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aka: Video Will
"Oh! Hello there. I am dead!"
You may be looking for The Tape Knew You Would Say That
A deceased character
has elected to leave a parting message in the form of a recording. This may or may not include actual bequeathing of items. This is often a Tear Jerker
Generally uses a Posthumous Character
. May be an excuse for The Tape Knew You Would Say That
. Sometimes overlaps with the Apocalyptic Log
A somewhat cliched plothook in horror/suspense stories, designed to lure a group of individuals to a suitable location for them to self-destruct/die horribly through infighting or at the hands of some monstrous horror/curse/whatever. This is sometimes intended as an elaborate posthumous revenge on the part of the deceased, in which case some/one of the survivors will occasionally locate an additional tape at the horror site of the deceased smugly informing them of this fact. See My Death Is Just the Beginning
Compare Happier Home Movie
for videos of lost loved ones that are only meaningful in hindsight.
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Anime and Manga
- In Air Gear, Spitfire leaves a Video Will behind after he appears to die. This Video Will coaches Kogarasumaru, using 'a R.E.A.D. program that analyzes data and relays it using Spitfire's synthesized voice.' Most characters simply come to the conclusion that he's still alive and is spying on them.
- The climax of Gundam 0080 is just this
- The third Sound Stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS revealed that the first Reinforce left one for Reinforce Zwei, though in a Magitek variation, she managed to implant it into Reinforce Zwei's memory banks for her to view when she sleeps. And yes, it was a Tear Jerker, especially since it was recorded during her last day and included her dreams of living a normal, happy life with her companions which she knows will now never come to pass.
- In King of Thorn, the leader of the Venus Gate cult makes an Apocalyptic Log explaining what Medusa is and how it caused The End of the World as We Know It. He says that he hopes it will be found by some other survivor who can fix things, but he himself does not have the will to fight on, then commits suicide.
- At the end of the Triangle Heart 3 OVA, the cast views one.
- After his death, Netero leaves a tape to be broadcast around the world to signify his "resignation" from his seat as the Chairman of Hunter's Association, and that the next Chairman will be elected by vote. Obviously, this is for keeping the world in its Crapsaccharine World state, so his death isn't announced.
- Audio version in Case Closed: Ai's mother Elena Miyano left her a series of tapes to be listened to every year on her birthday, all the way up to Year 18.
- Used in a case where a very rich old man's will is registered in an audio cassette. It also reveals that said man's brother died, so the brother's son with a foreigner woman shall take his place in the succesion. The man whom everyone thought of as the brother was his Body Double... and the case's Sympathetic Murderer.
- In an arc from early 2011 on Fantastic Four, after the Human Torch sacrificed his life to save his teammates from Annihilus, the team found a holographic recording he made in the event of his death. Among other things, he recommended that the FF should recruit Spider-Man as his replacement(which they did when they renamed the team The Future Foundation).
- Franklin and Valeria later stumble upon a set of these their family made for them just in case. Ben's turns out to be a confession of his darkest secret: that he may have been responsible for the accident that ruined Victor Von Doom's face.
- In the DCU, Bart Allen aka Kid Flash (aka Impulse aka The Flash at the time of his death, though he recorded the will as Kid Flash) gave his old friend Robin a video will to play at his funeral, seen in Countdown. The Tearjerker came on extra-strong when he repeated address his other old friend Superboy, who had already passed. (At the time, anyway. This is superhero comics after all)
- After Batman apparently died in Final Crisis, Alfred went to the Batcave to activate Bruce's final message in the form of a hologram. Bruce had one last set of orders prepared in case of his death, but before getting down to business, he took the time to say that Alfred was just as much a father to him as Thomas Wayne was, ending with "Goodbye, Dad".
- Soon after Harry Osborn's death in Spider-Man's comic (having died as a result of overdosing on the Green Goblin formula), he left a video will, which at first seemed normal, leaving most of his wealth and worldly possessions to his wife and a special fund for Flash Thompson's charity. Then, however, he mentioned Peter, at which point he put his Goblin mask on, and bequeathed him a box that he claimed contained something "special" which would "open at the right time". (Of course, Peter wasn't going along with that. He took the box to a safe place, and forced it open, only to find that it only had a paper with the word "GOTCHA!" written on it. At first he thought this was a cruel joke meant to make him think Harry was alive, and if so, it worked for an hour or two, but it may have been a subtle hint the plan Harry had been behind to use bring back Peter's parents in the form of android duplicates, which would be revealed much later.)
- In the Richard Pryor film Brewsters Millions, Brewster learns via this method about his inheritance, and the challenge that has been put to him.
- In 1979 version of The Cat and the Canary, Cyrus West had himself filmed and a simultaneous sound recording made in the days before sound film was common, and arranged that it would be played at one last family dinner years after his death - so that he could tell everybody present what he thought of them one last time.
- In Inglourious Basterds, Shoshanna Dreyfus leaves one for the Nazi high command. She didn't plan on dying before it was shown, though.
- In I, Robot, Dr. Lanning leaves one of these.
- In Baseketball, Ted Denslow leaves his team to Coop this way. Also, he sings "I'm Too Sexy."
- Parting Glances features a tragi-comic example; Nick, among other things, takes the opportunity to come out to his parents and tell them he has (or by the time they see it, had) AIDS, and also leaves his ex's new boyfriend a giant comedy dildo.
- Scream 3 shows one by Randy, who was killed in the previous film.
- The protagonist of Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead makes an honest living setting these up.
- Older than Television: In the 1932 comedy The Greeks Had a Word for Them a character leaves a will (complete with The Tape Knew You Would Say That) recorded on a phonograph record.
- Subverted in Cthulhu (2007). The protagonist is told his dead mother left a video tape for him hidden in her house. He instead finds it in plain sight on top of the TV/VCR. On the tape his mother starts to warn him that his life is in danger from the mysterious cult run by his father; she then hears a noise and quickly turns the camera off. The camera is then turned on again by his father, who implores the protagonist to take his rightful place as the leader of his cult. The protagonist is shocked to see his father has blood on his face and hands, implying that he murdered his mother moments before.
- The Ultimate Gift revolves a very elaborate version of this. Red Stevens seems to have prepared a video response to every possible action that Jason might take, creating the apparent contradiction of a very proactive and dynamic Posthumous Character.
- One of the few bright spots in Deep Blue Sea features the station's cook making a tape for rescue crews to find in case he doesn't survive. After a somber introduction explaining that, he immediately brightens up and starts giving his recipe for the perfect omelette.
- Flubber has Weebo doing something like this.
- The Edge Of Darkness Emma leaves a DVD explaining that she's dead and has left behind evidence against North Moor.
- Blade: Deacon Frost leaves a tape for Blade that starts off with "By the time you watch this Whistler is dead..."
- Jigsaw has one in Saw V, where he explains the importance of the box he leaves his ex-wife, basically setting the gears in motion for the rest of the series. Another one for Dr Gordon (part of said box's contents) is introduced in Saw VI, then finally shown in Saw 3D.
- The 1970 comedy film Some Will, Some Won't features a video will. The tasks that Henry Russell assigns his heirs in order to inherit are what drives the plot.
- The tragic Michael Keaton film My Life is about a father with terminal cancer leaving messages for his newborn son, to be played at regular intervals after his death.
- Young Frankenstein. In a deleted scene, Frederick Frankenstein's great-grandfather left a recorded message in an actual record. As expected from a comedy, there was an interruption of Baron Frankenstein asking if he was indeed recording it right. At some point, while individually mentioning the relatives and friends reunited, he had trouble remembering a grandniece's name. Then, after mentioning all relatives (except Frederick), Baron Frankenstein said his estate should be evenly split among them. They celebrated until they heard him saying "unless". Because the record was of 78rpm, they had to play the other side to learn what the unless lead to. Baron Frankenstein said they'd inherit unless Frederick had become a medical doctor on his own will and acquired some measure of esteem on his field. In that case, which Baron Frankenstein found unlikely to happen but decided to prepare for just in case, Frederick would inherit everything. Baron Frankenstein hoped (in vain) his other relatives would understand since Frederick was the only hope of redemption for the Frankenstein name.
- Superman. When Kal-El/Clark Kent enters the Fortress of Solitude and uses the green crystal to activate the crystal technology therein, a Huge Holographic Head of his father Jor-El appears and gives him a recorded message from thousands of years in the past, before the destruction of the planet Krypton in which he died.
- In Iron Man 2, Tony's father Howard leaves a filmed message in which he tells his son about the information he encoded into the model of his future city.
- In Thir13en Ghosts, Cyrus leaves his mansion to his newphew in this way. Although Cyrus isn't really dead.
- Done in a fantasy series, of all things: In Inheritance Cycle, Eragon gets a telepathic transfer of memory from Saphira, of Brom's last testament spoken to her well in advance of his death.
- Also a fantasy variant, from Simon R. Green's Wolf In The Fold: Duncan Mac Neil leaves a prepared illusion as his will, complete with instructions on precisely how his relatives are to be seated in the room where it'll be activated. That way, when his 3D image appears, it can address his son, daughter, sister and others "face to face".
- In Left Behind, the preacher of a fundamentalist church leaves one of these behind to watch in case of the Rapture, which naturally (because it's an Author Tract) foreshadows everything that happens in the rest of the book.
- X-Wing Series:
- Ton Phanan's actual will wasn't video, but it did come with a video where he told his best friend, and the sole beneficent of his will, not to blame himself.
- In an earlier book, Corran Horn seems to have left a video will... but it was actually a live broadcast that he used as a prank, after getting back to base ahead of the rest of his squadron after they were forced to abandon him, due to a third-party rescue by people with a much faster ship.
- Used in the BattleTech novel Bred for War with a video message recorded by Khan Ulric Kerensky months before his death to address his Clan and reveal that he's basically planned everything that has happened to them since in advance.
- Azimov's Foundation series: Hari Seldon sort of did these with the messages he left for the First Foundation in the Seldon Vault in Terminus City. However, these are not wills per se, but rather his hints at what, given his science of psychohistory, is about to happen.
- In the 1980 short story "All the Lies That Are My Life" by Harlan Ellison, the deceased not only records an extensive video will, but specifies a seating arrangement in the room where the will is to be read, so he can "look" at each person as he addresses them individually.
- Variation in The Algebraist: a major character explains to another exactly why and how she intends to go after his life, even if she should die before the plan can be completed. The message is never shown, however — we just witness her recording it.
Live Action TV
- NewsRadio had one made by Jimmy James, but he wasn't quite dead, and it veered off to him talking about the Harlem Globetrotters.
- Turned up in — of course — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when The Mayor's will was played in the 4th season. It managed to be both sad and hilarious.
- Used in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, when one of Jennifer's elderly gentlemen friends dies and includes her in the execution of his will. He videotapes a message to be played for his various sponging relatives, at one point correctly mimicking one of their replies. As for Jennifer, whom the man's relatives assume is a mere gold digger, he requests she uses the rest of his money for a big parade. The relatives protest this seemingly ridiculous waste of money, but are stunned when Jennifer immediately starts making arrangements to fulfill his wishes without any thought of taking money for herself.
- The character Toshiko did one in Torchwood. This example features a notable subversion of normal Video Will tropes, as she includes a goodbye message for Owen, not knowing that he would die (again) just minutes before she did.
- In '80s TV movie Grand Larceny, a woman returns home after her father, an insurance detective, dies. His video will not only asks her to become a detective but claims to have stored answers to any questions she might have during her new career. With the help of her father's will she solves the first case, possibly who killed her father, in the meantime meeting a new partner. At the end of the case she learns the will only has answers for the case she just solved and the point was for her to meet her new partner, her father's old partner.
- Star Trek:
- Kirk leaves a set of "last orders" for Spock and Bones in the original Star Trek.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- Tasha Yar had a recorded message ready for her friends when she died in "Skin of Evil". She didn't expect to die on that mission, but like O'Brien and Dax below, probably recorded them just in case.
- The episode Family has a subversion. Wesley is bequeathed a message addressed to him from his father shortly before his death (the first of many he planned to record for his newborn son)... not once does he consider that he might be dead when it's viewed.
- Dax and Chief O'Brien record one every time they're sent on dangerous missions. Both of them are veterans and know how randomly people can die.
- Queer as Folk: Emmet's rich older boyfriend leaves him one.
- In Heroes, Kaito Nakamura leaves one for his son.
- In The IT Crowd Denholm dies at the start of season two and at his funeral he asked for a video to be played for everybody as a good-bye and asked for his company to be left to his son, Douglas. There was a section he told Douglas to watch alone but Douglas said everybody should hear it as he didn't want to keep secrets... but since it was due to the company retirement fund (which had some notable "irregularities" in it) so he shut it down. At the end of the episode it was shown he spent a long time eating an apple whilst recording.
- On The Middleman, the Middleman makes a video for Wendy in the event of his death for every episode, even when he's forced to do it while they're stuck in the same small quarantine chamber so she can hear what he's saying as he's recording it. He doesn't ever die, but she does get to watch the ones made for the first half of the season.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- The 1st season episode Letters from Pegasus had definite undertones of this. The characters were sending back video messages to the SGC before taking on the Wraith, assuming they might die. Most of them said goodbye.
- In the pilot, Weir leaves behind a tape for Simon, letting him know that she'll have left the galaxy by the time he watches the tape.
- Monk had two such messages; one by Kevin Dorfman, and the other by Trudy Monk.
- Babylon 5 has a few of them. Most poignantly, when John Sheridan records a birthday message for the child that he knows he will never see reach adulthood.
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor makes a holo-recording of himself in case an emergency program is activated. The message is meant for Rose. Strangely, the hologram appears to know where Rose is standing during playback, as the Hologram turns it's head and looks straight at her before shutting off.
- Done quite humorously in an episode of George Lopez, in which the deceased leaves all of her money to her daughter Veronica, to be managed by a trustee. She manages to get in one last jab at her father-in-law before naming George as the trustee:
Claudia: Will Victor Palmero please step forward.
[Vic steps forward]
- Doogie Howser, M.D.: After Wanda's mother's sudden death, Vinnie, afraid that he could also die at any moment, creates one for himself.
- In an episode of the '80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort called "Where There's a Will", after a nightmare where Henry imagines his family is destitute after his death because he didn't make out a will, Henry takes Monroe's suggestion to do a videotaped will. His wife Muriel, daughters Jackie and Sara, and niece April arrive just as he is about to tape it and watch the reading live. Henry ultimately starts to regret making a will when during the reading Jackie, Sara and April continually interrupt him, either balking at his statements in the will or discussing how to spend their inheritance should Henry die; Hilarity Ensues when their actions lead him to snap at them for their greediness.
Henry: "I, Henry Rush, being of sound mind and body, refuse to die!"
- After that though, he suffers chest pains ( that turn out to be the result of gas) and is sent to the hospital.
- An episode of Airwolf reveals that the eponymous chopper's evil creator had coded in a software dead man's switch that activated after a certain amount of time to take revenge on whoever was now in possession of the vehicle. And start World War III in the process..
- Subverted in an episode of Law & Order which featured a man killed by a hit-man. His wife and her lover are implicated in putting out a contract on him. The investigation ends when the victim's lawyer reveals a tape not containing his will, but a confession that he hired the hit-man to facilitate his suicide, and he hoped the appearance of murder would be a hassle for his unfaithful wife. The tape was revealed to exonerate the victim's best friend, who was the next suspect after the wife/lover angle was exhausted by police.
- Pierce's mom leaves one for him in the episode of Community where she dies, begging Pierce (who, as a member of a cult, believes that her essence is in a lava lamp and she will someday be resurrected) to acknowledge that she's dead and gone and that he needs to move on with his life. Pierce ignores it and instead chooses to believe his mother went insane towards the end.
- Pierce's father went one step further and made a video game will.
- Star-Burns also made a video will.
- In one episode of The Monkees, there is an audio will recorded on a phonograph record.
- In Eureka, Nathan Stark leaves a holographic one for Allison Blake in a piece of jewelery. She doesn't realize this, however, and when the thing activates randomly she begins to think she's losing it. (On a side note, it was not intended this way. Nathan expected to give it to Allison as a gift to express his love, making the fact that it's his final message all the more touching and tragic.)
- On "How I Met Your Mother", Barney's video will is on a porn tape and states he wants Ted to recreate Weekend at Bernie's for his corpse (Hopefully his corpse will be in good condition for his au natural funeral), brags to Marshall that he's Ted's best friend while somehow predicting where Marshall will sit, and including some homemade porn for Ted.
- Steve Jinks does this in Warehouse 13 when he goes under cover, leaving a message for the others in case he gets killed.
"Hey guys. Bad news is that if you're watching this, I'm probably screwed, so I'll keep it short."
- In the Live-Action Adaptation of Largo Winch, Largo receives one from his billionaire adoptive father, warning him of his enemies.
- In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Jan Hooks plays Bette Davis giving a Video Will, which is viewed in a lawyer's office by her son, Michael (Phil Hartman), and daughter, B. D. Hyman (Nora Dunn). Most of the tape is Davis telling showbiz stories, so the lawyer keeps fast-forwarding (prompting Hooks to speak rapid, high-pitched nonsense in imidation of a videotape speeding up, then screeching to a halt—"reeeebeeeedeeerrrrrAND NOBODY! NOBODY COULD MAKE A WAFFLE LIKE BERT LAHR!"). At one point, the lawyer must change tapes; at another, Davis seems to have left, then gets up off the floor, announces, "I FELL OUT OF MY CHAIR!" and continues on. Finally, she says that Michael will get everything and Hyman will get nothing because Hyman wrote the tell-all book My Mother's Keeper. Davis then descends into maniacal laughter.
- An episode of Mad About You involved Jamie's ex dying from a bee-sting allergy and leaving a video will in which he confessed that he was still in love with her. Jamie is flattered if unnerved and Paul finds himself frustrated by a romantic gesture from an ex that he can't hope to top until/unless he's on his deathbed. The Stinger shows the ex as he was finishing recording the will, as a bee starts buzzing around his head and he tries to swat at itů
- In the Murder, She Wrote episode, "To the Last Will I Grapple With Thee", the murder victim left behind a video stating that if he died, he was likely murdered by his old enemy, a criminology professor from Ireland who was a friend of Jessica Fletcher's. At the end of the episode, Jessica proved that her friend was innocent, that there was in fact no murder; the 'victim' committed suicide in a last desperate attempt to destroy his old foe by staging his death to look like he had been murdered.
- Supernatural. The Archangel Gabriel does this is his own unique style, in the form of a porn DVD he leaves with the Winchesters. They admit it's a good one.
- Subverted in the Magnum, P.I. episode Of Sound Mind. Eccentric millionaire Wilson Mac Leish is presumed dead after his plane explodes in mid-air, and in his videotaped will, he leaves the bulk of his fortune to Magnum, much to Magnum's surprise. It later emerges that Mac Leish faked his death so that Magnum could find out which of Mac Leish's relatives was plotting to kill him, and it turns out all of them are innocent. Further subverted and parodied, when Mac Leish's butler points a gun at him during an argument at the end of the episode, only for the butler to be playing a prank on Mac Leish when the gun turns out to be a water pistol, sharing much laughter with Magnum.
- Dilbert: In the arc where Dilbert dies, he leaves behind a holographic will which is mostly him reading his recipe for chile con carne. (It's not a good recipe.)
- Shadowrun Returns begins with the buddy of the player character, Sam, contacting the player with a recorded message to find out who killed Sam, with a hefty money incentive backing the request.
- Tears to Tiara - Taliesin is led by a baby dragon into a prison where his anger activates a recording with a nested flashback. Slightly subverted in that the one who left the message has been resurrected by the time it is played.
- Yuna's sphere in Final Fantasy X is one.
- Near the end of Full Throttle, the player has to sneak into Malcolm Corley's office and find his will, and then play it over the Corley Motors shareholders' meeting to assure that Corrupt Corporate Executive Adrian Ripburger won't be able to take over Corley's company and start making minivans en masse.
- Krew uses a holographic one of these, combined with The Tape Knew You Would Say That in Jak X.
- Naomi in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
- In Fallout: New Vegas Lonesome Road, Ulysses leaves a final recording with a message meant only for the Courier. Possibly subverted if the Courier talked down Ulysses and spared him. If the Courier meets Ulysses again after the events of Lonesome Road he/she can even bring up the "final" message. Ulysses remarks that he didn't think he'd be alive to hear that.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2: If you go back to New Bodhum 700AF after beating the game, you can find a fragment message from both Serah and Noel. The tone and tense of Serah's message highly implies it was created after she died, but the message and purpose is much the same. The disturbing part is that Serah is the one who hears it, but doesn't quite understand what it means.
- Parodied on The Simpsons; Lionel Hutz dubs over Marge's great-aunt's video will, giving all her money to him.
Marge: Mr. Hutz!
Hutz: You'd be surprised how often that works, you really would.
Mona: Homer, if you're watching this, either I'm dead, or you've gone through my stuff. If I'm dead, this is my video will; if not, please keep away from my stuff.
- In an early episode, Homer though he'd been poisoned from eating Fugu and only had 24 hours to live. He left a recorded message for Maggie.
- In another episode, Homer thought Marge would leave him for Artie Ziff, so he decided to leave to work in an oil field, which'd probably get him killed soon. He left a goodbye message in a video starting with a statement that, if Marge was watching this, that meant he learned how to use the camera.
- On Family Guy, Peter's boss Mr. Weed leaves a video will that alerts his employees that the factory is to be destroyed "right now," a second before a wrecking ball crashes through the building.
- In the episode "Business Guy", when Lois' father, Carter falls into a coma, it turns out that he left video wills for several situations:
Carter's attorney: (fast forwarding the tape) That's not it.
Carter's attorney: (fast forwarding) This could take a while.
Carter: Eaten by sharks while snorkeling... (fast forward and play) ...stabbed to death in a Toys R Us bathroom. (fast forward and play)...1940s roller skate left in the hall. (fast forward and play) Death by chocolate. No, no, leave it in. (fast forward and play) Had a heart attack and have slipped into a coma.
- Spoofed on Futurama. Lars' video will ends with an ad for the video will company.
- The episode "A Clone of My Own" has Professor Farnsworth leave a recording for after he is taken to the Near Death Star.
- And in one of the "What If" episodes, Farnsworth leaves a Video Will where he leaves everything he owns to Leela.
- And which shows Leela killing him.
- Memorably used in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, where the Joker inherits a wad of money from an old enemy; the twist being that he only sees the video portion of the will after he's walked right into the enemy's financial trap — most of the cash was fake, he'd already spent all the real money, he'd gotten a tax bill for the full amount, and he can't tell anyone about it or he'd be admitting to the world that he'd been played. "The joke's on you, sucker! I got the last laugh after all!"
- The Critic had a video will prepared by Franklin and Eleanor Sherman, giving Jay their fortune and Margo a music box. The will is bookended by Orson Welles, who ends up promoting Mrs. Pell's Fish Sticks ("They're even better when they're raw!").
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has Tony Stark make a video leaving the Avengers' mansion and equipment to the New Avengers. Unlike most examples, Tony did not record this on physical media, and instead has JARVIS broadcast it on the same frequency as Spider-Man's Spider-Trackers.
- Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: Colonel Beauregard recorded his will into a record.
- In The Boondocks, an old friend of Robert's who he had a falling out with leaves him a video message asking him to deliever his eulogy. The scene uses a lot of The Tape Knew You Would Say That, with Moe trying to convince Grandad to do it.