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Last Breath Bullet

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The story's over. The Big Bad is defeated. The end of the world has been prevented. The heroes are victorious.


From nowhere, a bullet rips through one of the heroes, killing them almost instantly. It turns out that the villain, The Dragon, or possibly even a random mook, was Not Quite Dead. Having shot the hero, they then collapse on the floor, finally dead.

The above is the most common form of this trope, but a) it does not necessarily have to be a bullet; b) the villain does not have to die immediately afterward; and c) the scenario may just have been added for the dramatic effect and the hero could pull through in the end (likely due to aid from a teammate). However, it is usually the last we ever see of the villain. This can also take the villainous form of a Taking You with Me depending on the circumstances.

The Last Breath Bullet is probably one of the deadliest attacks in fiction. Mentors, Love Interests, Rivals and heroes alike have all fallen to its power; no armor, Plot or otherwise can defend against it.

When the villain does this, it can be a form of the Downer Ending, and a Diabolus ex Machina. However, it is also it is also possible for a dying character to save the hero's life this way or even defeat the big bad with their last shot, which may make it their Moment of Awesome. Occurs most frequently in action films. Can overlap with Post-Climax Confrontation, Taking You with Me, Last Ditch Move (in video games) and/or with Load-Bearing Boss. Compare with Last Villain Stand, Take a Moment to Catch Your Death, and Dead Man's Switch.

As this is a Death Trope and Ending Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach when Gin had all but killed Aizen. To elaborate further, Gin had held Aizen's sword before he could activate Kyoka Suigetsu, then used his Bankai to stab him, and place a shard in his body, which emitted a poison breaking down his his cells, before stealing the Hogyouku he merged with and running with it. To Gin's (and the reader's) surprise, Aizen had came back in a new form, and proceeds to kill Gin.
  • Code Geass: Akito the Exiled has a Heroic Sacrifice version of this, where Jean Rowe allows herself to be run through by her raging commander, Shin Hyuga Shiang, protecting Akito from what would’ve been a fatal blow. Before dying, she shoots him point-blank in the chest with her pistol, sealing his fate as well. Jean dies with Shin's sword stuck in her chest, and soon after Shin bleeds out and dies next to her, holding her hand.
  • Used in Digimon Adventure when after Leomon takes a fatal blow for Mimi, and Zudomon cracks MetalEtemon's chest by throwing a hammer at it, Leomon gets up and impales that crack... then collapses and dies.
  • In Dragon Ball Z when Cell is seemingly defeated after Goku instant transmissions him to King Kai's planet right before he self-destructs a laser comes out of nowhere and kills Future Trunks and reveals that Cell regenerated and they continue combat until Gohan kills him.
    • When Big Bad Frieza is thought to be dead after being hit with a spirit bomb, he emerges behind the heroes and shoots an instant death beam, which ends up hitting Piccolo; Goku tries to get his remaining friends to escape but Frieza blows up Krillin with telekinesis as another act of spite. Goku's newfound rage at seeing his friends die causes him to go Super Saiyan for the first time, and the fight quickly stops being in Frieza's favor. Piccolo survivesnote , but he's knocked unconscious and removed from the fight.
    • Happens in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (and the Dragon Ball Super adaptation of said movie) where Frieza is clearly defeated, yet Goku lets his guard down and is shot through the heart by Frieza's minion Sorbet. Done again in the same story arc when Vegeta has Frieza beaten, but Frieza blows up the Earth out of spite.
  • Full Metal Panic!:
    • Subverted when Zaied unexpectedly still had enough life to be able to aim his gun at Sousuke and tell Sousuke that the person who has remaining ammunition is the winner. Sousuke is shown wincing and waiting for the impact, but instead, Zaied lifted the gun and shot the remaining ammunition into the sky before dying. It's left ambiguous whether he deliberately spared his old friend, or just didn't have the energy left to aim properly.
    • Played straight in the novel Approaching Nick of Time when a dying Kurz manages to snipe his villainous former mentor Casper (breaking Casper's record in the process) after Casper emerges from his Arm Slave to apprehend Sousuke, Lemon, and Tessa. The trio escape and hastily withdraw, but are unable to recover Kurz, who would've needed immediate medical attention to survive.
  • The villain themselves doesn't die but in one episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Togusa intervenes when a young man is attacking a young woman. Said young man turns out to be a cyborg and switches off his pain sensors, forcing Togusa to shoot out all his limbs. However, when he turns around to help the victim up the cyborg shoots her (having been able to level his gun using just his elbow) out of spite.
  • Noriaki Kakyoin in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, lying dying on the rooftops of Cairo, has only enough energy left to fire one Emerald Splash attack as a last-ditch effort to defeat DIO. However, he aims not at DIO, but a clock tower, destroying it. This gives Joseph the vital clue that the group needed to discover the secret of DIO's Stand: its ability to stop time.
  • In the third episode of KanColle anime, as the Abyssal Fleet is falling back from the battle, the last critically damaged scout left manages to drop a bomb at Kisaragi right before blowing up, sinking her.
  • This happens to Meer, the fake Lacus in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny. In this case, it overlaps with Heroic Sacrifice and Taking the Bullet, as the bullet was meant for the real Lacus.
    • In the Gundam side story "Space, To The End Of A Flash", the Gundam Unit 5 and its pilot are shot and killed by a Gelgoog and its pilot using the last of their strength for one last spite shot.
  • In the manga version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ritsuko takes out Gendo this way.
  • In Princess Mononoke, a scene at the end in which Moro's head bites off Lady Eboshi's arm after she's killed the Forest God embodies the spirit of this trope pretty well. It's not a bullet...more of a Last Breath Bite.
  • In Puella Magi Oriko Magica, Oriko uses the last of her strength to hurl a shard of Kirika's witch body through the barrier, which pierces Madoka's chest and kills her, forcing Homura to restart the timeline once again.
  • In Saint Seiya Gold Saints Taurus Aldebaran and Gemini Kanon Aldebaran after being slain by the specter Niobe he shoot his final Great Horn at the specter disintegrating his body before dying while the latter Kanon makes a heroic sacrifice to kill Wyvern Radamantys without his gold cloth.
  • Played for Laughs in Spy X Family: The opening scene of one of the bonus chapters starts with a Not Quite Dead mook getting the drop on Yor during one of her jobs. It initally appears serious... until the next page reveals that Yor is fine; she just got Shot in the Ass and the rest of the chapter is a comedic story about her trying to hide the wound from her family despite the pain preventing her from sitting down normally.

    Comic Books 
  • In Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen #4, 'Bullseye' Miller is wounded in a Nazi ambush and Left for Dead by The Neidermeyer Captain Conner. HE struggles to his feet and trails Conner back through the woods to where the Dozen are encamped. He arrives just as Conner is about to execute Kelly and Nick Fury. Miller uses his dying strength to shoot Conner and then expires.
  • Jonah Hex: In #10 of the original series, Bandito chief el Papagayo is about to shoot Jonah having just disposed of most of his men when his mistress Estrillita throws a knife into his back. As Estrillita flings herself into Jonah's arms, a shot rings out from the ground as el Papagayo's last breath bullet hits her in the back and she slumps dead in Jonah's arm.
  • Done in Marvel Zombies with the Red Skull, during the battle against the now Power Cosmic-enhanced zombie heroes. In his last moments, The Red Skull manages to tear out Colonel America's brain, effectively killing him, just before the other zombies vaporize him in retaliation. His final words?
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, in the non-canon finale Senso, Usagi destroys the last alien tripod, only to be stabbed from behind by its surviving pilot. He dies next to Tomoe and Jotaro.
  • The ending of Messiah CompleX in X-Men vol. 2 #207: Cable manages to play off Predator X and Bishop against each other, resulting in the latter losing an arm. The X-Men defeat the Marauders, and afterwards Cable, Cyclops and Professor X hash out what to do with Hope, the Messiah Baby. Then, just as Cable disappears into the future carrying Hope, Bishop suddenly appears and fires his gun. He is too late to hit the time-travelling Cable and Hope, but Professor Xavier is hit in the head and critically injured before Cyclops can take Bishop out with his eye-blast.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: At the end of "Fraser's Story", Mary uses Fraser's Borgia ring to kill Randle—the man who had abducted her, brainwashed her, and made her a traitor to her country and his mistress—by injecting him with a lethal dose of cyanide. He falls to the ground but uses his dying breath to draw a gun and shoot her.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • A villain vs. villain example: In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Big Bad Rourke betrays his right hand, Helga, and knocks her off his hot air getaway balloon. Right before she dies, she fires a Flare Gun at the balloon in revenge igniting it and causing it to fall back to the ground, presumably crushing Helga in the process.
  • Inverted in Penguins of Madagascar. Skipper shoots a Cheesy Diddle out of its package right before the exterminator van sucks him in, but it's enough to activate the ray that will restore the penguins' cuteness and stop Dave's plan. Skipper himself survives, though.
  • In The Secret of NIMH Jenner gets a dagger thrown to his back courtesy of Sullivan, as payback for mortally wounding him earlier.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A flying dagger through Empress Wan at the end of The Banquet.
  • Subverted in Batman Returns. With Batman distracted with the death of Max Shreck and the disappearance of Catwoman, the mortally-wounded Penguin rises from the sewer water and tries to shoot Batman with one of his umbrellas. Fortunately, he "picked the cute one," and dies.
    Penguin: The heat's getting to me... I'll murder you momentarily. But first, I need a cool drink... of ice... water...
  • The Bravados: After the fake hangman stabs the sheriff, the sheriff manages to get off a single shot which kills his attacker.
  • In The Charge at Feather River, the Guardhouse Brigade finds an elderly Arapaho left behind to die by his war band. As Archer and the others turn to leave him, he uses his last strength to throw his tomahawk into the neck of one of the Red Shirts, then expires.
  • Commandoes Strike At Dawn: A mortally-wounded Eric is still able to fling the grenade that wipes out the Germans in front of the town hall, allowing the commandos to rescue the hostages.
  • Played straight in Lucio Fulci's Contraband, where one of the main villains gets a bullet to the throat courtesy of one of the good guys, who was machine-gunned by his henchmen a few moments earlier.
  • Subverted in The Departed: Costello misses, but then Sullivan isn't exactly the hero.
  • Last minute subversion in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. After being beaten to the draw by Blondie, a dying Angel Eyes tries to recover and shoot back. Blondie just calmly shoots him again before he can manage.
  • A heroic version in Hidalgo. After Aziz shoots Jaffa and prepares to kill Jazira, Jaffa manages to hurl his sword into Aziz's back, then collapse in death.
  • In Hot Shots! Part Deux, a dying mook musters his last strength to shoot at the heroes and hits Ramada but her Pocket Protector locket saves her.
  • In Inglourious Basterds, Zoller guns down Shoshanna as she checks to see if he's still alive. Don't worry - the plan still works.
  • Invisible Avenger: After Victor shoots the Colonel after mistaking him for the Shadow, the Colonel uses his dying strength to shoot and kill Victor.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, just when the Gandalf and the Fellowship believe that the Balrog is falling to its doom, it goes and pulls a Last Breath Whip and drags Gandalf along with it.
  • In Man on Fire, during Pita's abduction, Denzel Washington's character is seriously wounded by a guy who has already been shot and looks like he has only moments left to live.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • During the final shootout in Money Movers, a badly wounded Martin crawls out from between the trucks and empties his gun into Brian who is attempting to open the roller doors. Martin's shots kill him, and prevent the doors being opened and the robbers escaping. He then collapses, seemingly dead. A slight subversion as Martin actually survives and is seen being load into an ambulance at the end of the film, with Det. Sgt. Rose muttering that if he survives, he'll probably get his badge back.
  • Rocky Mountain: After taking an arrow In the Back from the Shoshone chief Man Dog, Captain Barstow (Errol Flynn) manages to draw his revolver and shoot Man Dog down, before a second arrow in the back finishes him off.
  • In Seven Samurai, all but two of the bandits are dead, and while the remaining samurai are trying to ascertain if there are any left, the Big Bad manages to shoot and kill two of the remaining heroes before being killed himself.
  • Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, activating the Genesis Device. Quoting Moby-Dick as he does it, no less.
  • ˇThree Amigos!!: After the good guys use a creative method to defeat El Guapo, El Guapo tells them it was a good trick, shoots at one of them in the foot, and says that that was a good trick too. (He doesn't actually kill them but does die laughing).
  • In Tiger House, Shane saves Kelly by shooting Callum just as he is about to shoot her, and then expires.
  • Triple 9: Gabe is dying when he draws his gun and uses it to shoot Marcus; an action that gets him shot by Chris, who doesn't realize Gabe was saving his life.
  • Underworld U.S.A.: After he kills Connors, Tolly stats to leave the penthouse pool. Connors bodyguard, who Tolly had knocked out earlier, revives enough to fire one shot, fatally wounding Tolly, before either dying or passing out.
  • Subverted in the 1949 version of Whispering Smith. Especially shocking in that it's the hero's former best friend gone bad who's trying to take him with him.
  • In Wild Horse Phantom, Daggett shoots his henchman Kallen before trying to escape. Kallen is Not Quite Dead and staggers to the entrance to the mine where Daggett and Carson are fighting. Just as Daggett is about to smash Carson's head in with a rock, Kallen shoots him dead and then expires.
  • Zukovsky does a variant in The World Is Not Enough, albeit without directly killing anyone; instead, he fires his cane-gun at the manacles securing Bond to Elektra's torture chair. Elektra assumes Zukovsky was trying to kill Bond and missed, remarking that "he must have really hated you," but the impact of the bullet enables Bond to break free - almost certainly Zukovsky's intention, given that he realized immediately previous that Elektra had killed his nephew.
  • Subverted in Yojimbo. The villain makes a last request that the hero allow him to die with his prized gun in his hand, claiming that it is unloaded. The hero gives him the gun and he tries to pull one of these, but is so deep in his death throes that he is unable to pull the trigger.
  • Played with in Zeppelin (1971). The hero is a British Fake Defector pretending to aid the Germans with a commando raid. He's able to slip away and contact a British guard post who are naturally skeptical, until German commandos burst into the bunker and shoot everyone. As he's about to leave the bunker, the hero is wounded by a dying British solder who is now convinced he's a German spy.

  • One of these stops the Professional Killer during the Luisa Rey segment of Cloud Atlas. It's shown from the perspective of the one firing it as he lies bleeding out on the floor, and his hand feels like it takes years to reach the gun.
  • A heroic version of this occurs in the shootout with the Masadan terrorists on the Wages of Sin in Crown Of Slaves when Berry and Ruth's bodyguards have all been killed and as the Masadans are gloating one of them regains consciousness just long enough to nail the leader.
  • Eddie is killed this way in the last book of The Dark Tower series.
  • In a sense, the wizard's Death Curse acts as one of these in The Dresden Files. Dresden himself is the target of one when he kills the sorcerer Quintus Cassius.
  • In Richard Hughes' novel In Hazard, the plot itself seems to pull one of these, when, after the ship has come through a terrible storm, the hero randomly falls overboard and drowns.
  • Another heroic version in the climax of Dennis L. McKiernan's The Iron Tower trilogy, with the words, "Danner Bramblethorn had fired his last arrow." But that arrow was crucial to getting the fortress gates open.
  • The Balrog does it to Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings by dragging him down into the underground.
  • Froggy Benson tries to do this to the Man With No Name at the end of The Million Dollar Bloodhunt. He hits Pachuco instead.
  • First Mate Cox tries this at the end of Nation, but it's subverted when the sharks get to him first.
  • The Melconian sniper who shoots Maneka Trevor in Old Soldiers is more of a Last Man Bullet than Last Breath Bullet, but he's the sole survivor of the Melconian heavy division that the Bolo has just finished slaughtering, and doesn't last long afterwards.
  • The mutual death of two minor villains in the Redwall book Pearls of Lutra had a water rat named Sagitar stab a traitorous comrade with her trident as she lies dying on the ground from a stab wound.
  • The Saga of the Jomsvikings: At daybreak the day after the Battle of Hjorunga Bay, the victorious Norwegians are busy binding up their wounds when they "heard the twang of a bowstring" from one of the ships of the Jomsvikings which are still drifting in the bay, and an arrow strikes and kills Gudbrand, a relative of Jarl Hakon. They search the ships and find Hávard the Hewing, who is still alive even though both his feet are cut off. Before he is put to death, Hávard expresses his disappointment that the man he killed was not Jarl Hakon himself.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Starfire, Chris Wohl is fatally wounded by a Russian assassin targeting Bradley, but manages to hold on long enough to hit the assassin on the back of the head and thereby give Bradley a chance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A heroic example in season 5 of 24: After taking a bullet, Aaron Pierce saves the lives of three major characters by killing the last of the gunmen before collapsing, although his wound was not fatal.
    • In season 7, Jack delivers a mook an Instant Death Bullet as he's about to shoot his hostage, but he reflexively pulls the trigger and shoots the hostage in the chest. The hostage survives.
  • Subverted in Copper. After a shootout, one of the bank robbers is still alive and tries to lift his gun to shoot a detective in the back. However, the detective is fully aware of this and simply draws his gun and finishes off the robber with a single shot.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Utopia": The Master is killed by his assistant, whom he'd fatally wounded and left for dead. Of course, for Time Lords, that's not fatal...
    • This also happens to Rory in "Cold Blood" by the General Ripper.
    • And in some respects, Amy, right after it looked like she'd stopped Rory turning into an Auton in "The Pandorica Opens".
    • In "The Doctor Falls", Missy stabs the Master, which will trigger his next regeneration. He retaliates by shooting her in the back with his laser screwdriver, telling her she will not regenerate. Both laugh over the irony of their mutual betrayal before the Master departs. So this is also the Master Mutual Killing themselves.
  • Elementary: "Snow Angels" opens with a group of thieves shooting a security guard in the chest and dragging him behind his post. Before he succumbs to his wounds the guard manages to fire a single shot that injures his attacker. The police to track the attacker down when she checks into a hospital to treat her "stab wound".
  • In The Goodies episode "Bunfight at the OK Tearooms" (a parody of just about every Western trope ever), a dying Bill gets off a final squirt of his sauce bottle just as Graeme's girl flings herself into his arm. The sauce misses Graeme but gets the girl.
    • And then, filled with grief, Graeme squirts sauce at himself.
  • In the Heroes season 1 finale, Sylar appears to be dead, but then gets up to telekinetically throw Hiro at a building, before falling unconscious. Hiro is able to send himself back in time before he smashes against the wall though.
  • The New Avengers: After being shot by the White Rat in "To Catch a Rat", Gunner struggles to his feet long enough to shoot the Rat as he was about to shoot Purdey.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Prince James (Charming's Evil Twin) kills a warlord to prove himself. As the prince follows up with a motivational speech, the warlord impales James before succumbing to his wounds.
  • In the series finale of Revenge, after being fatally shot by David as retribution for framing Emily, Victoria interrupts the pair's reconciliation by firing a bullet into Emily's back. For all Victoria's effort, Emily survives anyway.
  • ""Dear Sister", a Saturday Night Live short. Six characters, 24 shots fired, all except 2 fired by the dead and dying. We don't know who the villain is, but assuming there is at least one this probably counts.
  • Torchwood. Owen dies this way; unfortunately he's brought back to 'life'.

    Video Games 
  • Attempted and subverted in Banjo-Kazooie. Upon being dealt the final blow by the Jinjonator, Gruntilda tries to launch one last spell at Banjo and Kazooie as she falls from the tower, only to miss them by a mile. She would have hit them had the original ending occurred and turned them into frogs.
  • While Handsome Jack isn't the target of the Angel Core boss fight in Borderlands 2, he still shows up to shoot Roland in the back before promising to murder everyone the Vault Hunters have ever spoken to in retribution.
  • Call of Duty: Stupid Last Stand perk...
    • Martyrdom is even worse as it gives players last breath grenades.
      • Last Stand in the hands of a skilled player is far more dangerous than the single grenade. You last quite a long time, if you are in a hardcore server you often only need a couple of pistol shots to kill someone, and can rack up 3 or 4 extra kills if players don't realise you are there.
      • Last Stand is a yellow perk. Martyrdom is a deathstreak. You can equip both at the same time. Meaning the guy who just took half a minute and three of your teammates to bleed out left a little present behind when he did.
    • Subverted in the ending of Modern Warfare. Soap lives.
  • Related to the ending of Call of Juarez - the final boss gets up after being shot to try to stab Young Protagonist, and the player has to fire off the Old Protagonist's Last Breath Bullet to stop it.
  • In Dawn of War 2: The Last Stand the Ork Mekboy can equip a piece of wargear that creates a large explosion when he dies.
  • Destiny 2: One cinematic shows that, shortly after becoming a Guardian, Commander Zavala died his first death when a Fallen he had mortally wounded managed to pull its sidearm and shoot him In the Back as it died. Since Guardians have Resurrective Immortality, this did nothing but slow Zavala down.
  • In Disco Elysium, at the climatic Tribunal event, you mortally wound the leader of the mercenary squad, before dealing with his cronies in the confusion. The leader, however, clings on to life long enough to fire a shot at you out of spite. To make matters worse, you cannot do anything to avoid getting hit by this shot; Failure Is the Only Option.
  • Jericho does this to Tanner at the end of DRIV3R, putting him into a coma.
  • Fairly common in Final Fantasy games, where enemies will cast a particularly devastating attack as a scripted counter when their HP drops to zero, but before their death animation occurs. If the party bites it due to this attack, it still counts as a game over.
    • Final Fantasy VI: The Magi Master atop the Fanatics' Tower will only cast Ultima (a defense-ignoring spell that deals 9999 damage, so it might as well be an instant-kill) when defeated. The only way to survive it is to have Reraise active (so the spell hits, kills the character, and then he or she is revived automatically) or to be outside the battlefield altogether by summoning the Esper Quetzalcoatl/Palidor to make your entire party perform a Jump attack and hope that one of the first 3 characters landing on the boss finishes him off so that the airborne party member(s) survive the attack.
      • Well, you can also No-Sell the attack by being extremely overleveled.
      • Though the most common method of avoiding this is simply to use the Osmose/Rasp spell to drain all the Magi's MP away. Which prevents the casting of this spell and conveniently kills him as well, although doing so can take while to do.
    • Final Fantasy VII: This is the purpose of the Final Attack materia, allowing the character to perform the attached action (usually the Phoenix summon) when killed.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: An otherwise inconsequential Esthar cyborg solder manages to hit both Kiros and Ward with a devastating attack just before dying. This is unavoidable and is used as an alternative to a Hopeless Boss Fight to justify Laguna's team being nearly defeated after the fight is over. Considering how weak the Esthar solders have been up to this point, however, it feels a little forced - especially since it's possible for either or both characters to avoid having their HP reduced if they happened to be summoning a Guardian Force at the time.
    • Final Fantasy X: Behemoths cast the massively damaging, enemy-only spell Meteor.
  • This can happen in Mass Effect 3 if you fail to pass all the checks required to keep Miranda alive through the Sanctuary mission. Shepard convinces Henry Lawson to let Oriana go, and he demands freedom in return. Miranda refuses and hits him with a biotic punch that sends him flying through a window, but in the last moment before he goes crashing to his death he fires a bullet that hits Miranda and kills her.
    • It can also happen during actual gameplay. Brutes perform one last sweeping melee attack upon death that is powerful enough to destroy Shepard's shields or barriers instantly and deal potentially fatal damage if Shep's protection was already down. While not much of a problem for most classes, Vanguards can be in for a nasty surprise if they fail to step back from the collapsing monster in time to avoid the hit.
  • On later loops in many Gradius games, bosses fire out aimed shots at the player during their death throes, and the player is not invincible during this.
  • Enemy mooks in James Bond: Everything or Nothing will often fire off one last shot before falling dead.
  • Max Payne series:
    • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne starts somewhere in the middle, with Max in a hospital after being shot and nearly killed. Later on, a cut scene reveals that he shot Valerie Winterson, who managed to get a shot off before Max could flee the scene.
    • Max Payne 3 has a "Last Man Standing" mechanic, where if Max is critically injured but still has painkillers in his inventory, he gets a last chance to take out the enemy and recover, at the cost of his Bullet Time energy. "Old School" difficulty disables this feature.
  • Medal of Honor's mooks sometimes do this.
  • It happens in Mega Man X5, in the ending: Sigma starts it by shooting X and Zero at the same time with a back attack. Zero has enough power left to give a parting counterattack as he fades away, finishing Sigma off.
    • In X8, where Lumine hits Axl with a tentacle from his wrecked body before Zero cuts it and X blasts Lumine to smithereens.
  • The tree enemies in Mother 3 will cause an explosion when defeated. It deals about 200 damage, & you'll likely have about 175 when you first encounter them. The rolling HP mechanic is the only reason you'll survive at that point, but you'll still take at least 10 damage during the transition to the victory text.
  • You can pull this off in Night Striker when your car is defeated, as there is a short time where you can still fire shots at the enemies before going down. It's still a loss for you, though.
  • In certain games in the Onimusha series, you can beat down enemy mooks until delivering a fatal blow, complete with them doing a death scream, and yet they may still find the energy to make a last lunge at you anyway. More common on higher difficulty levels.''
  • Attempted in The Evil Within 2; as Stefano lays dying after Sebastian finally finishes him off in his boss fight, he appears to be going out quietly, remarking that Sebastian's made him into the kind of gory masterpiece he's always strived to achieve by killing people and turning them into his photo subjects. Sebastian turns to leave, but Stefano picks up his Magical Camera that stops time and allows him to kill without any resistance and tries to take "one last photo" — Sebastian swiftly turns back around and puts a bullet in his head.
  • Ace Attorney:
  • In Quake II, the Guards will sometimes get up for two shots (or bursts of varied length, in the MG Guard's case) aimed right in front of them, and the Enforcers may have a muscle spasm that has it let off about ten rounds in a blind burst that starts in front of them and moves upwards as it falls on its back.
  • Played perfectly straight during the Leon A scenario in Resident Evil 2. Annette Birkin, despite apparently having no vital signs when Leon checks her not-quite-dead body, has enough stamina left to shoot Ada Wong from behind before finally dying.
    • A heroic example occurs in Resident Evil 6. Having injected himself with the C-Virus to save Chris from the HAOS, and knowing he will soon lose his mind and humanity, Piers pushes Chris inside the escape pod and choses to stay behind in the collapsing underwater facility. The HAOS turns out to be not quite dead yet and goes after Chris' pod, but Piers launches one last electric blast to kill it off, before the place explodes.
  • In the Serious Sam games, a dying Biomechanoid will reflexively fire off one last laser bolt (minor) or rocket (major) as it slumps to the ground.
  • After Killer is defeated in Shadow Hearts: From The New World, he manages to attack protagonist Johnny. Johnny is killed, but his special circumstance revives him. Killer also escapes to be defeated again later.
  • E-101 Beta from Sonic Adventure doesn't breathe, but he still fulfils the trope by getting off one last shot at his brother E-102 Gamma before exploding. Gamma ultimately succumbs to the resulting damage, in one of the biggest Tear Jerkers in the entire Sonic franchise.
  • Andross in Star Fox 64: "If I go down, I'm Taking You with Me!"
  • In the after-credits epilogue of Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, Dark Chick Trinidad guns down Logan, Teresa, and Mujari, but Logan kills her before passing out. It is unknown whether he is Killed Off for Real or not.
  • Forcystus pulls this in Tales of Symphonia. The target doesn't die, but points for trying.
  • Outlaw's ending in Twisted Metal: Black - Just after killing the terrorist, and getting confirmation that he was down, we hear "Target is still hot! Repeat, target is STILL HOT!" right before Pink Mist gets splattered everywhere.
  • The krall from Unreal often try to get off one last shot before they die, usually while attempting to crawl towards you.
  • Done in a completely Tear Jerker way in the middle of Valkyria Chronicles. The battle is over, all enemies are killed or have fled, and the squad is gathering around the tank for some after battle bantering and discussing the next operation. And all of a sudden a single sniper shot has cute Little Sister Heroine and tank driver Isara fall dead where she stands. The one single character who is 100% protected from bullets during battles!
  • This is how Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume starts. Wylfred and Ancel have killed some random monsters, but one of them gets back up and attacks Wylfred. He gets better, but only because he makes a Deal with the Devil.
  • The Visitor: In one ending, if you use the Electrified Bathtub strategy on the alien, it gets fried, but then uses his tongue to decapitate the remaining human survivor as this before dying.
  • A weird arguably-non-villainous example occurs in chapter 5 of The Way (RPG Maker); Slade stabs Cetsa, who was trying to save his life (and did not injure him), as his last act before dying. Since Rhue was nowhere nearby she stayed dead in chapter 6 when other dead people started seemingly coming back.
  • Zero Escape:
    • Heroic example: on Luna's route of Virtue's Last Reward, Dio deals K a mortal wound with an axe, but K doesn't die instantly and has enough strength to impale Dio in return.
    • Zero Time Dilemma has D Team set off a bomb in an attempt to escape, and Zero responds by putting Q Team in the radius of the blast. Mira doesn't die instantly, however, and is able to spark the Radical-6 pandemic seen in Virtue's Last Reward by injecting Phi with the virus.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: At the end of Volume 5, the villainous Cinder fights for control of the Relic of Knowledge with the Bandit Queen, Raven. The fight began when Cinder attacked Raven's subordinate, Vernal, just as Vernal was standing before the doorway leading to the chamber containing the Relic. Throughout the fight, Cinder and Raven are evenly matched until they're forced to pause when their Auras break at the same time. Raven mocks Cinder by telling her that she never learned to look behind her because she can see what Cinder cannot: Vernal isn't quite as dead as she seems and manages to pull together the very last of her strength to fire her guns at Cinder. While she doesn't injure Cinder, she is enough of a distraction for Raven to be able to throw Cinder into an abyss of unknown depth. With the fight over, Raven thanks the now-dead Vernal and gently closes Vernal's eyes. Volume 5 ends without confirming whether or not Cinder is dead with Volume 6 revealing she survived and the only living witness to what happened, Raven, fleeing the location for destinations unknown. As a result, neither the villains nor the heroes know what happened.

  • El Goonish Shive: Pandora violates immortal law by killing an aberration that is threatening one of her descendants. When an immortal violates their law, every other immortal automagically links to the offender and sends energy at them to force the offender to "reset". Pandora can't stop this from happening (she's powerful, but not that powerful), but just before being reset she is able to momentarily reverse the links and send her own energies back down them, thus forcing every immortal to manifest on the physical plane and cast a spell that destroys every aberration within several miles of the caster, using Pandora's power to fuel the spell if their own is not sufficient. More than 99% of the aberrations in existence are wiped out in a matter of seconds.
  • Problem Sleuth contains a heroic example: Zombie Hired Muscle saves Problem Sleuth from the last of the Cultural Rainbow mob.

    Western Animation 
  • Done in Batman: The Animated Series, in the last moments of Batgirl's Scarecrow-induced nightmare, Bane, having been fatally electrocuted by Batman, uses the last of his strength to throw the Batsignal at Batman and Jim Gordon, knocking the two off the roof to their deaths.
  • At the end of the two-part DiC Entertainment G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "The Greatest Evil", the Headman ends up dying after Lt. Falcon exposes him to a lethal amount of his drug Spark. Before the drug lord completely perishes, he sets his base to self-destruct in a final attempt to take down the united forces of G.I. Joe and Cobra. The Joes and the forces of Cobra manage to get away unscathed before the Headman's lair is reduced to rubble.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Captain Gregor is killed when an Imperial technician he had just shot clings to life just long enough to spitefully shoot him back.

    Real Life 
  • When Israel reunited Jerusalem at the end of the Six Day War, two paratroopers were killed by Arab holdouts atop the Knight's Palace Hotel after the rest of the Old City was recaptured. Subsequently, the five enemy troops were quickly killed by paratroopers running up to the roof and Israeli snipers from the New City.
  • This is how bank robber Baby Face Nelson died on November 27, 1934. He was cornered in a shootout with FBI Special Agents Samuel P. Cowley and Herman Hollis (Cowley was the Chicago FBI office's agent-in-charge). In the process, the two sides killed each other - Nelson put a bullet in Hollis's head and two bullets in Cowley's chest. In return, during the exchange of fire, Hollis put five pellet wounds into each of Nelson's legs with a shotgun, while Cowley put seven bullets into Nelson's chest with a Thompson submachine gun. Hollis died at the scene, while Cowley died in the hospital at 2:00 AM the next morning. Nelson died about three hours after the shootout at a safe house in suburban Chicago. Police in Niles Center (modern day Skokie) found his body in a ditch the morning after the shooting.
    • His film portrayal in Public Enemies has him get shot in a field by Special Agent Melvin Purvis (Cowley's SAC predecessor). He fires his Thompson submachine gun up until the very end, as Purvis fires a pistol at him.
  • In the failed assassination attempt on President Harry Truman (Nov. 1, 1950), White House policeman Leslie Coffelt was shot three times but still managed to shoot would-be assassin Griselio Torresola through the head, killing him. Coffelt died at the hospital shortly thereafter.
  • The Memoirs of General Thiébault feature a duel that ends like this: two officers were fighting, one fell mortally wounded by the first shot; but he gathered his strength and stood up, shouting to the other who thought that the fight was over: "En garde! I still have one minute to live, and that is enough to take my revenge." Indeed, he shot, killing the other on the spot, and then died.
  • Not a villainous example, but common throughout duels and combat through the ages. Many lethal wounds do not immediately disable. A person can be mortally wounded and still able to act, though beyond any means of being saved.
    • It nearly happened to Andrew Jackson during his duel with Charles Dickinson. Dickinson shot first and dealt Jackson a wound that nearly killed him. Dickinson's seconds claim Jackson's first shot misfired, so the duel should have ended. Contrary to dueling rules, Jackson re-cocked and fired, killing Dickinson. Had Jackson died, it would be a Last Breath Bullet.note 
  • In 1957, Gerald Mason murdered two police officers in El Segundo, California. As he drove away, one of the officers drew his sidearm and fired three shots at the car before dying. One of the bullets struck Mason in the back, leaving a scar that would eventually allow police to identify him as the killer years later.


Video Example(s):


Valentin's Death

Dies after being shot by Elektra in The World Is Not Enough, but not before using a Last Breath Bullet to shoot out one of the manacles securing Bond to Elektra's torture chair and free him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / HeroicSacrifice

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