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Death Song

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"Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding, he sings."
— variously attributed

Death Is Dramatic. So is musical theatre. Therefore it should come as no surprise that major deaths are often accompanied by a final musical exclamation by the dying character—and frequently another, for extra duet points. Often followed, fittingly enough, by a Grief Song. Sometimes the two even overlap. Frequently a Tear Jerker or a Dark Reprise. In some works can attract Killed Mid-Sentence/Musicalis Interruptus.


It should be noted that this can describe a song a character sings as they die, or a song building up to (and ending with) the singing character's death.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop has two songs, although one of them is never actually heard anywhere in the entire series proper.
    • "Blue" plays for the ending credits of the final episode, right after we see Spike collapse on the stairs after finishing a fight to the death. Word is still out on whether he actually dies or not, but the lyrics fit this trope.
    Everything is clearer, now.
    Life is just a dream, you know?
    It's never ending.
    I'm ascending.

    • "No Reply", a song that never actually plays anywhere in the series, is part of the "Knocking on Heaven's Door OST Future Blues" soundtrack. The song details how the singer laments how he'll never be with the woman he loves, a woman who doesn't know he loves her, but has always supported him at every turn. A woman who will never know how he feels about her as he has already jumped from the top of a building.
  • Senki Zesshou Symphogear features this as a mechanic of its music-based Magical Girl system- the "Swan Song," a song sung as a last resort, removing all limiters on their power at cost of the singer's life.
    Films — Live-Action 
  • "I'm Goin' Home" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, though Frank doesn't die during it, but afterwards, and isn't even aware he's going to be killed until afterwards.
  • Parodied in The Bachelor when Jimmie notes that Mariah Carey's character is singing even while she's dying.
  • "Bye Bye Life" from All That Jazz
  • "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
  • "Chromaggia" from Repo! The Genetic Opera, sung by Blind Mag in the Genetic Opera just before she rips out her own due-to-be-repossessed eyes and then falls to her death. Also "I Didn't Know I'd Love You So Much", which Nathan Wallace and his daughter Shilo sing as the former is dying from a gunshot wound.
  • "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" from The Rose. Followed up by "The Rose", which counts as a Grief Song.
  • Everyone on the Titanic in Titanic (1953) starts singing a hymn together as they wait to die. However, when the boat crashes and starts rapidly sinking all is quiet.
  • "Mother Earth and Father Time", from the 1973 film of Charlotte's Web.
  • The Finnish fantasy film Rolli – Amazing Tales has "Suuren Roskan tuho" ("Destruction of the Great Trash"), a hammy Villain Song which is sung by the Great Trash as he's about to be killed by his followers' collapsing lair.
    Live Action TV 
  • "Count to Six and Die" from Marilyn Manson's Concept Album Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). However, "The Death Song", from the same album, is not a Death Song.
  • "Prayer for the Dying" from Lisa Hannigan’s album At Swim was written about the recent death of a friend’s mother. "What’ll I Do” from Passenger can also be interpreted as either this or Break Up Song.
  • Neil Young's Birds has been interpreted as this.
  • The band Enter The Haggis puts a positive spin on this trope in both "One Last Drink" and "Let Me Go".
  • Klaus Nomi's "The Cold Song" from Klaus Nomi and "Ding Dong" and "Death" from Simple Man, which are all covers by the way.
  • Daniel Amos's "Shadow Catcher" from Fearful Symmetry, about a man standing at death's door and staring into the shadows.
  • Love You All by Cloud Cult is about letting your family know you love them while you die.
    I love my mother
    I love my father
    When it's my time to go,
    I need you to know:
    Love you all...
  • Within Temptation has "The Swan Song", in which the singer is peacefully dying.
  • Julia Ecklar's "For the Need of the One" is Spock singing to Kirk as he dies of radiation poisoning in The Wrath of Khan.
  • Forgive Durden's "The End and the Beginning" from the album, Razia's Shadow, is this for Adakias when he throws himself in front of Anhura to protect her from his brother's blade. It also doubles as a Grief Song for Pallis when he realizes what he's done.
  • "How Glory Goes" from Floyd Collins.
  • "Tell Her I Love Her" from Urinetown, a duet which is half this and half Grief Song.
  • "A Little Fall of Rain", "Come to Me", "Javert's Suicide", and the epilogue from Les Misérables.
  • "Sh'ma" from Parade could be argued to be this, as Leo is about to die. The Sh'ma is the central prayer of Judaism, and the last thing a Jewish person is supposed to say before they die.
  • "I Didn't Know I'd Love You So Much" from the film version of Repo! The Genetic Opera.
  • The reprise of the titular song in Man of La Mancha - but a surprise, as Don Quixote does not know he is dying.
  • The reprise of "Somewhere" is Tony's Death Song in West Side Story.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ends with the title character singing a reprise of "A Barber And His Wife" which is both one of these and a Grief Song given that he unknowingly killed his wife, who he had spent the entire plot seeking to avenge, because he did not know she was still alive, just before Toby uses Sweeney's own razor to slit his throat.
  • "It's Just The Gas" for Orin and "Somewhere That's Green (Reprise)" for Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors. Two other characters die, but they either do not die immediately after a song or die immediately after a song sung by someone else.
  • In Children of Eden, Abel sings a few lines of 'The Wasteland' as he dies.
  • The Crucifixion from Godspell.
  • "The Flesh Failures" from Hair is Claude's death song. He even gets a Dark Reprise of his "I Am" Song in.
  • "Last Midnight" for The Witch in Into the Woods. Of course, we're not quite sure if she's dead...
  • "No One Mourns the Wicked" from Wicked. Subverted, as we later find out she's just hiding.
  • In Kristina, the musical adaptation of The Emigrants, it's the reprise of "Out to the Sea" for Robert and "I'll Be Waiting There" for Kristina.
  • "Contact" from RENT.
  • "Stay Alive (Reprise)" from Hamilton, where Hamilton's son Philip is dying from a gunshot wound. "The World Was Wide Enough" is one for Hamilton himself. The finale, "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" is a combination of this and Distant Finale, as it addresses the future and eventual deaths of a number of major characters, ending with Eliza, who sings about her achievements in the fifty years she outlived Alexander before reuniting with him in the final moments of the show.
  • Two examples in The Bridges of Madison County: "When I'm Gone" is sung by Bud and Charlie as and after they grow old and die, and "It All Fades Away" is Robert's final declaration before dying of an unspecified illness.
  • "Some Things Are Meant To Be" from the musical adaptation of Little Women acts as Beth's Death Song, even though she doesn't actually die at the end. She dies afterwards, offstage.
  • "Das Attentat" (The Assassination Attempt) builds up to Elisabeth's death, but it's not sung. Her actual death song, "Der Schleier fällt" (The Veil Falls) is sung after she's dead... and as a duet with Death himself.
  • "Mozarts Tod" ("Mozart's Death") from Mozart!. The titular character confronts Amadè about all he's gained and lost throughout his life, and gets cut off by the boy/demon stabbing him in the arm.
  • "Roses at the Station" from Grand Hotel, the Baron's Dying Dream as he sees his life flash before his eyes and frantically looks for Elizaveta at the Berlin main train station. He has been shot before the song began, and dies as it ends.
  • Fun Home has "Edges of the World" for Bruce Bechdel.
  • "Eva's Final Broadcast" and/or "Lament" (depending on production) from Evita.
  • Judas's Death from Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • In Jacques Offenbach's[1]'s Orpheus in the Underworld, Eurydice actually demands she get to sing a death song when she realizes she's about to die. Pluto waits while she sings "La mort m'apparaît souriante" before taking her down to the Underworld.
    Video Games 
  • Star Trek Online: Episode "Klingon War", mission "The Doomsday Machine". K'Valk, a Klingon Defense Force officer who is trying to help Starfleet Ambassador B'vat from siccing a planet killer on Federation, rams his shuttle down its throat while belting out "The Warrior's Anthem", a Klingon war hymn.
  • Any of the idol's songs, should they not pass judgement in Idol Death Game TV. That's because last place has to perform a 'Death Concert', where they die in gruesome and vicious ways... while singing their song at the exact same time. According to the official website, it's where the idol'll 'shine for the last time in her life'. Of course, the host, Doripaku does promise that if idols can complete their tasks, they could come back to life...
    Visual Novels 
  • "Farewell at the Foot of the Hill" from CLANNAD.
    Web Original 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series managed to partially do this when Melvin kills Hank Ishtar. Hank sings the events as they happen in the style of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle".
    Hank: And then he stabbed me in the torso and the cat's in the cat place and oh god, that's sharp!
    Please stop stabbing me, I'm going to die!
    When you gonna stop, son? Oh god, that hurts!
    I think you pierced my lungs there
    Yes, that was definitely my luuungs.
  • Cell sings My Way by Frank Sinatra in his final moments in Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
    • In Trunk's timeline he does it again, only for it to last a few seconds, because he didn't achieve anything
    Western Animation 
  • "The Mole's Reprise", from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. It's a Dark Reprise of the earlier "La Resistance".
  • Subverted in the King of the Hill episode "Tankin' it to the Streets". As Bill floors a tank through a war games field in which soldiers are firing live artillery, he sings Free Bird in a broken voice, before seemingly being blown up by the artillery. After his friends break down thinking they've lost him, it turns out he was blown into the bushes, alive(if a bit beaten up!)
  • Also subverted in the The Simpsons episode "Bart's Comet": With the citizens of Springfield cut off from any means of escape and the comet hurtling toward the city close enough to not only be seen with the naked eye, but heard with the naked ear, Ned Flanders accepts his fate and walks up to a nearby hill, staring at the comet and singing "Que Sera Sera." The other citizens, seeing him do this, gradually come join him to sing it together. Subverted in that the comet burns up in the atmosphere until it's too small to harm anyone—though as Bart discovers, it's still very hot to the touch.


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