This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Swan Song

A Swan Song is the last work a creator created before they died. Usually made while possessing enough foresight to realize that it would be the last thing they will ever make before Author Existence Failure sets in or they retire. It can also be the last performance of an actor. Either way this is for when a creator or thespian decides that if they're gonna stop by choice or not, they they might as well go out with a bang.

Note that this must be one purpose. People die after making works all the time, but few of them have the foresight to know what their last act would be.

This can overlap with Magnum Opus, where the artist puts their all onto it and creates something that exceeds the quality of the previous works, or it can be something that is So Okay, It's Average. Depending on the amount of time between the finishing touches and death, finishing the work can also be a Dying Moment of Awesome.

Not to be confused with Shapeshifter Swan Song, which is just a shapeshifter's pre-mortem cycling of their previous forms. Compare and Contrast Fatal Method Acting.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin and the Picaros from 1976 would become Hergé's last finished Tintin album, but he still worked on the ultimately unfinished Tintin and the Alph Art until his death in 1983. Hergé was in poor health though, so he always knew that even if he managed to finish that album, it would be the last one.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Former US President Ulysses S. Grant knew he was dying of throat cancer so he put all his energy into writing his memoirs, in order to provide for his family after he was gone. He died two days after completion.

    Music 
  • Beethoven's 9th Symphony, created 3 years before his death, but proved to be so awesome and complex that it's generally assumed that Ludwig van Beethoven knew his time was running out and decided to finish with a Magnum Opus.
  • Queen's last song, "The Show Must Go On", is about Freddie Mercury facing death with dignity. When Brian May presented the demo to Freddie, he had doubts that the latter would be able to sing due to his illness at the time. When the time came to record the vocals, Mercury drank a measure of vodka and said "I'll fucking do it, darling!", then recorded it in one take.
    The show must go on
    The show must go on, yeah
    Oooh inside my heart is breaking
    My make-up may be flaking
    But my smile still stays on"

    Video Games 
  • Satoru Iwata had a bile duct growth that prevented him from appearing at E3 2014 and using a puppet show the following year. He created Super Mario Maker, a way to make custom Mario levels, essentially allowing gamers and Nintendo fans to make their own Platform Hell games and more importantly experience the joy he felt when making the games. He died in July 15, 2015, a few months before the game's public release.
  • Final Fantasy I was intended to be one of these, but it sold well enough to save Square from bankruptcy. The rest is history.
  • The old Irrational Games releases the massively popular and acclaimed BioShock Infinite before changing business models and downsizing drastically. Among other things, they wanted to make BSI their best product yet to make sure all of their employees who found themselves out of job had an amazing game on their portfolios.
  • Wizardry 8 was the swan song for its developer, Sir-Tech Canada, who closed its doors soon after its release, ending the twenty years-old series with a bang—unlike many other classic series of the the Golden Age of Western RPGs. W8 can also be considered a swan song of the Golden Age itself, as it was the last great game to exemplify the design paradigms and virtues typical for this period of the genre's history.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SwanSong