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Miles to Go Before I Sleep

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"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

So, you're a Death Seeker, are you? You've lost everything, or you've been dishonored or wronged beyond endurance, and now you're charging off to get yourself killed in the big battle ahead? Ha! Luxury. Some of us can only dream of the sheer indulgence of surrendering ourselves to a sweet, sweet end! Unfortunately, we've got a to-do list as long as your arm to deal with first.

Suicide Missions don't grow on trees, and the "Mission" part generally trumps the "Suicide." Not every character to whom life has become a burden can kill themselves or even allow themselves to die. Sometimes there's a task or an obligation that must be discharged before they can ever have peace. It might be some grand quest only they can complete, or it might simply be the knowledge that people are depending on them, or will be devastated by their loss. Sometimes such a character must reluctantly fight to survive even though they don't want to. They might be allowed to "die trying" to complete some objective, but not until they've exhausted every possible effort they can make.

Of course what happens to such a character can vary — some will find that the obligation to keep living has actually helped them to weather the psychological storm and when their task is done, they're free to enjoy life after all. Others will die in trying to fulfill their responsibilities, or shortly afterward, as if their bodies knew it was safe to give out now.

Compare The Atoner, who may also be a Death Seeker but chooses to go on living to repent for their wrongdoings. For when their task is to kill everyone else first see Put Them All Out of My Misery. Compare with The Last Dance. For those not allowed to rest even in death, see Unfinished Business, Purpose-Driven Immortality, and the Flying Dutchman.

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


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the final arc of Code Geass, Lelouch becomes functionally suicidal after losing all of his allies and apparently losing Nunnally in the FLEIJA explosion. He ends up building himself up as the world's biggest tyrant and having his friend Suzaku take up his former mantle as Zero and kill him.
  • In the manga version of Elfen Lied: Lucy decides the last thing she will do is protect Kouta, just before the American army decides to bomb Japan to get rid of her. She takes out a whole fleet of aircraft, one by one, all while suffering Phlebotinum Breakdown, literally causing the flesh to melt off her body. Not until every last plane has been taken down does she let herself die, by which time she's little more than a puddle of goop with half a face.
  • Hohenheim of Fullmetal Alchemist, after learning of his wife's death and her last words being that she couldn't die with him, says that he hopes to join her once Father has been defeated. Riza says that if Roy goes against his ideals, such as killing Envy for the sake of vengeance, she will kill him, then commit suicide after the battle is over.
  • In Hellsing, when Anderson shares a Dying Truce with Alucard after being defeated by the No Life King, he asked somewhat in pity how long Alucard would have to continue his miserable existence, to which Alucard answered "Until my past is demolished by my future."
  • Bruno Bucciarati from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind technically dies when he first fights The Boss, but somehow lingers on until the very end.
  • Zest of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, who still needs to confront his old friend and learn the reason behind the death of his original together with the rest of his squad, backstab Jail Scaglietti, then make sure his charges will be safe afterward before he could finally seek his final honor as a knight.
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Sai Saici asks Argo whether the latter is prepared to lose his life in combat. Argo doesn't back down from fighting the Dark Gundam's forces, but says that he can't afford to lose his life as long as he hasn't rescued his friends yet.
  • Played with in Monster, to put it gently. Johan ultimately wants to die, but he must destroy Bonaparta first.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, William's plan involves his own death, but only after removing all the other devils from the world first. As soon as he accomplished that, he rushed toward suicide.
  • One Piece has Brook, who openly expressed in his introductory arc that he has desired to die (again), after remaining in maddening isolation as a living skeleton for 50 years. However, he made a promise to return to Laboon, the Team Pet of his old crew, and play for Laboon the crew's last recording.
    Brook: I do not think he would forgive us for having died irresponsibly and because of our selfish promise would yell into the skies if he could... That death isn't an apology...!!! Because a man once said...!!! That they absolutely would come back!!!
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, after the end of the series; Homura wants nothing more than to be with Madoka; and this will only happen if her Soul Gem goes dark. She will not let this happen, because she has expanded her desire to protect Madoka to protecting the world that Madoka loves. Thus we see her in the end fighting Demons with a level of power and possibly darkness that would have killed any other magical girl instantly.
    • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, we find out what determination has led her to. Even after being pushed to her limit and then nearly transforming into a witch, even when Madoka comes to take her to the afterlife, Homura refuses to let go... and instead takes over Madoka's powers and becomes a Dark Messiah so that she can protect Madoka for all eternity.

    Comic Books 
  • Ever since his family was killed by criminals, The Punisher has waged a literal war on crime, killing criminals despite the best efforts of the judicial system and other superheroes to put them behind bars. One thing that keeps getting thrown in his face by criminals and heroes alike is that his slayings won't bring his family back, or durably reduce crime in New York City (much less the U.S.). What they never seem to get is that Frank knows and has long since accepted this; he's simply killing criminals until his inevitable death and reunion with his family.
    • Punisher villain Thorn woke up from a nearly(?) successful attempt on his life remembering nothing but his killers' faces (including Frank's). Now he feels no pain or emotions, shrugs off any and all injuries no matter how severe, and neither needs nor wants to sleep at all. Like a vengeful ghost, he just wants to settle unfinished business so he can finally rest. He describes himself as being already dead and/or living in a dream, and both stories/arcs featuring him draw explicit comparisons between him and Frank — they’re both “the walking dead.”
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, the titular Last Ronin attempts to commit seppuku for failing to stop Big Bad Oroku Hiroto at the end of the first issue, with the Ronin feeling it's the only way that he can regain his honor after failing the mission. However, injuries sustained in the attempt on Hiroto's life affect the Ronin too much for him to go through with it, as he passes out from bloodloss before he can kill himself. When he wakes up, the Ronin makes a point to keep trying to stop Hiroto as his final mission instead of trying to go through with another suicide attempt, albeit with the implication that he doesn't intend to survive after the mission is over, one way or another. And indeed, he does not; the Last Ronin dies when Hiroto electrocutes them both in a way that results in a Mutual Kill, ending both of their clans for good, albeit with a final shot revealing that more mutant turtles might be on the way.
  • X-Man: Nate Grey, unusually, really doesn't want to die, but for most of his solo series, feels that it's inevitable thanks to his in-built genetic time-bomb. As a result, he spends most of his time trying to make sure that the main Marvel Universe doesn't become a second Age of Apocalypse. Then, his time-bomb is defused, and he has more time to relax and enjoy life... then sort of dies... then comes back and loses most of his powers... then gets them back and the time-bomb with them, leading to his decision that making the world better - by force, if necessary - is the only option he's got left before he dies.

    Fan Works 
  • Animorphs: The Reckoning: Cassie's aversion of this trope is the source of much angst for Jake. About halfway through the story, Cassie is killed in a meteor strike trying to rescue a bystander, rather than accepting rescue or escaping alone. Jake grieves by repeatedly morphing Cassie to explore her thoughts and speak to her memory, eventually deciding that her heroic death was, in part, a way to escape the Yeerk invasion and her responsibility to end it.
  • Aska: Fenrir is a Death Seeker, but he's got a lot left to accomplish before he's finally allowed to pass on.
  • Be Careful: Malfoy Manor has seen so much hatred, corruption and evil fostered within its walls that it has yearned for death for centuries. Sadly, it cannot destroy itself, and pleads for Draco to deliver a Mercy Kill. However, despite all this, it is willing to forego its eternal rest long enough to help Draco bring down Voldemort for good.
  • Brutal Series: By the end of the third scenario in What If, Amer is on the verge of being Driven to Suicide. However, he realizes this would mean leaving his two remaining allies to kill each other, so he steps up to Shoot the Dog before offing himself.
  • Child of the Storm has Doctor Strange, who's very old, very tired, and very, very much embittered by what he's had to become in order to counter Thanos - a lonely, untrusted, and incurably manipulative puppeteer forced to outlive almost everyone he's ever known, and go against everything he ever wanted to be. All he really has left is his given word, characterised by his inability to directly lie, which is why he goes berserk the one time someone suggests he might be breaching it. It's heavily implied that he wants to die, just to get it over with.
  • In Code Prime, Wizard, also known as Oiagros Zevon refuses to die until the Earth has been freed from the Decepticons. And even then, he only intends to die by the hands of either his niece or nephew Oldrin or Orpheus, to atone for killing their mother to seize control of the Zevon family.
  • Emiya Shirou in The Hill of Swords. The titular 'Hill of Swords' is where he knows he'll meet his end. He keeps seeking it out, but he can't find the opponent that can kill him until the end.
  • In A Ninja's Guide to Gotham, Hayate worries more that Jason is passively suicidal than about any of the criminal empire stuff. Jason's narration confirms that he has no plans that extend past his confrontation with the Joker and Batman, and thoughts about longer-term goals tend to get reflexively shut down.
  • Mercury of Phoenix-fire is eventually revealed to have been living this trope for the past 400 years. Even going so far to remain living that he made a Deal with the Devil in the form of becoming a Shade, sort of. It's complicated. At the end, it is revealed that his Thanatos Gambit failed, and he is doomed to a Fate Worse than Death forever''.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: In the sequel, Picking Up the Pieces, Blazen Sun has a conversation with his fellow Captain Memorizing Gaze and remarks how, at 140 years old, he is the last of his generation; his comments indicate that, while not suicidal, he is tired and looking forward to the day when he can retire and pass his position on to his lieutenant, but he can't bring himself to do so just yet, feeling there is still more for him to do.
  • The Albus Dumbledore of Weres Harry? is revealed to be a tired old man who's trying to do three jobs at once, unable to lay down any of his burdens because there is no one else to carry them.
  • In Winter War, Captain Ukitake's Incurable Cough of Death has become significantly worse due to exposure to a chemical weapon, his best friend is MIA and probably taken captive, and the order he's devoted his life to has collapsed. He's tired enough that he wouldn't mind dying that much- especially in something approximating a fair fight, rather than the traps and dishonorable battles he's had to employ against Gin's forces. Unfortunately, he's also the only shinigami captain left alive, in Soul Society, and not on Aizen's side- so he steps up to become the leader of La Résistance. At this point, he's living only for his people and his duty.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Book of Eli, Eli is on a Mission from God to deliver a Bible to people who will make good with it. He's spent the better part of three decades crossing the post-apocalyptic United States of America while blind and at the climax he gets shot in the gut by the Big Bad and is very visibly dying by inches, but he toughs it out long enough to reach the outpost in Alcatraz Island where information is pooled to rebuild society and narrate the entire King James Bible (which he spent all of those years memorizing) to be written down. In his final voice-over, he's thankful to God for finally being able to rest.
  • After seeing his wife and child crucified and losing his freedom, Maximus of Gladiator seems to view his quest for vengeance against Commodus this way:
    Maximus: You see, my wife and my son are already waiting for me.
    Juba: You will meet them again. But not yet. Not yet.
  • In Haunter, protagonist Lisa is the spirit of a teenage girl that was killed when an evil ghost, the Pale Man, possessed her father and used him to murder the entire family. He then bound their souls to the house they lived in, to be tormented forever for his sick amusement. Lisa eventually has a chance to flee the house with her family to find peace, but instead she decides to stay behind to fight her tormentor, knowing that not stopping him would mean the deaths of yet another innocent family within minutes, and possibly more in the future. Only when the Pale Man is defeated for good does she move on to join her family in Heaven.
  • The title character of Logan. Due to the longevity that his Healing Factor has given him, he is physically about 200 years old, with another 50 years of memories left over from his adventures in Mental Time Travel. He has seen all of his friends die twice (except Jean, whom he saw die three times; once at his own hands). His healing factor has slowed to a crawl thanks to adamantium poisoning, leaving him scarred, arthritic (he is shown to have trouble even putting a shirt on) and perpetually sick. He even carries an adamantium bullet, the only thing capable of killing him, and the only thing keeping him from using it is his Undying Loyalty to Charles (and later, Laura).
  • Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings - see under Literature. Somewhat less explicit in the movie, but the commentary points out that a scene in which a vision of Galadriel pulls Frodo to his feet after he collapses and tells him that he must continue seems hopeful, but is also cruel because the exhausted Frodo "can't even die."
  • In Telefon, the Soviet agents are activated with the Robert Frost poem that is the page quote. They do indeed have miles to go before their mission is done and they are Driven to Suicide.
  • Until the Continuity Reboot of Terminator Genisys and the Un-Reboot of Terminator: Dark Fate, this was part of Sarah Connor's fate as a Posthumous Character in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: shortly after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, she was diagnosed with leukemia and given six months, but lived for years, long enough to see August 29, 1997 come and go without incident. That said, she was still Properly Paranoid enough that her casket was loaded with weapons (Sarah herself had actually been cremated).

  • In The Black Company, Goblin has this when he is resurrected and possessed by the Khadidas, and is given a chance by Croaker to kill the goddess Kina.
  • The Bolo short story Miles To Go. Bolo Nike has had her beloved commander murdered, and has had an unstoppable virus destroying her computer core activated by the renegade officer who killed him. Quoting the poem listed at the top of the page, she turns upon the army trying to conquer the planet she is based on. By the time the virus destroys her main processor, she has done so much damage to the invading army that the severely understrength planetary militia can finish the job.
  • In Bone Dance, Frances wants to kill every last one of the bodyswitching Horsemen who caused a nuclear war. Herself included.
  • The title character in Eden Green makes it her mission to destroy fellow infectees of an immortal needle symbiote before allowing herself to commit suicide. This theme is repeated in the sequel, New Night; Lucas is suicidal and narcoleptic, but constantly forces himself onward to protect others rather than (literally or figuratively) lying down to sleep.
  • Played with and then invoked in-universe in The Elenium. In the second book, Sparhawk and company have a truly scary, horrifying encounter with a noblewoman who's turned to the worship of Azash, with all the resulting monstrous acts that implies. Her brother, the local Lord, can't bear to have her executed for her crimes, so the Knights build a one-cell prison for her instead. In the third book, Sparhawk encounters the Lord's devoted manservant, who was also the main caretaker for the imprisoned woman, among the massing army. Unable to take the strain - especially the constant howling and screaming - the servant poisoned the woman and has run off to join the army, and hopefully die in battle, to expiate his sin of murder. Sparhawk takes him to Patriarch Bergsten, who sizes up the situation in a glance during a quick explanation. Bergsten sternly tells the manservant that he will not take the coward's way out with his thinly disguised suicide attempt, and he will thus forward work for Bergsten, who will make certain he suffers for his sin, so he can one day die in God's grace. After the manservant is dismissed to begin his duties, Bergsten tells Sparhawk that he fully understands the manservant's actions, but the man would never believe anyone who tells him that. Bergsten will work him just short of too hard, and make lots of thunderous pronouncements and occasionally shout at him, to make the manservant feel that he's suffering. Once the manservant has recovered from and worked through his trauma and guilt, Bergsten will make him the Abbott of a nice quiet monastery somewhere. Sparhawk calls Bergsten a Manipulative Bastard. Bergsten shrugs and more or less says 'Yes, that's one of the reasons God recruited me'.
  • Frankenstein intends to hunt his monster to the end of the Earth and destroy it before allowing himself to succumb to despair and embrace the oblivion of death. The monster, for its part, literally does lead Frankenstein to the end of the Earth; they are both last seen in the Arctic Circle.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • In Brisingr, Eragon forces Sloan to do this until he gets to the Elves, as atonement for betraying Carvahall.
    • Eragon himself briefly gets a moment like this when he depletes his energy from spellcasting. It is also, however, combined with a The World Is Just Awesome moment that gives him the will to continue until his full recovery.
  • The House of Responsible Life from the Liavek anthologies is a religion built around this trope. The members of the religion are sworn to kill themselves, but only after discharging all worldly obligations. Very few of them get around to it, and at least one eventually decides that living is worth it after all.
  • The Licanius Trilogy: Caedan desperately wants to die (in order to rejoin his beloved wife, as some atonement for the atrocities he's committed in the past, and because his life is part of what's holding open the gateway into the Darklands), but he has a great many things he has to do first, and it's not until the very last sentence of the last book in the trilogy that he finally dies.
  • Both Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings, in different ways. Frodo is committed to carrying on towards Mount Doom—ultimately even crawling on hands and knees—despite a long, quietly deepening certainty that the quest is hopeless. Sam tends to take a more one-day-at-a-time approach, but when he finds Frodo, apparently killed by Shelob, his first instinct is to consider suicide, or be cut down by Orcs defending Frodo's body. Only with great reluctance does he realize that the responsibility to destroy the ring trumps his personal despair and resolves to carry on alone. Often, later, he regrets bitterly that the two of them cannot just "lie down and go to sleep." Sam, incidentally, does recover his will to live an ordinary life, while Frodo doesn't.
  • Camaris in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is this after being reawakened from his simpleminded state, which was itself a result of a Heroic BSoD that drove him to attempt suicide. He fights to save the world as hard as anyone else, but feels that simply being forced to live is yet another punishment meted out by God for his sins. His fate at the end is unknown.
  • Several of the surviving paladins in The Saint of Steel feel this way after the death of their god, particularly Steven, who notes that his duty to repay the kindness of the Temple of the White Rat is one the only things that keeps him going. He gets better eventually.
  • Daylen in Shadow of the Conqueror is a Death Seeker who wants nothing more than to die and be released from his endless guilt, but believes that living and making amends to the world is the punishment chosen by the Light, and as a devout Lighseeker, does everything in his power to stay alive and complete his Redemption Quest.
  • Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time epitomizes this trope until the end of book twelve.
    • He doesn't epitomize it from the start; it probably wasn't until the end of the third book that he finally stopped being in denial about how arduous his fate would be. He gets steadily ground down by his burden from then on, and by the 10th book he is a wreck and no longer has normal human reactions to much of anything. He has at least three What the Hell, Hero? moments in book 12 but by the end of the story has something of an epiphany that maybe life is worth living after all.
    • In the Borderlands they have a saying, "Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain."
  • Taylor's mindset throughout most of Worm, after leaving her initial Death Seeker phase. In the final fight the only thing keeping her from going crazy from a deadly upgrade is her drive to kill Scion - the minute the enemy is dead she promptly falls apart.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Babylon 5 episode "Comes the Inquisitor", Sheridan and Delenn are tested by an inquisitor sent by the Vorlons, eventually revealed to be Jack the Ripper. He is depicted as having acted in part out of moral judgmentalism, and as a result was picked up by the Vorlons in a random act of poetic justice, and forced to sort out the truly righteous from the simply self-righteous.
    "I have done four hundred years of penance and service, a job for which they said I was ideally suited. Now, perhaps, they will finally let me die."
  • Mouse (2021): Ba-reum plans to commit suicide, but first he wants to clear Yo-han's name and catch Chi-guk's murderers.
  • Towards the end of season five of Supernatural Dean is sick and tired of fighting, and just wants to die...but the angels have made it clear they'd just bring him back. His only out is to agree to participate in the apocalypse, which he won't do because of the collateral damage. Lucifer makes much the same threat to Sam.

  • Ivan Isaacs of Priest. He wants nothing more than to be with his dead girlfriend again, but he still has to complete his Roaring Rampage of Revenge and apparently the Big Bad has worked Ivan's fate into his plans, and intentionally keeps him alive so Ivan can fulfil his role.

  • Céline Dion recorded a Corey ("Sunglasses at Night") Hart song called "Miles to Go (Before I Sleep)" on her 1998 album Let's Talk About Love, although the title of the song is the only part of the poem referenced. Hart also produced the recording.
  • The first half of Collin Raye's "Love, Me" is about a man who waited for a woman to run off with him so they could get married. When the second chorus rolls around, it's the woman who "got there" before he did, and the first part's trope combines with this one.
  • Stay Close Sit Tight by Malcolm Middleton:
    I can feel stuff coming
    I'm scared of a life of pain
    Just round the corner is sadness and misery
    Tomorrow I can die
    Today I need to sort this out
    Start with the kitchen, the bedroom, then my family
  • MILGRAM: Upon his introduction, Shidou Kirisaki requests to receive the death penalty for his wrongdoings. After being voted innocent (forgiven) in the first trial, he recognizes that he can't die yet because his medical expertise is invaluable; it saved the lives of two guilty (unforgiven) prisoners who were badly beaten up. In his second song, "Triage":
    The vote that negates the option of death, the love that won't perish
    (...) That's right, there are lives that need safeguarding
    So hey, prolong my life, I'm indispensable
  • "From the North" by Runrig quotes the poem directly: "I've a will and I've a wanting/And miles to go before I sleep."


    Tabletop Games 
  • In the 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons supplement The Book of Erotic Fantasy (a 3rd party supplement dealing expressly with sex and all its aspects in the terms of the d20 system), there is a spell called Shadow Life. It is distinctly separate from the theme of the rest of the book, as on its own it has no sexual connotations. It grants the target (a recently-dead character) one extra day of life for every level the caster has. The flavor text is especially poignant.
    A life cut short. A quest left unfinished. One more task to be done.
    • In the Complete Guide to Liches, one variety of Lich is not granted eternal undeath, but rather an extension until they fulfill a task.
  • Warhammer:
    • Baragor, the so-called Slayer King. Rather than going to seek his glorious death in battle like the rest of the Slayers, he's forced to run his city-state. His solution is to turn his city into a home for Slayers. Warhammer Dwarves being what they are, all of Baragor's sons for five generations have become Slayers themselves.
    • Slayers in general are an interesting variant of this trope. Dwarfs who have suffered an extreme dishonour become Death Seekers, as death is the only thing that can redeem their shame. However, Dwarfs are psychologically incapable of suicide, to the point where they are physically unable to do the deed even under great duress; as such, they have to let enemies kill them instead. However, not just any old death will do - the death has to be suitably epic, preferably against a great foe, for the death oath they swear is to die in glorious combat against impossible odds. The "unlucky" ones find that their own talent at fighting outstrips the calibre of the foes they face; thus, frustrated by their inability at leaving their death oath unfulfilled, these slayers wander the world searching out the greatest monsters and villains imaginable in the hopes that one of them will finally overcome the slayer's fortitude and grant him the death he so craves.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Dante, the 1,500+ year old chapter master of the Blood Angels space marines, has lived longer than almost any other (loyalist) space marine not interred in a dreadnaught, and is still actively leading the chapter and marshalling Imperium defenses against the innumerable threats against it. It is often stated how tired he is of his centuries of service and would very much like to rest, but aside from being unwilling to abandon the Imperium as so many hostile forces assault it, he also continues fighting due to belief in a prophecy that he will be the last one standing between the Emperor and total destruction. In a subversion of expectations, though, being appointed Lord Regent of the Imperium Nihilus (The half of the Imperium cut off from the rest because of the opening of the Great Rift) is said to have revitalized him with new purpose, instead of crushing his hopes even further with such heavy responsibility.
    • Flavius Bile, the Mad Scientist Evilutionary Biologist, has been alive for much longer, long enough that he had seen the Emperor in person when the Emperor could still walk, and has made multiple clone bodies that he shifts his consciousness into to prolong his life. "Until my work is done" has become something of a mantra as he continually struggles against his many enemies and the Blight that keeps killing his bodies. He admits at a few points that he's grown tired, but he's got to finish his great project.

  • In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Horatio tries to finish off the poison and die beside Hamlet. Hamlet stops him, asking him by the love he has for Hamlet to live to tell the story of what happened.
    If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
    Absent thee from felicity awhile,
    And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
    To tell my story...

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Wynne is actually already dead by the second time you meet her (you have the chance to chat to her in the Ostagar section of the prologue), having given her life to save a Circle student from a demon. However, a friendly spirit sees her Heroic Sacrifice and possesses her in order to bring her back. Wynne starts out very concerned about being possessed (as Demonic Possession is a serious problem in the Dragon Age universe) but can be reassured that she is still a good person. She admits to the Player Character that she has no idea how much extra time the spirit has granted her, but she intends to stay alive long enough to see the Blight defeated.
    • She eventually dies via Heroic Sacrifice nearly ten years later, transferring the spirit's protection to her son's lover to save her life.
  • The The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim quest "Lost to the Ages" introduces us to Katria, a seasoned adventurer who died during her search for the legendary Aetherium Forge. Her apprentice promptly stole all of her research and published it as his own. Katria's ghost has been bound to Nirn ever since, unable to move on until she can track down the Forge and complete her life's work by proving its existence. Only when she and the Dragonborn finally forge the last Aetherium artifact ever can she let go to take her place among the honored dead of Sovngarde.
  • Auron in Final Fantasy X actually died trying to avenge his friends before the game, then as an Unsent lived for ten years so he could guide his friends' kids to finish the job.
  • In the "Insanity Ending" of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator, you learn that Cassette Man, presumed to be Henry from "The Silver Eyes", had a hand in making the animatronics that later led to so many deaths, a fact he greatly regrets. He notes that he "Could make himself sleep", but not until he undoes all the damage the Purple Guy had caused.
  • By the time of God of War Ragnarök, protagonist Kratos is showing signs of this; he's died and returned multiple times over the course of his series, but with the prophecy of his death at the titular Ragnarók looming ahead of him, he believes that this time it's going to stick. But he's determined to make sure his son, Atreus will be properly trained and able to survive without him before the inevitable happens, and even if he would relish a chance to finally rest, Kratos still won't go down without a fight.
    Kratos: Death can have me, when it earns me.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Thane Krios of Mass Effect 2 is a drell assassin who is dying of Kepral's Syndrome, a terminal lung disease that often occurs in the drell race living on Kahje due to high moisture content in the air. He has dedicated the final months of his life to only taking hit contracts on people he feels deserve to die. Then he joins Shepard's crew to do One Last Job: helping to save the galaxy from the Reapers. If he still lives in Mass Effect 3, he does One More Last Job: saving the salarian councilor from Kai Leng, at the cost of his own life. "That assassin should be embarrassed. He let a terminally-ill drell prevent him from accomplishing his mission."
    • By the end of Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard seems to be operating in this mode. Severely wounded to the point of only being able to slowly limp along, they seemingly reach the end of the road, collapsing to the floor, only to receive a message from Admiral Hackett asking them to do one more thing. Wearily, they soldier on a little bit longer.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: Between his accelerated aging and the threat of the mutant Fox Die causing a pandemic, Snake knows he's not going to be around much longer, but he still has to take out Liquid first.
  • When the Black Gate is raided, Talion's wife and son are sacrificed in front of him at the beginning of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, with himself only surviving because an elven wraith bonds with him, leaving him unable to die. Although he wants to die to see his family again in the afterlife, he makes it his personal goal to drive Sauron from Mordor, with the assistance of the wraith. In Shadow of War, he turns down several opportunities to die in the name of stopping Sauron, even taking one of the Rings of Men and risking becoming a Ringwraith if it can buy the rest of Middle-earth more time. The true ending to that game shows Sauron's defeat, after which Talion is finally able to die and reunite with his family.
  • In the final battle of Persona 3, the protagonist uses all of their life energy to perform the Great Seal, represented by Great Seal costing 100% of their HP to use, and keeping Nyx from bringing about the Fall. Despite how this should logically have killed them instantly, they hold on until March 5th to fulfill the promise they made with their friends to reunite after the battle. In the Playable Epilogue, the narration notes that they're always feeling very tired.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: After a lifetime of thieving and killing, contracting tuberculosis spurs Arthur Morgan, especially a high-honor Arthur, into doing as much good as he can, and he refuses to go down until he either gets killed by Micah Bell or succumbs to TB.
  • Hanbe Takenaka of Sengoku Basara suffers from tuberculosis, a death sentence during the Sengoku Era. With his time limited, he devotes pretty much every waking minute to expanding the Toyotomi empire, and putting Hideyoshi in charge of Japan before his number comes up.
  • In Subnautica, the Sea Emperor Leviathan was already ancient when she was captured by the Precursors and has endured for another thousand years in a tiny containment chamber, alone, to ensure that someone will come and hatch her eggs and ensure the survival of her species (and with them the survival of every lifeform on Planet 4546B - her species produces an enzyme that cures the Kharaa bacteria). Only a minute after her eggs hatch and her young swim for the portal into the shallows, she collapses and allows herself to pass after a final telepathic speech to the player.
  • Kratos seems to be acting this way throughout Tales of Symphonia. During one of the climactic scenes, Lloyd chews him out on it.
  • In The Walking Dead, the protagonist, Lee, is bitten by a Walker. Despite just having hours to live, he actually seems pretty OK with his fate, so long as he can do one last thing: Save Clementine. He can elect to have his arm cut off to try and slow the infection, goes through a horde of Walkers, and rescues Clementine from the Stranger. In the final sequence, the only reason he's not a zombie yet is sheer willpower, though he can't hold it off forever...
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order and especially Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus give B.J. a serious case of Dented Iron. He's exhausted, mentally and physically, especially after he spends fourteen years in a vegetative state and especially after he barely survives a close-range grenade blast while taking on Deathshead. He just wants to stop fighting, but even when he's reduced to shooting from a wheelchair in the opening to The New Colossus, he can't. He's too good a person to let the Nazis win. Best exemplified by a line from The New Order's prologue mission when he's receiving CPR after his transport plane takes a bad hit.
    B.J.: Death at the gates again. Howling my name. Can't greet you today. I have a war to win.

    Web Video 
  • The Nostalgia Critic has admitted to his job making him feel so very tired. Add that to a sharp decrease in tantrum-my suicides and how close he gets to being an Empty Shell when he's depressed, and you get someone who's given up.

    Western Animation 
  • Implied in The Legend of Vox Machina. After Vox Machina arrives in Whitestone, Percy explains that he has been consumed by vengeance ever since the Briarwoods and their allies murdered his family in front of him, tortured him and his younger sister for weeks, and forced him to flee his only home. The pepperbox pistol he invented during his exile has his kill list inscribed on the barrel. Scanlan points out that there are only five names while the barrel is six-sided, and asks who the final bullet is for. Percy doesn't answer, but the shadow behind him shows him pointing the pepperbox at his own head.

    Real Life 
  • Kurt Vonnegut described feeling this way about his writing career: "It was the same when World War II ended. The Army kept me on because I could type, so I was typing other people's discharges and stuff. And my feeling was 'Please, I've done everything I was supposed to do. Can I go home now?' That's what I feel right now. I've written books. Lots of them. Please, I've done everything I'm supposed to do. Can I go home now?"
  • Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru reportedly had a copy of the poem on his desk (or on him somewhere) throughout his life. It has since then served as a metaphor for his country, according to some.
  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) was also fond of the poem, and quoted the ending lines at the end of many of his campaign speeches in 1960.