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Dying Truce

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So the hero is duking it out with the Final Boss (or maybe just a Mini-Boss). Either way, his opponent is most definitely his enemy. After striking a mortal blow, his foe is now too weak to even hold his weapon or be any threat as he lies dying. The hero (or sometimes even the villain, in the case that The Hero Dies) will drop his weapons and sit down for a friendly chat, maybe ask the soon-to-be-dead if he has a Last Request. Or wants One Last Smoke. Or to just be philosophical.

This is a very good time for a Villain's Dying Grace, Death Equals Redemption, or My God, What Have I Done? to be discussed. They may learn that the character was Good All Along. Sometimes they might get very close by holding the victim.

The truce is rarely ever spoken or negotiated. It usually only happens when the dying character is going to be Killed Off for Real, and both parties know for sure that there's no way for them to survive. They just know there's no point in making a dead man dead-er, and are honourable enough to ensure they die more peacefully. Unless the defeated one is very good at faking it and taking advantage of the others party's honourable nature.

A key point of this trope is how the climax of a final scene is shifted. Normally it occurs when the villain dies in a grandiose way. However, when this trope is invoked, the actual act of dying is shifted over as a part of the falling action/conclusion.

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


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    Anime And Manga 

  • Cowboy Bebop: After Spike killed Vicious, all the mooks simply let him walk down the steps unimpeded.

    Fan Works 

  • When There Was a Tomorrow: In the epilogue, Noble Six winds up facing down a Krogan, Kreave, who's bitter about losing his chance to kill Shepard, and decides to settle it with Six instead. After the Spartan wins, Kreave laments that now no one will remember him. Six tells him that they will as long as they remember Reach and what happened there. Kreave seems to accept this as he dies.


  • In Black Panther (2018), T'Challa not only doesn't finish off the mortally wounded Killmonger but actually helps him walk to the surface so that he can see a Wakandan sunset before he dies. note 
  • Played straight in Collateral. During the climactic gunfight on the train, Max gets off a lucky shot that hits Vincent in the chest. Vincent staggers and takes a seat, and a shocked Max sits across from him, trying to reassure Vincent that the train is almost at the next stop. Vincent smiles and repeats an anecdote he shared earlier in the movie.
    Vincent: Hey, Max. Guy gets on the MTA here in LA, dies. Think anybody will notice?
  • The last scene in Heat has Vincent mortally wounding Neil at LAX when the latter attempts to escape after the big heist. Despite being on opposite sides of the law and Vincent continually pursuing Neil and his cohorts, they had come to develop a mutual understanding of one another's circumstances and when it's clear Neil isn't going to survive another couple of minutes Vincent holds Neil's hand.
  • Kill Bill: After having the Five Point Palm technique done on him, Bill knows he's a dead man walking. He has a last bit of conversation with The Bride before peacefully walking to his death.
  • The Last Samurai: A rarer example where the heroes are the ones dying and the antagonists are honourable. After the last remaining samurai are gunned down by gatling gun fire, the captain orders his men to cease fire (against the orders of his superior) to allow Katsumoto to commit seppuku and die with honour.
  • When the stoic commander of the French Foreign Legion, Major Foster, falls to a cavalry bullet, his Arab adversaries cease fire in March Or Die. Their Arab chieftain, El Krim, approaches the French lines, is allowed passage, and honors his fallen foe. El Krim then gives the remaining French forces the opportunity to withdraw from their hopeless position.
  • Shoot 'Em Up: At the very end, when Smith and Hertz are both nearly dead, Smith lets Hertz answer his cellphone as he walks away. The truce breaks, though, and both of them attempt one final shot to really kill each other off.
  • In Skyfall, when Bond finishes off Silva with a thrown knife to the back, neither have any weapons left anyway. But neither of them attempt to fight or finish each other off more quickly, just staring each other down and allowing Bond to give a signature one-liner just before Silva finally keels over.
  • Subverted in íThree Amigos!. At the climax, after the villain El Guapo has been mortally wounded he calls Lucky Day over to him, saying he want to tell him something. When Lucky gets close enough, El Guapo shoots him in the foot as a joke.
  • Troy: The Greek and Trojans back off when Hector discovers he hasn't killed Achilles but Patrocles wearing Achilles' armor. A far cry from the original, where he boasts about it and the fighting actually intensifies as both sides try to loot/reclaim Achilles' arms.
  • Unforgiven. William Munny shoots and mortally wounds the cowboy Davey Bunting. Davey becomes thirsty and begs one of his friends to bring him water. His friends are reluctant to do so due to fear of being shot themselves. Munny calls out to them to give Davey some water and promises not to shoot them. One of them believes him and goes to Davey with a canteen.
  • Us: After Umbrae is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, Adelaide goes to check and see if she's dead. She's not, but clearly not going to make it much longer. Adelaide can't bring herself to finish her off, as, Ax-Crazy as she is, Umbrae is still only a kid (not to mention, a kid that looks exactly like Adelaide's own daughter), so instead she tries to comfort her, and waits with her until she dies.


  • Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road. After Oscar Gordon manages to mortally wound the Never-Born (AKA The Eater of Souls), he and it talk for a while before it dies.
  • Near the end of David Gemmell's Legend, Druss The Legend is dying from poison and as his final action performs a You Shall Not Pass! at a gate that is about to fall to the Nadir invaders besieging the fortress of Dross Delnoch. He kills numerous foes before he is too weak to hold his axe and falls down. The Nadir hold Druss in such reverence that the fighting immediately stops and a Nadir warrior picks up Druss's axe and puts it back in Druss's hands so the legendary warrior can die holding his weapon. When Druss dies, the Nadir take his body back to their camp and give him a funeral as if he was one of their own kings.
  • The final duel scenes in The Elenium and The Tamuli both wrap up with Sparhawk delivering the fatal blow and then having a respectful (if short) conversation with the one he just killed. Particularly poignant in the first, where his defeated Evil Former Friend admits he's happy to die in the company of people he loved.
  • At the end of Summer Knight, Harry and the book's villain, the Summer Lady, Aurora, have a moment like this. Said villain is weakened and bleeding out as they tearfully explain their motive, and Harry talks quietly and holds them as they die.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Coronation Street: in the long-running soap opera, Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin are lifelong rivals and bitter enemies. They drop their enmity twice. Once when both are taken prisoner by a desperate gunman who threatens to kill his hostages; a second time when Baldwin finally dies, the only other person present to make sure his death is not lonely and unremarked being Ken Barlow. (Tear Jerker?)
  • In the Season 3 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the wounded Lincoln sacrifices himself by flying the Quinnjet into space, along with Hive and the missile containing the Inhuman virus. With Lincoln already mortally injured, and Hive unable to leave or stop the bomb, they don't bother fighting and take in the view. As the warhead counts down, Lincoln remarks that he finally got to see the world, and Hive remarks that all he ever wanted to do was feel a connection with those around him. They die at peace, and even have an understanding for each other.

    Video Games 

  • Assassin's Creed: All kills of official storyline targets end with a short sequence where the protagonist allows the assassinated to speak a few lines or say a few words before their death.
  • Assassin's Creed II subverts the traditional "dying man utters his last words" scene when Rodrigo Borgia survives and attempts to fight off Ezio instead, and then again a bit later when Ezio refuses to kill him.
  • Assassin's Creed III has an example with no words. Charles Lee has been badly wounded by Connor during their chase, and Connor is in only slightly better shape. When Connor finally tracks Lee down to a tavern, Charles doesn't even try to resist. Knowing he's finished, he simply enjoys one last drink before passing the bottle to Connor. Connor accepts it, then ends Charles' suffering with a final stab.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: At the end Revan manages to mortally wound Malak, after which the two of them have a short conversation about the choices they made and the consequences of them until Malak dies.
  • Fable does this when the Hero defeats The Dragon to Jack of Blades, Maze, his mentor in the Heroes Guild. He uses his last moments to warn the Hero of Jack's plans and express his shame for his part in them.
  • The protagonist Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid does this with each of his enemies save for maybe the last one. He takes a moment to speak to each of them in turn, listening to them tell him their sad backstories or motives and/or giving him some important piece of information. The fact that he then doesn't do this in Metal Gear Solid 4 shows just how jaded and tired Snake is of fighting. He is so jaded that he can scarcely care about the villains' motives anymore. And honestly, after a whole video game series of being manipulated and tricked over and over again, who can blame him? It doesn't help that he himself is slowly dying, either.
  • Final Fantasy IX sees Zidane going back for his half brother Kuja, as he knows Kuja is still alive, albeit dying, after the final battle. Kuja, for his part, had a hand in Zidane's friends surviving the final battle and escaping.

    Visual Novels 
  • Full Metal Daemon Muramasa: Kageaki, who is now free from her brainwashing, carries the mortally wounded Big Bad Chachamaru up a hill to have her rest by a tree as the two share a final discussion over the past events and battles after she asked him to be by her side until she expires. This largely came about due to the complicated events surrounding their relationship over the story and even though Kageaki had been brainwashed by her, to Chachamaru it was still a time she came to treasure. And with her lasts breaths she gives Kageaki a vital hint in defeating the other Big Bad Hikaru.

    Western Animation 
  • In Star Wars Rebels, Obi-Wan mortally wounds his old enemy Darth Maul in a Single-Stroke Battle, then holds him and confirms Maul's hopes that Obi-Wan is guarding The Chosen One. Maul dies taking comfort in the hope that "He will avenge us," and Obi-Wan is implied to lay him properly to rest.