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Go Out with a Smile

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This trope is under discussion in the Trope Repair Shop.

"...he was found in the morning stretched upon the floor, with a placid smile upon his face, as though he had been able in his dying moments to look back upon a useful life, and on work well done."

Death is rarely a cause for celebration, as it is a permanent goodbye to the world you love.

Sometimes, however, the pain of seeing you cry hurts the one who is about to depart more than imminent death itself, and in spite of agonizing pain or being crippled beyond saving, summons up all their courage to sincerely smile one last time for you (or alternatively laughing softly); a final gesture that beyond all doubt affirms their love for you. If the one smiling in question is a girl (especially if she is an Anime or Video Game character), her final smile will be the single most painfully cute thing you will ever see besides a box of kittens.

It makes a lasting impression as a pretty dignified way to go. Usually reserved for the finales of heartfelt stories or the climax of a Bittersweet Ending.


The Mercy Kill may have the dying person evince some self-awareness to show this; similarly, this might be part of Dying as Yourself.

If the character in question has been The Stoic or an Emotionless Girl it might be a case of Death Equals Emotion.

Compare Die Laughing, Died Happily Ever After, and Tearful Smile. Often paired with Pietà Plagiarism, Cradling Your Kill, or Comfort the Dying. See also Let Them Die Happy if the dying character is cheered up by well-meaning lies and Thanatos Gambit if the character is content to die in order to achieve some objective. See also Final First Hug and Last Kiss. Sometimes crosses with Out with a Bang. Unless the body dissolves or is destroyed, usually results in Peaceful in Death.

Contrast Dying Smirk, where characters die with spiteful or ironic (rather than peaceful) grins, smirks, and laughs.


NOTICE: It is highly likely that simply reading through the examples will be a Tear Jerker for the reader. It is recommended that a box of tissues be handy. And it should go without saying that, being a Death Trope, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.


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  • 7 Seeds:
    • In the Team Winter flashback, it turns out that Fuyuhi died while last smiling at Aramaki. The Fuyuhi that had been following Aramaki since Mitsuru's death was a grieving delusion of his, where he projected his lost friend onto a dog that he had rescued earlier. Nonetheless, the dog-Fuyuhi-illusion smiles before Aramaki realizes what was going on.
    • During the Hail of Corn arc, Mayu and Hyo manage to have a dying-with-a-smile moment. Despite being trapped under rocks from a cave-in and slowly dying from their sustained injuries, they both smile when realizing that, while they aren't going to make it to the future, Koruri will make it just as they hoped she would.
    • The Ryugu Shelter arc reveals that Hana's mother, Miho, died while smiling. A bout of attempted sabotage in the food storage results in the area beginning to be flooded and Miho notices that one of the doors is not shutting properly, so she chooses to push the door closed, to save the rest of the shelter inhabitants. She is last seen smiling at her husband on the other side, while drowning in the flooded storage.
  • In Banana Fish, Ash Lynx was apparently smiling as he lay dying in the library, reading a letter from his soulmate and best friend Eiji.
  • Bleach:
    • In Rukia's flashback, Kaien smiles in her arms after being run through by her sword, saying that he's glad that he can leave his heart there with her.
    • Despite hating her, Loly turns to Orihime and gives her a warm smile right before Yammy smashes her.
    • In his last moments, Ulquiorra, who didn't so much as crack an expression during the whole arc he appeared in, gives a tiny smile to Orihime when she tries to reach his hand as he disintegrates.
    • Unohana smiles as she dies, having fought the greatest battle in her life and pleased that Kenpachi is finally worthy of his title.
  • Chrono Crusade:
    • In the manga Rosette gives Chrono a smile as she tries to reattach his horns with her last breath. But later she comes back to life through sheer force of will. The scene is particularly haunting because Mary Magdalene smiled at the same character before her death, as well.
    • Although it's not shown, Rosette's later death is implied to have happened with a smile: one of the characters say she looked "peaceful" when they found her.
    • In the anime, they use this for their sad ending: Chrono and Rosette are found dead, sitting together on a bench swing with their hands clasped, smiling peacefully.
  • In Code Geass, both Euphemia li Britannia, Lelouch's loving, sweet half-sister, and Shirley Fenette, his head-over-heels in love primary romance interest die with smiles on their faces.
    • Slightly subverted in the Grand Finale: Right before Lelouch is stabbed by the new Zero (Suzaku), he smiles. But when he's actually dying in Nunally's arms, he has no expression on his face at all (he probably didn't want to look like he planned anything).
    • Also mentioned (but not actually performed) when C.C. tells Lelouch that her wish is to die. Charles is about to steal her "code", making her mortal again, but when Lelouch sees the worried look on her face he yells at her that she should at least die with a smile if this was really what she wanted. In the end, it wasn't.
  • Keisei in Corpse Princess; if he didn't, he'd have turned into an undead monster.
  • Misty Honey from Cutey Honey dies after delivering a cheering speech to the main heroine.
  • In Digimon Adventure, Wizardmon may always have his mouth covered, but while he's dying after taking a fatal attack for Gatomon, it's very obvious he's smiling up at her behind his cloak as he thanks her for her friendship.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z has a lot of those:
      • Goku faces death with a smile every time for the people he loves.
      • Goku's father, Bardock, who tried to kill Frieza to save the Saiyan race. He failed, and just as he was about to die, he saw a vision of his son fighting Frieza and avenging the deaths of their race.
      • Piccolo smiles after his Heroic Sacrifice to save Gohan from Nappa.
      • Vegeta smiles just before his Senseless Sacrifice against Majin Buu.
      • Android 16's death. His last words were to encourage one of his creator's nemeses to protect the planet, something which he had grown to love of his own volition. Of all the deaths in the series, his stands alone, as he was purely mechanical and thus had no afterlife to go to/return from. Poignantly, in a series where Death Is Cheap, Android 16's is one of the few which stuck. Still he died smiling.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, everyone from Universe 2 not only accepts their death with dignity but they do so with a great smile on their faces while preaching about love at the same time.
  • In Fairy Tail, Future Lucy Heartfillia gets shot by Future Rouge after taking the hit for Present Lucy. She asks Lucy to show her Fairy Tail mark (as Future Lucy had lost hers along with the hand it belonged to) as she comforts her past friends, telling them that their adventure is still going and to save the future before smiling at them and passing away.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • This happens near the end with Buccaneer.
    • King Bradley/Wrath plays this trope very well in the manga, admitting aloud that he's lead a long, pleasant life as he is dying. This is almost ironic, as this man is singlehandedly responsible for the genocide of a race of people, as well as the death of 3 main characters, the slaughter of a slew of supporting characters, and the horrific crippling of another. With all this blood on his hands, and without sounding the slightest bit evil or sadistic, he goes out genuinely happy for the fulfilling life he's had.
      Greedling: That's Wrath! ...I see, so we finally got him...[sigh] Bastard dies with that peaceful look on his face... pisses me off.
      • Later played again by the second Greed when Father destroys him. As he dissolves into air and sees that all of his comrades truly were his friends, he realizes his desires are finally complete. His last expression before dying is a small, content smile.
    • Then we have shadow Kimblee, who fades into nothingness after helping Edward, laying the verbal smackdown on Pride, smiling, and doffing his cap one final time.
    • Also, Hohenheim returns to Resembool after the final battle with Father and dies kneeling in front of Trisha's grave.
      • Pinako outright says so.
        Pinako: Spotting him at Trisha's grave. "...Silly old fool. Well, at least you died with a smile on your face, my friend."
    • Lust also goes out with this way.
    • Played with in the 2003 anime version with Greed. After committing Suicide by Cop, he smiles with a peaceful expression. However, his body then contorts in agony before dissolving.
  • In Full Metal Panic!... well, it's not so much touching, but Gauron did die with a very happy smile on his face. It was actually genuine, though, and not very pretty. Apparently his happiness came from causing as much pain as he could to the one he loves.
  • In flashbacks, Shoyou-sensei in Gintama smiles his calm, warm smile at Gintoki right before Gintoki is forced to behead his beloved teacher in exchange for his friends' lives.
    • She did technically smile before, but that was because she covered her face in glue, fixing the expression in place.
  • Even for a trope noted for being sad, Grave of the Fireflies manages to put out a particularly gut-wrenching example with Setsuko's death. She died with a smile on her face... because by that point she was suffering from such horrible malnutrition that she was delirious and reduced to eating dirt, thinking it was food.
  • From Gundam:
    • In the 40th Episode of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, King Izumi Athha detonated his Country's Military Silo to preserve his country's neutrality in a genocidal race war and to buy his daughter, Princess Cagalli, time to escape to space. The trouble is, he has to be there to throw the switch himself. Even after he reveals to her that she is in fact adopted, he tells her with a warm and loving smile "I'm so glad to have been your father" before closing the airlock and spiriting her off to freedom. There was not one dry eye, man or woman, at that Anime Screening in 2003.
      • Immediately following him, Natarle Badgiruel smiles serenely as the Archangel destroys the Dominion, content in the knowledge that she's taking Azrael out with her.
      • Rau Le Creuset is the creepier version of this, dying with a smile after Kira impales him, due to his belief that the entire world will be following him. It's both chilling, and kind of sad at the same time, as you realize what a wreck the man's life truly was.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny ,Stellar smiling sweetly and telling Shinn she loves him right before she dies...
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team did the same kind of thing with Ginias Sakhalin, who goes out with a particularly creepy and detached Psychotic Smirk.
    • In Gundam SEED C.E 73 Stargazer, after ignoring orders to return and exhausting all his Gundam's energy, Shams Couza smiles before he get shot to death by DSSD Astrays.
    • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Schwarz Brudder and Domon's brother Kyouji, who he is robot replica of, smile as Domon destroys the core of the Devil Gundam.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Daguza Mackle enacts a plan that traps the Sinanju and gives Banagher an opportunity to activate the NT-D. After successfully trapping it in with Banagher (if only for a short while) and damaging its Search Eye, Full Frontal retaliates with a his shield-mounted beam saber, and Daguza uses what time he has left to turn to Banagher with a salute and a smile.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam Age, Yurin bears a heartbreaking smile as she died.
  • In the Gungrave anime Brandon/Grave and Harry McDowell both die with a smile. Mika doesn't get to Grave in time to see him die, but she realizes that although Grave is gone from her life, her memory of him and the thought that they'll always be "family" no matter what allows her to smile because she realized that Grave finally found his peace.
    Grave: [to Harry] Let's go home.
    Mika: [smiling through her tears] I know now...that we're a family...and always will be, forever, and ever.
  • A chilling version in Gunslinger Girl. Brainwashed cyborg Henrietta has a smile on her face as she's lying dead after carrying out her Suicide Pact with her beloved handler Jose.
  • Ryoko Asakura of Haruhi Suzumiya, who despite her evil intentions of slicing Kyon to bits with a knife maintains a smile throughout most of her battle with Yuki and keeps a smiling face as she is being dissolved by Yuki. That just makes her more frightening. She doesn't really see the importance of death. In her Image Song, she even states that heartbeats are nothing more than trivial, wave-like patterns.
  • At the end of Heaven's Lost Property Ikaros dies due to a self-destruct sequence. Moments before her body completely disintegrates, she realises that she loves Tomoki and shows him her true smile for the first time in the series.
  • Most of the characters in Hellsing die smiling; this is explained by the fact that all vampires (and a werewolf), as immortal beings, held only one desire: to die.
    • Alucard gives his sanest, most sincere smile in the entire series as he fades away after absorbing Schrodinger.
    • The Major dies this way as well, believing that, even though he ultimately lost in the end, he had made his dream of the ultimate war a reality.
    • Human Pip Bernadotte, who is teasing Seras as he's dying in her arms. Which promptly turns into a moment of awesome, as Pip freely offers his blood and soul, thus enabling Seras to Take a Level in Badass. Also, he gets to live on as Seras' familiar.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, this is both played straight and subverted:
    • Shion smiles (a sad one albeit) in Meakashi-hen when she is falling to her death and mentally promising to not repeat her mistakes; however, it quickly turned into shock when she neared the ground.
    • Played straight with Rena in Onikakushi-hen. She tries to give a delusional and paranoid Keiichi a hug, but is beaten to death.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Parodied by Ami when she has to leave for an interview and left her sister to take care of finding out who stole the pudding from the freezer.
  • In Inuyasha, a fatally wounded Kagura smiles at Sesshomaru as she dissolves into wind. Same goes to Kikyou, dying in Inuyasha's arms as he kisses her for the last time.
  • The head of an orphanage in Itsuwaribito dies smiling after hearing all the orphans had survived the attack by bandits.This is sadly a Let Them Die Happy invoked by the main character, who couldn't stand telling the man all the orphans had in fact been killed in the attack, because doing so would have made the head die experiencing soul-crushing regret.
  • I Wish has Jay. He's part of a race that dies when they become too happy... as K points out, this is good as they would die happy and with a smile on their face.
  • From JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • In K, Totsuka smiles while dying in Misaki's arms.
    Totsuka: Don't... sweat it... It'll all... work out in the end.
    • Later the Red King Mikoto holds out his arms and smiles as Munakata is forced to run him through to prevent his powers from destroying everything around them.
  • In Kekkaishi, Gen dies like this after realizing Kaguro's swords suppressed his regeneration. It was the only time Yoshimori and Tokine saw him smile.
  • Key/Visual Arts loves this stuff.
    • Misuzu Kamio of AIR. Her final smile for her true mother Haruko is so full of love and so darned adorable.
    • Nagisa's farewell to Tomoya in the CLANNAD movie and the Bad Ending route of the original visual novel, dying after giving birth, was a heartwarming smile of how glad she was to meet her daughter and to have met the love of her life.
  • In the final episode of Last Exile, Alex Rowe dies with a smile after finally carrying out his long-sought vengeance against Maestro Delphine.
  • In Legend of Galactic Heroes, Walter von Schönkopf passed away with a smile after being fatally wounded during the boarding operation against the Imperial supreme flagship Brünhild in episode 108.
  • Izumi Kanata, Konata's mother in Lucky Star, is shown in the manga to bear an angelic smile when she passed on to the next world.
  • Lupin III: Island of Assassins: Done by both Bomber and Ellen:
    • After being fatally wounded by Gordeau, Bomber manages to flash a grin at Jigen and gives him a thumbs up, before activating the bomb he had hidden under his vest in an attempt to take Gordeau with him.
    • Ellen's comes near the end, after taking a bullet to save Lupin, who cradles her during her Last Words. She thanks him for the brief moment they shared off the island and said she'd never forget it... then goes limp in his arms, with a faint smile.
  • Princess Emeraude in the finale of the first season of Magic Knight Rayearth. She even gets to thank the Knights for killing her, which means she's free from the curse that her life as the Pillar was.
  • The first Reinforce in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, who smiles at the crying Hayate and tries to comfort her before finishing her Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Zest also does this for Agito in StrikerS, smiling and telling her that their time together was enjoyable before passing away.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro's Sasazuka, is fatally shot in the face by the series's latest Big Bad. Before he goes, he catches sight of the heroine, Yako, and smiles peacefully to her before the gun goes off.
  • Gai Daigouji from Martian Successor Nadesico is shot just as he's about to put stickers from his favorite cartoon on his Humongous Mecha to celebrate his victory from earlier in the episode... which in hindsight is really, heartbreakingly sad.
  • Medaka Box: Though he doesn't actually die, Zenkichi manages to meet each near death instance with a smile. Naturally, this ends up setting off Medaka.
  • In My Hero Academia, the very serious and moody-looking Sir Nighteye suffers fatal wounds beyond anyone's ability to heal. As he's dying in his hospital bed, he encourages everyone present to inspire laughter and positive energy in the people they're sworn to protect. He then gives the first real smile he's been seen to make as he passes away.
    • When the upgraded Shigaraki attacks with his decay wave, Aizawa is being held in place by a Nomu and thus can't get away. Crust, the Shield Hero, stops and throws a shield to cut the Nomu's arm off to let Aizawa escape, but this delay means he gets caught in the decay wave himself. Even in the midst of what's a presumably painful death, Crust gives a big smile and thumbs-up to Aizawa as he escapes.
  • In My-HiME, Takumi Tokiha, Haruka Suzushiro and Yuuichi Tate smile as they die as results of the HiME Carnival.
    • Shizuru is also smiling as she and Natsuki vanish together. Given that her most precious person had just kissed her and said she truly loved her, even if not romantically, it wasn't a bad way to go.
  • From Naruto:
    • Done by Kakashi before being sliced up, only to reveal that it was just a log he substituted in place of himself.
    • The same thing happened when Naruto took out Itachi with a giant Rasengan, but he smiled because that wasn't Itachi, just a duplicate with a fraction of his power.
    • Played straight then with Itachi's actual death. As he smiles at Sasuke following their fight he says that there won't be a next time and collapses. When it happened, viewers didn't have the context to understand it, and had to join Sasuke in feeling that something, somewhere had Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • The Third Hokage dies with a smile on his face, because he believes despite his death, Konoha will be fine as long as the villagers have the 'Will of Fire'.
    • Jiraiya and Nagato died smiling. Kishimoto likes to have the good guys deaths softened in the knowledge they died at peace, most bad guys don't get such a luxury.
      • Kisame is also an exception, as he appeared to die then he really died sporting a psychopathic grin both times (especially the second).
    • In the anime, Hinata, after being beaten up and thrown around by Pain, gives one last smile to Naruto before the fatal blow is dealt. Sakura heals her after Pain and the now-Kyuubified Naruto leave the village though. Naruto also gets better.
    • The Fourth Hokage Minato and Uzumaki Kushina, die smiling. It's more bittersweet than usual in that they know they've basically doomed their son to a life of pain and woe, but are comforted in the fact that they'll be able to help him when the time comes, and have given him the means to overcome the trials that lie ahead.
    • In chapter 614, Neji smiles as he takes a fatal attack meant for Naruto, in order to save Naruto and his cousin Hinata (who had the same idea as Neji) and thinks that he finally understands why his father willingly sacrificed himself in the past.
  • In Chapter 278 of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Jack Rakan, after delivering a powerful blow to Fate, begins to dissolve into sakura petals just like everyone else hit by Fate's attacks, and he, of all people, combines this with a rather calm, relaxed attitude as he passes on his last words.
    Rakan: [to Negi] So... yeah. I wanted to take responsibility for my generation and clean up these last bits of shit for you...but I guess you're gonna have to deal with it after all.
    Negi: Ra...kan...san?
    Rakan: Sorry. [a few panels later] Ah, well. I'm sure you'll be able to handle it.
    • And then he revives for a moment and does it again.
      Rakan: [to Negi] Heh... See ya around, kid. Don't get consumed by the darkness.
      Negi: Rakan-san!
      Rakan: Don't look back. Keep on moving forward. When a guy keeps his gaze fixed right in front of him...
      Negi: RAKAN-SAN!
      Rakan: The world smiles on him...
      Negi: Raka...n...san...
    • Tosaka did it too, after taking a hit meant for Ako Izumi.
      Tosaka: ...Hah... Are you kidding me? Am I dying to protect some useless little former slave of a girl? I guess I really goddamn well am just... a side character... to the end...
  • From Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Misato does this. Whilst she actually dies alone, bleeding out on the floor until someone blows up the level she's on, she sends off the last person to see her alive by pushing him into an elevator, with her giving him a genuinely loving smile before the doors shut between them and she collapses to the floor.
    • Done with a different yet slightly more badass approach in the manga. After sending Shinji off, two soldiers find Misato waiting with a smile and live grenade.
    • Kaji went out much the same, but with an added "What took you so long?".
  • Rei 2 in the series. Just as her Eva is about to detonate, she hallucinates a smiling Gendo and tearfully smiles back before the kaboom.
  • Ritsuko, whose plan to commit a murder-suicide with Gendo goes up in smoke when Casper disobeys her. Gendo pulls a gun on her and tells her something we don't get to hear. Her response is a bitter smile and calling him a liar before he pulls the trigger.
  • The last shot of Kaworu in the anime is of him smiling and thanking the boy who both gave his life meaning and must kill him.
  • Kagero of Ninja Scroll smiled with warm happiness as Jubei let her experience True Love at last... before expiring from the treacherous wounds inflicted by Genma.
  • One Piece: Dying happy with a tearful smile can almost be considered as a trademark of the manga.
    • It seems that the main reason for this concerning those with the 'Will of D.', is that they live their lives with absolutely no regrets, and most times die for what they lived for. When you lived your entire life as you wanted, at the end, what is there left to do but smile? The fact that Marshal D. Teach/Blackbeard averts this by pleading and blubbering when he thinks he's going to be killed is stated to indicate that he's not a true carrier of this will, despite bearing the initial.
    • Ace's mother, Portgas D. Rouge, died giving birth while smiling and entrusting her child to Garp.
    • Jaguar D. Saul tells a young, terrified Nico Robin to smile and laugh no matter how grim things get, just before Aokiji freezes him solid; the last thing we see before the ice statue of him is shattered is his still-beaming face.
    • During Ace's fight with Blackbeard, he gets close to death, but on his last attempt at overcoming Blackbeard, he smirks and calmly states his intents to make Whitebeard the Pirate King. While he didn't actually die, he showed the D.'s willingness to smile at death.
    • Ace fit in naturally during his actual death, when he dies from his injuries from Taking the Bullet to protect Luffy, and after his Final Speech to those around him, he collapses with a smile knowing that despite having the blood of a "demon" in his veins, despite being a "good-for-nothing," he was truly loved.
    • The newly revealed addition to the 'Will of D', Trafalgar D. Water Law, gets a non-fatal one when Doflamingo, rather than killing him outright, graciously offers to make his death worth something and offers to fulfill one last wish in exchange for having the ultimate ability of Law's Op-Op fruit performed on him: immortality. He agrees, but only if Doflamingo brings Corazon back to life and licks the ass of every Dressrosan citizen he's wronged. He flips him off with a huge grin on his face, taunting him even further, before finally being shot.
    • Aside from the D. family, there is also the death of Belle-mere, and especially her last words to Nojiko and Nami.
    • Dr. Hiriluk toasted to his wonderful life before drinking a concoction that blew himself up. He also got a great speech about how he would never truly die as long as his dream was seen through.
    • Averted with Montblanc Noland. History depicts Noland as giving a big goofy grin at his execution, as portrayed in the book "Noland the Liar". The reality is that he was sobbing hard, not knowing what happened to his new friends on the land of Shandora.
    • Later on, in Brook's flashback, we see the final on-screen moments of Captain Yorki of the Rumbar Pirates. It was only briefly implied in the manga, but the anime version of that scene went for the gold. His crew soon follows suit, when they play their favorite song as they die from poison, so that a recording of it could reach their beloved Team Pet.
    • Fisher Tiger died with a smile after being reassured that after he had freed the slaves from Mariejois and the legends of his adventures, he was a hero of the Fishman Island.
    • Also Queen Otohime after her oldest son Fukaboshi promises her that they will protect Shirahoshi and collect all the signatures that she had long fought for to get from her people so that her dream of co-existing peacefully with humans can be fulfilled.
    • Until the very end, the smile doesn't burn off the face of the Going Merry. Her last words are thanking the crew for taking care of her, and that no matter what, she was happy during her time with them.
    • The aforementioned Corazon died smiling knowing that Law would be free of Doflamingo.
    • All the G5 Marines who are trapped inside a hallway filled with deadly gas are seen by their comrades striking various thumbs-up poses, content that they managed to save Tashigi. Though it's ultimately subverted since they're all saved at the end of the arc.
    • Kozuki Oden went out smiling after enduring an hour of boiling oil while carrying his 9 vassals, followed by Kaido putting him out of his misery with a bullet to the head, knowing full well that his dream of an open Wano will come to pass.
    • Yasu dies with a smile on his face, content that his sacrifice will protect the rebellion. An interesting example, since he can't not smile and laugh after having been fed failed SMILE Fruits, yet it's clear that he would have done so anyway.
  • In Princess Tutu's first-season finale, a ghostly form of Edel smiles and requests a couple to dance together for her one last time, even as her body is burning as a fire to warm someone back to life. Ouch.
  • Ranma ½: Before Akane's eyes close completely, signifying her death, she smiles at Ranma, then lets herself go. It's followed shortly by an Anguished Declaration of Love from Ranma. She wakes up 5 minutes later, but...
  • Sailor Moon: At the end of season 1 of the anime, Sailor Jupiter gives Moon a comforting smile as she dies, telling her not to be sad.
  • Saiyuki: Kanan smiles as she kills herself in front of Gonou (Hakkai), she was trying to smile for his benefit presumably. Yaone would have done exactly the same thing if she'd gone through with it. Hakkai himself when he thinks he's going to be killed smiles, very creepily, as he pulls out his own eye
  • Mamiina in Simoun.
  • In Someday's Dreamers II: Sora, Sora dies smiling in the arms of her mother, after finally fulfilling her late father's request.
  • Sonic X:
    • The revolutionary Molly does this, smiling at Shadow through her windshield before piloting her ship directly into the Metarex fleet.
    • Cosmo also smiles throughout her death scene in the Metarex arc, performing a Heroic Sacrifice by turning herself into a gigantic tree to immobilize the arc's Big Bad so Tails could shoot him, knowing that she'll be taken as well.
    • Maria Robotnik in X's adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2 is shown smiling after being shot by G.U.N.
  • Soul Eater:
    • Near the end of the anime, Crona, after Taking the Bullet for Maka, dies smiling in her arms, glad that they were finally able to help her. They came back later, but it's the thought that counts.
    • At the end of the manga, Crona seals away Asura on the moon, but Asura keeps a tremendous Slasher Smile the whole time, as he remained confident he'll get out again.
    • Subverted/played with in the very next scene: Spirit, who seems doomed to be killed by the sealing because he was also on the moon, just looks up at Maka and grins while giving her a thumbs-up. He was actually saved at the last second and, more to the point, it's made clear that once Maka couldn't see him but he still thought he was going to die, he stopped smiling and started recoiling in fear and regret.
  • Sword Art Online,
    • Sachi does this right before she's killed. Her death really troubles Kirito, as he was unable to save his four guild members from the obvious trap/ambush room they entered. And even when he found an item to resurrect players, it was useless to him, as it had to be used within ten seconds of a player's death, but by the time he got the item, Sachi had already been dead for six months.
    • Yui smiles sweetly as she gets deleted by Cardinal, telling Asuna to smile too and continue inspiring hope for all the other players. Fortunately, she isn't gone for good thanks to Kirito using his hacking skills save her data as an in-game item.
    • Asuna does this as she pulls a Beyond the Impossible Heroic Sacrifice, jumping in the path of a blade meant for Kirito. She smiles sweetly as she fades away in Kirito's arms and a player's death animation plays. Granted Asuna didn't actually die thanks to Kirito clearing the game before her real-life body was killed by the Nerve Gear, but everyone (herself included) thought she had passed away so the tropes still comes into play.
    • Yuuki, having finally succumbed to her AIDs, in her final moments passes on her OSS to Asuna, tells Asuna that she loved her, and that in the virtual world she truly lived. She then dies peacefully in Asuna's arms, smiling as she does so.
  • Luo Lang from Sword of the Stranger after being fatally wounded by Nanashi following their duel, because he had finally found a worthy opponent who could match his skill in swordsmanship.
  • This happens in the anime version of Tales of the Abyss with Arietta the Wild. Whereas in the game, she just dies miserably, saying "it hurts" and asking where Ion is, in the anime the spirits of her family and Ion appear to personally take her to the afterlife with them. She cries Tears of Joy and reaches to take Ion's hand, and then dies with a content smile on her face.
  • Nia's death in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
    • Same for Kamina, though true to his values and personality, his dying smile is manly and powerful rather than sweet and cute. And hence, the phrase 'Manly tears were shed.'
    • As a member of Team Dai-Gurren, Kittan grinned at how awesome his final act was.
  • Tomorrow's Joe is one of the most famous examples in the anime genre: Joe makes a victory in a finale match against boxing champion Jose Mendoza... but it also ends up as his final match too, as he is last seen in the corner of the ring still and quiet, but with a contented smile on his face. Wordof God said he has unsure if he was dead or alive, and improvised that image.
  • In Toward the Terra, Jonah Matsuka initially seems to have died with a look of numb, wide-eyed surprise, but actually manages to cling to life long enough to telepathically draw Keith, who he was protecting, back from the brink of death before finally expiring with a Tender Tear and a peaceful smile.
  • One of the few instances of actual facial expression in Transformers Cybertron comes in the form of Vector Prime's final smile as he sacrifices himself to save his friends.
  • Trigun:
    • Legato Bluesummers is seen smiling when he dies, both because he caused Vash (his killer) to experience "eternal pain and suffering" by making him break his code of pacifism, and because he died for the sake of his master, Knives (Vash's brother).
    • Both versions of Wolfwood apparently do this, although he has the variation of taking battle damage and then expiring slowly. The anime version goes out kneeling in a church and thinking about his friends. The manga version is sitting on a sofa in a trashed orphanage while the kids he grew up with throw confetti out of an airship to show that they care, and he and Vash share a final drink. The smile doesn't help much with the frustration about his death, since in both cases it could have been avoided.
  • Ikuya Asano in The Twelve Kingdoms. His childhood friend Youko visits his bier to confirm this after seeing a vision of it in her sword, having feared the smile was just her own wishful thinking. Youko is calmed by the sight, though Asano's smile is probably ironic- he spent the entire series trying to find a purpose to play in the plot, only to die before completing the one important task he was given.
  • Subverted in Vandread, when The Stoic Meia performs her Heroic Sacrifice to save Ezra's baby daughter, she smiles (a very rare event!) as she throws herself out of an airlock into space. It turns out, however, that their escape pod has just been picked up by the ship, but she didn't know that.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Following her Heroic Sacrifice, Kisara smiles as she is cradled in Seto's arms and reaches up to tenderly touch his face, just before falling limp.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's:
    • Carly, after her transformation to a Dark Signer, loses the Duel of Darkness against Jack Atlas. She charges him to save the world, smiling as she tells him she'll be cheering for him, and confesses her love as she crumbles into dust. Fortunately, she gets better due to a Deus ex Machina at the end of the season.
    • Bruno isn't so lucky. Having declared that the loser of his duel against Yusei will disappear, he pushes his Delta Eagle to its limits just to get Yusei out the Black Hole they're in and back to the Arc Cradle. While Yusei calls out to him and reaches out, Bruno just smiles in the last shot we get of him.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, the last thing Yusho does before he is carded by Yuri is to smile to Yuya, hoping he'll be able to smile in the face of adversity. This is deconstructed; Yusho's carding results in Yuya going into a blinding rage, breaking free from the Swords of Binding Impact, and angrily confront Yuri in a Duel.
  • Lulu dies like this in Yuri Kuma Arashi, smiling happily in Ginko's arms after Taking the Bullet for her.
  • Yusuke's second death in YuYu Hakusho. It was more than touching...
  • Zombie Land Saga: In episode 9 of ''Revenge'', both Itou and Yugiri when they each die respectively.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 7 episode 50 of Happy Heroes, a close-up of Kalo's mouth shows he's clearly smiling as he says his goodbye and explodes to defeat an army of spaceships attemping to attack Planet Xing.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics
  • The luvcats from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) are so naturally cheerful and full of love that they don't get any less happy even when the changelings invade their cute little village and start draining them. At one point a changeling commander remarks about "still having plenty of these guys left" while holding one of the leftover luvcats who, despite being essentially kept as a food reserve, still smiles joyfully. Even the luvcat that was apparently murdered off-frame by Queen Chrysalis just kept sitting happily in his last seconds while holding a heart-shaped card that said: "Love conquers all".
  • In Transformers: Generation 2, Frenzy goes out grinning maniacally while trying to generate enough sonic energy to repulse the Swarm. Unfortunately, his supercharged sonic generators were too much for his body to handle and Frenzy died the way he'd lived — loud, obnoxious, and shaking everything around him to pieces, including himself.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man #160, Peter Parker dies in Mary Jane's arms with a (fleeting) smile as he realizes he managed to save all his loved ones. However, the issue closes with the more creepy smile on the lips of the dying Norman Osborn.
  • In Zombies Christmas Carol, Scrooge dies happy and content, having learned how wonderful doing good is, knowing he's saved his friends, family, and the world, and undone the plague he caused.
  • The Spirit: In the story "Wild Rice", heiress Rice Wilder escaped the Gilded Cage of her family's wealth and joined a gang of bank robbers. When the Spirit offered to take her back home, she tried to make a run for it, only to get shot by one of the robbers, who thought she had squealed to the cops. As she died, she whispered "I'm finally free," and smiled.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, Derpy's best friend, Carrot Top, kept smiling during her last moments. It's particularly heart-wrenching when Carrot asks Derpy to smile as well, but isn't satisfied at first.
    Carrot Top: Smile, Derpy... I don’t want... to see... to remember your face... being sad... when I will sleep... Please... smile.
  • The Bridge: Grand King Ghidorah smiles right before he is finally killed by Godzilla Junior, Xenilla, and Godzilla Senior, as he believes he has finally achieved his dream of finding beings who are powerful enough to kill his enemy Bagan.
  • In Despair's Last Resort, this is how Shizuka Matsuki dies during her execution. Justified in the fact that she wanted to be caught for her crime and die. Especially after some of her memories returned and she remembered someone who she had a close bond with. She's told that said person is already dead, leaving her no regrets. Upon realizing she murdered, she accepted her fate and decided to go willingly.
  • In Eugenesis, this is how Doubleheader dies, as he blows himself up in an attempt to kill Rodimus Prime.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, Lilith dies happy — her horrible looks gone and her last act ending the Reaper War.
  • In Frostbitten Flower, Jack died suddenly when a tree fell on him. He was still smiling when his wife found him,
  • Prince Miko Shotoku in Game of Touhou, she's been a Death Seeker after her city was plundered and she realized that the royalist forces would face inevitable defeat, and she's finally granted her wish at the hands of Ser Elly Kazami. Her smile comes from her death wish being fulfilled.
  • A Growing Affection has Karin die happy after she convinces Sasuke to give her one Last Kiss.
  • This is what happens to Film Brain in I Have Heard the Voices Dying.
  • Happens in a truly badass fashion at the end of I Did Not Want To Die.
  • In The Legacy of the Blood Ravens, the Force Commander Aramus dies smiling at the night sky in a rare moment of peace in his violent life. He had just singlehandedly defeated the Greater Daemon Ulkair and was left dying from his wounds and the Unclean One's Curse.
  • In National Anthem, Pit gives Toon Link a dying smile to try to make his victory in the Deadly Game version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl easier on him.
  • Claire's mother in The New Retcons died like this, found dead with a smile on her face when waiting to go Christmas shopping with Claire. Particularly heartbreaking in that having found her biological mother Elly Patterson and finding out how dysfunctional her half-siblings are, she was going to make sure the mother that raised her knew how much Claire appreciated it
  • In The North Remembers, Jorah Mormont dies after being wounded by Daario. But in his final moments, he cites the Night's Watch oath along with Tyrion and uses the Valyrian horn that he took from Victarion to bring the dragons back under Daenerys's control. When Daenerys finds him, dying, she screams and runs over to his side, cradling him in her arms. He then goes out smiling, thanking her for letting him be her loyal knight.
  • Viral in Tengen Toppa Gurren Solvernia, after Tsuuma smiles for him one last time, knowing she was safe.
  • Subverted in The Second Try when Asuka smiles as she gives birth to Aki. She and Shinji think she's suffering Death By Child Birth when in reality she just passed out.
  • It's Over, Isn't It (it's only just begun) effectively opens with this, as All-Might takes down All For One for good in their Final Battle. After learning from Nighteye that the villain has died, and receiving reassurance that those he loved most will be taken care of after he's gone, he passes on accordingly:
    The breath leaves him. The smile does not.
  • Half-Life: Full Life Consequences: "John Freeman had Gordon Freeman and saw eyes shut and the breath stopped but Gordon Freeman had smiles on face."
  • An odd, somewhat meta example: When the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic image archive Ponibooru shut down, the last image ever uploaded on it was this.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lester, the protagonist of American Beauty, spends the last minutes of his life looking at pictures of his family, remembering how happy they used to be. His Character Development finally complete, on his way to finding happiness, Lester smiles, murmuring, "Man, oh, man..." as he looks at a picture of his wife... not even noticing the gun to the back of his head. BANG.
  • In Black Swan, Nina dies from an earlier self-inflicted stab wound, overjoyed that she finally gave a "perfect" performance. Whether or not she dies, however, is meant to be up to the viewer.
  • Roy Batty in Blade Runner does his famous 'tears in the rain' monologue with a smile on his face before dying in front of Deckard — a man he had just saved and who was, up to that moment, trying to kill him. In the original cut, Deckard muses a second later. (In the final cut, there is no voiceover, though Harrison Ford manages to convey most of the above monologue through facial expression alone.)
    Deckard: I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments, he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life; anybody's life, my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die.
  • Batman (1989): Discussed. Heartily recommended right before the final battle by the villain. However, his actual facial expression is an unnerving grin or mad laughter rather than a genuine, bittersweet smile.
    The Joker: As my plastic surgeon used to say, "if you've gotta go, go with a smile!"
  • In Battle Royale, Shogo's motivation for returning to another Battle Royale is to find out why Keiko was smiling when he killed her.
  • William Wallace smiles before his death in Braveheart, in part because he sees the spirit of his dead wife among the crowd smiling at him as he is being brutally tortured to death.
  • Played for laughs in Cannibal! The Musical. One character is fatally shot while singing a song. Later, another character remarks how peaceful he looks. The camera cuts to a shot of the corpse with a giant, goofy grin.
  • The Purifier in The Chronicles of Riddick cheerfully commits suicide by strolling into the lethal sunlight of Crematoria with a faint but noticeable smile on his face. Even Riddick was shocked.
  • In Ed Wood, the death of Bela Lugosi is obviously upsetting to both the viewer and to Ed himself. However, just before the scene in which he is revealed to have passed away, Bela is having a conversation with Ed thanking him for helping Bela turn his life around and give him something to be passionate about again. He may have died, but he died at peace.
  • In Field of Dreams, Dr. "Moonlight" Graham smiles twice for Ray's benefit, along with saying a Catchphrase. There is one twist: he's already dead.
  • The Final Girls: Nancy smiles through her Heroic Sacrifice to save Max, even after she realises Billy is beginning to close in on her.
  • In The Fountain, Tom the space traveler finally achieves peace with death moments before the nearby star goes nova. He's smiling as he's vaporized.
  • In Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, the titular character Ghost Dog, having already stoically Faced Death With Dignity is lying in the street after having been shot several times. One of his trained pigeons flies down next to him, which causes him to smile in simple pleasure just before he dies.
  • In Godzilla (2014), Sandra Brody goes out with a tear-stained and strained smile.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Dobby goes out this way, smiling, happy to be with his friends.
  • In He Who Gets Slapped the title character, a clown who is slapped as part of his routine, smiles while dying in the arms of a woman he loves.
  • In I Remember Mama, Uncle Chris dies peacefully in his bed after a final drink. Lampshaded by Mama when she urges Katrin to go and see the dead uncle for his happy look.
  • In most of the film adaptations of Ivanhoe, Bois-Guilbert dies with a smile. Especially present in the 1952 version, where his last act is to wish Rebecca well.
  • GoldenEye: When Bond finds the Canadian admiral, he's in rigor mortis with a huge smile thanks to Famke Janssen's character's Murderous Thighs. Overlaps with Go Out With A Bang and Worth It facial expression.
    Empire Magazine: There can't be too many gentlemen of a heterosexual persuasion who, if asked how they'd want to die, wouldn't tick the box marked "crushed to death between Famke Janssen's thighs".
  • Bill, the titular Big Bad of Kill Bill, in the final moments of his life, not only forgives his murderer (who had all the reason in the world to be pissed at him, and he admits it), but assures her that she is still the love of his life with a gentlemanly smile and by telling her she is a wonderful person.
  • Katsumoto from The Last Samurai. He is smiling just before sustaining his final wound and dies reflecting upon the beauty of the cherry blossoms he is seeing. "Perfect. They are all perfect."
  • Not technically dying, but close enough: In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as Frodo's getting on the boat to the Undying Lands, he turns and gives his friends who are staying behind one last smile.
    • Théoden manages a smile to Éowyn before he dies.
  • In Man of Steel, Jonathan Kent smiles reassuringly at Clark just before the tornado takes him.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, Vision gives Wanda a small smile when she's forced to destroy him to stop Thanos from getting the Mind Stone. Thanos undoes this with the Time Stone and kills Vision in brutal fashion to get the stone. Later, Wanda falls victim to Thanos's snap and is turned to dust, but unlike everyone else who dies, she smiles peacefully when she notices her body falling apart.
    • In Captain Marvel (2019), Talos's "science guy" Norex stays back at Maria's property to distract Yon-Rogg so the others can fly to Mar-Vell's ship without interference. After his disguise is blown and he's fatally shot by Yon-Rogg, he smiles while taunting Yon-Rogg that he's too late.
  • Mr. Dawes Sr at the end of Mary Poppins. After exposure to the Man-With-A-Wooden-Leg-Named-Smith joke, he spends a few minutes mulling the punchline over before starting to laugh riotously. While his son was initially shocked, he would later admit it was a Great Way to Go. "Never seen him happier in his life."
  • In Mr. Deeds, Preston Blake freezes to death after reaching the top of a mountain, with a big smile on his face.
  • Nine Dead: Sully dies with a big smile on his face after refusing any offer of redemption from the captor for the crimes that brought him there.
    Sully: I'd rather go out in style.
  • Star Trek: Generations: Captain Kirk goes out talking after literally getting a bridge dropped on him.
    Captain Kirk: It was... fun. Oh my...
  • Star Wars:
  • The Terminator of Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a variation of this trope. Although he could not cry for the boy that he has come to love but must leave, his "thumbs up" to encourage John to courageously go on living is no less touching.
    T-800: I know now why you cry. But it is something I can never do.
  • In The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe, government intelligence high-up Bernard Milan gets shot along with a bunch of operatives - when he finds out the title character everyone was shooting each other over was just a decoy set up by his long-time agency rival, he manages to laugh about it as he's dying.
  • The ending of Train to Busan has a partially zombified Seok-woo smiling one last time as he thinks of his daughter's birth, just before he throws himself off a moving train.
  • TRON: When the dying Ram realizes that Flynn is a User, and there to help - thus validating the belief he was persecuted for by the MCP.
  • At the end of War for the Planet of the Apes, Caesar smiles as he succumbs to his wounds, knowing that he had brought his brethren to a bountiful new home, with Maurice assuring him that his son Cornelius will remember him and all that he stood for.
  • We Are the Night: While being thrown out of the building and into the sunlight, which causes her to burn up, Louise smiles. This possibly means she's a death seeker at heart, or is after seeing Lena doesn't want her.
  • What a Way to Go!: Workaholic Edgar Hopper says triumphantly "A little hard work never killed anybody!" his smile contorts to a grimace and he keels over dead.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand:
    • Xavier gives Wolverine one last smile before he gets disintegrated. This is made all the more emotional since the last time the two really talked, they were arguing.
    • Done one more time in the movie by Jean. Coincidentally, Wolverine happens to be at this scene too. When Jean briefly stops her violent rampaging, she implores him to save her from her Phoenix side by destroying her. He responds with his adamantium claws in her gut, and she goes out with a relieved smile.

  • In the short story "Call me Joe", when a man is dying (after dumping most of his mind into an artificial body, similar to the ending of the Avatar), the doctor remarks that he saw many people who didn't want to live, but this is the first one to smile until the last moment.
  • Found in Cat's Cradle. In the final sentence of his book, Bokonon proposes taking a handful of ice-nine and freezing himself with a grin on his face, simultaneously thumbing his nose at "You Know Who."
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 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 the dying Leonid, thus giving him the courage to set off a grenade, killing them and the Chaos forces that could have pursued those of their party who could escape.
  • In Dracula, every vampire that gets killed leaves a smiling corpse, with the implication that their vampiric nature was a curse they're glad to be free of. Even Dracula himself, in the moment between his death and his body crumbling to dust. Van Helsing stated that this was the main reason he was able to keep executing the helpless brides — because he was saving their souls by doing so. Quincy Morris died this way as well after taking down Dracula and saving Mina's soul from his taint.
    "And, to our bitter grief, with a smile and in silence, he died, a gallant gentleman."
    • In Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape, the Count hangs a somewhat cynical lampshade on this by observing that nothing seems to make a vampire look more 'at peace' to breathing humans than the knowledge that he or she is finally safely dead.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Gatherers generally facilitate it for their clients to go peacefully by weaving pleasant dreams for those who are about to depart to Ina-Karekh for good. It's the only way to gain the dying person's agreement to gather their dreamblood.
  • In The Dresden Files, Shiro dies with a smile on his face. He was old, kind, and sacrificed himself for Harry. It is quite possible that Harry never entirely gets over it.
    • He is cited as a reason by Harry, with Sanya's support, to go out and kill the Denarians as fast as possible. When another of his friends, Michael, is severely injured, Harry loses it. Spectacularly.
    • Back in Fool Moon, MacFinn does this after Harry puts him down.
    • In Small Favor, Magog's host dies, not precisely smiling, but with a relaxed, almost beatific expression, as though he had simply lain down to rest. Harry is left with the distinct impression that Elder Gruff's killing spell was painless, because it was the sort of thing the Summer enforcer would do. The host being free of his Fallen for the first time in Lord knows how long probably helped.
  • Data offers one of these to Riker, via shuttlecraft viewscreen, in the Star Trek TNG novelization, Ghost Ship moments before being snatched up by some huge, malevolent, ship devouring entity and having his "life essence" sucked out of him. There's a bitter tang to it, in that Data was trying to prove to himself he was actually alive enough to die in the first place, and Riker had just told Data that it didn't even matter and he had finally let go of his prejudices (which a couple of the writers like reminding us of) and now considered him to be "alive" instead of just a machine, moments earlier.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the last book, Fred is crushed in a bomb-like explosion laughing.
    • Sirius, whose laughter "Had not quite died from his face" before falling through the veil.
  • A variant: At the end of The Amber Spyglass, as Will is about to seal off the window between his and Lyra's world, sundering them forever (and as Will thinks "Being cheerful starts now"), they take one last look at each other, and Lyra smiles through her tears. They share their Last Kiss at this moment, and then, Will closes the window.
  • In Holes, Kathleen Barlow ("Kissin' Kate Barlow") is taken in for arrest, to be tortured for information. Before they can do anything to her, however, a Yellow Spotted Lizard bites her on the ankle, which causes a slow, painful death; and Kate dies laughing, as "there was nothing more they could do to her now", and the knowledge of the location of her loot would die with her.
  • Rue from The Hunger Games. Katniss sings to her as she dies, and she smiles at Katniss.
  • In Jurassic Park, Malcolm, after chapter upon chapter of getting angry at Hammond's ignorance and scientists in general, dies with a smile. He gets better, though.
  • In Les Misérables, Enjolras gives one of these to Grantaire before they are killed.
  • The Little Match Girl has the titular character freezing to death in the cold streets with a smile on her face, as she was able to join her grandmother in heaven.
  • From The Lord of the Rings has Boromir do this after making a heroic Last Stand.
    Boromir smiled... But Boromir did not speak again.
  • In Love Story, Jenny retains her trademark sarcastic wit even when she's dying of her illness.
  • In The Neverwinter Saga, Bruenor dies peacefully and happily in the final battle of Gauntlgrym after a long, fulfilled life, having rediscovered two mythic ancestral homelands and saving the continent from further destruction by a fire primordial.
  • In Wilfred Owen's poem, "S.I.W." (stands for "self-inflicted wound") a soldier kills himself to escape an incomprehensible hell. His comrades bury the gun with him, and all they tell his mother is that he died smiling - which is true.
  • Silena Beauregard in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
  • Peter Pan sort of fits into this trope: at one point, Peter has saved Tiger Lily but thinks he is going to drown. At first he is scared, but then he stands up, grins, and says "To die would be a very big adventure." However, the only person around to hear him is the reader. He lives through this.
  • Felldoh the squirrel from the Redwall book Martin The Warrior dies this way.
  • In a short story by Robert Sheckley, a planet has a civilization of Death Seekers, who believe that the only way to heaven is violent death, the more painful, the better (with every person having his own death, so wars are nonexistent). Naturally, whenever that is achieved (whether by real accident, through priests' decision, or by self arranged "accidents"), the trope is followed most literally, including with one guy who sawed a thorny bush until it fell on him (took him an hour to die).
  • In Smaller & Smaller Circles, Alex Carlos manages this as the police mow him down, perhaps the only time in his sad life he could afford one.
    Jerome: He smiled, Gus. Smiled before he died.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Tywin Lannister who almost never smiled in life practically grinning during his funeral. This is something of a subversion because most of the characters are convinced that his mouth is twisting as a side effect of the corpse rotting, but Tywin's sister Genna seems to hope that it is this trope. Jaime meanwhile, is mildly amused by it:
    Jamie: He seems to enjoy being dead.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Thrawn, after he is finally defeated and then stabbed by his bodyguard, smiles and tells Pellaeon "But... it was so artistically done," before his eyes go out.
    • Jedi Knight Jai Maruk in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. Frustrated by how his skill and the light side of the Force are not enough to overcome Asajj Ventress, he nearly gives in to the dark side, but resists, and finds it within himself to redouble his efforts, holding his foe off for that much longer. It's enough to put a smile on his grim face when he finally falls.
  • Sydney Carton from Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities: "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord?"
  • In They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Gloria often tells her only friend, Robert that she wishes she were dead, and finally asks him to shoot her because she doesn't have the courage to kill herself. He obliges, and at the beginning of the book, recalls her expression as she died: "She was relaxed and comfortable and she was smiling. It was the first time I had ever seen her smile." (She is similarly serene in death in the 1969 film adaptation.)
  • Jim Gardener in Stephen King's The Tommyknockers dies smiling, because, as he lays dying, he has a happy dream.
  • In Extremis, Japanese powermonger Yamaoto smiles when he discovers that John Rain is in his hospital room and about to kill him because he's just sent assassins to kill his ex-girlfriend and their son, so he'll get revenge from beyond the grave.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the end of Angel, Wesley dies that way while Illyria's "lying to him" and taking Fred's appearance.
  • Band of Brothers has an incredibly dark variant of this. When Easy Company catches a German battalion by surprise, Lt. Winters leads the charge and he is faced with a young German soldier (a teenager) who stares at Winters and smiles and gives a mocking shrug before he is gunned down. It's Subverted later on with Winters' recollection of the event, the boy actually gave him an Oh, Crap! expression a split second before he was shot. Winters is traumatized by the event for the rest of the episode and he is put on leave.
  • Walter White of Breaking Bad dies of a gunshot wound from his M60 after using it, and some ricin, to wipe out all of his enemies, getting Skyler a deal for the DEA, leaving money behind for his children and, unexpectedly even to him, eventually saving Jesse, all in one final, brilliant gambit. The final scene has him walking through the meth lab, nostalgically and lovingly before dying while Badfinger's "Baby Blue" plays in the background, signifying he's dying alongside his greatest love, his blue meth.
  • Used quite a lot in Chinese Paladin, Yue'Ru smiles briefly at her friends as she throws them to safety prior to her Heroic Sacrifice. Elder Shi smiles as he tells his son how much he loves him. Jinyuan manages a pained smile as he gives the heroes critical information on the last move of his Xanatos Speed Chess.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Several incarnations of the Doctor have gone out this way before regenerating:
      • The Third Doctor uses his last moments to comfort Sarah Jane. "A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don't cry. While there's life, there's..."
      • The Fourth Doctor, despite being clearly terrified and in pain, suddenly flashes his trademark Cheshire Cat Grin in a final moment of defiance before he quietly says his last words and dies.
      • The Ninth Doctor spends the moments leading up to his regeneration joking and smiling with Rose in a slightly forced way. He then flashes a genuine ear to ear grin as he begins regenerating, after a fond farewell to Rose. Number 10 reawakens from the regeneration still smiling and ready to resume the pair's trip to (the planet) Barcelona.
      • The War Doctor regenerates smiling, knowing that he has regained the title of the Doctor even if he'll forget he saved Gallifrey.
      • Having spent long enough in his current body to grow old, the Eleventh Doctor delivers one last speech, removes his bowtie for the final time, and gives Clara one last sad-but-reassuring smile before regenerating into his next body.
      • The Twelfth Doctor, after spending a few weeks resisting regeneration and wishing to die for good, accepts the change, gives his successor some advice, and gives a tired smile before letting the regenerative energy loose.
    • "Bad Wolf": The Controller of the Gamestation goes out this way after she tells her masters (the Daleks) that she has "brought their destruction" (the Doctor).
    • In "Last of the Time Lords", the Master technically gets to do this as he dies; he taunts the Doctor for not being able to save him, thus meaning the Master finally wins over the Doctor.
    • River Song's final words to the Doctor in "Forest of the Dead" are a tearful, smiling "Spoilers."
  • Nathan Stark in Eureka smiles as he sacrifices his life to save the universe. He's frozen in that position for a second before disintegrating.
  • Beautifully done in Farscape. After absorbing a lethal amount of radiation, the clone of John Crichton smiles at Aeryn Sun and delivers one of the most heartbreaking lines in the series. "Don't worry about me, I've never felt better."
  • Henrietta "Etta" Bishop in Season Five of Fringe when Olivia tells her that she loves her.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Aemon Targaryen dies peacefully of old age while hallucinating that he's a young boy playing with his little brother.
      Aemon: Egg, I dreamed I was old.
    • Ygritte dies in Jon's arms with a faint smile and one last utterance of her catchphrase. It's still visible on her face even as Jon lights her funeral pyre.
  • Archie Kennedy in the sixth installment of the Horatio Hornblower mini-series, after saving Horatio's life and career. Albeit something of a tearful-looking smile (and largely there for Horatio's sake) but still one that could light up a room.
  • Justified has Johnny Crowder. About to be executed by his cousin, he lives long enough to watch the latter's goons screw up a drug transaction and dies laughing about it.
  • In [The Incredible Hulk (1977) The Death of The Incredible Hulk]] David has a smile on his face while dying as himself after a fall out of a helicopter because the pain of his dual existence is finally over.
  • Philip in Kamen Rider Double. Large portions of the episode are devoted to the characters wanting to make sure he does so, rather than go out in pain.
  • In Lexx, the original Zev and the resurrected Kai die with a smile and a laugh, respectively.
  • Lost:
    • In the episode "Through the Looking Glass", Charlie gives one last smile before he drowns.
    • And in the finale Jack smiles as he lies dying and watches the plane carrying the remaining survivors fly overhead.
    • In "This Place is Death", a seriously ill Charlotte smiles as she regresses back to her childhood before suddenly dying seconds later.
  • In The Mentalist, Bosco not only smiles himself but manages to make a tearful, distraught Lisbon who loves him (and they've just had an Anguished Declaration of Love), smile. Just the most heart-wrenching death.
  • Merlin:
    • Lancelot is captured and about to be executed after securing Guinevere's escape from a warlord's keep. When he's threatened with a slow and painful death, he only gives a beautific smile and tells them that because Guinevere is safe, he dies happy. Only for the men to drag a recaptured Guinevere back into the arena. Subverted as Prince Arthur saves them both anyway.
    • At the start of the fourth series Lancelot gets another chance, and manages it this time when he walks into the veil into the spirit world, thereby healing the rift between the worlds.
    • Lancelot gives a final dying smile in Lancelot du Lac. After spending most of the episode as a Soulless Shell, Merlin frees him at the end. He thanks him and smiles, and Merlin gives him a Viking Funeral on the waters of Avalon.
  • Kendrix from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. She gave up her life to stop Psycho Pink's ever-growing power, and to retrieve Cassie's morpher. She slashed the sword and dies in the explosion. Her ghost appears before the Lost Galaxy and Space Rangers, telling them that she's okay and that she'll always be there for them.
  • In Robin Hood, Marian dies with a smile on her face as she finally marries Robin (despite the sword impaling her stomach).
  • The first episode of Rome depicts Caesar's daughter Julia dying in childbirth with a disheveled and heartbroken Pompey at her side. She asks his forgiveness for having a stillborn baby, tells him to kiss her and then dies giggling at his messy hair.
  • Smallville:
    • Right before Jonathan Kent succumbs to his heart attack, he attempts to smile one last time to his family and tell them "I love you."
    • After a brutal fight with Clark, Titan realizes he has been fatally impaled by his own arm-spike. He smiles while stating "Good fight" and drops dead.
  • In Sons of Anarchy s05e03 Opie, just before receiving a fatal blow to the head from a lead pipe, delivered by a member of a rival gang. Also, Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Nepenthe", as Hugh's life is slipping away, he smiles at Elnor because he's grateful to the young man for giving him hope again. Jonathan Del Arco also elaborates that Hugh is content to die in Elnor's arms because he's in love with him.
      Del Arco: [...] we shot the death scene last (same day) at that point it was about [Hugh's] love for Elnor and letting go.
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", as Picard is dying, he grins at Soji because he's glad that she made the right choice, and he affectionately smiles at Elnor, who's the closest thing he has to a son.
  • Subverted in the Supernatural episode "No Rest For The Wicked". Dean might have smiled at his crying brother but it's one of those smiles that you do when you're trying to be brave, trying not to throw up from fear and trying not to cry yourself. And then he sees the Hellhound come to kill him, freaks and runs into another room with Sam and Ruby, and is torn apart in there a few minutes later while Sam watches helplessly.
  • In the second season finale of Torchwood, Tosh has been gut-shot by Jack's brother. As she's lying on the floor, bleeding out, Jack and Gwen find her. You think for a second that they made it just in time to save her, but when Tosh looks at Jack with a smile on her face, Jack gives her a pained smile back and she dies looking at him.
  • In The X-Files episode "The Unnatural", Josh Exley is a gray alien shapeshifter who has disguised himself as an African-American minor league baseball player in the 1940s. When his secret is discovered, he explains that his race doesn't understand fun and don't have a word for laughter, and he needed to pretend to be human for that. When he is ultimately killed by the relentless alien bounty hunter, he inexplicably bleeds red human blood. He stares at it in surprise for a moment, then smiles, laughs, and dies.

  • Played with in the record "You gotta face disaster with a smile" by Count Jim Moriarty in The Goon Show.
  • The final saga in the seven planet wars/Unsheathed the sword and then he charged forward/His eyes flashed behind the cracked cockpit glass/He let out a laugh and then all she heard was a blast like *BOOM*
  • From Nightwish:
    • In the music video for "The Islander", an old ship captain turned lighthouse keeper commits suicide by tying an anchor to his legs and then pushing said anchor off a very high ledge (in the song itself, it's meant to be a ship out on the water). He's smiling just before being dragged to his death.
    • The song The Poet and the Pendulum mentions that Tuomas, the Poet, died this way.
      He was found naked and dead, With a smile in his face, a pen and 1000 pages of erased text
  • This trope underlies the World War 1 British song "Pack Up Your Troubles in an Old Kit-Bag (and Smile, Smile, Smile)".
  • The end of the chorus of "Fences" by Paramore features the line: 'So smile/'Cause you'll go out in style.'
  • Queen:
    • "The Show Must Go On".
      I'll face it with a grin
      I'm never giving in
      On with the show!
    • The video to "These are the Days of Our Lives" was filmed in black-and-white to detract from Freddie's illness. At the end, he looks directly at the camera and says 'I still love you', his last recorded words.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Some versions of the John Henry story have him smiling right before dying from overwork after winning a race to see who can cover a length of track the fastest.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: Dual Strike has a minor one with Andy's clone near the end of the game. All of the clones in this game apparently suffer from rapid degeneration that causes them to die after their featured mission. However, the Andy clone hangs on long enough to ask everyone what the real Andy is like, and hearing them praise his original allows him to die happy.
  • Several of the major assassination targets in Assassin's Creed I deliver their final words with smiles at Altaïr, usually because they're convinced that even in death their plans are still going to be completed. Robert de Sable's smile is a bit crueler; he delivers it firm in the belief that Altaïr will be killed by his own master, al-Mualim, and that all of Altaïr's work will be for nothing now that he's delivered the Holy Land into his hands.
  • Asura's Wrath:
    • After an epic battle with his pupil, Augus dies smiling, content that his last battle was as exhilarating as he had hoped, even giving Asura his blessing.
    • Yasha dies smiling after his last battle with Asura, in hope that the now powered up Asura can save the world.
    • And finally, in the DLC ending, Asura himself dies after destroying Chakravartin and removes Mantra from the universe. As he fades away, he accepts his death and gives his sobbing daughter one last smile, finally free of his wrath.
  • In Back to the Future: The Game, after Citizen Brown was run over by Edna Strickland, he asks Marty to see the 1986 newspaper — and sees that their changes to the timeline have resulted in him becoming a respected scientist like he dreamed when he was younger. He smiles as he fades out of the restored timeline.
  • The Joker, true to form till the end, in Batman: Arkham City.
  • In The Binding of Isaac against the Isaac boss, the third form has him smile widely as he grows angelic wings. What this means in conjunction with the fact that by this point Isaac himself is slowly dying is left to interpretation.
  • From BlazBlue:
    • In the True Ending of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, just as Hazama is about to deliver the killing blow to Ragna, Lambda teleports in front of Ragna and takes the blow for him. She dies peacefully in Ragna's arms while telling him how much she loves him and how happy she was to sacrifice herself for him.
    • And the last game Central Fiction is full of these.
      • Hazama jumps into the cauldron with a smile. Subverted, as the assumption is he'll end up in Naoto's world.
      • Terumi dies laughing and cursing Ragna after Ragna delivered the final blow.
      • Ragna smiles just before he erases himself. Possibly subverted, as we don't know his true final fate.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Tyalie is last seen smiling brightly and waving at the camera during the True Ending. She’s alive and well at the time, so it’s not an example of this trope… unless you watched her final support scene, in which she explains to the player that she knows she’s fictional, and that she’ll cease to exist as soon as the game ends and the credits roll.
  • Crypt Of The Necrodancer: After Aria destroys the Golden Lute, she is seen smiling as she slumps to the ground, knowing she's put an end to the Lute's curse.
  • Although he doesn't die, Sergeant Cyrus from Dawn of War believes in this. As he knows that he will die one day in battle, regardless of his skill or experience, he's come to realize that death is not exactly the best thing to do. When Sergeant Thaddeus asks him, Cyrus merely tells him to save some of the victory feelings he gets when he has beaten a very tough opponent, so that when the end does come, you can remember the feeling you got when you won and not have bad things to consider.
  • In Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, after her plans have been foiled, Zara starts to cry... until the player character offers to hold her hand. Zara smiles peacefully and takes her hand, and disappears.
  • In Dragon Age II Leandra, Hawke's mother, dies smiling in her child's arms after telling him/her how proud she is of him/her.
  • Considering he's a flaming skeleton, you better believe Xan of DragonFable did this...but then he got better.
  • Used cynically by Geese Howard at Terry or Andy's ending of Real Bout Fatal Fury. As he pushes himself out of either Bogard's grip, Geese Howard grins and laughs maniacally during the fall to his death, saddling Terry (if you play with him) with the guilt of having orphaned Geese's son Rock (much the same way he orphaned Terry and Andy).
  • Several examples in Final Fantasy:
    • Though it probably wasn't intentional (as Word of God states she was not making a Heroic Sacrifice) Aerith's final sweet smile before her death in Final Fantasy VII broke the hearts of thousands of gamers.
    • In Final Fantasy XII Judge Drace smiles as Gabranth kills her because he's promised to take care of Larsa in her stead.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, the Yeul of 200AF (the one who likes to pick flowers) dies smiling after seeing a vision of a happy version of Academia in 400AF, where there is no proto Fal'cie.
    • As did Zack in the ending of Crisis Core, even though everyone already knew he was going to die.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV Louisoix Leveilleur dies saving the player character's life. Once the heroes are safely away, the old elezen looks at the ultimate attack Bahamut sends at him and is content.
      • Later on, in Heavensward, Haurchefant Greystone serves as both an example and an inversion. His last words are asking the Warrior of Light to smile, as it "better suits a hero". They oblige, and he smiles in return before dying.
  • From Fire Emblem:
    • Used in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. In the last chapter, you have to fight the morphs of major bosses from earlier in the game. Their faces relax into relieved smiles as you kill them.
    • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Volke tells Ike his mother died smiling as she freed Greil from his berserker rage. From the same game, this is also how Rajaion dies.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening does this with your avatar should you choose to deal the finishing blow to Grima. Before your avatar fades away, s/he turns to Chrom and bids him farewell with a final wave. Along with a unique voice clip, your avatar is seen with a cheerful expression. (Subverted in that the Avatar is later found, alive.)
      Robin: May we meet again, in a better life...
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
      • There's a potential example with Kaze in the Birthright route. Should you not get him up to an A-Support with Corrin before Chapter 15, Kaze will save them from falling off a cliff, only to end up falling off it himself. His final line features him smiling in relief that he was able to save them.
      • There's also something of an inverted example at the very end of Birthright. Azura's the one dying, and she asks Corrin to smile for her, so the last thing she can see is them smiling instead of crying.
      • Meanwhile, in the Conquest route, both Ryoma and Takumi (the second time) give you reassuring smiles right before dying.
  • In the finale of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, when King Volechek gives his life to end the Grave Eclipse, the player is treated to one final look at his character portrait, closing its eyes with a smile as the screen fades to white.
  • Daniella from Haunting Ground smiles after a shard of glass impales her from above. When you examine her body, Fiona mentions that, after she had shown no emotions save for homicidal fury, she was now grinning from ear to ear. Although there's no direct explanation given, fans speculate that either Daniella felt the sensation of pain for the first time, something that she (being a homunculus) could not ordinarily experience, or that she hated herself and that dying was a relief.
  • From Kingdom Hearts:
    • Sora from Kingdom Hearts smiled, before he stabbed himself with Xehanort's dark keyblade to free Kairi. It just turns him into a Heartless.
    • After spending his entire life angsting at how he is just an imitation of the real one, Riku Replica does this in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories where after the real Riku comfort him in his dying moments, Repliku goes out with a smile on his face.
      Repliku: A faithful Replica until the very end. That's... okay.
    • Axel smiles before fading away into nothingness after his suicide attack on the Dusks in the sequel, Kingdom Hearts II.
    • And in 358/2 Days, after Roxas defeats Xion in a boss battle, Xion smiles at Roxas one last time in his arms as she fades away.
  • Just before being erased out of existence, Ash Crimson smiles one last time for his childhood friend Elizabeth.
    Ash: Sorry Betty. I'm out of ti-
  • Kirby Star Allies: After defeating Void in Soul Melter EX, he gives off Kirby's smile as he explodes with stars flying out of his body.
  • Trails Series:
    • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, Loewe dies smiling after he manages to rescue his little brother and finally understood what it was like for Karin — his dead girlfriend and Joshua's older sister — to sacrifice her life to save her little brother.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III has Millium dying with a smile on her face, content that she managed to save Rean and Altina from the Nameless One. Its sequel, Cold Steel IV has Rean, Crow, and Millium dying in the normal ending with smiles to their faces as they disperse the curse of Erebonia for good.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has Byrne/Staven who, in the final battle against Malladus and Chancellor Cole, his former masters, conjures a forcefield that lets Zelda reclaim her body. As a result of this, he is killed with a spell that completely and utterly destroys him. His last words to Zelda are a laugh with "Didn't you say you wanted words with me?"
    • The Legend of Zelda: Another variation is made with Zelda. A variation in the fact that she doesn't die, but she locks herself in a crystal to fall into a deep sleep for thousands of years, to keep Demise at bay - which could be considered similar to death. After Link promises to wake her up, you can see her tearfully smile behind the crystal just before she falls asleep. She does, however, wake up later in the game.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect:
      • Several people go out like this: If you convince Saren to off himself, he whispers "thank you," and his face looks, if not smiling, then at least calm (he is a turian, whose facial anatomy doesn't exactly make smiling like a human particularly easy or obvious).
      • Several of your squadmates do something like this if they die during the suicide mission.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • This exchange:
        Shepard: I'm sorry.
        Mordin: I'm not. Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.
      • Anderson dies with a peaceful smile after telling Shepard how proud he is of her/him. Shepard seems ready to do the same before a call from Hackett and an intervention from the Catalyst pull her/him out of it.
      • While he can't physically smile, Legion's dialogue gives this vibe if peace is achieved between the geth and quarians.
        Tali: The answer to your questionnote , is yes.
        Legion: I know Tali, but thank you. Keelah se'lai.
  • Iris in Mega Man X4. Unfortunately, in the US version, this is also one of the most infamous Narm moments.
  • Persona 3:
    • The Main Character reaches up to dry Aigis's tears and gives her a heartfelt smile before falling asleep for eternity.
    • In the final scenes of the game, the sociopath Takaya limps up to the top of Tartarus to laugh in the party's face as, despite all their efforts, Nyx is still coming to end all life. Even though the heroes hadn't injured him fatally, he collapses on his back and smiles to welcome the end, thinking of his (dead) partner Jin, implying that he willed himself to die as reward for fulfilling their plans.
  • Queen Frieda does this in One Way Heroics, during the epilogue. The spell animating her body wears off as she is happily enjoying a parade.
  • The final stages of both Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan games are both a world-threatening disaster - a meteorite in the first, and the Sun freezing over in the second. Unlike most continue screens in the game, which show the person you were helping on a Pose of Supplication over their failure, the screens for these stages show the Ouendan cheerleaders smiling together, having failed to stop the world ending. To make it even more pronounced, in the first game the lighting on this screen creates the strong impression that this was the moment before they themselves were about to die.
  • In Shadow Hearts, Alice hides the fact that she will soon die from a curse from Yuri and goes on cheerfully, dying in her sleep with a smile in the bad ending. In Covenant, when the attempt to resurrect her fails, she opens her eyes, smiles, and tells Yuri she loves him right before her body disintegrates.
  • The Super Mario Bros. series has Dimentio and Fawful, from Super Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi, respectively, as each has a final plan to eliminate the Mario Bros.
  • The opening of Dark Prison shows Shu Shirakawa smiling inside his Neo Granzon when Masaki in his Cybuster impales him, at the climax of Original Generation Gaiden.
  • In Gaiden, this is the expression of the Final Boss, Shu Shirakawa, makes after the playable characters defeat him. How he looks like in his final moments before coming Back from the Dead is shown in detail during the prologue of Dark Prison where Shu Shirakawa is the headlining protagonist.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, when Colette is sacrificing herself as part of the World Regeneration, just before her soul would be sealed into her Cruxis Crystal, so her body could be used for Martel Yggdrasill's resurrection, she smiles and tells her beloved Lloyd how happy he made her then after a goodbye, her soul is lost. However, Colette doesn't actually die and is restored to her normal, non-dog-kicking, non-horrific-eyed self not too long after this event.
  • Tales of the Abyss has a subtle version after Asch's You Shall Not Pass! moment turns into a Heroic Sacrifice. He has a very faint smile on his face as he entrusts the future to Luke and passes on his own power to him to aid in that.
  • Undertale:
    • Sans literally never stops smiling the entire game, even as he bleeds to death at the end of the Genocide route. It's plausible the reason is that he's aware of the player's ability to reset the game, meaning nothing that happens, good or bad, is necessarily permanent and everything will most likely return to normal.
    • Papyrus, like Sans, is a perpetually grinning skeleton, but his fixed grin does fit the tone of both ways he can be killed - on a Neutral run, he'll pipe that at least his head's still intact after the body the player cuts it off of disintegrates (his head, too, disintegrates right afterwards); and on a No Mercy run, he'll assure the player that he knows there's still good in them despite the situation.
    • Undyne, after assuming her Undying form in the Genocide route. She grins proudly as she tells the protagonist that she won't give up hope.
    • Mettaton does this if he's killed on any playthrough - he goes out with a bittersweet smile and a surprisingly graceful losing speech on a Neutral run, and he smirks through his pain to give either a last dry one-liner or a Kirk Summation on a No Mercy run.
    • Flowey flashes a triumphant Slasher Smile should you kill him at the end of your first run as you, by doing so, have validated his ideology: In this world, it's KILL or BE KILLED. It's very effective at making the bile rise in your throat.
    • A small one for Toriel—if you kill her during a Neutral run, she implores you to keep going and not let your SOUL be claimed by Asgore. She then dies with a small smile and a final Meaningful Echo:
      Toriel:...Be good, won't you?
      Toriel: My child.
  • From Valkyria Chronicles:
    • The first game has Isara Gunther getting shot down, out of the blue, by an Imperial sniper. As she lies dying, she says that she failed to make her brother's dream (to fly) a reality. When Welkin says that she, in fact, has made it such, she dies with a smile.
    • Your comrade-turned-traitor Gusurg dies smiling in your arms after you kill him in battle.
    • Big Bad Dahau smiles and dies at the end of Valkyria Chronicles III with the soul of his wife, or a hallucination of her, telling him that now he can rest.
  • In Warcraft III, Grom Hellscream suffers mortal injuries slaying the demon that corrupted him and his entire race via a Deal with the Devil. As he lies dying, he offers Thrall a smile and tells him that he can feel the corruption leaving his body (shown by his eyes no longer glowing with demonic flame), and dies satisfied that he freed himself. Thrall's response to him.
    Thrall: No, old friend. You've freed us all.
  • In A Way Out, this happens to either Leo or Vincent, should you choose to fatally shoot one of them in the climactic battle. If Vincent is shot, he requests that Leo give his wife Carol his apology letter; Leo agrees, and Vincent dies smiling. If Leo is shot, Vincent takes pity on him and decides to stay by Leo's side and hold his hand, out of respect towards their former friendship, which comforts Leo enough that he dies with a smile on his face.
  • Sota from The World Ends with You appears to smile, before he is erased, shortly after Nao's erasure.
  • Xenosaga plays it straight with Jin as he finds peace in his final moments saying: "It's quiet now. I don't think it's ever been this quiet before in my whole life. This is what I sought. And yet, now that the time has finally come, I long for the noise of the past. I long for those hectic and chaotic days that once were. But this too,is pleasant, in an odd sort of way"

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ribbon Of Green, the Good ending has Hanyuan fade away with a smile. Subverted as she is Dead All Along.
  • In Fantasia - Requiem of the Abyss, Valen gives Shea one final smile as a Last Request before the latter dies.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Saber gets one on every route effectively. On Fate she dies peacefully while reminiscing on the moments she spent with Shirou like they were a lost dream. On Unlimited Blade Works' True End she does it as she's consumed by the backlash of her destruction of the Holy Grail with Excalibur, knowing Shirou and Rin will be alright and triumphant. Even on Heaven's Feel her corrupted self Saber Alter gives Shirou a last genuine smile as he's forced to finish her off.
    • Archer's death in UBW is perhaps made more poignant by the fact that he knows very well that he's going back to his own Special Hell where he'll see the evils of humanity over and over again, but still smiles and reassures his ex-partner that he'll be fine.
    • Caster's Master Kuzuki in the anime storyline assured her as she was fading away that he was fine; so she could return to the throne happy. After she's gone, he dies.
    • While being devoured from the inside by True Assassin, Assassin is rather calm despite apparent limb removal and said devouring thing and is chatting fairly casually through the whole thing, probably not losing his smile because it is all the dignity he can still really spare here.
    • Even Gilgamesh gets one in the Fate route; as he lies dying from a direct hit from Excalibur, his last act is to smile, compliment his killer Saber on her beauty, and say that his interactions with her were 'truly fun'.
    • In the True Ending of Heaven's Feel, the last glimpse of Ilya as she makes her Heroic Sacrifice reveals that she is smiling at Shirou.
  • Tsukihime plays it straight in Hisui's True Ending with Akiha. It then completely subverts this when Kohaku kills herself; Kohaku dies smiling, but she just revealed that she can't feel anything.
  • Cruelly played with in one of the School Days bad endings. Kotonoha has an insane, lifeless smile on her lips when she throws herself off a building, after Makoto picks her love rival Sekai over her. They end up traumatised forever and split up after some time.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In the first game, Sakura Ogami commits suicide to save her family's dojo by fulfilling Monokuma's order to kill someone, and to restore trust among the remaining students. So confident is she that this was the right choice that there's a smile on her lips when the others discover the body. The pose is a direct Shout-Out to the Tomorrow's Joe example above.
    • Junko Enoshima, or actually her body double, Mukuro Ikusaba has a confused and terrified smile when she realizes she's been impaled several times over by the mastermind, the real Junko. Speaking of which, Junko herself is cheerfully grinning from ear to ear while waving at the heroes right before being crushed by a giant block.
    • In the sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Gundham Tanaka smiles to his four hamsters as he lays dying following his execution.
    • From Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kaito Momota dies in the middle of his execution thanks to his illness. His body has a smile when we receive a glimpse of it, fulfilling his dream of visiting space and having saved Maki from dying herself.
  • In Yumina The Ethereal, Zieda dies like this - only in Kirara's route, though.
  • Your Turn to Die:
    • In one of the possible routes for Chapter 2-1, Alice dies with a smile after seeing his sister Reko is still alive and hearing her say she wants them to be a family again.
    • In one of the possible routes for Chapter 2-2, Sou bleeds out with a smile while limping his way to a computer in order to activate his "final present", knowing that he has managed to save Kanna's life.

    Web Animation 
  • TP: After escaping from the Disgusting Public Toilet, the toilet paper roll is found by a young girl who throws him through the air. He smiles as he sails through the sky and ages to near-death as his paper unravels, and dies happily smiling up at the sun from in a flowerbed.

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Lord Shojo dies smiling, when Miko Miyazaki Falls as a result of fatally wounding him and he takes this as a sign that the gods approve of what he's done. He resisted resurrection in a later strip, indicating he was not too sorry to be dead.
    • Miko dies with a smile in strip 464, on being told that Windstriker, her horse (and only friend) will visit her in the afterlife even though she has failed to redeem herself.
    • Therkla. Here.
    • Durkon, with a Tearful Smile. ...I get ta go home.
    • Durkon's father, as shown in a flashback.
  • RED Spy in Cuanta Vida, after he takes a bullet for BLU Sniper.
  • Near the end of the Soul of Storms arc in Dominic Deegan, Klo Tark valiantly sacrifices himself by switching places with Dominic in the Elemecca. As the device's repair magics violently purges him, he gives Dominic one last smile.
    • In the final arc, Quilt smiles as he dies sacrificing himself to Mercy Kill Rillian and stop the Infernomancer.
  • In Dave Kelly's Living In Grey Town, one of the characters dies with a big grin on his face. He later admits that it unintentionally looked really creepy.
  • Homestuck: Equius grins while he's being strangled to death. It's incredibly creepy.
    • It's difficult to tell if it's because he's glad that Gamzee is finally taking his place in the hemospectrum, or his submission fetish or just that his facial muscles are tensing due to asphyxiation. It's probably all three.
    • Additional creepiness added from a previous comic, wherein Equius' killer, Gamzee, mentions (before he went insane) that if he could make Equius smile, it would be the best miracle he was ever part of. He got his miracle.
    • Later on, Terezi offers John a weak, tired smile and a Terminator-style thumbs up before succumbing to the catastrophic injuries she sustained during [S] Game Over.
  • Pauline from Our Little Adventure dies this way, probably because she knows she will be able to be with her husband and son who were murdered sometime before.
  • Lars from Girl Genius. Although she wasn't in love with him, Agatha did not take it well.
  • In Guilded Age, when Rachel saves Frigg from the cultists' monster at the cost of being caught by it herself, she smiles as it's about to kill her.
  • King Radical in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja starts with Big "NO!" upon realizing he's about to die from a very creative double Grievous Harm with a Body (first having Dracula thrown at him mouth-first to vampirize him, then Pope Francis as the ultimate holy weapon). But then his expression changes into a content smile, happy that he gets to die such a radical death.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Penny dies with a slight smile on her face while attempting to reassure Billy that "Captain Hammer will save us."
  • The Nostalgia Critic consuming the Plot Hole with a look of happy relief on his face in To Boldly Flee. Cue the audience sobbing.
  • Noob is set in a MMORPG and its finale includes a high-stakes battle between the three UltimateGamer386 characters. One of the two that lost and hence "died" had never been beaten by another player before, had hinted to having a Blessed with Suck view on this and reacted to the loss by having his avatar smile before it got destroyed.

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman in season 3 had Sarah Lynn. After winning an Oscar and deciding to leave the fame to go to college and follow a childhood dream, BoJack takes them to the planetarium and cradles them until she dies in her sleep. Doubles as Hope Spot.
  • Justice League:
    • Despero is crucified and pulled into the ground by the spreading roots and branches of Pytar. His last words are spoken in whispered euphoria as he smiles serenely.
      Despero: Oh Pytar. Now I see... paradise.
    • In "Hereafter", Superman ends up in a Bad Future where Vandal Savage created a superweapon that destroyed the Justice League... and the entire rest of humanity too. This caused him to have a Heel Realization and he spent the next 30,000 years alone in the ruined Earth as penance. Although he was able to build a time machine, due to technical reasons, Vandal himself can't use it to go back and change the past, but Superman can. After sending him back, Vandal and the ruined world start to fade away as they're replaced by a brighter future for humanity. Just before he disappears, Vandal smiles and says:
      Vandal Savage: Thank you, my friend.
    • "The Terror Beyond" concludes with Solomon Grundy pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to protect his new friends, being reassured by Hawkgirl (whose race are all Naytheists) that his soul is waiting for him.
      Solomon: Then Grundy gets his reward.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Arthur Parks, the Living Laser, dies like this, pleased at his Redemption Equals Death moment.
    Living Laser: All my life, I was a nobody. Then I get this power, and I use it to try and hurt you... The one guy who wanted to help me.
    Iron Man: But you saved me, Arthur.
    Living Laser: Yeah... Imagine that. I'm the guy who saved Iron Man! (disintegrates)
  • Transformers:
    • When Transformers Armada Starscream does his death monologue with a sword through his chest, he's got a heartbreakingly peaceful smile on his face — the first he's had in the entire series.
    • Similar thing happens with Prowl in Transformers Animated. Cue crying fangirls.
    • Also, Vector Prime after his Heroic Sacrifice, as mentioned earlier.
  • Antauri from Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! who sacrificed himself with the most adorable little smile so that he could stop the Dark One Worm from destroying everything and everyone. Sure he came back two episodes later, but he didn't know he would at the time.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • In the American Dad! episode "Rapture's Delight" Stan takes a shot meant for Jesus and also sets off a time bomb meant to destroy the lair of the Anti-Christ. While he is offered the chance of being raptured to Heaven Stan turns it down because the bomb will go off before Jesus can perform the spell. After kissing Francine Stan is left alone with a cigar and a grin just as the bomb goes off, promptly killing him.
  • In Winx Club, before Nabu died after sealing the Wizards of the Black Circle's chasm, he smiled at Aisha while telling her that he would always be with her and that he loved her.
  • Wakfu: Tristepin. "I'm not dying, Evangelyne. I'm entering the legend."
  • Twice (so far) in the first season of Steven Universe:
    • In "Steven the Swordfighter", Pearl is faced with the Adult Fear of having someone akin to a son watching as she gets brutally murdered in a method as graphic as a kid's show would allow. Despite being in obvious pain, she spends her final moments smiling and attempting to utter some reassuring words.
    • In "Steven and the Stevens", Steven misuses a time-altering device, goes mildly power-mad, and gets into a massive fight with dozens of alternate-timeline versions of himself. After undergoing a Heel Realization he gets to paradox himself and all of the alternates out of existence (except for the youngest one, who will survive because he did not use the device). As he realizes he has seconds to live, he smiles and spends his final moments giving a kiss and a kind word to his younger self.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Mad Artist Splatter Phoenix died when she was doused with turpentine, much like the monsters she created using paint did. (Apparently, she was the same.) Before she melted away, she said that at least her paintings would be appreciated and valued more when she was gone.
  • Family Guy: Brian does this in "Life of Brian", saying goodbye to the family before he succumbs to his injuries and dies.
  • Gravity Falls has Grunkle Stan, who tricks the dream demon Big Bad into going into his mind and then has said demon erased... along with all of his memories as collateral damage. As the metaphorical representation of his mind burns to nothing around him, he simply cradles a photo of his happy memories with a smile, happy that he did something worthwhile.
    Grunkle Stan: Heh...guess I was good for something after all.

    Real Life 
  • The grave of Robert Baden Powell (the founder of the scouting movement) has a dot in a circle engraved upon the gravestone. Any scout will recognize it as a symbol from a code normally used on trails to leave simple messages. The symbol means "I have completed my task and gone home".
  • Ted Bundy. The serial rapist's corpse was shown to be peacefully smiling after dying in the electric chair. (scroll down)
  • A most famous real-life example is of Shemp Howard, one of The Three Stooges. He died in the back of a taxi cab while lighting up a cigar and telling a joke after coming home from the boxing match. Knowing Shemp's personality, he would be fine with that.
  • Admiral Horatio Nelson's last words were, "Thank God I have done my duty."
  • In 2011 in the Seattle area, a middle-aged (not old) hobby fisherman caught a 20-lb. salmon, the biggest fish of his life. He turned to a stranger, said happily, "This is the fish of my dreams," then fell into the river and died of a heart attack. They barbecued the salmon and ate it at his wake.
  • According to his wife, Roger Ebert died this way, succumbing peacefully to cancer on April 4th, 2013.
    Chaz Ebert: We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.
  • The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins spent most of his life struggling with depression. His last words were "I am so happy, so happy. I loved my life."
  • On Christmas morning, 1946, W.C. Fields was in the Las Encinitas hospice. A nurse came in and thought he was asleep — then he opened his eyes, smiled and winked at her, put an "shh" finger to his lips — and died.
  • “At the moment Leonard’s soul left him on Friday morning, his family had gathered around him in a ring of love. Leonard smiled, and then he was gone. It was gentle passing, as easy as a ‘hair being lifted from a cup of milk,’ as the Talmud describes the moment of death. What did Leonard see? We can’t know, but Susan imagines that he beheld his beloved cocker spaniel Molly, an angelic presence in life and now in death."
  • Upon his death following his nine hour coma after being fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's face is said to have relaxed into a smile.
  • The late Paul Walker invoked this trope in a quote prior to his death.
    Paul Walker: "If one day speed kills me, don't cry, because I was smiling."
  • Tony "Dogbomb" Barret was a prominent fursuiter, member of the Furry Fandom for more than ten years, a vet tech, and a sufferer of ALS/advocate for the awareness of the condition. He decided to medically end his life due to suffering through ALS since his diagnosis in 2016. Following his assisted suicide on April 5th 2019, Dogbomb was found by his friend Greg with his phone in his hands and a peaceful smile on his face.


Video Example(s):


King Harold's death

King Harold wishes Shrek one final luck in finding Arthur, the sole remaining heir to the throne, before dying happy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoOutWithASmile

Media sources:

Main / GoOutWithASmile