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Unclear Description: Famous Last Words get usage counts

 1 Larkmarn, Mon, 10th Jun '13 6:45:53 AM Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
The trope, best I can tell, is pretty much "someone who's dying's final message that he wants to communicate before his time is up" Based off the description, they have to know they're dying and actively be making this their final speech.

However, the laconic, and largely the rest of the site, uses it as "just the last words that come out of a character's mouth" which doesn't seem like a trope. In other words they're last words, but they're hardly famous. It may be a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner or it may be Tempting Fate or if may just happen to be the last thing a character says before they die unexpectedly.

Additionally, it is a magnet for Zero Context Examples. Well, they tend to say the last words themselves, but never give context for them and often don't give the character

First 10 related links: A Bug's Life: Seems to be Tempting Fate, thus wrong. A Dog of Flanders: Correct Adult Fear: Seems correct. A Fish Named Wanda: Wrong A Game Of Gods Ex Champions: Correct A God Am I: Correct A Good Way to Die: Correct Aguirre, the Wrath of God: Correct Air Gear: Probably correct (no context) YMMV/Airplane: Wrong Alas, Poor Villain: Correct Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Wrong Alien Cargo: Looks like like Tempting Fate Aliens: Correct, I believe. All He Ever Wanted: No context. At least one is correct, the second looks wrong, and no idea about the third. Almost Dead Guy: It's in the description so... presumably correct. Alpha Protocol: Not sure if the first counts, second probably wouldn't, third probably would. Characters/Amakusa1637: Correct American McGee's Alice: Probably correct Amnesia Danger: Wrong

This was inspired by the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World page: Every one of the Evil Exes has a listing: "This is impossible. How can this be?" Matthew Patel (Legitimate) "Why wouldn't you be?" Lucas Lee (This is the worst one. He says this before performing a skateboard trick that kills him. He didn't think it would, because he's an arrogant jerk). "Vegone?" Todd Ingram (It's a guy reacting to a bad pun with confusion.) "You'll never be able to do this to her!!!" Roxy Richter (Legitimate) Averted by the Katayanagi Twins, who don't have any lines at all. (Seriously?) "You can defeat me Scott. But can you defeat yourself?" Gideon Graves (said after he died)

 2 Septimus Heap, Mon, 10th Jun '13 6:51:04 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Puʻu ʻŌʻō
*Sigh* Again with one of these 1000+ wick tropes?

Anyhow, "just the last words that come out of a character's mouth" are usually significant. The description is a little ambiguous whether they count or no.

 3 Larkmarn, Mon, 10th Jun '13 7:04:50 AM Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
[up] They are usually significant, but I point you to examples like this: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FamousLastWords/FridayThe13th. Half of the examples are just people greeting someone before dying unexpectedly, or screaming "NO!"

 4 Native Jovian, Mon, 10th Jun '13 3:31:50 PM from Orlando, Florida
Io vs Jupiter
Yeah, I'm with Lark here. "The last thing someone said before they died" isn't really a trope, because, y'know, everyone talks and everyone dies, so everyone's going to have a "last thing they said before they died".

I think what the trope is going for is Significant Last Words, where a character says something... well... significant, before they die. Something that sums up their outlook on life (and death), or encapsulates their Character Development, or a heartfelt message to another character.
Dragon Writer
IMHO Famous Last Words are what they are remembered for saying before they died; whether or not it really was is irrelevant.
 6 Spark 9, Tue, 11th Jun '13 12:02:47 AM from Castle Wulfenbach Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Gentleman Troper!
Yeah, clearly a meaningful sentence or two before death is a different trope than a big scream.
Special trousers. Very heroic.
 7 nrjxll, Tue, 11th Jun '13 1:29:03 AM Relationship Status: Not war
Speaking from personal experience, the subpages of this are full of examples that just list everything characters from some series said before they died, even if it was stuff like "Aaaargh!" It's always actually reminded me a bit of stock phrase example lists: collecting all instances of something happening without any real meaning to it.

On the other hand, I'm not too sure I'd want people to start actually judging what qualifies as "famous". Could lead to trouble.

 8 Spark 9, Tue, 11th Jun '13 1:45:58 AM from Castle Wulfenbach Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Gentleman Troper!
Well, we could start by saying that the trope is about words (plural) and that neither a scream nor a single "noooooo" counts as words...
Special trousers. Very heroic.
Dragon Writer
^^ As stated already, FLW may be a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner or even Killed Mid-Sentence. What matters is that it's the thing they're remembered for.
^^^ You're right. We can't judge "famous." In real life, "famous last words" would be the last words of famous people, or words that went down in history. That doesn't apply to our site, where we consider all examples equally notable.

The alternative is Significant Last Words, but that leads to the same problem of every Significant X page - we end up listing all examples that might be associated with a trope of some kind without actually identifying the tropes. Last words may be a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner or they may be Killed Mid-Sentence or they may be a Dying Declaration of Love or they may be a Parting Words Regret - or they may be a Precision F-Strike or a Sarcastic Confession or Talk About the Weather or Quoting Myself. But Simply saying, "these are the last words, and they matter for some reason or another" does nothing to identify the trope.

 11 Larkmarn, Tue, 11th Jun '13 5:39:36 AM Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
[up][up]In that case, it should either be an Audience Reaction or have an In-Universe marker. I'm more inclined to make it YMMV and call it Audience Reaction.

 12 Clarste, Tue, 11th Jun '13 12:54:42 PM Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Three Steps
For the record, Final Speech claims that this trope is The Same But Pithier. Which seems about right to me. Although maybe that's just a reason to merge them.

 13 Native Jovian, Tue, 11th Jun '13 6:32:47 PM from Orlando, Florida
Io vs Jupiter
The Last Words index in general has some issues. There's a lot of overlap between tropes that there really doesn't need to be, it's inconsistent whether Famous Last Words or Final Speech is the supertrope to the rest of them, and the index lists a ton of stuff that doesn't really fit. (Really? Big "NO!" and Atomic F-Bomb are on the Last Words index? I mean, sure, they can be last words, but by that logic we should put everything in Dialogue into Last Words.)
Dragon Writer
(Really? Big NO and Atomic F-Bomb are on the Last Words index? I mean, sure, they can be last words, but by that logic we should put everything in Dialogue into Last Words.)
Yeah, I would call those misuse too.
 15 Spark 9, Wed, 12th Jun '13 1:48:55 AM from Castle Wulfenbach Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Gentleman Troper!
[up][up][up] Good idea.

[up][up] Yeah, that doesn't help.
Special trousers. Very heroic.
 16 Larkmarn, Wed, 10th Jul '13 11:56:35 AM Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
More evidence of misuse: pretty much every single villain on the Digimon Adventure page has a Famous Last Words entry. They cover the gamut of being references to actual Famous Last Words (as in the literal definition of it, last words that are genuinely famous), to Tempting Fate, to dying words of encouragement, to simple conversation that occurred before they died.

 17 nrjxll, Wed, 10th Jul '13 1:01:02 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up]Again, I'm not sure I'd call that misuse. Things like "Argh!" and "No!" pretty clearly don't qualify, but as far as anything beyond that goes, I don't really think we should be judging what's "famous".

 18 Larkmarn, Wed, 10th Jul '13 1:27:04 PM Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
It counts as misuse with the current definition, which seems to require the character knowing they're going to die. Though it is vague.

Honestly "Famous Last Words" isn't a great title because, colloquially, when someone says "famous last words" it's lampshading that someone is Tempting Fate. Or referencing, you know, actual famous last quotes.

We need to solidify a definition, one way or the other.

Yeah, I was about to say, isn't Famous Last Words a preexisting term referring to cliché, Tempting Fate final words like, "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing, "?

The last thing someone says before they die is not a trope, as mentioned, since anyone who talks is going to have said one last thing before they died (a mute character breaking their silence to say pretty much anything before they die might be a trope, but I can't say I've ever seen it). We already have subtropes for when it is a trope because of something significant, like His Name Is....

Examples that are just, "he said something before he died!" should be cut I think, and "a character's last words that become memorable or famous" should get it's own name and a YMMV label (maybe, I guess, since while a reason for fame may be subjective, something being famous isn't, although, again, how famous could be arguable).

edited 10th Jul '13 11:10:19 PM by Jokubas

 
 20 Septimus Heap, Thu, 11th Jul '13 12:56:18 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Puʻu ʻŌʻō
Yeah, Famous Last Words is a preexisting term referring to cliché, Tempting Fate final words.

I see no problem with this page (other than the obvious "AAAAAAAARGH" and "[death gurgle]" misuse). The description might need cleaning up, but that's it. I suppose if we really have to, we can move it to Just for Fun, but this really feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.

edited 11th Jul '13 9:46:54 AM by Discar

If we split off a trope about Tempting Fate last words, I think the name should be Ironic Last Words.

I like that one.

 24 Noaqiyeum, Mon, 15th Jul '13 6:51:47 PM from out of the night from pole to pole Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
Don't we have something like that? Death by Irony?

This is clearly a problem, though. Any Last Words is not a trope.
We dance around in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
- Robert Frost
Oh.

I'm just wondering if the character has to know they are dying to qualify for this trope. Writers sometimes don't realize this and give them significant last words even if they don't know that.

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