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Almost Dead Guy

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Mook: You're too late. Hapsburg has Plan B in ... in ...
Lt. Drebin: Where?! Where?! [Mook dies] All right, who else is almost dead?

Heavily wounded and on the verge of death, the Almost Dead Guy manages to stay alive just long enough to answer a question, or give a message (or at least the first part of a message — or even an insult). Almost Dead Guys seem to have a sixth sense of their value to the plot, and if necessary will cling to life for hours, sometimes even days, only to die within minutes of being questioned. Expect this character to die with their head heavily nodding to one side.

Sometimes, they have survived without serious injury, but are still in the middle of danger. They reach the heroes, they deliver the message, and then they get struck down. Sometimes after escaping injury for hours or days. This can be a case of Truth in Television, because in Real Life, human beings are often much tougher and harder to kill than people think, and in some cases have held on for months before finally expiring from their injuries.

Pretty much the opposite of the Impeded Messenger. Also contrast with Not Quite Dead, and with Only Mostly Dead, in which proximity to death is the same, but the implication is that the patient can be saved. Compare with His Name Is... where he dies just before he can give out the information. If it's a MacGuffin or another Plot Device that's bequeathed rather than information, it's I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin. If the protagonists make an effort to save the victim by taking him with them or keeping tabs on his condition for an extended period of time only for him to die anyway, he's a Doomed Hurt Guy.

When the story follows the character who has learned something that must be told, it's Bring News Back (where the survival rate is somewhat higher.) Compare also Pursued Protagonist, where the messenger is in mortal peril but stands a better chance of becoming a significant supporting character.

Almost Dead Guy is closely related to Mortal Wound Reveal, and vice-versa. It may lead into the almost dead person doing The Dying Walk.

Truth in Television, of course. Much of the drama of this situation comes from the fact that in most common law jurisdictions (e.g., Canada, the US, etc., though not England any more) one of the few times hearsay is allowed in sworn testimony is when repeating a dying person's last words.

See also Final Speech. If no one is nearby to hear the message when the guy "graduates" from the "almost" part, there's an option of leaving behind a Dead Man Writing. Sub-Trope of Wring Every Last Drop out of Him, when a character is on the brink of death, but takes a long while to actually die.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In AKIRA, both Ryu and Nezu stagger halfway through Tokyo: through a heavy military coup that's specifically searching for members of the government (such as Nezu), heavy rioting, and mad cultists taking to the street. Ryu has been shot, Nezu is suffering from a heart attack. Though they don't relay plot information to anyone (except Ryu to Nezu at the start of their journey), both travel an insane distance before collapsing from their wounds.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Just before the emotional (first) death of Vegeta, he tells his rival Goku of Frieza's ruthlessness, by telling him the history of his manipulation and extermination of the Saiyans, and pleaded he kill him with whatever it takes-all right after being blasted through the heart.
    • The special, Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku, has Bardock's ally Tora who stays alive long enough to tell Bardock Frieza's plan to kill the entire Saiyan race before shortly dying in Bardock's arms.
  • Several dogs from Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin and Ginga Densetsu Weed. Riki and John are examples.
  • Henkyou no Roukishi Bard Loen: While being impaled by a spear, Gyenzera Pain asks Bard Loen where's the "Double Whirlpool" and dies. Bard Loen, who had no interest or involvement in Coendera's ambitions so far, now knows the one of two things Lord Kaldus needs and decides to screw with him for all the trouble he's causing.
  • In Inuyasha, a member of the wolf tribe seems to limp home with impossible wounds to deliver the tale of the wolf tribe's massacre to Koga. Shortly afterwards, it's revealed he actually died with the others, and was being controlled like a puppet by Kagura.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Kakyoin uses the Emerald Splash to destroy a clock just before dying, allowing Joseph to deduce that the ability of DIO's stand, The World, is stopping time.
  • MegaMan NT Warrior (2002) does this unusually often with Glyde. When Colorman/Wackoman takes him down, he tells Mega Man, "beware the... ball..." and similarly, when taken down by a plant-themed Navi he whispers, "beware... the vines..." — this guy pretty much IS this trope personified.
  • In Mnemosyne, Tamotsu is Disconnected by Death by a military sniper but clings on to life long enough to tell Rin where Teruki has been taken to.
  • Adolf Junkers in Monster, who has the honor of reuniting his murderer with the good doctor who saved him.
  • Jiraiya in Naruto manages to get out a message that Pain's real body is... actually, he did a pretty poor job of phrasing what he meant to say, so everyone else is thinking OK, does this mean there is no real Pain or just that you didn't see him? It's later implied that he didn't know the entire truth, but was aware that the real Pain was elsewhere.
    • Sasori survives long enough after being pierced through his "heart" to debate with Sakura, and winds up by telling her information about Orochimaru.
    • During the Pain's invasion of Konoha arc, after Kakashi is beaten and about to die, he assigns a mission to Choji, and uses his last Kamui to protect Choji from Pain's missile.
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the princess of Pejite, after an airship crash, survives just long enough to identify herself to Nausicaä and tell her to "burn the cargo" (destroy the God Warrior).
  • In End of Evangelion, Shinji and Misato get ambushed by JSSDF soldiers on their way to Unit 01, and Misato is clipped by a high-velocity bullet in the back just as they make it out of harm's way through a door. Misato masks the extreme pain from her wound and gives a mentally broken Shinji encouragement and a genuine kiss before sending him off in the elevator. Right after the elevator door shuts, she collapses to the floor and starts bleeding out heavily. Misato says some wishful last words, but doesn't die peacefully — the JSSDF bomb the area she's taken refuge in — her body is blown in half and incinerated. Ouch.
  • One Piece:
    • Seaman Lines bursts into Baratie, bleeding and injured, to tell his commander (who, unbeknownst to him is also unconscious) that their prisoner escaped. He is then shot in the back by said prisoner, and is never mentioned again.
    • Played for drama with Corazon. He used his silence powers on Law to ensure that he could safely escape from the Doflamingo pirates, and continued to keep himself alive through sheer willpower even after being riddled with multiple gunshot wounds. The moment of his death is marked by Law's voice returning and his (understandable) sobs echoing across the island.
  • A nameless knight gets this honor in The Sacred Blacksmith in the first episode of the anime adaptation, to inform our heroes that they were ambushed. Whether he lived or not isn't mentioned.
  • Villain Lordgenome in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, after being beaten, managed to stand up and give an ominous warning of the dangers that the heroes were getting themselves into to. The amazing part of this is that he speaks for a good fifty seconds after getting most of his torso blown out with visible pieces of him floating off into the wind for the entire speech. And even that isn't enough to kill him. Later in the series, after getting obliterated on the atomic level, he overtakes the power of a big bang and converts it into Spiral Energy, giving it (with verbal cues) to the titular mecha.
  • Teoro of Utawarerumono manages to get his message to Hakuoro so that he can prepare for a surprise attack. Nobody actually realizes his almost dead status despite the fact that when they're gone he leaves a huge bloody stain everywhere. That's right, his message was so important it stopped blood from soaking his clothes.
  • Used several times in X/1999, where despite gaping holes in chests through the heart characters are able to deliver important last words often critical to the plot (though till the end one guy just Cannot Spit It Out). At least in the flipped American manga it was a little more plausible since the victims were punched through the lung, not the heart as in the original Japanese.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: In the early comics, this trope was used many times with background characters who would provide vital information before shoving off.
    • A memorable near-example is Joe Chill, the criminal who shot Bruce Wayne's parents. In his first appearance, Batman tracks him down and unmasks while threatening him; Chill flees, then gets shot by vengeful fellow crooks. Suddenly realizing they've just shot the only person who knows Batman's real name, they urge Chill to tell them — and he's about to. But Batman knocks out the crooks just in time, and Chill's last words are to him instead.
  • Combining this with Heroic Sacrifice and Redemption Equals Death, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 presents Ethan Rayne.
  • Get Smart: The informant in this comic, who also subverts a now-tired His Name Is... crossover gag.
  • Hack/Slash: The unfortunate Jason in the "Land of Lost Toys" story.
  • MAD: Don Martin once did a Film Noir parody, "The Letter", starring Fester Bestertester as a tough private eye, and featuring "Frankie The Kid", who staggers into a scene to gasp out some vital information before dying. Frankie then appears again at the climax of the story, to deliver the titular MacGuffin into Fester's hands, before dying a second time.
    • Martin lampshades opera's use of the trope in his parody, "Mia Romantica Crazio." In response to a woman asking whether her husband's disease is serious, a doctor sings: "Have you ever heard of a disease in an opera that wasn't? / In stories like this, one just doesn't! / Soon he'll choke, cough, retch and perspire, / Then he'll sing four arias and promptly expire!"
  • Onslaught: The storyline began with the Juggernaut getting Worfed within an inch of his life, able to convey only the villain's name before he passed out. He didn't die, but this is a guy who can consistently take on the whole X-Men; just the fact that he'd lost was shocking.
  • Tintin: A non-lethal example is in The Blue Lotus, where a messenger from China is giving the titular character a message but before he got to tell it, he was shot a "crazy serum" which turns him crazy. Before he become completely insane, he managed to blurt out "Shanghai" to Tintin.

    Fan Works 
  • Always Visible: Delia's father gets into an accident and ends up in the hospital with a head injury that leaves him almost unable to speak.
  • Echoes of Eternity uses the Unreliable Narrator versionnote  of Maria's death from Sonic the Hedgehog. As a result, she gets shot several times in the back, gets back up after a period, and delivers a speech to Shadow. Mind you, Maria is a terminally ill 12-year-old. She was just that determined.
  • Forum of Thrones:
    • Terroma, after falling down a cliff, is clearly mortally wounded. He gets a chance for a final talk with his loved ones before finally passing away.
    • The Burned Man was caught and tortured by the Alley Cats. To prevent him from ever escaping, the Sphynx attached him to a set of hooks that would kill him if removed. Once help arrived, his would-be rescuers are only able to grant him a Mercy Kill.
  • A Growing Affection: In Chapter 11, Hinata is mortally wounded, and Sakura pronounces her beyond saving, but keeps her alive long enough for Naruto to finish the fight and say goodbye. In the next chapter Naruto says screw that, and puts himself at risk to heal Hinata.
  • The Mummies Alive! fic "Requiem" reveals that Nefer-Tina was this after Scarab killed Rapses in Egypt; while she sustained fatal wounds, she survived long enough for Pharaoh Amenhotep to question her about why she lied regarding her gender and satisfy himself that everything about her service and skills as Nefer was genuine, concluding that she does not deserve to be condemned to a wandering afterlife for a lie that hurt nobody.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: The chapter "Nihilus" ends with Qrow using his body to shield a random civilian from the explosion caused by Ironwood's airship crashing into Beacon Academy's courtyard. The blast sends him flying into one of the school's empty hallways before a piece of the airship's wreckage impales him through the stomach. By the time Ironwood and Penny find him, Qrow is on the verge of dying from blood loss. Just before passing on, Qrow remembers that Ruby's scythe Crescent Rose was destroyed by Nihilus during their battle. Handing Ironwood his Harbinger, he asks him to find Ruby and give his weapon to her so that she won't be left defenseless. After Ironwood gives Qrow his promise, Qrow finally dies.
  • Trite Fright Night, the oldest Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers fanfic on, features a character who drops in to the story to croak out "Don't go in the basement!" and immediately dies. When everyone agrees that this is probably a good idea, he pops back to life long enough to say, "Don't don't go in the basement!" and immediately dies...again.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Antz, Barbatus is decapitated in battle against the termites, but because he's an ant, his head survives long enough to share a last conversation with Z before dying in Z's hands.
  • Parodied and played straight at the beginning of Shrek the Third, where the King (who is a frog) "dies" and revives multiple times during his Final Speech before actually dying. Particularly funny when a fly crawls out of his mouth and starts to fly away, only to have the King's tongue snap out and catch it before he continues.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler has a messenger who's been shot with many arrows crawl back to the Golden City and cough "One-Eye!" to the king before he dies.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie, both Megatron and Optimus are left barely alive after their battle. Optimus gasps out a last message before expiring, and Megatron is unceremoniously booted out of Astrotrain by Starscream and left for dead, whereupon Unicron finds him and reformats him into Galvatron.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This happens twice in 21 Bridges: Adi tells Michael the password to a couple of encypted flash drives containing evidence of a criminal conspiracy right before succumbing to bullet wounds, then later a mortally wounded Michael tells Andre the password.
  • In 300 when the Spartans come across a village slaughtered by the Persians, a lone child strolls up with no visible damage, stares at Leonidas for a second, collapses in his arms, whispers something about the attackers coming from the darkness, and then closes his eyes, presumably dead.
  • In Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, paleontologist Andrew Merliss and two government agents attempted to capture a live graboid, but the agents were killed when it transformed into the shrieker phase. He attempted to get away by dousing himself with a fire extinguisher to avoid the shrieker's heat vision, but was still mortally injured in the back. He lives long enough to reach Burt's group and tell them what happened before dropping dead.
  • In Aliens, the Marines find a colonist who awakens and begs the Marines to kill her as a chestburster tears through her.
  • Parodied in Buffy the Vampire Slayer where vampire Amilyn campily milks his death scene for almost a minute. He's still going during the credits.
  • Played almost to the point of ridicule in Dead on Arrival. The main character, fatally poisoned, staggers into a police station and tells his story to the policemen, narrating the whole movie before dying.
  • Parodied in Deadpool 2 when a mortally wounded Wade takes over several minutes to die, running out of material for his poignant final speech and having multiple fake-outs. And then he comes back to life anyways thanks to Cable time traveling.
  • Subverted and played for (rather dark) laughs in The Death of Stalin. After his massive stroke, the titular dictator Joseph Stalin spends most of his final hours comatose, but briefly regains consciousness towards the end. However, thanks to said massive stroke, he's completely incapable of coherent communication, barely has any higher cognitive functions left, and in practical terms can't really do anything except wave his arm around at various people and things in the room and croak unintelligibly before losing consciousness again. His cabinet do spend a few minutes making a valiant but hopelessly confused attempt at divining some kind of inspiring patriotic final message from a painting he happens to vaguely gesture towards, but eventually give up and don't think about it any further.
  • In Deewaar, Vijay finds Anita dying, and all she's able to say before dying is that she didn't tell her attackers anything.
  • In The Edge, Bob and Charles get stranded in the wilderness in the middle of winter and have to try to survive and get rescued. Bob becomes badly injured by an animal trap while trying to kill Charles because he loves Charles' wife and is jealous of his fortune, and then spends a long time as the Almost Dead Guy, being kept alive by Charles. Finally, Charles sees a rescue plane and goes to signal it, but Bob finally dies unnoticed in the minute or two it takes to get the plane's attention.
  • In the original Godzilla movie, Godzilla (1954), some shipwrecked mariners are found. They say that they were attacked by a monster, and then die almost immediately after of radiation burns. This was actually subverted. The guy who washes up on shore near the beginning of the movie survives and moves back in his with family in the village. Of course, the brutal irony here is when he's eventually killed by Godzilla anyway when the monster tramples the village during the night, as he's the same guy who throws open the door during the storm and screams as he meets Godzilla face-to-face. The commentary on the Classic Media two-disc set talks about this misconception in great detail, and you can blame it somewhat on the American version's choppy editing and translating.
  • Occurs in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, when a dying Confederate soldier reveals to Tuco that he knows where the gold is, but needs water, and while Tuco looks for water "Blondie" (Clint Eastwood) is told by the dying man the actual location, after which the man promptly dies, requiring Tuco to save Blondie's life in order to find the gold (Tuco had been forcing Blondie to cross a desert with no water in an effort to kill him).
  • Hearts of the World: The Girl and the Boy grapple with a German soldier in an upstairs room at the inn, stabbing him in the back and shooting him. He collapses and appears to be dead. However, later he struggles back to his feet and staggers downstairs, alerting Von Strohm to the Boy and Girl upstairs before he collapses and dies for real.
  • Played straight in Heat. One of De Niro's posse is murdered offscreen by Waingro. However, this guy truly is almost dead — as in, clinically he displays the symptoms of a person mortally wounded: extremely low respiratory rate, pale complexion and so on.
  • In Husk, the Scary Scarecrow has murdered Chris and is hoisting his body onto the scarecrow frame in preparation for turning him into a scarecrow. Scott stumble on to the scene and the scarecrow attempts to kill him to. However, Chris proves to be clinging to life and manages to grab the scarecrow and pull him off long enough for Scott to escape. The scarecrow then finishes Chris off for good.
  • I Come in Peace: After the alien drug dealer mortally wounds the space cop who was pursuing him, the good one survives just long enough to tell Jack and Larry about the drug dealer's plans and give them his energy gun.
  • In It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World the whole misadventure is set off when notorious criminal "Smiler" Grogan kicks the bucket (literally) after sending his car flying off a cliff, but not before telling a group of witnesses to the accident about $350,000 he buried in a distant state park. True to this trope, he groans into unconsciousness...then scares everyone by bolting up yelling "Say it don't make no difference, Aunt Belle!" before fading out again.
  • Judge Dredd. After being wounded, former Chief Justice Fargo lasts just long enough to pass on to Dredd the truth about his origin and tell him to stop Judge Griffin.
  • Subverted in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist where all of The Chosen One's friends (including his dog) become Almost Dead Guys, but then wake up and yell at him for assuming they were dead just because they sighed and fell limp. Except for Wimp Lo. Poor Wimp Lo.
    Master Tang: Just because a guy goes "eeeeeaaaahhh..." doesn't mean he is dead.
  • Parodied in Last Action Hero, where Art Carney lives just long enough to give Arnold Schwarzenegger the key piece of information, then says, "I'm outta here!" and dies.
  • Parodied repeatedly in the Jet Li movie Last Hero In China. After discovering the plot, a secondary character is warned that "once a seriously injured person tells a secret, they die after telling the secret.". Further attempts to reveal the secret see him wounded throughout the film. At the end of the movie, he staggers up to tell Jet Li's character who simply turns and walks away while the other characters groan and chastise him yet again.
  • The Last Hurrah: Defeated mayoral candidate Frank Skeffington more-or-less reconciles with the Roman Catholic Cardinal on his deathbed. As Skeffington fades off into death, Roger Sugrue (Skeffington's longtime opponent and self-appointed arbiter of acceptable Roman Catholic behavior) suggests that Skeffington would do everything differently, if he had it to do over again. Skeffington then summons the energy to say one last thing before he dies: "Like hell I would!"
  • Captain Jacobi in The Maltese Falcon (1941) comes staggering into Sam Spade's office, with several bullets in his body and carrying a package. He has just enough time to gasp out "black bird" before he keels over and dies. The package is the Maltese Falcon, the titular MacGuffin, a valuable medieval statue of a black bird.
  • Marlowe: Marlowe has been looking for Orrin Quest, a missing person. He hears a gunshot in Dr. Lagardie's office, goes to investigate, and finds Orrin, who has been shot. Orrin has just enough strength to stab Marlowe in the back with an icepick before he falls over dead.
  • Prince Rosenburg from Men in Black, a tiny alien found, on the verge of death, inside a human-shaped robot. Barely-sorta-halfway justified in that, while he managed to get all of a plot-critical message out ("The galaxy is on... Orion's... belt..."), the message was cryptic and misleading, due to his dying and not speaking English as a first language; he neither mentioned that Orion is his cat, nor used the right word to refer to Orion's collar. As you probably know by now, the "galaxy" part was not a mistranslation.
  • Missile X: The Neutron Bomb Incident: Alec gets to Stetson just before he dies of his knife wound.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
    Message Arrow: sssssssssssTHWUNK!
    Victim: Message for you, sir! urrrk
    • Subverted when he states he might actually pull through, which puts Sir Lancelot out a bit.
  • Satine in Moulin Rouge!, who holds on just long enough to say her goodbyes AND THEN SOME.
  • In The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen, Tom Wilson is shot and Left for Dead by the Hooded raiders, but he clings to life long enough to gasp a dying message to Tex.
  • Humorously subverted and parodied by Zucker, Abrams and Zucker in The Naked Gun ("Who else here is almost dead?" and "Well if that's your attitude, forget it") and in Top Secret!, where the character Latrine only ever runs into shot and gasps something when he's injured.
  • The German Comedy Neues vom Wixxer has the eponymous serial killer shooting up the office of Scotland Yard's Commissioner from a safe distance via sniper rifle. During the shootout, a random bobby happens to walk in and exclaim, "Good news, Sir John! [The doctor says] I don't have cancer after all!". Then... well, you know...
  • In Numb,, the foursome come upon a mostly frozen man who, after he dies, is found to have a set of GPS coordinates on him which lead to a hidden treasure.
  • The Phantom (1943): One of the spy ring's agents, after being shot to prevent the Phantom learning anything, takes several minutes to die, long enough to explain how she came to be working for the spy ring, and then dies just as it seems she's about to reveal the identity of the spy ring's leader.
  • Played for Laughs in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Inspector Clouseau enters the dressing room of a gay nightclub singer, only to find the man mortally wounded from a kidnapping attempt. Clouseau bends over him hoping to hear a vital clue from the dying man...and gets a kiss instead.
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1991): When Mendoza performs his Heel–Face Turn, Torquemada stabs him and leaves him for dead. After Torquemada is killed, Mendoza reappears — barely alive — and topples over the railing, and survives long enough to deliver some expository dialogue.
  • In Rovdyr, Roger, Camilla and Jorgen find an almost dead guy tied to a tree when they wake up in the forest. However, his ability to give them any kind of message about what is coming on is severely hampered because his tongue has been cut out. To their credit, Camilla and Jorgen attempt to take him with them when the run, but he is soon caught and killed by one of the hunters.
  • In the 1951 Scrooge, young Scrooge, thinking his sister has died, bitterly storms from the room, and misses her dying request to him. Later, much older Scrooge has Marley delivering a warning with his last breaths, but it's pretty much over his head. Scrooge even waited until business was over to bother visiting him; his maid incredulously declares "I'll see if I can get him to hold out, I'm sure!"
  • Played straight in Serenity with Book. And then, depending on your interpretation, there's either a subversion or just an interesting way of playing it straight when Mr. Universe lives long enough to program his wife with a message for Mal.
  • In SHAZAM! (2019), by the time Billy is summoned, the Wizard is on the verge of death due to a combination of his own old age and being attacked by Sivana moments prior. He survives long enough to hastily explain the situation to the boy and, in a last act of desperation, forces him to take his powers, crumbling into dust immediately afterwards.
  • When the fatal blow is struck on Detective Latham in She-Wolf of London, he manages to tell to the constables nearby that he was attacked by the "wolf-woman" before dying.
  • Parodied (possibly a shout out to Monty Python) in Sin City: The Big Fat Kill.
  • In Siren (2010), things start going seriously wrong for the protagonists when their yacht runs aground off a deserted island. Then an almost dead sailor swims from the island to their boat, babbles an incomprehensible warning (the sailor does not share a common language with anyone on the boat), and keels over dead.
  • Colter Stevens from Source Code is an example of this.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me. After the attack on the bridge of the Liparus, the mortally wounded captain lives just long enough to say:
    Captain: You're too late, Bond. Our submarines are already on station. In four minutes the missiles will be launched.
  • Star Wars:
  • Sucker Punch: Rocket, after she gets stabbed. Played to be a Dying Moment of Awesome in Babydoll's imagination.
  • The Terminator: In a deleted scene, Sarah and Kyle discover the mortally-wounded Lt. Traxler, now believing Kyle's remarks about the Terminator and gives him his gun, telling him to see to it that Sarah stays alive.
  • Ugetsu: Genjuro and his family are crossing the lake when they see a drifting boat. It contains a grievously wounded man who warns them that there are pirates on the lake. He then dies.
  • In The Untouchables (1987), Malone takes a burst from a Thompson in the chest, but manages to live long enough to talk later.
  • In Vampire Diary, Vicki and Holly are disposing of Brad's body when they discover that he his still alive. Vicki offers Holly the opportunity to call an ambulance and the police and save him. However, Holly cannot bring herself to turn Vicki in and tell Vicki to finish it. Vicki finishes Brad off by shooting him in the head with a bolt gun.
  • What's Up, Tiger Lily?: Early on, Phil tries to get info from a dying thug, who tells him "Beware of the man with...with...with...with...with...with..." — the scene fades out before he does.

  • In some versions of the Sleeper Under the Hill legend, someone finds the hidden sanctuary, but then makes an error (stealing from the sleeper's treasure, or ringing the bell when it's not time to wake them yet) and is hit by a deadly magical effect, but one that gives them enough time to stagger out of the cave and explain the whole story (except, of course, exactly where the sanctuary is) to a passer-by, thereby averting Undead Author.

  • Diana Wynne Jones's Cart and Cwidder: Clennen is dying from stab wounds, but he has just enough time to tell Moril that the magical cwidder is now his responsibility. Moril later realizes that the cwidder playing is what keeps Clennen alive so long.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • Referenced in the Partners in Crime collection of Tommy and Tuppence stories. Tuppence, discussing her readiness to Jump at the Call, wishes a dead man would stagger into the room and say something enigmatic. Her husband responds "Tuppence, what have you been reading?"
    • The plot starting device of Why Didn't They Ask Evans? The protagonist suddenly sees an Almost Dead Guy who, before dying, utters the title sentence, and the protagonist decides to solve this mystery.
  • In City of Heavenly Fire, when sustaining Death Equals Redemption, Jonathan gets to talk about the real him that never got a chance because of Valentine and the demon blood.
  • The Corpse Came Calling gets its title from this trope. Hardboiled private eye Michael Shayne is relaxing in the office with his wife Phyllis when a man staggers into the doorway and collapses. The man gasps out "They—didn't—get" before he dies from the three bullet wounds in his chest.
  • The plot of The Dreamside Road is jumpstarted by a dying old man climbing from a train derailment.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Fighting Man of Mars, men are found, broken, on the ground; one lives just long enough to tell how of their ship disintegrated under them.
  • Gauron from Full Metal Panic! loses all of his limbs from sharks eating them, loses an eye, and half of the skin on his face (on the same side as his lost eye) had become keloidal. Of course, the guy ends up being able to hold on like that for six months, and it's implied that the only thing that sustained him was his desire to see Sousuke again. He's shown to be insanely happy to see Sousuke again, and although most of his last words to Sousuke only seem to piss Sousuke off, he does end up giving Sousuke an important clue ("Badham") that was necessary for a future mission. The rest of his last words were mostly for his own self satisfaction, screwing with Sousuke's mind because he's crazy that way. Interestingly enough, he does manage to say all that he wants to say, and the person who ends up cutting him off and killing him is Sousuke (which is exactly what the guy wanted).
  • In John Buchan's Greenmantle, Harry Bullivant survives long enough to deliver the crucial clues that set Richard Hannay off on his adventure.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Snape lives just long enough to give his vial of memories to Harry.
  • From His Dark Materials: the angel Baruch manages to get to Lord Asriel's tower and deliver his message — only semi-coherently, amid distracted rambling that reveal his origins and his once-blood relationship with the Metatron — before a gust of wind dissolves him into Dust.
  • In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Knight, the knight that escaped the Thornguard alerts Ash and Puck to the would-be assassins of Meghan.
  • In the first Kurt Wallander novel, one of the murder victims manages to hang on to life for several days after she is attacked. When she regains consciousness she mouths the word "foreign" and dies. This is sort of a Double Subversion because she dies before the police are able to get any useful information from her, but her attackers do indeed turn out to have been Czech.
  • In Les Misérables, both Eponine and Jean Valjean take their sweet time dying, yet both keep talking articulately to the very end. Gavroche also gets this briefly, as he keeps singing defiantly after being shot, but then a second bullet instantly finishes him off.
  • Parodied in Life, the Universe and Everything with a scene where a dying man gasps out an important piece of information to Arthur Dent — which Arthur keeps asking him to repeat because he missed a bit or because he wants to make sure he has all the details written down correctly. It ends with the line:
    "Oh, for heaven's sake," said Prak, and died testily.
  • In The Two Towers, Boromir hangs on long enough to apologize to Aragorn for having tried to steal the Ring from Frodo, and to tell him that the Orcs got Merry and Pippin. Unfortunately, by the time Aragorn gets around to asking the most salient question (i.e., did the Orcs have Frodo too?) Boromir has died.
  • Parodied in Maskerade, where the villain, who hates opera, makes an extended complaint about everything opera-related after being stabbed, apparently dying only to return to life several times in as many minutes. His final complaint? How everyone takes so long to die.
  • The Memory Trap by Anthony Price: At the beginning, a murdered Russian defector gasps out a cryptic and incomplete message before dying. Figuring out what the message means is most of the rest of the plot.
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, a CIA agent is shot by the terrorists he's investigating, but lingers long enough to tell Modesty everything he's found out about them.
  • Old Kingdom: The Dragon deliberately leaves one badly wounded guardswoman alive after an attack because a slow, miserable death would make her more powerful as an undead minion. She holds out for days and dies right as Lirael and Sam find her, but Lirael is able to question her spirit and lay it to rest.
  • The Outsider (2018): When Terry Maitland, the man suspected of murdering Frank Peterson, is shot on the steps of the courthouse, detective Ralph Anderson urges him to confess now that he still can. Maitland however uses hist last breath to once again state his innocence, and ask Anderson how he's going to clear his conscience.
  • In Honored Enemy, a novel of The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond Feist and William Forstchen, a young soldier is stabbed by a traitor but manages to survive the ride back to his fort, where he warns his commander of the traitor's actions — and, in his commander Hartraft's eyes, he is finally redeemed for having indirectly and unintentionally caused the death of Hartraft's oldest friend.
  • The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal: Thorstein Ketilsson stabs the highwayman Jokul with a sword, so the sword gets stuck in the bed under Jokul. Nevertheless Jokul manages to tell Thorstein his own name and family and instructs him to bring the news of his death to his parents. Only then he tells Thorstein to pull out the sword, upon which he dies.
  • And in The Silmarillion, Morwen stays alive long enough to reunite with her husband, tell him she's dying, and then die.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain series:
      • In Cain's Last Stand, a scrivener survived a tyranid attack — apparently for days — just long enough to fill in Cain; then the tyranids kill him. Except it was really necrons who attacked the place, the tyranids had only just shown up. The man dies before explaining what attacked and only one odd comment (he was hiding in air ducts? From tyranids?) serves as an indication of what really happened.
      • In The Traitor's Hand, a praetor is fleeing Chaos insurgents when he meets Cain's forces. He fills Cain in and is shot. Unusually, the medic pronounces his injuries not serious, and later, Cain is told that he is recovering well.
      • Back to Cain's Last Stand, would Donal count? He fills pretty much the same expository purpose, it's just rather unusual in nature, both the danger and cause of death.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, Gedrik. In fact, he should have been dead. This causes Uriel to take what appear to be ramblings very seriously: he thinks that being so near death may have given him visions.
    • In Lee Lightner's Space Wolf novel Sons of Fenris, Magni lives just long enough to tell Ragnar about the Hostage Situation they face.
  • In Warriors, this happens with Bluestar (who gets to say goodbye to her kits), Yellowfang (thanking Fireheart), and Hawkfrost (sneering at Brambleclaw). There are more. Also Downplayed, as Ravenpaw (who announces Redtail's death) falls.. but he's just unconscious. Yellowfang is a particularly strong example as she manages to survive days after being trapped in a forest fire only to die very soon after Fireheart finds her.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Subverted by Pedron Niall, Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light. Niall has just gotten a message of tremendous importance from his real spymaster when his decoy spymaster assassinates him. His last thought is that if he can die clutching the message in his hand, or even just reaching for it, it'll be noticed and acted on. But it's fallen into a puddle of wine and is unreadable.
    • Later on played straight by Verin, except she killed herself to be able to deliver the message.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in The 100. Gina — who has been stabbed by a Grounder intent on blowing up the mountain she and many of her people are inside — manages to alert Raven that the mountain is about to self-destruct so that Raven can get the deactivation code and relay it to her. However, Gina dies before she can input the code.
  • A problem arises with this trope in Agent Carter because the man in question can't talk due to a laryngectomy and his voice synthesizer is broken. Instead he draws a clue in the dirt next to him.
  • Alias: Lauren manages to gasp out all the digits of a plot-critical safety deposit box.
  • A particularly outrageous example can be found in Andromeda — in one episode, a character has their neck cleanly snapped and slumps to the ground during a fight, which should have been an instant death. However, after the fight is over, it turns out she's Only Mostly Dead and gets to give her dying words to the main characters (acting like she was stabbed or poisoned instead of being instantly killed), and then actually dies.
  • Happens at least once in Angel. In "Not Fade Away", Wesley stays alive just long enough to say goodbye to Illyria who is pretending to be Fred — the original owner of her body — by Wesley's wish.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the original movie Amilyn campily milks his death scene for almost a minute. He's still going during the credits.
    • In "Bargaining Part 2", the Buffybot survives long enough after being ripped apart to reveal to Dawn that the real Buffy is back.
    • Combining this with Heroic Sacrifice and Redemption Equals Death, Ethan Rayne gives his life to help Buffy in the Season 8 comics.
  • Burn Notice plays with this a bit. One guy gets shot and manages to share some information. However, it's just a few lines about his wife, and the only reason he managed to hold on is because he had just been shot as part of a ridiculously precise and elaborate frame job.
  • Jon Stewart played one of these on The Colbert Report in an installment of "(Stephen Colbert Presents) Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Beginning's First Dawn: A Tek Jansen Adventure". He was forced to stay Not Quite Dead for longer than usual to give teenage Tek detailed directions to Alpha Squad headquarters (while expressing disbelief that Tek didn't know "Galaxy Plaza! It's the ominous building that's always humming!").
  • Community:
    • Parodied by "Modern Warfare". Garrett isn't dying. He's just been eliminated from a paintball tournament that's gone horribly awry. He manages to explain to Jeff what exactly went wrong before being shot again.
    • And again in the second Paintball episode when Magnitude is eliminated from the contest and tries to utter his catchphrase "Pop Pop" one last time, even though he's not actually dying.
      Magnitude: Pop...
      Troy: Pop what? WHAT IS HE TRYING TO SAY????
  • Similarly, in an episode of CSI a girl is killed by having her neck snapped. She stays conscious long enough to begin a text message with the killer's license plate number.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Every time the Doctor regenerates he seems to last long enough to say some goodbyes and utter some meaningful last words before the regeneration kicks in. (Well, except for the Sixth and Seventh, who had different circumstances.)
    • "The Deadly Assassin": The Doctor interrogates the dying Chancellor Goth, who gives him some useful information about the Master and a lot of waffle and hot air. "Typical politician", as the Doctor remarks.
    • "Warriors' Gate": The Doctor and the villains are trying to get a pair of ancient robots to disgorge the vital information they need to escape. The one the Doctor's been working on eventually begins to answer questions. It gets as far as "The secret of the gateway is–" at which point the other one powers up and kills it mid-sentence.
    • "Gridlock": The Face of Boe sacrifices himself to free the inhabitants from the perpetual motorway, but survives just long enough to drop his bombshell.
      You... are not... alone...
    • "Blink": Billy Shipton is attacked and killed by the Weeping Angels — well, not quite. He gets sent back to 1969, where he manages to live 38 years back to the present just to deliver a message to Sally Sparrow. On his deathbed.
    • "The End of Time": The Tenth Doctor himself does this as he's dying of radiation poisoning — he manages to survive just long enough to visit all of the surviving companions he'd known in that incarnation, cleverly avoiding actual death by giving out no plot-relevant information besides supplying Jack with the name of the guy sitting next to him in a bar. Of course, once he started dying really badly, he went ahead and travels to 2005 and hints to Rose that later that year she'll be traveling with his previous incarnation. That seemed to have finished him off.
    • "Amy's Choice": Rory, in his first on-screen death in a dream sequence, disintegrates slowly enough that he can give Amy some last words about their dream baby.
    • "Heaven Sent": Twelve spends a day and a half on the brink of death, dragging himself all the way up to the top of the tower. It's also revealed that staying alive this long is not restricted to the Doctor alone, but that it's a trait all Time Lords have.
      People always get it wrong with Time Lords. We take forever to die. Even if we're too injured to regenerate, every cell in our bodies keeps trying. Dying properly can take days. That's why we like to die among our own kind. They know not to bury us early.
  • Game of Thrones: Maester Luwin survives long enough to say goodbye and advise his charges. Justified since gut wounds are notoriously slow and he has to ask for a Mercy Kill after he's said his piece.
  • Get Smart
    • Lampshaded when the Almost Dead Guy starts by simply stating the crucial name. He then says "I did it! You know, usually when someone is revealing a name, they'll say 'His Name Is......' and then get shot!" Max retorts with "So what was his name again?" "His name is—" BANG. Dead.
    • Parodied with a Running Gag of Max kneeling down to interrogate a dying man, who whispers something in response.
      Agent 99: What did he say?
      Max: He told me to get my knee off his chest.
    • In "Aboard the Orient Express", Agent Ernst is stabbed in the back while talking to Max. Max asks him the identity of his killer, and he responds painfully slowly "Don't think I'll live long enough to say... pity!", and dies (after already "waking up" twice and wasting all of each time informing Max that he's dying).
    • In "The Day Smart Turned Chicken", a man in a cowboy outfit reached Max's apartment and alternated between appearing to die (several times), giving him clues to why he was killed, and disappearing. He turned out to be a KAOS agent who was part of a plan to damage Max's credibility as a witness in an important case.
    • Also in The Nude Bomb, when a murder-attempt victim keeps springing back to life, leaving the heroes vacillating between calling for a hearse or an ambulance. They finally settle on the latter.
  • Horatio Hornblower, "Retribution": Lieutenant Archie Kennedy is severely injured when their ship is taken by escaped Spanish prisoners. He hides it from his friend Horatio, insisting it's just a scratch and not as bad as it looks, but Horatio is not fooled and Mortal Wound Reveal plus Blood from the Mouth tell him that Archie, poor lamb, is dying. He lives long enough to commit a Heroic Sacrifice and falsely testify at a trial to save Horatio from hanging.
  • Lost:
    • Subverted in the episode "Exposé", which opens with Nikki running through the jungle, only to collapse as she emerges on the beach and grunts out something that sounds like "Paulo lies!" This is a subversion because she's actually saying, "Paralyzed," in a last-ditch effort to let the others know she's been bitten by the medusa spider, which leaves the victim in an 8-hour paralysis. Sadly, this fact is not revealed before both she and Paulo, suffering from the same condition, are buried alive.
    • Charlie gets the code to un-jam the signal in The Looking Glass station seconds before Bonnie dies and then dies himself, but not before pulling another one of these with the help of a window, a Sharpie, and his hand.
    • Also true of Naomi, both played straight and subverted. At first she gives all vital information on how to contact her ship and is seemingly killed by Locke. But it is then revealed that she didn't die and gets the radio once more so she can warn the crew about the people on the island being treacherous, just before she died. Daniel, Libby, Eko, and Charlotte also get to say some important stuff before they die.
  • One episode of Mr. Show contained a series of characters afflicted with Imminent Death Syndrome, a disease which puts them at the verge of death for "fifty or sixty years"; rather than giving them time to give out crucial information, IDS allows its sufferers to be the ceaseless benefactor of everyone else's sympathy for the rest of their lives.
  • The taxi driver serial killer from Sherlock, although his was forced out of him.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • In "Balance of Terror", the Almost Dead Guy is Commander Hanson of Asteroid Outpost 4 on the edge of the Neutral Zone between Federation & Romulan space. He lives long enough to describe the attack that devastated his outpost and two others, before the Romulan ship returns and vaporizes his outpost.
      • Subverted in "Obsession" when Captain Kirk interrogates a dying Red Shirt about the Monster of the Week which attacked him, believing it's a creature he's encountered before. As the redshirt is drugged and semi-conscious, and he's just responding to questions that Kirk is demanding of him, Bones points out that he could just be saying what he thinks the captain wants to hear.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Reunion", Worf and his son Alexander discover K'Ehleyr was attacked and mortally wounded. She hints at who attacked her, Duras, before dying. Afterwards, Worf goes to Duras's ship and kills him in a duel, making Gowron the presumptive new Chancellor.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Somewhat subverted in the final episode, "What You Leave Behind". Actor Casey Biggs didn't want Damar to go out without some last words, so Damar says "Keep..." just before he dies. Biggs later admitted he had no idea what would have come after "keep."
    • Star Trek: Picard: In "Nepenthe", after receiving a fatal wound, Hugh survives just long enough to provide Elnor with vital information about the queencell, persuade the Qowat Milat disciple to Take Up My Sword because it's a lost cause, and utter a few touching final words. Hugh then conveniently expires right after he's finished.
  • Supernatural:
    • In Season 1, we have Meg Masters (after Meg the Demon is forced to leave her body), who should be completely dead by now but manages to stay alive for a few more minutes and essentially informing the Winchesters she's dying.
    • In Season 8, Henry Winchester lives just long enough to inform Sam and Dean that as long as they live, there is hope.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): In season 3, Old Five can only tell his younger self not to save the world before passing away, leaving the latter to wonder what he means.
  • The first episode of the V remake has a textbook example.
  • The Game Show Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego sometimes posed a question by having "The Dying Informant" come in and gasp out clues as to where Carmen's henchman of the day had taken that episode's MacGuffin. In one episode they mixed it up and had him walk in totally unharmed to give his clue, and then get killed at the start of the next question (the lightning round, where he got struck by lightning).
  • Parodied in an episode of The Young Ones, when a dying secret agent bursts into a hideout to blurt out his final secret to his comrades — however, they're too busy quibbling about finding a pencil and a piece of paper to write it down with to listen to him, and so miss the entire thing.


  • Johnny Cash's "Give My Love To Rose" is about this.
  • YUP's Toppatakkeja ja Toledon Terästä has a song "Pää Puhuu (The Head Talks)" where severed, but living head records important evidence on a cassette.
  • Happens a few times across The Mechanisms' discography
    • Ulysses Dies at Dawn: After the titular Ulysses is hit by three plasma bullets, they manage to live long enough to get to the vault, input the code, and crawl their way inside before the door shuts, finally able to die in peace next to their wife and dog and forever escape the Acheron.
    • High Noon Over Camelot: When the Pendragon gang and Gawain arrive outside the G.R.A.I.L.'s vault and see the automatic turrets take down some of their men, Gawain manages to keep himself standing upward as he walks through the rain of bullets, only collapsing when the guns are finally empty and the Pendragons are free to pass through safely.
    • The Bifrost Incident: Weakened by the cosmic madness surrounding him and his lost-cause fight with Odin, Thor manages to take nine final steps towards the train window and break it, pulling both him and what was once Odin into space.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: One mission in the Zeitgeist adventure path involves a seer on the verge of dying of old age, using the last of his strength to deliver his final prophecies. If the heroes foil the assassination attempt on him, he successfully says the prophecies and dies immediately afterwards.
  • Subverted in a fluff piece from the Warhammer 40,000 second edition rulebook. An Imperial Guardsman staggers into a command centre and gasps a desperate warning with his dying breaths: Ork forces have broken through the Imperial defences, slaughtering regiment after regiment of troops. The officers, however, ignore the dead soldier. Instead, they calmly watch the battle monitors as reserves close in to trap the advancing Orks — exactly as planned.

  • This is a mainstay of opera, particularly from the 19th century Romantic Era. Why have characters die quickly when they can sing a final aria or duet (or several)? Particularly famous examples include:
    • Violetta in the third act of Verdi's La Traviata.
    • Mimì in the fourth act of Puccini's La Bohème.
    • Tristan in the final act of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
    • Gilda in the final scene of Verdi's Rigoletto.
    • Manon in the final scenes of Massenet's Manon and Puccini's Manon Lescaut.
    • Werther in the final act of Massenet's Werther.
    • Riccardo/Gustavo in the final scene of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. Truth in Television –- in fact the death is sped up for the stage, as the real Gustav III lingered for two weeks after he was shot.
  • The first hitman in The Altos manages to survive almost to the end of the song "Come Clean" as he attempts to give his information only to be interrupted by another verse.
  • Les Misérables: Fantine, Éponine and Jean Valjean all have very drawn-out death scenes. The latter two are more or less taken straight from the novel. Fantine's is actually a Lighter and Softer case; in the novel she's very sick but not necessarily past hope, but when Javert barges into her hospital room and tries to arrest Valjean, the shock instantly kills her.
  • William Shakespeare did this often, with a few examples below. The line "I am slain!" is spoken often.
  • William Shakespeare's Macbeth begins with an account of a battle by a severely wounded soldier who can just manage to report the crucial facts before his wounds require attending to (he doesn't actually die, but it's pretty much the same thing).
  • William Shakespeare's Othello contains a particularly ridiculous example: Desdemona manages to whisper her last words to her friend Emilia minutes after being murdered by asphyxiation!
    • Most modern productions cut this out, perhaps realizing the audience probably won't buy it. These days, once killed, she just lies there and is dead.
    • There's another interpretation that Othello has actually failed to smother Desdemona properly, and after she says this he stabs her; earlier on he has a line specifically about how he won't mar her skin or shed her blood, and it's possible that Shakespeare put this in just to hint that he in fact will.
    • It's more likely that Shakespeare was just misinformed — apparently it was commonly thought at the time that people could briefly revive after suffocation, and he was not the only playwright to use this idea for dramatic last words. The title character of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi has an almost identical event, in fact.
  • Hamlet takes forever to die despite being stabbed and then dosed with a poison that takes out everyone else in a minute or so.
  • He's got nothing on Antony, who fails to stab himself in an appropriately fatal manner when attempting suicide, and takes several scenes to die. He doesn't breathe his last until Cleopatra finally turns up.
    • Partially Truth in Television: The real Mark Antony tried to commit suicide by falling on his sword, but he botched the job and so took an uncomfortably long time to die.
  • So does Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, who uses every last minute to tell the Capulets and Montagues what he really thinks of them. That and make puns.
  • This pops up in the Sera Myu any time the song Sorezore no Elegy (Each one's Elegy) pops up. The '97 is most notable: it has the Sailor Guardians having, just been defeated by Galaxia, sing their goodbyes to Usagi (who is singing goodbye back) before they drop over dead or Galaxia gets fed up and finishes them off. They do get better of course.
  • Urinetown keeps Bobby Strong alive long enough to sing a whole song as his dying words, after being thrown off of a skyscraper. Yeah.

  • An unnamed Ta-Matoran serves this role for the Toa Inika in BIONICLE, as he briefly tells them about Mahri Nui before dying.

    Video Games 
  • In the point-and-click adventure Amerzone, this trope is used three times, with all three members of a long-ago jungle expedition. Possibly justified, as each man is about a hundred-years-old, and meeting you gets them emotionally worked-up enough to induce cardiac arrest.
  • In Ancient Domains of Mystery you find a dying sage who dies the instant you talk to him and he's given you an explanation about the Plot Coupons. Nothing can heal him. In a Guide Dang It! moment, for one of the best endings you have to give him an Amulet of Life Saving before even talking to him. So he does die... but comes back because he was Only Mostly Dead.
    • He also blocks the stairs that let you progress further in the game, and he's immune to being teleported away for no particular reason. The game thus makes sure that you need to interact with him if you want to proceed with the game's main quest.
  • Area 51, with a soldier. Notable in that he survives being shot point blank with a machine gun in order to tell the player character absolutely irrelevant information they would have dealt with anyway.
  • After Altair takes down his assassination targets in Assassin's Creed, they all give a full exposition on their motives, beliefs, and hints towards the error of Altair's ways as he carries out his master's orders — some of which go on for a full five minutes or more. Interesting that they're able to give him that much information for that extended period of time, considering he ended up stabbing them in the throat on numerous occasions.
    • Notably this doesn't happen in real-time, but in the "cyberspace" where the protagonist ends up when the synchronization fails. When these scenes end, not a second has passed around them. Of course, this raises the question of just how this works in the story's internal logic.
      • The way a couple of the monologues are said, including the leader of the Teutonics going "No, please, don't do this!" despite already having been knifed, implies that Altair cornered his targets and allowed them final words before killing them.
    • Assassin's Creed II makes these far more believable. The targets only have enough time for one or two sentences before dying. One early one uses his sentence to mock the long confessions from the first game "What were you expecting, a confession?" *dead*
  • Run into the ground and steamrolled all the way into China by the In Name Only Remake of The Bard's Tale. The Nucklavee (A demonic centaur with blades for arms from Irish mythology) nearly saws one of the Bohds (there's a bunch of them, all brothers in various stages of disfigurement) in half with his huge blades. Despite this, Bohd falls back as gently as if he were going to take a nap, and without any blood at all. It takes him about seven whole minutes to die, as he keeps fading out and coming back, each time without finishing what he's supposed to say, or becoming distracted and rambling about unrelated events in his life. The exasperated Bard is about to take matters into his own hands when Bohd finally kicks it for good.
  • In Breath of Fire I, the second of the two soldiers protecting Nina dies of his injuries after reaching Windia.
  • Call of Duty 3 has a small example, At the end of the 3rd American level Sgt. McCullin is mortally wounded by a mortar round and his last words to Cpl. Dixon are "Tell.. tell Guzzo... tell him... tell him to go to hell..." he then laughs insanely before passing away.
  • Cave Story (aka Doukutsu Monogatari) subverts this trope. After a lethal fall, Professor Booster survives only long enough to give the player a jet pack, the Booster. However, if the player avoids speaking to him, he survives and later gives an improved version of the Booster instead.
  • In Clock TowerFirst Fear, if Lotte is found at the altar in the caves, she relays information essential in killing Scissorman, before dying (presumably of blood loss) shortly afterwards.
    • King plays it straight, surviving just long enough to give you his weapon and tell you to avenge him.
  • Invoked in Detroit: Become Human. In the chapter "Eden Club", Connor and Hank are called to the scene of a homicide, where they find a severely damaged Traci android next to the murder victim. Connor is capable of reactivating her for questioning; due to the damage she sustained, she lasts less than a minute before shutting down for good, but her testimony is enough to clue Connor in about a potential murder suspect.
  • The dying villager at the entrance to the Church that begins the "Butcher" quest in Diablo (1997). Since he'll hang on forever as long as you don't speak to him, and you don't actually need to speak with him to deal with the Butcher, some players simply ignore him in order to save his life.
  • Doom³ features at least four people dying of their injuries as the player find them, their last lines range from entire monologues to a single line ("Sarge, you got to stop him, he took my gun..") There are several others who die just after meeting you.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age: Origins. Near the beginning of the game, you come across a random soldier who is badly wounded. You have the option of fixing him up and letting him limp back to camp, letting him limp back without medical aid at all, or killing him yourself. However, if you don't kill him, he presumably dies along with everyone else at Ostagar. But he doesn't die of his wounds!
    • Played straight in the Return to Ostagar DLC. The player comes across Elric, one of the King's men, as he is caught by Loghain's cohorts in a forested area. Regardless of player action, he is ran through the chest by a sword. He survives long enough to have a detailed conversation that sets up the DLC's plot and goals. As soon as he is done relaying this information, he dies.
  • Dragon Quest II is more or less the Trope Codifier for this trope in the realm of JRPGs. The game starts with an evil sorcerer attacking the castle of Moonbrooke, and the only person to flee the attack is a single wounded guard, who hobbles from Moonbrook all the way to the main character's castle of Lauraisa and doesn't die until just after he warns the king there about the impending doom, thus starting your quest to beat down Hargon. Needless to say, fans of the game have subsequently reasoned that said guard must have been a Determinator and/or Badass Normal to survive the entire journey between castles despite fatal wounds.
  • EarthBound (1994):
    • Buzz Buzz in the humorous style typical of the game, will literally refuse to die of a mortal wound until Ness hears his full exposition (and confirms that he understood it).
    • This seemed to be parodied when Everdred is "dying." He gives a long speech, asks for confirmation then... stands up and leaves. Actually, he's had it, commander. Don't believe me? Just sleep at the Fourside Hotel after going through Moonside.....
  • In the "Blindsighted" quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the bandits will always be alive at Irkngthand to tell you of the horrors that killed them, right before he dies.
    • During the College of Winterhold questline, an injured mage named Gavros will be waiting just inside the entrance to Mzulft to give you the key to the dungeon and to tell you to find his friend Paratus right before dying from his injuries.
  • The Severe Bluejacket in Fallen London, who infamously clung to life for several months to give out new Exceptional Stories.
  • Fallout 2 Hakunin the shaman sends you a dream urging you to return to Arroyo. When you do so, you find him dying, and he dies as soon as he explains what's happened to you. Of course, it does not matter how long did it take for you to get to him.
  • Far Cry 3's multiplayer literally gives the player to the option to cling onto life by rapidly tapping the "A" button in hopes of revival.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy II, a rebel returns, on the brink of death, to bring the news that Leon has become Emperor.
    • In Final Fantasy III, a fatally-wounded villager from Tokkle arrives to tell the Light Warriors that Hyne is going to burn his home to the ground and reveals his weakness to them before dying.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, a dying Returner soldier bangs into their hideout warning of an incoming imperial attack.
    • In Final Fantasy IX a wounded Burmecian soldier dies telling the party about the attack on Burmecia. One wonders how he managed to make it from his country, on the other side of a mountain range, all the way up to the top floor of another country's castle, and none of the guards thought to help him or relay his message for him.
      • Perhaps justified as he seemed reluctant to tell anyone besides the king. Since it was humans that attacked his town and Alexandria once had a close connection Lindblum, he may have been worried about spies...
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Lord Byron is said to have been severely injured during the assassination for which he was framed, with the expectation tht the wounds are mortal. This is just before a one-year Time Skip, after which is another full chapter of civil war for Sigurd. It's only by chapter 5 that Lord Byron appears to deliver his broken Ancestral Weapon, and then expires immediately once he does so (assuming the player reaches him before the enemy does).
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance:
      • Greil is impaled through the chest with a BFS, which would definitely cause him to bleed out quickly and severely damage the parts necessary for speech, but he manages to have quite a lengthy conversation with Ike and the Black Knight and then stagger along on Ike's shoulder for at least a few paces through the woods before he finally expiers.
      • Rajaion lives long enough to say goodbye to Ena.
      • Lotz's sole purpose of existence. Poor Lotz.
  • In God of War II, the Spartan soldier plays this role, showing up, giving a stack of exposition, and dying horribly. It's played with a little bit in that he wasn't almost dead until he showed up and ran into a certain homicidal deity in a dark room.
  • Either invoked or played for laughs in Golden Sun. During the intro sequence, a man is crushed by a boulder, and if you talk to him, he'll ask if he's going to be alright. If you say no, then he loses hope and dies shortly afterward. But if you say yes, he realizes he's Not Quite Dead, and then gets up and is perfectly fine.
  • Grim Fandango abuses this trope in several different ways with different characters.
    • Lola, after being shot with sproutella, "survives" long enough for Manny to find her, and just long enough to complain about her habit of "falling for the wrong guys" and admit to having a crush on Manny. In doing this, she ignores Manny's questions about where she hid the incriminating photo she took. This sets up one of the most elaborate puzzles in the game, as the only clue Lola leaves behind after expiring is one of the cards used for coat sorting at Manny's cafe... and she did not simply leave the photo in her pocket.
    • Then there's Glottis, who doesn't die but comes pretty close: no matter how long you talk to him, he goes unconscious immediately after saying "It could save me, if you have the right... *cough cough* The right... *cough* Fuel..." It is unknown whether or not he actually had something specific in mind, but either way the lack of further information results in having to figure out the fuel recipe on your own.
    • Later subverted when an LSA agent with flowers rapidly growing on his body barges into the group's headquarters, yelling "Trap! It was a trap!" before collapsing on the floor. Salvador solves the problem by grabbing an axe and chopping the guy in half to prevent the plant from spreading onto his head (thus saving him), and then asks for clarification.
  • Half-Life:
    • A dying scientist outside the Silo D control room informs Gordon that the rocket engine is the key to killing the Tentacles that have taken root in the silo.
    • In the Blue Shift expansion, Barney manages to rescue a scientist named Harold who's cornered in an office by a couple of HECU soldiers. Just before succumbing to his wounds, he tells Barney that Dr. Rosenberg is his best bet at getting out of the Black Mesa facility.
  • In Kult: Heretic Kingdoms, Alita encounters a dying messenger in the forest, who asks her to carry his vitally important message. She can do so, but it turns out not to be as vital as the messenger thought — the sender actually sent several messengers, just to be sure, and one of them gets through anyway. (The fact that the dying messenger had been robbed of his uniform, though, turns out to be significant — the other messenger Alita finds in the forest is actually her quarry in disguise.)
  • The titular hero from Jonathan Kane: The Protector suffers a near-fatal gunshot wound halfway through, and is left for the dead. When players regain control, they'll need to locate Jonathan's emergency medikit within 40 seconds before he dies for real.
  • The Legend of Dragoon does this no less than five times:
    • At the start of the game, a villager from Seles lives just long enough to tell Dart that Shana's been taken prisoner.
    • A knight shows up in the town of Lohan to inform you that the king has been kidnapped, and dies. Particularly convenient since your characters had just decided to go and see the king.
    • At the end of Disc 1, Doel informs the party that Lloyd is heading west to Tiberoa.
    • Greham tells Haschel that Princess Emille is a fake and the real one is hidden inside the castle. Unlike others, it's implied he might have lived if he didn't strain himself.
    • Lastly, Lloyd lives long enough to gift the Dragon Buster and Divine Dragon Spirit to the party before dying.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link finds his uncle in the sewers under Hyrule Castle, mortally wounded. The uncle lives just long enough to give Link his sword and tell him to go help the princess before expiring.
    • After Zelda flees Castle Town in Ocarina of Time, searching an alleyway reveals an injured Red Shirt who tells Link that Zelda wanted to give him something, and that if he has it he should to hurry to the Temple of Time. He then visibly slumps, and any further attempts at conversation result in "He's not moving anymore..."
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask parodies this with Mikau, the Zora. After he makes it back to shore with Link's help, he collapses and asks Link to listen to his final words before he dies...and then leaps up and starts jamming on his guitar while singing about how pirates stole his girlfriend's eggs. Immediately after that, he collapses back onto the beach, dead.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a few, the most memorable being Tela Vasir's final moments, in which she tries to justify working for the Shadow Broker, before expressing her disgust at Commander Shepard for working with the pro-human terrorist organization Cerberus before succumbing to her wounds mid-sentence.
    Tela Vasir: "You want to judge me? Look in the mirror! Kidnapping kids for biotic death camps! Killing Alliance admirals who ask questions! And you're working with them! Don't you dare judge me! Don't you..."
    • Mass Effect 3 has Dorn'Hazt, the dying quarian on Rannoch who lives just long enough to direct Shepard to a communication jamming tower... and to leave a final message for his son.
  • The Metal Gear Solid games have lots of them!
    • In the first game, the very first character Snake meets is right in the middle of giving him important information when he suddenly dies of a heart attack. Not much later, he rescues a second man who can explain to him what's going on, when things start to seem fishy, when he also dies of a heart attack five minutes later. None of the bosses he defeats die instantly once the fight is over, but usually stay alive for a few more minutes before they are dead and provide Snake with more information. It's particularly bad with Sniper Wolf, who slowly bleeds to death explaining her story, before requesting a mercy kill. Later in the game it is revealed that Snake was injected with a bio-engineered virus and was just supposed to get close enough to all the targets so the virus would kill them by causing a heart attack, to make sure nobody would survive and be able to talk.
    • In the second game, Emma stays conscious just long enough to disable the main computer, after being stabbed in the stomach.
    • Happens only to The Boss in the third game.
    • There's quite a number again in the fourth game. It is revealed that Vamp got his apparent immortality from nanomachines that instantly regenerated all damage to his body. Naomi had terminal cancer for years and was also be kept alive by the very same nanomachines. After having achieved all her goals, she commits suicide by shutting them down and dies just minutes later. And finally, Zero is an incredibly old man by the time the game ends and just too stubborn to die even though he's completely paralyzed by age and barely has any consciousness left. He dies only when Big Boss cuts off his oxygen supply.
    • It appears to happen to EVA after she is impaled by a rod from an iron grate after she crashes her bike in a Shout-Out to the third game where she suffers exactly the same injury. Though it would most likely be lethal within minutes, she was able to walk it off in 15 minutes and is then able to skip at an easy jog and prepare a plane for takeoff without any signs of pain. Being 50 years older now, she seems not to be able to take it that well, but still manages to wait 20 minutes for Snake to kill their attacker, climb into the sewers and travel underground to the river, where they are captured again with a 30-minute conversation taking place without anyone attending to her injuries. Then the boat that transported her gets sunk in a massive firefight and she gets pulled out of the river. And after 3 more minutes of talking with Snake, she suddenly dies just as ambulances are arriving. However, while it's never mentioned in the game, it's assumed that it was the Foxdie virus that was injected into Snake 10 years ago and specifically engineered to kill the leaders of the Patriots enemies.
    • The Phantom Pain has the unnamed Diamond Dogs researcher in Episode 43. When Snake finds the researcher clinging to life in the Quarantine Platform in the midst of the second parasite outbreak, he survives just long enough to triumphantly declare that he's not a snail. This unusual remark is enough to clue resident parasitologist Code Talker in to the nature of the outbreak — the parasites are forcing their hosts to move out into the open to be picked at by birds who will spread them across the rest of the world, similar to the parasites that infect snails — and so he's able to inform Snake about the danger of letting the infected get outside.
  • In the video game version of Mission: Impossible (1996), at one point you find a captured agent who tries to give you information, but dies before he can finish. Ethan remarks: "I just knew he wasn't going to finish that sentence."
  • Modern Warfare 3: A gravely wounded Soap survives just long enough to tell Price that Makarov knows Yuri before dying.
  • Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent: When searching for a suspect, Nelson finds him frozen in the woods. After finishing a puzzle, the suspect hands Nelson a gear before becoming fully frozen.
  • In Act 3 of the original Ninja Gaiden, Walter Smith delivers quite a bit of exposition about the statues and the demon they seal while dying of an unspecified mortal wound.
  • Done in an implausibly epic and disturbing way near the very beginning of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. There probably aren't too many examples in fiction where Almost Dead Guy manages to deliver his message after being decapitated... and essentially telling the guy who did it that he's a pathetic little bitch.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the rare example of an Almost Dead Computer. He survives being erased somehow, long enough for you to travel the entire world (That's not an exaggeration; the quest to get to him involves visiting every city on the map), travel to the moon, and fight your way through an enemy fortress (including a Humongous Mecha boss). Then he dies, taking the fortress with him. Almost... he hangs on long enough for you to get to the teleporter and safely off the moon. At the end of the game, he's brought back to life with the factory intact without any real explanation.
  • Marvin Branagh from Resident Evil 2, after being bitten by a zombie in Resident Evil: Outbreak, stays in the police station and gives a key card to Claire before locking himself in his office. You can come back later, at which point he turns into a zombie and attacks.
  • In SD Snatcher, Gillian finds Jan's navigator Little John badly damaged, and it says something garbled about a blood trail, Napoleon and Outer Heaven before becoming inoperative.
  • In one Shockwave adventure game, you encounter in the first scene a dying man clinging to the edge of a rooftop. It's important to ask every question you can if you want all his info, because the second you leave the conversation he loses his grip and falls off the roof.
  • Sniper Elite V2 has Dr. Efram Schweiger, a German scientist, and part of Hans von Eisenberg's research team. Unlike the rest of his colleagues who are all willing to sell out to the Soviets in exchange for their lives, he absolutely refuses to do so knowing it'll be trouble, and promptly attempts to defect instead to the Western Allies. However, before he can flee west, he is discovered by Dr. Wolff, one of his fellow scientists, who has him executed for being a liability. Despite Karl managing to botch his execution, he gets wounded in the escape attempt, and by the time Karl manages to meet him person, he is already bleeding to death, only managing to give him the name "Tabun" before passing.
  • In the first two titles of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, this is you at the beginning. Obviously subverted you pull through, but in both cases it's noted that you not being dead after what happened is bizarre, even for the Zone.
  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary: The Enterprise responds to a distress call from the USS Republic, finding the ship heavily damaged and adrift. They detect two crewmembers still alive on board. One dies mere seconds before the rescue team beams over. The other, a woman named Brittany Marata, an old friend of Kirk's from the Academy, dies shortly after the team finds her in Sickbay. Before dying, she accuses the Enterprise of attacking the Republic.
  • Star Trek Judgment Rites:
    • The USS Alexander barely survives an explosion that destroys Earth, and is flung back several days into the past. It appears right in front of the Enterprise, and its captain has just enough time to warn Kirk of the impending destruction before the Alexander explodes, but not enough time to reveal who did it.
    • Played With during a mission taking place in a fictional World War I era town created by omnipotent brat Trelane. As part of this Theme Park Version of the war, Trelane has created a romanticized version of the trenches just outside town. The only person in the trench is a young German soldier who is perpetually on the verge of death. He asks Kirk to deliver a letter to his girlfriend, after which he simply falls silent but never actually dies. He also cannot be cured of his injuries no matter what McCoy does.
  • In the Sunless Sea DLC "Zubmariner" there's the Almost Dead Man, who sought immortality and failed, and is now slowly losing his grip on life as a Most-Moth grows inside his chest. He'll send you on three quests to deliver confessional letters to people he knew in life, and will only then die. His death occurs exactly after you return with the response to the last letter, no matter how many years (or generations!) it took you to complete those tasks.
  • In System Shock games, everyone who isn't already dead (or trying to kill you) is this.
  • In Vampyr (2018), Dr. Swansea is found by Jonathan late in the game having being beaten to the inch of his life by the Guard of Priwen. Unless if you give him an Emergency Transformation, he will die of his injuries but considering what he had previously done, that can be a hard choice.
  • In Outlast, a SWAT member impaled on a piece of rebar and seemingly dead regains consciousness for just long enough to tell the main character about the Variants, how he can unlock the main doors, and to "get the fuck out of this terrible place".
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Tin Can Bill, an elderly vagrant, lasts just long enough to point the player character towards a Side Quest location before succumbing to the Mystical Plague the PC is investigating. Not that there's any rush to find him.
  • Used often in Warcraft III, where many characters, including Kel'Thuzad, Uther and the Guardian of Frostmourne all get a final speech before falling over and dying.
    • In World of Warcraft, in a quest chain in Magister's Terrace, a Scryer agent hangs on long enough to inform the player what Kil'Jaeden's forces are doing before dying. Players who drop the quest and retake it can hear him say it again. Kael'thas, the boss of the dungeon, gives his Final Speech while standing up after being defeated.
  • In The World Ends with You Villainess Konishi mockingly tells Beat that Rhyme's memories were his entry fee, not hers, and therefore Rhyme didn't hold him in the same esteem that he holds her before succumbing to erasure.
    • There is also Sota who states his and Nao's demise isn't Neku's fault and wished Neku good luck before his time was up. Neku's response drives home that he's no longer an uncaring loner.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Toward the end of Power Star, Luigi becomes this after his demonized brother Mario stabs him through the upper-lip area, somehow managing to say about one or two more words before dying.
    Luigi: Muh... Mario?
  • Another Mario sprite-animation examples occurs in Rise of the Mushroom Kingdom at the beginning of part 3, when Luigi saves Mario from a fleet of bullet bills, sacrificing himself in the process and getting blown in half. Somehow, he manages to inform Mario about Wart's involvement in the murder attempt, prompting Mario to head to Subcon to put an end to the menace.

    Web Comics 
  • By the time the Rose sisters find Jozk in Charby the Vampirate he can no longer move due his fatal injuries, yet he is able to make most of a lengthy request to them.
  • Parodied in Framed!: Derek has some vital information to pass on to Frank, but he's been lethally wounded and is smart enough to know that he'll die once he's said his piece. He opts to keep his mouth shut instead, just to survive.
  • Exaggerated in Homestuck after Terezi is mortally wounded. She not only stays alive long enough to give John a list of detailed instructions on how to prevent her death, but draws her own Chalk Outline!
  • How Not to Run a Webcomic: Colby Purcell parodies this trope using the lead characters of his webcomic Lint. The dying Bactine lies with her head in her lover Sangwine's lap and makes a big speech despite (as Sangwine lampshades) having three iron poles in her torso. Then this exchange happens:
    Bactine: Oh, Sangwine! Before I sleep in your embrace at last... I have a dread secret I must tell you...
    Sangwine: JUST DIE, ALREADY!!!
    Bactine: There is a key hidden in the third nook to the right in the back of the den of my father's...
  • In Inverloch, Neirenn defeats Raul (who is quite elderly) with dark magic. He's been blasted with a spell and slammed into a tree, but his main visible injury is bleeding from the head, and he's still able to stand up and convince her to take the memories of all the magic he learned from the elves (and perform the transfer).
  • In Order of Tales, Koark is tasked with bringing an important message to Extranji, the potionmaker of Tenshells. Arriving there, he finds Extranji dying and begging Koark to keep his ward from being "brought east" (where the Big Bad resides). Obligingly, Koark sets to rescue her, landing himself in major trouble.
  • In Rusty and Co., Rusty lurches into Ye Olde Proverbial Hook badly injured, towing the still more injured Madeline, and croaks out ""
  • Sleepless Domain: As part of the story's First-Episode Twist, the magical girls of Team Alchemical are killed by a powerful monster while their leader Tessa is sitting out the night's patrol. By the time Tessa does arrive, only Undine is left clinging to life, just enough to give some last words of encouragement to the soon-to-be Sole Survivor as she fades away. This ends up being subverted, however — Tessa, not willing to accept losing her friends, manages to channel her own magical energy into Undine, burning out her own power but saving Undine's life in the process.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Lampshaded in this strip where Hereti-Corp issues a memo instructing employees to die in someone's arms just before revealing vital information.
    • Parodied in an X-Files arc parody when a waitress is assassinated to prevent the Mulder Expy from learning what the daily special is.
  • Unsounded: Poor Cara lives just long enough to drop some breadcrumbs about Bastion, the "Black Tongue Doctor", before expiring from her wounds.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Downplayed twice.
    • In "Heat Wave", it's more of an almost dead Spirit of Earth. Despite being too weak to stand – and later even sit up – Gaia manages to not only beg the Planeteers to save Hope Island, but also to advise them to aim their rings into the water, so that they can summon Captain Planet.
    • In "Hate Canal", Ma-Ti, very sick after being bitten by one of Skumm's mutated rats, manages to use his Heart power just long enough to give the local pathologist Risa an idea how to fix the problem. After delivering the message, he falls unconscious again, but the proposed antidote keeps him and the other victims from actually dying.
  • Comedically parodied in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation Shave". The trope is played almost completely straight when Numbuh 142 collapses in Numbuh 1's arms. That is, until the part where the character is supposed to die. Instead, the character grows a mustache, starts speaking in a western accent. Numbuh 1 still takes the stereotypical vow. "You shall be avenged." The fact that this was done so incredibly straight, despite the obvious subversion, is the source of the humor.
  • One of Darkwing Duck's many mutually conflicting origin stories, "The Secret Origins of Darkwing Duck", puts him as the sidekick of the Masked Avenger. She falls into a vat of Cookoo Cola and gives a dying speech, inspiring Darkwing to become his own hero. Then she revives, tells Launchpad to be Darkwing's sidekick, and dies again. Then she gets up again and tells Darkwing where her lair is so he can get some equipment. The duo wait a little to see if she will get up again.
  • The Fox and the Crow, "Robin Hoodlum": The Sheriff of Nottingham walks up to Prince John, says "I quit", and keels over with two arrows in his back.
  • In Futurama The Pharaoh is crushed by his own statue and tries to free the slaves with his dying breath. Unfortunately he relays the message to Bender who repeatedly misses the point.
    Pharaoh: Tell the slaves they can all go f—
    Bender: Go faster? I told them but they're so damn lazy.
  • "Gravity Falls": At the beginning of "Into The Bunker" Dipper and Wendy were watching a horror film called "Nearly Almost Dead But Not Quite!"
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Parodied in the cartoon "Deduce, You Say" when a messenger collapses on Dorlock (i.e., Daffy) Holmes' doorstep. Holmes eagerly IDs him as "a clear case of curare poisoning, of one of Her Majesty's Cold-cream Guards!" only to have the guard chirp "You'd best 'ave that step fixed, guv'nor!" as he pops up and hands Holmes the telegram. "Just for that, you'll receive no gratuity!"
    • Bugs Bunny always pretends to be this when he's Faking the Dead, usually causing Elmer Fudd to burst into tears.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011 after being stabbed In the Back, and barely surviving a fall into a pool of water, King Claudus has enough time to tell his son Lion-O, "No matter what happens, you've made me proud today," before dying in his arms.

    Real Life 
  • The story of Phedippides, the Athenian herald of Marathon. There are two variants of the story, both Older Than Feudalism, but otherwise have nothing in common other than involving a man named Phedippides who ran a lot for Athens in relation to the Battle of Marathon (in 490 BCE):
    • The "classic" version, recorded by Plutarch in the 1st century CE (about 500 years after the event), has it that it that Phedippides, a soldier in the Athenian army, ran from the site of the battle to Athens to inform the Athenian Assembly that the battle was won, and promptly dropped dead from exhaustion. As Marathon is about 42 kilometers from Athens, this is the origin of the modern marathon footrace.
    • The original version of the Phedippides story (recorded by Herodotus, who was writing about forty years after Marathon) is actually an aversion: This story has it that Phedippedes was a professional distance runner who ran from Athens to Sparta in two days to deliver Athens' request to Sparta for aid against the impending Persian expedition. He delivered his message, received Sparta's reply (briefly: "We'll muster and quick-march to your aid as soon as we are done with this extremely important religious festival"), then ran back with the reply, then delivered the reply to the Athenian Assembly before the Battle of Marathon. Herodotus doesn't say anything about him after that — he certainly doesn't say Phedippedes died. This version has itself inspired a modern footrace, the rather intimidating 246-km Spartathlon ultramarathon from Athens to Sparta (which has multiple checkpoints, takes even the best runners over 20 hours to complete, and kicks a participant out for any sign of exhaustion).
  • The last words said by Tejano signer Selena before her death was simply "Yolanda...158"; referring to the hotel room where she had been shot by Yolanda Saldivar - who Selena was about to fire for stealing from various related businesses.