Gunn: Angel, if we're planning to assassinate the power elite of the apocalypse tonight, shouldn't we be cowboying up?
Angel: We'll be ready, but today, I want you guys to go out. Live. Do whatever you want. Live the day like it's your last... 'cause it probably is.
A comedic storyline where the characters have been told that they have accidentally been poisoned, or have contracted a terminal illness, and only have one day left to live. The characters typically go around doing things they would never do otherwise: quit their job, rob a store, insult some very tough-looking bikers, confess their feelings of true love to someone who doesn't reciprocate... and then they find out they aren't actually going to die after all. They are now screwed.
See also The Last Dance, Your Days Are Numbered, Like You Were Dying, Mistaken for Dying, and Not-So-Final Confession. Compare The Moving Experience. See Crossing the Burnt Bridge for one likely aftermath.
- Parodied in a Crayon Shin-chan story; the titular character finds out he's defecating red poop after using the toilet Sunday night, and overhears a conversation from his parents Hiroshi and Misae (the latter crying her eyes out) something along the lines of "he's too young to die, he's only five years old and has 3 days left!" leading to Shin-Chan thinking they're talking about him and he have three days remaining in his lifespan. The next morning have Shin-Chan actually behaving obediently, waking up on time and cleaning up after breakfast (to the surprise of Hiroshi and Misae) and later partaking in kindergarten spring cleaning instead of making a huge mess like he always does. When Shin-Chan's friends, Kazama, Nene and the others asks if he's alright, Shin-Chan promptly gives all his toys away and informs them "he's going away on a long trip". One week later, Shin-Chan is still alive (to his confusion) when he sees his parents crying again... at a weekly Soap Opera where a character's five-year-old pet crocodile was about to die. Then Shin-Chan remembers he drank an entire 16-oz bottle of concentrated cranberry juice behind his parents' back, which is what actually caused his excrement to turn red... the following morning have Shin-Chan telling his friends, "Nevermind, I'm not going on a trip after all, now give me back my toys!"
- In the last episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, a shipment from Sosuke's black market weapons dealer accidentally gets sent to his school. Only after it's been cracked does Sosuke inform everyone that it's an incredibly lethal bio-agent, prompting this kind of response from effectively the entire school. Kaname certainly thinks this is what's happening when Sosuke takes her to the infirmary and tells her to get undressed. However, it turns out that he was sent the wrong container, and what he got was a gas that dissolved petrochemical-based materials (such as synthetic fabrics); within a few minutes, everyone's school uniforms start dissolving.
- Van Zant and Smitty's initial reason for killing people during the Majin Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z essentially amounted to this, as Zant wanted to kill as many people as he could due to the world ending with Majin Buu and wanting to go out with a bang. It's also viciously done in that not only did the end of the world end up not happening because Mr. Satan managed to teach Majin Buu right from wrong, but their nearly killing Mr. Satan as well as Bee the puppy when attempting to kill Majin Buu so they could kill more people ended up triggering the apocalypse due to Buu forcibly expelling his evil self, and then being absorbed by it.
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: Melman thinks he’s got only two days left to live when the other giraffes tell him that he has a brown spot similar to what the previous Witch Doctor received, and died two days later. Believing he’s about to die, Melman confesses his love to Gloria and even goes as far as nearly sacrificing himself into the volcano. He is stopped at the last minute by Gloria, who has in fact returned his feelings. It’s also revealed that the former witch doctor didn't die after all.
- Max Keeble's Big Move is the kid-friendly version, with the catalyst being his family moving out of town rather than death.
- Crank. Although he intends to survive somehow. He does.
- The entire premise of Short Time. Dabney Coleman plays a risk conscious cop who gets his medical exams results mixed up and is told he has only two weeks to live. He then finds out that his civilian life insurance policy will give his family a very small amount of money. His cop insurance however has a much larger payout...but only in case he's killed in the line of duty. And he only has a few days left until retirement. Hilarity Ensues.
- Iron Man 2: Tony Stark is dying due to palladium poisoning from his power core, and relapses into his Jerkass character from the first movie. He asks how, hypothetically, he should spend what may be his last day to live, and under the advice of Romanoff ends up holding a party and getting wasted, much to Pepper and Rhodes chagrin. It later turns out there was a new undiscovered element that could save him. Tony Stark (with some help from S.H.I.E.L.D Director Nick Fury) ends up surviving, although he also has to deal with the consequences of his actions.
- The astronauts/oil drillers from Armageddon (1998) have to go on a dangerous mission, and even if they survive, the Earth might still be destroyed. They spend their last day before training doing all the expected buffoonery.
- The whole Max da Costa story in Elysium. He is hit by radiation in a factory accident and is expected to die within five days. Only treatment he receives from his company is some free pills, which would not prolong his life, but allow him to stay sound till death. It turns out to be just enough to get him into an adventure.
- Last Holiday: Georgia Young, an industrious and friendly Demonstrator Chef at an upscale department store, is diagnosed with a terminal brain lesion and told the surgery to save her life would cost far more than she has saved up. Determined to enjoy her last few weeks, she cashes out her retirement fund and goes to a high end European luxury resort to do all the things she's dreamed of but was too scared or frugal to try.
- The book How I Spent My Last Night On Earth is all about this- there's a rumor on the Internet that an asteroid will hit the Earth in a few hours, so the heroine finally finds the courage to confess her love to her crush. The rumor turns out to have been only a rumor in the end, but she and a lot of her friends are happy about it because they finally were able to do similar things.
- In "Double or Nothing," Gunn, having made a Deal with the Devil as a teenager, is informed by the devil in question, Jenoff, that he is to pay his debt and give his soul up tomorrow. In response, Gunn takes Fred out for a day of fun, frolic and food. Unfortunately, Fred eventually realizes what Gunn is up to, so he ends up feigning a relationship breakup. Again, Fred realizes this means Gunn is in trouble, and she quickly rallies the rest of Team Angel to save him.
- Played for Drama in "Not Fade Away." Team Angel is planning to wipe out the Circle of the Black Thorn, Wolfram & Hart's primary agents of spreading evil on Earth, and none of them expect to survive the Senior Partners' inevitable retribution. On the eve of the big fight, Angel asks his teammates to take the day off and live as if it's their last day on Earth, "'cause it probably is."
- Lorne sings "If I Ruled the World" onstage at a karaoke bar.
- Angel visits his son, Connor, for coffee.
- Spike is in a seedy bar somewhere, drinking shot after shot. It turns out to be courage-building for his poetry reading in front of a crowd.
- Gunn visits his old neighborhood and greets Anne (last seen in "The Thin Dead Line"), who is busy loading boxes into a truck. Her shelter is moving to a new location. Gunn asks after Rondell and his old crew, and Anne says that they were supposed to help her with the move, but that something may have come up. They discuss the vampire situation, and Anne says that Rondell and co. keep them pretty safe. Gunn suddenly grows dark and asks what she would do if he told her none of it helps; that everything is controlled by powerful forces who will never allow things to get better. Anne tells him she would get the truck packed. Gunn accepts that, and together they start moving a couch.
- Wesley tends to Illyria's wounds, citing that with Fred dead he has nothing else to live for.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: In Season 3's "The Late J.D. Hogg," Boss Hogg is told at his annual physical that he has a rare, incurable illness and has only two weeks to live. This prompts him to do an immediate 180-degree turn on completing the paperwork finalizing his long-coveted foreclosure of the Duke farm – which, of course, he acquired through underhanded means – and hastily change his character to save himself from the Devil. Boss as a Good Samaritan is funny enough ... but imagine what happens when, a little while later, the doctor calls Boss back and tells him he isn't sick after all, and that the records simply got mixed up?
- Testees did it when Peter and Ron were told they had accidentally been injected with a cyanide-like solution (really an experiment to see how they would react).
- Used in Dead Like Me, Mason gets a purple post-it instead of the usual yellow and thinks this means he's going to reach his quota. After moping the entire day and selling all his possessions, the next day everyone gets a purple post-it. What? Rube was out of yellow. It's more of a Last Day to Be Undead, but...
- It's more likely that Mason had thought the purple post-it meant that Rube had found out about him killing Ray, and that's also why he was so convinced that that day was going to be his last.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark is told he's contracted a deadly disease. In an effort at settling his debts and earning a place in the Ferengi profit-based afterlife, he sells his corpse. Of course, after he learns that he's going to live, he finds out that his arch-nemesis bribed Quark's doctor into giving a false diagnosis, then bought said corpse, and is now determined to collect.
- Red Dwarf, "The Last Day": Kryten reaches his expiry date. Being a thoroughly selfless mechanoid, he has to be coaxed into getting drunk instead of spending his last evening folding his shipmates' laundry.
- Even Stevens: While not actually dealing with death, this trope still applies: In one episode, the Stevens were going to move to Washington D.C. after Mrs. Stevens won the Senate seat, so the family tried to live out their last day in their hometown to do things (Ren Stevens having her friends paired up with a lookalike, Louis Stevens finally taping his feelings for his female friend, and Steve Stevens... well... telling off his boss.). Of course, once it turns out that they wouldn't be moving to Washington D.C. after all (Turns out they mixed up the ballots, which means it was actually her opponent who won the election.), they immediately attempt to rectify the situation. It's also subverted in the sense that Steve Stevens ended up refusing to rejoin his job in the end despite attempt to get it back, as well as Louis Stevens receiving a video from his crush explaining her feelings for him as well by mistake (he originally intended to get back his own tape). Played straight with Donny, though, as his coach ended up in Washington D.C. because he never got the memo.
- The final episode of Heroes had this trope forcibly being placed onto HRG (Claire also was trapped with him, but for obvious reasons, she was exempt from this trope). After Samuel Sullivan buried the prize trailer that HRG was held in and Claire Bennet got trapped trying to save HRG, he ended up giving up hope on living and telling her to escape without him when Claire was desperately trying to get them both out. He only managed to survive another day along with Claire due to Tracy Strauss getting them out with her water abilities at the last second.
- An episode of The Love Boat has a couple boarding the ship, having sold off almost all they had as the scientist husband is convinced the world is about to end due to a "magnetic shift." This includes her dyeing her hair blonde, him getting a huge tattoo and telling off his obnoxious landlord and more. Naturally, they're both jarred to find the world is very much around after his supposed "deadline."
- Supernatural. In "Free to be You and Me" Castiel tells Dean that his plan to trap the Archangel Rafael will certainly kill him. Dean asks if he's going to put this trope into play by enjoying wine, women and song...and is shocked to find that Castiel has never had a woman before. So Dean takes an angel to a brothel and Hilarity Ensues.
- Midsomer Murders: Played for drama in one episode where a man learns he has cancer, so he goes to the priest to confess that decades earlier, he and his friends were accidentally responsible for the hanging of a young boy which was ruled a suicide, leading to the mother's Death by Despair. Unfortunately, the boy's father was the priest, who then goes on to kill the others. And then it turns out the lab sent the wrong man's results.
- Henry Danger: An episode has Schwoz detecting a super volcano going to blow and destroy the world in 42 hours. Charlotte decides to spend her last days gorging on junk food. Ray takes dance lessons. Henry confesses to a girl he likes and kisses her in front of everybody, challenges a bully to a fight, and agrees to hang out with a nerd.
- In the Sliders episode "Last Days" most of San Francisco parties like there is no tomorrow because of an impending asteroid impact. Rembrandt goes to a house party where, among other things, someone crashes a motorcycle through the living room and the woman of the house, with her husband's enthusiastic blessing, passes herself around like a party favor. It's safe to assume they live to rue their revelry, but at least they're alive to rue it.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Parodied in one "World's Worst" game of "Outtake From a News or Documentary Programme" with Ryan:
Ryan: So the Russians have launched the missile, and we have a little over twenty minutes left. Honey, I never loved you; I always wanted to sleep with your sister. And to my bosses who employed me—[flips the bird at the camera]—screw you! Screw you! I hate you and everything about this stupid job!
- In Little Misfortune, Mr. Voice mentions in the opening that today is the day Misfortune will die. Turns out that she can hear Mr. Voice, so he tries to keep this a secret from her. Misfortune does die very early into the game, but only learns about this much later on.
- Subverted in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, when Coldman managed to activate Peace Walker's launch protocol and its ability to leak data to NORAD, because he knows full well he is going to die before the consequences of his actions could come to haunt him if it turned out they would launch, and he actually does end up dying, even going as far as to do so before divulging the abort code (and it is heavily implied that he intended to die before giving out the abort code so there is no way they could stop it.).
- Inverted in the prequel comic to Batman: Arkham City: thanks to Joker's usage of TITAN in the end of the first game, he had at least six months to live as a disease was ravaging his body, and attempts to find a way to get out of his predicament. He ends up dying at the end of the game itself.
- In the Team Fortress 2 short "Expiration Date," Medic and Engineer discover that the Teleporters they've been using for years cause tumors and predict that the entire RED Team has only three days to live. Scout, figuring this is his last chance to go out with Ms. Pauling, gets Spy to teach him how to romance a lady. It turns out the Teleporters only affect bread, and they don't create tumors, they mutate the bread into a disgusting beast; unfortunately, Soldier has done nothing but teleport bread for three days straight, so when Scout tries to surprise Ms. Pauling with a romantic dinner date, they end up facing a ravenous bread monster.
- In the Camp Camp episode "Nikki's Last Day On Earth", Nikki, after drinking one of Neil's experimental tonics, believes that she's only got one day to live. The camp tries to help her have fun, but it becomes clear that they all want her to experience things they find fun instead of adhering to her requests. It takes Max (who is acting how he usually does, not believing that Nikki is actually dying) having a Jerkass Realization and calling everyone out on this for them to realize what they've been doing, and so they agree to fulfill Nikki's last request...give her a Viking Funeral. While she's still alive. Fortunately, the counselors intervene, and Gwen figures out that no, Nikki is not dying; however, she is having her first period.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In "Alive 'N Chicken", through a series of overheard partial conversations, Spot believes she only has a few hours left to live. The other pups don't believe it for a moment, but decide to use the opportunity to get Spot to live a more full life by getting her to do things she would never do under normal circumstances.
- The Simpsons did it when Homer was believed to have eaten a poisoned fish at a Japanese restaurant.
Smithers: Uh.. sir.. er, about that kiss. I hope you understand that it was merely a sign of my respect.Mr. Burns: Yes, yes, of course.
- Later in the series, Homer is following a self-help book. He reads "Live each day as if it were your last"; Smash Cut to him sitting on a curb, sobbing about how he doesn't want to die.
- When he thinks the world is going to end at sundown, Smithers kisses Mr. Burns. When it doesn't...
Kent: Now, over the years, a newsman learns a number of things that for one reason or another, he just cannot report. Doesn't seem to matter now, so... the following people are gay.
- When faced with the comet about to crash into Springfield, Kent Brockman gives this report after Congress decides not to save the town (because someone attached to the bill an appropriation that would fund pornographic arts)
- In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Critical Gas", Dexter eats an enormous burrito, causing stomach troubles that make him think he's going to explode in two hours (He used a balloon and pump to simulate what would happen). He had a last day "To-Do" list that consisted of setting his robots free, achieving world peace, bouncing around a rabbit costume he hated to make his mom happy, building an indoor bowling lane for his dad, and giving DeeDee permission to run amok in his lab. At the end, he goes to tell his parents about the secret laboratory and instead farts so hard he blows the TV partially through the wall. Right after his dad told him to "Let 'er rip."
- This was the plot of The Flintstones prime-time special "Fred's Final Fling".
- There was also an episode of The Jetsons, when George believes he's gonna die, and signs up for profitable but dangerous job that involves testing a prototype worker's uniform that is allegedly indestructible. He finds out the truth at the most inconvenient time and panics. Luckily the experiment still succeeds, only to fail for completely unrelated reasons.
- Inverted in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants - the titular sponge is thought to have unknowingly eaten a deadly pie, which will end his life at sunset. Squidward, responsible for bringing a pie-shaped bomb to SpongeBob, feels guilty enough to spend the rest of the day doing anything SpongeBob wants. It's eventually revealed that SpongeBob never ate the bomb-pie, but rather a different pie. He saved the bomb, which he promptly trips and thus throws into Squidward's face, producing a nuclear blast.
- Hey Arnold!: Helga Pataki gets kissed by a monkey and believes that she has contracted monkeynucleosis. She believes she's going to die and even soon finds herself on her death bed, her health failing. She decides to tell everyone exactly what she really thinks of them and give them her stuff. Eventually, she brings Arnold into her room to tell him her true feelings, but before she can her friend barges in and reveals that monkeynucleosis doesn't really exist and that Helga won't die after all. And thus, Helga's secret lives on.
- Another episode when perfectly healthy Grandpa Phil thinks he will die on his 81st birthday believing it's a curse that no one in his family ever reached pass this age. Until realizing in the end that his ancestors died at 91 giving him another 10 years to live.
- Family Guy did a variation that involved the entirety of Quahog being affected with this trope: On April Fool's Day, the newscasters mention that a black hole had suddenly appeared and that in a few hours the Earth was to be sucked into the black hole, only for it to be revealed at the last possible moment that it was actually a very horrible April Fool's prank, and Peter admitted that his children should never have been born during what he thought were his last few moments in life, and guess what happens for the remainder of the episode.
- The second episode of American Dad! had the family thinking they had be exposed to a virus that would kill them in a day, so they spend the time watching the first season of 24.
- In a Recess episode, they find a fortune paper, and Gus gets his fortune read that states "Eat, Drink and be merry, for tomorrow is your final day.". He then decides that, as his "final day", he might as well engineer a reubin-style trap for school bully Gelmon to end his bullying once and for all. After his friends fortunes end up being doublesubverted as duds, it became apparent that Gus's trap will most likely backfire on him. It did, in a sense: When Gus was taunting Gelmon to lure him into the trap, Ms. Finster, being completely unaware of Gus's trap, attempts to break it up, with Gus trying to warn her not to get closer. Too late, as she ends up taking the trap instead (which is enclosing her in a cage with a banner in a similar manner to a zoo that read "Don't feed the Gelmon", which also got Gelmon fearful upon the realization of what Gus was trying to do, apparently traumatizing him from the close call enough to actually make him terrified of the people he formerly bullied, and Gus got detention until 6th grade for his backfired trap.
- An episode of The Amazing World of Gumball does this where Gumball and Darwin believe a solar eclipse will bring about the end of the world in 24 hours.
- In Arthur, thanks to a very cruel prank by Arthur and Buster meant to get revenge on DW for eating a green potato chip that they intended to do something with, DW became terrified enough to believe that she would actually die from eating a green potato chip, and decided to do what she can for her supposed lingering days, also telling Binky Barnes (who himself ate more than one), who then decided to take up dance lessons, whereas DW treats Arthur nicely and attempts to kiss him goodnight. She only learns the truth when, after witnessing Arthur about to eat a green potato chip, she snatched it away from him in order to save him.
- In Timon & Pumbaa, after getting stung by a scorpion with lethal venom that can kill in a day and with no cure, the titular duo try to make the best out of their final hours, with Timon doing charity work and Pumbaa taking on a more extreme lifestyle. But then when their time comes, they find out that the scorpion's venom has no effect on meerkats and warthogs.
- In the Donkey Kong Country episode "From Zero to Hero", the show's Jerkass Bluster has his free check-up with Cranky and his new X-Ray Machine. He overhears a conversation about his broken X-Ray machine and confuses it, thinking that he is terminally ill. He then dedicates himself to becoming a hero so that he would be remembered as one. Sadly, he sucks at it.
- Camp Lazlo did this when Lumpas ate Raj's Indian cheese wheel, which would cause whoever eats it to disintegrate in thirty minutes. It turns out that the cheese wheel was made in China and not the Kaffizle River as first thought, ergo Lumpus is not dying.
- An episode of Johnny Bravo had Johnny read a doctor's note about how Carl's pet Venus flytrap only had 12 hours left to life, and, mistakingly thinking that it was talking about Carl himself, vows to do everything in his power to make Carl's final hours the best, prompting Carl to allow the misunderstanding to go on and milk it for all it's worth.
- In ann episode of Cat Scratch, when Mr. Blik is informed that he has 24 hours to live, he decides to use his final moments to be kind to Gordon and Waffle, who mistake his tokens of kindness as murder attempts. At the end, he's informed that his test results were mixed up.
- Whenever the world is predicted to end (notable examples include the Y2K scare of 2000 and the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, though if you name any year, chances are someone predicted the end that year), those who take those predictions seriously will go through this and then feel stupid when the world is still around the day after.
- Many years ago, maybe in the 60's, the DJ of a radio station in NYC announced that it was time for an emergency preparedness test just in case there needed in if there really was a nuclear war. He then said the the listeners should do what they would do if it was real, as he was going to. During the entire 60 second humming and beeping of the test you could hear the DJ sobbing and calling for his mommy.