Follow TV Tropes


Dying Curse

Go To

"Help me into some house, Benvolio,
Or I shall faint. A plague a' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me. I have it,
And soundly too. Your houses!"
Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet

With his dying breath, a character wishes ill fortune upon his killers, or some other personal enemy. It may be an actual invocation of supernatural power that is believed to (or, in settings where such powers exist, actually does) have the power to harm the target, or it may simply be a prediction of a well-deserved bad end.

Subtrope of Last Words. Sometimes the last step in being Defiant to the End. With a little pre-planning, it can be a Thanatos Gambit or My Death Is Just the Beginning.

Compare Dying Declaration of Hate, which is a venting of anger without any (expected or actual) supernatural consequences. For someone going out making the other kind of curse, see Profane Last Words.

Not to be confused with a curse that makes people die, or one whose magic is dying away.

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


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Suzu's past life in Ayakashi Triangle did not vocalize any resent for becoming a Human Sacrifice, as she was generally very peaceful and used to dying. However, internally she was momentarily wishing for the world of humans to be destroyed, and her powers thus created an Evil Doppelgänger dedicated to that exact task.
  • In Codename: Sailor V (the comic which precedes Sailor Moon) the Big Bad Danburite/Kaito Ace/Adonis makes this prediction when Sailor V kills him. It isn't a curse per se but it seriously rattles her:
    "Your love will be hopeless for all eternity."
    • The fun part is that Danburite, who was in love with her, intended to give a dying blessing. Sailor V had always been torn between duty and love, and by making her realize she should and would always choose duty over love and stating it out loud he was telling her how to avoid tormenting herself. It still had the effect of a dying curse, alongside the desired one.
  • In Death Note, Light's final speech degrades into a screeching rant/plea for life as he realises that, despite the fact he's built his empire on the thousands of lives he destroyed, he doesn't want to lose his own.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: When Laios manages to finally defeat the Winged Lion by consuming its desire, the Winged Lion, rather than being grateful it will never want for anything or hunger anymore, curses Laios right before dissipating, telling him his greatest desire will never be granted. Laios is scared this means his sister's resurrection will fail, but in reality his "greatest desire" was to be surrounded by monsters. Every monster keeps several miles away from him afterwards, something that is a boon to everyone else in the Golden Kingdom, since they never have to worry about monster attack and the monsters around the borders keep the kingdom safe from invaders.
  • In the flashback arc of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Yuuko dies swearing revenge on the people who sacrificed her, and offers her life to the malevolent god she was sacrificed to in exchange for an opportunity to make good on it.
  • In Fate/Zero, after Diarmuid is forced to kill himself by his Master Kayneth, in turn forced on him by Kiritsugu, Diarmuid launches hate-filled cursesnote  on Kiritsugu, his Servant Saber, and the Grail itself. Each comes true; the Grail turns out to be a Jackass Genie that can only cause destruction, Kiritsugu is cursed by Angra Mainyu and undergoes a slow death, and Saber is forced to destroy the Grail without finding out it had been corrupted.
    "Inhuman monsters, who have ruined the honour of a knight, let my blood taint your dreams! Let the Grail be cursed. Let the wish it grants bring disaster! And when you fall into the pits of hell, remember the rage of Diarmuid!"
    • Fate/Grand Order has a Call-Back to this during the Chaldea Summer event, where it's BlackBeard making the declaration. Unlike with Diarmund, however, it's Played for Laughs, since he's cursing in response to Mary Reed invoking Exact Words to her promise to let him touch her in return for scouting the island using a log and a branch as a ship and rudder (and upon returning, is on the brink of death) - a promise she fulfills by hi-fiving him. Naturally, the nearby Diarmuid noted that in that moment, he felt a familiar feeling from Blackbeard.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • During the annihilation of Ishval, Roy Mustang corners the injured leader of the Ishvallans. Mustang asks if he has something to say and, surrounded by his destroyed city, the old man answers smiling: "I curse you." Then Mustang incinerates him.
    • Both Lust and Envy spend their last breaths to tell their killers that they're still going to lose (though the latter's is undermined by the rest of the scene). "I look the day when those eyes will be wide with agony. It's's coming." and "How much further will that simplistic outlook take you?" respectively.
  • In Future Diary, Ouji Kosaka combines this with "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards Yukiteru.
  • Gundam:
  • In Hunter × Hunter, curses are real, and this trope is not only weaponized, but militarized: Princess Camilla (who herself has a Death-Activated Superpower) has an entire platoon of soldiers who all trained themselves to have dying curses as a superpower. The curse causes a malaise upon their target when they die, which the target will eventually succumb to. The proximity of a soldier's chosen target upon their death determines the severity of the curse, with physical contact equaling instant death on the target.
  • Inukami!: The Greater-Scope Villain gave one to Kaoru after being outwitted and vanishing.
  • One Piece: We're initially told that Boa Hancock and her sisters fought and defeated an evil gorgon, who cursed them to have eyes on their backs that would petrify anyone that saw them with her last breath. It turns out to be a total lie though, in reality Hancock doesn't want anyone to see the Slave Brands on their backs from when the three of them were enslaved by the Celestial Dragons.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Inverted with Sayaka. It's cursing herself that causes her transformation into a Witch (which is the equivalent of death), as it marks her final descent past the Despair Event Horizon.
    Sayaka: (To Kyoko, broken) I was stupid... so stupid.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In the story "The Four Fates" (a.k.a. "The Curse of the Four Fates"), a dying Indian mystic predicts the deaths of the four criminals who kill him in a robbery attempt. Each comes true in an unexpected fashion. For example, the one who is told "water will be your downfall" heads to the desert, several kilometers from any body of water — and dies of dehydration.
    • In The Return of Bruce Wayne, Bruce Wayne's ancestor Nathaniel Wayne judged a woman named Annie to be a witch and hanged her (she was a witch, but she wasn't evil). Right before she died, she angrily cursed Nathaniel and his entire bloodline, implying this is one of the reasons why Bruce's life sucks so much. For extra irony and tragedy, Annie had been in a relationship with a time-displaced Bruce at the time, but since he arrived with amnesia, she named him Mordecai and had no idea he was a Wayne.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Haazheel Thorne's last action when Wismerhill finally slays him in battle is to curse the entire world for his defeat, using his magic to ensure that the moon will crash into the planet and exterminate all life.
  • In My Little Pony: FIENDship is Magic #1, King Sombra, aware that he will soon be defeated by Princesses Celestia and Luna not long after taking complete control of the Crystal Empire, uses his final days to curse the Crystal Ponies to a thousand years of suffering as repayment for his horrible life among them.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight has a flashback where a Teutonic knight is slain in combat by Orthodox Russians and just before dying, he vows to return in another life to plague them again. He does just that when he reincarnates as a Nazi who would later kill countless Soviet soldiers in the Eastern Front.
  • In The Sandman (1989), the Corinthian is very careful not to kill Loki because of this trope, instead just choosing to mutilate him, noting that "the death curse of a god is an evil thing".

    Fan Works 
  • God Slaying Blade Works: Shirou Emiya defeats Hades in battle but spares his life. Enraged, Hades throws himself onto Shirou's sword, saying he would prefer death to owing a mortal his life, then dies while saying Shirou will not die peacefully, because he and all Campione will die to a god or another Campione.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Red Rackham curses Sir Francis Haddock as he sinks with the blown-up Unicorn declaring, "We will meet again, Haddock! In another time! In another life!" The Big Bad of the movie turns out to be Rackham's descendant, just as Captain Haddock is to Sir Francis (it's implied reincarnation is also involved).

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In 300, just before the last stand, Leonidas spots the deformed Ephialtes somewhere behind Xerxes. Leonidas tells Ephialtes that he hopes the man lives forever; a horrible curse for someone that wished to have been like a Spartan. Leonidas didn't have any better luck with his curse than the battle. Apparently the probably not deformed but just greedy Ephialtes was killed ten years later if Herodotus is to be believed.
  • Ghost Town (1988): Murdered by a gang of outlaws, The Sheriff used his dying breath to curse the gang and the town that been too cowardly to help him fight to linger on Earth until the outlaw leader Devlin was vanquished by a lawman.
  • In Heart of Darkness (1958), the Queen has one for the absent Kurtz: "Die, you devil. Die, you cur. Die, before you drag that sweet boy down into the hell you made here."
  • In Hercules, when the bad guys sentence Ergenia to death and say they will kill her son next, she angrily starts screaming things like, "I curse you! The gods will punish you! Stay away from my son!" Hercules steps in before the executioner can take her head.
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Samantha Caine tells the villain who had put her and her daughter into a Death Trap, "You're going to die screaming. Look in my eyes. Tell me if I'm lying." She escapes, and makes the statement come true.
  • The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines ends with the hero, Merong, fighting his sworn enemy, Kamawas. Merong wins, but in his death throes Kamawas managed to call Merong "bangsat" ("bastard" - incidentally, the hero is of mixed ancestry) as well as taunting about raping Merong's love interest Embun. A pissed -off Merong responds by giving Kamawas a Slashed Throat.
  • Apophis gets a damn good one in Stargate: Continuum, just before he is executed by Ba'al. Ba'al even compliments him on it. As it turns out, the first half comes true and was already in the works when Apophis said it.
    Apophis: May your reign be measured in hours, and your death in years.
  • In Star Trek II, Khan echoes Captain Ahab's last words, directing them at Kirk, as he sets off the Genesis Device.
  • In War of the Worlds (2005), Ogilvy's last words are him repeatedly saying that the aliens can take Ray and Rachel for all he cares. This is part of what cements Ray's choice to kill him.

  • In the French series of historical novels The Accursed Kings, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay curses the King of France, his minister of Justice and the Pope from his execution pyre. His words : "King Phillipe, Knight Guillaume, Pope Clement, by the end of the year I summon you to appear before the tribunal of God to receive your just chastisement! Cursed! Cursed! You will all be cursed to the thirteenth generation of your race!"
  • The Aeneid: Immediately before Queen Dido of Carthage commits suicide because Aeneas left her, she prays to the gods that Aeneas' mission may fail, and that the Carthaginians may forever be enemies to the descendants of Aeneas' Trojans and may one day avenge her. While part of the curse comes true, it ultimately fails: Aeneas succeeds despite many obstacles, and although Carthage came close to defeating Rome in the Second Punic War, in the end Rome turned out victorious.
  • In Joseph Payne Brennan's "Canavan's Back Yard" one Goodie Larkins, accused of turning a child into a wild dog was cornered in a marsh and torn to bits by seven fierce dogs which had been deliberately starved for two weeks.
    "Let this lande I fall upon lye alle the way to Hell!" she had screamed. "And they who tarry here be as these beastes that rende me dead!"
  • In The Chronicles of Amber, a dying curse from one of the royals was something with a large amount of magical power.
  • In Coffin Princess Chaika, among the many rumours surrounding Emperor Arthur Gaz is one that claims he placed a curse with his dying breath on the Eight Heroes who defeated him. By the time the series opens five years later, a majority of the eight are some combination of traumatized, destitute, or dead.
  • In Dragons of Requiem, Shedah the witch uses her last ounce of energy to curse Issari after she stabs her. Apparently it worked, because Issari ends up getting "cursed" with the Vir Requis magic.
  • In The Dresden Files, a Death Curse is an actual ability of wizards. When a wizard knows they're about to die, they'll use their last seconds to Cast from Hit Points in an attempt to take down the enemy with them. One Combat Pragmatist notes that the best way to avoid a Death Curse is to kill a wizard with a supersonic sniper rifle so that the wizard doesn't get a chance to react.
    • Harry himself is on the receiving end of one: DIE ALONE! It's not clear whether or not the curse is fulfilled when he's killed at the end of Changes, given that he's back in the following novel and there is a vagueness about what constitutes as "dead," but even before then, an encounter with his father's spirit in Dead Beat takes the edge off Harry's fear of the curse by clarifying that everyone dies alone: "It's a door. It's one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone. But it doesn't mean you've got to be alone before you go through the door. And believe me, you aren't alone on the other side."
    • Harry's mother Margaret Dresden pulled an impressive one against Lord Raith, King of the White Court of vampires, after he mortally wounded her with an entropy curse. Knowing that he'd just be replaced by another vampire if she managed to kill him, she instead used her Death Curse to take away his ability to feed, effectively rendering him powerless and crippling the entire White Court as Raith had to give up his expansionist agenda to conceal his new weakness from his numerous Starscreams. Raith managed to keep the curse's effect secret for nearly three decades, but after Harry found out about it, he exposed it to Raith's eldest daughter Lara, who promptly betrayed him and took control of the White Court for herself, keeping her father as a Puppet King controlled through incest. Squick.
    • Senior Council Wizard Simon Pietrovich, making him one of the roughest and toughest of wizards, had his home attacked by a large number of vampires at the start of the war against them. He did not survive the battle but his Death Curse took a great many of the monsters with him.
  • Feyd Rautha Harkonnen receives one of these in Dune. After killing a combat slave in the arena, his opponent's final words are "One day one of us will get you." Given that this fighter is not just a slave, but one of the soldiers from the army of the Harkonnen's blood enemies, the Atreides, this may be prophetic.
  • A scene in Fate/Apocrypha that didn't make it into the anime, in a flashback, after Achilles defeated Penthesilea and accidentally made a note about her being beautiful, Penthesilea was extremely pissed that in her dying breath she cursed that Achilles would be using the spear that killed her to kill someone that he held dear. The curse ends up being fulfilled when Achilles used the spear to kill Atalanta, his friend and idol that he grew to love, in order to save her from the madness that she plunged herself into.
  • A legend is related in Galaxy of Fear - people murdered the son of a Necromancer and challenged her to raise him; instead she spent the remainder of her life warning them not to disrespect the dead, and cursed them before dying herself. Their descendants don't seem to take the legend seriously, but they treat the dead with great formality and, when zombies appear, are quick to say that it's the curse responding to some offworlders poking about through graves.
    • The zombies are actually a product of a visiting Mad Scientist, but the local Crusty Caretaker, helping him, is found dead of suspicious causes, allowing our heroes to put a stop to it. One speculates that that was the curse in effect.
  • In The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne the title house and the Pynchon family, its inhabitants, are cursed because Colonel Pynchon built the house on land that he got by having his neighbor Matthew Maule hanged as a witch. The dying man's last words are a curse on Pynchon, telling him that God will give him blood to drink; soon after, he chokes on his own blood. Unfortunate fates continue to befall members of the family until the curse is broken by The Power of Love.
  • In the third Inheritance Cycle book, Eragon refuses to parley with the last, dying Ra'zac, telling it that the information it gave isn't enough to be of value. It curses him, saying "May you leave Alagaësia and never return!" This chills him, since it had previously been predicted that he would leave Alagaësia forever, and indeed, at the end of the series it becomes true.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, Kujen's dying words are a curse on Jedao, "No one else will ever love you".
  • Moby-Dick: Captain Ahab's curse "from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee" turns out to be a dying curse, as moments later the line of the harpoon he has struck into Moby Dick gets wrapped around his neck and pulls him overboard, never to be seen again.
  • In The Monster Men, one dying man curses the man who betrayed him.
  • A Nameless Witch: The protagonist's great-great-great-great-grandfather slew an evil wizard who, with his dying breath, cursed him and his bloodline.
  • Subverted in "Fáfnismál" in the Poetic Edda: After stabbing the dragon Fafnir to the heart, Sigurd initially conceals his name in his conversation with the dying monster, because he fears Fafnir could lay a curse on him with his dying breath. But when Fafnir taunts him for this, Sigurd does tell him his name; only for Fafnir to make no use of this—instead, he warns Sigurd (truthfully) that his treasure is cursed and that Regin will betray him.
    It was the belief in those times that the words of dying persons were of great power, if they cursed an enemy by his name.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil: The Gods Below provide this benefit to villainous Named in general: when you're about to die, Below pays the dues you've paid back in full. This gets used multiple times by dying villains:
    • During Book 2, when Catherine is stabbed in the heart by the Lone Swordsman, she successfully curses him to die the same day. (He already had a Heroic Sacrifice planned, but Catherine interrupts him and kills him herself, while she herself is a zombie.)
    • During Book 4, Warlock deliberately calls upon his dues to Below, sacrificing an entire city to wipe out an attacking Ashuran fleet and save his son's life.
    • During Book 5, Tyrant uses his dues to slay the Age of Wonders.
    • During Book 7, Amadeus inverts the trope. Instead of using his dues to kill someone or something, he uses them to prevent Catherine from immediately taking Malicia/Alaya's life as well.
  • Rob Roy: As he lies dying, Rashleigh Osbaldistone reiterates how much he hates his cousin Francis. When Francis unflappably points out that he never did anything to earn his dying cousin's undying hatred, Rashleigh wastes his last breath cursing his cousin.
    "Cousin Francis," he said, "draw near to me." I approached him as he requested.—"I wish you only to know that the pangs of death do not alter I one iota of my feelings towards you. I hate you!" he said, the expression of rage throwing a hideous glare into the eyes which were soon to be closed for ever—"I hate you with a hatred as intense, now while I lie bleeding and dying before you, as if my foot trode on your neck."
    "I have given you no cause, sir," I replied,—"and for your own sake I could wish your mind in a better temper."
    "You have given me cause," he rejoined. "In love, in ambition, in the paths of interest, you have crossed and blighted me at every turn. I was born to be the honour of my father's house—I have been its disgrace—and all owing to you. My very patrimony has become yours—Take it," he said, "and may the curse of a dying man cleave to it!"
  • The Saga of Grettir the Strong: Defeated and right before his (second and final) death at the hands of Grettir, the revenant Glámr curses Grettir to never grow any stronger, to never live in peace, to be outlawed, and to always see Glámr's dreadful eyes in the darkness before him.
  • The Silmarillion: As Fëanor dies of the wounds he sustained in battle with Morgoth's Balrogs, he curses "the name of Morgoth" three times before succumbing to his injuries.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Rickard Karstark's final words to Robb Stark before his execution:
    "Kill me, and be cursed. You are no king of mine."
    • Given what happens later in the book, seems it worked.
    • In-universe, many people in the Seven Kingdoms like to scare themselves silly with tales involving this to explain why Harrenhal is such a dangerous place to stay. It's not like the history of the place doesn't give them plenty of possible deaths to point at, from the apocryphal blood of the innocent supposedly used in the mortar to the known and recorded deaths (with possible embroidered curses/ last words added on top) that have happened in and around it... choices, choices.
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Stormqueen!, a traitorous household servant curses Lord Aldaran with sterility before dying. It turns out that he indeed becomes sterile, but it is unclear whether the curse actually did it.
  • The Summoning Dark in Terry Pratchett's Thud!. A demon of vengeance summoned by a dwarf mine sign scrawled by a dying miner, it attempts to possess Samuel Vimes as its instrument for getting revenge on the dwarfs responsible for the death of the miner... which proves to be its first mistake.
  • In Watership Down, it's mentioned that Vervain of Efrafa has received many such curses from prisoners he executed, without being fazed or believing that they held any power. Then he faces Fiver and his expectations (and the trope) are subverted three times over: First, Fiver isn't cursing Vervain, but genuinely pitying him for his eventual death; second, this unnerves Vervain enough that he chickens out of finishing off Fiver; third, Fiver's prediction comes true, and Vervain dies mere days later.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "The Coming of Shadows", the Centauri Emperor's efforts at reconciliation with the Narn are ruined by the machinations of Londo Mollari and Lord Refa. Just before the Emperor dies, he says a few last words to Londo. Londo falsely tells everyone else that the Emperor had endorsed the launching of a war against the Narns... but privately admits to Refa that the Emperor really said that Londo and Refa were both damned. About a year later, Refa is beaten to death by a mob of Narns... and compared to Londo's eventual fate, he got off lightly.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Gina, the female Cylon spy whom Admiral Cain had ordered tortured and raped for months, comes after Cain following her escape to get revenge. Gina echoes the same words Cain used against her, and Cain tells her to go frack herself. Gina responds You're Not My Type and shoots her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Stolen Earth", Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister foreshadows the destruction of the Daleks at the hands of two human-Time Lord hybrids this way.
      Harriet Jones: Harriet Jones, former prime minister.
      Dalek: Yes, we know who you are.
      Harriet Jones: Oh, you know nothing of any human. And that will be your downfall.
    • Later, in "Journey's End", when this prophecy comes to pass, Davros has this to say:
      Davros: Never forget, Doctor, you did this! I name you, forever! YOU ARE THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS!
  • In the Friends episode "The One With The Screamer", a guest star utters the phrase. He's the director of a play that got bad reviews, where his girlfriend and Joey starred.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • "Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost." Ser Rodrik Cassel doesn't curse his killer so much as sympathize with him over the curse he is irrevocably drawing down upon himself. The curse comes into full effect when Theon loses his identity after being tortured and broken into a creature called "Reek".
    • Rickard Karstark uses his Last Words to invoke the curse of the kinslayer on his executioner since Stark and Karstark are not only descendants of the First Men but also kin: "Kill me and be cursed. You are no king of mine!" Judging by the Red Wedding, it worked. In the books, Karstark are no more kin to the Starks than other houses the Starks intermarried with over the years since it's been centuries since they began as a minor cadet branch, and kinslaying applies mostly to immediate and second nearest family.
    • Missandei's final words on the city walls of King's Landing, before being beheaded, is "Dracarys", the war cry that triggers the dragonflames. Daenerys and Grey Worm hear this and more than fulfill her wrath on the city of King's Landing the following day.
  • In the Lost episode "Outlaws", Sawyer hunts down and kills the man he thinks was responsible for causing his father's suicide and murder of his mother. He's wrong, and the guy's last words are, "It'll come round again."
  • On one episode of Luke Cage (2016), Anansi drops a vicious one on Mariah after her goons slaughter his family and friends and right before she burns him alive.
    Mi go haunt you for the rest of yuh days. You go eat, but yuh won't taste. Yuh go sleep, but you won't rest! Everyting yuh love, yuh go lose! Yuh hear mi? YUH HEAR MI? YUH HEAR MI?!
  • Return of Ultraman ends it's infamous two-parter, the Nackle invasion arc, with Jack finally defeating Alien Nackle by breaking Nackle's neck, only for the vile alien to gloat that his stolen weapon, Satan-Z, is still out there and will destroy Japan. But thankfully that didn't come to pass.
    Nackle: You think you've won. But soon everywhere in Tokyo will explode. Mwa-hahahahaha! [dies mid-gloating]
  • In Rome, after the death of her son and the extinction of her political cause (partly due to Atia's machinations), Servilia goes to Atia's house with a knife and waits until Atia comes out. Then, with the full attention of everybody around, she curses Atia to have nothing but "bitterness and despair" for the rest of her life. To seal the deal, she then stabs herself. While Atia achieves the goal she's been aiming for the entire series, she finds it's Lonely at the Top.
  • In the Smallville episode "Rogue", Sam Phlean tells Lex to "Go to hell" as his last words as the latter demands to know Clark's secret.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Magnificent Ferengi", Keevan's dying words after being shot by Gaila are, appropriately, "I hate Ferengi."
  • On an episode of Yes, Dear, Greg gets a message on his answering machine about his sick aunt in the hospital who is on her deathbed and wanted to see him one last time. However, it was a wrong number and Greg doesn't even have an aunt with that name, but he uses the message as an excuse to get out of doing something he didn't want to do. After revealing this to Jimmy, Jimmy is appalled and makes him go visit the dying woman for real. The woman is quite old and can't see all that well, so she thinks Greg really is the nephew she called for. She tells him to come closer so she can say goodbye, then proceeds to browbeat him for being a no-good bum who has brought nothing but shame and disappointment to the entire family, and lays a curse on him right before she dies. In The Tag, Greg tracks down the woman's actual nephew, and passes the curse onto its intended target.

  • In Alestorm's song "Captain Morgan's Revenge," the title captain pronounces one of these upon the mutinous crew who has made him Walk the Plank: "As sure as Hell's my final fate, you'll all soon die or worse!"
  • In Rigoletto, Count Monterone curses Rigoletto with his final words.

  • The Book of Mormon: While being burned alive, Abinadi cries out to his executioners, promising that they will be scattered and hunted like wild beasts by their enemies, plagued with diseases, and that the king will ultimately die by fire as well.
    Abinadi: Thus God executeth vengeance upon those that destroy his people. O God, receive my soul.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Ravenloft setting for D&D 3.5 has rules for curses. Laying a curse with your last breath gives a huge bonus to your roll (being a woman or Vistani give bonuses too).
    • There are rules for laying a powerful, lingering Dying Curse that can only be lifted by major personal effort or the strongest magic. The option is rarely used because it requires the person laying the curse not to come Back from the Dead; most people powerful and vindictive enough to make their killer suffer forever can make arrangements to come Back from the Dead and see to it in person.
    • Dragonlance's Lord Soth, who became one of Ravenloft's infamous Darklords, became a Death Knight due to just such a curse, leveled against him by his second wife Isolde as she and their son burned to death as their keep burned down. Specifically, she cursed him to live out the lifetimes of every person to whom he had caused death on the day of the Great Cataclysm, which he had set out to stop before being taken in by three elf-maids, who lied about Isolde's infidelity and told him that she had sent him on this quest to die in order to get rid of him.
  • Everway supplement Spherewalker Sourcebook. When Rasmadahan (the Dragon of Fire) died, the sword used to kill him gained magical power and became known as the Dragonbane Sword. Rasmadahan laid a dying curse on the sword that caused anyone wielding it to suffer from the ravages of old age even if they were still young. The curse can cause the sword's user to die of old age while in their twenties.
  • In the backstory of Exalted those of the Primordials that were killed by the victorious Exalted Host placed the Great Curse upon them.
  • As part of its Gothic Horror Cliché Storm style, the Magic: The Gathering set Innistrad includes a new Enchantment subtype called "Curses". One of these, Curse of Death's Hold, has flavor text that fits here:
    "May you and all your kin waste and wither until your clan is no more!"
  • In Pathfinder all of the linnorms have the ability to put a dying curse on their killer. The exact nature of the curse varies depending on the species of linnorm and include Super Drowning Skills, Damage-Increasing Debuffs, Rapid Aging, and a singularly nasty Clone by Conversion.

  • They must have liked this trope in the English Renaissance. Barabas, the title character of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, curses the "Damned Christian dogs and Turkish infidels!" who brought about his death — as he boils in oil.
  • A possible interpretation of Julius Caesar's legendary last words, "Et tu, Brute?" (You too, Brutus?). Instead of a question, asking if even Brutus is betraying him, it is sometimes thought as a statement, basically meaning "Your turn next." Marc Antony made the curse come true.
  • After he accidentally gets into the middle of the ongoing Montague-Capulet feud and is fatally wounded by Tybalt, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet curses both families up and down. He also makes a Pun or two in the process.
  • The whole plot of Ruddigore comes about because a burning witch cursed the whole line of the Baronets of Ruddigore. Heck, the subtitle is The Witch's Curse.

    Video Games 
  • Battle for Wesnoth: Upon being defeated, Malifor curses everybody on the player's side, expecially the leader Tallin, cursing him for so long that Tallin is tired of hearing it.
  • Bayonetta: Each of the Four Cardinal Vitrues screams "May Jubileus, The Creator, grace you!" at Bayonetta as they die. This may sound benevolent, but Jubileus is a being they want to awaken in order to destroy the world, so their asking her to "grace" Bayonetta is their own way of telling the one who killed them to go to hell.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil, the dying General Kheck uses his final breath to deliver a final insult, right in Jade's face — she's doomed to fail, she will be consumed by the Eldritch Abomination who has been looking for her soul for centuries, and even if she does succeed, it will be meaningless because everyone she ever loved is already dead. She stares him down fearlessly, though — not only because she's a Plucky Girl, but because she still has the two most steadfast members of her True Companions with her, and for the rest, well, now death is a minor technicality.
  • Bloodhound ends with the Demon Queen Astaroth letting out one of these to set up a Sequel Hook.
    "My death means nothing, prophecy is fulfilled. A seed of holy blood opened the forbidden gates, The judgement time has come and hidden beasts will tear apart the world. The generals of hatred will take their places in crowns. Ravens will cry, the earth will run with blood. Salvation is lost, only suffering remains. Thank you Templar, you naive fool."
  • As she lays dying in Borderlands 2, Angel sums up her feelings towards Jack quite succinctly: "Dad, I have to tell you something... you're an asshole."
  • Castlevania:
  • In the Diablo series, Lachdanan and his knights are cursed to eternal damnation by King Leoric, who they were forced to slay to put an end to his madness.
    King Leoric: Traitors! Even in death, the armies of Khanduras will still obey their king! Even if you will not...
  • Dragon Age: Origins: After putting Arl Rendon Howe down like the dog he is, he still has enough breath to curse the Player Character before he keels over and bleeds out. It's quite a satisfying scene, especially if you played the Human Noble Origin, where Howe personally killed your character's parents.
    Arl Howe: Maker spit on you! I... deserved... more!
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, if you decide to kill Mr. House, he might have this as his last words.
    "May there be... A hell for you! A Tartarus! Bleak... Unending..."
  • In the backstory of the Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light game, as Princess Artemis of Archanea fell victim to Death by Childbirth, she cursed the Fire Emblem itself and called it "the end of war, but also the end of love". This, plus an apparent curse she actually put on the Emblem to try directing the war's course, would cause quite the calamities to the descendants of Artemis' Star Crossed Lover Anri, for they could never really find love if the Emblem was involved. The curse rears itself in the head when Artemis' descendant Nyna found herself trapped in a loveless marriage with Hardin when her actual lover is the Grustian Knight Camus, which caused Hardin to fall into despair and then had his soul consumed into darkness, causing the events of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, where Nyna blamed herself for it. Since the curse mostly affected the Archanean royalty, Nyna decided to not burden Marth (Anri's descendant) with it, handed over the Archanean Kingdom to him and his wife Caeda, and then vanished. By the time the continent became Ylisse, Artemis' curse would no longer be in play (though it fell into another kind of trouble that required a Screw Destiny to solve it).
  • The Big Bad of Fire Emblem: Three Houses delivers this as you defeat him in his home base, suitably accompanied by 'The Curse' BGM. The reality is more mundane, although a whole lot more destructive.
    "For all Agarthans... Let there be light!"
  • Shiro Tagachi's death wail in Guild Wars Factions might as well have been one...I mean, it bloody petrified an entire forest, and turned an entire sea to Jade.
  • In Heretic 2 it turns out that D'Sparil, the Big Bad of the first game, used his dying breath to curse Corvus to wander some hellish dimension when he stepped through the portal out of the villain's lair, rather than going home. It also seems to have caused Corvus to have to fight though some DLC for the first game as well.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC has rogue Spectre Tela Vasir's final moments, in which she tries to justify working for the Shadow Broker and expresses her disgust at Commander Shepard for working with the pro-human terrorist organization Cerberus before succumbing to her wounds mid-sentence.
  • Mass Effect 3 has Ashley doing this if she is shot protecting Udina, and you refused to try and reconnect with her until this particular standoff.
    Shepard: Ashley... God dammit, Ash. He was with Cerberus!
    Ashley: So were... you. I hope the Reapers... send you to Hell.
  • In Mega Man Zero 4, when the final boss Dr. Weil is defeated by Zero, he expresses shock at being defeated by a "puppet" like Zero. Then he calls for Zero to perish forever. Weil did get his wish, as Zero died along with Weil.
    Dr. Weil: I... I have been defeated... By a mere puppet! Perish! Burn in the fires of Hell! (この・・・ワシが・・・人形ごときに・・・滅べぇ!滅んでしまえぇー!)
  • Pokémon: The moves Grudge and Destiny Bond are appropriately Ghost-type and activate when a Pokémon uses it and then faints from a direct enemy attack. Grudge drops the PP of the attacking move to zero, while Destiny Bond causes the attacker to faint.
  • Pony Island: After defeating Azazel, when you load up the Task Manager, you see one of the processes is him, cursing.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, the first major plot event sees the townspeople capture a gypsy on the (false) accusation of murder. If you fail to either clear his name or break him out of jail within a couple of days, the gypsy is burned at the stake. With his dying breath, he curses the town to share his fate, and you get a Have a Nice Death screen saying that his curse came true. In the backstory (as read in the logbook in the Adventurer's Guild), it turns out that Erana did this to the Dark One as well.
  • Zaros from Runescape had one of these, and it was rather powerful, turning all humans involved with his assassination into barely-perceptible spirits. Of course, Zaros turned out to be Not Quite Dead.
  • In Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die, Shinnosuke Yamazaki curses Tokyo after he gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by the Demon King at the end of chapter 1.
  • The Great Will's last words in both the Neutral and Chaos Paths of Shin Megami Tensei II are both a Dying Declaration of Hate (Aleph, his killer, was supposed to be the Messiah) and an extremely cruel example of this trope. It's implied in Nocturne said curse leashed the guy to a horrifying "Groundhog Day" Loop for eternity until he finished recording the entirety of the war between Law and Chaos by being reborn over and over in each world, having no way to ever change any of their destinies as they fell one by one to their doom.
  • When you fail to save a prison guard trapped in an active gas chamber in The Suffering (and you will), he'll die shouting, "Fuck you! Those are my last words, you urrrgghhhh...."
  • Sword of Paladin: Anguis killed Eurydike, who turned into a cursed sword, Miasma Stella, in order to torment her killer forever. This backfires when he gains complete control over the sword and uses it to drain the life energy of countless universes.
  • Telepath Tactics has a non-supernatural example: Hee'la's Last Words if she dies in battle are "Choke blood..."
  • Warcraft III: "I hope there's a special place in hell waiting for you, Arthas." - last words of Uther the Lightbringer. Arthas ultimately gets stuck in a place worse than hell: darkness.
  • In World of Warcraft, it turns out that the Sha infesting Pandaria are the result of Y'Shaarj pulling one of these.

    Web Animation 
  • Played for laughs in the Newgrounds animation Ganondorf's Kingdom, when Link bursts into Ganondorf's chicken and waffle restaurant out of the blue and shoots him with a Light Arrow. Ganondorf's last words before dying are "Fuck you! You're such a dick!"

    Web Comics 
  • In Achewood, a dying king, cheated out of his last meal by a servant (Pat's ancestor), curses him with, "MAY ALL YOUR SONS, AND THEIR SONS AFTER THEM, ON THEIR TWENTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY, BECOME QUEEEEEEEER!" (which was apparently a common curse back in the day). Needless to say, it comes true.
  • The Order of the Stick #623:
    Azurite soldier: Elf, if you're still here... I hope you choke on your useless goddamn magic.
  • Parodied in an early Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, with the seldom-used emoticon for "Your mother was just crushed to death in a trash compactor and cursed your name with her dying breath". Its "][>:~+".
  • In The Suburban Jungle, Kurt quotes this before leaving the college he and Dover went to.
  • Unsounded: As Masek lays dying he slurs at his killers;
    "May Sssshaensigin... brittle your rodent bonesss..."

    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue it's actually done quite frequently. Mostly 'Son of a Bitch'.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1510, otherwise known as the Tarnished Legionnaire, came about when a Roman legionnaire refused to free the captured King Jugurtha the night before his execution. The king responded by cursing the legionnaire's body so that it rotted overnight, all while he remained conscious for it. When his body was gone, his mind/soul was left in his helmet, taking over any man of a similar age who wears it.
    • SCP-1084 is the result of Ambrose Bierce laying down one of these as he was shot to death by a Mexican town's denizens; they were cursed to be forgotten by the world, that no one would ever speak of them or the town again. According to the diary of the one who put this execution together, this curse was fiendishly effective; within a week, no one could remember the town's name, and within a month everyone except ten people were either Driven to Suicide or gone.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Anna Vaan to Lenny Priestly (one of a pair of twins).
    Anna: My mother's dead, and so's my sister, just like yours is gonna be at the end of this goddamn GAME!
  • Whateley Universe: Both Aunghadhail and The Kodiak make vows to see the Bastard defeated as they were being destroyed in The Sundering. These oaths have unfortunate consequences for their Reincarnations (Fey and Kodiak) during their time at Whateley, acting as a Geas on them both (especially Kodiak).

    Western Animation 
  • Joe of Family Guy says while he has never killed anyone as a police officer (at the time), one inmate did cursed his name just before being executed.
  • Played for Laughs in Futurama. When the Professor is about to drown, he screams: "With my last breath, I curse Zoidberg!"
  • Gravity Falls: The Monster of the Week from "Northwest Mansion Noir" is a Lumberjack ghost who's haunting the Northwest family during their annual party, which the Northwest's solve by enlisting Dipper to exorcise him. After Dipper captures the ghost in a silver mirror, the latter reveals his tale: He was one of many lumberjacks who were commissioned by Nathaniel Northwest, supposed founder of Gravity Falls, to build his family estate, and in exchange, Nathaniel promised that he would throw a grand party every year which would welcome rich and common folk alike. After years of hard labor and loss of lives, the estate was completed, but as the lumberjacks were preparing to enter the party, they were denied entry. Due to the loss of trees from the mountain that were used to build the estate, the area became susceptible to mudslides, which killed the Lumberjack and his friends. With his last breath, the Lumberjack cursed the Northwest family, promising revenge if the townsfolk were still denied entry to their parties in 150 years. After escaping the mirror, the Lumberjack continues his rampage, turning the party goers into wood; But once Pacifica, who has undergone Character Development over the course of the episode, lets the townspeople into the party, he stops his rampage and turns everyone back to the normal.
    Lumberjack: And so I said with final breath, one'fifty years I'll return from death; And if the gates' still closed to town, wealthy blood will stain the ground.
  • At the end of the Justice League Unlimited episode "Alive", Tala, after a failed attempt to turn on Lex Luthor, is used as a Living Battery to reassemble Brainiac, a process that ends up killing her. She invokes this trope in a different sense by tampering with the process and bringing back Darkseid instead as a final middle finger to Lex.

    Real Life 
  • The Dying Declaration is a recognized hearsay exception, allowing someone's last words to be used against their killer in court in some instances.
  • The original source of the trope was a commonly-held belief in various cultures that dying and/or dead people were extremely close to the supernatural and, thus, their words were extremely powerful. This is evident in the mythologies and legends of numerous ancient civilizations (the ancient Greeks come to mind) and a dying foe was considered extremely dangerous (in some ways moreso than a healthy one) for his ability to call down curses on those who had killed him, particularly if the death was a result of foul play.
  • When Shaka of the Zulu was assassinated by his half brother Dingaan he told Dingaan that the white people, not he, would rule. Dingaan ruled for twelve years,, and was overthrown by another half-brother (who admittedly had British backing) not directly conquered.
  • The Master of Knights Templar Jacques de Molay was burned alive in March 1314 and cursed the engineers of his chapter's demise — King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V — from his pyre, reportedly saying he'd meet them both in God's presence before the year was out, and cursing Philip's house. Sure enough, Clement died one month later, and Philip followed him to the grave that November—and his three sons all died cruel deaths and did not leave surviving male issue. (The Accursed Kings is a fictionalized retelling of this history.)
  • During the chaos of the Reign of Terror during The French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre through a complicated Gambit Pileup ended up sending his former friends Georges Danton and Camille Desmoullins to the guillotine. Danton on the day of his execution was escorted to the guillotine on a cart called tumbrel which passed through the streets of Paris. On the way, he passed Robespierre's house and yelled out:
    Danton: You'll follow us shortly, your house will be beaten down and salt sown in the place where it stood!
    Nearly four months later, Robespierre met his end.
  • There is a legend surrounding Sarah Good, one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials: before she was hanged, Minister Nicholas Noyes gave her one last chance to confess. She replied, "You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink." Years later, Noyes suffered from an internal hemorrhage and choked to death on his own blood. (This was the inspiration behind the House of Seven Gables example above, as Hawthorne lived most of his life in Salem.)
  • A policeman asked the mortally-wounded Tupac Shakur to name his shooter. Tupac's reply (and dying words)? "Fuck you."
  • Emperor Lý Huệ Tông was forced to commit suicide in 1226 by General Trần Thủ Độ, after he was forced off the throne by the Trần clan in favor of his six-year-old only daughter and heir, Empress Lý Chiêu Hoàng. Before he died, he cursed the new Trần dynasty with the same fate as his own. Smash cut to 1398, and General Hồ Quý Ly forced Emperor Trần Thuận Tông off the throne in favor of his three-year-old son and heir Emperor Trần Thiếu Đế, then had Thuận Tông killed to establish the new Hồ dynasty. Both Lý Chiêu Hoàng and Trần Thiếu Đế were demoted back to their titles at birth of Princess Chiêu Thánh and Prince Bảo Ninh, respectively, instead of being killed like their fathers, before disappearing from historical records.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): A Plague On Both Your Houses


The Lumberjack's Curse

Soon after the Northwest family lied to the lumberjacks about allowing the townsfolk to join the party following the construction of the family mansion, one of the lumberjacks dies in the ensuing mudslide.

With his dying breath, he declares that if the Northwests would still not fulfill their promise 150 years later, he will then come Back from the Dead to unleash vengeance upon the family.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (29 votes)

Example of:

Main / DyingCurse

Media sources: