trope
, so expect spoilers.
Anime and 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 Adventure 02, 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...
- Inverted in Runaways with Gertrude Yorkes' death. Chase Stein was about to be sacrificed to the Gibborim by Geoffrey Wilder when Gert showed up and bluntly informed Wilder that Chase was a selfish, cheating bastard whose death was unlikely to earn Wilder any points with the Gibborim. So Wilder killed Gert instead, and Chase was left wondering if Gert truly meant what she'd said.
- In pre-New 52 continuity, the last words of Slade Wilson's oldest friend and Battle Butler Wintergreen when Slade who was possessed by a maddened Jericho at the time though Wintergreen didn't know that murdered him were "well, I suppose it was only a matter of time." After being freed of Jericho, Slade was haunted by those words, realizing that his closest friend genuinely believed that Slade was going to murder him someday.
- 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 Gensokyo 20XX Series, we have this a couple of times. In 20XXI, we have it where Eirin commits suicide and the other characters wishing they didn't treat her as badly, with Ran explicitly wishing she didn't say what she said to her. Later in 20XXV, we have it where Yume Ni dies of illness, in the aftermath Chen's "Reason You Suck" Speech, leaving the latter very upset and wishing she could have taken it back and never let that be the last thing she's said to her.
Chen: The last thing I said to her wasn't "I love you" or anything to the effect, the last thing I had said to her was so scathing that it had broken her will and I wish I could take it back.
- From Kill la Kill AU, A Broken Heart, an Untold Story, and a Sister's Regret, Nui and Satsuki has a fight while Ryuuko (who's narrating) was a asleep and it ends with a guilt-ridden Satsuki running away. From what is made clear later, it had something to do with the fact Ragyou almost died giving birth to Satsuki, something in which she regrets later, especially when she actually learns to truth about what happened at the time her sister was born and when she has this pointed out to her, leading to her to go to Sagamihara to look for her, which lands her in the hospital for injuries. However, this is subverted in that Satsuki doesn't die, actually, she is just fine, as she had just run away.
Ryuuko (to Nui): You had better watch what you say to people 'cause it could be the last thing they've heard! If we don't find Sats and or get a call from the morgue, then she will have died remembering what you've said to her!
- 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."
Uncle Ben: You're a lot like your father. You really are, Peter, and that's a good thing. But your father lived by a philosophy, a principle really. He believed that...that if you could do good things for other people, you had a moral obligation to do those things. That's what at stake here. Not a choice, responsibility.
Peter: That is nice. That's really...that's great. That's all well and good, so where is he?
Uncle Ben: What?
Peter: Where is he? Where's my dad? He didn't think it was his responsibility to be here and tell me this himself?
Uncle Ben: Oh, come on! How dare you?
Peter: How dare I? How dare you?!
- 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.
- A subtle version in Thor: The Dark World: Loki tells Frigga that she's not really his mother. That is the last time he ever sees her. He doesn't even get an invitation to her funeral.
- 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 If I Stay, Adam broke up with Mia before the crash because she couldn't promise to spend New Years the next year with him. When he finally talks to her in the hospital, he's in tears.
- 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.)
- One episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit features Munch confessing that he told his dad that he hated his guts just before his dad committed suicide. Naturally, he regrets this.
- 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.