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Inverse Dialogue Death Rule

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"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings."

The Inverse Dialogue Death Rule dictates that the more important a character is, the longer their death will take. While Mooks and other cannon fodder tend to die from a single Instant Death Bullet that would be Only a Flesh Wound for a more important character, the deaths of characters who have had significant amounts of dialogue (or at least screen time) usually last much longer.

Applies most strongly to short-term villains, especially of the Monster of the Week and Evil Minions varieties, but can also apply to heroes, who often manage at least some pithy Last Words, if not a full-blown Final Speech. Of course, if a writer is in the mood to surprise you, you may wind up with the character Killed Mid-Sentence.

Compare Death Is Dramatic, when important characters get dramatic deaths, and Wring Every Last Drop out of Him, when a character is on the brink of death, but takes a while to actually die. Contrast Long-Lasting Last Words, in which all the time left is used for an absurdly large monologue before dying.

Because this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers ahead. You Have Been Warned.


Anime & Manga

  • Bleach: Mooks usually get taken out with a sword slash and are forgotten, higher-level subordinate villains may get a few minutes to die, but every major character death is apparently contractually entitled to a half-to-whole-episode flashback either immediately before death or sometimes after it.
  • Dragon Knights: Mooks get offed fairly easily. Any of the dragon tribe allies who die? They'll talk forever.
  • Hellsing: After Pip Bernadette gets stabbed through the chest by Zorin Blitz's thrown scythe, he has enough time to deliver a final rousing speech to fledgling vampire Seras Victoria, give her a first and last kiss, and a final request that she drink his blood to become a true vampire. She does, and Pip eventually recovers as an added bonus. Then again at the end, after Seras shoots the Major, he also has time for a Robotic Reveal and a final speech.
  • Naruto: The death or near-death of any major character can take the better part of an episode, and sometimes even spill over to the next. Then there's the funeral.

Fan Works

  • Spellbinding Radiance:
    • Kieran and Gatrie both have few lines, so their deaths aren't so bad.
    • Conversely, John's and Jill's deaths both subvert this trope by being anti-climatic despite their huge roles.
    • Sothe has a huge death scene despite having almost no lines in the story. It is excusable given the fact that it firmly establishes that Anyone Can Die, since Sothe is one of the few people who cannot die in Path of Radiance under any circumstance.

Films — Live-Action

  • Avengers: Infinity War: the disintegration caused by Thanos' snap takes place over the course of a few seconds for most characters, with the exception of Spider-Man, whose disintegration takes a full minute. Why? No reason, except he's Marvel's most famous character and the third most famous superhero.
  • Brick: Subverted. Dode is a very important character but gets the shit punched out of him and then is promptly shot in the face before he can get a word in edgewise.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hilariously mocked when The Dragon, "Pee-Wee Herman", spends the entire rest of the movie in his death throes. Clear past the closing credits.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Boromir takes forever to be killed (arrow after arrow, and overcranked as well), complete with a speech to Aragorn after the latter just had a big duel with the chief Uruk-Hai.
  • The Matrix Revolutions: Trinity takes for-goddamn-ever to die while giving a long speech to Neo about all the things she wished she had said last time she died —which had been an aversion of the trope.
  • Serenity: Both Played Straight and inverted. One major character, Book, and one throwaway character, Mr. Universe, get drawn-out deaths with the standard speech. On the other hand, Wash's death is instantaneous.
  • Utøya: July 22: Inverted. The nameless wounded girl gets about 5 minutes of dying speech, Kaja herself gets less than a second, and even a Really Dead Montage is denied to her as the plot continues. In the theatrical edition Kaja does get a little time to utter last words, and a Really Dead Montage, but still dies very quickly.


  • Battle Royale: All the major characters get long drawn-out deaths, with the huge hordes of enemies at the end of the film all stopping their attacking to let characters like Shiori Kitano spend five full minutes making peace with the world.
  • The Iliad: Although scores of heroes die during the epic's pages, most of them die without so much as a word before eating dust. However, the most pivotal death in the book, Patroclus' killing by Hector, has a long final speech by the victim, in which Patroclus warns Hector of his impending death.

Live-Action TV

  • All of Us Are Dead: The turn rate into a zombie is inconsistent most of the time. If the character is important to the plot, they are given several minutes to say their goodbyes. If they are insignificant, they turn into mere seconds.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Major and semi-major villains usually take several seconds to dust. For instance, in "The Harvest", Luke has time to fall from the stage to the floor before dusting, but run-of-the-mill vamps most often dust before the stake is removed. This may be loosely based on the vampire's power, given that The Master was reduced to a skeleton but never dust.
    • Usually subverted with the good guys. Jenny, Joyce, Tara, and Anya all die quick deaths. On the other hand, when Buffy sacrifices herself in the fifth season's Grand Finale, she takes about a minute to die —and from her expression, it was an agonizing minute.
  • NCIS: Subverted in "Twilight". Kate Todd, one of the lead special agents, gets sniped straight in the center of her forehead and dies abruptly.
  • Star Trek:
    • The "instant vaporization" effectiveness of phasers is inversely proportional to the importance of the character they're being fired at.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Subverted with Damar near the end, who despite being rather important to the plot and the universe went out with a one-word final speech.

Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed: The major assassination targets are capable of giving entire soliloquies, followed up by an explanation of important plot points, after you've stabbed them in the throat. It's implied that there is some kind of telepathy, or memory alteration going on.
  • Dead Rising: The more important a character is, the longer their death seems to take.
    • Survivors abruptly die as soon as they run out of health and the game moves on. If zombies kill them, a short cutscene will play.
    • The grouped psychopaths (the Convicts and the Hall family) do not get death cutscenes, but the other psychos get to say or do one final thing before dying.
    • The major character deaths are all prolonged:
      • Dr. Barnaby reveals his role in the Santa Cabeza incident, and how the zombie parasite was initially created, then laughs maniacally upon succumbing to the infection.
      • After getting gutted by zombies, Brad manages to push his gun towards Frank, confirm that he’s done for, and tell Frank to not let Jessie know about his demise before finally turning.
      • Carlito monologues about how the American government ruined his life and how zombies and Americans are very much alike. Before dying of blood loss, he asks Frank to give a locket to Isabela.
      • It takes an entire day for Jessie’s infection to kill her, and her final moments are five cutscenes long: the first one has her feeling hopeful due to being to contact headquarters, the second has her being consumed by despair and weirdly taking her glasses off because of the government planning to cover up the incident, the third one has her silently turning and killing the soldiers interrogating her, the fourth one has Frank, unaware of her death, trying to contact her on the receiver, and the fifth one has Frank find the mess she posthumously caused in the security room.
  • Drakan: The guy who dies at the beginning performs an infodump that lasts forever while gasping and struggling the whole way, as though on his last breath.
  • Eternal Sonata: Claves, one of the main Love Interests, has a dying monologue that drags on forever.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Mooks die easily, those with Nominal Importance have a final line or two, and major antagonist Zelgius, being critical to the plot of both games, has an extended scene post-battle in Radiant Dawn complete with Flashback before expiring.
  • Mega Man X4: Magma Dragoon is the only instance where one of the eight initial bosses is responsible for a major plot point. After his defeat and explosion, his upper half survives long enough to give a Motive Rant before it blows up again.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: Big Boss' dying monologue lasts at least a good five minutes (after a good ten-minute exposition, no less). Many other bosses in the series also take a while to actually die, but his takes the cake.