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Dead Man Writing

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"If you're reading this, boy, either I'm dead or you're more like me than I thought.
If it's the latter, turn around very slowly and pray Kasumi goes easy on you.

Since you're still reading, it looks like I'm dead. Damn."
Saotome Genma, Past Present

This is a message from a dead character, either left in the knowledge of their death or left in such a way that it won't be seen unless they die. Often it contains useful secrets, the reason why he's dead, the actual information that got him killed in the first place, and an apology for dying and getting the reader involved.

Somehow, the message can end up in the hands of its intended recipient even under circumstances that can border on a post-mortem Gambit Roulette. The subversion where it winds up in the hands of the villain instead is also common and often happens because the dead person has the Idiot Ball. In yet a third possibility, it sometimes does get to the intended recipient... who turns out to be in league with the villain.

Another possible twist is that the supposedly dead character turns up alive after all, which may lead to personal drama or embarrassment if the message discussed matters he wanted kept secret until he no longer had to deal with the consequences.

Quite often, the trope is subverted when the person who made the will adds, after "I'm dead", "unless..." and adds a humorous (if unlikely) hypothetical meant to lighten the mood. This may or may not lead into the "he's not really dead" situation described above.

The message will usually begin with a sentence along the lines of, "If you're seeing this, it means I'm already dead." Often it comes in an envelope labeled "To be opened in the event of my untimely death." Alternatively, the message will conclude with the writer promising to come back to it and destroy it or add to it if he survives, leaving readers with the implication that he didn't because That Was the Last Entry.

Most suicide notes fall into this category.

See Video Wills for a technology-advanced variation in present-day and future settings. Compare Apocalyptic Log, Note to Self and That Was the Last Entry. Also compare Couldn't Find a Pen, which is more "Dying Man Writing" (as the person is in the process of dying and not already dead). And compare Goodbye, Cruel World!, or the "Suicide Letter".

Not related to Undead Author, which is when an Urban Legend or something similar is said to leave no survivors, raising the question of how the story reached anyone in the first place.

It can be used in conjunction with Dead Man's Switch to automatically send a message upon death.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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  • In a famous PSA for the American Cancer Society, Yul Brynner said: "Now that I'm gone, I tell you: don't smoke. Whatever you do, just don't smoke."

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, shortly before the Time Skip, Ymir writes a letter to Christa/Historia, which Reiner hands over to the Survey Corps after being captured. The letter is Ymir's way of saying goodbye to Historia, and for good reason- at some point between when she wrote it and the first post-Time Skip scene, Ymir was Eaten Alive by Porco Galliard, in order to transfer her Titan powers to him.
  • The Big O. In episode 24 Roger Smith receives a letter from Michael Seebach (Schwartzwald), which was to be delivered after his death.
  • Used in Bleach, during the Soul Society arc, with a letter from Captain Aizen to Momo Hinamori. Then again, he isn't exactly dead yet. Or ever, for that matter.
  • In the Death Note anime, L plants two of these at once. The first and more detailed is presumably there to cover for the brusque, low-byte-count second.
  • Gundam:
    • At the end of the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Setsuna sends a letter like that to Marina, after he is supposedly killed in the final episode.
    • In the final episode of Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket Bernie leaves a video message to Al telling him not to hate the Federation after he carries out what he knows to be a suicide mission to stop a nuclear attack on the colony. To make matters more depressing Al learned that the Zeon ship carrying the missiles was captured by the Federation and Bernie's suicide mission was unnecessary.
  • Gunslinger Girl: Before Victor Hilshire departs for what turns out to be his final mission, he leaves a letter with his girlfriend Roberta Guellfi explaining that he'd like to spend the rest of his life with her, but he's committed to his fate. There's also a key to a safety deposit box with another letter explaining how he came to be Triela's protector, and revealing he secretly preserved some of Triela's eggs with a hospital.
  • I Want to Eat Your Pancreas: The protagonist receives Sakura's Secret Diary, Living With Dying, after her death. In it, he discovers her will, which was written specifically for him to read.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Golden Wind: With his last ounce of strength, Abbacchio uses Moody Blues to leave an imprint of Diavolo's face on a statue.
    • Steel Ball Run: Before Gyro defeated Ringo Roadagain, Johnny realizes that Ringo had sent a carrier pigeon to Funny Valentine detailing the location of next corpse part.
  • Linith's diary in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie 1st The Comics, which Linith wrote with the expectation that Fate will find it after she's dead.
    Linith: To my beloved Fate-chan: When you read this diary, both Precia and I would probably no longer be by your side.
  • In Maria no Danzai, a couple of weeks after the suicide of her son Kiritaka, Mari Nagare finds a diary where he wrote down the various forms of torture he was subjected to by his bullies at school, along with the location of a flash drive where he kept video evidence (which he intended to use to turn them all in at once, only missing evidence on their leader Okaya to do so). It is then that Mari realizes that her son did not kill himself, and vows to avenge him at any cost.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has an answering machine variation, with Kaji phoning Misato to encourage her to find the truth he can no longer pursue. Misato finds the message after being released from NERV's custody and bursts into tears, knowing it means that Kaji has met his doom.
  • One Piece has a variation. Sabo leaves a note with Ace and Luffy, expressing excitement that he's finally leaving his Jerkass, neglectful parents and becoming a pirate. He has no idea that a Celestial Dragon is going to blow his raft sky-high, so his note states that "By the time you read this... I will be at sea". He then goes on to say how he can't wait to see his brothers again on the ocean. Subverted in that he survived the incident thanks to Dragon and did end up at sea, but as a revolutionary with amnesia instead of a pirate like he originally intended. Even then, Luffy and Ace both thought he was dead, and the former didn't find out the truth until a dozen years later while the latter died before they could ever meet again.
  • Plastic Memories: In the final episode, Isla is revealed to have left a letter for her colleagues to be read after her retrieval, and its contents are read as a Voiceover Letter over the final minutes of the epsiode.
  • In the Ranma ½ manga, Nabiki tries to find some way to frame Ranma in retaliation for him destroying her concert ticket. She makes it look like he killed her and wrote the words "Ranma did it" on the floor.
  • Shigofumi: The entire premise is that the dead are allowed to send a letter to one living person.
  • At the beginning of both season 1 and 2 of Strike Witches, Yoshika gets a letter from her father, who has been long dead before either letter actually reach her.
  • In Summer Wars, Granny Sakae leaves a note to the family, urging them to stick together through any hardships. In particular, she goes on at lengths about her estranged, adopted son Wabisuke, telling the family to welcome him back if he ever returns. Ironically, Wabisuke actually returned right before Sakae's death, stormed out after a big fight with her, and indirectly caused her death, since his creation, Love Machine, messed up her heart monitor. He comes back, grief-stricken, as soon as they finish reading it, and they let him in without any hesitation.
  • Sword Art Online: Though Sachi didn't really have any definite proof that she'd be dead by Christmas, she still acknowledges that it was extremely likely that she would be, and Kirito would probably beat himself up over failing to save her. Her delayed-send message was mostly sent for the purpose of breaking him out of his Heroic BSoD.
  • Appeared in Vampire Princess Miyu, in the episode "Woman Priest", in the classic "The letter ends up in the hands of its designated recipient against all probability" fashion. And, of course, it opened with "If you are reading this, it means that I have been devoured by the Shinma..."
  • In Chapter 44 of Your Lie in April, Kousei receives a letter Kaori left for him before she died from her parents as he visits her grave. There she confesses to him that he's the reason she became a violinist and that when they met in April, she lied about wanting to meet Watari, she actually wanted to meet him all along.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime has one in the Doma filler saga, where Pegasus speaks to the gang as a projection after he has his soul stolen.
  • Zombie Land Saga Revenge: Jofuku finds a letter written by Yugiri before she was captured by the authorities and executed, asking him to tell Kiichi she got out of Saga safely and to guide the new Saga Kiichi would create.

  • Peter Cook's character E. L. Wisty once delivered a comic monologue which he claimed would air after his death, giving his posthumous address as somewhere in South Heaven.
  • Parodied by the Upright Citizens Brigade, where a CEO asks permission to speak posthumously, hands over a note and then shoots himself.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In the 1995 Shadow of the Bat story "Anarky", Lonnie's parents find a letter written by their son in the event of his death. They proceed to read the letter, which acts as narration over the course of the story as Lonnie must stop a terrorist from killing thousands in an explosion. At the climax of the story, Anarky sacrifices himself to save others as his parents conclude the letter. This becomes the last time his parents are seen, as by his next appearance revealing his survival in the Anarky limited series, he is operating underground and does not reveal that he is alive.
    • Batman and Robin Eternal: Bruce records a holographic message warning Dick about Mother onto a memory stick. Cassandra delivers it to him in the first issue.
    • Kate Kane records a goodbye message for her father before every outing as Batwoman, just in case she is killed while on patrol.
  • Blake and Mortimer: Mortimer receives a letter from his deceased nemesis Miloch, entrusting him with a functional time machine as a post-mortem conciliatory gesture. In fact, the time machine has been sabotaged.
  • After Civil War (2006), it is revealed that Captain America wrote one to Iron Man, saying Bucky should be the new Cap.
  • Astrid Mueller of Clean Room made a tape for her right-hand aide Killian to watch in the event of Astrid's death. Given that glimpses of Astrid's knowledge commonly lead to suicides among her followers, it's assumed that the full info dump is even more devastating.
  • The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man viewed a holographic message from the Human Torch after his death. Along with various farewells, the Torch asked Spider-Man to take his spot on the team.
  • At the end of the Judge Dredd storyline "A Better World", the assassin of Accounts Judge Maitland tries to download his payment, and instead receives a hologram of Maitland saying "If you're seeing this, I'm dead and you're trying to collect a reward. Disappointing for us both." She explains even her skills couldn't hack the contract, but she could replace the payment with this message, and also broadcast the location it's been downloaded to to local law enforcement.
  • In Runaways, the main characters are snooping around Gert's house and accidentally activate her parents' holographic will when they guess the secret chamber's (easy) access code.
  • In Spider-Geddon, our introduction to a universe where Norman Osborn is an evil Spider-Man is Peter Parker leaving a message for Harry in the event of his death, and saying they both know who's responsible.
  • Supergirl:
    • In storyline Last Daughter of Krypton, Zor-El recorded a holographic message for his daughter to watch in the event of his death as a result of failing to save Argo City.
      Zor-El: Kara. My beautiful, beloved daughter. If you can hear this, it means that my greatest hope has been fulfilled: You are alive.[...] Perhaps you have already learned the terrible truth. As I record this, Krypton is mere cycles away from its destruction. There is nothing we can do. I am so sorry.
    • In The Killers of Krypton, Guardian of the Universe Appa Ali Apsa left a holographic message detailing the crimes of the galactic secret society known as the Circle, to be found after his death.
  • Superman:
    • "The Super Dog from Krypton": Jor-El put a letter in Krypto's rocket explaining where the dog came from, correctly guessing that it would only be read long after his death.
    • In "The Phantom Superboy", Superboy finds a sealed alien box. After ripping the metal lid off, Clark finds a message of his long-deceased father explaining that box contains dangerous weapons which were sealed and launched into space so that nobody can use them.
    • In The Last Days of Superman, Superman, believing that he was about to die, used his heat vision to write the message "Do good to others and any man can be a Superman. (signed) Superman (Clark Kent)" on the moon. When it turned out that he wasn't dying after all, Supergirl and Krypto removed his secret identity from the message before the clouds (which were apparently covering every inhabited place on earth) cleared.
  • In the Tintin comic book Explorers on the Moon, Wolfe leaves a letter stating he has "left the rocket" to conserve oxygen. In the BBC's radio adaptation, this becomes a message on the logging machine (which didn't exist in the comic) stating " the time you listen to this, you will be listening to the voice of a dead man."
  • Watchmen. Rorschach's last journal entry: "If reading this now, whether I am alive or dead, you will know the truth. Whatever precise nature of this conspiracy, Adrian Veidt responsible. Have done best to make this legible. Believe it paints a disturbing picture. Appreciate your recent support and hope world survives long enough for this to reach you, but tanks are in East Berlin, and writing is on the wall."

    Comic Strips 
  • Lisa Moore in Funky Winkerbean, who died leaving a four-year-old daughter, left a number of tapes for the daughter to watch as she grew up. After the time jump Summer is seen watching at least two of them, one of which reminds her to tell her father to get his prostate checked.

    Fan Works 
  • In Alternative Class Despair, aware that there is a high chance he's going to be exposed for murdering Akane, Fuyuhiko hides a note meant for Peko, telling her that he never wanted her to be his tool and he wants her to move on and live her life to the best she can.
  • Near the end of Cheerilee's Garden, Spike sends out a final message as he lies on the ground dying to expose Cheerilee for her crimes. However, since he had to rush the writing, it ends up getting misinterpreted, and Twilight ends up taking the blame.
  • In Chapter 12 of Cross Ange The Knight Of Hilda, Rio watches a video message left for him by his childhood friend Sarah. Jasmine explains to him that after making it into the first squad, Sarah bought a video camera, and after recording the message, she entrusted Jasmine to keep it and delivered to him, in the event that Sarah died before he could come to Arzenal for her.
  • In chapter 27 of the Frozen (2013) fanfic Becoming Free, Elsa and Anna find letters to them written by their mother prior to her death. She wrote them specifically for them to find if she ever died.
  • Dear Tohsaka by tobias, which you can also find on Fate/stay night's fanfic recommendation page. Just prepare some tissues if you want to read it.
  • Death Note Equestria: Pinky's sense warns her that she is going to die and she writes letters to everypony she ever met.
  • In Faded Blue, before she gave up her physical form to have Steven, the very pregnant Blue Diamond left holographic messages for her son and fellow Diamonds within the database of her spaceship.
  • In Frenzy, Amy knew she was going to be killed so she wrote a bunch of letters to help Sonic find the murderer and stop him from killing others.
  • Gutters: Denmark gives Sealand an origami frog that he has written inside and instructs Sealand not to open it until the next morning, by which time Denmark will have died.
  • In the Hivefled verse, scratched signatures and advice is all that's left of the many, many innocent young trolls the Grand Highblood and the Condesce kept in their personal torture chamber.
  • Ill Met by Starlight, a Ranma ½ Dark Fic. Nabiki to Akane.
  • In Into the Brighter Night the Batfamily is disturbed to learn that Tim Drake's away protocol includes notes and letters for his loved ones for two years in the event of his death or disappearance.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest Rewrite: James Bond left several tapes for Emma to play after killing him.
  • In the Spider-Man fanfic A Letter to My Niece Peter Parker reads a letter his from his for lack of a better term brother Ben Riley addressed to Peter's daughter to be opened in the event she were ever to become Spider-Girl. Unfortunately, the fic is set in the 616 comics rather than Marvel Comics 2, which means that the intended recipient was stillborn. Ben died the same day. Cue Tear Jerker as Peter finishes reading the letter and has to wrestle with the painful memories.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: Celestia has a message prepared to be sent to Twilight along with the box containing the Elements of Harmony and instructions on how to use them should she fail to defeat Nightmare Moon herself.
  • A hilarious use of the same trope is found in Past Present, a fanfic about Ranma reading Genma's memoirs after he passes away from disease.
    If you're reading this, boy, either I'm dead or you're more like me than I thought. If it's the latter, turn around very slowly and pray Kasumi goes easy on you.
    Since you're still reading, it looks like I'm dead. Damn.
  • In the The Loud House fanfic Requiem for a Loud, after their first (and only) meeting, Adrien writes a letter for Lincoln, which is delivered to him by Adrien's mother shortly after his death. In the letter, he encourages Lincoln to make the best of what little time he has left and make sure his sisters will have fond memories of him.
  • Subverted in Son of the Sannin. Hiruzen Sarutobi left a message that was to be read in the event of his death (in fact, it was made so it would only appear if he died), since he thought he would die fighting during the Uchiha Insurrection. Fortunately, he manages to pull through thanks to Itachi's intervention, even though he was clinically dead for a few minutes.
  • In Team 8 Naruto gets one from his teacher Kurenai after her death. Among other things, the letter reveals Kurenai's suspicions that Hiashi, along with a Government Conspiracy inside the Leaf Village, was responsible for arranging for her old team's death, and that Hinata is in love with Naruto.

    Film — Animation 
  • Up: Ellie dies in the prologue, but it's only near the end of the movie that Carl realizes that her old scrapbook was full of pictures from their marriage, plus a message: "Thanks for the adventure - now go have a new one! Love, Ellie".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • American History X uses this trope to create an extremely powerful ending. Danny, after his murder, narrates the film's ultimate Aesop that hate drags people down and traps them in cycles of never-ending revenge. He's actually reading out the conclusion of the paper he wrote for Principal Sweeney, which he had finished before his death.
  • Battlefield Earth. Jonnie Tyler receives instruction in the Psychlo language from a hologram of an alien who opens with the chilling statement that not only himself but his entire race has likely been exterminated by the Psychlos.
  • Beyond the Walls: The other prisoners find Doron dead, hanging in a cell in what was supposed to look like suicide but was actually murder. It turns out that Doron had a note, which he kept clutched in his fist as he was being strangled to death, and which whoever killed him didn't see. As Uri reveals to the prisoners, Doron wrote that he had been asked by Herskovitz, one of the prison guards, to lie and say that he heard the Arabs plotting the murder of Hoffman. (It was Herskovitz himself who ordered Doron's death.)
  • In The Blue Dahlia, Johnny takes a picture of his dead son out of a frame, and finds a note from his murdered wife Helen, telling him that if anything happens to her, her boyfriend Eddie Harwood is really named Bauer and is wanted for murder in New Jersey.
  • Blue Thunder: Frank Murphy's sidekick, Lymangood, gets tortured and eventually killed by the bad guys who want from him the tape containing evidence of their conspiracy. Later, Murphy finds a message left by Lymangood on the flight recorder of the titular Black Helicopter, revealing the location of the tape.
  • The Caine Mutiny has this, with the main character's father.
  • Cthulhu (2007). The protagonist is told his dead mother left a video tape for him hidden in her house. He instead finds it in plain sight on top of the TV/VCR. On the tape his mother starts to warn him that his life is in danger from the mysterious cult run by his father; she then hears a noise and quickly turns the camera off. The camera is then turned on again by his father, who implores the protagonist to take his rightful place as the leader of his cult. The protagonist is shocked to see his father has blood on his face and hands, implying that he murdered his mother moments before.
  • A Deadly Secret has the inscriptions to the location of a treasure hoard being carved in the interior of a coffin board... by the fingernails of the victim, Buried Alive.
  • Used to avert Karma Houdini in The Internecine Project (1974). The villain arranges for several colleagues to kill each other, but the last victim arranges for a message to be sent to the villain if he dies... with the pages impregnated with poison.
  • There's a complicated example in the interactive hologram from the movie I, Robot. Dr. Lanning's death is initially written off as a suicide, with the hologram being found on his person by the time his corpse is collected. The hologram is designed to answer only to Detective Spooner, but as the hologram's responses are limited, it repeatedly encourages Spooner to ask the right questions. Spooner gets just enough answers to become invested in the case, culminating in Spooner arresting Sonny, an experimental NS-5 robot, as Lanning's murderer not long after. However, as the plot unfolds, Spooner realizes that there was more behind Lanning's death than it seems, and following a hint left inside one of Sonny's dreams, Spooner activates the hologram once more, after which it becomes clear that Lanning realized the inherent imperfection of the Three Laws and saw the inevitable Zeroth Law Rebellion coming from miles away. At the end of the movie, it is revealed that Lanning ordered Sonny to kill him in order to get Spooner's attention, as his bias against robots ensured that he would follow Lanning's breadcrumb trail and eventually obtain all the tools necessary to stop VIKI; it was about the only way he could get the message out without VIKI thwarting him.
  • In Iron Eagle, Cool Old Guy Chappy records a Rousing Speech for Doug specifically in case he goes down during their mission. "If anything happens to me, get as high as you can, and play this cassette."
  • Howard Stark sends one to his son Tony in Iron Man 2, by way of behind-the-scenes footage of his "City of the Future" Stark Expo speech.
    • Tony makes one himself for his family in Avengers: Endgame in case anything went wrong with the team's Time Travel mission, and he didn't make it back. Though this trope was zigzagged as it was only played after Tony made his sacrifice play at the end of the Battle for Earth, well after surviving their time-travel mission.
  • In The Man Who Turned to Stone, Cooper—suspecting the rest of the group intends to kill him—tells Dr. Rogers that he has written him a letter with instructions on to find his hidden, which explain everything that is happening. After Cooper disappears, Rogers receives the letter and finds the diary. When he reads the diary, it is narrated in Cooper's voice.
  • The Man with Two Brains has the line "By the time you read this I will be dead."
  • Rachel's letter to Greg in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl that she voices out post-mortem in the last scene.
  • In Milk, the narration consists of the title character recording cassette tapes that should be listened to in the event of his assassination.
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when King Arthur and his knights read a message regarding Castle Aaaaaaagh. Maybe he was dictating?
  • In The Pelican Brief, finding one of these videos is how the protagonists figure out exactly what's going on.
  • Please Murder Me! opens with defense lawyer Craig Carlson buying a pistol at a pawn shop and depositing it in his office desk drawer with a file folder. He dictates a message into a tape recorder for district attorney Ray Willis, revealing that he expects to be murdered within an hour, and he begins to tell his story in extended flashbacks.
  • In Prometheus, Peter Weyland leaves one of these. Subverted when it is revealed that he was travelling with the crew all along.
  • Promising Young Woman: The ending does this twice. After she's murdered during her quest for vengeance, it turns out Cassie did this as a Xanatos Gambit. A couple of months later, she sent her final message to Jordan to tell him that she was murdered by Al with all the evidence of where and when it happened, which leads to the police finding the body. To get justice for Nina, Cassie set up the video of Nina's rape to be sent around to everyone on Al's wedding guest list, meaning that he could no longer deny he'd raped her and that everybody knew.
  • In P.S. I Love You, a woman learns to heal and move on from her grief over losing her husband with the help of letters he wrote prior to his death.
  • At the end of Safe Haven (and the novel it's based on), the hero gives the heroine a letter from his late wife, addressed "To The Woman My Husband Loves". In the box he takes the letter from, we see several others, addressed to her children and her husband himself. Aside from being a very touching Passing the Torch type of missive, with lines like "I'm so glad he's found you", this is when we get The Reveal that the woman who befriended her upon her arrival to town was actually the late wife's ghost.
  • Jigsaw from the Saw series leaves multiple messages to different people for his death in Saw III, which are progressively revealed in the following films.
    • In Saw IV, it's revealed that during Saw III, Jigsaw went to an insane length to make sure nobody could find one of the messages until after dying: he coated a tape with wax and swallowed it. It's only discovered while his body's being autopsied, and it turns out that the message was for his apprentice Hoffman, as a warning that his death won't outright allow him to become his successor without a test.
    • At the beginning of Saw V, Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill receives a box he requested by their executor, which, as well as including a video tape where he gives a farewell message to her, contains a new Reverse Bear Trap meant for Hoffman's test, which is revealed and used in Saw VI.
    • The ending twist of Saw 3D gives the box another video tape for another accomplice of Jigsaw, Dr. Gordon, where he instructs him about the final task he gave to him.
  • In Scream 3, Randy makes a video for Sidney to watch after he dies, warning her about what happens in the last part of a typical horror film trilogy.
  • Serenity
    • The Operative runs Mr. Universe through with a sword but makes the mistake of leaving him alone before he actually dies. Mr. Universe takes the chance to record a message for Mal, telling him where he can find a secret back-up broadcast system. Unfortunately, the Operative comes back after Mal has triggered the message, and hears it too...
    • There's also Dr. Caron, who spends her final moments recording a holographic message revealing the truth about what happened on Miranda; the message ends abruptly (although the recording doesn't) when she's attacked and cannibalised by one of the Reavers she helped create. Getting this particular example of Dead Man Writing out to the wider world becomes the driving goal of the film.
  • Serial Killer: women kidnapped by a serial killer are forced to say "By the time you see this I will be dead." while being videotaped.
  • Spectre: Bond's latest mission is kicked off by a video message from the late M, with orders for him to kill the man that he's seen killing in the opening sequence and attend the funeral.
  • Taxi Driver (1976): A note written by Travis includes "By the time you read this I will be dead."
  • Tomb Raider (2018). Lara Croft's father leaves a camcorder for her in a hidden vault. When she uses it to play a message, his image says "Unfortunately, if you're watching this tape then it means that I must be dead".
  • The Unknown: When Alonzo blackmails the doctor into amputating his arms, he warns the doctor that he has left behind a letter that will expose the doctor's crimes should he happen to die on the operating table.

  • This is the entire plot of 13 Reasons Why: A girl who killed herself leaves a series of tapes to 13 people. Aside from the protagonist, they're all people whom she blames for her death.
  • Played straight in And Then There Were None; the murderer writes a message in a bottle revealing their identity and explaining in detail how and why they murdered everyone and stating how they hoped it was unsolved up until their point of reveal.
  • In Animorphs #34, this is done with not a note, but the stored memories and persona of Aldrea. Which puts Cassie in the rather unique position of inverting this by saying, "Yes, Aldrea, you are dead."
  • In Aunt Dimity's Death, after Willis Sr. is sure of Lori's identity, he gives Lori two letters, one from Aunt Dimity and one from her mother. Dimity's provides some background on the terms of her will and the reasoning behind it, while Beth's sets Lori a second task to carry out.
  • In The Babysitters Club Mystery #5, Mary Anne reads a letter her mother wrote to her shortly before her death.
  • Played straight in Curtain: Hercule Poirot's letter, sent to Captain Hastings four months after the former's death, reveals the identity of the serial killer labeled as "X" (Stephen Norton) and gives a reason why Poirot died, leaving the case seemingly unsolved: he was the one who already solved it by killing Norton in order to stop the string of murders from happening again, and then atoning for the crime by keeping his heart medication out of reach so that he can have a calm, dignified end with hours to spare, which gives out a reason why he turned the letter over to authorities in hopes that it could be used as evidence, hidden away for four months.
  • The plot of the Cut and Run spin-off book, Part & Parcel, is based around this. Eli Sanchez was killed off-screen in the first book before the audience ever meets him, but twelve books later his friends are still dealing with his death. Nick finds a series of letters Sanchez left him containing instructions for their old Force Recon team to go on a road trip, where the team reads his letters periodically.
  • Occurs in the short story "Death of a Bachelor" by Arthur Schnitzler. After the man dies, his housekeeper rounds up three men who knew him but have no seeming connection to each other. (It was supposed to be five, but two couldn't make it.) They are given the letter. It begins with "About a quarter of an hour ago I breathed my last", and proceeds to describe in gratuitous detail the affairs that he had with each of their wives.
  • Subverted twice in Death on the Nile: The initial written by the murder victim in her own blood is quickly discovered to actually have been written by the murderer (the victim died instantly, leaving no time to write a message), seemingly to throw suspicion on a third party. It later turns out the third party was actively involved in the planning of the murder and the message served to direct suspicion away from her.
  • In Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold, Miles records several of these — to his parents, his brother and cousin, and his unborn children — when he thinks he's likely to die of exposure to a Cetagandan bioweapon. When he's cured, his wife refuses to erase them, saying that the next time he's in mortal danger, he might not have time to record them again.
  • Discworld: The spin-off Tiffany Aching's Guide to Being a Witch by Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kent opens with a foreword by Granny Weatherwax which begins "Blessings be upon this book. When you read this I will probably be dead."
  • Eye of a Fly: In the Distant Finale, Harry writes a letter to his estranged son Ernest as he's dying of multiple organ failure from decades of alcoholism, confessing how he and his gang mugged and murdered a man when he was fifteen. The hospital sends the letter after he dies.
  • In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel and Lidewij track down Augustus' last letter to Van Houten, which turns out not to be the sequel to An Imperial Affliction but his eulogy for Hazel.
  • Used in the Forgotten Realms short story "The Rose Window." The narrator writes down his findings before confronting the evil behind the window, intending to destroy his message afterward if he's successful. The outcome is hinted at by the story's existence.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: Hari Seldon recorded a series of holographic messages that automatically play during Founding Day on Terminus. Which anniversaries are associated with a recording are chosen based on their proximity to a mathematically predicted "Seldon Crisis". Seldon died the same year as the creation of the Foundation, and the first message played during the fiftieth year anniversary. Each message features stunningly accurate predictions, leading up to one of the classic Oh, Crap! Moments in sci-fi literature; Seldon listing off events that aren't occurring.
  • At the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry discovers a taunting note like this written for Voldemort by someone with the initials R.A.B.
  • The third book of the Inheritance Cycle reveals that Brom has left one for Eragon. Instead of leaving a note, he tells it to Sapphira, who shares the memory via their mental link. This one is unusual in that she is forced via magic to not be allowed to share it with him unless the contents become vital to his safety.
  • In the second book of the Isaac Asimov's Caliban series, the planetary governor is assassinated. Sheriff Kresh, who's investigating the murder, is shocked to be told he was recently made the governor's successor — and to receive an "in case I'm assassinated" letter from him giving him advice on the political situation and wishing him luck.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: Played With in The Name of the Wind. Kvothe leaves one of these messages for Bast but survives his mission, to return home to find that Bast found the note earlier than he was supposed to and is pissed off.
  • A straight example occurs in the second book in the The Looking-Glass Wars series, where Hatter comes across a message which his former lover, Weaver, left him in case she died before they could meet again (which she obviously did... or did she?).
  • There's a letter to Poirot from the soon-to-be-executed murderer in Lord Edgware Dies, though obviously the main mystery had already been solved by then.
  • Subverted in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Whose Body? with the smug murderer. When he knows the police are close to catching him, he plans to take poison and writes a gloating note to the police and Lord Peter to be found near his body. Unfortunately for him, the police burst in mid-sentence, and he's presumably tried and hanged as a common criminal.
  • Played with in the climax of Lords and Ladies. Granny Weatherwax's letter to Nanny Ogg, only to be opened in the event of her death, says "I Ate'nt Dead". She's merely possessing a swarm of bees, an act thought to be impossible - but then, this is Granny Weatherwax we're talking here.
  • In David Eddings' Malloreon, Belgarath and Belgarion find a message written by the Big Bad of The Belgariad, Torak, that is addressed to Belgarion. It (not entirely typically) starts "If you are reading this, we have already met in battle and you have killed me..." and goes onto explain a few rather important points of the Prophecies that they both serve. It ends with the instruction that Belgarion must be ready to do anything, even kill his own son, rather than allow the Dark Prophecy to be fulfilled. Pretty ominous, considering the Dark Prophecy is the one Torak was serving.
  • A Mango-Shaped Space: Jenna Davis's mom died of cancer three years ago. When she realized she wouldn't get to see her daughter's next birthday, she made a bunch of packages, each consisting of a present and a long letter about her life. She entrusted the packages to Mia's mom, who gives one to Jenna each year on her birthday.
  • In The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds , the tape Seth gets after Mo's death begins "If you're listening to this package, it means the I.R.S. finally caught up with me..."
  • In Mockingjay, the last book in The Hunger Games series, Katniss gets one from Cinna. His sketchbook contains designs for a suit of armor for her to wear into battle and the message "I'm still betting on you."
  • Neverwhere: Door's dying father records a message for her. But Croup and Vandemar alter the message before she sees it.
  • In Newsflesh:
    • In the first book, Feed, Buffy (just got bitten by a zombie and is about to herself become one, which she fully knows) tells Georgia, Shaun, and Rick to look in a particular directory on the file server. They find a video of her confessing to being part of the conspiracy that led to two nasty zombie outbreaks and will eventually get Georgia killed.
    • Later in the same book, Georgia says early in her final blog entry "I legally died eleven minutes ago" after her blood test showed she was going into viral amplification (about to become a zombie). She keeps up her narration as long as her mental capacity and motor coordination allow.
    • In the novella San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Elle is trapped in the convention center with no working communications to the outside world and a Zombie Apocalypse in progress. She writes an email to her girlfriend on her phone, on the assumption it won't be read until said girlfriend receives Elle's personal effects. When the Internet comes back on, the email gets sent automatically. Since the convention center gets vaporized not very long after, Elle's originally intended mode of delivery wouldn't have worked anyway. At least her girlfriend got that final love letter.
  • In Promise At Dawn, The Narrator receives these from his mother, who wrote letters to send to him after she died from her diabetes so as to encourage him to become a grand writer and soldier for La Resistence.
  • Played with in Roadmarks: A character writes a note to his employer explaining why he intends not only to resign but to kill his employer before he departs. He ends it with a postscript: "By the time you read this, you will already be dead."
  • Saintess Summons Skeletons: Zhǎng Lú’ leaves a letter to whomever kills him, thanking them for freeing him and making some requests about the disposition of his property. Including delivering letters to his next of kin — but unfortunately, most of them are long dead too. Sofia is eventually able to make contact with the last one, T.L.D.R. the lich, who thanks her for her work and takes the rest of the letters to deliver to the recipients' graves.
  • In The Secret of Platform 13, Nanny Brown leaves a note for Ben to read after she dies. It reveals that he, rather than Raymond, is the child whom Mrs. Trottle kidnapped.
  • In Garth Nix's Shade's Children the escaped children routinely make these, very much aware that any mission could be their last.
  • In Shadow of the Hegemon, Bean receives two copies of an email following Sister Carlotta's death. Each had to be stopped being sent each day; this method was meant to ensure that Carlotta's death could not prevent Bean learning important information about himself that she already knew, but wasn't yet ready to tell him.
  • Shine Shine Shine: After the death of Sunny's mother Emma, Sunny finds a letter written by her to Sunny's husband Maxon, to be delivered to Sunny after Emma's death, in which she admits that she turned Sunny's missionary father Bob over to the authorities, causing his execution, so the two of them could get out of Burma.
  • In Shtum, Georg writes a long letter to Ben describing his relationship with his autistic brother Jonatan, his family's death in The Holocaust, and his flight into Allied territory. Ben is never given the letter until after his death.
  • In Small Persons with Wings, Ogier writes two notes for his son Roly, expecting his descendants to find them after his death. One is hidden with the moonstone in an old coffee bag and constists almost entirely of insults against Roly. The other is hidden inside a wine label and has detailed instructions for how to return the moonstone's power to the Parvi Pennati. Thanks to Gigi faking his death, his family finds the notes while he's still alive.
  • David is writing out his story in Solar Defenders: The Role of a Shield because he's worried that his entire team may be wiped out, and if so he wants someone to find it and learn the truth about the Solar Defenders.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars Expanded Universe: In the novel "Bloodline" readers learn that Bail Organa had recorded a message for Princess Leia in the event that he died before he had a chance to tell her the truth about her parentage and brother. Bail left the messsage under royal seal with Supreme Governor Mellowyn of Birren as the Empire paid minimal attention to Birren and Bail trusted Mellowyn to keep the music box under lock and key. When Mellowyn died and Princess Leia turned down the governorship the office went to Senator Sindian, who found the box, opened it, and found Bail's message. She passed the recording on to others, which Sindian and her allies used to ruin Leia's political career.
    • ''Star Wars Legends':
      • This appeared in I, Jedi, a novel featuring Corran Horn, whose father, secretly the son of a Jedi, had died years before, and left a holographic message for him. It started with the "My hope is that we're watching this together..." variant, and the thought that they'd be laughing at how young he looked.
      • Corran gets to subvert this in the X-Wing Series — he and Tycho psyche Wedge out with a fake 'last message' before revealing that they're both fine. Later in the series, it's played straight with the message Phanan wrote while dying and gave to Face.
      • Also in the EU, Lorn Pavan recorded a message for his son Jax. Jax had been taken and raised by the Jedi, and one of the last things Lorn did was tell the recording droid to find his son.
  • The original novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has two. The first is written briefly before Hyde takes over Jekyll forever. Hyde is dead by the time the second letter is read, so that moves it out of "technically".
  • The String of Pearls the original book about Sweeney Todd, features an example written by someone who discovered that the pies were made from people. Unfortunately, he spent so much time writing about how horrible the secret he'd discovered was, he ran out of pencil before he could reveal it.
  • "Talma Gordon": After Jeannette dies, Talma receives a letter from her which begins: "MY DARLING SISTER TALMA: When you read these lines I shall be no more..."
  • This is subverted in the book The Time Traveler's Wife, where Henry suggests that it's a bit presumptuous to start such a letter in such a certain way, and suggests that the letter might be read before he has really died.
  • Happens a couple of times in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe
    • In Lioness Rampant, Liam sent the letter to a friend, thinking trouble was likely. If he survived, she was to burn the letter; if he didn't, she was to pass it on to Alanna.
    • Before her Ordeal in Protector of the Small, Kel tries writing one to her sweetheart Cleon, which consists of one sentence—she loves him and will miss him. She knows the chances she'll need it are low (and she's fine, of course), but the Chamber of the Ordeal had killed Joren the year before.
  • Joseph McCormick from the Underdogs series writes letters to all of his followers, to be opened in the event of his death. That event comes at the end of Tooth and Nail. Ewan opens his letter, which names him as McCormick's successor and gives leadership advice and encouragement.
  • Moiraine from The Wheel of Time gave Rand one of these, with the knowledge she'd be gone by the time he read it. She also left another letter that said she wasn't dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has a few examples:
    • In "The Parliament of Dreams", G'Kar receives a message from an old enemy: "By the time you get this recording, I will already be dead... Ah, but then, very shortly, so will you."
    • In the episode "Z'ha'dum", one such message is left by Sheridan for Delenn. This death ends up non-permanent, but the accompanying Love Confession is still heartbreaking.
    • As seen in the prequel movie In The Beginning, Dukhat leaves such a message for Delenn so she can take up his role as liaison with the Vorlons in the event of his death. This message is also apparently what causes her series-long quest to become closer to the Humans.
    • As seen in the penultimate episode, at least one message was recorded by Sheridan for his unborn child, as he knows his years are numbered.
  • A sort-of roundabout example in Baywatch: Down Under: When his former lover dies, Cody travels all the way to Australia (her home) and finds a "goodbye" note left amongst her possessions.
  • In Being Human, Tully leaves a warning for George in this manner. Annie attempts to do this with an answering machine message, but it gets listened to before she's gone anywhere. (Both in the same episode, too!)
  • In the second season of Bones, when Brennan and Hodgins were trapped in a car that had been buried in the desert by the serial killer Gravedigger, Brennan wrote a letter for Booth to read if she did not survive. The contents of that letter were never revealed until seven seasons later when Brennan read the letter to Booth as the two of them got married.
    • In an eighth season episode, Booth records a touching video message for his young daughter, to be played after his death.
    • At the tenth season finale, in a tape left by the latest suspect (a devotee of Serial Killer Christopher Pelant), there was one of these by him for Brennan. It talked about him still living on in the digital world, but unlike most instances of these, Brennan closes the video before it could finish, having no interest in giving Pelant any more space in her life.
  • In the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is used in Mayor Wilkins' video will to Faith. The mayor notes that it's either her watching it, or a bunch of kids at a museum celebrating his glory—"In which case: hi, kids!"
  • Castle; In the episode "In The Belly Of The Beast", Beckett is trapped in a deep cover assignment gone wrong. Preparing for the worst, she writes a letter to Castle, hiding it in an air vent and planting drops of her own blood to lead a CSU team to discover the letter if necessary.
    I hope you never have to read this... that I can tell you all of these things in person, but if something happens and I don't make it, I need you to know that our partnership, our relationship is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. You're an amazing man, and I love you with all of my heart. Always.
  • The penultimate episode of Daredevil (2015) features a video variation. Agent Nadeem returns to his now-empty home and films a video of himself to send to his wife and son, anticipating that one of Fisk's assassins will soon show up to murder him. Sure enough, his FBI colleague Dex, now working for Fisk, turns up, gun in hand. Nadeem manages to turn this into a Thanatos Gambit, sending the video message and then committing Suicide by Cop when he forces Dex to kill him prematurely. Unbeknownst to Dex, his video message outlined a plan for his wife that would not only convince Fisk she knows nothing and therefore protect her and their son, but also includes a confession to all Nadeem's own (and by extension Fisk's) crimes, addressed to Nelson and Murdock. The instant that he dies the video confession becomes legally admissible in court as a "Dying Declaration", which allows the DA to prosecute Fisk once Nelson and Murdock relay it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Parting of the Ways":
      The Ninth Doctor: If this message is activated, then it can only mean one thing. We must be in danger, and I mean fatal. I'm dead, or about to die any second with no chance of escape.
    • Used multiple times in episodes involving the Weeping Angels, monsters which kill you by sending you into the past to live out your life.
      • First in "Blink", after being sent back in time, Kathy writes a message to Sally explaining the whole thing, which is delivered by her grandson to Sally in the present.
      • In "The Angels Take Manhattan", Amy writes a note to the Doctor, putting it as the afterword to River's Melody Malone book. The deleted/unfilmed minisode "P.S." shows that Rory also wrote a letter to his dad, delivered by Amy and Rory's adopted son in the present.
    • "The Sound of Drums": Reporter Vivien Rook sets a video message to automatically be sent to Torchwood if she dies confronting Harold Saxon, which Jack receives via his Vortex manipulator later.
    • "Heaven Sent": Before dying from powering the teleporter, each iteration of the Doctor writes a message in the sand for his next iteration.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": Rahul, the guy who retrieves the Stenza pod from the woods intending to confront the soldier inside, leaves a prominently marked video file on the desktop of his PC in case the occupant kills him, which does happen.
  • Sherlock
    • In "The Six Thatchers", Mary Morstan pre-recorded a video message that would be delivered to Sherlock and John Watson if she died.
  • One Dollhouse client uses Echo's body to write a note after her death and passes it off as one of these, making herself seem incredibly prescient by identifying her murderer and the method used to kill her, and leaving messages for loved ones informed by what she's learned of them while attending her own funeral.
  • Ellery Queen: "The Adventure of Veronica's Veils" opens with a group of people attending a funeral and then being shown a film in which the dead man says that if they are watching this then he has been murdered and that one of them is the killer.
  • ER's Mark Green, in his last days, prepared to write several of these for his daughters, for them to read at graduation, their weddings, etc., though he worried about the possibility of making them sad on what should be a happy day for them.
  • You could say it was inverted in the Firefly episode "The Message", where the guy arrives in a coffin, with a tape recorder, asking them to bury him. Later on, he wakes up, having faked the whole thing to escape with the organic goods he was hiding in his chest. But the audio message still ends up being relevant and ends up acting like the trope played straight when it plays at the end of the episode after he's Killed Off for Real.
  • In Fringe, a dying scientist working with ZFT leaves the team a videotape revealing that Walter's old partner William Bell is the group's backer.
  • Get Smart uses this at least twice: in "The Dead Spy Scrawls," Agent 46 leaves a coded message in wet cement after being fatally shot, and in "Hubert's Unfinished Symphony," CONTROL agent (and professional musician) Rudolph Hubert leaves the name of his killer, spelled out in the last six notes of his unfinished symphony.
  • The letter Bart leaves for Chuck on Gossip Girl (which oddly enough mentions that he's left Chuck Bass Industries but fails to mention the morality clause).
  • In Heroes season 3 episode 1, Hiro finds one left to him by his father. "Whatever you do don't open the safe." Hiro opens the safe to find another DVD, plays it: "I told you not to open the safe!"
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Lily write notes to each other to be opened only when the other died. Hilarity Ensues when Marshall opens Lily's note beforehand.
  • Denholm's video will in The IT Crowd uses this trope and mixes in The Tape Knew You Would Say That.
  • One episode of Law & Order had a twist on the trope, in which a video message was left by the murder victim. As it turned out, he was not a murder victim at all — he knew he was dying of cancer, so had hired a hit man to kill him and frame both his cheating wife and her lover. The video was given to his best friend, with instructions that he was to show it to the district attorney if anyone ever tried to pin the murder on him.
  • In one episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which two men are found having apparently killed each other in a physical struggle, a video is found in which one of the dead men reveals that the other man was blackmailing him and that he was planning to confront him. Nichols quickly determines the scene was staged but the video ends up being relevant anyway; it turns out the real murderer had seen it and intentionally staged the victims' deaths to match what the victim had predicted.
  • The Middleman has the Code 47, which is a posthumous note that Middlemen are supposed to record for every mission.
  • Million Yen Women: Minami's will, which was delivered to Midori.
  • Monk, on the series finale, it's revealed that Trudy left Monk a tape as a Christmas gift before she died. While the entire tape wasn't shown yet, she does reveal that she knew she was in danger.
  • In Murder Most Horrid, an episode begins with a woman recording her suicide note that begins "Dear Mum, by the time you read this, I will be dead.", but she ends up embroiled in an assassination attempt of sorts. By the time it's over, she's decided not to kill herself, and also decides to phone her mother to tell her all about it. Unfortunately, she dies anyway and the last words she says to her mum before the tape begins playing are 'I've got so much to say I could explode!'. Guess how she dies.
  • Murder, She Wrote:
    • In the episode "Truck Stop", a fatally injured man records a message describing how he came to kill two people. He's partly covering for someone else.
    • In the episode "To the Last Will I Grapple with Thee", the murder victim left a videotape claiming that a friend of Jessica's was out to kill him. He actually committed suicide, arranging his death to implicate Jessica's friend, a man whom he blamed for making his life miserable.
    • In the episode "Sticks and Stones", the first murder victim had warned the murderer that if anything happened to her, a friend would mail a letter to the sheriff explaining everything. The murderer's response was to kill her, and then flood Cabot Cove with poison pen letters filled with false accusations, so the genuine one would be a Needle in a Stack of Needles.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Atomic Brain", when the companion of the movie's villainess Mrs. March reads the letter that'll be used to give Nina Mrs. March's fortune, Mike quips "By the time I read this, you'll be dead." Ironically, it's the man who's killed instead.
  • On one episode of NUMB3RS, a body washes up on the beach and the mortician finds Chinese numbers tattooed on her feet. The numbers turn out to be a phone number, and the message machine that picks up says, "Hi, if you're listening to this, then I guess I'm dead”, then asks for the listener to tell her coworker at the newspaper what happened to her. The victim was an investigative journalist going undercover in a sex trafficking ring, and she got the tattoos and the phone number so she could be identified if she ended up being killed.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Snow White asks the huntsman to deliver a letter to her Wicked Stepmother Regina after he kills her. He looks at the letter and is inspired not to kill her by how selfless the letter is. It essentially says that Snow White hopes that with her out of the way, Regina can devote her energies to ruling the kingdom, as well as Snow's father, would have wanted. Regina is nowhere near as impressed by the letter as the huntsman is.
  • On Orphan Black, Sarah records a message like this for Art on her phone before going to meet Helena for the first time. She doesn't end up dying, but the message does come back to bite her when he discovers it a few episodes later...
  • In Prison Break, the final scene of the series is Michael Scofield's posthumous message to his brother, his wife and his unborn child.
  • On Rubicon, Katherine's husband is Driven to Suicide under mysterious circumstances, and ends up leaving her a cryptic note reminding her to celebrate their anniversary, as per usual, which includes watching Meet Me in St. Louis—but the DVD in the case is actually a message from him explaining The Conspiracy that caused his and others' deaths. Too bad it doesn't save her from getting killed a few days later.
  • "This Saturday Night Live short. "Dear sister, by the time you read this I'll be dead. Here's how I think it's going to happen: first Dave will shoot me, then I'll shoot Dave..."
  • On Shtisel, Ruchami decides to get pregnant despite knowing that she may die, and spends much of her time writing and taping messages for her child to listen to as she grows up. She survives.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series
      • Kirk's taped message from the episode "The Tholian Web" is played by Spock and McCoy even though he doesn't actually die. When Kirk asks about the message after he turns up alive, they pretend they were too busy dealing with the crisis and didn't see it.
      • "That Which Survives". In Losira's Apocalyptic Log about the death of her colony she says "...we who have guarded the outpost for you will be dead by the time you take possession of this planet."
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
      • Tasha Yar's farewell holo-message is played at the end of the episode "Skin of Evil".
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
      • In the episode "Civil Defense", the crew accidentally trips a long-buried computer subroutine that's assuming the Cardassians still control the station and there's a slave revolt in progress. Each level of the program is preceded by a message from the station's previous commander Gul Dukat, including one in which he states that he is likely "dead or otherwise incapacitated". In reality, Dukat is not only still alive, but vastly amused by the whole thing — at least until another facet of the subroutine almost makes that message a reality. Apparently one of his own superiors had added a few things without bothering to tell Dukat.
      • In the episode "Visionary", Chief O'Brien, before taking on a dangerous time-travel mission, informed Dr. Bashir that he had left a message for his wife Keiko in the event of his death.
      • In the episode "To the Death", O'Brien tells Dax he records one before every dangerous mission. Dax says she'll add this one to the computer along with her message to her mother. O'Brien questions the fact that she also does farewell letters. Dax's response "Doesn't everyone?"
  • Stranger Things: When Max realizes the Vecna is the cause for her headaches and hallucinations, and following the pattern of its previous victims she's going to be killed the next day, she spends the whole night writing letters to her family and friends for them to read after she dies.
  • Supernatural:
    • Before Gabriel faces his brother Lucifer and is ultimately killed by him, he leaves a video for Sam and Dean containing some important information. In the form of a porno. Him as the leading man, of course, 'stache and all. He halts the action for a moment to deliver the info. After admitting that Dean was right, Gabriel had been too much of a coward to face his family, he ends with this little gem:
      Gabriel: This is me standing up. And this... is me lying down.
      [porno resumes]
    • In "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two"(S02, Ep22), Ash left the map, which revealed the large Devil's Trap in Wyoming, in a safe before he died. This information was the reason that the demons burned down the Roadhouse and killed him.
  • In Torchwood:
    • Tosh makes a Video Will in case of her death. The remaining team members find it after she (and Owen) die.
    • Owen in "Dead Man Walking": "...I died and was brought back to life... And they think I'm fine."
  • 'Whodunnit? (UK)'': In "No Happy Returns", the Victim of the Week makes a film stating that if dies, he will have been murdered by one of the members of his board. The film is not found until 25 years after his murder.
  • On The X-Files, Scully begins writing a diary to Mulder, for him to read after her death from terminal cancer.

  • Daniel Amos's album series The Alarma Chronicles includes an ongoing story in the liner notes. The final album, Fearful Symmetry, the narrator reveals that he will soon be dead, presumably from old age.
  • The video for the Decemberist's song "O Valencia" includes one of these. You can see the long version here.
  • "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw - a letter left by a fallen soldier for his wife.
  • "Riding With Private Malone" written by Wood Newton and Thom Shepherd, and recorded by American country music artist David Ball. The letter is left in the glove box of a '66 Corvette by a soldier heading off to Viet Nam.
  • At the end of the second The Protomen album, when Dr. Light has lost all hope and is waiting for Wily's robot army to arrest him, he finally reads his murdered love's last letter - which (somewhat presciently) tells him not to give up hope and continue fighting.
  • "P.S. Please" by Cliff Richard is a series of letters written by a father to the daughter he'll never see.
  • The opening line of Roxy Music's "Strictly Confidential", from For Your Pleasure is "Before I die I write this letter."
  • "By The Time You Read This I Will Be Dead" by Suicide Watch.
  • They Might Be Giants have "By The Time You Get This", from their album I Like Fun:
    By the time you get this note
    We'll no longer be alive
    We'll have all gone up in smoke
    There'll be no way to reply

  • The Book of Mormon: Several authors show awareness that they are writing for a time long after their own death, a "cry from the dust". Moroni, finishing the book, made particular mention of it.
    Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Dark Designs, adventure "The Eyes of the Blind''. The note Elias Cartwright sends to Jeremiah Ordacre starts "By the time you read this I fear that I shall be dead". Shortly thereafter Elias is killed by being pushed under the wheels of a carriage.
  • The prologue of Deadlands: Hell on Earth is an Apocalyptic Log written by a Templar named Jo about the state of the world and events that led to it meant to bring players up to speed on the lore. She is on her death bed and is most likely dead by the time the player would realistically read it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Judges Guild supplement The Book of Treasure Maps, adventure "The Lost Temple". The players discover a letter from Valan the Bold to his brother telling the story of how he found the title Lost Temple. Valan writes that he's dying of a fever and that "I fear that soon I shall soon join my comrades in death in this far land." He says that he plans to entrust the letter to his sole surviving companion in the hope that she can deliver it to his brother.
    • DA 1 Adventures in Blackmoor. The player characters' party will find Hepath Nun's suicide note in the Common Room of the Comeback Inn. It tells the story of how Nun's party was trapped inside the Inn and grew desperate in their attempts to escape. The last paragraph starts with the line "That is my tale. I go now to my death." Nearby they find Hepath Nun's body hanging by the neck from a chandelier.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. The journal of Professor Alexander Trader details his exploration of the Hollow Earth. The journal was found abandoned: Professor Trader's fate is unknown. Near the end of the journal it says:
    If you are reading this, then all is lost for me, and I most certainly have already shuffled off this mortal coil. My life will not have been in vain, however, if this journal makes it to those who can appreciate my discoveries.
  • Occurs repeatedly in Shadowrun products, including The Universal Brotherhood, Awakenings, Threats, Threats 2, Dragons of the Sixth World (twice!) and Emergence. Always involves someone trying to publicize information about a dangerous conspiracy, with the conspiracy trying to kill the person to prevent this.
  • Silent Hill RPG.
    • In the sewer system under the amusement park the players can find the diary of W. Irving. It says that two of his friends have been killed by a monster in the sewer water and that he's going to try to kill it.
      If you find this note, consider it my will.
    • In the Indian Runner delivery office there's a journal of an undercover officer working for a drug gang. The last entry says:
      As I write this I am already dead. I have committed the worst crime of all! I talked. My tongue slipped and that was my death sentence. They came.
  • Traveller The New Era supplement Survival Margin. The New Era takes place after the collapse of a galactic empire called the Third Imperium. The description of a Bootstraps Campaign has a man leaving a message for his descendants.
    Hello. I am your grandfather. By the time you see this, I will have been dead for many years, but on this tape, I will show you how to repair a radio...
  • Starfire. In the Nexus magazine short story "We Also Die In Time Of Peace", the TFN (Terran Federation Navy) ship Hooligan finds a courier drone with its Omega Code activated. This is done only when the captain of the ship sending the drone believes the ship is facing imminent destruction.

  • Number Six of Hamilton's "Ten Duel Commandments" Invokes the trope, as it states that each duel participant should write a letter to their next of kin before going off to said duel to explain afterwards where they've been should they die, since duels were officially illegal and the participants can't directly tell others what they intend to do beforehand. It makes Alexander's late-night writing right before his duel with Aaron Burr when Eliza asks him to come back to bed in "Best of Wives and Best of Women" all the more poignant without the play having to say anything explicit in the moment.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Beneath Freeway 42, Ann finds a victim of the hostile wildlife clutching onto a bloodstained paper containing the passcode needed to open the locked door and rescue the explorer being attacked by the grub creatures.
  • Armored Core: For Answer's Maximilian Thermidor leaves the player this type of message in the ORCA path, stating that, as the sole remaining member of ORCA, It's Up to You to complete the Closed Plan. If you're playing Hard Mode, you find out that Thermidor not only isn't dead, but he's actually Otsdarva, one of Omer's lackeys who has been playing you and the rest of ORCA for fools the whole time.
  • Your foster father Gorion in Baldur's Gate leaves one of these kinds of letters for you to pick up late in the game. (He also apparently liesFanon is divided on whether the two stories of your mother can be reconciled—but then he is the mentor.) The whole thing smells of Retcon. Probably done in order to be able to say that Sarevok and the PC could have exchanged places but for the smallest accident of chance.
  • Baldur's Gate III: On a lighter note, Astarion embroidered his underwear with the message, "If you're reading this, you managed to bed or behead me. Either way, you got lucky."
  • Borderlands 2: One of the Tundra Patrol bandits, Will, drops an ECHO recording that turns out to be one of these to his killer (you). In it, Will the Bandit bequeaths his stash to you, since by killing him you proved you're in better need of his guns. He also takes a moment to assure you that really, this isn't just a trap to try and kill you out of revenge for killing him. He apparently had it programmed with extra recordings to taunt you when you get to the stash and spring the trap, and then grumble "you suck" after you survive the ambush.
  • Cris Tales: Willhelm sets up a holographic projector and records some crucial information about the past of the Empress of Time and his relations with her for the heroes to find and view. This info could have been told right away, but said character wasn't completely sure that things would come to their death.
  • Danganronpa: Ultra Despair Girls: There are messages left behind by dead civilians are scattered all around the game.
  • Darkest Dungeon opens on the Ancestor's suicide note, begging the player to return to the estate and destroy the evil he had unleashed there.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Papas'/Pankraz's letter in Dragon Quest V. When you obtain the Zenithian Sword, he wants you to fulfill his objective to find the legendary hero and your mother.
    • The buried letter from the protagonist's mother in Dragon Quest XI. She tells him of his royal heritage and being The Chosen One. Also buried is a letter from his adoptive grandfather realizing what the protagonist will go through and help him with his main objective.
  • Dusty Revenge has the titular character finding his father's journal in Ilumna. "Do not look for me, son, for by the time you read this I've been long dead."
  • Fallout:
    • As a rule, every NCR soldier in Fallout: New Vegas must carry a letter to their loved ones, to be read only in the event of their deaths.
    • Fallout 3 has a number of these, such as the note from Sidney's late father found in the Statesman Hotel.
    • In Honest Hearts, you find a trail of holotapes left by a survivalist named Randall Clark in the years after the bombs fell, leading up to the day of his death.
  • One of these letters also appeared near the beginning of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, as a letter to the main character from her dead grandfather. She finds several more letters from him throughout the game, including one that, when selected in the pause menu, is accompanied by a recording of him reading it.
  • The Guardian Legend has one of these after you complete the introductory space shooter level when you first enter the labyrinth.
  • Hacknet starts with this trope, where the player receives an email from hacker Bit after installing a cracked OS. The email is a failsafe setup by Bit as he prepares for his inevitable demise as he is hunted down. The player is then given a series of instructions on how to continue Bit’s work, via further emails written before Bit’s death.
  • Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence opens with the player character receiving a message from her good friend James, advising her that if she's reading the letter, he's probably dead and he needs her to go to the Holy Mountain Hotel and finish his investigation for him. When she gets there, she finds that (much to his own surprise) he's actually still alive, but he won't stay that way if she doesn't help him finish his case.
    • Later in the series, in the installment The Evil Inside, James (who is the player character this time) is searching through the haunted Hotel Valentine for his cousin and her friends. He finds a few letters of this type from some of the friends, who have realized that they're not going to survive and want to leave some kind of farewell. One letter even contains a Dying Declaration of Love for one of the others, though he has sadly already died and will never see it.
  • What starts the whole adventure off in Heist: The Crime of the Century. While attending the funeral of her despised Uncle Henry, the protagonist Elaine receives a posthumous letter from him. It seems Henry was a thief and wants Elaine to follow in his footsteps.
    • Once you get into Henry's apartment, there's a voice recording with further instructions.
    • There's one final hidden message from Uncle Henry concealed in the crown jewels, intended to set Elaine on a better path.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: After returning to the Base after the events at Cauldron GEMINI, Aloy can discover a recording left behind by Beta in her room where she remarks that she must be dead if Aloy is listening before thanking her for taking her in. Depending on whether or not Beta's been rescued from the Zeniths when the datapoint is first scanned, Aloy can have different responses to the recording.
  • Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos has one such last will in Lucrecia's Base, stating that the base's vacancy and lack of activity boils down to her being dead and that the finder of the base gets to keep it. It ends up in the hands of her grandson Cal Johnston, albeit with guidance from mentor Jefferson Clay, who even in AI construct form was old enough to have known Lucrecia.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • During Tali's loyalty mission, she and Shepard find a holovid on the corpse of Tali's father. Tali's quite bitter that the holovid essentially only gives her orders on how to clean up the mess he caused.
    • Kasumi's partner leaves a holo-message as well.
    • If you romance him, Thane writes a message to be delivered in the event of his death (he has an incurable disease, and expects to die within a year). In the third game, he dies fighting Kai Leng and the message is indeed delivered to Shepard's email.
  • Used straight, from your former commanding officer, at the start of the Humongous Mecha game MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries.
    • And then Mechwarrior 4 Vengeance starts with the protagonist receiving a message from his late father.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Bladewolf plays Jetstream Sam's final message to Raiden to him during the final battle.
  • The original Ninja Gaiden on NES opens with Ryu's father in a life and death duel. As might be expected, his father is killed in the duel, leaving only a message for Ryu to find containing instructions to go to America and a final condolence from his father.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door:
    • One of Mario's quests is to deliver such a letter to Admiral Bobbery, thus releasing him from the mental torment that keeps him from sailing the seas.
    • Earlier in the game, Koops finds such a message in a pile of bones that he believes to be his father's. As it turns out, that wasn't his father's skeleton after all.
  • Penumbra's Framing Story involves one of these from the protagonist. To kick off the game's plot, he gets a letter from his dead father, as well.
  • In Quern - Undying Thoughts, the good ending implies this may be the case with Maythorn. The same message plays regardless of which choice you make. However, if you use the red crystal instead of the green crystal, the message starts to break down and gets cut off. This strongly suggests that the voice you hear at the end is a recording and Maythorn is long dead. Also, the calculations to unlock the gateway took centuries and Maythorn left Quern long before they were finished. Given that time is essentially meaningless in Quern, he could have rigged the gateway so that it would bring you there well after his departure.
  • Mary's letter in Silent Hill 2, though we don't get to read it all until James lets himself read it all. The very first thing James says in the game is that it can't be possible he got a letter from Mary since she's been dead for years now. But near the end, we find out that she's only been dead about a week.
  • In Sol Cresta, after the Shadow Mandler piloted by Chandor is destroyed by the Wing Galiber, it plays a message from the late Noboru Tendo. Unfortunately, the data is too corrupted and is unable to play, but the message later plays a role in the Final Battle with Mandler when the repair process is completed. It reveals that the pendant that Sho is carrying is actually the Sol Cresta itself that Mandler was searching for, but Noboru got to it first, and it can be used to fully power up the Yamato.
  • The Star Trek Online mission "A Fistful of Gorn". Your contact on Nimbus III, an old Romulan lawman named Law, sends you a note saying he's going after a Gorn pirate gunning for your head. Cue cutscene of the two of them squaring off in a Showdown at High Noon, which cuts away just as the shots ring out. In the next scene, Law walks up to you and shrugs, then notes the awkwardness of leaving a death note for you and then surviving his expceted death.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, where Bian Souldark leaves a holo-recording for his daughter, Lune, hidden in her Valsione - along with comprehensive data on secret DC bases, since he apparently predicted that she'd join up with the heroes after they'd killed him, and figured that they might need a hand taking down the remnants of DC. Nice of him, huh?
  • Near the very end of System Shock 2, as SHODAN starts warping reality, the player finds another of the Apocalyptic Logs left by Delacroix, although earlier in the game the player found her body and final log. This one, floating in the air all on its own, starts, "Re: some small assistance. If you are receiving this, I am already dead. When I realized SHODAN had betrayed me, I integrated these comments into her primary data loop." Her messages then guide the player.
  • In What Remains of Edith Finch, this is how the stories of Molly, Walter, and Edith are told, through a diary they wrote just before they died. Depending on your interpretation, so is Milton's, which is an animated drawing in a flipbook of him leaving, created just before he disappeared.
  • When They Cry:
    • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Keiichi leaves such a note at the end of the first arc.
    • As does Maria in Umineko: When They Cry. Although the note is signed as her, it's implied to have been written by Yasu, who is later revealed to have also written the first and second arcs.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: "Bill Cipher vs Discord" begins with Discord writing his own "Dear Princess Celestia" letter before the match starts. The letter is last seen in a newly restored Canterlot near Fluttershy's hooves, implying that Discord wrote it in case he didn't make it out alive.
    "Dear Princess Celestia. Today Bill Cypher learned an important lesson...about friendship."
  • At the end of Red vs. Blue Season 13, Epsilon/Church leaves a recording for his friends just before they face off against Hargrove's forces. However, it's not so much a question of if he's dead (he erases himself moments after recording it), it's if his friends are alive at the end of the fight to hear the recording.
    Epsilon/Church: Hey guys... if you're hearing this then it means you did it. You won. You kicked the shit out of Hargrove's forces. I knew you could. But this is my last stop. See, when I came into this world, I was really just a collection of somebody else's memories. But with your help, these memories... they-they took form! They became my voice, my personality. And, after a while, I... I began to make brand new memories of my own. All of these things are what make me who I am... but they're also holding me back. I can't run this suit as Epsilon, but if I erase my memories, if I... deconstruct myself, the fragments I'll leave behind will have the strength to get you through this. I believe that. I wish that there was another way. But, I'm leaving this message as well as others, in the hopes that you'll understand why I have to go this time...hehe, it was actually Doyle who made me realize something that I've never thought of before. There are so many stories where some brave hero decides to give their life to save the day, and because of their sacrifice, the good guys win, the survivors all cheer, and everybody lives happily ever after. But the hero... never gets to see that ending. They'll never know if their sacrifice actually made a difference. They'll never know if the day was really saved. In the end, they just have to have faith. Ain't that a bitch.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Dr. Mackenzie's SCP-001 Proposal ("The Legacy").
      • In one of the pages of The Administrator's diary. it says, "If you are in possession of — and reading — this document then I am probably dead."
      • The last page was written by someone who loved The Administrator in their original reality. They write "By the time you read this, I will already be dead."
    • The entry for SCP-110 has a note from the Chief Engineer of the buried city. It begins "My name is Stephen Kolsnik. Rather, my name was Stephen Kolsnik. I will be dead by the time you read this." The life support for the city had been damaged and couldn't be repaired in the time they had left.
    • SCP-557 ("Ancient Containment Site"). A note found in SCP-557 says (in part) "I will write in Greek so that any learned man who finds this place will understand. I am the last of the Keepers, and I will be dead soon."
    • SCP-1082 ("The Whole Truth"). Document 1082-25 was written by an Agent under the effect of SCP-1082. Near the end, he says "I will be dead by the time you read this, but it will be worth it."
    • SCP-1260 ("HMS Tiresias"). The Agent in charge of the first exploration of SCP-1260 left a personal log. Several members of his team died after hearing voices, so when he started to hear the voices he knew he was going to die horribly very soon.
    • SCP-1281 ("The Harbinger"). The message provided by SCP-1281 starts out:
    This is our harbinger. It brings good tidings. We will be dead when it reaches you. Our planet is dying. We do not have time to save ourselves. We only have time to ready ourselves, and to send a message.
    • SCP-1504 ("Joe Schmo"). The site where SCP-1504 was being held suffered a massive containment breach because of his sabotage. One of the few surviving SCP Foundation personnel wrote a document that explained the situation and said that he was going to detonate the site's Self-Destruct Mechanism (a nuclear warhead). He did do and was killed in the blast.
    • A note found in SCP-1983:
      Special Containment Procedures: You're going to die, you poor dumb fuck.

      This isn't a threat. I'm Agent Barclay. I'm in the middle of this goddamned thing, and I'm telling you if you're here? You're going to die. I'm probably already dead.
    • SCP-2503 ("Estimated Distance: 9,216 Years"). The first person to be trapped in the SCP-2503 anomaly kept a journal of his experiences therein. In his journal, he asked that if anyone found it, it be returned to his family - an acknowledgment that he might not make it out alive. Also, at one point he writes "This may very well be my final entry. I’m no different than a dead man now."
    • SCP-2525 ("Extraterrestrial Broadcaster"). Doctor Clark was a Foundation scientist who was dying of cancer. In a document, he said that he wrote some controversial statements because he knew he would be dead by the time they were read.

    Web Videos 
  • Subverted twice in Critical Role.
    • Percy writes a letter to Vox Machina in case of his death, and Vex discovers it on his body when he dies, but the group doesn't read it until after his resurrection.
    • Scanlan gives a letter to Pike for her to read in case of his death, but she opens and reads it as soon as he can't see her. She uses its contents (a request for her to take care of Kaylie) to revive him after his death.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Dad's Dungeon", the series of holo-recordings Finn and Jake's dad left to his sons for when he passed away. The first is revealed via Joshua's spirit (in the form of sparkles). The second they find in an alley after getting through the first room of the dungeon. The third is located near a hole in the wall in a lower flow after the Fruit Witches test. And the fourth is picked by Jake while in the dark in the final monster's room.
  • Dragons: Race to the Edge: at the end of "Family On the Edge", a reformed Dagur left Heather a farewell note, which she found after his Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the other riders from falling into Viggo's trap. He advised that Hiccup seek out Viggo's next dragon auction, and admitted that he did not kill their biological father Oswald the Agreeable, that he only let people believe he did so he would not be seen as weak.
  • Professor Farnsworth leaves a holographic message to his crew after he is taken to the Near Death Star in the Futurama episode "A Clone of My Own". He even anticipates a smart remark by Bender and reveals that he recorded over Bender's soap operas.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: "Meltdown" reveals Tony's dad recorded a holographic will; in which he detailed that he didn't want Tony to grow up as isolated as he himself was, so if Tony can't keep his grades up, his Stark International voting stock will go to the board.
  • In Rugrats, Chuckie's late mother Melinda left a poem for her son to read when he got older. Unlike most examples, it is a huge Tear Jerker.
  • Appears twice in The Simpsons.
    • Played straight (in "Homer's Odyssey" and "I Married Marge", although the second one is not a death, but instead him trying to run away) and once parodied ("Marge, if you're watching this, it means I worked out how to operate the video camera" in "Half-Decent Proposal").
    • Again, during the episode where Mona dies.
    Mona: Homer, if you're watching this, either I'm dead, or you've gone through my stuff. If I'm dead, this is my video will; if not, please keep away from my stuff.
    • Played with in "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" when Homer makes a video for Maggie to see the man he was in order to fulfill his list believing he will die the next day. His video recording gets interrupted by a phone call from Milhouse.
  • Happens in The Venture Brothers when Brock conveniently finds a video from the late Dr. Venture with explicit directions for Rusty that had to be carried out within the next day.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?: Subverted. When Zack and Ivy attempt to close the titular character's file following her death, they receive a video of one of these. Then at the end of the episode, Carmen is revealed to not be dead after all, and to have in fact staged both the video and the avalanche that supposedly killed her specifically in order to determine who was "worthy" to be the successor(s) to her crime organization in the event that anything should actually happen to her.

    Real Life 
  • In a bizarre case of Truth in Television, controversial Australian politician Pauline Hanson made a video that began "If you are watching this, I have been murdered...", apparently believing she was in danger of being assassinated by foreigners. It was naturally leaked to the media (which may have been her intention all along). The general reaction from the public, however, moved her perception from that of merely being an unpleasant redneck xenophobe to being an absolute raving looney (or an easily manipulated stooge).
  • There's also the famous, impossibly sad Sullivan Ballou letter.
    Dear Sarah. The indications are very strong that we will move soon...
  • Guatemalan attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg. It's understandable how it ended up in the right hands: he made it for the entire country and was uploaded to YouTube. This could be counted as a subversion; the following UN investigation ultimately concluded that Mr. Rosenberg had arranged for his own murder.
  • Robert Scott. "For God's sake look after our people."
  • Thomas Paine wrote "The Age of Reason" while imprisoned during The French Revolution (he'd gone to France to help with their struggle for liberty, and been arrested by the revolutionaries after their regime became tyrannical). He felt free to write down his highly controversial criticisms of Christianity because he thought he'd be dead before they were published. It didn't work out that way.
  • Jack Layton, a Canadian politician who was Leader of the Opposition, dictated a letter as he was in the final stages of terminal cancer, addressed not only to members of his party but also to the public at large (even going so far as to tell other people with cancer to not take his death as a reason to give up hope).
    My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
  • American sports TV producer Frank Chirkinian, the Trope Maker for most of the conventions of modern golf broadcasting, was terminally ill with lung cancer in early 2011. The World Golf Hall of Fame, which had been considering him for induction for many years, voted him into that year's induction class in hopes that he would be able to make the ceremony. He didn't make it, dying about two months before the ceremony. However, anticipating this, he videotaped his induction speech literally days before his death, and the speech was played for the assembled golf luminaries.
  • Technoblade left one, read by his father after he passed on June 30, 2022.
  • It's quite common for people who expect to die to leave messages of this sort if they have time to do so. For example, passengers aboard planes that end up in extended emergencies such that a crash is (or seems) imminent but does not happen immediately will often write notes to loved ones to say goodbye in case they don't survive.


Video Example(s):


Longclaw the Owl

Longclaw has a secret massage left for Sonic in his map long after she passed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (24 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheOwlKnowingOne

Media sources: