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If We Get Through This...

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Sam: All right. We don't have that much left. We have to be careful or we're going to run out. You go ahead and eat that, Mister Frodo. I've rationed it. There should be enough.
Frodo: For what?
Sam: ...the journey home.

Most characters in the thick of danger are living in the moment. What's happening now has got their full attention, and they don't dare think about what might happen next (either because the hope might distract them or the dread might break them).

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So it's jarring to hear one of the band speak up and declare that, when this is all over, they'd better come to her birthday party next week. 'Poor sweet wretch!' the audience may think. 'She's doomed herself. She's far too fresh and innocent for the hard situation she's in.'

This trope has several different shades of meaning, but the major one is that it reveals the optimism — perhaps even the heroic spirit — of one of the band. Perhaps no one else dares hope, but she does. Depending on where the work falls on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, she may be proven entirely right. Her hope might even sustain her — she may be outnumbered 10-1 in the dark, but by gum, she is going to make it out just so she can go to that theme park or eat sundaes with her friends. On the other hand, her words can be the voice of ironic doom, either for herself or for any character she mentions who is a) recognizable as a character and b) not so major that their death would totally alter things. This use of the trope is entirely to twist the emotional knife — see how the situation has destroyed the one person who thought she could get out of it.

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See also Retirony, a major development a random Red Shirt will never get to see, as well as Deadly Deferred Conversation and Fatal Family Photo. A kind of Tempting Fate. Compare Planning for the Future Before the End for cases where the imminent death of one of the characters is apparent. Also compare If We Survive This.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Proves as fatal as a family photo, and incredibly fast, in Arrowsmith.
  • In the Postboot Legion of Super-Heroes story "Widening Rifts," Saturn Girl tells Live Wire that if they get through this, she'll marry him. They end up as two of a group of twelve Legionnaires who are trapped on the team's satellite when it's sucked into a spatial rift, sending them who knows where and leaving them presumed dead by the teammates who stayed behind. The next story, however, focuses on this "Legion Lost," and gives the readers another whole year with them, alive, together, before they return home. Live Wire, however, doesn't come back with them. He does reappear later, though, in a very different shape.

    Films — Animated 
  • Anastasia has a literal example in dialogue.
    Dimitri: If we live through this, remind me to thank you.
    [which Anastasia repeats in the ending sequence before Dimitri cuts her off]
    Anastasia: If we live through this, remind me-
    Dimitri: You can thank me later.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid discuss moving to Australia in the final moments of their Bolivian Army Ending.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve and Peggy make plans to go dancing together as Steve struggles to land the plane he's on safely. The plane crashes, and Steve misses his date by about 70 years.
  • In Das Boot, the Captain tells the crew that "it's half a bottle of beer for each" if they can make it safely back to La Rochelle. They do, but they're hit with an Allied air raid almost immediately after docking.
  • In Get Smart, Max told 99 that if they got through this one he'd ask her to marry him. Cue 99's utter annihilation of all the Mooks.
  • Subverted in The Guns of Navarone. When the team is about to leave the seriously wounded Major Franklin behind with the Germans, Corporal Miller says "When this is over, you'll buy me lunch." Major Franklin survives. Subverted in the film as Andrea has stated his intention to kill Mallory after the war ends. Fortunately he decides to forgo his revenge.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius tells Harry that "When all this is over, we'll be a proper family. You'll see." No, they won't. For anyone who read the book before seeing the film, this doubles as Dramatic Irony.
  • Logan: Xavier's line "And then we buy the Sunseeker." destined him for not making it to the end.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Sam announces apropos of nothing that he'd have liked to marry Rosie Cotton. Which, naturally, he later does.
  • In Morning Departure, Armstrong was planning to the eponymous morning departure his final patrol, as he was planning to resign his commission and take up a lucrative job offer from his father-in-law. Needless to say, things to do not go as planned.
  • In Rest Stop the policeman who has his legs broken says he wants to get home to his kid so he can apologize for the one time he yelled at him.
    "What a fucking stupid thing to think as I'm dying."
    He then realizes that the girl's life is more important than his own and orders her to kill him before they both get burnt alive. He gives her a gun and tells her to shoot him in the head. She misses.
  • Used to good effect in Serenity, as they're gearing up for a last desperate stand and Simon finally tells Kaylee that he regrets never acting on her obvious desire to hook up. Kaylee takes this as fuel for her determination, but to the viewer, this (coupled with the recent realization that Anyone Can Die) creates more genuine fear for the characters' fate than most action movies produce. Of course it ends up being a subversion.
  • Played for Laughs in Tango and Cash. Cash tells Tango that if he gets out of this alive... he's going to date Tango's sister Katherine. Tango is not pleased.

    Literature 
  • In Animorphs Jake does this in the next to last book, asking Cassie to marry him "when this is all over". Ends up a subversion, since they don't get married.
  • In addition to The Lord of the Rings example above, Legolas and Gimli make plans to go traveling together if they both survive the events ahead of them.
  • In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Mike asks Mannie if, "when this is over", he'll have time to discuss humor again (this being Mike's favorite pastime). Mannie promises he will. Of course, Mike doesn't make it. Possibly only a semi-example, because the exchange happens when no one's in immediate mortal peril (and in fact at the moment things are looking more optimistic for the good guys than they have in months).
  • In Solo Leveling, Jin-woo intends to sacrifice himself so Ju-hee and Chi-yeol can escape the double dungeon, he places a magic core he found in Ju-hee's hand, asking her to go buy dinner with it, referring to his earlier promise to treat her to dinner as thanks for taking care of him.
  • Irisis in The Three Worlds Cycle: Well Of Echoes is the only character who has any definite plans for what she wants to do when the war is over (become a jeweller), a fact which is casually mentioned a couple of times a book. After they finally managed to end the war - including finding a morally acceptable third option – she finally manages to reveal her love to Nish and have him agree to marry her. Just after that, Nish’s nightmare father turns up, everything goes to hell, and – on the second last page of the quartet – she is beheaded.

    Radio 
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, when Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin are being eaten by the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal:
    Trillian: If I ever survive this, I'll get a job as Moby-Dick's dentist!

    Theatre 
  • A Cut Song from Little Shop of Horrors, "We'll Have Tomorrow", was Seymour and Audrey singing about the wonderful life they were going to start tomorrow. "We'll have tomorrow/If we/Make it through tonight". They don't.
  • In South Pacific, Lieutenant Joe Cable ultimately resolves that, if he makes it through the war, he will stay in the South Pacific with his girlfriend rather than returning to the United States. Of course, he dies.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
    • In Fuyuhiko's Free Time Events, he says that if he manages to escape, he plans on holding funerals for his sister, for Peko and for Mahiru, since he's responsible for the latter two's deaths. Fuyuhiko ultimately survives.
    • A somewhat shorter-term example in the fourth class trial, in which the lives of the innocent students depend on finding and uncovering the murderer. Hajime says that if they get through, he plans on revealing something he recently learned- that he does not, in fact, have a talent- since it's part of the reason why Nagito's acting even more oddly than usual, but they have more expressing concerns at the moment. Hajime and the other students, with the exception of the culprit, survive.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: After Krillin rescues Android 18, she thinks to herself "If we make it through this, I'm going to rock his four-foot world".

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom does this in the Grand Finale; "Phantom Planet".
    Danny: If we make it through this —
    Sam: When we make it through this.
    Danny: Right. When we make it through this, there's something I'd like to talk to you about.
  • Peg to Pete in Goof Troop when a Zany Scheme results in falling really really far: "If by some chance we don't die... I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" (All involved wind up in Bandage Mummy status in the end, so she doesn't get to throttle him later.)
  • Donkey Kong Country: When DK and Diddy are about to sneak into King K. Rool's lair.
    Diddy: Oh boy. If we get out of this, we'll be the two luckiest apes alive.
    DK: And if we don't, we'll be the two unluckiest apes-
    Diddy: Don't say it, DK, Don't say it!
  • The fourth season of Winx Club gives this impression when Nabu proposes to Aisha in episode 11. Later, at the beginning of episode 24, Aisha tells Nabu that once everything is over, they can finally begin their lives together... shortly before Nabu sacrifices himself to stop the Wizards of the Black Circle.

    Real Life 
  • Before crashing their heavily crippled jet, two pilots aboard United Airlines Flight 232 had this conversation:
    Fitch: I'll tell you what, we'll have a beer when this is all done.
    Haynes: Well I don't drink, but I'll sure as shit have one.note 
  • Subverted by Marshal Ney to General Drouet d'Erlon in the rout following the Battle of Waterloo:
    Ney: If we survive this, you and I will be hanged! note 


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