"June 28th, 1821: It is the anniversary of the night I unleashed a horror. A horror which I tonight shall remove from this world. May God forgive me."
A character finds an abandoned diary, journal or captain's log and reads through it. The contents might be interesting, but the most important part is that after a while it just ... stops. Abruptly.
The obvious conclusion is that the person writing it died suddenly, without having the opportunity to write further entries. Possibly, the last entry describes what the author was going to do next, or has a hint on what killed him. In many cases, if the character reading it is asked "what happened next?" they will ominously reply "that was the last entry".
This is typically used to create an aura of mystery around what exactly happened to the writer, and to Foreshadow
whatever danger will await the reader of the journal.
Unlike Apocalyptic Log
, does not necessarily reveal any details of what happened, and always requires that something seriously bad happened to the writer.
- Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the group encounters a stone wall on which a victim of a monster attack has been carving entries onto. It ends, "He who is valiant, and might of spirit, may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of Arrrgh". The knights argue whether the castle is actually named Arrrgh or if the author died while writing it and wrote down his death rattle while doing do. It's the first one.
- Done in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; when the group finally gets to Totenkopf's office, they find his papers and discover that "the last entry in his journal was made on October 11, 1918", 20 years before the setting of the film. Shortly thereafter, they find his mummified body.
- The dwarven log in the Mines of Moria in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.: "They have taken the bridge and the second hall. We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow lurks in the dark. We can not get out... they are coming." The penmanship gets increasingly shaky on the very last line.
- In Due South, Fraser reads his late father's journals occasionally throughout the series, and in "Easy Money" he tells a friend, "There's a short entry in one of my father's journals that reads 'My adversaries appear ready to listen. I'm nearing victory.' And that entry was written the day before he was shot."
- In season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, early the only info the Scoobies have about the prophesied "ascension" is a journal entry saying "Tomorrow is the ascension, may God help us." It was the last time the town was ever heard of.
- In Red Dwarf, the crew come across a long-abandoned research facility at the bottom of the sea on an ocean moon which was doing experiments in genetic experimentation. The last entry in the log is just a matter-of-fact record about how they spent the day cataloguing new lifeforms before abruptly stopping. Turns out one of the new lifeforms ended up killing them — and then the Dwarfers meet it...
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake," Stottlemeyer and Disher figure out where a gas company worker found stabbed dead and tossed in a dumpster actually was killed by noting the location of the last gas line he inspected, which happens to be right outside Sharona's apartment.
- In a 1990s Peanuts arc, Snoopy and Woodstock find a tiny book inside a dented cage. The book is a diary that supposedly belonged to Woodstock's grandfather.
Snoopy: (reading diary) "Once a week, they put my cage outside in the sun. Sooner or later they're going to leave that little door open. Anyway, this is a stupid life sitting here alone, waiting for that to …" (turning to Woodstock) And that's it! The diary ends right there! [Your grandfather] probably got out, and is sitting on a telephone wire right now looking down at us…
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Module CM1 Test of the Warlords, Encounter 1 "The Ruins of Alinor". When the PCs explore an underground cave system they find the remains of a royal palace and the diary of the palace's ruler, a mighty magician. The last entry in the diary says that the ruler was planning to raise a mountain range using magic. The location and condition of the palace indicates that he succeeded all too well.
- Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix
- The last entry in Endrew MacKurian's journal tells of the visit of an old friend (whose name he is unable to record because of a Geas spell) who has turned traitor. He mentions that he fears that he shall not see the morning. He disappears during the night and later turns up dead.
- During the mission to retrieve the sword Chrysomer the PCs find the diary of a paladin who undertook the quest earlier. The last entry says that he plans to try to escape by distracting the enemies who have him trapped, and ends "Must try... hear noise. Giants coming. Hope this works..." The PCs find the diary on his body.
- Ravenloft adventure Adam's Wrath. The PCs find the diary of a team of botanists. The last entry says that they have found a new plant and are about to go on an expedition to find more. The PCs find their bodies nearby: the plant they found was a yellow musk creeper, which kills its victims and turns them into zombies.
- Silent Hill RPG. On the roof of Brookhaven Hospital a PC will find the diary of a patient. It ends with a statement that the patient was about to be released, and ends with a slash across the page with the pen as if the patient's arm had been grabbed while he was writing. Since everyone else in Silent Hill was killed (or worse) by monsters, it's a safe bet that the patient was too.
- Call of Cthulhu
- Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Warren". The PCs take almost an hour to remove enough rubble to enter one room. When they do they find the skeleton of a man sitting at a table and a piece of paper which is an Apocalyptic Log of what happened to him - he was trapped inside the room when a disaster occurred. It ends "I am sitting now waiting for rescue. It has been eight hours."
- Mansions of Madness, adventure "The Crack'd and Crook'd Manse''. Arthur Cornthwaite was trying to stop a monster that had infested his house. He was writing a note to explain the monster's vulnerability: it ends in mid sentence when the monster used its coils to snatch him into the fireplace and eat him.
- Terror from the Stars, adventure "The Temple of the Moon". Professor Dermot's day books end with an entry saying that he plans to enter the Temple at night after the strange phenomena end. The PCs can find his body later: he was captured and sacrificed by the Cthulhu Mythos cultists who worship at the Temple.
- The Asylum and Other Tales adventure "Black Devil Mountain". A PC receives an unfinished letter that was found among the effects of his deceased brother. The last part of the letter talks about the horrible discovery the brother had made. His body was found a few days later, dismembered and with the brain and heart missing.
- Dreamlands adventure "The Land of Lost Dreams". The PCs find the diary of Neil Bruford in his room. It tells the story of how he planned to journey to the land of Xura to find his heart's desire. The last entry says that he would reach Xura in his dreams that night. The next morning his landlady found him in a coma.
- Rolemaster Shadow World supplement Star Crown Empire, adventure "Terror at Fang Rock''. A lighthouse keeper is murdered by smugglers. The last entry in his log book says that he hears noises outside (the smugglers digging a tunnel) and that he's going to investigate.
- Chivalry & Sorcery 3rd Edition adventure Stormwatch. The PCs can find the log of an old expedition that was destroyed by a disease. The last entry is a prayer to God that someone will find their bodies and properly lay them to rest.
- Gabriel Knight: Gunter's journal. It's pretty obvious he committed suicide when he writes stuff like "These final words" and "I pray [...] that my punishment in Hell will be long and bitter."
- The Secret of Monkey Island: The Captain's log found in the Sea Monkey. It ends when the two characters described in the log leave the ship to investigate the eponymous Monkey Island.
- Mass Effect 2 has a few, but prominent is Nef's journal in Samara's loyalty mission. The last entry notes that she is about to go meet Morinth.
- The entire Mass Effect series is filled with this, mostly in the form of PDAs or video diaries left behind after a battle/massacre. This increases as the series goes on.
- In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the player can find a sort of last will and testament of a character named Wilhelm, who was locked in a wine cellar with several other men and tricked into drinking poisoned wine (presumably transforming them into the monsters present in the game). The log is an attempt by Wilhelm to confess his sins as well as name the man responsible for them, and ends with an altogether chilling passage: "Blood has begun to pour from my eyes, and I can no longer—"
- A few of the audiotapes found in the BioShock games, particularly Diane celebrating New Year's alone, only for the bar to be attacked by Atlas' Splicers and Dr. Suchong documenting his evidently unsuccessful work to get the Little Sisters to bond with the Big Daddies, culminating him in smacking one of the former and getting killed by the latter.
- The game Parasite Eve 2 has an interesting twist on this. At one point, you find the journal of a researcher who was assigned to watch a mutant in a cage. She felt the mutant was looking pathetic and lonely, so she decided to let him out for a little while. The journal abruptly ends as she describes how tall the mutant now is. Then the journal switches over to another researcher, who calmly reports the death of the previous writer, which ends the journal entries.
- You run into this a couple times in both Borderlands and Borderlands 2. There's an interesting variation in the second game; you're collecting the ECHO diaries of TK Baha, an NPC who was killed by bandits in the first game, meaning you know what's coming well before reaching the final entry.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, this is used twice. The first time, it's subverted, as you find a diary in the victim's house, only for it to have never been used and be completely blank. The second time is played straight, with a minor twist: Magnifi Gramarye's diary seemingly ends with an entry that seems to imply that it may or may not have been meant to be the last, but it's the last thing written in the diary. There is a page torn out of it though, but the page you have that appears to be the missing page (which has the "real" last entry) is revealed to be a forgery. What was really written on the missing page was a document passing the rights of Magnifi's magic to his student, Zak.
- Jonny Quest episode "The Sea Haunt". Dr. Benton Quest is reading from an Apocalyptic Log left by a ship's captain, describing how he and his crew were threatened by a monster.
Dr. Quest: [reading] "...The men are taking to the lifeboats. In a moment I will..."
Jonny: "I will" what? What does he say?
Dr. Quest: That's it. It ends right there.
Jonny: That monster must have come in here and killed the captain while he was writing!
Dr. Quest: I hope not, but it certainly seems that way.
- In Ken Burns' The Civil War, a journal entry read by David McCullough that was written at Cold Harbor gives the date and place, then says simply: "I am dead."
- Robert Falcon Scott's journal of his polar expedition (which ended with the death of all involved - in vain, as they were beaten to the South Pole by Amundsen) ends with "For God's sake look after our people".