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Dying as Yourself

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"Only... I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense? I don't want them to change me. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not."
Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games

The Corruption has taken hold of this character. Fully ahold, leaving no trace of the original. Not a time for Driven to Suicide or I Cannot Self-Terminate; there is not enough mind left. Often it's not even a matter of Mercy Kill — you have to kill in self-defense. Or Cold-Blooded Torture or Mind Rape has utterly destroyed the mind. There is nothing left. Looming death may make Mercy Kill unnecessary — but it may not.

But dying has strange effects. For just a moment, you know that this character is aware of you. This may be the point at which you recognize your friend — possibly because it coincides with This Was His True Form, with physical freedom as well as mental, but possibly just the change in expression and the like. Gratitude, expressed in the form of Go Out with a Smile or just a glimmer in the eye, is likely. Perhaps you can hold his hand so he is not Dying Alone. Perhaps he can say My God, What Have I Done? or shed Tears of Remorse, or even undergo Villainous BSoD, and you can try to console him. Some form of Last Words is sometimes possible — possibly even a Last Request. Often he will be Peaceful in Death. May sometimes lead to a Tear Jerker. This is also the way a Tragic Monster often kicks the bucket.

In some cases, this may be a physical change too, combining Evil Makes You Monstrous with No Ontological Inertia.

A form of Death Equals Redemption. May overlap with Restoration of Sanity. Compare Died Happily Ever After, I Die Free. Contrast Fighting from the Inside. Not to be confused for This Was His True Form.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In 07-Ghost, Teito's friend Mikage gets half his soul destroyed and is possessed by the big bad to attack and capture Teito. However when Mikage is defeated and is dying, he spends his last moments giving Teito one last smile and hug.
  • In Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Kuma, said to have had so much of himself replaced by cybernetics that nothing of his original personality remained, shows there's still some humanity left in him after all before dying.
  • A Show Within a Show example, in Bakuman。 this is how the Muto Ashirogi team end their bestselling manga Reversi, by having their two main characters in it lose their demonic powers whilst plummeting towards Earth from miles above the ground. With it implied the characters chose to do so.
  • Battle Royale: Kazuo when he is killed by a gunshot straight through his brain at the end of the manga. It "frees" his memories and he is able to remember everything. Also cue Tear Jerker moment.
  • Bleach:
    • When Kaien Shiba was possessed by a hollow, Rukia Kuchiki was forced to kill him to stop its rampage in his body. As he was dying he thanked her for killing him and apologized to her.
    • Orihime's brother became a hollow after his death and attempted to kill Orihime. Ichigo beats him up and gives him a lecture about how older brothers are supposed to protect their younger sisters. For one brief moment, Sora manages to regain control enough to rip off his mask and share the goodbye with Orihime that they'd never been able to have before Ichigo finishes him off (at his request) to save his soul (the anime takes a Lighter and Softer approach by having Sora kill himself rather than the shounen hero doing it).
    • Anime Episode 291. When Kaname Tousen is stabbed and mortally wounded while in Hollow form, he returns to his true form and his mental state appears to return to normal as well.
  • A fairly creepy case in the second episode of the Bubblegum Crisis: AD Police Files. The story centers around a woman who replaced her entire reproductive system with bionic implants so she'd stop having her monthly period. She eventually starts attacking prostitutes, ripping out their reproductive organs. At the end she is being chased by the AD Police, who are allowed to kill her on sight because she is categorized as a Boomeroid (someone who has more than 70% of their anatomy replaced with cybernetic components), and hence does not rate as a human being anymore. She ends up in an abandoned subway car filled with criminals; she rips off her clothes and allows them to rape her to death. The character Cara Iris realize that she chose to die as a woman instead of a boomer.
  • Claymore: As Half Human Hybrids, every Claymore will eventually transform into a yoma monster. When they sense their time coming near, they send a "Black Card" to another Claymore close to them, requesting that they be killed while still human.
  • In Code Geass, when Euphemia lies mortally wounded after being hypnotized to kill thousands of innocent Japanese, she finally manages to break the Geass order's power over her when it tries compelling her to kill her Japanese boyfriend... and then she dies.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door: Vincent's death at the end of the film, and his choice to not kill Electra, having just remembered his life with her, definitely falls into this trope. "I remembered your face."
  • Cyberpunk: Edgerunners:
    • Maine manages to pull himself back from the throes of cyberpsychosis long enough to arrange a "funeral pyre" of explosives to honor his dead lover Dorio, which would also kill him. He uses his final moments to encourage David to save himself before the explosion.
    • Lucy's True Love's Kiss manages to pull David out of his cyberpsychosis long enough for him to help her escape with Falco and provoke Adam Smasher into a Hopeless Boss Fight to buy them time. David uses his final moments to reject Smasher's offer to become a construct and goes out smiling, knowing he kept his loved one safe.
  • Digimon Frontier: Cherubimon loses his monstrous appearance right before he dies.
  • Fate/stay night: Berserker (in a constant state of madness) gets one of these in the Fate route (covered by the anime) after being killed for good by Saber, holding a brief conversation with her about the weapon she just used. To a lesser degree in the UBW route as well, as he wills himself back to life for one last shot at killing Gilgamesh because he remembers that Illya reminds him of his own lost child, and then forces himself to remain manifested as she dies to Let Them Die Happy.
    • Ironically, a similar scene occurs in Fate/Zero with that war's Berserker, returning to the knight Lancelot after being fatally impaled by Saber.
  • At the end of the Tower of Heaven arc in Fairy Tail Erza gives a Really Dead Montage for Jellal, who's body they never found. In it she theorizes that he returned to his good self before preforming a Heroic Sacrifice to save them. Turns out he didn't die, he was just in a coma, but as Erza predicted he did return to his old self.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Most homunculi die as themselves (which are usually hideous monsters, so it's mostly an inversion). Even "Father" is eventually sucked into the Gate to "not die" as himself, in the form he loathes, presumably for the rest of eternity. In-world aversion to this (and one of the few cases this trope is played straight), Bradley dies as a gray-haired old man, as he originally was a human and a part of him thought himself as such, being the only one of the Homunculi to keep this form after fatal injury and death.
    • Also the reason Scar killed the chimera Tucker created: it was the mix of Nina and her dog Alexander, and there was no possibility of returning to them to their normal state.
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Sloth has been spending all her "life" trying to prove she's not Trisha Elric, but as she's dying, she tells them to "take care of each other".
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Miboshi's power as a Seishi is to possess the bodies of living people in order to prolong his own life, and spends most of the series in the form of a small child... until he possesses Chiriko, who has just enough will power to throw him off, just long enough to commit single-bodied murder-suicide.
  • Gankutsuou, The Count and Ferdanand get this when they kick it.
  • Inori, Gai, and Mana are given this at the end of Guilty Crown, the latter two getting a sweet Together in Death Moment and the former Absorbing the Apocalypse Virus from Shu and killing herself in the process
  • In Highschool of the Dead, Hisashi Igou is bitten by one of "them" and requests this of Takashi. Unfortunately, Takashi hestiates long enough for Hisashi to become one of them.
    • Furthermore, in Episode 6, Kouta and Takashi request this of each other in the event of being bitten... but only in the dub, for whatever reason.
    • Saeko uses this to comfort a student who has been bitten and thus must be put down.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Shion gets a moment of sanity (and regret) before finally dying. ...Sometimes. In the visual novel she actually commits suicide out of remorse after apologizing to Satoko and the others in her mind, in her last breathing moments she imagines a happy life where she's Satoko's loving older sister. She gets her wish in another timeline.
  • In Inuyasha, Sango's possessed little brother Kohaku becomes himself again just for a moment before he dies. He gets better.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Phantom Blood: Black Knight Bruford is defeated when Jonathan manages to unleash a flurry of Ripple-infused punches on him. Since the Ripple is the essence of life itself, it temporarily revitalizes the zombie even as it starts to destroy his body and the honorable personality he had in life is restored. Bruford spends his final moments acknowledging Jonathan as a friend and passes on his sword "Luck" to him in honor of Jonathan's courage, going the extra mile of renaming his sword "Luck & Pluck".
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: Yoshikage Kira impersonated Kosaku Kawajiri after killing him to hide from the heroes. After getting his head crushed and appearing in the Ghost Alley, his face transitions back from Kosaku's to his original one as he threatens Reimi, only to get dragged away by the hands of the dead.
    • Stone Ocean: F.F.'s greatest fear was losing their intelligence and not being able to say goodbye to their friends if they died. Therefore, they're actually quite happy that, even though they died, they got to say goodbye to Jolyne and tells her not to bring them back, as it wouldn't be them.
  • Knuckle Joe's father in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, after being brainwashed and forcing his best friend to kill him, shakes Nightmare's control long enough to make one final request: that Meta Knight brings his locket to his son.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1999) has Volvagia being corrupted by Ganondorf during the seven years between Link's seal and Adult Link's awakening (long story short, Volvagia was actually a friend of Link whom Link managed to buy from a Bazaar.), and Link reluctantly fights Volvagia, with him continously attempting to get Volvagia to remember what it once was. It was only after Link was forced to decapitate Volvagia that it came back to its senses, and somberly tells Link that it "hurts." in one of the manga's biggest Tear Jerkers.
  • A combination of this and Staking the Loved One had Reinforce have Nanoha and Fate delete her permanently at the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's because she couldn't prevent her Self-Preservation Program from starting to regenerate.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, one of the alternate timelines in Episode 10 ended when an imminently witch-ifying Madoka requested Homura to end her life. Homura complied with immense grief.
  • Rebuild World: Tiol, suffering from Amnesiac Resonance combined with Sanity Slippage ever since becoming a Tragic Monster, finally remembers who he is and that he's fighting to be with Sheryl, just as Akira kills him for the final time with No Range Like Point-Blank Range mini-missile rounds.
  • In S cry ed, the Brainwashed and Crazy Biff's last words, after being only able to say "Hammer" for the entire season is a relieved sounding, "My name is... Biff."
  • In Shadow Skill, insane Fallen Hero G is finally restored to sanity when he is forced to fight Gau in a lucid state. He self-destructs shortly afterwards as he was already a Paper TalismanLich Living on Borrowed Time but Death Equals Redemption.
  • In Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry, Ralph Werec's insanity loses hold of him just as his sister is forced to kill him to keep him from enacting his Omnicidal Maniac vision on the galaxy. To heap on the symbolism, his musical pendant snaps off when it happens, just like her identical one did when he destroyed her Flyssa in the first episode.
  • In That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, the spirit of the Orc Disaster is freed from the madness that his Starved Skill inflicted on him once Rimuru absorbs him and swears he will save the orc race from extinction by famine as the Orc Disaster was pushed to do via a Deal with the Devil to obtain the Starved Skill. He returns to his original form and passes on thanking Rimuru for "sating his hunger" at long last.
  • Transformers: Energon features the Autobot Inferno suffering from being corrupted by Megatron's power and being turned into an insane Decepticon. Eventually, as he was pulled into the Energon Sun, Inferno broke free of the influence and his Autobot symbol returned. Subverted somewhat as his spark (a transformer's soul) survived and was later given a new body, reborn as Roadblock.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, C!Syaoran is a soulless enemy after Acid Tokyo, but after C!Sakura's death, he returns to what he was before. We only find this out in the few moments before his death.
  • A girl in Venus Versus Virus was turning into a Virus but managed to Resist the Beast enough. She had trouble however when Lucia shot her she was still able to die contently in her brothers arms.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, When a Dark Signer loses a Duel of Darkness while possessed by his Jibakushin (Earthbound God/Immortal), he gets "unpossessed" for a few moments before he dies.
  • While it doesn't fall squarely under this trope, the book burnings of Pamoon and Laila in Zatch Bell! have elements of this trope, as Pamoon's pride as a warrior is restored before he goes, and Laila's book burning is at her request, since she has no part in the battle to decide the present Demon King. Before this, they were controlled into near paralysis by Zofis' inflicted fear.

    Comic Books 
  • An early Golden Age Batman Detective Comics story featured a man named Lamb, who after falling down stairs and hitting his head gained a split personality named Wolf, who would awaken at midnight and commit the crimes from the book he was reading at the time. At the end he is chased by Batman through the museum and fell down the same stairs, breaking his neck, and reverting to Lamb as he died.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Just barely averted with Betty Ross. When Skaar stabs Red She-Hulk, Betty reverts to herself in time to die... only to be saved by Doc Samson.
  • In Justice League (2018), a future version of Cheetah alludes to this just before pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to help the Justice League escape.
    Wonder Woman: I will not leave you to die, Barbara Ann!
    Cheetah: Barbara Ann died years ago, sister. This is how I bring her back to life. By doing this.
  • In Lucifer, when Lucifer kills the demon Musubi, he asks her if she's sure she wants to die wearing the form of a Heian lady and she replies that it's easier to kill.
  • In the epilogue to the Mega Man 3 storyline/prologue to Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite in Mega Man (Archie Comics), half of the Wily Robot Masters absolutely refuse to live out their lives in forced normalcy and opt to be shut down. This really hurts Mega Man and Roll.
  • In the Red Daughter of Krypton Supergirl storyline, a body-surfing enemy is taking over Supergirl's mind so she removes her Red Ring -even though Red Lanterns die if they take their rings off- as a last resort to kill it while she can still think for herself.
  • In Revolutionary War, Killpower shakes off Mephisto's conditioning for a moment and asks the assembled heroes to kill him before that personality returns. They oblige.
  • Towards the end of Darwyn Cooke's run on The Spirit, the titular vigilante evokes the trope by name after being nearly beaten to death by Big Bad El Morte, ripping his mask off while saying "I want to die as me".... He doesn't actually die, but it does invoke this trope.
  • In the Swamp Thing story "The Curse," a young woman's repressed anger at her misogynistic husband causes her, under occult influence, to transform into a werewolf and attempt to kill him. However, even in her frenzied state, she can't bring herself to do so. Upon hearing from the Swamp Thing that he can't release her from her "cursed" state, she impales herself in despair. She then transforms back into human form and, before dying, asks the Swamp thing if her husband's okay. When he assures her so, she dies happily.
  • Teen Titans:
    • After Madame Rouge is fatally wounded by Beast Boy in New Teen Titans #15, the mental conditioning that she'd been subjected to by the Brain finally wears off. With her dying breathe, she expresses regret for her actions, and urges Beast Boy to escape her exploding fortress before it's too late.
    Madame Rouge: you for freeing me, Logan—thank you...Oh God, Niles, I come to
    • Jericho was possessed by the evil spirits of Azarath during the Titans Hunt. He managed to get rid of them for a moment and ask his father for a mercy kill. Understanding his suffering and what was a stake, Deathstroke crossed the Moral Event Horizon and killed his own son.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, Inazuma dies like this in her brother's arms after months of Fighting from the Inside.
  • Possibly in Watchmen, when Rorschach dies at the end of Chapter 12, he takes off his mask and is killed while he has his human face visible, rather than, what he refers to as his "real" face, which is his mask. He said earlier that the mask is a face he can tolerate, face of someone who sees no grey areas in world. In the end he is killed by his friend, because he refuses to hide a terrible secret. Thus he gives up, abandons his face and tells his friend to kill him. Alternately, he doesn't need the mask to be his face; he is Rorschach through and through, sticking to his principles by accepting death rather than compromise, so it doesn't matter what face he wears on top anymore.
  • X-Men:
    • Played with during one of the most known examples is The Dark Phoenix Saga. Jean Grey tapped into a source of infinite power, the Phoenix Force, and became Phoenix. But she got Drunk with Power later, and turned into Dark Phoenix, a being so insanely powerful that she may destroy complete solar system on a whim. The X-Men fought against her, attempting the "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight. Eventually, the good Jean does emerge, but asking her friends for a Mercy Kill. Neither Wolverine nor Cyclops could bring themselves to do that, they love her. So she eventually committed suicide.
    • Karima, under the control of her Sentinel programming, attacks Utopia and is disabled during the fight by Hellion. When she briefly reasserts herself over her programming, she begs Hellion to kill her to prevent her from attacking everyone again, and he complies.
    • In Sins of Sinister's Nightcrawlers #1 Wallcrawler volunteers for a likely suicide mission, scouting the World Farm, as he can feel Sinister's presence growing at the back of his mind, eating away at his free will. The stolen lab complex on the World Farm has teleport shielding, so he dies instantly when he reappears there. Over the next century this becomes a tradition for Nightkin who feel their identity slipping away.

    Fan Works 
  • In As the Wind Blows, a realistic variant occurs with an elderly and senile Shiro when he dies with his memories returned. Naturally, it allows him to die in peace.
  • In the Overwatch fanfic Break My Heart, Break Your Heart, Gabriel Reyes briefly emerges from within Reaper as he lays dying, just long enough to say goodbye to his friends and apologize for all the evil he had done.
  • In Cenotaph, Stormtiger, after turning into the newest Butcher, blows his own head off rather than remain trapped in the prison that's being controlled in that manner.
  • John Druitt in Concerning Us. When they find a way with Janine to remove the elemental from his brain both know that it can mean his death, but agree that it's their best option. In the end they succeed but the elemental kills him - still, in his last moments he's finally free.
  • In Dangerous Tenant, Jill Valentine chooses this when the Doctor confirms that the only thing keeping her alive after sustaining serious injuries is a subtle strain of the T-Virus, as Jill doesn't want to risk becoming another mutation and the Doctor having no time to find a viral combination that will save her before Wesker initiates his own plans to infect the world with another strain of the virus.
  • Dark Chocolate is a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Death Fic where Wonka refuses treatment for his leukemia. He would rather not risk spending his last days being unable to eat candy due to the medicine.
  • Happens within A Dynasty of Dynamic Alcoholism, with a chaos infected knight delivering message to the main character while holding back his corruption by pure force of will, going out with a shout of defiance.
    "You didn't get me, you hear me?!? Reinhardt Hertwig died with his soul free!"
  • EVA Sessions: Someplace Vast and Dry: Kyoko briefly regains lucidity long enough to tell Asuka how much she loves her, before dying from a stroke caused by a combination of her Contact Experiment-induced dementia and complications from a head injury inflicted by a terrorist during the hostage situation at the NERV Evangelion Center six months before.
  • Happens to Twilight Sparkle in Fallout: Equestria. After spending over two centuries as part of the Goddess' Hive Mind, including being used as a genetic template for one of the three sub-races of alicorn drones, she manages to temporarily free herself after the Goddess' demise by leaping into a host body. After helping Littlepip and company escape the exploding facility her consciousness 'died', represented by the cutie mark on the host body fading away.
  • In A Growing Affection, Sasuke has allowed Orochimaru to perform a Grand Theft Me in return for Itachi's murder. And he is forced to swear that if he interferes in a fight between Orochimaru and any of his former teammates, Sasuke's soul will be ejected from his body. Uchiha chooses to do so anyway, so that he can give Naruto a chance to kill his body while he is in control.
  • Gordon Freeman from Half-Life: Full Life Consequences. he was reanimated by Combines's science, but John Freeman broke it off of his face. He died, but had smiles on face.
  • Attempted in In Sheep's Clothing, in a flashback in which Queen Chrysalis is the victim of an imminent Grand Theft Me:
    All at once, I felt a pull on my very essence, as if hooks had dug into me and had begun to drag me towards the box she held. At the same time, something foreign was burrowing its way into my body. All of a sudden, I knew. She was going to become queen not by trying to take my magic, but by stealing my body. I was being evicted, torn out without ceremony or care, separated from the font of power that marked me as queen of the hive.
    My fear turned into determination. With a final burst of magic, I took hold my axe one last time. If she was going to take my body, I was going to make sure she felt it.
    I aimed my axe at my own neck and hurled it, just as I had finally lost my grip on my own body.
  • Much of the reason as to why Nui tries to kill herself in Maim de Maim, after Ragyo cancels her antipsychotics prescription, as, without said medication, her split personality (Nui Prime) will take over and she wasn't keen on letting that happen. Her attempts end in failure.
  • The Doctor Who fanfic The Moment Has Been Prepared For centers around Donna Noble's death from the perspective of her granddaughter by her side on her deathbed. Right before dying, Donna becomes Doctor-Donna again and remembers all her adventures with the doctor. Arguably a subversion — Donna regenerates and doesn't die after all. Link here.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy Luu-Luu from The Night Unfurls, when she is stabbed through the chest by the Holy Moonlight Sword of a reluctant Kyril. She thanks him for doing the deed as he holds her hand during her final moments.
  • In Poké Wars: The Exigence, Harley's Ariados becomes animalistically hungry due to the dampener removal. He spends several chapters following May and her group, trying to figure out a way to kill them without the blame falling on him. During a Ursaring attack, however, the inner voice that represents his pre-removal self wins over the bloodlust, and he tackles Harley out of the way of a Hyper Beam that burns the bottom half of his body to nothing.
  • In the Pony POV Series Recursive Fanfiction Fading Futures Twilight Tragedy manages to Set Right What Once Went Wrong via telepathic messages to her past self, preventing the Epilogue timeline from ever happening in the first place. However, as a result, the timeline begins to fade, everyone basically dying and being reborn as their Reharmonized counterparts. She spends the rest of her time before her impending final confrontation with Discord comforting her friends as they do this trope. Her original plan was to allow her pent up revenge and pain to consume her and become Nightmare Purgatory for one last Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Discord, but upon realizing that if she brutally kills him in cold blood when he can't defend himself, she'll have become She Who Fights Monsters. She manages to free herself from Nightmare form, lets go of all her pain and suffering, and forgives Discord, deciding to fade away as Twilight Sparkle rather than Twilight Tragedy or Nightmare Purgatory.
  • Averted in the Death Note fanfic, Story of the Century. Original Character Erin attempts to destroy the notebooks under Light's and Misa's ownership to restore them to their original personalities, and to keep L from testing the 13-day rule, but L blocks her. When Light is cornered and Ryuk writes his name in his notebook, he dies in his father's arms, defending Kira's cause with his last breath.

    Film — Animation 
  • Towards the end of Digimon: The Movie, Kokomon turned into his pure, virus-free form shortly before disappearing. He gets better.
  • In Mune: Guardian of the Moon, the Big Bad, Necross, was once a hero and guardian until something went wrong. The protagonist, Mune, realizes that he's had a Corruptor wound around his heart the entire time, and tears it away. Briefly, Necross morphs back into his original form before dying.
  • Happens to King Candy/Turbo, the Big Bad of Wreck-It Ralph. The climax sees him merging with a Cy-Bug, and being defeated by Ralph exploiting a piece of Cy-Bug programming, namely, that they are programmed to always go towards bright lights, even if said bright light comes from an erupting volcano. He alternates between straight following the Cy-Bug programming and protesting, with the shift being marked by a change between his King Candy disguise and his true appearance as Turbo. It's his true, protesting self that's in charge when the volcano vaporizes him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A variation in Blade II. Nyssa has been bitten by Nomak and is succumbing to The Virus. Per her request, Blade gently carries her out into the sunlight, allowing her to die as a vampire. Priest asks for this earlier in the film, but it's too late.
  • In The Bourne Identity, The Professor has a lapse of humanity shortly before he dies in order to deliver the Arc Words to Jason: "Look at us. Look at what they make you give."
  • Alia in the Children of Dune miniseries. Possessed by Baron Harkonnen, her suicide breaks his hold over her, returning her to her normal self.
  • Russell in The Crazies (2010) realizes that he's going to succumb to the craziness soon and goes down in a Heroic Sacrifice to buy time for his friends.
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) subverts this with Roger. Rather than accept Peter's offer to kill him as a human, Roger chooses to succumb because he "wants to try to not come back as one". He reanimates and is shot.
  • The alternate ending of Disturbing Behavior has this happening to Gavin. In his last words, he laments the fact that he'll never get to meet his idol, Trent Reznor.
  • Doom: Goat realizes he's turning into a zombie, and kills himself. He crosses himself before bashing his head fatally against the wall, showing that he was still himself at the time.
  • Dracula: The Dark Prince: Leonardo is bitten by vampires during the rescue attempt to save Alina. He uses a crossbow to destroy the ceiling above to expose sunlight and destroy him.
  • In The Exorcist, Father Damien invites the demon who possesses Reagan into him in order to save her. This causes his skin to go white. The moment just before he flings himself out of the window, his skin returns to normal.
  • The trope is repeated in The Exorcist III where Father Morning is able to weaken the demons' control of Damien long enough for Kinderman to get in a few shots at the request of Damien.
  • Fright Night (1985). After "Evil" Ed Thompson is converted into a vampire and turns on his friends, one of the characters presses a cross into his forehead, branding him. After he's killed by a wooden stake in the heart, the forehead brand disappears and his face relaxes, indicating that he's finally at peace. Subverted in the end and the later canon comics, he's not dead, he's still a vampire, and still a bit of a creep.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn: After he is bitten by the vampires, Jacob makes his children promise him to put him down before he turns. Unfortunately, when that time comes Scott hesitates and he gets himself killed, requiring Kate to finish the job.
  • Zartan in G.I. Joe: Retaliation reverts back to his real self after being impaled by Storm Shadow.
  • Harbinger Down: The Harbinger's captain gets infected and orders one of the others to keep him covered with the spray tank of liquid nitrogen. Eventually he begs to be frozen now rather than wait for the infection to take its course. Unfortunately the monster that infected him is Not Quite Dead and kills the man with the tank before he can do so.
  • In the Hellraiser movies, Cenobites revert to human form when they are killed.
  • The Hunger Games: Kind of. It's what Peeta wanted. If he was going to die in the arena, he didn't want the Games to change who he was, like they often did with other tributes.
  • Griffin in The Invisible Man (1933) becomes visible again when he dies.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Arthur, who throughout the movie has been the epitomal snob, curses Eggsy in purest Cockney as he's dying from the poisoned brandy.
  • In The Lazarus Effect Once Eva hits Zoe with enough tranquilizers she calms down before dying. Subverted. Zoe not only survives, it might have been just a dying dream.
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: After spending years believing that he's Don Quixote, Javier has a fatal fall and regains his sanity. Just before dying, he recalls that he was cast for the role of Don Quixote because Toby thought he had "the kind of face you see in insurance commercials."
  • In Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Winston is scratched by a Crank and infected so they begged their friends to help them so they wouldn't become a Crank. Newt hands them a loaded gun and the rest quietly leave. After the group travels far enough, a gunshot was heard.
  • In The Monster Squad, when the Wolfman is fatally wounded, he turns back into a human and manages to whisper "Thank you" before expiring.
  • In The Neanderthal Man, the titular monster transforms from a Neanderthal back into a human before he dies.
  • Tear Jerker of a film The Notebook is based around the fact that people with dementia occasionally experience moments of clarity which can be comforting if slightly disturbing for the family. It's one of the most depressing chick flicks ever.
  • Onmyōji (2001): Sukehime chooses to commit suicide, and is able to die as a human rather than as a murderous demon.
  • In The Return of the Living Dead, Frank does this by turning on the morgue crematorium and climbing inside, having just seen Freddy give in to the pain and become another brain-eating zombie. That he's doing this to try and preserve his humanity through his destruction is obvious; he solemnly removes his wedding ring, kisses it and hangs it up, then offers a short prayer to be forgiven before immolating himself.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Although he had just tried to kill Spider-Man, Green Goblin's last words show some of Norman's humanity peeking through.
      Norman: Peter... don't tell Harry.
    • Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2: "I will not die a monster!"
  • Star Wars: In Return of the Jedi, Anakin Skywalker's final wish before dying is that his son remove his mask so he can look at him "with [his] own eyes". And he does: his eyes are not the red-ringed sulphur-yellow of a Sith he had as Darth Vader, but the blue eyes he had as a Jedi.
    • The Rise of Skywalker sees Kylo Ren follow in his grandfather's footsteps, becoming Ben Solo again in time to give his life for Rey. This is highlighted by Rey taking his hand and holding him in her arms, which she said she would only do for Ben Solo, not Kylo Ren.
  • Thor: Love and Thunder: After the Necrosword is destroyed, Gorr's body returns to normal but he is still focused on his revenge. It's only when Thor tells him that Eternity could bring his daughter back to life instead of killing the gods that the loving father he was finally returns. He spends his last moments cradled by his returned daughter.
  • Time After Time: Stevenson nods to Herbert when Herbert goes to remove the time machine key which will kill Stevenson. Stevenson knows he's a monster and needs to be stopped.
  • In TRON: Legacy, Rinzler turns out to be the corrupted Tron who has a Heel Realization and commits a Heroic Sacrifice. As he is drowning, his Tron Lines change from red to blue.
  • In Van Helsing, the title character kills Mr. Hyde, who turns back into Dr. Jekyll right before he dies. Apparently, this trope applies to many of the monsters Van Helsing kills, which causes some people to consider him a murderer.
  • Warcraft 2016: Before dying, Medivh returns to his human form and has a final chance of redemption by opening a portal to Stormwind in the middle of the orcs' camp, allowing the human prisoners to escape.
  • At the end of the 2010 version of The Wolfman (2010) Gwen fatally shoots Lawrence. As he lays dying he reverts to human form and thanks Gwen for doing what needed to be done.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X2: X-Men United: Lady Deathstrike is kept under Stryker's control by use of a formula which periodically has to be renewed, as indicated by her irises changing color. She has a fight to the death with Wolverine which ends when he injects her body with liquid adamantium—moments before the formula wears off. We see her eyes change, and she looks at him before dying.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: The Phoenix transforms from a nasty veined, green-grey skinned demon with black eyes to her regular self; Jean Grey smiles peacefully when Logan kills her.

  • Violently subverted in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Might also be seen as an Inversion. Winston's old self has to be completely obliterated before he can be killed.
    "But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
  • After one of their fights, the Animorphs demanded that a Yeerk leave a fatally-injured Controller, so that "he can live his last moments as a free man" — but the Yeerk can't due to the body's damaged state. Other Controllers do get this, at least, usually because the Yeerk is running for it in its natural form. Notably, this happens to John Berryman, AKA Visser Four.
  • In Stephen King's "Cell" Ray shoots himself in the head to avoid having his mind controlled by the Raggedy Man.
    • Actually, it was so the Raggedy Man wouldn't discover Ray's plan to blow up all the Phoners (which he hadn't told anyone else and hoped they'd figure out on their own).
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, Bruce, the Starflyer Assassin, has a brief moment of clarity after having his mind taken over, where he asks Gore to Mercy Kill him.
    Bruce: Do it. Kill the alien.
    Gore: Good for you, son.
  • In the original novel of Dracula, this happens with each of the vampires, including Dracula himself (in the moment before he crumbles into dust). It happens in the first stage adaptation as well, but for some reason tends not to happen in movie versions.
    "There was, on the face, a look of peace."
  • In Dragon Bones, Penrod regains his true personality after Tosten stabs him because he was trying to murder Ward. He smiles, happy that his body didn't succeed, and apologizes for not having successfully fought the mind control.
  • The Edge Chronicles: Stormchaser]] features an interesting variation during Twig's fight against Screed. Just as Screed is about to kill Twig, the professor yells the name "Screedius Tollinix!", which causes Screed to pause. Twig immediately stabs Screed through the heart, realising only afterwards that Screed's demeanor has been completely changed by the memory of who he once was.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Eliana's mother manages to regain enough of her humanity in her final moments to beg Eliana to kill her.
  • Mentioned explicitly in The Graveyard Book, when Bod is captured by the ghouls.
  • Mentioned by Peeta in The Hunger Games: "Only... I want do die as myself. Does that make any sense? I don't want them to change me in [the arena]. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not."
    • Brought up again in Mockingjay, where the hijacked Peeta fights against his bouts of insanity and begs the other members of the Star Squad to kill him while he's lucid, implying that he wants to die as himself and not as what Johanna Mason calls the evil version of himself.
  • One of the Jedi Apprentice novels featured a world where amnesia was a common punishment by the government. It turns out The Dragon is the sister of two rebels who Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon teamed up with, only mindwiped and basically turned all-out evil. When she takes a blaster bolt, she suddenly regains her memory.
  • Sadly averted in The Last of the Renshai; Colbey uses the last nodenal ("needle of mercy") on Episte precisely because there is no chance of the boy's mind coming back.
  • In Peter S. Beagle's sequel novella to The Last Unicorn, "Two Hearts", King Lir dies as a hero, killing a griffin, after his friends rouse him out of a prolonged period of mental and physical decay.
  • In the last Legacy of the Force novel, Jaina Solo feels her twin Jacen/Darth Caedus revert to his pre-Sith personality and call out through the Force to his wife... in the second before she kills him.
  • In the Drizzt Do'Urden novels, his sister Vierna was probably most sympathetic to him — this was implied to be because she was Drizzt's full-blooded sister, not just Malice's daughter but Zaknafein's too. However, Drizzt escaped, most of the rest of the family was killed, and Vierna became a houseless rogue, she became ever more desperate to regain the favor of the drow goddess Lolth, becoming more like their late, vicious elder half-sister Briza, but with all of Malice's cunning. She decided to try one more time to bring Drizzt back and sacrifice him to Lolth. It didn't work, and Drizzt, despairing at how she'd changed, was forced to kill her. In death, he noted she seemed to be at peace, and gained some of her softness back.
    • Exile kills two characters this way in a single set piece. One is treated as a Dying Moment of Awesome; the other is just sad.
  • Lost Voices: After the mermaids use their enchanted voices to sink a yacht, Luce tries to use her song to get the cook's teenage daughter Tessa to transform into a mermaid, which would save her life. To her surprise, Tessa fights the change. She says, "No. I won't let you. I want do die human." Then she drowns, along with everyone else on the yacht except for Anais, who does transform into a mermaid.
  • King Elias in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn gets a moment like this, when his daughter Miriamele is forced to kill him to prevent the Storm King from possessing his body.
  • Marsh in the Mistborn series regains his identity a few times throughout, but most importantly at the end, to remove Vin's earring which was the last of the power that kept Preservation from her.
  • This comes up several times in the Newsflesh world, with it being accepted practice for those fighting zombies to save a bullet for themselves, and one character irate over a delay in the Mercy Kill of someone about to become a zombie. He insists that from that time on, anyone he knows who's about to go zombie will die while they're still able to remember their own identity, if he can possibly do anything about it (and that includes himself).
  • A werwolf girl is shot with charmed bullets while protecting the protagonist Anton in Night Watch (Series). Despite his warnings that in her lupine shape she has better chances of survivng she still morphs back explaining with her last bit of strength that she doesn't want to die as a beast.
  • In Honor's Knight, second book of the Paradox Trilogy, Ren seems to regain some memory of her former identity as Yasmine just before dying.
  • Apparently inverted in C. S. Lewis ' Perelandra, where Mad Scientist Weston appears to break free of Satan's control and begs Ransom for his life. Ransom promptly bashes his head in with a rock. Readers cried What The Hell, Ransom?, but it seems Lewis intended it to be a fakeout on Satan's part.
  • Gage in Stephen King's Pet Sematary: "Daddy!"
    • Averted in the film version: "No Fair!"
  • Interesting version in Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings: Kennit dies in Paragon's arms so that their souls can be reunited and both of them can be whole once again. Their separation was a major source of madness and corruption in both of them, but the moment of death restores their "missing pieces," thereby restoring their true selves.
  • In the final Sano Ichiro book, Hirata's sacrifices his body and forces General Otani's spirit away for good. Although broken and dying, he is also relieved because he is no longer possessed and allowed to be himself as he passes away.
  • In the H. P. Lovecraft story, "The Shunned House", the protagonist's uncle, Elihu Whipple, transforms into a rotting monster under the house's influence. It then takes the forms, in rapid succession, of all those who had lived and died in the house. As the monster is on the verge of disintegrating completely, it takes on, after an apparent struggle with itself, the kindly appearance of Whipple once again. "I like to think," says the protagonist, "that [my uncle] existed at that moment, and that he tried to bid me farewell."
  • Toyed with, but finally averted in the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons: Reek fantasizes about dying with a sword in his hand, as he would have if he had retained his identity as Theon Greyjoy. However, he finally breaks free from his Reek identity while managing to stay alive.
    Theon: You have to know your name.
  • Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch — Candle and Liir help the dying Princess Nastoya return to her true form as an Elephant after a decaying spell leaves her half-human, half-Animal. A subverted trope, in that a Animal form is the character's natural form, and the human is the corrupted form.
  • Star Trek Novel Verse:
    • In Vendetta, Picard stabs a recently assimilated Borg in the chest. The Borg disconnects from the collective a moment before actually dying, and thanks Picard.
    • In the Strange New Worlds short story A Private Victory, the assimilated Lieutenant Hawk is revealed to have had a brief few seconds of individuality after Worf shot him in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • Played with in the Star Wars Expanded Universe Rebel Force series. A brainwashed assassin, X-7, finds that with extended time away from his master he's starting to feel emotion again, and flashes of memory, but he has no context and finds it all unsettling and disturbing. He does still want to find out who he was and so goes rogue to search, but time spent with the Rebel brother of who he (maybe) used to be, and exposure to old places and images, doesn't jog his memory. When X-7 is confronted again by his master the programming is reinforced; he believes he really is no more than a tool anymore, learning about his past is worthless, and he has to kill the brother and stop the Rebels. But X-7 fails — and while he does not suddenly recognize the brother when mortally wounded, he does beg to be called 'brother' again, to be told that he was someone, once. Not just a tool. That he mattered to someone.
  • During the finale of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll realizes that Hyde is taking over his body, and his use of the potion will only transform him back into Jekyll for a short time before he turns back into Hyde. Quickly running out of the potion and unable to make more, Jekyll decides that his final transformation into Hyde will mark the 'death' of Jekyll, as Hyde's only options after that will be to face execution for his crimes or kill himself. (Hyde ends up going for the latter.)
  • In Tailchaser's Song, Scratchnail spends the latter half of the book in a state of insanity due to brain damage received after he failed Hearteater. Scratchnail has a moment of clarity just before he is killed by a boulder.
  • Healers possessed by demons in Tales of Kolmar, if subdued by a powerful enough mage, may be able to speak for long enough to beg the mages to kill them while they are themselves. After a few healers are killed this way a mage figures out a way to get the demon out of the healer, leaving the healer much weakened but alive, but after that the mage starts finding healers whose souls were killed by their demons.
  • In This Rough Magic, Caesare has been used all book as a puppet by Czernobog. As he dies, the control lapses, and he says "thank you" to the person who killed him.
  • The character of the Fool in Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana has a moment of clarity when Brandin draws on all the power available to him, including the enchantment keeping the fool under control. He uses it to kill Brandin.
  • In Unfinished Tales, we catch a glimpse of what Isildur was like with the Ring. He is in immense, constant pain from carrying it due to it having burned him when he first touched it, and, despite having maintained his faculties, he's already well on the way to the toxic obsession that most bearers have towards it. However, when the Ring finally slips off his finger in the river, he feels a great sense of loss and considers drowning himself—and then, suddenly, the mood passes and he feels better than he has in some time, knowing in his heart that he's no longer carrying a great burden. Unfortunately for him, the Ring's invisibility was also the only thing saving him from being shot to death by orcs, and those orcs are still close by...
  • Happens a LOT in the Warhammer 40,000 novels:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only In Death, as Mkoll Mercy Kills victims of the Blood Pact's Cold-Blooded Torture, one of them looks up with awareness, and Mkoll feels like a priest handing out a final blessing.
    • In William King's Space Wolf, when Ragnar faces a wulfen, an aspirant turned into a mindless wolf-like creature, he is tormented by the knowledge that it could be a friend of his. It attacks, and he kills in self-defense. It manages to speak: "Ragnar". He checks the body, and realizes it was his closest friend, Kjell.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Larana Utorian, dying and deranged by her suffering at the hands of the Chaos forces, nevertheless manages to collect her wits and smile at Leonid, thus giving him the courage to set off a grenade, killing them and the monsters that could have pursued their companions who could escape.
    • In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when Horus mortally wounds Temba, the Chaos taint leaves him, and he weeps at the scale of his betrayal. He is so obviously free that Horus immediately kneels beside him and comforts him.
    • In Simon Spurrier's Night Lords novel Lord of the Night, the dying Inquisitor reveals to Mita that the eldar had been mostly mind-controlling him, but his failure to kill her stemmed from Fighting from the Inside.
    • A variation is featured in Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand: Commissar-Cadet Donal, corrupted by the Compelling Voice of Warmaster Varan, has a brief moment of clarity when approached by Gunner Jurgen (an anti-psychic "blank") and uses it to end his own life. The Battle Sisters who were mind controlled by Varan did something very similar.
    • In James Swallow's Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Sergeant Koris succumbs to the "red thirst," but mortally wounded, recovers his wits enough to warn Rafen about the danger.
      • In Deus Sanguinius, Arkio dies like this, finding Rafen's tears over his death a great mercy, and while certain of his own damnation, begging Rafen's forgiveness.
      • In Red Fury, the Bloodfiends have fragmentary memories of the Blood Angels whose blood they have drunk; after Rafen kills one — being reminded of various Blood Angels during the fight — its last breath might have been a word: Brother.
    • Mentioned in the Horus Heresy "Collected Visions", once the Emperor realized there was nothing of Horus left, he used his psychic powers to strike Horus down for good. The Chaos gods, knowing their pawn was now worthless, withdrew their influence, leaving Horus to die by his father's hand, knowing the awful fullness of his deeds.
  • Bluestar, in Warrior Cats, has a stage lasting a couple books where she develops some dementia, being confused and extremely paranoid: she is convinced that their ancestors have abandoned them and that all her Clan are traitors; she does not even trust Fireheart. Right toward the end of her life, she realizes she's been wrong, and performs a Heroic Sacrifice saving Fireheart from the dog pack. She has just enough time to reconcile herself with her long-lost kits before she dies.
  • Averted in the final book of the Wereworld, when Hector wants Drew to kill him. However, Drew instead chops off his ruined arm, thus expelling Vincent from his body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 10th Kingdom: The Big Bad reverts to her original, non-evil persona when dealt a mortal wound and spends her last moments consoling the daughter she'd spent the series trying to kill.
    Virginia: No! No! No, please, don't die, don't die! Just remember who you are!
    Christine: It's too late. Don't cry. My little girl. [smiles] My little girl. I gave away my soul...
  • Londo's death in Babylon 5; he's had a keeper on his neck keeping him controlled for the last 18 years or so. Only in rare times does it let him free as himself for a few minutes or hours, usually if he gets drunk. Takes the form of Prophecy Twist as he had a vision when he was very young of him being strangled to death by G'Kar, as shown in the first episode, but rather than being an act of hatred it's an old friend carrying out a Mercy Kill.
    • A variation in "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars": A 1984-style dystopia is using holographic simulations, endowed with the forms and (initially) the personalities of Sheridan, Delenn, Franklin and Garibaldi, to make a propaganda film discrediting the Interstellar Alliance. Rather than allow the film to be released and tarnish the legacy of his long-deceased friends, the Garibaldi hologram hacks into the system and broadcasts the plan, as well as the location of the secret base where the film's being made, to the enemies of the people making it. Unfortunately, this starts a nuclear war, although it was implied to be about to start anyway, and Garibaldi made sure the good guys got the first shot.
  • In Being Human, Lauren begs for an assisted suicide with this as justification. She says that pretty soon the girl who was afraid her parents catching her smoking won't be there anymore.
  • There's a Bonanza episode called "The Dark Gate" in which one of Adam's friends has lost his mind and started stealing cattle and abusing his wife. The poor man dies at the end, but when he does he acts like somebody waking up from a long nightmarish sleep.
  • Breaking Bad has a darker spin on this. During the series finale, Walter finally admits to his wife that everything he did as Heisenberg, he did for himself, because he enjoyed it rather than for his family as he stated many times over the course of the series. And shortly after he dies in a druglord chemistry lab, the place he realized he was always meant to be.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Used in "Becoming, Part 2", when Buffy defeats Angelus just as Willow completes her spell to turn him back to Angel. Although he is himself again, Buffy has to kill him anyway to close the gate that Angelus opened. It's reversed when he came back though.
    • Spike's Mum, in the much, much later (Season 7, near the end) ep "Lies My Parents Told Me". With particular reference to the moment of grateful self-recovery.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Padmasambhava in "The Abominable Snowmen", released from the grip of the Great Intelligence and finally able to pass on in peace...
      "At last... my soul is freed. Thank you for returning, Doctor, and... saving me from myself."
    • In "The Mutants", Varan and his warrior clan choose this rather than await the mutation that has taken over the other inhabitants of their planet, charging the Overlords' space station to certain death.
    • Cheetah Person Karra in "Survival" reverts to human form as she dies, and has time for a few last words with Ace.
    • In "The Age of Steel", the Doctor destroys all the Cybermen's emotional inhibitors, causing them to remember their humanity and realise what they've become, which in turn causes their heads to explode.
      Cyber Controller: What have you done?!
      The Doctor: I gave them back their souls!
    • "The Satan Pit": After the Beast is flung into the black hole, the Ood trapped on Krop Tor as it falls in after him are freed from his control, looking very confused.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment" averts it: although Lazarus returns to his original human form when he dies (both times), his personality was the same throughout, even when he was in his monstrous form.
    • "The Unicorn and the Wasp": The villain is brainwashed to kill thanks to an Exposition Beam informing him of his heritage getting mixed up with the murder mysteries his birth mother is a fan of. At the end, when he drowns, it's implied he may have returned to normal when he releases Agatha Christie, who was mentally linked to him, from the link before she would have died.
    • A heroic variation is basically invoked on the Doctor by each of their regenerations, made visible at the end of Ten and Eleven's respective lives: the first phase of regeneration is that the Doctor's current body "resets" before the Doctor changes into their next self (Ten losing his facial injuries and Eleven resetting from his advanced age back to his original youth).
    • "The Doctor Falls": What the Twelfth Doctor tries to do in lieu of regenerating. He doesn't want to go through the agony of becoming a new person all over again because he's at last content with the man he currently is. Instead of regenerating, he stops the process and allows himself to die. Only his companion, Bill, and her lover Heather have something to say about this. Moreover, while he still manages to stop it in the final scene of this story, his first incarnation suddenly arrives on the scene...
  • In Dollhouse, a doll is programmed to murder an enemy of Rossum, but manages to resist and commits suicide. It's a slight variation in that it wasn't literally themselves, but rather an imprint that had managed to gain control.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Matthew's fiance Ingrid gets bitten by a rabid dog and soon the symptoms of the disease develop: she screams and moves about uncontrollably, she's afraid of water and she doesn't recognize anybody. When her death is near, she regains lucidity and is again like her own self. Matthew comes to her to say goodbye and they have a metaphorical wedding.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Implied in the Season 6 finale. When King Tommen sees the Great Sept explode, with his wife Queen Margaery, her brother Loras, their father Mace Tyrell, Kevan Lannister, the High Sparrow and several hundreds of people inside, destroying part of King's Landing with wildfire, he takes off his crown before jumping off a window, dying as Tommen Baratheon instead of as King of the Seven Kingdoms. In addition, in jumping out the window of the Red Keep, he finally was able to make a single decision as his own person without anyone guiding his hand — not Tywin, not Cersei, not the High Sparrow.
    • Word of God has confirmed that Bran's warging wore off by the time that Hodor actually held the door against the Wights. Hodor therefore chose to hold off the Wights and allow Bran and Meera to escape of his own free will. His last thoughts were even that of happiness, knowing he managed to save his friends' lives.
  • In Horatio Hornblower episode "Retribution", the mad Captain Sawyer seems to regain his sanity when Wellard enters the cabin, intending to kill him so that he won't name either Hornblower or Kennedy as the man who pushed him. Sawyer confronts this calmly and admits that Wellard is worthy of respect. Though Wellard can't go through with it, the Spanish break in moments later and Sawyer stands side-by-side with Wellard, calling him a brave lad just before they're both shot down.
  • In Kamen Rider Kabuto, the Scorpioworm as Tsurugi tells Tendou to kill him.
  • In the final season of Lost, Sayid, who has been in an emotionless state and serving the Big Bad for the entire season, finally breaks out of it and performs a Heroic Sacrifice, dying to save his friends.
  • In Merlin (2008) Series 4, this is Lancelot to Merlin after Morgana brings him back from the dead as a 'shade', controlled entirely by her, and forces him to stop Arthur and Gwen's marriage, leading to Gwen's banishment of Camelot. Just before Merlin gives him a proper funeral, he awakens as himself once last time to thank Merlin.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Invoked twice, though no one actually dies, in the Season 2 Finale. Greg and Tamara have activated a trigger that will destroy Storybrook and kill everyone. Grumpy gives Rumpelstiltskin a potion that he will cause Lacey to lose her cursed memories and return her memories of her as Belle, saying that she shouldn't die as Lacey. As Regina prepares to sacrifice herself to stop the trigger, she begs Emma to let her do it citing this:
      Regina: Everyone looks at me as The Evil Queen, including my son. Let me die as Regina.
    • Invoked in the Season 5 mid-finale by Hook. He was turned into a Dark One and consumed by the darkness, almost dragging all of Storybrooke into the Underworld. But finally seeing Emma in danger made him strong enough to fight it off and he begs her to stab him with Excalibur and let him destroy their darkness with his death.
      Hook: Let me die a hero. As the man I want you to remember, please.
  • An example from Rescue Me may apply, though it does not involve death. Chief Jerry Reilly's beloved wife is rapidly deteriorating due to Alzheimer's disease. For weeks, she's been calling him "Bud", her brother's name. After she tries to kill herself while he's out, he realizes that he can no longer care for her properly and commits her to a nursing home for Alzheimer's patients. After he says goodbye to her and begins walking away, she calls after him on the verge of tears, "Jerry!"
  • Ashley in Sanctuary. She breaks free from the brainwashing just long enough to address Magnus, shed a tear, and decide to kill herself along with the last bad guy.
  • In Smallville:
    • "Visage": Tina Greer dies as herself after her Karmic Death.
    • "Eternal", Davis tries to convince Chloe into doing a Mercy Kill, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. When Clark crashes in, Doomsday starts to emerge, and the fear for Clark's life overcame her guilt and she pulled the lever. Davis turns back to being himself as he dies. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick.
  • Stargate:
    • A variation in Stargate Atlantis when Rodney comes down with "Second Childhood", basically advanced Alzheimer's. Ronon and Teyla want to take him to a particular location that will allow him to regain his identity long enough to say his goodbyes and die with dignity. Once they get there, Rodney immediately says "the hell with dying!" and is actually pissed off that they thought he'd be better off cognizant of his impending death. Of course, they eventually do find a way to remove the parasite from his brain.
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • "Serpent's Song" ends with the death of Apophis; without him, his host quickly ages and dies as well, and Daniel performs an Egyption death ritual to let the host Face Death with Dignity. Sokar later uses the sarcophagus to bring Apophis back to life, but hopefully nothing of the host survived death.
      • The end of "Forever in a Day", after Teal'c shoots Sha're to save Daniel. Ammonet (the symbiote) dies leaving Sha're just enough time to tell Daniel she loves him before she dies as well.
      • In the episode The Enemy Within, Charles Kawalsky is taken over by a Goa'uld and he under goes surgery to remove it, he says beforehand that he "wants to wake up as himself or not at all."
  • Subverted tragically in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Collective", where the oldest leader of a group of Borg children disconnected from collective continues to remains stubbornly loyal to the Borg after the other children begin to regain their individuality. When he is electrocuted, his last words are: "We are Borg".
  • Supergirl:
  • Supernatural:
    • In Season 4, Dean says that at least Sam will "die as a human" if the demon blood detox kills him.
    • Also happened back in Season 1. Meg, possessing an innocent human woman at the time, was thrown out a several story high window but her powers kept the body alive. Episodes later, Dean and Sam exorcise Meg out of her body and she thanks them right before dying from the injuries.
    • Played With in early Season 7, Castiel has absorbed thousands of souls from Purgatory and goes mad with the power. After committing multiple atrocities, he manages to expel the souls and becomes himself again, promising to redeem himself to Dean. However, his body is also infected with Leviathans, which take over and cause his vessel to break down completely and he is presumed dead.
    • In Season 9, after being branded with the Mark of Cain in Episode 11, Dean is corrupted by its influence and slowly becomes Ax-Crazy. In the season finale, after he's fatally wounded by Metatron and dying in Sam's arms, Dean admits he's actually relieved to be dying because the Mark "was turning me into something I don't wanna be." Unfortunately, dying is the final step in doing just that, and Dean is subsequently resurrected as a demon.
  • In Twin Peaks it is eventually revealed that Laura was killed by Bob because she refuses to allow herself to be corrupted by him and do the Black Lodge spirit's will. James mentions that on the night she died, she had some sort of breakdown in front of him, and when she came out of it she was "the same old Laura", who then proceeds to go off and allow herself to be killed.
  • MechaZamusha in the Ultraman Mebius Ghost Reverse Gaiden tells Mebius to kill him before he becomes a revived Empera.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Basic D&D module X2 Castle Amber. Theophile, the Abbot of Perigon, turns into a monster called the Beast of Perigon when a red comet is overhead. If killed, he returns to his true form.
  • Some vampire characters in Vampire: The Masquerade seek to become human again, at any cost. The books suggest that if such a character dies in an act of true self-sacrifice, they die as a human rather than as a vampire.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 The Emperor of Mankind blasted the daemonically enhanced Horus with a mind spike of such power that it sent the Chaos forces occupying Horus' mind running home screaming. He could see the man that was once his most beloved son in his eyes. Sadly, the Emperor couldn't risk Horus getting possessed again, so he mind reamed him even harder at Horus's own request.


    Video Games 
  • In the video game of The Amazing Spider-Man, Smythe breaks free of prison and heads back to his lab, realizing he's mutating into a monster. He activates a Slayer unit and uses it to kill himself.
  • Arknights: In the event "Lingering Echoes" Kreide was consumed by the Voice of Terra implanted in him due to outside interference and turned into a vessel of the Witch King. After his friend Ebenholz defeated him, Kreide returned to his normal self and gave Ebenholz an encouraging speech before he died.
  • In the visual novel Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword, if you don't recruit Kyouko and Kouin the former dies finally freed of the mind control/brainwashing that had been forced on them.
  • Some of Savoranola's brainwashed lieutenants in Assassin's Creed II express regret with their dying words, with a few going so far as to say My God, What Have I Done? (though at least one is Not Brainwashed). Ezio's sympathy varies.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, after you mortally wound the necromancer Lavok, he's revealed to have been possessed by some unknown force for centuries. Of course, he was a necromancer who murdered his family before that.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, this is implied to be the fate of Mr. Freeze and Nora Fries. With Freeze's research and equipment destroyed and lost in stopping Deathstroke's men and Nora released from her cryogentic tube, Nora begs Victor to stop trying to save her and let them live normal lives, especially seeing how much doing so destroyed him. Victor ultimately agrees and pops open his suit's visor, deciding that they'll live their last days as normal as possible.
  • A scene in the prologue of Bayonetta 2 turns out to be this, as a result of the events of the game's ending. The Lumen Sage Balder regains his sanity just before his death as a result of the Jubileus fight from the first game. His return to sanity lasts just long enough for him to ensure that the soul of Loptr remains in his body, and dies with him.
  • Near the end of BioShock 2, Sinclair breaks into Persephone to rescue Delta (you), but is captured and turned into an Alpha Series Big Daddy. His mind is still intact (but fading) and he can still talk to you, but his body is being controlled by Lamb. He requests that you kill him quickly before his mind goes completely. Unfortunately, he has a key on him that you need, so killing him is your only option.
  • Bloodborne:
    • Gilbert is a former Hunter who's one of the first friendly characters the player meets and gifts them with the Flamesprayer after defeating Father Gascoigne. He reveals that he came to Yharnam seeking aid for his illness and doesn't have much time left, but expresses gratitude that he'll at least die human. Ultimately subverted as it's revealed that he contracted the Ashen Blood and transforms into a beast after defeating Rom, the Vacuous Spider, requiring the player to put him down.
    • Ludwig is a hideously deformed horse-like abomination that Was Once a Man, but midway through the battle against him, he finds and recognizes the sword that he wielded before his degeneration and regains enough humanity to use it for the remainder of the fight, and when he is finally defeated, his severed head asks the player whether his sacrifices and actions were in vain (they were, but the player can choose to tell him otherwise).
  • In Cave Story, Mimigas that are subjected to red flowers turn back into their normal shape when they get killed.
  • Death's Door: In the post-game sequence, if the Reaper obtains Steadhone's locket as a Tragic Keepsake and returns it to him, he becomes so overwhelmed with grief at the loss of his dog Monty that his own immortality causes him to turn corrupt and evil. Once the Reaper manages to defeat him, he returns to normal as he lies down on his back and thanks the Reaper for freeing his soul, knowing that "[his] time in this world is over" before passing on and becoming dust.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Senior Grey Wardens nearing the end of their 30 years of service will often embark on the Calling. It's later revealed this is to prevent them turning into ghouls as the Darkspawn Taint takes control of them.
    • Anders' mage friend in Dragon Age II, who was made Tranquil against his will, asks to be killed while he still has his emotions.
    • If the rivalry path is pursued with him, Anders himself asks Hawke to kill him before the demon possessing him completely consumes him.
    Anders: Kill me now before there is nothing left of me.
    Hawke: I know you would have changed it if you could.
    Anders: But I have proven I cannot! If I cannot control Vengeance now, I never will! I need to die.
  • In Elden Ring, this is what Millicent opts to do if you aid her against her sisters. She removes the Unalloyed Gold Needle, choosing to let the Scarlet Rot consume her rather than live and be reborn as something else.
    Millicent: With your help, I was able to live as my own person, if only in passing.
  • In the Golden Ending of FAITH: The Unholy Trinity, Amy's face reforms as the UNSPEAKABLE ends its demonic possession of her. Following John giving her last rites in the form of the Trinitarian formula, her soul finally ascends to Heaven, leaving behind her skeleton.
  • Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse:
    • Female Patient's Note has her writing about how the Getsuyuu Syndrome is making her forget about her deceased family members more and more. She doesn't want to live and completely forget them, so she says she'll commit suicide while she's still herself and remembers at least some part of her family.
    • Dr Haibara's assistant has a note that reveals that most of the advanced Getsuyuu Syndrome patients have done this, to choose a 'natural' way to die, rather than succumb completely to the Syndrome.
  • Fate/Grand Order: One of the bosses faced in "Hell Realm Mandala, Heian-kyo" is Taira-no-Kagekiyo, a collective personification of the Taira clan possessing the body of Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune. When defeated by the player, the Taira collective disappears and Yoshitsune was able to reassert control (shown by her eyes turning from Technicolor Eyes back to blue and the heavy makeup disappearing) before dying.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Queen Brahne combines it with Death Equals Redemption. In the last moments before her death, she finally manages to break free of her greed, seems to revert back to The High Queen and mother she once was and makes peace with Garnet.
  • Feral Chaos in Scenario 000 in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, shortly after being defeated by the party of five, regains his sanity long enough to thank the party for saving Cid, his father, as well as restoring Cosmos and driving away Shinryu.
  • In the Fire Emblem series, this is very common with characters who are Brainwashed and Crazy or suffering from Demonic Possession.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake have Duma, who succumbed to the dragon's Sanity Slippage long ago but regains enough of himself before expiring to give Alm and Celica a stern warning not to repeat his and Mila's mistakes.
    • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem plays this straight with Hardin, but the DS remake has a particularly cruel twist on this trope: Eremiah was an orphanage caretaker brainwashed by Gharnef into creating Tyke Bombs. After the party defeats her, Gharnef un-brainwashes her as she's dying just so she can re-live the most horrible memories of her former life in her last moments. Just in case you didn't realise he was a colossal dick before...
    • The morphs in the final chapter of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade are modeled after the Four Fangs, as well as other high-level enemy commanders encountered throughout the game, heavily implied to be crafted using their essence. Their coloration is off, being much paler than their normal portraits, and dead silent. When slain in combat, their coloration returns to normal and most give a slight smile before crumbling to dust.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has Lyon in Eirika's route, who regains control of his body from the Demon King right as he bites it. (It's less so in Ephraim's route, where Fomortiis goes the More than Mind Control route instead.)
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has Rajaion, Ena's fiancé and Dheginsea's son, who was captured by Ashnard, fed the Feral One drug, and forced to act as Ashnard's personal mount. After Ashnard bites it, he shares one last moment with Ena before following him into the grave.
    • This is heavily implied to happen to the Grima-possessed Avatar from the Bad Future in Fire Emblem: Awakening in the Future Past timeline, who seizes control of their body long enough to allow Lucina to land the final blow, and apologizes to their child Morgan with their last breath. Averted in the main game, where it's all Grima raging against the end until the finishing blow by either Chrom or the Avatar.
    • Most of Anankos's victims in Fire Emblem Fates get this after you put them out of their misery, including Garon in Birthright, Takumi in Conquest, Scarlet, Arete, Mikoto, and Sumeragi in Revelation, and Anankos himself in the best ending of the Heirs of Fate DLC. Garon is too far gone in Conquest and Revelation, however, and Gunter has a very close shave with this trope before he is brought back to his senses and manages to survive.
    • Fire Emblem Warriors has Darios, who is released from his Demonic Possession just in time to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to save the twins and their comrades.
  • After his evil and twisted monster form is defeated in the ending of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Volechek gives his life to save his sister before the player is treated to one last look of his character portrait as he says goodbye, smiles and closes his eyes as the screen fades to white.
  • In Guild Wars 2, Trahearne is forcibly connected to the elder dragon Mordremoth, who intends to use him as a backup body should the original seed be destroyed in the Dream. Trahearne begs the Pact Commander to kill him as Mordremoth's consciousness begins to take control, and the Player has to do so to end the storyline. There are other places in the game where enemy monsters who are NPCs that have been tainted by Elder Dragon corruption, but haven't had their minds completely succumb yet, will ask you to finish them off before they turn into shambling killers.
  • In Guilty Gear XX AC+, one of Millia's endings involves her slowly being possessed by her Forbidden Beast parasite, Angra, much like Zato was possessed by Eddie. Suddenly, out of nowhere, her admirer runs up to her and stabs her. He freaks out when he realizes what he's done, but she, with her dying breaths, thanks him for letting her die as herself.
    • However, this ending isn't canon, as she is still very much alive in Xrd.
  • Inverted in Halo 3. The Arbiter wants to kill the Prophet of Truth as himself, instead of as the Gravemind that had infected Truth's body and was slowly possessing him.
    Arbiter: I will have my revenge on a Prophet, not a plague.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Towards the end of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Xion fulfills her programming and becomes a perfect replica of Sora. After Roxas kills her, though, Sora's memories fade away from her, and she spends her final moments as herself, lying in Roxas' arms. Another interpretation is that Xion was always "herself" mentally, but chose an inhuman form to make it easier for Roxas to finish her off, changing back to her original form only to say goodbye.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III we learn that Marluxia had forgotten his life before he was a Nobody. On his deathbed he says "So now it all comes back to me..." and then genuinely thanks Sora for helping him remember.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot: Upon defeating the Sectonia Clone, she distorts and reveals her true form: a figure strongly resembling Taranza, but with mascara, differently shaped horns, and longer hair before it explodes. As shown in future entries, this was her original form before she became obsessed with beauty.
  • In The Last of Us, Tess reveals to Joel and Ellie that she's been bitten, but after fighting Infected for twenty years, she's resolved that she will not become one of them. So when they see that the militia is quickly approaching, she sends the two of them away so she can kill as many as she can before she's gunned down herself.
  • The Legend of Dragoon provides an interesting example in the case of the demon-possessed ghost of Lavitz. Even though he's already dead, the demon possessing him prevents him from leaving, and forces him to attack his former friends. However, following the boss battle, Lavitz recovers just long enough to run himself through with his own spear, killing the demon in the process; Lavitz has enough time to share a moment with his friends before disappearing altogether.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Twilight Princess: When the Triforce of Power fades from his hand, Ganondorf suddenly becomes mortal and the glow on his wound disappears. He dies not as Ganon, the dark god that granted Zant the power to invade Hyrule, but as Ganondorf, the mortal Gerudo criminal with an overdue execution.
    • Hyrule Warriors: Some clarity appears to return to Cia as she lies dying after being defeated by Link. The "dying" part is subverted in The Wind Waker arc in Legends and Definitive Edition.
  • Live A Live: In the 2022 remake, during the True Final Boss, Oersted is able to break free from the living embodiment of the hatred in his heart that had turned him into Odio, Lord of the Dark, and finishes it off. He spends his last few moments reflecting in horror on what he'd done and shows true remorse for it as his old self again. He then warns the other heroes to be wary of the darkness that lies in wait in every heart, then he fades away.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: Hope, after spending the entire game as God's pawn, is determined to have outlived his usefulness. Before he dies, he says goodbye to Lightning and remarks that he is glad he can speak to her as himself one last time.
    Hope: At least I've had this chance to be myself again, here at the very end. After all that's happened, it's enough.
  • Mari And The Black Tower: The boss of the HELLGATE floor, Harold's team, will give their party words as they die. Harold in particular will point out an alternate portal the party can take to get to the next floor.
  • After you defeat Benezia in Mass Effect, her indoctrination wears off again for a short time before she dies.
    • If you can make Saren realize he's being indoctrinated, he'll shoot himself. In Mass Effect 3, you can do the same thing with the Illusive Man.
    • Also, in Mass Effect, Fai Dan does this to stop the Thorian from turning him into a thrall.
    • In the third game, Samara's daughter Rila does this by detonating a bomb in the Ardat-Yakshi monastery to destroy several Banshees, as well as keep herself from becoming one due to her starting to become indoctrinated.
  • Revolver Ocelot at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Noticeable when he makes his trademark hand gesture, saying "you're pretty good."
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, we learn through the logs of Luminoth warriors that, in the event that they are possessed by the Ing, they choose to kill themselves rather than be used as weapons against their people.
    • Rundas in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. All the hunters get corrupted and have to be fought and killed off, but when Rundas is beaten, he seems to look around, confused. He almost tries to speak, but is impaled by an ice spike. It is uncertain whether this was him euthanising himself or not. It makes it even more sad.
  • Mother 3:
    • Claus's deliberate suicide. It's quite the Tear Jerker.
    Claus fired an intense bolt of lightning!
    Lucas's Franklin Badge reflected the lightning back!
    Claus took mortal damage!
    • There's also the Mecha Drago, who manages to shed a single tear of sorrow (presumably over having killed Hinawa) as it draws its last breaths.
  • If you have some but not enough ranks in Persuade in Neverwinter Nights, Aribeth comes back to herself enough to beg for death. The same happens with Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic.
  • Implied in The New Order Last Days Of Europe with the mad Russian warlord Rurik II, who spent the last years of his life claiming to be the second-coming of the ancient Varangian prince Rurik. Shortly after reuniting Russia under a new Muscovite kingdom, on his deathbed he admits to his children that maybe the whole charade was worth it in the end, and he passes peacefully as the ex-Red Army Major-General Nikolai Krylov.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath: When Sekto is defeated, he's revealed to actually be an oktigi possessing the Olden Steef. Upon being freed, the Olden Steef lives just long enough to have a brief, final conversation with his fellow steef, the Stranger.
    Olden Steef: Is... th-the water... free...?
    Stranger: ...Yeah. It's all free.
    Olden Steef: Free...
  • In Odin Sphere, at the end of Cornelius' chapter, he fights and mortally wounds Belial, breaking him free of an evil sorcerer's control, and giving him just enough time to eat said sorcerer before dying. The same thing happens in the battle against the Beast of Darkova, who is a transformed Ingway. No matter which character you battle him with, in the final moments he reverts back to himself.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Ori is forced to fight the Stink Spirit-possessed Kwolok for the Strength of the Forest wisp. After the battle, Kwolok regains control of himself and crushes the creature before dying from his injuries.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica: After being captured and injected by Alexia, Steve Burnside mutates and becomes a raging monster, until the virus ultimately kills him. He barely survives long enough to turn back into human and give Claire a Dying Declaration of Love.
    • Resident Evil 6: At the end of Chris Redfield's campaign, his partner Piers Nivans is forced to inject himself with a C-Virus syringe to save Chris from the HAOS, giving him a mutated arm that shoots electricity. When they reach the escape pods, Piers pushes Chris inside and stays behind in the collapsing underwater facility, knowing the infection will eventually take him over. He still manages to shoot one last discharge at the HAOS when it attacks Chris' pod before the place explodes.
  • When mortally wounded, the final boss of Resistance: Retribution briefly regains her sanity long enough to warn the protagonist of the next big coming alien threat; then her mind vanishes completely and he sadly shoots her.
  • In Runescape:
    • During the quest The Ritual of the Mahjarrat Arrav is finally freed from Zamouregal's mind control during the final battle by the player, and it able to turn on his master. After the quest is over, the player is given the task of finding Arrav, who is still on the battlefield. When the player finds him, he could die at any second as he body is thousands of years old. He asks you to free his soul so he can finally rest.
    • In the Forgiveness of a Chaos Dwarf quest, Hilda, who was transformed into a chaos dwarf, is able to gain a bit of sanity and give the protagonists a package with items that will help them.
  • Space Quest V: The Next Mutation used this on Klorox II, where a pukoid-infected colonist is fatally shot by Droole. In his dying moments, he thanks Roger and Droole for putting him out of his misery.
  • Star Control 2: The backstory has this. The Dnyarri can telepathically control creatures. But they withdraw from their minds at the moment of death, lest the Dnyarri experience that death with the being. A Ur-Quan notices this and guesses that this also counts for extreme pain. So he injects himself with acid. In the last moments before his death, when the Dnyarri have pulled out of his mind, he gets to a comm device and tells every Ur-Quan on-planet about it. They begin hacking at body parts and so forth to give themselves the few seconds of freedom needed to get to the nearest Dnyarri and kill it. So begins the fall of the Dnyarri slave empire.
  • In Starcraft: Brood War, the dark templar Matriarch Raszagal, after Zeratul mortally wounds her, is freed of Kerrigan's mind control long enough to thank him and place him in charge of the dark templar before dying.
  • In Star Fox: Assault, General Pepper, finding himself and his flagship taken over by the Aparoids, begs and pleads for Fox to kill him as quickly as possible, so that he can die with his identity and honour intact, rather than being assimilated.
    General Pepper: You would make me an accomplice to these... fiends?!
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Paper Mario had something slightly similar to the above mentioned Ocarina of Time manga: Mario ends up forced to fight Fracktail (Fracktail was originally supposed to simply let Mario pass without a fight, but Dimentio ruined it by casting a spell that caused Fracktail to undergo a glitch that forced it to fight Mario). Shortly after Mario delivers the coup de grace on Fracktail, Fracktail regains his senses and then apologizes to Mario for his error before self-destructing.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star did something similar with Mizzter Blizzard, one of the bosses who went insane because of the Royal Stickers. Reverting back to himself after defeat, he apologizes and revealed he only got the Royal Sticker because he prayed for life, as he was about to melt. He dies, but asks Mario to return when it gets colder so Mario can remake Mizzter Blizzard and the become his friend.
  • Sword of Paladin:
    • Chris is driven insane by the Royal Gem of Wind and turns into a succubus. She then fights the party believing that they killed her brother, but is fatally wounded from the backlash of the gem. As she dies, she regains her sanity, apologizes to the party, and reveals that Lancelot manipulated her.
    • Augustus spends most of the game as an Ax-Crazy vessel for Ragnarek. Once he turns into a Royal Gem and is freed from Ragnarek's influence, he returns to his benevolent personality, helps Nade and Alex defeat Ragnarek, and passes on with the other Royal Gem souls.
  • Subverted in this scene in Tales of Symphonia:
    Mithos: Do it now! ...Before I no longer myself...
    Genis: Lloyd, please, help him! Let him die while he's still himself.
    Lloyd: [hesitantly] ...All right...
    Mithos: Farewell, my shadow. You, who stands at the end of the path I chose not to follow. I wanted my own world, so I don't regret my choice. I would make the same choice all over again. I will continue to choose this path!
  • The Thing (2002): Captain Pierce shoots himself when he realizes he's been infected so he won't become a Thing.
  • Tormented Souls: A diary page mentions that the antidote for monster status swiftly kills the afflicted person, but also that they will at least spend their last moments in their right mind, and in their right body. At the end, you'll have to do this to your sister to get the best ending.
  • In TRON 2.0, a somewhat unusual example occurs when a major villain, namely Thorne, a formerly human computer virus reverts to his former, less villainous (although not good) self for a few minutes before dying.
  • War Craft III contains an almost-example, when Grom and Thrall confront Mannoroth and kill him, Grom is fatally wounded but when Thrall rushes to him, we see the red glow in his eyes (a sign of demonic possession of all Orcs) slowly fading out:
    Grom: I have... freed myself...
    Thrall: No, old friend... You have freed us all.
  • Late in NEO: The World Ends with You, the Wicked Twisters realize that Kanon is being possessed by a Noise that erases her identity and turns her against others, and try to save her from it. They're unable to save her life, but their efforts allow Kanon to die as a human rather than a Noise host.
  • World of Warcraft is filled with various bosses and leaders that were corrupted by various evils to their side, most notably by the undead and the black dragonflight.
    • Many of their original personalities and moral values still show to various degrees... either in Last Words, during the fight or even before. How much of the original personality shows depends on how powerful the being was beforehand, or how perverse is the corruptor — or both. This tends to fall into Fighting from the Inside — although many times they can't — their voice is the only freedom they have left.
    • Perhaps most startling for fans was the death of Arthas, the Lich King. Despite the many assurances of in-game characters that nothing of the man Arthas remained, as he lay dying the Lich King persona faded and, for a brief moment, Arthas could be seen. It's almost enough to make you forget his horrible deeds.
      Arthas: Father! Is it... over?
      The specter of Terenas: At long last. No king rules forever, my son.
      Arthas: I see... only darkness... before me...
    • Given that when Frostmourne was shattered the souls it had stolen were released, and that Arthas' own was the first it stole...
    • According to the novels, Arthas destroyed his good and evil sides out of his fear of unending failures as a light guy, leaving only an obsessive sociopath. It's implied that the realization that miracles are possible — Tirian begging the light to save him from twelve inches of solid ice and the wards of an evil overlord looked like a complete joke to Arthas, only for it to work — caused him to remember what he was past his own fear of failure.
    • In another example, the players fight a red dragon that has been corrupted by the blue dragonflight leader Malygos. As the fight near its end, she begins to beg the party to kill her, lest she kill them instead. When finally slain she's freed enough to pray to the Dragonqueen for deliverance.
  • In Xenogears, a young Fei summons a fireball to kill himself and his own mother, possessed by Miang. She shields him from the blast, and dies with her arms around him.
    • It is implied that every time Miang dies, her host body has a moment of lucidity before death.
  • At the end of Chapter 8 of Yggdra Union, Gulcasa, after losing everything and giving his body over to Brongaa, regains himself while dying and is even able to reach reconciliation (of a sort) with Yggdra. The scene is both incredibly touching and horribly sad.

    Web Comics 
  • College Roomies from Hell!!!: Roger Pepitone's mother turns back into a human when Margaret kills her, the first time she'd killed a human at that point. Since she's destined to be a post-apocalyptic warrior, this seems to affect her more than it does Roger.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Durkon manages to do this after being turned into a vampire note . He bided his time and, when the moment was right, shoved all of his memories into the vampire spirit simultaneously, which (temporarily) caused the spirit to be identical to him long enough to allow Belkar to kill him before he was overwhelmed by the vampirism again.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm, Taylor, after having acquired an 11th-Hour Superpower at the cost of her sanity in order to save the world, briefly retakes control of her body from the nearly mindless alien entity now controlling it to talk with Contessa, who offers her a chance at regaining control of her body if Taylor can fight back against her passenger. Taylor finds herself unable to give a reply, believing that she doesn't deserve the chance, and so Contessa shoots her twice in the head. The epilogue reveals that this is a subversion, as Contessa's power allowed her to shoot so accurately that she shot out the part of Taylor's brain linked to the passenger without killing her.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, when the magic that keeps Ice King aka Simon Petrikov insane (and immortal) is dispelled, he tells his fiance Betty not to restore it, as he'd rather die from No Immortal Inertia than go crazy again. She instead convinces him that she can cure his insanity without killing him, and so he goes back to being Ice King for the time being.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "Lake Laogai", Jet has been brainwashed by the Dai Lee. Although he seems to have broken free at first by memories of his lost family, he finally regains control for real after Aang reminds him he was a FREEDOM fighter (and his memories of his crew). He tries to kill Long Feng. He fails, and Long Feng instead launches a large rock formation which hit him, causing him to die, presumably from internal bleeding. Of course, he died FREE and with honor, telling the heroes to escape while they still can.
  • BoJack Horseman: Due to the way her life was set up, it's difficult to tell exactly who Sarah Lynn's self was. However, through a series of flashbacks, it can be deduced that she was worn down into the drug addict alcoholic nihilist as a result of many things. However, before she dies, she experiences a Heroic BSoD in which she realizes she doesn't like anything about herself. Her parting words in the planetarium she'd been longing to go to are heart-breaking for most fans of the show, as it not only shows that she never strayed from her childhood dream (shut down by her Stage Mom), but were also unclear final words until the screen went black.
    Sarah Lynn: Isn't this place amazing?
    BoJack: Totally. I always forget there are more than just the six stars you can see in the Los Angeles sky.
    Sarah Lynn: Yeah, that's cool too, but I meant this building! It's a giant dome! Domes are so cool.
    BoJack: I prefer rectangular buildings, as I've firmly established.
    Sarah Lynn: I wanna be an architect...
    Neil Degrasse Tyson/Planetarium Show: Be it horse, cat, human, or even lizard, our lives are but the briefest flashes in a universe that is billions of years old.
    BoJack: See, Sarah Lynn? We're not doomed. In the great, grand scheme of things, we're just tiny specks that will one day be forgotten. So it doesn't matter what we did in the past or how we'll be remembered. The only thing that matters is right now, this moment, this one spectacular moment we are sharing together. Right, Sarah Lynn? beat Sarah Lynn? beat ...Sarah Lynn?
  • Final Space: Indirectly invoked on one of the zombified alternate Gary's: Invictus is exorcised from him, and he remains alive with his wrecked body for about a minute during which he talks with the main Team Squad before expiring.
  • Invincible (2021): The first Reaniman experiences this. After his helmet is removed, he sees his reflection and partly snaps out of the brainwashing, looking at his roboticized arms and realizing what he's become, he commits suicide.
  • The Owl House: In the Grand Finale, after being separated from the Titan's heart, Belos' body reconfigures into his original self, Philip Wittebane, who thanks Luz for "freeing" him from a "terrible curse" that made him do evil things. It's a blatant lie that gets undone when the boiling rain hits human form, burning it and revealing a decaying, muddy skeleton barely clinging onto life. In a sense, this is Belos' true self: a miserable, manipulative monster of Gravesfield inhabiting Philip's corpse.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Jack and the Lava Monster", the Lava Monster briefly resumes human form after Jack defeats him, at which point he rapidly ages. Jack gives him his sword before, as he had hoped, the Valkyries come to take his soul to Valhalla.
    Viking: I. AM. FREE! At last, my flesh is restored! The curse... is... lifted...
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Savage Opress was originally a Proud Warrior Race Guy who defended the other Dathomirian males from the Nightsisters. After Ventress chose him as her champion, however, Mother Talzin used magic to turn him into a vicious, hulking brute that was, well, Meaningfully Named. He stayed that way until the end of "The Lawless", when he's mortally wounded by Sidious, whereupon he reverts to his original personality and tearfully tells Darth Maul "Brother, I am an unworthy apprentice. I'm not like you. I never was..." before dying.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Silas, who was combined with the sparkless body of Breakdown by his scientist before becoming the Decepticon's new lab rat, was infused with a mix of Knock Out's Synthetic Energon and Dark Energon, turning the body into an Energon hungry Terracon. During his rampage, he ends up freeing Arachnid (ironically the one who killed Breakdown in the firstplace), who cuts off the body's connection to the Dark Energon. She then opens up the body's chassis attempting to destroy Breakdown's spark, only to find a weak and tired Silas, who thanks her before passing away.

    Real Life 
  • People with dementia occasionally experience moments of clarity. It can be rather creepy but also comforting for the family if that person didn't have long to live.
    • This is also the reason why some countries allow elective (as in: the sick person asked for it themselves) euthanasia for people suffering of dementia.
  • Up until recent sources have determined to be sketchy in terms of validity, the ancient Persian Emperor Cambysses, first son of Cyrus I, experienced this. During his campaigns in Egypt, the losses and his paranoia over maintaining his power drove him mad. He eventually had his brother, Bardia, assassinated. But then, it was revealed to him while he was on his deathbed that it was another court member that had claimed to be Bardia trying to vie for power; he broke down and begged his advisors to take revenge for his brother.
  • Most antipsychotic drugs reduce symptoms of schizophrenia somewhat, but clozapine is the only one that ever really provides a cure. Unfortunately, it also causes side effects ranging from diabetes to agranulocytosis (severe loss of immune system function). Even though these are serious, many "super-responder" patients choose to risk death and remain on clozapine — electing to risk dying as themselves.
  • If you believe the story about her Demonic Possession, then this is supposedly how Anneliese Michel died.
  • Terminal lucidity is the medical term for a rare phenomenon occurring in patients with profound mental illnesses or neurodegenerative diseases — though it has been documented in those not suffering from pre-existing conditions as well — shortly before death. In terminal lucidity, the patient's faculties and memories return in the final weeks, days or hours before they die. It's not known for sure what causes this, but for the dying and their family, it may provide them some comfort to see some of what made them who they were return after such a long and horrendous decline, even if the end is near.
  • Business example: Radio Shack was founded in 1921 to serve the then brand-spanking-new electronics hobbyist market, which at the time meant ham radio. In the mid 90s it started focusing more and more on consumer electronics, especially cell-phones, at the expense of individual components of interest to hobbyists. This put it up against giants like BestBuy and later Amazon, against whom Radio Shack couldn't compete. By the start of The New '10s the writing was on the wall, and in a last ditch effort to save itself, Radio Shack tried going back to its roots by catering to the maker movement by offering things like 3D printers. This didn't work, and it declared bankruptcy a few years later. It's now remembered by older hams and other electronics nerds as the place down the street where you could buy resistors.


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Agatha "Aggie" Prenderghast

When she is finally able to find peace with the help of Norman, Agatha Disappears into Light to move on to the afterlife upon realizing that the only thing she really wanted was to see her mother again.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (12 votes)

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Main / AlasPoorVillain

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