they get killed!"
Frequently, the scene is stretched out by the informer being excessively verbose before being killed without getting to the important information. Sometimes this is because they insist on some reward from The Hero (such as protection from whomever they're informing on) or they're being a jerkass. When he's dying and goes on at length about how he doesn't have the strength left to provide the necessary information this trope is being Played for Laughs.
In many cases where the informant is killed by an unknown assassin, the hero is just as easy a target, prompting viewers to wonder why the assassin doesn't just kill the hero instead and end the story right there. A well-made story will arrange the scene so that the hero isn't a viable target (behind an obstacle, on the other end of a phone call, etc.), and in rare cases, the Big Bad has a reason to let the hero live... for now.
Compare the Almost Dead Guy, who gets hurt and then gives the information. Sister Trope of Conveniently Interrupted Document. Subtrope of Lost in Transmission. See also Dying Clue. Absolutely no relation to My Nayme Is, nor a certain professional wrestler.
- Spoofed in an advertisement for Call Waiting. Miss Marple is yakking to Hercule Poirot on the phone and so doesn't realise an important witness is trying to get through to her.
The Narrator: ...and so nine out of the ten ate the pumpkin soup!
Witness: The killer is... [inarticulate groans]
Miss Marple: Is that spelled with two G's or three?
- The Big O: Just before the Mind Screw finale, the spirit of Schwartzwald inhabiting the pilotless Big Duo that's flying mindlessly skywards, who was established as the only character who discovered the truth on his own, begins monologuing about the mysterious truth of Paradigm City, the tragedy from 40 years ago that wiped out everyone's memories, and the nature of the memories themselves, about to explain the whole thing... Only to be cut short when Big Duo crashes into the massive stage light rigging over Paradigm City.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion did this to an absurd extent in order to keep Shinji from learning that his friend Touji is the pilot of the possessed Eva Unit-03 until after he'd nearly been killed.
- South Burning in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, about halfway through the series, manages to get his hands on a briefcase detailing the enemy's forces and plans, taking some apparently minor hits to his mobile suit in the process. As the heroes fly back to their ship, he opens the briefcase and starts reading through it, discovering the enemy plans are much more far-reaching than anyone imagined. Just as he starts to tell his protege, Kou Uraki what he's discovered, Burning's mecha explodes. Which would've been far more shocking if the show didn't constantly cut to that seemingly minor damage throughout the second half of the episode.
- Said character got loads upon loads of Retirony in the first half of the episode, making the death even easier to see coming.
- In the first arc of Umineko: When They Cry, Legend of the Golden Witch, the protagonist Battler's father, Rudolf, tells his son and wife that there is something he needs to talk to both of them about later something that is later heavily implied to be something related to Battler's birth, and then indicates that he seems to know he might die. Which he does.
- In the second arc, Kanon is killed right as he's about to tell Jessica his real name.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, when Ed has defeated one of the Animated Armor guards at Lab 5, he convinces him to give him an explanation of at least some of what's going on...but then Lust and Envy shut the guy up before he can tell Ed anything useful.
- "The military...trouble!" "...Hughes? Hughes... Hey! Hughes! HUGHES!"
- In Death Note, Light is just about to get L's real name off Misa when L saves himself by having her arrested, and by stealing her phone.
- In Darker Than Black, Wei kills Kirihara's informant just before he can come in to provide evidence.
- In Naruto just when Aoba is about to see Tobi/Madara's true face by delving into the memories of an unconscious Kisame, the latter forces himself to wake up by biting through his own tongue and then commits suicide using his summoned sharks. At the time this seemed like just a ridiculous way of hiding the face from the readers (with it being beside the point that Aoba also didn't get to see it), but later it's revealed that Aoba had known Tobi for years before he assumed that identity and thus most certainly would have recognized the face as Obito Uchiha and thus prematurely exposed one of the biggest plot twists in the entire story.
- While not totally played straight, in Detective Conan, during one of the mysteries, Takagi is going to reveal the man who killed Detective Sato's father on his cell phone. As he's about to tell her the culprits name, a dark shadow appears behind him and slams a rock upon his head, instantly knocking him out as we later learn.
- Pretty much defines Dorothea Ernst in Code Geass.
- Played for Laughs in Mahou Sensei Negima!, when mind-controlled Negi is about to say who he likes most, but Yue and Nodoka stun everyone and drag him away.
- Chojiro Sasakibe in Bleach dies while attempting to inform Yamamoto of the Vandenreich's ability to steal bankai. Combined with the failed attempt to use this ability on Ichigo, this leads to Soul Society mistakenly believing that the Vandenreich can seal a Soul Reaper's bankai, severely undermining their strategy in the next battle.
- In One Piece, professor Clover was about to reveal his theory as to the name of the kingdom the newly formed World Government fought against during the Void Century, when one of the leaders of the World Government orders him shot to keep him from finishing his sentence. Unusually, this shot does not kill him or even render him unconscious, it just stuns him for a few seconds, but Clover doesn't continue talking once he gets up and actually dies a short time later, from his island being destroyed by flames.
- In the Diamond Is Unbreakable arc of Jojos Bizarre Adventure, Aya Tsuji is blown up by a bomb right before she can reveal Yoshikage Kira's new appearance.
- Happens earlier that same arc when Jotaro and Koichi try to get the killer's name out of his tailor. Said tailor speaks and moves very slowly, claims that he remembers every single customer's name (but can't give it off the top of his head), and when he goes to read a tag in the killer's coat he struggles with reading the kanji on it. Before he can even get a single syllable out, the killer (who's hiding in the back room) kills the poor bastard.
- Lampshaded in, of all things, an issue of the classic Stan Lee-Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man. The Crime Master is mortally wounded in a gunfight, and then declares that if he's going down, the Green Goblin will go down with him. He attempts to reveal the Goblin's secret identity (which was not known at the time). "The Goblin is..." and then he dies. The lampshading comes when one of the police officers at the scene comments "If I saw that happen in a mystery movie, I'd laugh at how corny it was."
- One day, Batman discovers that his parents' killer, Joe Chill, is still alive and kicking and a rising gang leader, and after tormenting him for a while, reveals his Secret Identity to Chill. Chill freaks out and goes and tells his mob (without revealing the name). His irate mob, realizing that Chill essentially created Batman, shoot him to the point of near-death. It's only then that they realize that they didn't know who exactly Batman was. Chill nearly is able to croak it out, but Batman barges in at that moment.
- Also happens in the Hush arc, where Batman's mechanic, Harold is about to reveal the identity of the person who bribed him into betraying Batman, when he is shot in the head by the villain in question.
- Parodied in, of all places, a Disney comic book storyline, namely one by Italian writer/artist Silvia Ziche, known for having a thing for either single-panel jokes or long story arcs. During said storyline, Il Papero Del Misteronote , better known as Papernovelanote , Scrooge, acting as a typical "landlord" Soap Opera character, is about to tell his family the reward for solving his riddle, he... he doesn't die (nor it is said), but... suddenly becomes voiceless. Hilarity Ensues.
- Done in Tintin to great effect. The first one is played pretty much straight (before the victim is shot with something to make him go insane) in Cigars of the Pharaoh and the second one is played straight in The Secret of the Unicorn but is ultimately subverted as the victim recovers.
- A variation in many old Captain Marvel stories, where, with danger looming, Billy Batson would have enough time to spout several sentences about how much trouble he's in and how only Captain Marvel can get him out of it, but not enough time to say "Shazam" after all the exposition is done. If he'd only said "Shazam" first...
- Sensation Comics #18: In the Wonder Woman feature intelligence officer Tommy West is interviewing an archeologist who claims to have information about an Imperial Japanese plot, and the archeologist gets shot just as he's about to name the collaborator.
- In a long Bloom County arc, the strip gets a court order to hire a female cast member. Beer mascot Spuds McKenzie, previously revealed to be female, informs Opus that a regular cast member is also secretly female. As Spuds is about to identify the culprit, he passes out. Opus turns to the viewer, and says "you and I both know she's not going to wake up until that statement has wreaked total pandemonium around here." (As it turns out, it was Rosebud the Basselope.)
- U.S. Acres: Orson was reading a book for Booker and Sheldon. When it was about time to say the murderer's name, he fell asleep.
- Subverted in the Death Note Troll Fic Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami. Mikami is about to reveal to L that Light Yagami is Kira. He manages to say "I'll tell you! It's Light Yaga..." but because Blud could sense Mikami's Death Note, he told Light about this, so Light used his Death Note to kill Mikami before the rest of the sentence got out, and somehow, the world's greatest detective has no idea what Mikami meant to say, punching a whole in a nearby wall in frustration.
- The very poorly-formatted but otherwise bearable Batman fan-fiction screenplay ''Batman: Masked Souls'' ends with Bane trying to tell a coast guard officer that Bruce Wayne really is Batman, before Bane falls dead (or unconscious?)
- Friendship Is Aura: The Captain is literally one syllable away from being tricked into telling Luna where Celestia was taken when Shining Armor bursts into the room to inform her of the arrival of Lord Tartarus' Mooks.
- In The Prayer Warriors, Grover Underwood arrives to tell the Prayer Warriors that an Egyptian God is in Syria, but before he can reveal the god's name, he's hit in the head with an arrow and killed (for the seventh time).
- In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Princess Celestia is about to tell her sister Luna to go find the Queen of the Hippogryphs, but gets turned to crystal midway through the last word, causing Twilight Sparkle to go searching for the Queen of the Hippos.
- Subverted in Shrek the Third when the king is dying. He cuts off mid-sentence and seems to die twice before he finally dies for real; the second time ends with "His name is—", but he manages to finish his sentence before he actually dies.
- Similar variation in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!. The Big Bad has the hero at gunpoint, and is just about to tell him the secret of how he controls the killer tomatoes before shooting him — when the crazed parachuting flyboy from earlier in the film crashes into the room and runs the villain through with a sword.
- The trope is parodied in Carry On Spying once Desmond and two of his students find the dying body of Milchmann.
Milchmann: [groans in pain]Charlie Bind: Sorry, say that again.Milchmann: [groans the exact same way]Charlie Bind: (writes, then reads) [groans] Sounds like the Chinese are involved.Milchmann: [frustrated] No, not that!
- In Circus of Fear, the mortally wounded security guard attempts to whisper some information to Inspector Elliot, but only manages so gagging sounds before expiring. Exactly what the guard intended to tell Elliot remains a mystery.
- Club Dread has a variation: when Putman is about to be killed, he says "I should have known it was you!" and taunts the killer, but to the frustration of two other people listening, he not once says the killer's name.
- The film version of Death On The Nile (see Literature) has someone aggravatingly slowly telling that she witnessed a murder. Her last words are "and I saw that it was - " before being shot in the head.
- Happens in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Tuco manages to find out the name of the graveyard where the money is buried, but the soldier dies before he learns the name of the grave it's buried in. Blondie on the other hand did...
- In Holmes & Watson, Klinger starts to explain the conspiracy before stopping and announcing he recieved a knife in his back. Holmes takes this as a metaphor before Kilinger topples forward with a literal knife in his back.
- In The Iron Mask, both Constance and Cardinal Richielieu die (of a stab wound and of natural causes, respectively), just as they're trying to tell D'Artagnan about "the other one". "The other one" is Phillipe, identical twin brother (and as it happens, Evil Twin brother) of King Louis XIV, hidden away in the countryside to prevent the dynastic instability that might be expected when a kingdom has two heirs.
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Professor Arnold says this right before his implant activates and explodes.
- The Last Starfighter has a variation. The assassin sent to kill the titular hero manages to get off "The Last Starfighter is..." before he is killed, but the bad guys already knew who he was - what they didn't know was if he was still a threat.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail subverts this because this is carved into a wall and the knights all argue over whether that's actually the castle's name or if he died while writing it. It turns out it is indeed the castle's name.
King Arthur: What does it say, Brother Maynard?
Brother Maynard: It reads, "Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the holy grail in the Castle of... Aaaarrrggghhhh."
King Arthur: What?
Brother Maynard: "The Castle of Aaaarrrggghhhh".
Sir Bedevere: What is that?
Brother Maynard: He must have died while carving it.
King Arthur: Oh, come on!
Brother Maynard: Well, that's what it says.
King Arthur: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn't have bothered to carve 'Aaaarrrggghhhh'. He'd just say it.
Sir Galahad: Perhaps he was dictating...
King Arthur: Oh, shut up. — Well, does it say anything else?
Brother Maynard: No. Just "Aaaarrrggghhhh".
- Brilliantly parodied in The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, where Lieutenant Frank Drebin fails to retrieve the information from a dying thug, and starts looking for another informant.
Lt. Frank Drebin: All right, who else is almost dead?
[dying thug #2 raises his hand]
Lt. Frank Drebin: OK, now. Talk.
Dying Thug #2: You're too late.
Lt. Frank Drebin: He already said that.
Dying Thug #2: Where'd he leave off?
Lt. Frank Drebin: Er, "Hapsburg has plan B in..."
Dying Thug #2: Oh, yeah. Hapsburg has Plan B in... in...
Lt. Frank Drebin: Where? Where?! Talk, you low-life scum!
Dying Thug #2: Gee, if that's your attitude, forget it. [dies]
- The Power of the Press: The mortally wounded DA manages to tell Jane that the folder has evidence against Blake, but doesn't tell her what it is, leaving Jane and Clem to figure out what in the collection of photos and press clippings is significant.
- Variation in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country — the Klingon conspirator on Rura Penthe has cornered Kirk and McCoy and is about to shoot them. Kirk asks him who is the mastermind behind The Conspiracy. The Klingon conspirator replies "As you're all going to die anyway, why not tell you? His name is..." and then the two of them are beamed away, much to Kirk's aggravation.
Kirk: Son of a— Couldn't you have waited two seconds? They were just about to tell us the whole thing!
Chekov: You want to go back?
McCoy: Absolutely not!
Kirk: [whispering] It's cold.
- Star Wars: Shows up in Attack of the Clones. Jango Fett is working alongside a fellow assassin, but she gets captured. Fett shoots her with a toxic dart about half a second before she can rat Fett out. She does manage to gasp out a couple of last words in Huttese...which translate to "piece of slime," instead of anything useful. Gee, thanks.
- Played for Laughs in Walk Hard. Dewey's father's dying words are "I love...". Dewey trashes the room in frustration of never knowing who or what his father loved.
- What's Up, Tiger Lily? — a dying mook tells the hero "Beware of the man with... with... with... with..." into the fadeout.
- R.K. Maroon is shot before he can finish telling Eddie the truth about the Acme murder in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- The German film Der Wixxer 2 starts off with an informant trying to reveal to the protagonists the whereabouts of the last movie's villain. Then he gets impaled by half a dozen arrows on "Er ist im-" ("He's in-") and gasps "Argh!". The protagonists don't realise that he is being riddled with arrows, so they try guessing random words beginning with "A" (starting with "Arsch", as in, "He's screwed") until he finally keels over. Incidentally, they were fairly spot on with "Arsch", as the villain indeed was "im Arsch" - aka dead.
- Happens in Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile: a nosy female witness is shot in the head mere seconds before she names the culprit. One of the detectives races to the door and finds a smoking gun lying on the floor outside, and nobody who could have fired the shot is to be seen anywhere. Justified: The killer's partner had told her to slow down and start over from the beginning precisely to give his partner time to kill the witness before she named names.
- In an another Christie novel, After the Funeral, a character is talking on the phone; just before she could reveal a clue, she's struck on the head (but doesn't die).
- Christie is fond of these. It happens again in A Murder Is Announced, when Miss Murgatroyd is trying to tell someone who wasn't in the room, and therefore was the killer. Not a strict example, since the person she's talking to leaves, not realizing the importance of what Miss Murgatroyd is saying, and Miss Murgatroyd is killed shortly afterwards.
- In Dragon Bones, a character is killed during an attempt to kill the hero. His last words imply that he didn't do it out of his own free will, but he dies before he can tell who made him do it. (As it is a fantasy setting, he could have been magically compelled to do it.)
- Subverted in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Mr Crouch turns up out of nowhere, babbling insanely, and then is killed while Harry runs for help. He does actually manage to denounce his murderer ( his son) before his death, but because it comes in the middle of a stream of insane babbling, everyone ignores it, especially because the person in question is supposed to be dead.
- Non-fatal example in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Hermione figures out how the students are being petrified, but is petrified herself before she can explain it to Harry.
- Isaac Asimov:
- Robots and Empire: A robot has been ordered to shut down rather than reveal the location of its base, not helped by the fact that he accidentally risked shooting a human and is breaking down as a result; he attempts to tell the interrogators that his masters are hiding out on Three Mile Island but only manages to get out the word "mile", along with a couple of mouth motions.
- "The Mule": When Ebling Mis, exhausted from getting his mental activity overstimulated to learn this information, offers to tell the protagonists where the Second Foundation secretly resides, one of them blasts him dead because they knew that their antagonist, the Mule, was listening.
- Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury: While a Sirian robot is breaking down, Lucky asks who gave it orders, and it barely manages one sound, "Er- Er-". Bigman immediately deduces that the robot meant Urteil, but Lucky disagrees, telling him that it was more likely to mean "Earthman", which would be Dr Peverale, who had once visited the Sirian system and stole the robot assigned to him.
- A Real Life version of this trope is mentioned in Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon, where a victim on being asked by police who shot him replied, "I'll tell you in a minute." Thirty seconds later he died.
- Happens in The Krytos Trap. Kirtan Loor, aware that Isard will have him killed soon, goes to the New Republic and offers to trade information about Isard's machinations in exchange for his life. They accept, Loor takes a speeder with a New Republic agent, and when they arrive, that agent's husband, who had unwittingly been one of Isard's Manchurian Agents, shoots Loor, tries to shoot his wife while babbling apologies, and is shot by her. Loor dies alone while the agent weeps over her dying husband. Ultimately somewhat subverted, since Loor had a datacard on his person with some of the information he was prepared to tell them. Loor had thought they would be unable to access the data without him (thus guaranteeing protection and a large payout of cash), but there was one other person who knew the pattern Loor always used for his passwords. A person who Loor thought was already dead.note
- John Dickson Carr's Dr. Gideon Fell novel Dark of the Moon has one suspect go through this. Subverted in that she survives (though obviously she doesn't recover enough to say anything until after the killer's already caught) and the fact that she was about to accuse someone of multiple crimes — including incest — that the accused didn't do.
- In Warrior Cats, it's zigzagged. Runningwind is dead and Fireheart sees Whitethroat, who he assumes to be the killer. Whitethroat is hit by a car after Fireheart realizes it wasn't him. Fireheart asks who killed Runningwind, and Whitethroat says who it was but Fireheart can't hear him over the noise of a passing car. Fireheart asks again, but Whitethroat dies just as he's about to say it, however he has a look of horror in his eyes. Then Fireheart turns around and sees the killer right there.
- In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship (sic), Edward dies just as he says he will tell what happened.
- In Robert Sheckley's "Protection," the protagonist is befriended by a Valadusian Derg, an invisible guardian who tells him how to protect himself against all kinds of dangerous creatures. To avoid the last one, the Derg tells him, all he has to do is not lesernize. When the protagonist asks what "lesernize" means, the Derg responds, "Oh, that's easy. To lesernize is to... oooh! It's got me!"
- Ellery Queen's "Half a Clue" has the victim mention that the person who was defrauding the family business was "Al-". Unfortunately, the other family members are named Alice, Alvin, and Albert.
- In Pinkie Pie and the Rockin' Ponypalooza Party!, after greeting Marble and Limestone, Pinkie Pie is about to ask where her older sister is, but Igneous responds that she stayed at the farm before Pinkie can drop her name. It's not until season 4 that we learn her name: Maud Pie.
- The very last line of Somewhither provides an example: the Big Bad screams that the protagonist must be captured, for his true mother is none other than— but at that moment the protagonist is drawn into a portal to another dimension, and doesn't hear the rest.
- Doc Savage: In The Men Who Smiled No More, a chemist Doc has brought out of the emotionless trance is shot through the head just as he is about to tell Doc who hired him.
- Oathbringer (third book of The Stormlight Archive): One of the parables from The Way of Kings involved a dying man telling people that three men had worked together to kill him, but dying before he could say which of the four suspects was innocent. Taravangian says that it probably didn't happen, since it's too neat and precise for real life.
- Happens constantly on 24, generally prompting Jack Bauer to scream "DAMMIT!"
- In an episode of Babylon 5, a severely wounded man manages to spit out "They're going to kill him! They're going to kill —" before dying. During the investigation, Security Chief Michael Garibaldi is severely wounded; he makes a visible point of finishing the sentence before the medical staff cart him away. It's "they're going to kill the President", and they do.
- In the Battlestar Galactica movie, "Razor", Kendra Shaw's radio cuts out (and then she gets blown up) before she can reveal that, according to the Hybrid, Kara Thrace will lead the humans to their end. It takes until halfway through season 4 before anyone else manages to get this information again.
- Averted in the Australian mini-series Blue Murder. Underworld hitman Christopher Flannery shoots a fellow criminal because he believes him to be an informer. When the police ask the dying man who shot him, the reply is "Fuck off!"
- One episode of Burn Notice in the first season features an (obviously doomed) informant meeting the main character on a rooftop to switch sides and give him valuable information. He doesn't do so well.
- Detective John Raglan — the lead investigator into the unsolved murder of Beckett's mother — calls her up and asks for a meet, as he has important information to deliver. He instead rambles nervously for a bit about coffee and Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol, this giving the sinister conspiracy he's on the verge of exposing enough time to ensure that he never, ever tells anyone anything again just as he's about to spit it out.
- Happens again in "Dial M for Mayor". The suspect, who is working for the Big Bad of the entire series, is pressed for a name. And then cracks. After an agonizing series of pauses and false starts and more pauses and significant looks, the suspect says, "His... name... is...", and suddenly a mysterious lawyer shows up, declares that he's been retained to represent the suspect, and that he's advising his client to exercise his right to remain silent.
- Played for Laughs in Community where Magnitude (whose catch phrase is "Pop Pop!") dives on a paint bomb and tries to utter his catch phrase one more time. Ridiculous not only because he was not dying or even injured, just eliminated from the paintball game, but also because Troy couldn't figure out what he meant.
Troy: Pop what, Magnitude? WHAT IS HE TRYING TO SAY??
- Happens on Dinosaurs when the Sinclairs take their baby to the chief elder for naming. Their son gets stuck with "Augh Ugh I'm Dying You Idiot".
- It's been hinted to happen before with "Achoo" and "Burp, Excuse Me".
- Parodied in Fat Guy Stuck In The Internet, when Watcher-Teacher dies very slowly, rambling on and on about how he wishes he had the time to tell Ken Gemberling of his destiny, prompting Gemberling to yell, "Just replace the words that you're saying with the ones about my destiny!"
- Parodied in a Frasier episode in which Frasier, Niles and his radio co-workers try to do a mystery program, but technical difficulties and egos stifle the production. Eventually Niles gets fed up and and goes off script, in which his character kills off the whole cast save Frasier's character. Before his character dies he mentions "And a final bullet so the secret (of the Manor, the setting the play takes place) dies with me. ("shoots" self) Ha".
- Played for Drama in another episode involving Martin agonising over a decades old murder he never managed to solve. The victim scrawled the word 'HELP' in the dirt as she lay dying, which made no sense as anyone who could see the word would also have seen her on the ground. It turns out she was writing the killer's name, 'SHELBY', the vice cop who 'found' the body, but she died before finishing it and the first part got erased. Somehow, Frasier manages to conclude that the killer was a chimpanzee with a gun dressed as George Washington.
- The title comes from the pilot episode of Get Smart. The informant blurts out the villain's name right away, and gloats that he escaped the death that always happens to the guy about to say the name. However, Smart forgets the name and asks the informant to repeat it. The informant isn't so lucky the second time.
- This scene definitely was in the episode 4.2 "Ironhand".
- Lampshaded in Get Smart Again where Smart tackles the informant to the ground when he is about to reveal the name, stating that "this is the part where they always get shot before telling us" (paraphrased, sorry). The informant still gets shot, and then before dying says that he didn't know who the traitor was, because all contact with him was done through dead drops.
- Guiding Light. After Creepy Crossdresser Brent Lawrence (he's disguised himself as a woman named Marion Crane in order to continue stalking the woman he raped) kills the cop who's discovered his identity, he starts to write "MAR—" with his blood, but dies before he can finish. Unfortunately, the other cops assume he was trying to write "Marcus", the name of a local troublemaker, and focus him instead.
- Heroes has the ridiculously verbose "I have the ability to-", rather than just "I can fly", or even just silently hovering.
- Inverted on Lost. Although wounded and dying, Libby is able to say the name of her and Ana Lucia's murderer... but since the murderer in question is one of them and was also wounded (as part of a trick to make them think the killer was the man they'd been holding prisoner), they think she's asking about his well-being, not noticing the frightened look on her face.
- Played straight with "I need you to go there and find my mother. Her name is..." before Daniel travels through time.
- Also played straight when Boone dies in the first season, and his last words to Jack are "Tell Shannon... tell Shannon... tell..."
- In "Life Time", Charles is giving surgical instructions while donating blood to the patient, and passes out right after saying, "Dear boy, you mustn't forget-". It's a parody, though, as it's already been established that everyone involved with the surgery knows what to do, Charles was just being arrogant.
- Also parodied in "The Light That Failed", where the camp, in the middle of a supply drought and starved for entertainment, becomes fixated on a mystery novel that B.J. received from his wife. Unfortunately, once they reach the end of the book they find out that the last page is missing, and it inconveniently cuts out right as the detective is about to announce who the killer is.
Hawkeye: "A hush fell over the drawing room as Inspector Langley casually lit his pipe and announced 'I can now disclose the identity of the murderer. The killer's name is-'" ...It's that blasted Langley's fault! If he hadn't stopped to light his pipe we'd know who did it!
- Merlin: In "The Death Song of Uther Pendragon", Uther returns as a ghost to wreck havoc on Camelot. After a showdown, Uther finds out that Merlin has magic. Fortunately, Uther is banished back to the spirit realm by Arthur just as he says "Merlin has—".
- In The Mighty Boosh, Howard and Vince find the last words of Biggie Shackleton, which were frozen by the Black Frost as he was saying them. They begin to thaw them out, piece by piece. The Egg of Mantombi... can be found... in the cave if the... But when they get to the last one, Vince's phone goes off.
- Repeatedly parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000. "The money's... in the... urrrrrgghhh."
- On NCIS: Los Angeles, Kensi meets with a source who knows who killed her father and has been killing the rest of a black ops team. Before he gives her the name, he gets sniped.
- In Once Upon a Time, August fails hard at using his last words to say who attacked him. He doesn't die, but no longer remembers what he was going to say.
- Half-averted in the season 1 finale of Orphan Black. Amelia, introduced in the previous episode as the long-lost birthmother of Sarah and her literal Evil Twin, Helena, meets with Sarah and tells her her foster mother isn't who she seems to be. However, it turns out to be Helena in disguise, and she stabs Amelia in revenge for having been given up to an abusive religious sect. Amelia lives long enough for Sarah to find her, but Amelia can only stammer out "your foster mother ..." repeatedly before dying.
- In the series finale of Remington Steele, Steele discovers that his longtime mentor, Daniel Chalmers, is also his father. Chalmers dies just as Steele is asking him, "What is my real name?"
- In the Saved by the Bell episode "Mystery Weekend", the butler is stabbed after being accused of the first scripted murder. When Inspector Picadilly shows up to investigate, he knows almost right away who's guilty:
Picadilly: No, it wasn't the maid. The real murderer is—
[lights go out; thunder crashes]
Kelly: I don't believe this! Now we'll never know who the killer is.
Screech: But he just told us! All we have to do is find out whose real name is 'Aaargh!'
- In the pilot episode of Sliders, an alternate version of Quinn is about to explain something very important to his counterpart about dimensional travel when his own wormhole opens and sucks him into his home dimension before he can finish.
- In the Supernatural episode "Torn And Frayed" (S08, Ep10), Samandriel is about to reveal how the Angels are being controlled.
- Played with in Teen Wolf. As Allison lays dying, her last words are "You have to tell my dad-" repeated with some urgency. At first the heroes think they just wanted to tell their father they loved them, but said father revealed they had told him that early that day. This leads them to realize that the dead character was trying to tell them how they defeated the so far unkillable villains of the season, which the heroes then work out for themselves.
- It happened several times in one episode of former Brazilian comedy show Tv Pirata. A network was suffering several acts of sabotage. Everyone who tried to tell the culprit's name before the climax was killed at the exact point, prompting people to ask who that "Ooooohhhh" was. One of the trope's victims was even stabbed to death with a spoon because the killer ran out of knives.
- Becomes a Running Gag in the Wayne and Shuster sketch "Rinse the Blood Off My Toga".
"That's a funny name. Must be an Egyptian."
- Happened in several episodes of the Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? game show, with a recurring character known as The Dying Witness.
- Also happened all too often on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. One of the Life Lines allowed the contestant to call a friend and ask them the question. Since the friend only had thirty seconds to hear the question and answer, they would often be cut off while saying "I think it's-", leaving the contestant no better off.
- Red vs. Blue mocked this. After Captain Flowers was revived from death (eight hundred years in the future. Don't think about it too hard), he's about to tell Tucker the secret to beating the Red Team, but keeps delaying it until he's shot in the head.
Tucker: Hey, I could use some help.
Cpt. Flowers: You bet. And I have some information about the Reds that will guarantee our victory.
Tucker: You do?
Cpt. Flowers: I certainly do! Would you like to hear it?
Tucker: Yeah, I wanna hear it!
Cpt. Flowers: Great! Because I'm just about to tell you!
Tucker: Okay... Why aren't you telling me?
Cpt. Flowers: Good question. I seem to be dramatically pausing for some-
[Flowers gets shot by an off-screen sniper]
Cpt. Flowers: Hrrg! Blah...
Tucker: Well, good riddance. I wasn't giving this armour back, anyway.
Sheila: I am not host to the Omega AI, however, I know who is.
- Happens again when Caboose is distracting Sheila the Tank so the others can shut her down (they think the Omega AI is controlling her)
Caboose: Really? Who?
Sheila: It is-
[Sheila gets shut down]
Caboose: Who is Bllllaaaaarrrrggggh?
- Shepard's Mind takes a serendipitous moment where a soldier gets shot in the middle of a stock line ("Government cover-ups were not in my job description!") and turns it into one of these: Shephard (whose voice is dubbed over the prerecorded gameplay footage) asks about the rumor that their mission is part of a government coverup, and his squadmate gets out the words "Government coverups w—" before going down.
- Common in many mystery shows of the time, but The Shadow had it particularly bad. One particular episode (the Laughing Corpse) had a man start to answer the Shadow's question about the name and location of an ex-partner of his who had threatened to kill him, only to get distracted by a small box. It then happened a second time, once he realized he'd been poisoned by opening the box, by going on and on about how "I must tell you his name before he is able to complete his evil mission of revenge! His name is—" and that was it.
- A variation from Cheech and Chong's album Los Cochinos: the portion of the Charlie Chan movie in "Pedro And Man At The Drive-Inn" where the murderer's identity is about to be revealed when the drive-in manager interrupts with a message that the snack bar will remain open for another fifteen minutes.
"Everybody in this room have motive for killing Mr. Taylor. But Mr. Taylor only have one killer, and the name of that killer is..."
- In the parody-mystery musical Something's Afoot, the nosy old lady finally realizes who's been killing off the rest of the cast. Her last words are, "The murderer is..." (and then she is strangled by a trap).
- In A Very Potter Musical, Snape is fatally poisoned by a snake bite to the wiener, reveals that Harry is the final horcrux and needs to sacrifice himself, and claims to know another way to fix everything:
Snape: I'll show you what you need to do! Watch... very... carefully! [drops dead]Malfoy: He didn't even do anything.
- This just might be a literal statement. Technically speaking, Harry WOULD need to die, and Snape had a good opportunity for... well, demonstrating the technique.
- In The Altos, the first hitman is shot, and attempts to give up his employer, but keeps getting interrupted by members of the family as they embark on the musical number, "Come Clean".
- Subverted in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. When Wyatt is sending B.J. Blascowicz a radio transmission, he says "watch out for..." and promptly fades out. Turns out, he just felt lightheaded for a moment because he'd experimented with LSD the night before. Once Wyatt comes back on, he finishes his thought, saying to watch out for Nazi patrols.
- Mass Effect: Yaroslev Tartakovsky on Noveria is about to give you the password for nuking the hot lab, when...
- Downplayed in that you can find the password written down from his pocket after his death.
- In Team Fortress 2's "Meet The Spy", the BLU Spy is explaining that anybody in the room could be the RED Spy. His long, dramatic speech ends with "It could be you! It could be me! It could even be-" He is then shot in the face by the Soldier's shotgun, who thought the BLU Spy was obviously the RED Spy in disguise. He wasn't.
- Aldaris is killed just before he can reveal a critical piece of information in StarCraft: Brood War.
- This happens in the videogame version of Mission Impossible (1997), when an informant dies in the middle of giving information, Ethan Hunt says "I just knew he wasn't going to finish that sentence..."
- Half-Life: Once the player makes it to the surface, he's greeted by a guard. The guard starts to relay a message to you, telling you to "watch out for-" before taking a bullet in the back and collapsing at your feet.
- Half-Life 2: Episode 2: Eli Vance starts to tell Gordon (and by extension the anxious player) about the mysterious G-Man, only to be interrupted before he can get to any of the juicy stuff. He doesn't survive long enough to resume the conversation. The by now rather jaded player is not surprised.
- Averted in the Kingdom Hearts series. This very line is said many times, but instead of the character getting killed, it was just Nomura setting up a moment for The Reveal.
- Played straight when Vexen almost reveals Roxas's existence to Sora, when Axel kills him.
- Thankfully averted in Grim Fandango. Glottis almost does this. "It could save me, if you have the right... *cough cough* The right... *cough* Fuel..." Of course, he doesn't stay conscious long enough to tell you exactly what fuel, but he probably didn't have any idea and figuring it out yourself makes for a nice puzzle.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops, the defecting scientist Clarke mentions numbers that fit into Dragovich's plan, but is interrupted by a firefight before he can elaborate. A little later on, while your group is trying to avoid sliding off a roof, Hudson asks him about them again, and Clarke begins telling him... and then he is shot in the head.
Hudson: "What about the numbers, Clarke!?''"Clarke: "Ahhhhhh yes........the numbers...............they're the key to— *headshot*
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link's uncle says, "Zelda is your...." then dies. Many speculated that the line would read "Zelda is your sister" or "Zelda is your destiny" but this is never brought up again later in the game. The GBA rerelease averts this trope by rewriting the dialogue to omit the line entirely, although a Bonus Boss Master of Illusion takes Link's uncle's form and gives a similar line before attacking.
- Taken to its logical extreme in Link To the Awesome when Link desperately tries to revive his uncle to get an answer, not wanting to accidentally commit incest in the future. "Zelda's my WHAT?!"
- In Mirror's Edge, hired thug/assassin Ropeburn gets shot just before telling you who hired him.
- In Batman: Arkham City, the first of Deadshot's victims is killed just as he's about to tell Batman the specifics of his work during the construction of Arkham City. A particularly bad case of the Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? variant, as Deadshot had a clear line of sight and we're explicitly told later in the sidequest that Batman was one of his targets, and the game even has you to stand around investigating the crime scene for a while before leaving.
- This is handwaved by the fact that Deadshot follows his own, extremely strict code - he has a list of people to kill in a specific order and at a specific time, Batman's time has not come yet, and refuses to do it beforehand. That would be wrong.
- Happens in Dragon Quest IV: After defeating the Marquis de Leon, when you talk to Nun the Wiser in a shrine near Havre Leon, she almost reveals Estark's name before she suddenly chokes up and dies.
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division has an interesting take on this when Kura is cornered and arrested by the CMC. She manages to tell Sanjuro that his brother Toshiro is Gabriel, but only starts a sentence with "Cothineal-" before she is taken away. She does, however, survive to tell you that Cothineal is controlling Toshiro.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Peach's last e-mail message to Mario is interrupted before she can tell him or the player that the villains want the Shadow Queen to claim her body.
- The first Resident Evil game and the remake has Enrico, the leader of Bravo Team, tell you there's a traitor, however he is shot just before telling Chris or Jill who it is. A savvy player can find several clues to their identity before they reveal themselves: a slideshow of the bioweapons purposely created that includes a photo of the people involved, a file on security procedures that reveals their name, and if the character you play as finds the other missing playable character they'll reveal who it is.
- The Neo-Geo arcade game Art of Fighting has this in the ending, in which either Ryo or Robert beat up Mr. Karate badly, but just before they finish him off, Yuri suddenly appears to reveal Mr. Karate's identity, however before she can do so it cuts away to a "To Be Continued?" shot.
- Subverted in the Super NES version, in which they reveal Mr. Karate to be Takuma Sakazaki. He would go on to explain how he ended up in the situation he was in.
- Double Dragon 3 has Brett die before he can explain Treacherous Advisor Yuriko sent the thugs to kidnap Marian and trick the Lee brothers into collecting the Sacred Stones for her.
- Sniper Elite V2 has one mission where you have to save a Nazi scientist about to be executed for treason so he can give you information on the last V2 rockets. When the dust settles, he's dying from gunshot wounds. He manages to choke out the name "Tabun", and even clarify that it isn't a person or place, but dies before he can go into further detail. For the record, Tabun is a deadly chemical agent being packed into the last V2 rockets, which will be fired at London as Nazi Germany's last hurrah.
- In Penumbra, Philip finds a tape which Eloff Carpenter recorded, giving information about the Tuurngait, but just before Eloff could say what their main weakness is, he is killed.
- Metal Gear, the NES version has Schneider, on the transceiver, about to unveil the identity of Big Boss
SCHNEIDER HERE. WE HAVE UNMASKED THE LEADER OF ENEMY FORTRESS!IT'S UNBELIEVABLE, BUT THE ENEMY LEADER IS.........ARRRGGHHH!!
- In Grim Facade 6: Hidden Sins the local bartender is killed by an expertly-thrown dagger just as he's about to reveal who he thinks the murderer is.
- In Persona 5, Kunikazu Okumura suffers a fatal Mental Shutdown on live television right before he can expose the key members of The Conspiracy.
- Lampshaded and mocked in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.
Blake: Damn... You're stronger than you look... Shame you're too late... Mila is... already... [dies]
Mae: Dangit, I hate it when they die right before they say something important!
- When investigating someone in Town of Salem, you will not know your results until right at the end of the night. As a result of this, their last will usually consists of marking down only the name of whoever they last visited.
- In killer7, Christopher Mills is shot several times before he can reveal critical details about Garcian's backstory.
- Played With in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice. A witness in the final case is (not fatally) shot just as she's about to reveal the Big Bad's name. However, the identity of the shooter incriminates the guilty party just as much as if the name had actually been said: it's one of Queen Ga'ran's Royal Guards, who is very heavily implied to have acted on her orders.
- Parodied in Sluggy Freelance, during the X-Files story arc. While the agents are sitting down to eat in a restaurant, the waitress is shot while reciting the daily specials. One of the FBI agents dramatically demands to know what she was going to say, but she dies right before she can finish.
What kind of catfish? What's the soup du jour? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
- Another time, it momentarily appears that this happens to Bun-bun's informant, but then it's revealed to have been a cut to where the bad guys who were supposed to kill that informant are killing the wrong guy who was just about to reveal someone the location of a rave.
- Parodied in Irregular Webcomic! number 443
- Played almost straight in this Scary Go Round strip.
- Subverted in Homestuck. UU tells Roxy her real name, but purposely doesn't tell her her brother's name because that will activate their Literal Split Personality. Also, her final words before she takes her (possibly last) nap will be her brother's name.
- In Girl Genius the smuggler Stephanos Tuesday, who works with Agatha's spies as an informant, is killed just as he says "Lady Jenka! You have to warn-" Interestingly he was probably trying to warn Jenka of the ridiculous number of Reverents and others including the king loyal to the Other in the Arguron King's court and they were exposed anyway by killing him right in front of her.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, after defeating Dreadlord Leraje, Ismail momentarily glances at the wall where the sultan's posse is observing the duel and suddenly realizes who Leraje reminds him of and who thus fits perfectly into Nergal's prophecy of a traitor being in the Grand Alliance. This distracts him momentarily, which allows Leraje to regenerate and skewer him. Ismail, realizing he's done for, uses the last of his strength to try to tell the Alliance the identity of the traitor, but is decapitated just before he can finish saying the name.
- Played for laughs in Rorschach and Deadpool. The pair finds four different informantsnote , and Deadpool shoots every one of them as they finish saying the name of the trope. Purely because he finds their voices irritating.
- Used in the Adventure Time episode "Mystery Train" where Colonel Candycorn was about to reveal who his enemy was.
"...and his or her name is-"
- In "From Bad To Worse", Princess Bubblegum gets caught and turned into a zombie as she's explaining how to make the zombie-curing formula. Her last words are "Just let Science do the work! Science is maaaaaaa raaaaaaaa..." It isn't until the end of the episode that Finn figures out she was trying to say "my rat"; she has a lab rat named Science that knows how to make the formula.
- The second American Dad! James Bond parody "For Black Eyes Only." Stan and Tearjerker (Roger) try to interrogate the location of Black Villain (Principal Lewis) out of Tchochkie Schmear (Klaus). He finally relents, leading to the over-the-top line "The thing that you do not know about the location of Black Villain that I do is..." and is promptly assassinated.
- An episode of Doug featuring one of the Quail-Man adventures had Quail-Man asking Silver Skeeter, who had been half-frozen in a block of something like carbonite, who froze him. He replies saying he doesn't have the strength to say the name and is too worried he'll get halfway through telling him before he's completely frozen. When Quailman demands that he try, this is exactly what happens.
- In the Futurama episode "The Duh Vinci Code", Animatronio tells the Planet Express crew that "the fountain you seek is — HURRK!" before he dies. It turns out that Animatronio was faking his death.
Bender: (Watching) Whomever directing this is a master of suspense!
- Another case happens during a showing of All My Circuits when the son robot character proclaims he found out a secret so shocking "It'll give you an explosive case of amnesia". Just as he reveals it, he short circus and trails on, which wasn't meant to happen and ultimately he has to be replaced, Bender thinks it's part of the show though.
- And done again in a "What If" episode where Leela wonders what she be like if she was more implusive. She ends up murdering the Professor to claim insurence money left in his will to her then proceed to do so to Hermes, Bender and Amy (the former two she did to cover up her tracks, the latter she just did out of spite when Amy criticized a bit of her clothing). Zoidberg, trying to solve the mystery, gather Fry, Scuffy, Culbert and Niblet to present his findings. When the latter three point out who they suspect it is, Leela cuts the lights and quickly offs them.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses a non-death version of this in the episode "It's About Time": A future version Twilight Sparkle materializes in front of her past self to deliver an important message from the future. Naturally, the time travel spell runs out of juice just as she says "Whatever you do, don't—" and she vanishes. Twilight promptly spends the rest of the episode attempting to figure out what the message was. Turns out her future self just came back to warn her not to freak out about the message. Oops.
- In an episode of Robot Chicken, in the sketch "The Baloo Identity", when Baloo finds Rebecca...
Rebecca: "That's right, it's me Baloo. I can explain everything, as long as a bullet doesn't—" BLAM!
- The Simpsons parody of 24. Bart has to tell Lisa the name of the traitor to the Counter Truancy Unit (CTU). "Now I don't have much time so I'm just gonna come out and say his name. So get ready to know his name. His name is the following. M-" ...and Martin knocks Bart unconscious.
- In the South Park episode "Best Friends Forever", an accident leaves Kenny in a vegetative state. It is unclear what he would want to happen to him because a page is missing from his will and the known portion ends with "If I should ever be in a vegetative state, please...". His plight becomes the subject of much debate and he ends up on TV nation wide...then, when the last page of his will is finally found, it turns out the complete sentence is "If should ever be in a vegetative state, please, for the love of God, don't ever show me in that condition on national television".
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much", an informant was about to tell Ahsoka who was responsible for a plot to bomb the Jedi Temple when she was killed in a way that made Ahsoka look guilty.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Secret Origins: Part 2", the Turtles are about to leave the virtual-reality history of the Utroms. Just before they go, VR!Mortu tells them, "The Shredder is an-" and the simulation ends. In the follow episode, we learn that the Shredder is an Utrom. The Utrom terrorist who caused the aliens to crash on Earth to begin with.
- The Venture Bros. uses a non-death version during the Monarch's trial in the first season. As Dr. Orpheus is about to reveal the Guild's involvement in the events leading up to the trial, Phantom Limb silences him by freezing everyone in the courtroom, and then has Orpheus, via hypnotic suggestion, forget what he was about to say and instead proclaim the Monarch's guilt.
- When the telegraph was first invented, people caught on that you could sever communications by cutting the wire. If you tried to carry a "normal" conversation, and it got intercepted by an enemy down the line, they'd cut the wire and you'd never get to the juicy part. To avert this trope, telegraphers quickly learned the art of putting the most important information of the message into the very first part of the message. This became standard practice and now putting the most important information first is considered Rule #1 of being a print journalist.
- Recently though, this practice has waned in favor of a more profitable practice called "click baiting", in which the headline only tells enough to get the reader hooked, but leaves out actual information. Examples: "A prominent politician was shot" instead of "<Name here> was shot", "This common food additive causes cancer" instead of "<Ingredient name here> causes cancer, commonly used as food additive".
- As Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, an infamous abortionist and poisoner, was being hanged for his crimes, he managed to get out, "I am Jack the..." (He is not normally taken seriously as a Ripper suspect, since he was apparently in prison during the last three Ripper murders.)
- Russian emperor Peter the Great refused to name his heir until his last minutes. At the deathbed, when he already couldn't talk, he gestured for ink and paper only to write "Leave all to" before dying.
- In law, a "dying declaration" is considered an exception to the rule against hearsay evidence. In one trial, a witness was testifying about someone's last moments:
Lawyer: And what happened after he was shot?
Witness: Well, he said—
Judge: Hold it! This may be hearsay.
Witness: Well, he just said "Ugh!" and died.
- They then had to hold a lengthy voir dire (a trial within a trial) to determine whether the evidence would be admissible: whether it was a true dying declaration, whether the person was aware he was dying, etc. When it was all over and the evidence was found to be admissible, the attorney asked the witness what the man had said.