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Face Death with Dignity

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"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

"There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly."
— Last words of Cicero (attributed)
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Alice has gotten in over her head. She's made mistakes, powerful enemies, or otherwise bitten off more than she can chew, and they want their pound of flesh. Running will only make things worse for her and her loved ones, so faced with the alternatives... she chooses to face death with dignity. She turns herself in, doesn't put up a fight, and in so doing takes responsibility for her actions and gains a measure of control in the only choice she had left.

This is a sad, meaningful fate reserved for only the most tragic of characters, for whom even Redemption Equals Death is out of reach. The best they can hope for is to give their end some order or meaning. Rescue is not impossible, in fact the mere act of facing the music may be a cause for Redemption Earns Life and a chance to become The Atoner, but it's a slim chance.

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Another variant of this trope of a more messianic bent is when a character is offered a Sadistic Choice to save the hostage and MacGuffin if she trades her life for it. This is a Heroic Sacrifice with extensive premeditation, beyond merely being a Martyr Without a Cause to one with a very good one.

Of course villains who aren't Lawful Evil won't hold their end of the bargain, and the prospective martyr is usually savvy enough to tell this or is stopped. Expect the martyr to intone My Death Is Just the Beginning in either case.

Compare Better to Die than Be Killed where you shoot yourself rather than be executed. In this trope, you choose execution. Say Your Prayers may also have some elements of this, (depending on the case) as characters may give up on taking any action and just say a final prayer while letting the inevitable happen. See also Villain's Dying Grace for a specific villainous version.

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Contrast Get It Over With, which also faces death with open eyes, Defiant to the End which a captive shows no respect to their captors and executioners toward the end, Villainous Breakdown where they'll completely lose their cool before possibly dying, and Hesitant Sacrifice when a heroic character breaks down in the face of their own impending death.

See also Obi-Wan Moment, "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner, Leave Behind a Pistol, Dying Truce, and Dying Moment of Awesome. For women, it may involve a Lipstick-and-Load Montage.

As a Death Trope, many spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • Hsu and Chan #8 Tourists Trapped part 2 spoofs this trope when the villain points a gun at Hsu, offering him a chance to die with dignity. Hsu's response:
    Hsu: I'll do no such thing! In fact, I'm going to wet my pants in terror right now! *grunt*

    Music 
  • In "Daughter of Evil" by mothy, we have the Riliane's death. She doesn't put up a fight when she's captured, seems rather bored while waiting for it, and when the time does come, she calmly says, "Oh, it's tea time," right before they cut her head off. However, in the P.O.V. Sequel "Servant of Evil," it's revealed that it wasn't the princess at all - it was her twin brother, Allen, the servant who vowed to protect her, which eventually involved such extremes as killing his own foster father. Naturally, he saved her from death, too, by dressing in her clothes (because she and Allen have similar figures) and giving her his, effectively reversing roles.
  • From Vocaloid in general, Gakupo's cover of The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku is at a slower pace than the others who almost always sing the song extremely fast. The song is about a Vocaloid "being deleted," but unlike the other versions this one makes Gakupo sound rather calm about his fate.
  • The folksong MacPherson's Lament is all about this trope, and how death is better than life in a cell.
    Farewell, ye dungeons dark and strong
    A wretch's destinie!
    MacPherson's time will no' be long
    On yonder gallows tree
    So farewell, night, thou parting light,
    And all beneath the sky,
    May coward's shame disdain the name
    O' the wretch that dares not die!
  • Peter Schilling's "Terra Titanic" has a metaphorical end-of-the-world scenario with this line "...while the captain adjusts his tuxedo a bit, with his glass raised up high as the ice water hits."
  • Queen's swan song, "The Show Must Go On", is about facing death with dignity. Freddie Mercury sang this song as he was in the end stages of AIDS and was practically at death's door, but you'd never know it just by listening.
  • The final David Bowie album, Blackstar, is essentially him taking his impending death and turning it into one final album in the only way he knew how: writing awesome music.
  • The song "A Sovereign Act" by Cormorant invokes this trope, as it is about the Death With Dignity Act.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism, since Aslan's sacrifice was inspired by Jesus in The Bible.
  • When the soldiers came to kill Jezebel, she faced them while wearing her full royal attire. The affect was sort of diminished after centuries of this being interpreted as her being a prostitute.
  • Many of the Christian martyrs during the Roman persecutions faced public execution in arenas with quiet dignity and firm resolve. This turned out to have great proselytizing force: criminals normally begged and pleaded when they were put to death, but the dignity with which these Christians died for their beliefs was remarkable to the crowds, many of whom therefore started to wonder if there was something to this new religion.
  • Rabbi Akiva. Even as the Romans were torturing him to death, he did not beg or plead. He simply recited the Shema, the last words a Jew is supposed to say before death.
  • Socrates also managed to pull this off, at least if Plato's accounts are to be believed.
  • An awesome quote from Epictetus: "I must die. But must I die bawling?"

    Radio 
  • The famous 1938 The War of the Worlds radio broadcast includes a scene where a radio reporter describes the Martian tripods advancing into New York City, gassing all the unfortunate humans in their path. He knows he's going to die ("This is the end, now"), but stays on the air until overcome by Martian poison gas.
  • From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin are being eaten by the Ravenous Bug Blatter Beast Of Traal:
    Trillian: Arrrgghh, he's got us! If I ever survive this, I'll get a job as Moby Dick's dentist!
    Zaphod: Can it Trillian, I'm trying to die with dignity.
    Marvin: (rather unimpresseively) I'm just trying to die.

    Theatre 
  • In Macbeth, the play begins in the aftermath of the defeat of an invasion of Scotland by forces from Norway and Ireland, joined by the rebel Scottish lord Macdonwald. Though he remains an off-screen character, Macdonwald is captured after the battle and executed. The messenger who reports his final moments is utterly moved by how dignified and accepting he was of his fate. At the end of the play Macbeth himself realizes that he is going to die fighting Macduff, the result of an Exact Words prophecy — but instead of begging or lamenting it, decides to die fighting with a sword in his hand.
  • Julius Caesar: At first, when Calpurnia pleads with Caesar not to go out of his home because of an ominously superstitious nightmare, he decides to humor her and stay home. Moments later, Decius Brutus gives Caesar a flattering interpretation of the bloody fountain dream, which makes Caesar even more resolved to attend the Senate meeting, in spite of the dangers awaiting him.
    Caesar: What can be avoided, whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?
    Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions are to the world in general as to Caesar.
    Calpurnia: When beggars die, there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
    Caesar: Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.
    Of all the wonders I have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear,
    Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come...
    Caesar should be a beast without a heart if he should stay at home to-day for fear.
    No, Caesar shall not; Danger knows full well that Caesar is more dangerous than he.
    We are two lions littered in one day, And I the elder and more terrible,
    And Caesar shall go forth.
  • Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, after he becomes determined to pay his "bond" to Shylock. Subverted in that he doesn't die.
  • In The Lion in Winter, as Henry II's sons are hiding in the cellar waiting for him to come and kill them, Richard the Lionheart says he won't go down hiding like a coward and will face their father when he arrives, knowing he will die. The cynical Geoffrey scoffs at this, asking what difference it makes what manner you die in. Richard counters that because you don't get to choose if you die, you only get to choose the manner you face it with, then yes, the manner is the only thing that matters.
  • In Finale, the show ends with all the characters doing this, as they walk into the burning sunset together, to their deaths.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
      • Mondo barely puts up any resistance when he's outed as Chihiro's killer, and it's revealed that his efforts to move the body were more because he wanted to protect Chihiro's secret about his true gender than him trying to get away with it. Ishimaru can't handle the fact that his first and only friend is about to be killed for a crime that was much more manslaughter induced by extreme emotional distress than murder, but Mondo just mournfully bids him goodbye and leaves to face his execution.
    • Super Danganronpa 2:
      • Peko tries to do this, apologizing for killing Mahiru, asking the others to forgive Fuyuhiko for his role in the murder, and insisting that there be no other murders.
      • Gundham is revealed to have committed murder to prevent the others from starving to death in the funhouse, and before he killed Nidai, they made a pact with each other that one of them had to die for everyone else to live. He makes no excuses for his actions, and rebuffs Sonia's attempt to beg Monokuma to spare him, saying that trying to interfere with someone willing to face his death is unbecoming of her.
      • Chiaki helps Hajime out her as the accidental culprit of Case 5, and meets her end calmly, giving encouragement to the students before her sentence is carried out.
    • New Danganronpa V3: Kaede forgoes a chance for a free graduation after killing Rantaro in order to use her class trial to uncover the mastermind's identity. When she fails, she allows Shuichi to out her as a killer, and only tries to argue back in order to make it easier for the others to accept her being the culprit and vote for her to save their own lives.
  • In Grisaia no Rakuen, when told to chase down Amane to preserve the secret of the bus crash group's cannibalism and then to kill Kazuki for the same reason, Sakuma just gives up and says no. She's not going to do it. For her refusal, she's stabbed by Sakashita, but even then she just quietly repeats that they've done enough and to just let it go.

    Webcomics 
  • Boris tries to do this in Girl Genius when he is caught trying to betray the Jagers, whom he believes are being manipulated by the Big Bad. The reason he only tries is that they don't want to kill him, since their reputation as bloodthirsty killers is, in part, Obfuscating Stupidity and his evidence that they are being used is far more interesting to the Jager Generals than keeping up appearances.
  • Part of the reason that even many Order of the Stick fans who disliked Anti-Villain Miko Miyazaki were saddened by her death was that she faced it with dignity, even though her attempt at Heroic Sacrifice inadvertently caused Xykon's victory and, even while dying, she refused to admit that she had ever done wrong. She doesn't contest the spirit of Lord Soon's assertions that she failed to earn redemption, and simply asks whether she will be able to see her beloved horse and Only Friend Windstriker again. When Soon says yes, Miko calmly says "I can live with that," before expiring.
  • Schlock Mercenary: When an Eldritch Abomination piloting a ridiculously large ship appears in the Unioc home system, it announces its presence by throwing a planet at someone. The system security forces, knowing they are hopelessly outmatched, decide to broadcast all the information they are collecting unencrypted on all channels in the hopes that someone will learn something from their deaths. They also unleash their weapons targeting as wide an array of surface features as they can; standard tactics would be to concentrate fire, but they know they're dead anyway so they're just looking for weak points someone else might be able to exploit.
    Captain: Keep streaming. Our next task is to show everyone what the monstrosity uses to kill us.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: After ending up locked up with an unconscious Lalli in a bathroom with trolls trying to break down the door and others running under the window, Emil decides to accept his fate and wait for the door to be broken down. This gets desconstructed to a degree when Lalli regains consciousness a few minutes into the situation, as his own check out the bathroom window reveals that all the trolls have now gone inside the house to be able to access the bathroom through the door, making a window escape doable. Emil would have found this out his own if he hadn't been too resigned to check again.

    Web Original 
  • In Ask Serious Rainbow Rainbow Flash did this after Twilight tortured her and left her to bleed to death, leaving her final words on a tape recording and absolving her friends of any role in her murder, before asking Pinkie to Mercy Kill her. This impressed a god enough that he gives Rainbow Flash a new chance at life as Rainbow Dash, who eventually becomes Serious Rainbow.
  • Played for laughs in episode two of Camp Camp:
    Nikki: "I want a Viking funeral! Light me up!"
    • Earlier in the same episode, when Max is convinced The Quartermaster is going to kill him:
    Max: (Gets ready to die) Well, I guess Nikki was right. Enjoy wearing my skin!
    • Luckily, neither of these instantses resulted in death... not counting small animals.
  • Carmilla the Series shows Danny, having been just backstabbed by Smug Snake Theo, spending her last moments trying to comfort a distraught Laura who, falsely believing Carmilla has abandoned her, is in the process of crossing a Despair Event Horizon.
  • Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel dies alone, scared, humiliated and tearful, but calls out everything wrong with his ending by making sure his author knows how what an awful writer he is for this.
    • For their part, Tacoma, Quinn, Karl and Rebecca lie-reassure him that they'll be fine and he'll see them again before fading away into nothing.
  • Of all creatures, Cell does this in Dragon Ball Z Abridged: while he's getting beaten by Gohan and destroyed, he sings "My Way" while flashing back to his life and accomplishments. It'd actually be quite moving if Cell wasn't a genocidal maniac.
    • Played far more for laughs with his Alternate Universe counterpart, who tries to do the same, but only had a few minutes of screentime so he can't even get past the first line before dying.
  • In Freddie Wong's Medal of Honor Cat, the titular character manages this, despite being a cat. He stares directly into the scope of the sniper that's about to shoot him, with a look that promises the gunner a much less one-sided rematch in the afterlife.
  • Red vs. Blue:
  • The Prince in Reversal Of The Heart, when confronted by the dragon who's child he had killed in the beginning of the film, he makes no attempt to resist and just looks down remorsefully and accepts his fate, as her fire engulfs him. Though whether he died or... something else happened is hard to say for sure.
  • The choose-your-own-adventure zombie game The Sagittarian 2 has one ending in which you're bitten and immediately confronted by another survivor. Your two options are to allow him to kill you or to try to fight for survival. Both come to the same ending, but one allows you to face it with dignity.
  • Tabletop had an episode where Wil and friends play the Dragon Age tabletop RPG, with a scenario involving a mysterious ghost tower. The group concludes that the tower came from the Fade and then ponder about what would happen if the tower goes back to the Fade. Wil suggests that if they are destined to, they shall go with the Fade... Cue his party immediately rejecting that idea.
  • Not all of them actually die, but everyone in To Boldly Flee. The reviewers go into the Plot Hole talking about their first reviews, the villains end up quoting Shakespeare, and The Nostalgia Critic makes a Peaceful in Death Heroic Sacrifice.
    • He got saved both times, but Critic tried for the trope even earlier in Suburban Knights, when he was all-too-willing to get stabbed in the neck or beheaded by the pitiful Jaffers.

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Tom's last smoke

Looking that there is no escape from being hit by a falling anvil, Tom digs his own grave and has a last smoke before the inevitable deadly hit happens

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