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Died Standing Up

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"Even in death... his body refuses to yield."

"To each of us falls a task. All the Emperor asks of us guardsmen, is that we hold the line and die fighting. It's what we do best: we die standing."
General Sturnn, Dawn of War: Winter Assault

He's dead. His body is just twitching a bit. And yet, he doesn't fall, his muscles so perfectly conditioned they can continue to function without any signals from his brain. So he just stands there like a morbid practice dummy. He's died standing up.

This is a device used when a character is so utterly badass that even in death they refuse to accept utter defeat. The body continues to strive for victory even when its driving will has been extinguished. This goes hand in hand with a Badass Normal or any other absurdly strong character, especially one with a Charles Atlas Superpower. It may be mixed with Taken for Granite, when a villain's magical body has No Ontological Inertia and turns to stone at the moment of death. Despite the description above, this can happen to both heroic and villainous characters. In addition, this trope for some reason often tends to be paired with Off with His Head!, and scenes where the body waves its arms around looking for the head, or walks around for a while before collapsing are common.


This is technically possible in Real Life (especially with the help of rigor mortis, but see Real Life, below), though absurdly unlikely, and in any case a corpse's lack of balance control will cause it to topple sooner or later. The realms of fiction simply contrive to end the scene before this happens.

In deference to gravity, falling to one's knees also counts, so long as the final plunge into a prone state doesn't follow. Taking another step forward despite being clearly dead also counts. Related to You Are Already Dead. Compare to Fell Asleep Standing Up.

As a Death Trope, beware of SPOILERS.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Several times in Fist of the North Star, being an epic manga, many characters receive an epic death where their body keep standing:
    • The most iconic death in the manga and the Trope Codifier in the manga industry: Raoh's corpse stays frozen, his fist gloriously clenched upwards, after he literally sends his soul to Heaven to bring Light and Hope to The World. This scene is so iconic that any instance of this trope played in a manga afterward is very likely a reference to his death scene.
    • As well, Toki dies this way after Kenshiro's fight with Ryuga, through a combination of radiation poisoning and sacrificing himself so that Kenshiro will use the sorrow from his death to unlock the ability of Muso Tensei.
    • And then Juuza, immediately after falling gets back on his feet and keeps fighting Raoh for another minute and a half, despite being already dead, being able to wound a shocked Raoh with one last punch before falling down and bleeding out. This after having previously bashed heads with Raoh the day before. Raoh is so humbled by this that he immediately orders his men to give Juza a respectable funeral, out of respect for his fallen adversary. Considering the hellacious beating Juuza takes leading to his death and post-mortem fight, this might qualify as a Rasputinian Death as well.
    • The giant twins Raiga and Fuga meet this end as they are killed while holding up a massive block of stone that threatened to seal the exit out of the then-crumbling Cassandra prison. Also a Dying Moment of Awesome given that they struggled to hold it up while alive, yet even while dead they continued to hold it up.
    • Even Kokuoh, Raoh's (and later Kenshiro's) massive horse dies in this way towards the end of the series, dying a peaceful death in the middle of a thunderstorm.
    • At the end of the final battle of the Anime, Kaioh and Hyoh, Raoh and Kenshiro's brothers, respectively, die this way, courtesy of a jet of lava erupting from the ground, solidifying the both of them into a statue in which the former is cradling the latter.
  • In Ginga Densetsu Weed, Tobē, who has been fatally injured, refuses to fall down and die. He was about to fall, but three other dogs who showed up at the last moment stood around him and propped him up until his body froze solid in a standing position, guaranteeing it would stay that way without support. The series, and its precursor, had a few examples of this.
  • Shuumatsu no Walküre: Record of Ragnarok:
    • At the end of the battle between Adam and Zeus, it's revealed that Adam died in the climax of the battle, yet still continued to trade blows with Zeus. By the time everyone realizes what happened, Adam's body continues to stand.
    • The battle between Raiden Tameemon and Shiva. Not once does Raiden ever fall during the entire battle, and when Shiva finally kills him with a Deva Loka to the head, Raiden's body continues to stand straight.
  • In Sword of the Stranger, Luo-Lang dies kneeling.
  • In an episode of Case Closed, the victim had just finished an exacting workout and her muscles were tense enough to throw off her time of death after being murdered. Conan recognizes this after seeing a statue of a legendary Japanese warrior who had died on their feet in a battle. (See Benkei, below) However, since the people involved were old friends of Kogoro, Conan allowed Kogoro time to figure it out for himself with the help of his subtle hints—and in a rare for the time occurrence, he did.
  • Munsu, the protagonist of Shin Angyo Onshi, dies standing at the climatic final fight of the manga.
    • His death is also the main cause of the Big Bad's own one, by standing on his cape.
  • In Lone Wolf and Cub, the hero dies this way, and apparently the Big Bad as well.
  • One Piece:
    • Whitebeard dies standing, after going through a downright insane Rasputinian Death and proclaiming to the entire world that the One Piece exists (and thus giving a gigantic middle finger to the World Government). Considering how he was probably the most badass character to ever exist in One Piece, he clearly could not have died any other way. As a kicker, his Badass Longcoat falls off immediately after, revealing that despite being shot, stabbed, slashed, and blown to hell pretty much everywhere else, his back didn't have so much as a scar;note  in his entire life, he never retreated from an enemy, not even One. Single. Time. Additionally, Whitebeard's death, including how much punishment he took before dying, seems to be based on Benkei's death (see below), right down to still holding his weapon (bonus points on Whitebeard also wielding a polearm/spear-type weapon).
    • While not actually a death, Zoro definitely tried to invoke this, and came damn near close to dying, when he let Kuma transfer all of the pain and fatigue Luffy suffered during his fights on Thriller Bark to him. Keep in mind that Luffy is able to withstand more damage than a normal human can (and he's a Rubber Man to boot, raising his damage tolerance). The next morning, Zoro is standing perfectly still, saying that "he's fine" while both he and the ground around him are covered in his blood. It is this very event that is now the trope image for Made of Iron.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the series legendary slayer Yoriichi Tsugikuni was a samurai whose skills seemed to be divine even though he remained human while his twin older brother became a demon in fear of death, Yoriichi kept slaying demons throughout his whole life till he grew to be 80 years old, he could no longer let his brother shaming himself by living as a demon, they battled to the death, as old as Yoriichi was he still seemed to be an otherworldly swordsman who his demon brother could not accept, a human who could be this strong was like the living proof that he became a demon out of fear, but Yoriichi's life couldn't go for any longer, he died standing up with his sword in the ready, before it could decapitate the demon.
  • Aldebaran Taurus in Saint Seiya.
  • When Lordgenome was killed in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, he was able to stay standing for a time, and even talk for a bit. Impressive, since the hole in his chest was big enough that he wouldn't have had lungs, let alone a functional spine. Meh spiral energy.
  • Jashugan, the Emperor of Motorball, from Battle Angel Alita manages to defeat the title character after taking a fatal blow and stays standing. A couple other characters also die standing up. Alita herself does the "knocked out and still moving" variation at one point.
  • Barry's Empoleon from Pokémon faints standing up after a brutal Thunder attack by Paul's Electivire during the Sinnoh League. It gives a pretty creepy glare while being attacked.
    • Ash's Incineroar ends up fainting this way after having a hard-fought battle against its rival and then evolving right after. It is declared unable to battle while it was frozen in its post-evolution roar.
    • A wild Galarian Farfetch'd faints this way after a grueling battle with Ash's Riolu. Ash doesn't take this chance to catch it...but it voluntarily joins his team anyway.
  • George H.W. Bush in The Legend of Koizumi. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, The Big Guy of Shinomori Aoshi's first Quirky Miniboss Squad takes a fusillade of Gatling gun fire for his boss, falls to his knees, and dies balanced there, still shielding Aoshi in death.
  • Parodied in Heaven's Lost Property during the Sumo Wrestling Tournament. Tomoki takes numerous Karate chops while being held against an electric fence. He stands back up, but the reffere holds up Sohara Masker Wrestler's hand in victory announcing that Tomoki is already dead. Later played straight with Yoshitsune.
  • Wolfwood barely managed a variant of this in the Trigun anime. He knelt in front of an altar to beg forgiveness and died in that position, propped up by his cross.
  • In Berserk's hellish Eclipse arc, Guts runs up to resident badass Pippin, thinking he's still alive. The next panel reveals his corpse has actually been hollowed out from the back.
  • The first Battle Wolf in Toriko. After giving birth to her child, dispatched a serpent rumoured to be its competitor in ancient days effortlessly, and being shot through by a laser, she still died on her feet, a proud image of the Battle Wolf it was cloned from; a Battle Wolf that had averted global extinction in ancient times.
  • Happens in a Black Jack story. A young doctor who has lost his entire family to cancer and is now dying of it himself vows to treat one cancer patient before he dies. He completes the operation, but when the other doctors go to congratulate him, they find he has died on his feet. Weirder still, a post-mortem reveals that his heart had already stopped a few minutes into the operation. Just another example of determination overcoming the laws of biology.
  • Diaz Ragu of Shadow Skill. He took on the avatar of Death itself, tore his body apart from superhuman battle techniques, and was still standing when he actually managed to get it to concede the fight.
  • Tung Fu Rue in the Fatal Fury OAV dies after showing Terry his ultimate attack, still in his fighting stance.
  • "Unconscious" variation in the Street Fighter Alpha manga, Sakura Ganbaru! After a glorious two-on-one match against Cammy and Sakura, a defeated Zangief staggers on the edge of consciousness, but, having dedicated his skills and his body to proud Mother Russia, he cannot afford to let it fall, much less in view of his beloved comrades. So he wills himself back up, into his victory pose, and stays that way even after blacking out. Cammy, Sakura, and all spectators acknowledge his defeat, but they are awed by his devotion even more, making it a symbolic victory.
  • Ususama Myo-oh Mayuri in Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato. Actually a Justified Trope: not only he was turned into a Human Pincushion, but he was Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and the lance to the gut that he had taken "supported" the dying Mayuri on his feet.
  • Bleach:
    • Captain-Commander Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryuusai, though only his legs and about half his torso stay standing. The rest is sliced to pieces by Juhabach.
    • Before Yamamoto-Genryuusai, Nnoitra invoked this trope.
    • Nianzol Weizol remained standing after being fatally impaled.
  • In Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Nolt Marcus of the Marcus Brothers does one of these after Benge the Shadow Manipulator kills him. He doesn't fall to his knees though. He's standing upright, perfectly still, blood dripping down his torso from his mouth and his chest. His death is made even more of a Tearjerker when he uses the last bit of strength he has to try and kill his murderer and warn his brothers to "Watch out... for the shadow"
  • Akise Aru of Future Diary shows how much of a Determinator he is when, even after he's decapitated, he keeps walking towards Yukiteru with his final message about the truth of his murderer. He remains standing the for the short remainder of the episode and outlasts the concrete that obscures above his chest, the screen going black as it finally collapses.
  • Gin Minowa from Washio Sumi Is A Hero was found standing up dead in the middle of a road after driving back three Vertex by herself.
  • In Space Battleship Yamato, this is how Hajime Saitou dies. His friends even call out to the guy as they see him on his feet, believing he's still alive, and then he falls on his back...
  • Fairy Tail
    • Makarov remains standing in place after performing a Heroic Sacrifice for the sake of his allies, by casting Fairy Law, a spell that is Cast from Lifespan, against an enormous enemy army—since Makarov was already a very old man and the cost varied based on how many targets were affected, he used up the rest of his life and died.
    • In Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, a non-fatal version occurs in the Moon Dragon God arc when Lucy's opponent, Mimi, refuses to keel over and actually manages to stand up after taking Lucy's Urano Metria, which gives Lucy a shock at first because she was about ready to collapse herself by that point, until she realizes Mimi passed out in the process of standing and stayed ram-rod straight up. Not for nothing is Mimi called "The Immovable".
  • A Humongous Mecha variation occurs in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: In the final episode, Mikazuki takes major damage (to his Gundam and himself) while fighting Gjallarhorn. Finally, charges Julietta's Reginlaze and she does everything she can to stop him before he gets to her; when he gets within melee range, her sword rips off the Barbatos' cockpit hatch...and she realizes he passed out from blood loss mid-charge, and dies soon after.
  • In Lord Marksman and Vanadis, Roland is murdered when he is trapped in a room with a swarm of bees. Later, after clearing the bees away, his killers comment on how Roland's body didn't fall over.
  • In Zombieland Saga, Ai Mizuno died when she was struck by lightning during one of her concerts. She's shown standing upright immediately afterwards, burnt to a crisp and still pointing straight up at the sky.
  • A non-fatal villainous variant occurs in My Hero Academia. Stain, heavily injured after his fight against Izuku, Shoto, and Iida, escapes his bonds and rescues a heavily-injured Izuku from a noumu. He proceeds to turn to the assembled pro heroes, which includes Endeavor, and takes a few steps while releasing a Killing Intent so strong it freezes all of them in place. He then stands still, and it takes them several nervous seconds to realize that's because he passed out standing up.
  • In Vinland Saga, Thors remains standing up even as he's shot repeatedly with arrows and killed, and remains in a standing position afterwards.
  • In Basilisk, the ninja duel between Muroga Hyouma and Chikuma Koshirou ends with the former dying while standing up, though he was leaning on his sword.

  • The Punisher MAX had a crazy mobster henchman who after having one of his eyes pulled out, getting cut, beaten, shot, impaled on an iron spiked fence and having Frank blow his head in half with a shotgun still took two more steps making even Frank panic a little.
  • Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?: Lex Luthor, controlled by Braniac's head on his cranium fights from inside when he begs a superpowered Lana Lang to kill him. It doesn't do his body much good: Braniac controls his corpse like a macabre puppet. The Braniac-cap himself exhibits this trait once rigor mortis sets in, detaching itself crawling "powered only by malice", swearing to kill Superman even as it dies.
  • The Sandman story, "Facade", features Urania Blackwell, aka "Element Girl", who wants to die but can't. When she finally asks the sun god Ra to take away her "gift", her body is temporarily left as a standing, human-shaped figure of dust.
  • In Larry Hama's recent G.I. Joe continuation, Duke comes to Snake-Eyes' Mountain cabin to warn them about Cobra's reappearance, only to find Scarlett under attack by Red Ninjas. After helping her out, they enter the burning cabin to find three ninjas just standing there on fire. Scarlett remarks that it must have been recent, as they don't realize they're dead yet.

  • The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter: Both loyalist General Yeung Yip and one of his 7 sons dies on their feet—the former after killing himself with a blow to the head, the latter when he is filled so full of arrows by Liao Dynasty archers that he is killed on the spot, but doesn't fall over.
  • A variation happens near the end of The 13th Warrior where after barely defeating the enemy, Buliwyf is seen to plunge his sword into the ground and sit down on a log at the base of the defensive wall, watching their retreat. Moments later the other men realize that he has finally died of the poison he was inflicted with earlier and is sitting there, staring into the distance.
  • The beginning of the film-noir parody The Cheap Detective has the detective inspecting several corpses that are frozen in upright positions, killed so fast that they didn't have time to react.
  • A Furyan character in The Chronicles of Riddick commits suicide by walking into a storm of solar radiation, and is shown still walking even as his body gets incinerated.
  • A subversion in the comedy western City Slickers: Curly the leather-tough cowboy dies upright.. while peacefully smoking a cigarette.
  • The wuxia film The Deadly Duo have this happening to The Lancer, Hsiao Pin-fu, who upon realizing he's been mortally wounded and Secretly Dying, pulls a You Shall Not Pass! on a bridge , fighting off wave after wave of enemy soldiers while the rest of his allies can escape via boat. At the end of the film he died standing upright on a pier littered with dead enemies, and plenty more corpses floating in the waters around him, to the extent that the enemy general ends up ordering his soldiers to retreat as a sign of respect.
  • The titular character of the 1955 propaganda movie, Dong Cun-rui, dies in this manner, propping a bundle of explosives under a bridge to blow up a platoon of enemy soldiers after failing to find a ledge to install the explosives, saving hundreds of lives of his own comrades in the process. The movie is Very Loosely Based on a True Story, by the way.
  • "Old Wen" from Eat Drink Man Woman, who gets winded after returning to his kitchen, sits down, and dies.
  • Edward Scissorhands: The Inventor died of a heart attack while still standing up to present Edward with his new hands. Zigzagged since while he did technically die while standing up, his body fell over afterward.
  • In Final Destination, Billy gets his head taken off in mid-rant by a piece of shrapnel kicked up by the passing train that just took out Carter's car, and he stays on his feet for a Beat before keeling over.
  • In Glory, when Trip grasps the Union flag to rally the regiment after Col. Shaw is killed, he too is fatally shot. He slumps forward, but uses the flagpole to keep himself erect, dying while still up as his comrades finally surge forward. The moment is foreshadowed the night before when the regiment is prepping themselves spiritually for the battle.
    Rawlins: "Heavenly Father, to ask your blessings on all of us. So that if tomorrow is the great getting-up morning, if that tomorrow we have to meet the Judgement Day, O Heavenly Father, we want you to let our folks know that we died facing the enemy! We want 'em to know that we went down standing up!"
  • Golden Swallow: Silver Roc's fate, succumbing to his injuries after fighting an entire legion of enemies. His corpse stood upright in the middle of a valley littered with more than 60 of his dead enemies.
  • In the first Harry Potter movie, Professor Quirrell stumbles a few steps before finally crumbing to ash.
  • After the final cut in their duel in Highlander, The Kurgan smiles and reaches out before his head falls off, then his body makes a salute with his sword before falling.
  • The Heroic Ones have this as the fate of Shih Ching-tsu after fighting wave after wave of enemies, killing a handful of Elite Mooks (suffering an Agonizing Stomach Wound in the process, which he remedies by shoving his shirt into his stomach hole and continue fighting), before dying upright with both eyes still open.
  • Hot Fuzz: Tim Messenger has his head and the upper half of his torso smashed in by a chunk of stone, but still takes a few steps towards Nick before falling to the ground.
  • This is a staple of Shaw Brothers Wuxia films, in which a hero (or villain) is so determined to complete his final duty that he refuses to fall even in death. This invariably earns the respect, admiration and maybe even Manly Tears of the enemies who slew him.
  • Wang from the martial arts movie, Shaolin Martial Arts, actually name-drops this trope. Moments before he succumbs to internal injuries, as a few of his friends tried carrying him aside to sit down, he explicitly said aloud, "Hold back... I'll die standing up."
  • In X-Men: First Class, Darwin stays standing after being killed by Sebastian Shaw.
  • In the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, Bond's contact Henderson is standing by a wall telling him what he knows about missing Russian and American space missions when he just suddenly stops talking. Bond grabs him, to find him stabbed in the back through the thin Japanese paper wall. It was like the knife through the wall was holding his dead body up. Counts also as Dies Wide Open, since it looks like he was just turned off.
  • In the movie The Ice Harvest, Vic (Billy Bob Thorton) shoots a thug and states "You're dead, don't just stand there pretending you're not"
  • K. Roth from The Living Wake dies standing up in his already-prepared coffin. Mid-musical number.
  • Mr. Wu: Wu, who has been stabbed, dies holding a large scimitar that props him up when his body crumples. Mr. Muir the tutor then strolls in, slaps Wu on the back, and is shocked to see Wu tumble to the ground.
  • Happens to Margaret White in Carrie after she is stabbed several times by Carrie.
  • One of the teenage victims in Jeepers Creepers 2 goes out this way. A tense moment after a wing of the seemingly dead Creeper falls limp, the one sent to investigate finds himself trapped in the wing, struggling to free himself. When the wing retracts, the headless body continues flailing around for a hot second before dropping to the ground.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, this happens to Sarah Connor. Soon after a giant atomic bomb drops nearby, the power of the flames tears the skin and muscle off her bones as she grasps onto a chain-link fence. Fortunately for her, this is all just a nightmare.
  • Custer in Son of the Morning Star tries to invoke this when he realizes all is lost at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Already gravely wounded, he defiantly rises up from cover, fully exposing himself while firing several shots from his revolver, before being shot dead.
  • In the 1973 Yugoslav war movie Battle of Sutjeska, Partisan Colonel Sava Kovačević is fatally shot while leading a charge against the Germans, but his body remains standing, propped up by a tree behind him.

  • Chris, right after he is shot by Sarah in Endgame Trilogy
  • In Stephen Crane's American Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, the protagonist's friend, Jim Conklin, is mortally wounded and leaves his marching regiment rather than fall and be run over by artillery. He dies standing in a nearby field.
  • The appendices to The Lord of the Rings include the story of Helm Hammerhand, an ancient King of Rohan who, being besieged in the Hornburg during a bad winter, took to going out alone at night and kill enemies with his bare hands. One day he didn't return, and in the morning was found outside standing upright, but dead and frozen.
    • Finduilas in The Silmarilliondies pinned to a tree after the siege of Nargothrond. She was being taken to the big bad's fortress Angband as a slave but the slavers were ambushed by the Haladin rangers. The bad guys executed their prisoners and retreated. Though, in this case she didn't die standing because she was badass. Likely it was for a very different reason, but Tolkien leaves that to the imagination.
  • A non-badass version in Let's Go Play at the Adams'. The only reason Barbara does this is because of how she is tied up when she dies.
  • Enjolras in Les Misérables, although he had a wall behind him and Grantaire at his feet, which could logically prop him up.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Verroq the Mercenary has all of his flesh eaten off and continues to walk.
    *"Bones in black clothes."
  • In The Nun's Story, Sister Aurelie gets clubbed in the head by an Axe-Crazy guy. She turns around and walks toward him, smiling, because her last thought is to exemplify how Jesus would have loved and forgiven him. There's also something of a Mama Bear element, since she was attacked in a ward full of patients, and her advance toward her attacker prompted him to back out, away from the patients in her care. She was dead when she turned around. The nuns who care for her body discover that her tight-fitting cap is the only thing that held her skull together.
  • In one The Three Investigators book, the boys wind up exploring a cave that was the hideout of a famous outlaw, and which he disappeared into after being wounded in a robbery, never to be found or seen again afterward. They eventually find a secret area and the outlaw's body leaning against a cave wall, gun pointed at the only entrance in, apparently having died in the middle of waiting to make a Last Stand that never happened.
  • In the Damon Knight short story "Not With A Bang," the last male survivor of a nuclear/biological war, a victim of the plague agent, suffers a final attack that leaves him frozen, "balanced by a trick of motion, upright but helpless." The prim and proper last female survivor will not be coming to his rescue, because he's on the wrong side of the men's room door.
  • Egil's Saga: The morning after he has sunk his money into a swamp, Skallagrim is found dead sitting upright on the edge of his bed. The people of the farm are creeped out, and their behavior shows they are afraid that Skallagrim may turn a revenant.
    [Skallagrim] was dead and so stiff that no-one could get him raised or straightened, though everything was tried.
  • The Saga of the People of Laxardal: At the marriage feast of her grandson Olaf, the old Unn the Deep-Minded transfers ownership of her farm to Olaf, then retires to her chamber. The next day, Olaf finds Unn dead sitting upright on her bed. This is met with admiration.
    Everyone was impressed at how well Unn had kept her dignity to her dying day.
  • The Saga of the Faroe Islanders: As Sigurd Thorlaksson tries to get away from the ambush on Skufoy, Leif Ossurson reaches him and gives him a wound in the vitals, yet Sigurd jumps into the boat and escapes. Thord asks Sigurd whether his wound is serious, but Sigurd does not give a clear answer. When they reach Streymoy, Sigurd leans against the boatshed wall and keeps standing there while his companions clear the boat. When they are finished, they notice that Sigurd is dead and stiff, still leaning against the boatshed wall.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens a lot in The Expanse, since people typically wear magnetic boots in zero-g. So when someone is shot, they look like they're about to float away, but the boots keep them firmly rooted to the floor.

    Religion, Mythology and History 
  • Saito no Musashibo Benkei is said to have died this way, in the 12th Century. After fighting to buy time for his lord to commit Seppuku, none of the enemy wanted to test his wrath, believing him to be a demon from hell. Medically speaking, it's believed that the lactic acid his muscles produced from the fighting caused a sudden onset of rigor mortis, causing his body to "Lock up" while still standing and holding his spear. He has a small shrine today where this happened—see Case Closed above, where it becomes a plot point, and many characters in Japanese media have deaths based on his death.
    • Benkei guarded the bridge to his master's keep and is said to have killed over 300 trained soldiers that attempted to cross the bridge. Because of their fear of him, they shot arrows to try and fell him, but he held his position riddled with those arrows. The only reason they approached was because they realized he had stopped moving for far to long.
  • Rumor claimed that Blackbeard's headless body, after being thrown overboard, swam between 2 and 7 times around the Adventure before sinking.
  • In Irish legend Cúchulainn tied himself to a stone after being fatally wounded by a magical spear so as to appear to still be standing up, and it was only when a raven landed on his shoulder that his enemies knew he had died. And he was such a badass that he still managed to get the last laugh on his foe Lugaid when he came up to take Cúchulainn's head as a trophy and the sword clutched in his dead hand fell and took off Lugaid's hand.
  • When the German medieval pirate Klaus Störtebeker was captured and finally to be executed along with his crew of 72 men, the mayor of the city promised him to pardon the men that he could walk past after being beheaded. The legend has it that Störtebeker, after being decapitated, actually got up and walked past eleven of his men before the executioner tripped him by throwing his block in front of him (some sources also claim that he stuck his foot out in front of him). The mayor then had the entirety of the crew decollated anyway.
  • In Islamic legend, it is said that Prophet Sulaiman (better known as King Solomon) died like this, propped against a staff, while overseeing the djinns under his command building a castle. He finally toppled down after termites ate his staff.
  • In the historical fiction tale, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it's said that this is how Cao Cao's bodyguard, Dian Wei, died, blocking a gate so that the assassins sent to kill his lord couldn't go after him. His valor terrified the assassins, and made Cao Cao's other enemies begin to revere the man. Also counts as a Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • Invoked by Roman emperor Vespasian, who felt "An emperor ought to die standing". Subverted in the end though, because he was still struggling to get on his feet when he died in the arms of those who tried to help him.


  • In the musical Purlie, "Old Captain" dies this way (upon learning that his evil plan is foiled).
    Gitlow: That's the first man I ever seen drop dead standing up!
  • Greek vocal actress Maria Callas used to shock audiences with this for the death of Violetta in the Opera La Traviata. Violetta suddenly feels better (a common sign of imminent death in tuberculosis), thinks she's getting better, says O gioia! (Oh joy) and drops dead. Callas would rise from her chair and belt out O gioi -- and freeze, still standing, eyes wide open and staring straight into the audience.

    Video Games 
  • In Arknights, Patriot is The Juggernaut among the Reunion leaders, and is unbelievably durable and stubborn. He withstands a massive amount of damage from the best Operators that Rhodes Island can throw at him, and when his armor is finally breached and he suffers fatal wounds, he still pushes on until the last moment. When he finally dies, he remains standing, as unshakable in death as he was in life.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Possibly parodied in Mother 3 when a pigmask watches you get in a horrible hovercraft accident. If you examine him afterwards, it is revealed that he has passed out, presumably from fright, yet he's still standing up. With his arm raised.
  • Up to Path of Radiance and including the DS games, every Fire Emblem uses this as the death animation.
  • In Dawn of War:
    • Some units, when killed, don't go into their "dead" animation, instead remaining standing. Especially annoying when you run into these and think you're about to be attacked.
    • Invoked by General Sturnn in Winter Assault in the closing stages of the Imperial Guard Missions. See above quote.
  • In Soldier of Fortune II, Mullins suddenly dies standing up if an NPC is killed (or he disobeys orders on a certain mission).
  • A bug in Neverwinter Nights can cause enemies to stay standing up instead of falling over dead, though they still count as dead and you can't interact with them, they just stand their doing their idle animations.
  • Fate/stay night Berserker in all three routes, and Shirou in the Normal end of Heaven's Feel, after a Heroic Sacrifice. He died standing up before he completed his Heroic Sacrifice.. only to complete it after he died. Also, in the anime this happens to Archer (you never see that scene in the Visual Novel, so it's possible it happened offscreen there also). Very impressive as Berserker is perfectly capable of ripping apart buildings with the shockwave his insanely strong and fast attacks leave behind, and logically any single attack should have knocked Archer down, or at least backwards.
  • Sengoku Basara:
    • Muneshige Tachibana, the resident chainsaw wielding samurai, has a defeat animation where he drops his chainsaws and slouches over while standing. He isn't actually dead unless you are playing as a character who outright kills their opponent instead of defeating them.
    • Takeda Shingen's animation had him put down his weapon and do a Badass Arm-Fold, standing proud before he keels over a moment later.
    • Several characters have defeat animations in which they attempt to get back on their feet only to fall over.
  • City of Heroes will occasionally forget to animate the "defeat" of enemies who are beaten too quickly. Given the amount of damage necessary—a One-Hit Kill on a completely unaware enemy—and the infrequency of the occurence, it can be comedic or epic.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic. Caused by a bug. It seems to happen when the NPC is already occupied with certain ongoing animations, such as Status Effects, and therefore doesn't process the cue to start its death animation properly.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, Malus, the 16th and last Colossus, is basically unable to fall down as his feet are magically bound to the ground and his stone skirt and stone armor are as flexible as, you guessed it, rock.
  • In Asura's Wrath, this is how Yasha dies. This trope gets subverted in Lost Episode 2, however, as when Asura and Akuma fought each other, they eventually turned into stone. The subversion is that they Start moving again and fight once more, still looking like stone statues!
  • In The Elder Scrolls, primarily Oblivion, can have issues with corpses that remain standing with their arms straight out at their sides. This is usually after loading a cell where multiple deaths have occurred at a previous time, and the game simply can't handle all the requests being made of it, and as such forgets to apply Havoc to them. There's actually a must have Mod called streamline that has the option to 'Kill Corpses', whenever you enter a cell, to make sure they stay down.
  • Ben dies this way when you defeat him in Brave Fencer Musashi, after some final words.
  • In Lu Bu's historical ending in Dynasty Warriors: Xtreme Legends 8, Lu Bu dies standing after he attempts to struggle and go after Cao Cao, only to be cut down. Guan Yu does this in the same game.
  • A quirk of the game engine and the way it determines damage means that sometimes BattleMechs will do this in MechWarrior 2. The most common 'Mech death is simply exploding, where the 'Mech's parts are separated from each other and flung all over the place. The second most common death is a 'hull' death, where the 'Mech has exploded, but retains its shape—however, bumping into the remains of the 'Mech will cause it to fall apart instantly with no resistance. The last and rarest example is closest to this trope, where the 'Mech has been destroyed (stops moving and shooting) but is still 100% solid. Running into it will cause you to take damage as though you had run into any other physical object, and it won't simply fall apart when touched like the 'hull' death. If you want this 'Mech to go down, you're going to have to keep shooting it until the wreck finally gets the message and explodes again. Unsurprisingly, it's mostly heavy and assault 'Mechs that refuse to go down when they die.
  • If you take the "let time do it" method to surpass The End in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Snake approaches him from behind and tries to hold him up only to discover The End died with his eye on the scope.
  • Q from Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, if defeated by a light attack, will start convulsing and stretching out his arms to try and grab the opponent, but ultimately shut down like a robot, still standing and with his arms still up. This further adds to the question of whether or not he's human.
  • Several of Connor's deaths in Detroit: Become Human involve him being shot while standing up, causing him to fall to his knees as the camera lingers on him. Justfied in that he's an android, not a human.
  • Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?: After the final fight with Asagi in the alternate story mode, a bomb in her Prinny Costume (which she put in there, mind you) goes off when she's unable to get the costume off in time, due to a stuck zipper. The blast kills her, but she manages to remain on her feet, shocking Hero Prinny.
    Hero Prinny: She's dead, but... still standing. That's dedication, dood!
  • The Legend of Dragoon: Emperor Doel, the Disc-One Final Boss, goes out this way (albeit leaning on the larger of his two blades) after urging the party to head west to Tiberoa and pursue Lloyd. For good measure, Albert, Doel's nephew, salutes him, recognizing that his uncle has finally come to his senses.
  • Dragon Ball Legends: In Part 7, Book 6, Chapter 5: "The Bonds of Friendship", after being defeated by Bardock, Super Saiyan 3 Shallot, & Super Saiyan 2 Gohan (Youth), Fusion Android #13 dies content with having fought for himself rather than simply following his programming and shuts down while standing with a smile on his face which even Bardock comments on and seemingly earns Shallot's respect. Unfortunately Super Buu (Gohan Absorbed) ruins the moment by blowing up Fusion Android #13's remains while mockingly referring to him as a mere "toy" and that he was just "cleaning up".

     Web Comics 
  • In Drowtales, Lulianne had a Hope Spot when she found the remnants of the Dutan'vir's Last Stand and found one person still standing... only he wasn't actually alive in a technical sense, having been taken over by a demon, and the various blades in his body indicate that his fellow warriors had tried to kill him once he was possessed. Also a rather cruel twist on the Dutan'vir's sigil, which was a tower that represented stability.
  • An alien race in Schlock Mercenary can do this as a quirk of their biology caused by locking tendons and large feet.
  • A character from Universal Compass fades away (dies) while standing up.
  • In Weapon Brown the expy of The Phantom gets his head blown clean off. Not only does he die standing, he becomes the corpse that walks!

    Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • Sir George is this in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien after being struck by Diagon's lightning, just before his body crumbles to dust.

     Real Life 
  • Due to their rapid cardiac rate and skittish temperament, it is actually possible for a mouse to literally die of fright when startled, dying in the exact same pose it was in.
  • The Hillsborough disaster saw the deaths of 96 fans of Liverpool Football Club in the stands of Hillsborough Stadium in 1989. Fans were packed so tightly into the stands that many people died standing up due to compressive asphyxia.
  • According to their father (who was the only witness) Branwell Brontë, brother of the Brontë sisters, died standing up after getting out of bed when Dad came in the room and fell dead seconds later, which was exaggerated subsequently into this trope.
  • Bats are so comfortable hanging upside down since their hind legs are in a grasping posture when relaxed, thus allowing a bat to rest, feed, and sleep while resting in this position. Their grip is so strong in fact, that if a roosting bat were to die and rigor mortis sets in, the dead bat would still be hanging there for a few days unless outside forces like wind or other bats knocking into it will jostle it loose.
  • Rigor mortis is incredibly unlikely to cause these situations. Rigor mortis is caused by muscles not having the energy to come relax, and while the person may die, their cells take quite a while to get the idea and use up all their energy stores. Muscles work by expending energy to separate two proteins which really want to associate and then cocking one like stretched spring. Then they reunite, the cocked protein pulls hard and the two proteins stick. The combined action of countless of these proteins causes the muscle to contract. When the cell is out of energy, the muscle locks up—it can't separate these proteins to continue the cycle and therefore can't move. Unless the body is propped up somehow, gravity wins. The Other Wiki has good discussions on how this works and rigor mortis. The observant may notice a few links to some other post-death funny business; neither of these are anywhere near coordinated enough to keep someone standing. If a body could somehow just happen to be supported for many hours...well, maybe. Barring bizarre alien biology, handwaving this trope with rigor mortis is more likely to be an Ass Pull and is probably not better than letting it slide on Rule of Cool.
    • However, as noted in the Case Closed and related "Standing Death of Benkei" examples above, extreme lactic acid buildup can cause rigor mortis to onset much faster, sometimes in as little as one hour. That still makes it difficult, but not impossible. Benkei was wielding a naginata, and the ready-rest position would have had him leaning on it for support. Coupled with the many, many arrows in his body pinning his heavy armor to his flesh and sticking in its joints, the unique conditions make it entirely plausible.
      • cadaveric spasm Sometimes called instantaneous rigity, is a rare form of rigor mortis that occurs at the moment of death.
  • Because insects respire through openings in their sides rather than their heads, and their brains send out signals to stop reflexive limb movements rather than activate them, a decapitated insect can continue to walk, run, or even mate, possibly remaining mobile for days if the neck is plugged to prevent blood loss and desiccation.
    • Similarly, a carapace from an insect which sheds them, such as a cicada, can be mistaken for a corpse and potentially remain clinging to a tree or wall for years.
  • One account by a U.S. Paratrooper during the Second World War mentions that his unit had captured a pair of German soldiers in the Netherlands, but then they were ambushed. During the firefight, the German prisoners tried to escape, but they got caught in the crossfire from both sides. Apparently, the bullets hit their bodies with such force that it actually pinned the hapless soldiers to the wall behind them, and they stayed like that to the end of the firefight, leaning against the wall. Furthermore, there are some accounts that the force of the bullets actually popped their eyes right out of their sockets.
    • A much more disturbing account from WWII: The gas chambers at death camps would sometimes be filled to the point that no one could move. Upon death, the corpses were literally packed so tightly together that they supported each other and were still standing.
  • Happened regularly in battles of Ancient Greece: as the Greeks fought in densely-packed phalanxes, the sheer pressure of two phalanxes pushing against each other would keep the dead standing until one broke under pressure.
  • In December 2012, a man in Sussex named Andrew Evans was found dead on his feet. He was severely intoxicated and had a head injury that likely contributed to his death, and he was found with his hips leaning against a counter and his hands in a cupboard, inadvertently supporting his body to the point where a friend who found him thought he was alive.
  • In the British Armed Forces, depending on your regimental prejudices, Guardsmen/Paratroopers/Royal Marines are thought of as so dense that being killed in action simply won't register; they have to be told they're dead and have permission to fall over...
  • And while the people concerned may not have died standing up, in the mediaeval and following periods of British history there are many cases of religiously-inclined people stipulating on being buried in the upright position, so that they can answer the call more swiftly on Judgement Day without having to waste God's time by standing up. However, Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson asked to be buried standing up, on the grounds that a burial plot eighteen inches square would cost less than the usual six-foot-by-three.
  • The legendary Finnish sniper of the Winter War, Simo Häyhä, was known for leaving his victims standing up. He accomplished this by utilizing the weather. After shooting Russian sentries, he would hold them upright until their blood froze. He did this so that the Russians wouldn't immediately realize that their sentries were dead, although there might have also been a hint of respect in it as well. This ended up having a similar effect on the Russians as Vlad Dracul did on the Ottomans.
  • Tiger legs are strong enough that in some cases they've been known to remain standing after death.


Video Example(s):


Scissors death

Based on Scissors' lack of movement or dialogue and tumbling over with a light touch, it seems Scissors died (he normally does talk and move). Yet, Scissors still somehow stands.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DiedStandingUp

Media sources: