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Face Death With Dignity / Film

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Animation

  • At the end of Kung Fu Panda 2, Lord Shen reacts to the giant cannon about to crush him by calmly closing his eyes and accepting his fate, finally obtaining peace.
  • In The Snow Queen (2012), Vergard and Una embrace and say they love each other before the North Wind kills them.
  • The climax of Toy Story 3, where all the toys are about to fall into the incinerator. Fortunately, it isn't the end for them, thanks to the Squeeze Toy Aliens, who were presumed to be dead but are revealed to have commandeered a claw machine to pull them out in the nick of time.
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Live-Action

  • Several characters in the film 2012 go out this way, realizing that there's nowhere to run when the whole world is essentially falling apart, so they meet their end as humbly and stoically as possible.
  • Subverted in Anaconda. The tied-up murderer Paul Sarone is about to be murdered by a vengeful Denise because he let the Anaconda eat her boyfriend, and he seems willing to accept his impending death and gives her some advice on never looking your victim in the eye. He's just using it to catch her off-guard and strangle her with his thighs.
  • In Andersonville, a prison gang called The Raiders was put down. The gang was given a trial, and six of their leaders were sentenced to death. Collins, the boss of The Raiders, walked to the gallows quietly and saluted before he was dropped. Contrast his weaselly second-in-command, who wept and tried to run away.
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  • Flint Sky in Apocalypto, after being bound and about to have his throat slit, simply looks at his son and tells him not to be afraid. ... Then refuses to so much as blink when his throat is cut. Damn.
  • In the finale of Armageddon, the detonator for the nuke is damaged and someone has to stay behind to blow it. They pull straws and AJ gets the shortest. He puts on a brave face as he goes to his doom, but Harry decides to change the plan for him at the last minute.
  • The A-Team: Brock Pike, for all his trigger-happy and treacherous tendencies, actually faces death with humor when he thinks it to be inevitable. In fact he takes it upon himself to "educate" the rogue CIA agents on how to properly execute him so that he doesn't suffer the embarrassment of dying by the hands of men with an idiotic lack of firearm discipline. He doesn't know that events would conspire to give him a second chance.
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  • In Back to the Future, Doc Brown when facing the terrorists.
  • Batman Begins: When Ducard realizes that the train he is on is about to crash, he closes his eyes and calmly waits for the end.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jack, the Wayne Financial employee who dies in Zod's attack on Metropolis calmly crosses himself and says a last prayer asking for mercy on his soul when he realises the building he's in is about to be destroyed in the fight between Superman and Zod.
    • At the end of the film, as Superman prepares for his Heroic Sacrifice, he calmly tells Lois that he loves her and that she is "his world", then grabs the Kryptonite spear and charges at Doomsday. Even when stabbed throught the chest by one of Doomsday's Spikes of Villainy, Clark just looks determined and pulls himself further towards the beast, making sure it goes down even at the cost of his own life.
  • The two evil robot duplicates of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey are cheerful throughout the movie, regardless of what they're doing. When their good counterparts bear down on them, they congratulate the real Bill and Ted, say goodbye and put their heads at the right angle for the good robots to knock them sky high. Assholes though they were, they had style!
  • In Blade Runner, after spending the entire film looking for ways to extend his all-too brief life and finding out there's no way to do it (killing those responsible for his creation in the process) Roy Batty chooses to use his final moments to save the man sent to kill him, and then delivers a quiet monologue to Deckard about the transience of life.
    Roy: I've... Seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams, glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... Moments... Will be lost, in time. Like... Tears... In rain. Time... To die.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick:
    • The Purifier acknowledges that he has betrayed his previous people's ways and converted to the Necromonger faith to serve the Lord Marshal. Afterwards he calmly walks into a scorching storm where he is incinerated.
    • The Imam as well when he is cornered by a Necromonger soldier.
      There will be an afterlife for me. Will there be for you?
  • Dark Victory is practically the Trope Namer.
    Judith: Is that you, Martha? I don't want to be disturbed.
  • At the end of Death Race 2, after the Big Bad has been cornered by an assassin, Lucas arranged to kill him, if he couldn't do it himself, he just takes a puff from his cigar and asks who sent him, then after being told, congratulates Lucas for getting the last laugh, before he is shot dead by the assassin.
  • Death Takes a Holiday: Grazia is in love with Death and decides to go with him to the beyond, meaning she has to die. This doesn't phase her.
  • Deep Impact: Jason Lerner, when the tsunami is seconds away, hears his daughter Jenny (Tea Leoni) say "Daddy?" He holds her closer to his chest, raises his head, and closes his eyes.
    • The crew of the Messiah volunteer for a Suicide Mission to destroy one of the comets by blowing up their engine inside it. They're all incredibly stoic as they fly to their deaths and the last thing any of them say is the pilots telling each other It Has Been an Honor right before they blow the engine.
  • Defied in Django Unchained. Stephen probably intended to go out this way, dropping his cane, revealing he never needed it and adjusting his suit. But Django wasn't having it, shooting Stephen in both knees, leaving Stephen laying in a helpless heap on the floor, screaming in pain and cursing Django with his last breaths.
  • In Enemy at the Gates, when Major König realises that he has been caught in Zaitsev's trap, he calmly removes his cap, stands to attention, and waits for the gunshot.
  • In Epoch Evolution, Major Tower is shot twice in the abdomen by The Dragon, with his vest only stopping one bullet. Realizing they're too far from any medical help (being inside one of the Tori), he tells the protagonist to forget about trying to get him help and asks to be read the Bible one more time. He dies a few minutes later from blood loss, allowing the protagonist to continue.
  • Equilibrium. Partridge is aware that he's been sense offending, carrying a Yeats book of poetry. He's cool, calm, composed. Constantly, even when faced with death. When Preston becomes suspicious and finds him in the church, he doesn't look up, doesn't bat an eyelid, totally aware that Preston is armed. He even goes so far as to read from one of Yeats' famous poems, 'The Cloths Of Heaven'. He looks up, questioning everything the system stands for, hoping to get Preston to at least understand what's going on before he dies. We find out later from Mary that he was her lover and he secretly fought for the Resistance. The way he says the line below describes how resilient he is, because he doesn't do anything to prevent his own oncoming death despite knowing what was coming for him. He's going to die fighting for a cause and he wants it to stay that way. If it means dying for your beliefs, he's in no denial.
    Partridge: You always knew.
    • Mary, too. Although she’s clearly afraid, she doesn’t cry or make a scene at her execution. Instead, she calmly steps inside the incinerator and, in her final moments, grips her robe to stop her hands from shaking.
  • Salvatore "Sal" Tessio in The Godfather. Surrounded by Corleone men, he understands what is going to happen next. He gives Tom a message to Michael that it was only business, makes a slow, token, halfhearted reach for his shoulder holster (which Willie Cicci takes away), and asks Tom to let him off the hook with a wry grin, as a final, very dark joke about his own demise.
  • Matt Kowalski in Gravity drifts away in space with no hope of rescue. He maintains radio contact long enough to guide another astronaut to safety, turns on his favorite music and admires his last sunrise as his radio signal fades away.
    Kowalski: "Oh my god. Wow. You should see the sun on the Ganges. It's amazing."
  • Several of the hostages who are executed in reprisals for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Hangmen Also Die!, especially Professor Novotny (the only one we actually see die onscreen, calmly facing the firing squad).
  • Heart of Darkness (1958): When the Queen is sentenced to death by spear-thrust, she visibly works to control her emotions, then calmly climbs into her curtained palanquin to await execution. This not only gives the character a dignified exit, but also makes for a 1950s-TV-friendly Discretion Shot.
  • Hellboy (2004): When Professor Broom is cornered in his office by Rasputin and Kroenen, the former shows him a vision of the future that will result when Hellboy embraces his destiny and brings about the end of the world, making it clear that he intends to have Kroenen kill Broom. Broom replies that no matter what, he will always see Hellboy as his son, and calmly accepts his demise; for his part, Rasputin ensures that Broom's death is quick and painless.
  • Gangster Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) in Hoodlum. He gets shot at a urinal (right after taking a piss) by a man he deemed as unimportant. While throughout the movie he had been emotional and a Large Ham, his reaction to what just happened is that of calm incredulity. He musters enough energy to walk out of the toilet, sit at a table, give his killer a look full of contempt, and die.
  • Inglourious Basterds:
    • The German sergeant Werner Rachtman prepares to face death with dignity, rather than betray the location of his comrades, while Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine goes "Donny! We got us a German here wants to die for country. Oh-bliiige him." He is then beaten to death by Donny Donowitz, the Bear Jew.
    • Later on in the film, a British spy behind German lines slips up badly when ordering three fingers of Scotch. Presented with a gun under the table for his mistake, and knowing he's not getting out alive, he calmly finishes his drink, with the line:
    "There's a special circle in Hell for men who waste good Scotch."
  • In Ink, the Storyteller faces down the Prince while meeting his eyes, with her expression filled with nothing but stoic defiance.
  • In Kill Bill Bill reacts to Beatrix's Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart Technique attack with resounding grace, at first expressing understated surprise that Pai Mei taught her the technique, then a lovingly insulting final exchange with Beatrix before voluntarily standing up and taking the requisite number of steps for the technique to kill him.
  • At the beginning of Killshot, Mickey Rourke's character goes to assassinate an old crime boss. Wearing only a towel, the old man calmly asks if he can get dressed first. Being rather civil about it, the assassin agrees, and afterwards the man lies down on his bed in a fine suit and pulls the sheet up over his face before Rourke shoots him.
  • Kill the Irishman, when Danny Greene realizes he's about to be blown up by the car bomb next to his Cadillac, he sees Ray Ferrito driving by with the detonator in one hand and tipping his hat in farewell with the other. Accepting death, Greene pointed his finger like a gun just as the bomb kills him.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, as the Christian Armies leave Jerusalem, Balian of Ibelin exchanges words with his friend the Hospitaller for the last time:
    Balian of Ibelin: You go with the army?
    Hospitaller: My order is with the army.
    Balian of Ibelin: You go to certain death.
    Hospitaller: All death is certain. I shall tell your father what I've seen you become.
    [rides away]
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Galahad doesn't put up a struggle or protest when Valentine is poised to execute him. Later on, as Valentine's mortally wounded, all he calmly does is hope Eggsy won't give him a cheesy Bond One-Liner, and grins when Eggsy indulges him, anyway.
    • In the sequel, Merlin goes out with total class. He takes Eggsy's place on top of a landmine, then attracts the attention of some of Poppy's Mooks (by singing a badass rendition of "Country Roads, Take Me Home"), and when they're close enough, steps off the mine and blows them all up.
  • Commander Kril in The Last Starfighter. Distinguished himself from his second-in-command by not panicking when facing imminent death.
    Kodan 2nd: She won't answer the helm! We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull! What do we do?!
    Cmd. Kril: (calmly) We die.
  • At the end of The Man Who Would Be King, facing certain death through his own stupidity, Daniel Dravot asks for (and receives) forgiveness from his best friend, then walks proudly to his death, singing.
    • Billy Fish also qualifies, showing no fear, wishing his companions the best of luck before before charging head-on and being mobbed to death.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Black Panther (2018):
      • Zuri takes responsibility for his role in N'Jobu's death and offers himself to Killmonger to keep him from murdering T'Challa. Unfortunately, Killmonger opts for killing them both instead.
      • Killmonger's death is a combination of this and Defiant to the End. He's offered the chance to be healed by T'Challa, but refuses, saying that all that's left for him is life imprisonment, and pulls out the spear stuck in him. As he bleeds to death, he calmly asks to be buried in the ocean, just like the many slaves who'd jumped from the ships to choose death over a life of bondage.
      • Klaue subverts this hard, not by begging or getting afraid, but by simply cackling psychotically at this absurd turn of events.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: The people who are disintegrated when Thanos snaps his fingers follow this trope to varying degrees. Some, like Dr. Strange, who calmly maintains that this turn of events is necessary for Thanos' eventual defeat, play this straight. On the other hand, it's soundly averted with Peter Parker, who dies in Tony's arms, utterly terrified in his final moments. T’challa tries to get others to do this , even telling someone “Get up! This is no place to die!” right before it happens to him.
    • Avengers: Endgame: Thanos himself, three times:
      • At the beginning when the heroes confront him on The Garden, he puts up a fight but once restrained he is relatively calm even though he knows that the heroes have good reason to want him dead — especially after he reveals that he destroyed the Infinity Stones and thus he is of no use to them.
      • Later, a past version of Thanos witnesses a holographic recording of his future self's demise. As the recording also confirms that his plan ultimately succeeded, he rather calmly regards the events as destiny fulfilling itself, clearly accepting his inevitable death soon after the fulfillment of his goal.
      • At the very end, as his defeat became clear, he quietly sits down and closes his eyes, accepting the incoming death.
  • Mary of Scotland in Mary, Queen of Scots
  • In Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Lane prepares to take his life in the nuclear explosion when handing Walker the detonator, calmly telling him that his running days are over and this is where everything ends for him.
  • In Moon, the fifth Sam Bell clone chooses to let the sixth clone go back to Earth in his place because he knows that he'll die soon, and wants to give the newer Sam a chance to see his daughter. He goes back to the crashed rover and spends his last moments watching Sam #6's shuttle launching towards Earth, knowing that he'll finally get to go home.
  • At the end of Morning Departure, the storm is so bad that the captain of the salvage ship decides his own men are at risk, and abandons the salvage operation altogether. The three left in the submarine sense that there is no hope for them. The film ends with Armstrong reading from a naval prayer book.
  • In A Night to Remember as the RMS Titanic is about to go down, a group of men are found in the lower chambers standing around calmly not even wearing their life vests. When ask why they don't have them on and are out on the deck, they explained that they saw no point and had gotten rid of them, accepted their fate, and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.
  • When The Great Flood finally comes in Noah, Methuselah, who was not chosen to go into the Ark with his descendants, welcomes his fate with open arms and a smile. Plus, he got his berry.
  • Dr. Ferreiro of Pan's Labyrinth has quite a dignified death:
    Captain Vidal: "No. You could have obeyed me."
    Dr Ferreiro: "I could have, but I didn't."
    • Captain Vidal himself tries this when the rebels overrun his command post and surround him, by calmly delivering his newborn son to their leaders and requesting that they pass on his legacy to him. Because of all blood he shed and cruelty he meted out while creating that legacy, however, the rebels are in no mood to oblige him, and tell him straight up that his child won't even know his name before executing him like a dog.
  • Patriot Games. After Irish terrorists rescue their cohort from the van transporting him to prison, they ask one of the guards if he has any last words. The man refuses to beg for his life and simply states:
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow may be an Immortality Seeker and find any way he can to cheat death, but when he's trapped with no way out and he knows it, he doesn't face his end like a coward. Case in point: when he's at the Kraken's mercy near the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, he simply quips "Hello, Beastie," and jumps right into its jaws, sword at the ready.
  • One of the most iconic examples is in The Pride of the Yankees, as Lou Gehrig, who knows perfectly well that he is dying, gives a moving, optimistic speech. ("But today... today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.") Gary Cooper's speech was condensed and rearranged from what the real Gehrig said, with the "luckiest man on the face of the Earth" line moved from the beginning to the end.
  • Ravenous (1999): Captain John Boyd. It's especially prominent, as for the whole film he was frantically trying to survive by all means possible.
  • Blind Mag in Repo! The Genetic Opera. She knows she won't survive long after she leaves GeneCo, so rather than waiting for Rotti to send a Repo Man to kill her and take her eyes, she plucks them both out on stage during her farewell performance. Rotti kills her by dropping her onto a wrought iron fence.
  • Reservoir Dogs sees the double death (maybe) of Mr. White and Mr. Orange. The latter, having accomplished his mission, feels honor-bound to confess the truth of his betrayal to his protector, even if he knows it will probably get him killed. The former, meanwhile, feels obligated to off the traitor at the expense of his own life. It's subverted by the fact that neither death is particularly dignified; both characters are already severely wounded, Mr. Orange spends his last moments frantically apologising and begging for forgiveness, and Mr. White falls apart at the revelation and spends his last moments sobbing and screaming.
  • Schindler's List: Depressingly, Amon Goeth goes out this way both in-film and in Real Life when he's hanged for his share of Nazi war crimes.
  • Hans' wife faces her death with dignity in Seven Psychopaths.
  • In Six: The Mark Unleashed, the inmates of the prison that have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and that have refused the Holy Implant accept their fate, which is death by guillotine, with dignity, including Tom Newman at the end of the film.
  • Spectre: After Lucia Sciarra attends her husband's funeral, she knows that his old associates will kill her because She Knows Too Much. After getting home she walks into the mansion's courtyard and calmly prepares to be shot in the back by two assassins before Bond saves her.
    • At the end, when Bond has Blofeld cornered, he calmly states, "Finish it."
  • Spock, blinded and dying of radiation poisoning, pulls himself to his feet and takes a moment to straighten his uniform before speaking to his friend and captain.
  • Spock, again, this time preparing to die in the reboot, does this in the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness, after getting stranded in an active volcano and insisting that the Enterprise cannot violate the Prime Directive to save him. He's rather annoyed that they do anyway. This becomes a sore point with Uhura later.
    • This is averted with both Pike and Kirk. Spock, who was connected to him via mindmeld, says his last thought were of fear, confusion, and anger. The latter tearfully admits he is scared before dying.
  • Star Wars:
    • Near the climax of The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo, whose earlier behavior bordered on that of a Lovable Coward, chooses to go into the carbonite-freezing chamber this way. Though he punched the treacherous Lando Calrissian in the face and spoke sarcastically to him after his capture by Darth Vader, Han does a reasonably good job of keeping his emotions in check, even as Princess Leia looks frightened out of her wits for him. When she confesses "I love you!" just before the time arrives, all Han says is "I know." Then he sticks out his chin defiantly as he's lowered into the chamber and immediately turned into a carbonite block. True, Han doesn't die, but he spends an entire year in a weird state of semiconscious darkness, and is temporarily blind for a few hours after being freed.
    • Towards the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader turns back to the light side, accepting his old identity as Anakin Skywalker again, as he saves his son Luke from Emperor Palpatine. He kills Palpatine, but at the cost of his own life support systems.
    Anakin: Now, go, my son. Leave me...
    Luke: No, you're coming with me. I'll not leave you here, I have to save you.
    Anakin: You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right...
    • Most of the protagonists who die in Rogue One. Kaytoo battles to the last, bidding Cassian goodbye before collapsing. Chirrut dies in complete serenity in the arms of his closest friend (and quite possibly something more), convinced to the last that he will become one with the Force. Baze, in turn, wipes out an entire squad of Imperial Death Troopers while reciting Chirrut's Survival Mantra, and dies looking back at the body of the person who meant the most to him. Cassian and Jyn are embracing on the beach while the shockwave from the Death Star's attack on Scarif hits them; they knew, well in advance, that the shot was coming, and faced it down rather than panic uselessly.
    • The Last Jedi shows Cpt. Canady, commander of the First Order Dreadnaught Fulminatrix, standing stoically on the bridge of his exploding ship as the rest of the crew is panicking. A surprisingly dignified showing for a Star Wars villain.
  • Jor-El and Lara before Krypton blew up in Superman. A Mythology Gag with Lara in Man of Steel.
  • Third Star: For James this is the entire point of the trip to Barafundle Bay. He is in the last stages of cancer, and wants to choose the moment and manner of his death.
  • In Three Days of the Condor, when Joubert and his partner come across Janice after killing everyone else in the workplace:
    Janice: I won't scream.
    Joubert: I know. (his partner shoots her)
  • Many of the deaths in Titanic (1997), especially during the scene when the quartet are playing "Nearer My God To Thee", as passengers and crew gradually realize that it's futile to fight for a place on a lifeboat.
    • Captain Smith is depicted as retreating into the bridge as the ship sinks, dying when water bursts through the windows whilst clinging to the ship's wheel. It is actually unknown how he died.
    • Thomas Andrews, as well. He is depicted during the sinking of the ship as standing next to the clock in the first-class smoking room, lamenting his failure to build a strong and safe ship. It is unknown how the real Andrews died, although the last place he was seen by any survivor was in that smoking room.
    • Truth in Television: See the Real Life page.
  • Dennis Hopper's character in True Romance on realizing he won't make it out alive.
  • A morally ambiguous example would be Little Bill, staring down the barrel of a shotgun in Unforgiven.
    Gentlemen, he's only got one barrel left and when he fires that I want you to take out your pistols and gun him down like the vermin he is.
  • Fox in Wanted fires one bullet, killing every other assassin in the room, before calmly stepping into its path. Made all the more awesome by the fact that out of all of them, only one was badass enough to follow their own code.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
    • Once Victor arrives, Chris Bradley doesn't even flinch.
    • John Wraith, upon being confronted by Sabertooth, refuses to be scared and attempts to fight him.
    Wraith: I'm not Bradley, Victor. I'm not scared of your creepy black coat.
    Creed: You should be. Dukes was.
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