Reality Subtext: Desmond Llewelyn's Q explains in The World Is Not Enough that he intends to retire and turn that John Cleese will replace him as quartermaster (much to Bond's disappointment). A few weeks after the film's release Desmond Llewelyn died in a car accident, tragically making this a definite farewell to the actor.
Q: I've always tried to teach you two things: First, never let them see you bleed.
Bond: And the second?
Q: Always have an escape plan.
A trap door opens beneath Q, slowly lowering him out of sight as Bond sadly watches.