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Let Them Die Happy

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"Brutus, why does this man follow such a profession?"
"For money, Caesar. He tells me he wants to die rich."
"And so he shall. Give him this sack of gold and then strangle him."
The Goon Show, "The Histories of Pliny the Elder"

So, it's the end. Someone you know is about to bite it, having fought the good fight and, well, lost. But it's okay, you tell them; the battle's as good as won, the reinforcements will be here soon, and everything will be all right. And so they pass on happy, secure in the knowledge that everything's okay.

Well, that's a lie. There aren't reinforcements coming. In fact, you look pretty screwed. But, hey. At least your friend died happy, right?

Let Them Die Happy is what happens when one character gives another one last thing to hope for, even if said thing doesn't technically exist. Sure, they may be pissed off when they get to the afterlife (if there is such a thing in the setting), but at least they were happy in their darkest hour. Right?

Subtrope of Comfort the Dying. Compare Go Out with a Smile, for when the dying character smiles for the sake of their surviving loved one, and The Power of Legacy, where the lie is being told by another on behalf of the dead for the sake of the living. Not to be confused with Died Happily Ever After, when a character is "released" and finally at peace after his death. Compare Lying to Protect Your Feelings. Often overlaps with Died in Ignorance, as the lie prevents the dead from finding out the painful truth.

As this is a Death Trope, spoilers will be unmarked.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Subverted in Another: As Izumi dies in Kouichi's arms, she asks him if he remembers the time they first met. He responds with a flat "No." She even calls him out on this.
  • In Attack on Titan, Levi at one point tells a dying soldier that he fought well and helped buy time. This may or may not have been a lie, but the man seems to relax as he dies.
  • In Basilisk, Saemon allows the dying Hotarubi to die believing he's her dead husband Yashamaru. Even more meaningful because he is the one who fatally mutilated her, as they're Ninjas in a fatal feud and her clansmen were responsible for the loss of Saemon's little sister — and yet when the dying girl calls him by the name of her husband, he can't bring himself to say he's not the dead dude, and nods so she will die in peace.
  • Bleach:
    • Yamamoto promises Rukia before her execution that he will allow Ichigo and his friends, who'd invaded the Seireitei to rescue her, to return home unharmed, when he actually has no intention of doing this. The trope is discussed when Isane complains that it's cruel to lie to Rukia like this, but Unohana disagrees, saying that this way, Rukia can die without having to worry about her friends. This is subverted: mere minutes later, Ichigo shows up and rescues her.
    • In the movie Memories of Nobody, as Senna is dying, she instructs Ichigo to take her to the graveyard in which she was buried to prove that she is actually a real person who was alive, and not just a collection of memories. Unable to see, she asks Ichigo to tell her if her name is written on the tombstone. The tombstone is so weathered the name can no longer be read, but Ichigo assures Senna that it's her name.
    • Happens accidentally to Ulquiorra. During the Arrancar arcs, a large part of his character development was spent on him questioning what emotions, or a heart, are. His final moments after pretty much seeing his plan go to hell are spent on him contemplating one of his more famous quotes. Reaching out to Orihime, he asks if she's afraid, and she replies that she isn't and reaches out to hold Ulquiorra's hand. There, it clicks and he realizes what a "heart" really is, and dies as happily as a Social Darwinist Manipulative Bastard like him can.
    • When Byakuya is dying, Ichigo rushes to his side and Byakuya asks if Renji and Rukia are alive. Ichigo says they are, but hides the fact they're in terrible condition. Subverted: Byakuya lapses into a coma but doesn't die, and Renji and Rukia also pull through.
  • In one episode of City Hunter, a young woman enlists Ryo's help to recover an experimental specimen of tulip for her terminally ill grandfather, who was trying to create a black tulip. When they do get back to the old man's room with the recovered tulip, they discover that the experiment had failed and that the tulip wasn't black. However, since the old man had gone blind, he cannot see that and asks his granddaughter about the flower's color. At Ryo's gentle prodding, the woman says that the tulip is black, allowing her grandfather to pass away in peace.
  • Code Geass:
    • Suzaku Kururugi tells the fatally shot Princess Euphemia li Britannia that her plan to give the Japanese their freedom was a success; what she doesn't remember is that she was the victim of Mind Control that made her go on a genocidal rampage against the people she had sought to help. She dies blissfully unaware that the Black Knights have marched on Tokyo and are demanding Britannian blood.
    • In the second season, when the Black Knights betray Lelouch, Rolo rescues him, using his Geass so much that it overtaxes his body. As Rolo lays dying, Lelouch asks why he did it, especially considering that Lelouch had raged at Rolo earlier for the events of the previous Wham Episode; Rolo responds, "I knew you were lying. You really do care about me, don't you, brother?" With a sad smile on his face, Lelouch says that he does, and Rolo dies happy. It's implied that Lelouch actually did accept Rolo in the end, as he counts him among some people he cares for that he regrets losing.
    • Averted when Lelouch coldly refuses the final request of a dying Diethard Ried, who asks to experience the power of Lelouch's Geass before he dies. This is after Lelouch used his Geass on his half-brother Schneizel, and commanded him to shoot his former number-one-fan point-blank. To be fair, Diethard completely deserved what happened to him, as he had been more willing to sell him out than Ohgi and the other Black Knights, and had attempted to shoot Lelouch himself before Schneizel put a bullet in him.
  • Death Note. Light's father Soichiro, dies happily convinced that Light Yagami isn't Kira. He was wrong.
    • However, in the live-action movies, he lives to know the truth.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
  • Elfen Lied: During Bandou's final confrontation with Lucy in the manga, he ends up torn in half, and doesn't see if his bullet manages to hit Lucy or not. He asks Nana and Mayu where she is — Nana is about to tell him the truth, but Mayu interrupts and tells him he'd finally killed her. He seems to die smiling, but he later returns in the final chapter with a prosthetic overhaul.
  • In the Get Backers anime, Ban Midou uses his Jagan on his Stalker with a Crush Takuma Fudou for the last time, giving Fudou the illusion that he and Ban are rapturously going at it, when in fact in reality Ban has actually already fatally wounded him and he's lying on the ground dying. The expression of sheer joy on his face when he finally dies (while he's still in the illusion) is akin to pure bliss.
    • In the manga, one of the first chapters has Ban and Ginji accepting a job from a poor old man to rescue his daughter who was taken by the mafia. After reaching her, she reveals that she has come to like the rich lifestyle of the mafia and betrays the two. After fighting their way out, Ban and Ginji return to the old man to report their failure only to discover that he had been mugged and brutally beaten. As the old man lay dying, Ban uses his Hypnotic Eyes to give him the illusion that his daughter came back to him.
  • When John dies in Ginga Densetsu Weed, the group that finds him tells him that a thousand soldiers of Ohu have come to overpower Hougen's army. Hiro begs him to hang on for just five more minutes so that they can make Hougen bow down in submission at his paws. Unfortunately, John's never liked waiting for anything, death included.
  • In the anime of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, the two princes Rajendra and Gadevi have long fought and quarreled over who got to be king up until Rajendra secures the throne. Rajendra tells his dying father that he will send his brother to live in a secluded temple for the rest of his days after Gadevi attempted to kill Rajendra. As soon as the king peacefully passes away, thinking that at least his two sons reconciled, Rajendra orders his brother's execution.
  • Used by Irresponsible Captain Tylor's Worthy Opponent Dom towards Raalgon admiral Donan when later asks if the solar flare destroying his entire fleet got Tylor's Soyokaze as well. He tells him he got his revenge even though Tylor of course survived.
  • In Itsuwaribito, Utsuho tells the mortally wounded head of his orphanage that all the other orphans were safe and sound after a bandit attack and were waiting outside for him right now. The man passes away right after hearing this, with a large smile on his face. In truth, all of the orphans had been killed in the attack and Utsuho is lying because the truth would have devastated the man.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, Diego Brando is cut in half after he mortally wounded Funny Valentine. Knowing that he hit the killing blow before being run over by the train, Diego dies believing that he took Valentine down, too. However, unknown to Diego, Valentine had managed to break away to a parallel universe using Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, passing on his Stand ability and motivations to a new Valentine before that body died. As such, Diego's dying attack failed, and Valentine, in his new body, comes back to the main universe to continue his plan.
  • Used humorously in K, with Kuroh Yatogami when he's out to get main character Yashiro. The first time he was willing to do Yashiro a last favor for the sake of his ill little sister and the second time he was willing to make Yashiro a nice last meal.
  • In Knight Hunters, when Tot is stabbed to almost death by Farfarello and a grieving Nagi uses his telekinesis to crash the whole mansion where this happened, the Weiss guys look at their dying enemies sadly, link their hands together and leave. It later turns out they're not dead, but the others won't find out for a long time.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Schönkopf reassures the dying Blumhardt that Yang Wen-li, their leader whom Blumhardt was trying to protect, is alive and well. He isn't.
  • At some point in Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato, Shurato and Co. find their ally Mayuri transformed into a Human Pincushion. Mayuri asks them about the well-being of his Battle Couple partner Saras... only that Saras has already died through Taking the Bullet for Shurato. Hyuuga doesn't have the heart to tell that to the dying Mayuri, though, and says Saras is wounded but will join them later; Mayuri smiles weakly and says "I-is that so...?" — and dies few seconds afterwards.
  • The Book of Darkness tried to do this on a global scale in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's when her Defense Program started acting up because she believed that it was what Hayate desired (it wasn't). She planned on trapping everyone in a Lotus-Eater Machine before the Earth-Shattering Kaboom, but she only managed to get two people (Fate and Hayate) and both of them rejected it on the basis that it was nothing more than a dream.
  • Late in the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the Ptolemaios is destroyed while Lichty and Christina are inside. He shields her by embracing her, and as they float in the ruins of the ship, he dies happy, thinking that he protected her. After he dies, the camera pans to show a large piece of shrapnel embedded in Christina's spacesuit — she dies only moments later. It's important to note that this is an example because Christina assures him before hand that he succeeded. Not even the audience realizes the truth until the camera reveals she was already fatally wounded. Then, just to erase any doubt, the remains of the bridge explodes, consuming both of them.
  • Subverted in Monster: with the last bit of his strength, Roberto asks Johan to share with him the vision they have been working towards. Johan tells him that he can't see it. Ouch.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaa does this for a girl fatally injured when the airship on which she was a hostage is attacked by insects and crashes. The girl (a foreign princess) begs Nausicaa to make sure the cargo (a devastating weapon) is destroyed. Nausicaa assures her that everything is burning, nothing is left. The girl dies smiling, her last words, "Thank God."
    • Perhaps not played entirely straight since Nausicaa did believe that everything was destroyed. She just doesn't find out until later that the cargo survived the fire.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Maya and Makoto meet their ends in "End of Evangelion" by bursting into LCL while being embraced by illusions of their unrequited crushes, Ritsuko and Misato, respectively.
  • In One Piece, during Brook's flashback, he first attempts to comfort his sick captain (who has ordered them to abandon him before more are infected) by promising that they'll meet again; Yorki does smile, but it's vague whether either of them believes it. Later, Brook tells his mortally wounded crew that they don't have to die with regrets, his own power will revive him after he dies and he'll fulfill the promise they all made to return to their Team Pet. They die smiling. When Brook is revived, we see how unlikely a promise that really was.
  • In Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Kuroki chose to let the now blind and syphilis ridden Gennai believe he had been released from the Ooku on Gosaku's behest to continue to fight the Redface Pox rather than let her know that Gosaku had been executed and stricken from the records, and the inoculation process had been suppressed.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this is what Madoka's contract wish amounts to in the end. She essentially became a goddess and manifestation of hope for every magical girl ever in existence, appearing to them as they are about to become witches and absorbs their despair, so they can die peacefully and without it weighing on their minds.
  • Subverted in an episode of Ranma ½ where Ranma attempts to help the spirit of an old man pass on and pretends to be his first love that he never got together with since in female form she's a dead ringer. As it turns out, not only does the man survive in the end, but he actually did marry his first love!
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, after he fatally injures Yumi, Shishio openly tells Kenshin that he understands her and has given her what she wanted (and Yumi herself confirms this, saying she knew this would happen but did so to stop being a mere Neutral Female), then holds the dying Yumi in his arms as she expires declaring her loyalty and love for him. Technically subverted, since Shishio did care for Yumi... well, as much as a Magnificent Bastard like him could, anyway. And they're later seen together in Hell, so...
  • In Samurai Deeper Kyo, Julian stops his son Yuan from attacking Hishigi (a major antagonist who very nearly killed both of them) when he realizes that Hishigi is moments from death and just trying to get to Fubuki's side before he goes. It's especially admirable on Julian's part, because he has every right and reason to hate Hishigi.
  • In Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, upon learning that Uzuki — an enemy — had been brainwashed into loyalty towards the Big Bad via having her memories rewritten and realizing that, on her deathbed, her real memories were starting to conflict with her fake ones, Takeru reassures her that the Big Bad is a great and amazing person so as to let her die fulfilled.
  • Ushio and Tora: in the manga-only Satori arc, the Monster of the Week is the mind-reading Youkai Satori, who grew attached to a blind little kid, Minoru, and took care of him, passing for his father (who was an abusive jerk in reality). However, when he's hospitalized, he sense his fear and tries to heal him by collecting human eyes to replace his. Once he's finally defeated (having realized that Minoru would be even more distressed with his actions), Satori spends his last minutes confessing the truth to a sleeping Minoru and asking Ushio if Minoru will heal and if he will still call him "Dad" after healing. Ushio, who never liked lying, tells him he will. Satori notices, but still thanks him for his kind heart.
  • In Vinland Saga, Askeladd tells Bjorn that he was truly his Only Friend as the latter lies dying, allowing Bjorn to die in peace. Given everything else Askeladd has said and done in the series, it's very likely he was lying, though given what happens next it's also possible he wasn't.
  • Yuureitou: When Yamashina sobs about Tetsuo's physical sex in his final moments, Taichi pretends to be Tetsuo and holds Yamashina against his chest, letting him die believing that Tetsuo is physically male.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman and the Outsiders #20, Halo tells the dying Sam and Margaret Harper that she does remember them and apologized for not remembering sooner. In truth, she has no memory of her life as their daughter, Violet Harper a sociopathic thief killed by Syonide and only told them that so that they died happy. she is actually an alien Aurakle inhabiting Violet’s body They both died smiling.
  • Batman: Last Knight on Earth sees Omega tell Alfred, who was just injected with a lethal dose of fear toxin, that he managed to talk Thomas and Martha into staying home, thus prevent Bruce from becoming Batman. Since Omega is Bruce, he was trying to give Alfred a happy Dying Dream.
  • In the DC The Books of Magic series evil Industrial Age reverend turned robot Slagginham dies and his chimney sweep former ward who was lost in another dimension turned into an ash monster assures that the person who killed Slagginham, main character Timothy Hunter, died as well. Said ward immediately tries to make said statement true. Though since Tim is basically an avatar of all the magic in the world, he has little luck and is later turned into a puppy. This was a really weird series. And Slagginham died because Tim's imaginary TV repair-man friend caused him to commit suicide by pointing out his plan to make himself happier by making other people more miserable and thus freeing up the world's supply of happy wouldn't work. No, I'm not making any of this up.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • In the "Cursed Earth" epic storyline, the alien Tweak gives punk biker Spikes Harvey Rotten the mineral rights to his home planet (as Tweak was its leader) just before the final battle. Spikes went into combat happy, knowing that he was (in theory) immensely rich. Tweak then admitted to Dredd that his precognitive powers had assured him that Spike would not live to claim his prize.
    • At the end of "Origins", Judge Dredd attends the death bed of his clone father Chief Judge Fargo. Fargo asks him what happened to his brother Rico, whom Joseph was forced to kill decades ago when Rico went bad. Rather than break his father's heart as he's dying, he just tells him that Rico couldn't make it in time.
  • A tie in to Mad Max: Fury Road has Max rescuing a little girl from Buzzards at her mother's request. As mother and daughter ride off on a motorcycle, he sees them get run over by Buzzards. The mother is impaled on the spiky Buzzard car. When Max rushes to the little girl's side, this happens:
    Glory: Is Mamma ok?
    Max: She's fine.
    Glory: Take care of her...
    Max: I will.
  • A storyarc in the Modesty Blaise comic strip has a rich, elderly associate of Blaise and her longtime companion Willie Garvin strand the two on a tropical island. Believing that the world is on the brink of destruction, he chooses them as the perfect Adam and Eve for a new world after the disaster. By the time Blaise and Garvin make it off the island, the old man is at deaths door, and Blaise decides to keep their return from him, letting him die with the belief that he has saved humanity.
  • In an early issue of New Teen Titans, Raven does this for the villain, Grant Wilson; as he lies dying she shows him a false vision of the Titans' lifeless bodies, letting him think he'd fulfilled his mission to kill them.
  • In Paperinik New Adventures story Portrait of the Hero as a Young Duck, after Grrodon's foiled attempt on the hero's life, the former, painfully aware that not only he's the Last of His Kind but also that three centuries of preparing a vengeance were for nothing, steals a flying car and heads for space, to his death. When PK tries to stop him, Eidolon's voice tells him to let him go.
    "Grrodon is old, tired and alone. Let him meet his fate."
  • In The Quest For The Time Bird, Bragon lies to console a dying Bodias who cannot see that his homeland has burned down.
  • In one tie-in prequel to the film Red (2010)note , Frank gets assigned an inexperienced partner who screws up their mission. That evening, while they're walking along a bridge, Frank gets off the phone with their superiors and convinces his partner not to worry about his mistake, that it'll blow over. Of course, the call was actually an order to kill him, so as he relaxes and turns to admire the view, Frank shoots him in the back of the head and dumps his body into the water.
  • In The Sandman (1989), Morpheus enlists John Constantine in his quest to find his pouch of Dream Sand. They find out it is in the hands of one of John's ex-girlfriends, Rachel, who has been using it as a way to escape her worries — with dire consequences. Her metabolism has been nearly destroyed by her use of the sand, and she's well on her way into a slow, ugly death. John furiously states that Morpheus cannot just leave her to suffer and die in pain. Morpheus complies, and uses the Sand to give the dying Rachel one last sweet dream: being reunited with John, whom she never stopped loving. She passes away in her sleep.
  • Averted in Superman & Batman: Generations (an Elseworlds story where characters age in real time): a dying Joker's final wish is to know Batman's true identity. Batman (who at this point is Bruce Wayne Jr.) refuses because, as he puts it, "You're the last person I'd want to see die happy."
  • One of the characters attempts this in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. He's on what has turned out to be a suicide mission with an alternate universe version of Rewind. As he's about to die, Rewind asks if, in this universe, he and his conjunx endura (roughly, spouse) Chromedome are still together, because Chromedome died in his universe; he's told that they're "inseparable". Ultimately, he survives, and discovers that that was a lie; in this universe, Rewind died. (On the bright side, their silent reunion is one of the most touching scenes in the comic.)
  • Usagi Yojimbo: In one story, Usagi encounters another former samurai who also served under Lord Mifune, and has spent the years since trying to find a way to kill series Big Bad Lord Hikiji, who was the one behind the death of Mifune and his family, rather than wandering the land as a ronin like Usagi. Though reluctant, Usagi agrees to assist him, as Hikiji is visiting the area, and they seemingly succeed despite the samurai being mortally wounded in the process. However, Usagi discovers that the man who was killed was actually just Hikiji's kagemusha (body double), but allows his old ally to die thinking he had avenged their lord.
  • In Watchmen, various artists have been taken to an island in secret to unwittingly create a monster for Adrian's scheme to end the Cold War. As they board a ship to leave the island, two of them, Max Shea and Hira Manish, have a tryst in the engine room. As they're settling in, Max finds a strange box covered in a tarp and when he examines it finds a time bomb with seconds remaining. Rather than tell Hira they're about to die, Max holds her and tells her everything is fine.
  • At the end of the Marvel miniseries Wisdom, Pete Wisdom's girlfriend has been turned into a living portal, bringing the Martians from The War of the Worlds into modern-day London. Pete and his girlfriend try to find a way out of this that doesn't result in her death. Pete finally comes up with the idea that there may be something in the archives that helps them... and as Pete's girlfriend runs for the stairwell, happy that there might be a way out of this that doesn't involve anyone dying, Pete puts a bullet in the back of her head, closing the gate.

    Fan Works 
  • Alabaster Orchestra: Renji makes a Dying Confession Of Love to somebody whom he thinks is Rukia. In reality, it's Bambietta, who swiftly puts him out of his misery.
  • And Around Again – A Cinderella Phenomenon Tale: As Emelaigne was dying in one of the time loops, she mistakes Rom for Fritz and confesses her feelings for him. Rom chooses to play along, pretending to be Fritz and telling her that he feels the same way, allowing her to die happily.
  • Book 5: Legends features this with Avatar Korra providing comfort to a dying Temuji, the Big Bad of the story. As a result, it's remarked after their death that they've never looked more peaceful.
  • In Came Out of the Darkness Kreacher snatches the ring Horcrux to keep it away from Dumbledore. When Sirius treats Kreacher's impending death as if it were no big deal, Kreacher says that he wishes he was a Potter elf instead of a Black one because Harry and Hermione are much nicer. Hermione gives him a token to indicate acceptance of his services and for the last few minutes of his life he has his wish.
  • In Part 2 of Clash of the Elements: In spite of everything that he did to him, Gemini does this to Smithy as he dies, assuring him that his dream of a living weapon used for good had come true.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Dynasty: When Dr. Gero reunites with his former colleague Flappe, he doesn't inform the dying man that he just murdered his nurse and caretaker Latte. Instead, he claims that "she laid down for a rest." Flappe dies shortly thereafter, leaving his inheritance to Latte, unaware of her demise.
  • From Gensokyo 20XXIV'', chapter five, Yuuka decides it would be best for Sakuya if she let her believe the emergency services were coming even though they weren't, thus the latter dies quietly of radiation sickness with False Reassurance.
  • In the Code Geass/Mobile Suit Gundam 00 crossover, One and Only Son, Euphemia is killed by Kinue and she is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves, killed by Luciano Bradley, but while she collapses, Luciano gives her a dose of refrain, and she dies having memories of her brother, Saji.
    Luciano: Accept this, the limit of the Vampire of Britannia's compassion.
  • In Paper Cranes, this is subtle as a terminally ill Satsuki was not keen on going back to the hospital, to which, Ryuuko, as mentioned in her letter for November 11th, promised her that she'd fight for her not to if it meant that much as (an albeit) small victory to her.
    • As one pieces together the entries, it's clear Ryuuko was something of an unknowing version of this as she does many of the things Satsuki wants to do, keeping her happy, mostly oblivious that her sister was dying of heart failure.
  • In Three-Point Shot, Shuichi realizes that Kokichi manipulated Tenko, the second culprit, into killing Korekiyo, the victim, or at least set up a situation in which one of them killing the other was the most likely outcome. Shuichi doesn't confront Kokichi until after the culprit's execution so the culprit doesn't have to learn that they were tricked.
  • We Must Be Killers: In The Price of Celebrity, Ronan tells Odin that there is an escape passage that Petra, the mentee of his mentee, can escape out of before the approaching Rebels (who want to execute them) arrive. However, they need Odin to Hold the Line and buy time. Odin eagerly commits to this Heroic Sacrifice to save his surrogate granddaughter, but once he leaves the room, Ronan admits there is no tunnel and instead he and Petra need to commit suicide, but he wanted to let Odin die with a sense of hope rather than despair.
  • White Rain has Itachi Uchiha do this to himself. His disease getting worse and death fast approaching, his last request to his lover Lucia van Alstyne is that they pretend to be a happy, normal couple for the rest of their time together. While the story is vague as to whether or not he had fallen in love with her, it makes it clear that he cared deeply about her, enough that she brought comfort to him during his last days amongst the living.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: Kadaj is about to die, in the last minute Aerith talks to him, pretending to be his "mother," so he can leave at peace, and dissolves in the Lifestream.
  • A literal case with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs where the group almost dies from laughing due to toxic fumes. While they seem to realize the peril they're in, they have too much fun to actually care and simply enjoy suffocating.
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens the monsters are trapped on a ship that's about to self-destruct and are saying goodbye to each other. B.O.B. misunderstands, and says he will see them tomorrow for lunch. They humor him and tell him that, yes, they will have lunch tomorrow, with cake and balloons.
    B.O.B: I'll see you guys tomorrow. For lunch.
    Dr.Cockroach: That's right, Bob. There'll be candy, cake, balloons.
    B.O.B.: Cake and balloons for lunch? It's gonna be the best day ever! I love you guys.
  • Happens in the Disney version of The Prince and the Pauper. Mickey, disguised as the prince, is summoned to the dying king's bedchamber. By now, the king is too weak to recognize that Mickey is an impostor and he thinks he's talking to his son. With his last words, the king asks Mickey to promise him that he will rule "justly and wisely." Mickey can't bring himself to tell him the truth and plays along for the sake of making him die happy.
  • In Sausage Party, the food items in a supermarket believe humans to be gods who will take them to a paradise called "the Great Beyond" and sing a song about it every morning. But eventually those who are purchased discovered that the "gods" kill and eat food to their horror. Frank is lead to the truth that the non-perishables, three foods who will not expire and cannot die made up the lie about the Great Beyond so that no one would live in terror as they used to.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Apollo 13 offers Discussed and Invoked examples at separate points in the movie after the explosion:
    • The three astronauts are getting restless as the stricken spacecraft heads back towards Earth, but with nearly everything shut down and radio transmissions kept to a minimum to save as much power as possible they have nothing else to do but ponder their situation; Swigert in particular had been calculating and recalculating their trajectory.
    Swigert: Listen. Listen. Listen. They gave us too much Delta-V. They had us burn too long. At this rate we're gonna skip right out of the atmosphere and we're never gonna get back.
    Haise: What're you talking about? How did you figure that?
    Swigert: (testily) I can add.
    Lovell: Jack, they've got half of the PH.D's on the planet working on this stuff.
    Haise: Houston says we're right on the money.
    Swigert: Well, what if they had made a mistake? Alright, and there was no way to reverse it. You think they would tell us? There's no reason for them to tell us!
    Haise: What do you mean, they wouldn't tell us? That's bullshit!
    Lovell: Alright, there's a thousand things that have to happen in order — we are on Number 8. You're talking about Number 692.
    Swigert: And in the meantime, I'm trying to tell you we're coming in too fast. I think they know it, and I think that's why we don't have a goddamn re-entry plan.
    • As the titular spacecraft is finally about to re-enter the atmosphere after so much has gone wrong, Mission Control sees they are drifting off course again.
    RETRO: Flight, they're still shallowing a bit up there. Do you want to tell tell them?
    Gene Krantz: Anything we can do about it?
    RETRO: Not now, Flight.
    Gene Krantz: Then they don't need to know, do they?
    RETRO: Copy that.
  • Bone Tomahawk: When an unfortunate prisoner is being brutally murdered by the monstrous troglodytes, Sheriff Hunt shouts to him that the The Cavalry are coming and they will wipe out the entire tribe. He later confesses it was a lie, but admits he wanted poor Deputy Nick to die thinking his death would be avenged. Later, Chicory does the same with Sheriff Hunt when they try to kill him.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, minutes before a nuclear device is about to go off and take out all of Gotham, Blake tells a bunch of kids to stay in a bus on an adjacent bridge, telling them they'll be safe there, knowing that they can't escape the blast radius. Subverted in that Batman successfully gets the bomb out of Gotham in time.
  • In Excalibur, Arthur tells the dying Lancelot that Guinevere was reinstated as Queen, when in reality she became a nun.
  • Subverted in Goodbye Lenin. After Alex stages an elaborate charade to keep his mother from finding out about German reunification and possibly dying from shock, his girlfriend secretly tells her everything. When his mother does die, she's pretending not to know for Alex's own happiness.
  • In The Green Mile, Paul and Brutal tell death row inmate Delacroix that they'll take his pet mouse Mr. Jingles to a place called Mouseville in Florida, where he'll become a circus mouse that people will pay to see perform. Cruelly subverted when Percy tells Delacroix that Mouseville isn't real moments before he sabotages his execution, forcing him to die a Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Halloween Kills: In a flashback to 1978, Officer Frank Hawkins tried to shoot Michael Myers, but missed and hit his partner, Pete McCabe. As Hawkins desperately tried to save him, McCabe asked if they managed to kill Myers. Hawkins tearfully says they did, so McCabe died with a smile.
  • In Highlander, Connor MacLeod watches his wife grow old and frail while he remains young due to his immortality. At the end she begs him to let her die in peace, so he begins telling her a comforting story. She dies somewhere in the middle and he doesn't notice until he finishes and looks at her.
  • As is the custom in Japan (according to this movie, anyway), Watanabe in Ikiru is not told that he has a life-threatening illness for this reason. It fails utterly, since another patient warns him ahead of time that an overly rosy diagnosis means impending death. Thankfully, he managed to grant this trope to himself.
  • In keeping with the dark humor of In Bruges, Harry Waters tries to do this for Ray Cranham before he orders him killed. Harry is affronted when it fails spectacularly. "What do you mean it's not really his thing? It's a fairytale town, isn't it? How's a fairytale town not somebody's fucking thing?"
  • The plotline in the third act of The Invention of Lying is set off when our hero does this to comfort his dying mother. What does he do? He invents Heaven.
  • The Last Starfighter. As the con-man Centauri lies dying:
    Centauri: Does he have my money, Alex?
    Grig: I have a fortune for you, Centauri.
    Alex: It's here. It's all here. Piles and piles of it. All for you.
    Centauri: Ah. At last.
    • Unfortunately for all involved, Centauri gets better.
  • In a deleted scene from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Max carries the dying Gekko to the top of a sand dune and shows him the lights of Bartertown, saying that they've found Tomorrow-Morrow-Land.
  • Near the end of The Magnificent Seven, Harry Luck, a money-hungry gunslinger, is fatally wounded. Although the Seven are only being paid $20 for their services, plus food and lodging during their stay, Harry is convinced that there must be some sort of secret wealth involved. With his dying breaths, he tells his friend Chris that he'd "hate to die a sucker" and asks one more time what the big secret was, prompting Chris to assure him that they were fighting for "Gold. Sacks of it."
    Harry: I'll be damned. (dies)
    Chris: Maybe you won't be.
  • In The Majestic, Harry mistakes Peter for his son Luke (a local boy who died in the war), and Peter believes him for a while thanks to a case of Easy Amnesia. Peter recovers his memory just before Harry suffers a major heart attack and is rushed to the hospital. At his bedside, Peter almost confesses but decides to let him die thinking that his son truly came home.
  • In Melancholia, Justine offers one to her nephew when she suggests they'll be safe in a special shelter at the end. Cue the Earth-Shattering Kaboom with no survivor.
  • In My Giant, the titular character, Maximus reveals to his friend, Sam (Billy Crystal), that he has spent the last decade pining after Liliana, a woman he had a minor fling with as a teenager. Max, it is discovered, only has a short time to live due to a heart condition, so Sam decides to go find this woman. Unfortunately, she very much does not share Max's feelings, and refuses to visit. Faced with breaking his dying friend's heart, Sam instead asks his wife to visit Max and pretend to be Liliana. She agrees, and tells Max that though she has married someone else, she still thinks fondly of him, and that he will always be "her Maximus," allowing him to die a happy man.
  • In Rocky III, Mickey has a heart attack just before Rocky and Clubber Lang's first match. As a result, he doesn't see Rocky get the tar beaten out of him, and is simply told that the match "ended in the second round with a knockout". While technically true, it wasn't Lang who got knocked out. However, Mickey interprets it as Rocky's win, and with that, he dies with a smile on his face.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
    • A dying Preston looks up into Kirk's face, and the following exchange takes place:
    Preston: Is the word given, Admiral?
    Kirk: The word is given. Warp speed.
    Preston: Aye… (dies)
    • Inverted (somewhat) in the case of Khan; As he is dying on the bridge of the Reliant, he sees that the Enterprise cannot get away with warp speed (the engines are off-line), and impulse is too slow to leave the blast radius. He dies thinking that Kirk will soon join him:
    Khan From Hell's heart, I stab at thee. For Hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.
  • Tae Guk Gi: When long-lost brothers Jin-Tae and Jin-Soek meet again on a battlefield during the Korean War, Jin-Tae tells his younger brother to save himself, and reassures him that they will meet again later. He even tells him where to wait. Jin-Tae then turns back into the fray, sacrificing himself to cover Jin-soek's escape. Jin-soek doesn't find out that his brother never made it out until decades later, when historians unearth his body.
  • In The Wolfman (2010), Lawrence dies in the end, but he stays alive for a few moments to reassure and thank Gwen for "setting him free." However, he dies before learning that he has bitten Aberline and cursed him as well. He could also be happy from realizing that since he was still alive to that point meant he had succeeded in defeating his father, meaning neither of them will hurt anyone again. However, this only makes the ending more tragic when we find out what becomes of Aberline.

  • In Battle Royale (only in the novel though), Mitsuko's big Pet the Dog moment also involves this. She lies to her Morality Pet Yuichiro, who's dying by saying that his friend Tadakatsu (whom she killed) ran away after accidentally shooting him, making him believe that he's still alive. She also doesn't reveal to him that she manipulated them all along and gives him a sincere kiss just before killing him instantly with a gun so that her face is his last vision. While the narration doesn't explicitly say it, she had no other reasons than this trope to act like that.
  • Cyrano tells a dying Christian that Roxanne chose him.
  • In Fablehaven'' Book 5, Coulter is killed after returning from a visit to the past. after the battle has been won and the world saved from evil, Seth requests that someone go back in time and meet up with Coulter to tell him that they win, so he can die in peace, knowing his sacrifice was not in vain.
  • In Fire Bringer, when one of the Outriders is mortally wounded, Bandach responds to his despairing assertion that he's the last of the outriders by invoking this trope. "You're wrong, Salen. You're not the last of the Outriders. I saw Captain Brechin escape over the hills." Brechin was already dead and Bandach had seen it happen. Salen is described as giving a sigh of relief. "I knew it. They'll never take Brechin..."
  • Stephen King's The Green Mile:
    • The guards try to do this for Delacroix by telling him that they'll take his pet mouse, Mr. Jingles, to a mouse circus to entertain kids. Percy, however, can't resist very meanly bursting that bubble while Delacroix is sitting in the electric chair (after trying to burst it by killing the mouse, and would've been successful at this if not for John Coffey's healing touch). This, if anything, makes his actual execution, where he is quite literally fried alive because Percy had neglected to properly soak the sponge for proper electrical conduction as a means of "punishing" Del one last time, all the more horrific.
    • Apart from Percy, this is a standard policy of the guards on Death Row. As Paul notes, keeping the inmates happy results in less muss and fuss when the day of execution finally arrives. The night before execution, Bitterbuck asks Paul if he feels that a man can enter Heaven if he truly feels sorry for what he's done; Paul replies in the affirmative, even though he's certain Bitterbuck is going to Hell for what he's done.
  • In The Host (2008) by Stephenie Meyer, an old man, Walter, is dying from cancer. Delirious, he believes Wanda, the main character, is his deceased wife, Gladys, despite the lack of any resemblance between the two women. She lets him believe this until his death, so he can die peacefully.
  • A very dark example from Mario Puzo's The Last Don. A dying Hollywood mogul imagines a devoted nurse trying desperately to resuscitate him. But he's seen too many of his own movies: in fact, she is dozing in the next room and didn't hear the alarm.
  • Les Misérables:
    • In her last moments, Eponine asks for a kiss from Marius, with whom she has been silently and vainly in love for months. He obliges.
    • Jean Valjean tries to let Fantine die happy, but unlike in the more well-known stage version of the scene, Javert arrives while she is still alive and insists on telling her the truth. Valjean is not happy.
  • In Lirael, Lirael and Sam attempt to rescue a group of Southerlings being attacked by the dead. They fail, defeating the dead but not before every Southerling is killed. Lirael tells the only survivor that the others got away moments before he dies from his wounds.
  • In one of Lymond Chronicles books by Dorothy Dunnett, Christian — who is blind — was mortally injured trying to smuggle back the papers that could prove Lymond's innocence. When he arrives, she excitedly hands them to him. He thanks her happily — despite the fact that they're all blank.
  • Andre Norton:
    • In the Witch World novel The Crystal Gryphon, Toross was mortally wounded rescuing Joisan from the Hounds of Alizon. She told him as he died that if she hadn't been engaged to someone else, she would've been glad to marry him. The truth is, she was fond of him, but "glad to marry him" was an exaggeration, despite Toross being handsome, charming, etc. She just never really thought of him that way.
    • Judgement on Janus: it doesn't involve a spoken lie, but the main character begins the book by selling himself into slavery to buy hallucinogenic drugs so his dying mother will go in the midst of happy dreams.
  • Of Mice and Men ends with George comforting Lennie as best as he can, then shooting him before the lynch mob can find him.
  • In Random Passage, Ned and his son Isaac are attacked by a bear. By the time Ned's wife reaches them, Isaac is already dead and Ned is mortally wounded. Ned asks Mary if his son got away safely and she tells him that Isaac is just fine.
  • Subverted in Bill Naughton's short story Spit Nolan, where the champion trolley-racer is hit by a coach. As he lies dying in the road he asks the other boys if he won the race. They all agree that he won, just nipped ahead of the leader; the witnesses have tears in their eyes.
    Then Spit looked up again, and his wise, knowing look came over his face. After a minute he spoke in a sharp whisper:
    "Liars. I can remember seeing Leslie's back wheel hit my front 'un. I didn't win — I lost." He stared upwards for a few seconds, then his eyes twitched and shut.
  • In Mark Twain's "Was It Heaven? Or Hell?" the aunts of a woman dying of typhoid fever carry out an elaborate charade to convince her that her daughter, who's dying of the same disease, is well and happy in quarantine, complete with forged notes.
  • In Wuthering Heights, Edgar Linton is able to die happy surrounded by his family, completely unaware that Heathcliff has control of his estate and is unabated in his quest to ruin the lives of Linton's family.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, Red Shirt A goes back to save another, wounded Red Shirt against orders during a firefight, and is of course shot. Red Shirt B is pulled back, but dies. Redshirt A is dying from his wounds, too, and asks Jack if Redshirt B survived. Jack looks to Cole, who shakes his head. Jack tells him that Redshirt B is going to be just fine.
  • In an odd subversion, an episode of Ally McBeal featured a client who sued to be put back into a coma where she had a husband and a family full of loving children and grandchildren — none of which she had in her normal life.
  • The series finale of Angel: Illyria comforts a dying Wesley by taking on the appearance of Fred and telling him that everything will be all right. Both emphasized and slightly subverted by her first asking permission to lie to him; they'd earlier established that he couldn't live with her pretending to be Fred to him.
  • The first season finale of Arrow has Oliver (The Hood) let Tommy go out thinking his father, Malcolm Merlyn (The Dark Archer) is still alive. In reality Oliver had killed him earlier in the episode. This is ultimately subverted because Malcolm somehow survived so Oliver is unknowingly telling the truth.
    Tommy: Did you kill my father?
    Oliver: No.
    Tommy: Thank you.
  • In the second episode of the first season of Atlantis, Jason and his friends are tasked by a dying elderly man with finding his missing daughter; who turns out to have been inducted into the cult of the Maenads. The gang knocks her out and drags her away, but after the High Priestess is killed, the girl poisons herself rather than return to Atlantis. Her final words are that her father is "dead to her." When everyone gets back to Atlantis, Jason is about to tell the truth but Medusa invokes this trope by telling the old man that his daughter is alive and happy and had eloped with a man she loved.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Kat stays behind in a radioactive region longer than is safe to make sure all the civilian ships get through. Afterwards, Adama visits her in sickbay and says that he's promoted her to CAG. She dies of radiation poisoning soon afterward, but for that brief time she was indeed officially CAG.
    • On Kobol, Tyrol tells a mortally wounded Socinus the group is about to be rescued and he's going to be fine — while administering a lethal dose of morpha.
    • The death of Laura Roslin during the finale counts as well. In her final moments, Adama takes her sightseeing on the savannas where the survivors initially landed. She dies during a flight in Adama's Raptor while he's talking about building them a cabin.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Nasty subversion of this at the end of the series. Spike is saving the day but also burning up from a magical amulet. As he's dying, Buffy says she loves him. Spike responds, "No you don't, but thanks for saying it."
    • Played heartbreakingly straight at the end of "I Was Made To Love You". As April, the abandoned robot girlfriend, slowly runs out of power, she tries to convince herself that Warren is coming back, and Buffy assures her that he will.
  • In the frame story of Casanova, the elderly Casanova tells his new friend Edith the story of his life, and of Henriette, the woman he loved and lost many years ago, and she persuades him it would be worth writing to Henriette to renew their acquaintance. When the reply arrives, Casanova is dying, so when he asks hopefully what it says, Edith tells him that Henriette is on her way and will be with him soon, when what it actually says is that Henriette is already dead and has been since before Edith and Casanova met.
  • In Chinese Paladin 3, the hero's preincarnation Prince Longyang did this for his mother (whose death, due to plot incidents, has just doomed their kingdom). When she recalls that victory bells sounded when her son was born, he goes outside and rings the bells for her to hear as she dies.
  • In Choujuu Sentai Liveman, on the final episode, Bias is reduced to an aging old man who gets taken in by Gash, and as their ship blows up, Gash tells him that the sparks going around the ship are actually fireworks to celebrate Bias' reign, as if he actually won, and that the sounds they are hearing are the people hailing Bias. Viva Bias indeed.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In an episode, Hotch tells a dying witness who was locked in a burning house that her family are fine, and waiting for her. In reality they died in the fire.
    • There's also the episode where the team come across one of a pair of serial killers who is badly wounded. Because the man is already dying, Gideon tries to stop him moving to minimize the pain he's experiencing, and repeatedly tells him "it's okay, it's okay", rather than commenting on the wrongness of his actions. Gideon even calls him "son" a couple of times.
  • In episode ten of Death Valley, the episode closes with the revelation that Officer Brown has been infected by a zombie and has almost completely transformed. Captain Dashell takes a plastic trophy off one of the desks in the office and gives it to Brown, explaining that it is to commend and recognize his bravery and service with the Undead Task Force, placing it in Brown's hands before shooting him.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes To War", Lorna Bucket met the Doctor as a child, and has spent her whole life hoping to meet him again. She finally does on the Demon's Run asteroid, but the Doctor hasn't yet visited her and she's been mortally wounded. The Doctor pretends to remember her for her last moments, rather than let her die disappointed that the Doctor in front of her isn't her Doctor.
    • Even sadder, it's left deliberately ambiguous whether the Doctor simply hasn't met her yet or whether he has and has simply forgotten her. Given that the rest of the episode is about the Doctor getting too big for his britches and losing sight of the impact he has on the people around him, the latter answer stands out as a very notable probability.
    • In "In The Forest Of The Night", Clara and Danny refrain from telling the schoolchildren about the imminent solar flare, because they don't want to spoil a lovely outing by letting them know the Earth is in danger.
  • ER:
    • In an episode, a man, dying and hallucinating, thinks Pratt is his estranged son and Pratt, who had never known his father, lets him believe so.
    • Sadly averted in an earlier season episode. Dying from a combination of AIDS and a suicide attempt, a hallucinating woman keeps begging her husband to forgive her — she cheated on him, contracted the virus, and passed it on to him and their daughter. However, her angry and unforgiving husband isn't even there, it's one of the doctors she's talking to. He is unable to bring himself to say "I forgive you", whether because he himself is disgusted at her actions or simply feels it's unethical to deceive her.
    • Another episode had Luka pretending to be a priest in order to hear a dying woman's confessions (a real one could not be located) and give her solace before she passed on.
  • After much consternation, averted on General Hospital when Robin opts to tell her days-away-from-death boyfriend that she did contract HIV from him. A conversation between Luke and Sonny later on actually debates whether Robin would have been better off letting him die believing that he did not give her the virus.
  • On Gotham, a dying and delirious member of the evil Sacred Order of St. Dumas mistakes Jim Gordon for another member of the sect, and asks his blessing. Jim humors the man, cutting his own hand and anointing the monk's face with blood. Subverted when Jim abandons the ruse once the confused cultist's meanderings give him the clue he needs about the Order's intentions, and the dying man realizes he's just betrayed his brethren when he overhears Gordon calling in to the GCPD.
  • Averted, and then subverted in the Grey's Anatomy episode "Losing My Mind" for a truly heart-wrenching outcome.
  • Heroes: When Daphne's gunshot wound turns septic, Matt gives her a dying dream where she recovers, decides to split with Matt and run to Paris, he eventually comes for her with his new power of flight, and the two share a flight over Paris. Slightly subverted in that Daphne figures out that she's dying, but goes through with the dream anyway.
  • In an episode of House, a woman is dying of rabies. Foreman, who up until now has been cold toward her because personal issues prevent him from sympathizing with the homeless, comforts her pretending to be her husband. She's too sick to tell the difference. Making it even sadder, the reason her husband isn't there is because he and their infant son are already dead. They died in a car accident — and she was the driver. She had fallen apart from guilt and became homeless and destitute when she contracted rabies. Foreman helped absolve her of the guilt that had plagued her for years.
  • Subverted and Played for Laughs in How I Met Your Mother. A few years before the events of the series, Barney's mother was very sick and the doctors thought she didn't have long to live. To make her happy, he hired an actress to pretend to be his fiancee and visit her in the hospital. To everyone's surprise, she made a complete recovery, so Barney had to Maintain the Lie by pretending to be married, then hiring a boy actor to play his "son".
  • An episode of Hustle has Danny posing as an ex-mobster's long lost son to get close to his swag. At the end of the episode, the ex-mobster has a fatal heart attack, and Danny gives up his chance to get at the swag to stand by the old man's side, making him glad that he found his son.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Charlie fakes a cancer diagnosis in order to trick the Gang into fixing him up with the Waitress before he bites it. Slightly subverted in that the Waitress is unmoved, and refuses to have sex with him anyway. (And, of course, the obvious subversion — he's not actually dying.)
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Susie's old friend and mentor Harry dies of an illness in the hospital, and she spends his final days keeping him company, watching movies and talking with him, but his family doesn't show up. On his last night, when he's clearly slipping away and delirious, he looks at Susie and calls her by his daughter's name. She's not sure what to do at first, but the nurse gives her an encouraging nod, so she takes his hand and calls him "Dad," assuring him she's there. He dies at peace and believing his daughter came for him.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • There's an episode where a very wounded soldier wakes up and mistakes Nurse Kellye for his girlfriend. Kellye plays along and pretends to plan a picnic. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is watching and starts to realize how much Nurse Kellye does for the unit.
    • In the episode where a group of school kids write to the 4077th, Margaret gets a letter wondering if she ever becomes friends with the patients. She recalled an incident where she lets a soldier talk to her about his future plans after the war, knowing full well that he is going to die in a matter of hours.
  • When Bosco is dying in The Mentalist, he finally tells Lisbon that he loves her:
    Bosco: I love you, Teresa.
    Lisbon: I love you, too.
    Bosco: No, I mean I love you.
    Lisbon: I know what you mean, Sam.
    • He dies knowing that the woman he's always loved loves him as well.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Spoofed in Red Dwarf X when Rimmer is talking to his dying brother after an entire charade that he was a Captain to show off. Since his brother has just told him he wasn't in fact a Captain in the Space Corps, but a chicken soup machine repair man, same as Rimmer. Rimmer has a chance to redeem himself, but...
      "Remember how I said I was a Captain in the space corp. with lots of girlfriends and two Aston Martins?"
      "Well… I lied… I've only got one"
      His brother dies.
      "I feel so much better after that."
    • Played straight in the series 1 episode "Waiting for God". While Lister is freaked out to learn the Cats worshipped him as Cloister the Stupid, he allows the old, blind Cat Priest to believe that it's true, and that Cloister is pleased with his service.
  • In ReGenesis, Caroline's nephew Glenn gets one of these as, after being comatose for years and, when the Nor BAC crew finally figure out how to communicate with him in hopes that it will lead to a remedy for his situation, he asks please be allowed to die. Caroline takes him on a mental run through a park, feeding him as much pleasant, invigorating imagery as possible and trying to inspire the euphoria of a real run as the doctors get ready to pull the plug. She breaks down mid-sentence as she hears him flatline.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • When Garak's father lies dying, he asks Garak if a variety of enemies were dead. Garak lies and says all of his enemies are dead, to which his father says that's good, since a man shouldn't let his enemies outlive him. This may even be the truth, since in his previous appearance he wiped out everyone but Garak and his housekeeper that even knew who he was.
    • In the episode "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", a Vorta Defector from Decadence sacrifices himself to protect Odo, whom he still considers to be a god. As he lies dying, he asks Odo for his blessing. Odo, who hates the fact that the Vorta worship his people, is reluctant at first but decides to say the words that the man needs to hear in order to die happy.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Resistance" Captain Janeway is sheltered by a mentally-disturbed man who believes Janeway is his daughter. Both his wife and daughter were killed years before by the dictatorship ruling the planet, after the man fled to save himself during a resistance operation. The inevitable Redemption Equals Death occurs, and Janeway comforts the dying man by claiming that she rescued his wife, and his wife forgives him.
  • A similar thing happens in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Inheritance", when the hologram of Dr Soong informs Data that he programmed the android designed after his deceased wife to terminate after a long life, never knowing that she was never truly human. By not telling her about her true identity, Data allows his mother the ability to die happy, one day in the future, and in doing so, loses his opportunity to have someone in existence who is exactly like him.
  • Subverted on an episode of Three's Company. Years ago, Jack's uncle was dying and had always wanted him to become a doctor. Jack told him he was a doctor so his last days would be happy — only for his uncle to make a miraculous recovery and leading Jack to go to great lengths in that episode (with help from Terri) to pretend he really is a doctor.
  • Toshiko in Torchwood does this for Owen, to the extent that he can die happy given the circumstances, by not telling him that she's dying too.
  • In Veronica Mars, Veronica tells the dying Abel Koontz that his daughter couldn't be by his side because she's climbing Mount Everest, and it would take days if not weeks to return. In truth, she had been murdered several days earlier.

  • The song "At the Bottom of Everything" by Bright Eyes is about an elderly man telling a young woman that they're going to her birthday party, because everyone loves her very, very much. In reality, they're strangers on a plane that's about to crash.
  • Evillious Chronicles: In "Kept Waiting for a Response", an elderly nun's dying wish is to learn whether or not the letter she sent years ago was received and if she's been forgiven for her sins. When the orphans in her care learn that the recipient died a long time ago, they write a response in his stead and present it to the nun on her deathbed. She dies smiling, but it's heavily implied that she knows it's fake.

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance: Taako does a variant of this during "The Stolen Century." Towards the end of one cycle, where he's become a professor with a following of dedicated students at a conservatory, he and the rest of his team realize they have eight days to find the Light of Creation, or the world they're on is doomed. Taako enlists his students to search for the Light, but it quickly becomes clear to him that it's hopeless, and the apocalypse is nigh. So when his students eagerly present him with an enchanted diamond, asking if that's the Light, he smiles and says, "Yep, that's it!" and tells them that as a reward, he's giving them all the next week off from classes. He tells them all to get together with their closest friends and loved ones, go someplace fun, let loose, not worry about work, and essentially eat, drink, and be merry... because he wants them to at least have the time of their lives before they all come to an end.

  • The Goon Show — as in the above page quote:
    "Brutus, why does this man follow such a profession?"
    "For money, Caesar. He tells me he wants to die rich."
    "And so he shall. Give him this sack of gold and then strangle him."
    — "The Histories of Pliny the Elder"

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: As Christian is bleeding out, Cyrano tells him he confessed the whole Playing Cyrano schtick to Roxane, and she still chose him. Whether Christian even heard it is unclear.
  • Les Misérables:
    • Fantine dies peacefully and thinking of her daughter as Monsieur le Maire tells her he'll take care of Cosette for as long as he lives. He carefully neglects to mention that he just exposed himself as the parole-breaking convict Jean Valjean and that the police officer is right outside to arrest him.
    • In the number "A Little Fall of Rain", Eponine dies in Marius's arms while he tells her that he loves her, she'll recover, and they'll be happy together for a long time. Audience blubbers.
  • In Perfect Pie, Patsy lies and tells her mother, who is dying in the hospital, that her sons/Patsy's brothers are on their way. This lets her die peacefully knowing that her family loves her, instead of anguished by the truth that Patsy was the only one of her children who cared enough to come to her when they were told she was dying.
  • In Reefer Madness: The Musical, a dying Mary asks Jimmy if he finished Romeo and Juliet and if it has the happy ending they dreamed it did. Jimmy looks to Mae and Jack, who sadly shake their heads. Jimmy tells Mary that Romeo and Juliet got married and had many children, and Mary dies with a smile on her face knowing she got to experience the same kind of love as Juliet, not realizing she also shared her tragic fate.
  • The Shadow Box is a play set in a hospice, where dying patients are being cared for by family members. All throughout the play, the daughter of one dying old woman reads letters from her absent sister, assuring the mother that she is on her way and will be arriving soon. Later in the play, the daughter reveals that the sister died years ago but the mother has rejected the knowledge in her senility. Unfortunately, the mother is clinging to life through sheer stubborn desire to see the absent daughter again, making it harder and harder for the daughter to keep up the charade.

    Video Games 
  • Zigzagged in a manner in Batman: Arkham City. When Joker lays dying after inadvertently knocking the cure from his hands and wasting it, Batman lets him know that he would have saved him if he could have, ostensibly to let him know he just screwed himself. Being the Joker, he finds this funny and dies laughing.
  • In Litchi's Story in Continuum Shift, Arakune offers to eat her memories about him so she wouldn't continue to expose herself to the Boundary. He believes that there's no way out of the corruption, so the least he can do is allow her to live the remainder of her life in peace. If she accepts, Litchi will live maybe another six months, with degenerating memories, bedridden and if she's unlucky, become another Arakune... but before that, she'll be content. Totally not bittersweet at all. note 
  • In the DLC Bloodborne The Old Hunters, after you beat Ludwig The Accursed, you can speak to his severed head. If you happen to be wearing a full set of Healing Church attire (White Church, Black Church, Tomb Prospector, or Father Gascoigne's set), he will ask whether his Church Hunters have become the heroic and noble brotherhood he had envisioned when he first founded them. They really, really didn't, but if you lie and say yes, he'll die peacefully. If you tell him the truth, he just lies there going Laughing Mad until you kill him yourself.
    Ludwig: Ahh, good... that is a relief. To know I did not suffer such denigration for nothing. Thank you kindly. Now I may sleep in peace. Even now, in this darkest of nights, I see... the moonlight.
  • Matthew Baker in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway attempts to do this while Franky "Beans" LaRoche is dying, telling him the Dutch girl he tried to save escaped, but Franky manages to breathe out calling him a liar, which obviously means he knows she died. Then part of the ceiling collapses and crushes him. Well, Matt, you gave it your best shot.
  • In Brutal Orchestra, when Nowak first meets Ichor, he offers a spot in his traveling party, but Ichor politely turns him down because he wants to complete his journey in becoming the moon. At the end of the questline, Nowak is horrified when he finds Ichor having been attacked by an "angel" and begs him to join the team, but Ichor joyfully says he is almost there. In their final meeting, Ichor is mortally wounded and tiredly tells Nowak that he finally wants to join the team. Nowak, Trying Not to Cry, says that he can, but that he should rest first as it will be a long journey. Ichor dies moments later.
  • Chapter 3 of Final Fantasy Tactics: Folmarv has revealed the truth about his Zodiac Stone, and wreaks havoc within Riovanes Castle. His son, Isilud, lies dying, savaged by his own father. Terrified, and desperate to spread the news about this diabolical power, he's found by Ramza's sister, Alma. She assures him that Ramza has slain the demon, and that everything is all right. Isilud is then able to die at peace, instants before Folmarv arrives to capture Alma.
  • Jorge in Halo: Reach tosses Noble Six out of a Covenant ship, sacrificing himself to blow it up, thinking he just saved Reach. Not thirty seconds later, an entire Covenant fleet drops out of slipspace to finish the planet off.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn has this happen on a huge scale. Before the current days of primitive humans and animal-like machines, the Old Ones had a ridiculously advanced society that was wiped out by self-replicating machines that can eat biomass for fuel and fell victim to a glitch that took them off their leash. Every person able to fight against the machines was given a gun and thrust into the war, on the premise that a super-weapon, "Project Zero Dawn", will be completed and eradicate the machine plague. In reality, the plague was unstoppable, and PZD was just a way to re-populate the Earth after there was nothing left for the machines to eat and codes could be generated to shut down the plague for good.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: One of the characters who can potentially die early in the game is a parent. Sol can potentially be at the location of their death because of an act of disobedience and get mistaken for their child by them, while it's impossible for the actual child to be reunited with the parent before the death occurs. It's possible for Sol to pretend to be the dying person's child during their last moments.
  • If you take the easy option in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and have Visas sacrifice herself in the duel with Darth Nihilus, the light-side option is to comfort her with the knowledge that her death meant something.
  • Legend of Legaia subverts this one in a rather brutal fashion. Lady Zora willingly fought the party with the belief that Cort loved her as they came to raid her floating castle. Once she loses, Songi shows up, blows open the door leading to the Mist Generator, and nukes it as well before exposing the true nature of the castle — a gigantic Death Trap for the party. Zora believed that Cort loved her to the end before Songi states otherwise and blows her up, too.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: It's implied the reason why Cremia declares that Romani has proven herself to be an adult and allows her to drink Chateau Romani on the final night is because she knows that neither of them are going to be alive to see the morning (and given the fact that it's treated like alcohol, she may be trying to dull her sister's senses so she wont feel any pain when the inevitable happens).
  • Mafia III has a more cynical example. When Vito is done interrogating Grecco, he gives him a final beacon of hope before bashing his skull in from behind.
    Grecco: Hey, now that I told you everything you're gonna let me go, right?
    Vito: Sure, Alright...
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Snake, Raidan and Otacon tell Emma that her virus worked fine when really they can't be certain yet. (It does work, actually, but with some... side effects.) Moments later, with her last breath, she asks her step-brother, Otacon, to call her by her real name rather than by her childish nickname because she's in love with him, and wants to be seen "as a woman". He instead asks her what's wrong with the nickname, but she's gone before she can reply.
  • At the end of the Rank 2 fight in No More Heroes, Travis impales Bad Girl with his beam katana. Even bleeding profusely she refuses to give up and pins Travis to the ground before beating him furiously with her baseball bat until Travis admits he lost. She promptly stops and manages to gasp "Yes! I won!" just before dying.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, the Rank 3 fight is against Captain Vladimir, a mysterious, ghostly Soviet cosmonaut who believes he's been stranded in outer space and has been desperately trying to connect back to a long-defunct mission control, with the ensuing fight against Travis the result of him mistaking him as an American pursuant during the space race. When Travis finally bests him by breaking his suit, only then does Vladimir finally realize he's back on Earth. Travis gives the captain a sincere welcome home as he fades away, and even eulogizes him: "Glory to the Soviet Union."
  • An interesting example comes up in Outlast II. While Ethan didn't mean for it to end with Ethan to die after telling him that his late pregnant daughter is still alive, but when Marta gives him a Cruel and Unusual Death, it ends up being this trope in the end.
  • In Persona 3, the Protagonist can choose to give this to his friends, after they've all objected –- allowing The End of the World as We Know It to occur after a month, and to have his and his friends' memories of the Dark Hour erased, in order to die a carefree and painless death. This is the bad ending to the game, obviously.
    • Even the good ending is kind of like this. For the sake of their friendship, Ryoji decides to respect the party's decision of letting him live, allowing them to die fighting. Of course, he didn't count on the power of the Infinity Arcana or the Protagonist's climactic Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Silent Hill 4: The Room, Cynthia believes that Walter's otherworld is just a dream. After she's fatally attacked, however, she tells Henry that now it feels like it's all real and she's actually dying. Henry comforts her by assuring her it's all just a dream like she thought.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Darth Vindican gets mortally wounded. Darth Malgus allows him to gaze upon his homeworld, Korriban, which he had not seen in his entire life, and tells him, "Welcome home!" before decapitating him.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd tells a dying Governor-General Dorr that his daughter, Kilia (who had been replaced by a Desian impostor who mentions that she is dead) is alive, though in a skit, Lloyd wonders if maybe Dorr knew that he was lying.
  • To the Moon is based around this. The Sigmund Corporation alters the memories of near-death patients so that they can achieve their dreams and die happy. In the first episode, the wish is that of a man wants to go to the moon, even if he can't remember why.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 has Minerva assure a dying Cristel that Squad F just got reinforcements and their survival is guaranteed. In reality, not only are the "reinforcements" just Squad E, who are all exhausted to the point they can barely stand, but there's almost nobody left in Squad F to save. For some truly cruel irony, actual reinforcements, in the form of the Federation's snow cruiser fleet, show up almost immediately after Cristel dies.
    • In the first Valkyria Chronicles, there is a scene where Welkin and Alicia are stranded in an isolated cabin during the night and a gravely wounded Imperial scout stumbles in. The wounds are too deep for them to treat and the delirious and pain-wracked boy begins crying out for his mother, so Alicia kindly pretends to be his mother and comforts him in his last moments.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Fun With Pestilence can play out like this, depending on player choice. You'll come across a girl dying of a sexually-transmitted illness, and you can pretend to either be a doctor or a friend sent by her boyfriend — who is lying dead from the same illness in the apartment below hers — checking up on her at his behest. Provided you chose the right dialogue, you can assure her she'll see him again as she dies.
  • Inverted in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, where a random Guardsman say of a comrade "at least he got to see a Space Marine before he died". Whether or not Titus was present goes unsaid.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night:
    • At the end of the "Fate" route, Bedivere reassures Saber that he has seen the same dream twice before, because she said she just had a beautiful dream and wanted to see it again.
    • In the "Unlimited Blade Works" scenario, Illya seeks out Berserker because she needs to know they will win their fight against Gilgamesh. Berserker defies the laws of the world and stands there until she dies. The reason she thinks everything will be OK is because her eyes were gouged out, and she dies because Gilgamesh rips out her heart.
    • Caster tries to do a Heroic Sacrifice to protect her Master (Kuzuki-sensei) from Gilgamesh's Gate of Babylon. As she fades, he assures her that he'll be okay thanks to her intervention. He dies from his wounds immediately afterwards.
  • Narcissu. Setsumi's death, and probably the protagonist's death after the game.
  • At the end of Planetarian, the Junker (who is the main character) tells the eponymous Ridiculously Human Robot that he will get her to the service center, after an autonomous war machine blast her entire lower half (short story: it's a Crapsack World). No way in hell he can do that.
  • Tsukihime uses this in Arc's route, when Arc uses her Marble Phantasm to "defeat" Roa, who regenerates and slices her in half as she walks away. She's blinded from the pain, and Roa's still regenerating... so as she bleeds out, Shiki comforts her and says that she finally did it, she finally killed Roa. Then she dies, and a very angry Shiki gets up, gives a "No More Holding Back" Speech, and promptly utterly wtfpwns Roa.

  • Buck Godot: The Prime Mover finds out that his security chief has done terrible things (including enslaving an entire species to be his spies) to maintain order on Gallimaufry Station, which he has done very well for thousands of years. Rather than condemn him, the Prime Mover praises the Chief for his exemplary record, declaring that he will serve as a shining example for all who attempt to follow him... and then "fires" him.
    Prime Mover: And that's the story we're going to stick to.
  • A literal case in Girl Genius: While walking around Castle Heterodyne, the cast suddenly becomes very friendly, happy and suspiciously excited. Cue gigantic monster plants that spread a "Happy Gas" so that their prey is defenseless and can be devoured.
    Gil: Sturmvoraus! I am still happy — but not with you!
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The ghost of Lord Soon puts the best spin he can on Miko's disastrous final actions. This is a subversion, as he tells her she was wrong, but in a compassionate way that she understands and accepts. Justified in that they then go together to an afterlife that keeps abreast of mundane affairs, so white lies would have been pointless.
    • Later, Therkla, the half-orc ninja with a massive unrequited crush on Quirky Bard Elan, is fatally poisoned by her employer after switching sides, and dies in Elan's arms. Cue the tears. But this is also a subversion, because Elan can't bring himself to lie and tell her he'll dump Haley for her if she's raised. It's not so much not being able to bring himself as fearing the consequences if she did get raised.
  • Schlock Mercenary: This strip. Subverted in that they don't all die, leading to much confusion and disappointment.
    Ennesby: Captain, you lied.
    Captain Tagon: Instant death, no pain, nothing to brace for. No point in upsetting everybody. No time to do all those things left on the list.
    Captain Tagon: This is taking longer than I would like it to take.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: After the driver of SCP-1958 realizes he won't get to Alpha Centauri on time, having looked outside to see that they're not even past the moon yet (since their spaceship is a VW bus that goes no faster than a typical automobile, and their destination is 4.3 light years away), he closes the curtains because he doesn't want his last remaining passenger and friend, who is almost dead, to know. He tells that friend that they'll make it to Alpha Centauri tomorrow morning just before he dies.
    • SCP-2295 is a patchwork teddy bear Super Doc that can create and transplant fully-working body parts from textile materials for patients with organ damage. In testing, it was presented with a patient with a brain bleed. 2295 rummaged around its supplies for a bit in increasing distress, then gave up, materialized a king-sized chocolate bar for the patient, and cuddled them while crying until they'd passed.

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman: While the death is off-screen, both Beatrice and Bojack lie to each other when the former is on death's door from dementia and old age. As Bojack prepares to leave her at a retirement home to die in anger, she suddenly gains a moment of lucidity and calls out to him, scared and unsure of where she is. Bojack at first bluntly tells her the truth, but seeing how panicked she is, he decides to lie. He tells her she's at her childhood home, surrounded by her family. She goes along with it, seemingly believing it, until he tells her she's eating Vanilla ice cream. While he doesn't know it, Beatrice never had a chance in her life to eat ice cream, but she still reassures him she can taste it.
  • In Dead Space: Aftermath, after the interrogation of Alejandro Borges is complete, he's told that he'll be escorted to guest quarters for the remainder of the trip to The Sprawl, and after that, he'll be free to go home. While he's expressing his relief to the guards escorting him down the corridor, one shoots him in the back of the head. In a fine example of Karmic Death, the interrogators themselves are shot from behind shortly after being congratulated by an Overseer on a job well done. Their last words consist of speculation about how they'll be rewarded. Unfortunately for them, the illusion is shattered at the last moment by the sound of the guards' guns warming up.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Summerween", The Summerween Trickster turns out to be a monster born from the resentment of unwanted, uneaten "loser candy". When Soos eats its heart it dies happy, complete with candy-corn Tears of Joy, because Soos tells the Trickster that he tasted good, something other Trick-or-Treaters never did.
  • In Justice League, Hawkgirl tells Solomon Grundy, who wanted his soul back (long story) and was mortally wounded in a Heroic Sacrifice, that his soul will be waiting for him on the other side, even though she doesn't believe in such things.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok reassures his brother Noatak that "it will be just like the good old days" before igniting the fuel line of their boat. Judging by the Single Tear Noatak sheds, though, he was well aware his brother was lying.
  • In Liberty's Kids, Sarah's cousin Tom, a British soldier, is dying after the first armed skirmish of the Revolutionary War. Tom dies believing that his death is justified in that this exchange of fire will make people see that war isn't the answer to the conflict between England and the colonies. As he dies, Sarah agrees with him and tells him that the conflict will stop when they see the reality of this short battle, but when she writes to her mother shortly after his death, she tells her that she is now even more sure that full-out war is inevitable.
  • In the Disney animated version of The Prince and the Pauper, when Mickey is summoned to meet the dying king, the king can't tell the difference between Mickey and his own son thanks to the two switching places. The king's final words are to "rule with your heart, justly and wisely". Mickey just doesn't have the heart to tell the king that he's not the prince, only saying "I promise" before the king passes away.
  • On South Park, in the episode A Million Little Fibers, Oprah's minge convinces her asshole, which just took a bullet from a police sniper, that they've made it to Paris. Just your typical episode of South Park.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward mistakenly believes SpongeBob is dying, and spends the day playing with and pretending to tolerate him.

    Real Life 
  • During the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, some engineers noticed a piece of debris break off during liftoff and strike the left wing of the shuttle. Nobody knew how bad the damage was; there was no way for the astronauts to check while in orbit, and no way to repair it even if they could. If the damage was bad enough, it would destroy the shuttle upon re-entry. The question was: should the crew be told? But what would be the point? There was no additional shuttle which could be launched to rescue them. Would they choose to stay trapped in orbit until their oxygen ran out? Or attempt re-entry, something they would have to do anyway, whether or not they knew they would likely die? In the end, the crew were not told, and re-entered the atmosphere after a seemingly successful mission, and did not realize anything was amiss until the final moments.
  • It's not uncommon for family or friends to tell someone who is dying something they would want to hear, even if it's not true, or it's about something that might happen but hasn't yet. ESPN recently did an Outside the Lines story on Dylan Rebeor, a high-school football player who discovered he had terminal colon cancer early in 2010. He served as an inspiration to his team, Central High School in Columbia, Tennessee, as they played through the 2010 season and state playoffs. He died the morning of the State Championship; his last words were to ask his mother if the team had won the title. She said they did, even though the game was that night. Fortunately, the team did win the state title.
  • In the age of paternalistic medicine (which ended around the 1970s with the adoption of the concept of "informed consent" as the basis for patient–physician interactions), doctors would quite often not tell the patient that he or she has a fatal disease. The doctor would inform the family members first, assuming that they would know how to break the news better, but quite often, the family would not tell the patient, either. This was ostensibly done to not distress the patient; but unfortunately, being stuck in a limbo where everyone is lying to your face and whispering solemnly around your bed only made patients feel more afraid.
    • It's not unusual for the children of parents with severe dementia to withhold information about deceased relatives from them, to spare them the pain (something which would be magnified as due to the memory loss associated with their condition, they'd be unlikely to remember and would have to be notified multiple times, with each impacting them as though it was the first time). This is especially common when it involves their own childen. Both Ronald Reagan and Zsa Zsa Gabor were completely unaware of the deaths of their children due to the severity of their condition until their own passings three and just under two years later respectively.
  • Ruth Coker Burns became an activist for AIDS patients after a man dying of it mistook her for his mother when she was visiting another friend in the same hospital. She went along with it, speaking to him and holding his hand for the final thirteen hours of his life.


Video Example(s):


"Viva Bias!"

In an oddly human moment for a killer robot, Guardnoid Gash cheers up the senile Great Professor Bias by feeding his master's dying delusion that he won.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ComfortTheDying

Media sources: