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"Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!"
Karl Marx's (alleged) last words

Sometimes, just before dying, a character will express something that may turn out to have some form of irony, whether it be Dramatic Irony or immediate irony related to their death. This typically comes in the form of the character making a claim or expressing a wish that is then definitely contradicted by their death. Boasting about your imminent victory or claiming that you're going to live forever only to immediately be struck down definitely comes off as pretty unfortunate. Maybe your Pre-Mortem One-Liner applies more to you than the person you're about to kill. Maybe you hope that people will always remember you as your final wish, only to be completely wiped from existence.

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The trope can just as easily be Played for Laughs as it is Played for Drama depending on the tone of the moment or the work. However, it doesn't matter whether the moment is funny or sad. As long as it's ironic — which means actually ironic. Due to the rampant misuse of the term "irony", it might help to understand what irony really is before adding examples.

Subtrope to Last Words. It is a Sister trope to Sedgwick Speech, a rousing speech given before being abruptly killed, the irony of which is directly proportional to how optimistic it is. Heavily overlaps with This Cannot Be!, in that many villains will declare their death impossible while dying. Often a form of Tempting Fate. Happens often during Evil Gloating. Can also overlap with Instantly Proven Wrong. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? and Nothing Can Stop Us Now! are often examples when involving death.

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As a Death Trope, spoilers are unmarked.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note: Just before Demegawa and his Kira cult are executed by Mikami on live television, he proclaims that they are Kira's friends. Light honestly never liked him. Especially after foiling his plan to get the SPK by falling for Near's money ploy to cover their escape. Even still, Light lost the capacity for friendship long ago anyway.

    Comic Books 
  • The Nail: Superman finally fights the Big Bad, who currently has Kryptonian DNA melded into his body. However, the stress of the fight causes the DNA to begin breaking down, killing him. His last words ("We should have been friends") are painfully ironic in light of The Reveal: the Big Bad was this universe's version of Jimmy Olsen, who had gone insane thanks to the continual experimentation on him and the lack of Superman's presence as a hero.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: From "Nero's Spell (Part 2)", facing a target in a metal cylinder, right before her current body dies from being eaten by something, due to sticking her claw / paw in its "mouth" while trying to open the "tin":
    "Seriously, Keeper? Tinned food?" Alphel gloated as she sat down before the covered pit, raising a giant paw like a cat ready to strike. "I shall crush you with these very claws!"
  • FFS, I Believe in You: In FFS, What Now?, Uisdean's last words are an angry rant at the heroes and the resistance about how he's not defeated yet and a pledge to return to kill them all, which is interrupted when Jabu Orkú emerges from the ocean and bites him in half.
    "This isn't over!" Uisdean screamed over his shoulder once he'd made a fair distance. "I'll be back! I'll be back to kill you all! Then you'll-"
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    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: During a basketball game. Buffy realizes one of the players, Gruller, has been turned and using his powers during it. When it looks like he might attack others, she confront him forcing him to run. She chases him down to a parade float area but he manages to ambush her and has her at his mercy. She tries to pull a "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight speech, but he makes it clear he's fully evil.
    Buffy: You were my friend!
    Gruller: And now I am a god!
    (He goes to bite her but she kicks him in the face, followed by Pike staking him from behind)
    Pike: And now, you're a coat rack.
  • Final Destination: Since Death seems to have a sick sense of humor, it may allow its victims to say something that will add some extra irony to their demise.
    • Final Destination:
      • After surviving the plane crash, Terry and Carter see Alex on the street. Jerk Jock Carter starts harassing Alex, at which point Terry tells him that she isn't interested in wasting her life on stupid fights, and if he wants to, he "can just drop fucking dead." And then she walks out in the street and gets instantly hit by a bus.
      • Billy has a breakdown and yells at Carter that "you're dead. You're dead. And you ain't fucking take me with you!" And then is decapitated by a speeding train.
    • Final Destination 2: Nora is a Death Seeker after the death of her husband and then the later death of her son, Tim. Her final words are "I don't want to die" as she gets decapitated by a moving elevator.
    • Final Destination 3:
      • After believing that he averted his own death, Lewis shouts "Fuck Death! I just win! That's all I know how to do Kevin! Baby, I just win!" and then the weights come down and crush his head.
      • Ian believes he was skipped over in the death cycle, which seems to be proven when fireworks go off, are sent flying at him and miss him completely. He yells out to Wendy and Kevin (the former whom he blames for the death of his girlfriend) that he's off death list and isn't dying while flipping them off... right before he gets crushed by a cherry picker which lands on him in such a way that flips him off.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Scream:
    • Scream 3: Milton tries to convince Roman to spare him, he promises to give Roman what he wants, such as "the final cut" (of his film). Roman replies that "I already have it" and kills him.
    • Scream 4: Kate says "Tell Jill I'm sorry" (her daughter). Presumably unbeknownst to her, Jill was the Ghostface, and may even have been the one who killed her.
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: The Emperor has Luke down for the count and decides to torture him while talking about the futility of defying him. This is just before Darth Vader's Heel–Face Turn where he tosses him to his death. All of his Evil Gloating before it comes to a rather ironic conclusion with his demise.
    "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed! Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side! You have paid the price for your lack of vision! Now, young Skywalker... you will die."
  • Venus: After a while of "romancing" a mostly disinterested younger woman, Jessie, she and Maurice go down to the beach together. He says "now we can really talk!" and immediately dies.

    Literature 
  • Assumption of Risk: The last words of Ryan Steiner in the novel have him attempting to continue the plots of Alessandro Steiner and Aldo Lestrade to incite secessionist rebellions in the Lyran Commonwealth due to his disapproval of the marriage/alliance with House Davion. This includes his part in the assassination plot on Archon Melissa Steiner. His blowhard rhetoric extends even to his last words... not seconds before he is assassinated by a sniper on orders from Victor Steiner-Davion, the product of the very alliance he despised:
    "The Lyran Commonwealth will not be a banquet at which the Clans and Davions can sup. I will see to it. This I vow, on pain of death!"
  • Battle Royale: A pair of girls attempt to convince everyone to lay down their weapons and refuse to fight anymore with the aid of a megaphone, and promptly get slaughtered by the token psychopath who's armed with a sub-machine gun.
  • Barrayar: The villain's Wrong Genre Savvy last words are "You're a Betan, you can't do—". Turns out she can. Later, another character thinks of "the general whose last words were reputed to have been, Don't worry, Lieutenant, the enemy can't possibly hit us at this ran—"
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Witch-King of Angmar's last words are a confident boast that no living man may hinder him, which is followed by Éowyn, a woman, killing him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bonanza: Several episodes of this legendary NBC western of the 1960s had these, wherein the villain of the week would declare victory or that he was unbeatable, just before he is killed off (usually by one of the Cartwrights). A prime example: The 1963 episode "Thunder Man," where series protagonist Little Joe exposes a munitions expert named Poole as a vicious rapist and stalker; during a confrontation in a tense climatic scene, Poole has Joe seemingly beaten and threatens to throw a vial of nitroglycerine at him, screaming out: "I'm a Thunder Man, and not a force in Heaven and Earth can even begin to move me!" Just as Poole finishes this scary declaration, Joe uses this as an opening and, just before Poole can heave the vial toward his Cartwright target, Joe shoots Poole in the chest and the nitroglycerine blows up, killing him.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: When skekLach is hit by a redirected darkening blast the last thing she says is "That wasn't so bad." before she explodes into slime. Doubly ironic since she's a pessimist who constantly complains.
  • The Mandalorian: In Episode 15, a disguised Mando and Mayfeld run into the latter's former CO, Valin Hess. Not recognising Mayfeld, he engages in some Evil Gloating over how the Empire's return to power will be inevitable and "welcomed with open arms". However, Mayfeld, who deserted the Empire because Hess is a sociopath who willingly annihilated most of his division, is so sickened by his total lack of remorse for the massacre that he shoots him after he toasts "to the Empire".
  • Y: The Last Man (2021): Roxanne claims Nora doesn't have the guts to shoot her, just a second before she does just that.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Cards often use last words of this sort as darkly humorous flavor text.
    • Vodalian Mage's flavor text is the last words of a goblin flotilla commander exhorting his desertion troops to come back and fight, since everyone knows that merfolk can't wield magic — implicitly before being killed by a magic-wielding merfolk.
    • Hideous End's flavor text is a relic hunter confidently boasting that curses protecting ancient relics simply mean a better prize at the end, implicitly before being killed by the same dark magic they dismissed.
    • The 2020 core set has a number of dragon cards whose flavor text are the last utterances of people who fatally underestimated the dragons in question, including phrases such as "Yes, it's huge and strong and breathes fire. But we're smart!" (Tadith the Wise, Dragon Mage) and "Surely it won't notice if I take-" (Theria the Sly, Rapacious Dragon).
    • Meteorite shows a cratered, faintly smoking space rock lying on the ground with a prone figure's feet sticking out from beneath it, and its flavor text is the unfinished last sentence of someone implied to have been in the middle of calling on the heavens to strike him down if he's being dishonest.
      "And if I'm lying," he began...

    Video Games and Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Kirumi Tojo loudly proclaims "I WILL NOT DIE!" just before their execution and their desperate attempts to fight it.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: This happens to an unnamed Triad member during the mission "A Home in the Hills", once CJ and the Triads enter Madd Dogg's mansion to take it back from a drug dealer:
    Triad: We're heavily outnumbered, but if we all keep our heads, we should kick ass!
    (Gets shot in the head)

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: Quite inevitable for many characters on this show, especially if their last words were a Pre-Mortem One-Liner of sorts.
    • "Wolverine vs. Raiden": Wolverine impales Raiden on his claws and says "Say goodnight, bub." This simply triggers Raiden's Jack the Ripper side and ends with Raiden slicing off Wolverine's head in the final clash.
    • "Natsu vs. Ace": Ace tells Natsu "You can't touch me." after Natsu seemingly fails to finish him off with a punch that Ace just lets go through his flame body. Natsu then reveals his lightning powers that can hurt Ace and proceeds to incinerate him.
    • "Shadow vs. Ryuko": Ryuko uses the Alumni Mode Scissor Blades while in her Kisaragi Mode and shouts "Sayonara, dipshit!", which had previously been used by Shadow's other opponents Vegeta and Mewtwo for their own Pre Mortem One Liners. Super Shadow proceeds to angrily wreck the swords with a Big "SHUT UP!" before wrecking her and Senketsu with Chaos Spears and blowing them to kingdom come with Chaos Blast.
    • "Heihachi vs. Geese Howard": While being thrown into an active volcano, Geese roars "You cannot escape from death!" as he both causes Heihachi to fall in after him with a parting lightning blast and fires another ki blast at the magma to create a space and rocket back out. Heihachi proceeds to punch Geese back down into the volcano where he gets incinerated by the magma while he himself manages to grab onto the volcano's sides and climb out. So not only didn't Geese escape his own death, Heihachi did.
  • RWBY: Roman Torchwick's Villainous Breakdown involves him ranting to Ruby about the futility of heroism and being a huntress. He claims that she should die just like every other hunter in history. And he stalks closer to Ruby to kill her. However, just before he gets eaten by one of the swarming Griffons...
    Roman: As for me, I'll do what I do best. Lie, steal, cheat, and survi—!

    Western Animation 
  • BoJack Horseman: Subverted in "Free Churro" when BoJack remarks on his mother's last words to him, "I see you." Since his mother was incredibly neglectful and resentful towards him, BoJack is surprised that her final words to him would be a recognition of his existence, and grapples with its potential meaning during his eulogy to her. Then near the end of the episode, he realizes her last words were actually "I.C.U." — her reading the sign at the intensive care unit out loud. Her final words were meaningless.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Landing at Point Rain": One trooper's last words before the gunship he's riding in is shot out of the sky by the Geonosians is a cheerful "Good things those bugs can't aim!"
    • "Bounty": When confronted by Krismo demanding the release of his sister, the last thing Major Rigosso says before being killed by a thrown dagger is "Over my dead body!"

    Real Life 
Note: Some of these examples may be examples of Beam Me Up, Scotty!. The accuracy of them may be debatable.
  • Aleister Crowley, a man who devoted his life to understanding the true nature of things and the mysteries of the occult, was on his deathbed on the verge of finding out for sure what happened Beyond the Abyss, is reported to have left the world with:
    "I am perplexed."
  • Bucky O'Neill, at the Battle of San Juan Hill, refused to duck when Spanish snipers opened fire on him, telling his men "There isn't a Spanish bullet made that can kill me!" He was killed moments later. Given that some of the Spanish Army's ammunition was manufactured in Germany, it's possible that the bullet was not Spanish.
  • Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day. The former's last words were "Jefferson lives", unaware that Jefferson died a few hours ago.
  • The last words John F. Kennedy heard was "Mr. President, you certainly can't say Dallas doesn't love you" during his trip to the city, leading to him replying "no, you certainly can't". Moments later he was shot and killed by a resident of the city.
  • The American Civil War general John Sedgwick, visiting the front line at Spotsylvania (in 1864), who stuck his head over the top of a trench and said to a worried aide:
    "Why are you dodging like this? They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."
  • The page quote contains the alleged last words of Karl Marx. Definitely ironic that he mocks the idea of Famous Last Words only to have that be the last thing he says.

 
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"Lie, Steal, Cheat & Survive!"

Roman's last words...right before, he ends up in the belly of a Griffin.

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