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My Life Flashed Before My Eyes

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Abel demonstrates the usefulness of the device.

"Ooh, me life flashed before me eyes!... It was really boring."
Babs, Chicken Run

Oh no, that's his knife lodged in my gut. I'm blacking out, too much blood loss. I can't die now! I had so much to live for! I can see my parents smiling as they tuck me in as a child. My school days as a lanky teenager, worrying about homework and girls. I see the day I got The Call and meeting up with my four new friends. You know, after seeing that sequence of relevant scenes either exposing parts of my Backstory or using somehow familiar visuals I see that this can't be the end. I have to get up and fight!

That, or it's just my brain going into overdrive, and I really am dying.

Characters using this trope go about it in two ways. In one, the audience is treated to a mini Clip Show of Stock Footage or Flash backs. In the other, a character experiencing a harrowing experience says his "life flashed before [his] eyes". In that case, a common follow-up is mentioning how the flashback was awesome, boring or too short.

Truth in Television. According to Wikipedia, the phenomenon is known as life review and is a widely occurring experience of people seeing much of their life history in chronological sequence and precise detail during near-death encounters.

Compare Contemplate Our Navels, Dying Dream (where the entire story is revealed to be this), and Regained Memories Sequence. Really Dead Montage is a meta version.


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  • In a Volkswagen commercial, a couple is shown taking their baby home from the hospital and tucking him into the car seat, then driving off. A car backs out in front of them, and the car jerks to a stop, causing the camera to zoom in on the baby's face and the previous scenes of the commercial to flash before the baby's eyes (because that's pretty much his entire life).
  • One Get a Mac ad has PC injured after someone trips over his power cord and knocks him to the ground. He mentions his life is flashing past his eyes and he sees a sunset in a field full of beautiful wheat, to which Mac asks if that's his screensaver.
  • An add for rum had a man involved in a logging operation in South East Asia. One of the huge logs slips and starts rolling towards the man, who experiences an instant montage starting from birth to this accident. Then the log hits a rock and bounces over him. Cut to I Need a Freaking Drink.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The final episode of Code Geass has Lelouch doing this in his final seconds of life at the end of his Zero Requiem. Interestingly, the order of events shown go from the present time and backwards, showing the events of the series in rewind. The last image shown is that of a cheerful, smiling Lelouch when he was a child, before everything fades to white for Lelouch as he dies satisfied and content.
    Lelouch: Yes... I... I destroy... the world... and create it... anew.
  • In the last episode of Death Note, as mortally wounded Light Yagami runs away from those who have just exposed him, he begins to cry softly as he has flashbacks his younger self, innocuous and well-meaning, and finally sees a vision of that same younger self walking past him as he runs towards his death.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Zenitsu experiences this after battling the spider-demon and being unable to move due to a slow poison coursing through his body.
    • Later, Tanjiro has the same experience due to being on the receiving end of a deadly attack from Rui. It allows him to remember the Hinokami Kagura his father taught him, which gives Tanjiro the means to counter the attack and go on the offensive.
  • Dragon Ball: As Goku is enduring the effects of the dangerous Ultra Divine Water, he sees flashes of his entire life from living at his grandpa's house up to encountering Piccolo.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Phantom Blood: During his first battle with Dio, Jonathan has a brief flashback of his life as the mansion burns away and Dio continues to persist, giving him a Heroic Second Wind.
    • Stone Ocean: Emporio quickly has a recall of everything when the story began as Pucci closes in, remembering up to Jolyne's Heroic Sacrifice, including that she gave him Weather Report's Stand disc to help him.
  • In Naruto, Jiraiya sees flashbacks of him with Minato and Kushina and also of Naruto after he gets his throat slashed by Pain. This drives him to wake up to encode a message before he dies for real. Later, Hinata has flashbacks of how Naruto inspires her during her fight against Pain.
  • One Piece: How Zoro's backstory is delivered - in the split-second before Luffy shields him from Morgan's firing squad, he flashes back to his past with Kuina.
  • In Squid Girl, when an amnesiac Squid Girl tries to remove her hat, the shock of it causes her life to flash right in front of her and immediately remembers everything.
  • Gundam:
    • A split second one in the finale of ∀ Gundam, where we finally see what's in the mind of the former Moonrace soldier Corin Nander when bears witness to the full power of the Turn A and Turn X, which reveals pretty much everything one needs to know about his past and why he was so afraid of the Turn A, calling it a "Gundam" when no one else had. What does he constantly see? Wing Gundam Zero.
    • Played completely straight in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 when Lockon dies.
  • Azumanga Daioh: Osaka says that, while they're out seeing the pandas, she wants to see this. Though it takes a little bit to think of it.
  • In the first episode of Excel♡Saga, really bizarre scenes from Excel's life flash before the paramedics in the ambulance and one of them says, "Uh oh, her life's flashing by. That's no good, crap."
  • A variation of this occurs in Elfen Lied when Kurama blows himself up with his diclonius daughter. A vision of what life could have been like if his daughter wasn't a diclonius and his wife therefore hadn't died rather than how it actually was (thus avoiding the usual Clip Show part of this trope) flashes before his eyes just before the bomb goes off. Bandou plays it straight.
  • Literally happens in Black Butler when Shinigami Grell slices into people's bodies and ribbons of film burst out; this so the Shinigami can determine where their victims go in the afterlife.
  • Gungrave uses this trope as much as possible. Every character (good and bad) seems to have a flashback sequence or a life flashing experience as part of their death scene. In fact, only the nameless mooks seem to be able to die without fuss.
  • GUN×SWORD: Van survives his near-defeat once he remembers Elena, but the flashback also hints at the depth of his feelings for Wendy, since she and Elena are the only two people he remembers in full color.
  • Happens in Pluto with a tragic twist. The person in question was making a Heroic Sacrifice, broadcasting live footage of his duel with Pluto from his eye cameras to Geischt, which he could use to find Pluto's weakness. Once his life starts flashing, the footage is ruined and the guy died for nothing.
  • In Nichijou, Mio experiences this after tasting her sister Yoshino's homemade jam, which was made from fermented fish. The taste is so disgusting that Mio's life flashes before her eyes after eating some.
  • In chapter 64 of the CITY manga, Izumi's life flashes before her eyes twice — once as she slips on stairs at school, then again after a painter rushes to her after she sits on a freshly painted park bench (though everything works out fine in both instances). Then, after she drops an octopus ball she was eating, the life of the octopus flashes before her eyes.
  • In Death Parade, this happens as the deceased players start to unfurl the reasons as to how they wound up at Quindecim, a place where the fate of their souls are decided. This is done on purpose - the arbiters make it so that the players' memories are released slowly throughout their games so as to show their true colours. The players usually don't remember until right until the end that they're dead.
  • You Are Being Summoned, Azazel: This happens to Azazel in Episode 3 right before Akutabe smashes a book on his head.
  • Carnival Phantasm: Parodied. Just moments after Lancer is launched at Archer by Berserker, images of him bonding with the mad servant flash before him. This is not lost to him.
  • Attack on Titan
    • When Eren's losing to the Armored Titan, he has a flashback to his days training in hand-to-hand combat alongside Annie, and he briefly wonders if it's a case of his life flashing before his eyes. It ends up giving him an insight he uses to get the upper hand on the Armored Titan.
    • When Marlowe takes part in a Suicide Mission against the Beast Titan, with his comrades dying left and right, his last thought is of Hitch, the girl he's implied to have feelings for, shortly before a rock hits his head at high speed, killing him.
  • Bakemonogatari: In the last episode of Koyomonogatari, "Koyomi Dead", Gaen Izuko slashed Koyomi Araragi with the Kokorowatari sword. He doesn't regenerate as usual and the audience is shown a montague of Araragi's life including his birth and childhood. The killed was sent to hell and this is later revealed to be a part of an elaborate plan to defeat Ougi.
  • Delicious in Dungeon:
    • Used via In Medias Res in Chapter 57, which begins with Laios gravely injured but he can't remember why. This is followed by a series of flashbacks, which confuses Laios even more, until he realizes it's because this trope is in effect. He waits until the memories reach the present day to remember why it happened.
    • In Chapter 75, Marcille has been impaled via Telefrag by Mithrun, and is about to either captured or killed. She sees the entire adventure up until that point inside her head, which consists almost entirely of the many painful or embarrassing moments she experienced. She laments that if they had just given up, she wouldn't have suffered so much for naught, but it ultimately renews her resolve, because it's not in her nature to just give up.
  • In the anime version of Vinland Saga, Gardar has a series of flashbacks to his time both as a slave and before becoming one, as well as a Dying Dream of being reunited with his son as he bleeds out and slowly dies. This was created for the anime; in the manga version we saw the events only from Arnheid's point of view, and there the two simply talked until Gardar was too weak to continue due to his wounds and blood loss.
  • SPY×FAMILY: During the Cruise Adventure arc, Yor is forced to fight an army of assassins to protect the daughter of a deceased mafia boss and her infant son. At one point one of them gains the upper hand and almost kills her, but then she remembers that she became an assassin to help provide for her brother Yuri, and then the precious moments she's spent with Loid and Anya in the past few months. This gives her the Heroic Second Wind she needs to get back up and fight again.

  • Played with in a stand-up comedy routine of Larry Miller. He's taken on a skiing trip by some of his (now ex-) friends and ends up going on a steep slope that's well beyond his limited ability to navigate safely. Naturally, he ends up careening wildly out of control down the slope, and naturally, he ends up heading directly for some large trees. He describes a few past events that then flash before his eyes just before the collision, but then realizes that he'll emerge from this skiing catastrophe mostly all right, since the life flashing before his eyes clearly isn't his (it had too many awesome moments).
  • Also played with in Woody Allen's stand-up routine "Down South", where he ends up with a group of Ku Klux Klan members who try to lynch him, and he tells about his life flashing before his eyes: "I saw myself as a kid again, in Kansas, goin' to school, swimmin' at the swimmin' hole, fishin' and fryin' up a mess o' catfish, going down to the general store, gettin' a piece of gingham for Emmy Lou — and I realize it's not my life. They're going to hang me in two minutes, and the wrong life is flashing before my eyes."

    Comic Books 
  • Earthworm Jim (2019): Jim experiences this when Proto Pooch goes into monster mode and tries to eat him. He recalls everything that happened, and since he's been alive for four hours, it's not much.
  • Laff-A-Lympics: After being saved from a long fall, Hokey Wolf says every sheep he's known passed before his eyes.
  • Paper Girls: happens to Tiffany who finds it particularly upsetting because she's only twelve and all she sees are countless hours spent obsessively playing Arkanoid.
  • In the graphic novel of The Stainless Steel Rat For President, Jim's wife thinks this trope is in play when he starts 'playing with a box of toys' when fatally wounded. Turns out the toys include an Auto Doc shrunken to a portable size.
  • Superman:
    • The Leper from Krypton: As Superman is dying from an alien disease, he starts seeing images of his past since he was a baby rocketed from a dying world.
    • In DCU Infinite Holiday Special issue #1, Supergirl gets to answer some of the Christmas letters that get sent to Superman. One of those letters is from a girl who wants to see her father. However her father is an asshole who doesn't want his daughter to know he is a screw-up. Supergirl convinces him to clear things up with his ex-wife and daughter through an unorthodox method: she lets him drop from a height of 29,000 feet, hoping he will see his life flashing before his eyes, including changes he would have wanted to change if he had gotten more time.
    Supergirl: You know the cliché, Fred. Everyone does. "When you're about to die, your life flashes in front of your eyes." But I've been there, and it's crap... isn't it? You see something, though. You see the holes... the missing bits. And all of the things that would have made your life complete, if you had one more year... a day... a second. I don't know what you saw, Fred, but considering you were in free fall for a solid minute, I bet it was an eyeful. Maybe you are a screw-up. A loser. A drunk. But maybe, the piece you're missing... can make you something better. But only if you go to her, and try. Merry Christmas, Fred. Hope it's a good one.
  • The Ultimates: Hulk broke Iron Man's armor and almost killed him. He said that he saw five thousand blondes flash before his eyes.
  • The basic premise of the Firefly comic Watch How I Soar. Wash's life flashes before his eyes right before he dies in Serenity and he seems to have a future vision/Imagine Spot with his daughter as well.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin, falling to his apparent death after his balloon carries him up to the sky before popping, says, "They say when you're falling, your life is supposed to flash before your eyes. The problem with being 6 years old is that my life won't take very long to watch. Maybe I can get a few slow-motion replays of the time I smacked Susie upside the head with a slushball."
  • Garfield:
    • In one of the comics the titular cat says, "My life just flashed before my eyes. It looked like a fast-food commercial." Not surprising considering all he does is eat and sleep.
    • The electronic scale says "If I had eyes my life would be passing through them".

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Treasure Planet:
    B.E.N.: Uh, Jim? I don't know about you, but I can see my life pass in front of my eyes. At least, I think it's my life... WAS I EVER DANCING WITH AN ANDROID NAMED LUPE?!
  • In Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, the two characters are about to die of thirst when they end up having their life flash before their eyes. Butthead's life just showed him and Beavis at various ages, but always sitting on the same couch chuckling at the TV (he concludes that his life was cool). Beavis flashes back to when he was just a sperm, hitting on the ova before he gets shoved in by the other sperm.
    Beavis: Hehehee ... I scored.
  • Spoofed in Chicken Run, when Babs moans "My life flashed before me eyes!" after it briefly looks like she's going to "get the chop". Then she adds a deadpan "It was really boring."
  • Shrek:
    • In Shrek 4D at Universal Studios, after Donkey and the other main characters are sent over a waterfall, he says, "I'm sure my very life is flashing before my eyes!"
    • Shrek the Third also has Gingy going through this when Prince Charming threatens him. Apparently he's been in prison. It breaks him to the point he starts singing "The Good Ship Lollipop."
    • Played for Drama in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, when Puss, now down to his last life, panics when the Wolf actually manages to draw blood in their fight. The Wolf picks up on this and taunts him with his fear. It happens again briefly during a later encounter, appropriate as the Wolf reveals he is Death itself.
  • Spoofed in Strange Magic when Griselda gets pinned under rubble. She dramatically screams that her life is flashing before her eyes, then laughs and says, "I was hot!"
  • Ice Age: Collision Course. When it seems like all hope is lost, Julian tries to a positive spin on things by telling Peaches that if their lives end up flashing before their eyes, it means he'll get to fall in love with her all over again.
    Peaches: Only you could make the end of the world sound like a good thing.
  • The bulk of the film Megamind takes place in a flashback the Title character is having as he falls to his death, doubling as a How We Got Here framing device.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This trope is the plot of the 1970 movie Les choses de la vie[1]: a man, played by Michel Piccoli, has a car accident, he is mortally wounded and he remembers the events of his life while the ambulance bring him to the hospital.
  • In Babe: Pig in the City, it happens to Babe while he is being pursued by the bull terrier.
  • Done in Armageddon (1998) when Harry detonates the bomb. Images of his daughter and wife briefly flash on the screen.
  • In the last few moments of Vanilla Sky, David experiences this when jumping off a building
  • Shanghai Knights:
    Roy: "My life is flashing before my eyes! Wait! I don't remember her"
  • In The Producers, during the number "Betrayed," Max Bialystock thinks this is going to happen, but...
    Max: I'm drowning! I'm drowning here! I'm going down for the last time! I-I-I see my whole life flashing before my eyes. I see a weathered old farmhouse with a white picket fence. I'm running through fields of alfalfa with my collie, Rex. No, Rex! Not on the alfalfa. And I see my mother! I see Mama standing on the back porch, in a worn but clean gingham gown, and I hear my mama calling out to me, "Alvin! Don't forget your chores. The wood needs a-cordin and the cows need a-milkin'. Alvin! Alvin...!" Wait a minute! My name's not Alvin! That's not my life. Somebody else's life is flashing before my eyes! *sobbing* What the hell is THAT about?! I'm not a hillbilly, I grew up in the Bronx! Leo's taken everything. Even my past!
  • From A Cinderella Story:
    David: I think I just saw your life flash before your eyes.
    Carter: Oh yeah? Well, did you see the part where I run away? [turns and flees]
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids:
    Nick: When we crashed, my entire life flashed before my eyes. It didn't take too long.
  • The Decoy Bride:
    Katie: Thanks for saving my life.
    James: Well, I'm sorry you nearly drowned.
    Katie: Don't be. My life flashed in front of my eyes, and halfway through I was just bored. Being drowned was a highlight.
  • At the end of Mission to Mars, one of the characters is about to fly away on a Martian starship to meet the rest of the Martians. The pod fills with some sort of oxygen-saturated liquid that allows him to breathe (and acts as Inertial Dampening). Just as the ship is taking off, he gets flashbacks of episodes in his life, most of them including his dead wife. While he's not really dying, it's heavily implied that he'll never make it back to Earth.
  • In American Beauty, it happens to Lester when he dies.
    Lester: (narrating) I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, after his and Camilla near-fatal scuffle with a con-man producer, Gonzo says that his "life flashed before his nose."
  • The hero in Unknown (2011) has flashbacks to past events in his life while being reanimated after his car crash.
  • In The Cranes Are Flying, after he's shot, dying Boris has a vision of coming home in triumph and marrying Veronika.
  • Double Dragon (1994)
    Billy Lee: "My whole life flashed before my eyes! Dude, I sleep a lot."
  • Grosse Pointe Blank
    Marty: "I was sitting there alone on prom night, in a goddamn rented tuxedo, and my whole life flashed before my eyes. And I realized finally, and for the first time, that I wanted to kill somebody. So I figured since I loved you so much, it'd be a good idea if I didn't see you anymore."
  • Hour Of The Gun
    Wyatt Earp: When we were kids, we used to argue about whether when you were dying, your whole life flashed in front of you or not. He said, "It ain't so, Wyatt."
  • Daredevil (2003) opens with the title character, badly wounded, entering the church where Father Lamont finds him. As Lamont cradles him in his arms, we flash back to Daredevil's Origin Story and How We Got Here by using this trope.
    Matt Murdock: They say your whole life flashes before your eyes when you die. And it's true, even for a blind man.
  • When James Kirk temporarily dies near the end of Star Trek Into Darkness, several audio clips from earlier in this movie and the previous one are heard before he's resurrected.

  • In the novelization of Batman Forever, Papa Grayson's life flashes before his eyes seconds before he dies. And to his surprise, there's nothing he would've done differently.
  • Played around with in various Discworld novels:
    • Death states that humans do indeed see their lives flash before their eyes before they die, but this happens starting from their birth, and is called "living". (He says this a lot - Death doesn't have many pearls of wisdom to give out, he doesn't have the capacity to understand most, so the ones he can show up often. People in his line of work are kind of stuck to a theme.)
    • It's mentioned as early as The Light Fantastic that Rincewind had seen his life flash before his eyes so often that he could sleep through the boring bits.
    • Vimes has done this once or twice, complete with him hoping they could skip a few bits.
  • In the Young Wizards novel High Wizardry, Dairine relives all 11 years of her life in the span of several milliseconds when the Motherboard downloads all of her memories. It also happened to Roshaun when Dairine took him there in Wizards At War.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Subverted, in that Ford Prefect uses the flashback in order to gain inspiration on ways to get out of dying in the current situation.
  • Before its completion, a press release for Life, the Universe and Everything gave this as the way Arthur learned to fly: he was so taken aback by some of the things he saw as his life flashed before his eyes after jumping off a cliff that he neglected to hit the ground. The scene played out differently in the completed novel, of course.
  • Parodied in the Paul Simms essay "My Near-Death Experience," which provides tips on making your life more interesting to watch in case it flashes before your eyes.
  • The entire point of Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff. (Since it's literature, the character can actually die and still narrate.)
  • In the first Dune novel, Duke Leto Atreides' life flashes before his eyes as he succumbs to the poison gas he released in an attempt to kill Baron Harkonnen which only killed Piter de Vries. The moments that stand out the most are the happy times he shared with Paul and Jessica, in particular the day he taught a young Paul how to fly a kite.
  • James Bond
    "You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face."
    • This happens to Bond in COLD as he is stuck inside a sinking helicopter, which is used to reference few sequences from previous books.
  • Averted in one of the Soldiers Of Barrabas books involving an I Have Your Wife plot. When the Big Bad's plan goes pear-shaped, he orders The Dragon to execute Barrabas' Love Interest before fleeing. As The Dragon puts a pistol to her head and does a Dramatic Gun Cock, she reflects that this trope is rubbish as there's no time to experience anything. He fires into the wall instead, not wanting to be pursued by Barrabas for the rest of his life.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has a variant. When Snape dies, his memories come gushing out of his head as the Pensieve fluid, which Harry is able to collect. The memories Harry views form a series of short vignettes from key moments in his life which give Harry and the readers an idea of who Snape was as a person.
  • In Skippy Dies, after Skippy has taken a fatal amount of painkillers and is hallucinating on the floor of his room, he flashes through a series of happy memories from his life, including earlier in his childhood.
  • A Discussed Trope at the start of Tomorrow The World by John Biggins, prior to yet another detailed reminiscence by the protagonist Otto Prohaska as he feels his own death (of old age) approaching. Despite this he finds the idea rather implausible.
  • Downplayed in Chindi when a spaceship captain sees his entire career flash before his eyes, after Priscilla Hutchins nearly gets killed and he risks overloading his ship's engines during a rescue mission.
  • In the Underdogs novel Tooth and Nail, McCormick is shot in the chest. He thinks about all his most important experiences while he bleeds out.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Onestar's Confession, as Onestar dies, he sees memories of his life, from his kithood to his time as leader. Seeing this, he's at peace when he passes, knowing that he has lived a full life and ended it in the service of his Clan.
  • Averted in Dolphin Island. Mick falls into Snowy the orca's pool and thinks she's going to eat him, but instead she gently nudges him with her nose. Afterwards he tells Johnny, "You know, it isn't true about recalling your past life at moments like this. All I thought about was those teeth. I wondered if I'd go down in one piece, or whether she'd bite me in two."
  • A variation occurs in Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, a modern graphic novel retelling of Little Women. Jo has been angry with Amy for a week after Amy used her story manuscript to make paper mâché, but when Amy is almost hit by a bus during an outing (the equivalent of the original Amy falling through thin ice), her whole life flashes before Jo's eyes, from their mother's pregnancy, to taking care of her when she was a baby, to the present, making her realize she still loves her little sister after all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's About Time: In "Androcles and Clon", it was said by both astronauts after a narrow escape with being clubbed and pushed off a cliff by Clon.
  • Absolutely Fabulous
    Saffie: "My life just flashed before my eyes."
  • Played with in Arrow
    • After Oliver Queen is fatally stabbed in his duel to the death with Ra's Al Ghul (he got better), there's a montage of his friends and loved ones, ending with Felicity Smoak who he'd finally given a Love Confession to before taking part in the duel.
    • Oliver dies again during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) but is resurrected as Spectre. Before this happens Oliver sees flashes of his battles with Big Bad's from previous seasons, driving home that every fight in his life has been leading up to his final confrontation with the Anti-Monitor.
  • The Avengers (1960s). After rescuing John Steed Just in Time from a Firing Squad, Emma Peel asks Steed if this trope applied.
    Steed: Yes it did. Infinitely enjoyable.
  • After Ultraman is knocked out by Zetton, his eyes flash like car indicators in the tune with his dying Colour Timer, and then go dark, along with the Colour Timer fading to black. The viewer then sees flashbacks of his fights with Gabora and Jirass, accompanied by Ultraman's seemingly dead body.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • "Killed by Death":
      Xander: Man, Buffy. My life just flashed before my eyes. [Beat] I gotta get me a life.
    • Also, in "Bargaining":
      Spike: [to Giles] Oh, poor Watcher, did your life flash before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?
    • There's also a meta example in the 100th episode "The Gift", where the Previously on… montage contains rapid-fire clips of every single preceding episode in chronological order. The episode ends with Buffy's death.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    Caitlin: This one time, I got choked on a pickle at Wendy's and my whole life flashed before my eyes and I said, 'Not yet, sweet Jesus, not yet; I've never been to Disney World!' and then I threw up all over the restaurant and the manager gave me a certificate for one free hamburger a year for the rest of my life! Isn't that right, Rick? Rick, Rick, Rick!
  • In Blackadder: Back & Forth, Blackadder holds Baldrick's head in the toilet until he nearly drowns, so that he'll see the initial settings on the time machine control panel (needed to get home) when his life flashes before his eyes. This is, naturally, Baldrick's cunning plan.
  • Called and inverted in Dead Like Me:
    [as a toilet seat from the re-entering Mir station plummets through the sky, George is awkwardly moving through a city plaza]
    George: [voiceover] They say your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the moment before you die? That might be true if you're terminally ill, or your parachute doesn't open...
    [she looks up to see the fireball heading straight for her]
    George: [voiceover] ... but if death sneaks up on you, the only thing you have time to think is...
    George: Aw, shit.
  • Firefly, "Out of Gas": Mal has flashbacks of meeting the other crewmembers
  • Forever: Happens to Henry every time he dies. An especially long one in "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" when Adam shoots him with the flintlock that originally killed him, which Adam had theorized might kill him permanently.
  • On Bottom, as Richie and Eddie dangle above the ground in a broken Ferris wheel:
    Richie: My entire life flashed before my eyes! It was one long, relentless collage of grey... interspersed with visits to the lav...
  • On QI, Stephen Fry suggests that, if you lose your keys, you should start drowning yourself — then you can wait until you see the moment where you last had them flashing before your eyes, save yourself, and go get them.
  • David Fisher, in one episode of Six Feet Under, is kidnapped by a violent lunatic who comes very close to shooting him in the face. This trope is represented by a montage of flashbacks from his childhood and short clips from earlier in the series, just as David is convinced his life is almost over.
  • Darien Fawkes of The Invisible Man notes to his colleagues, shortly after nearly being killed by a bomb: "You know that whole thing about your life flashing before your eyes? Doesn't happen."
  • Lost episode Flashes Before Your Eyes has an interesting variation: not only do the flashes triggered by a near-death experience continue after the event is over, they actually are a combination of premonitions and Mental Time Travel. This trope is merely used by a character to describe the weird things happening to him.
    Desmond: "When I turned that key my life flashed before my eyes. And then I was back in the jungle and still on this bloody island. But those flashes, Charlie - those flashes - they didn't stop."
  • The The Odd Couple (1970) episode "You Saved My Life" has Felix do this after nearly falling out a window.
    You know what? My whole life flashed before my eyes. I remembered where I lost my skate key.
  • When Ted of How I Met Your Mother gets in a car crash, he says that he didn't see his whole life flash before his eyes - just the important things. This made him realize he wanted to be with Stella. Barney, who gets in a considerably worse crash shortly afterward, has a similar revelation about Robin.
  • Mad About You: This series has an entire episode revolving around this trope, "Paul Slips in the Shower". As the title implies, early in the episode we see Paul taking a shower when he suddenly slips. As he falls, flashes of random scenes from his past start playing for almost the entire episode. About a minute before the episode ends, we jump back to the present where we see Paul barely managed to grab the shower curtain, saving his life. Note that despite the premise, this episode is not a clip show, as all the footage is entirely new.
  • Dollhouse. In "Haunted", Echo is implanted with the personality of Margaret Bashford, a deceased friend of Adelle DeWitt who wants to find out Who Dunnit To Me. It's only a temporary arrangement, however, and at the end of the episode Margaret is about to have the implant erased, 'killing' her permanently, when she asks, "Will I see my whole life flash before my eyes?" Adelle chokes out the reply, "Every single moment." The scene then cuts to the standard erasure moment when all the previous Echo scenes of the episode flash up on-screen.
  • An episode of Torchwood has the team trapped by a collapsed building. Each of them flashes back to how they ended up at Torchwood Three. Jack remembers a number of things from his life, such as his brother being captured by aliens, being forced to join Torchwood at gunpoint, and becoming the head of Torchwood when his former commander kills everyone else.
  • The Grand Finale of Eureka has wormholes opening up all over town. Things get dangerous when they start crisscrossing, meaning people could get sliced in half while traveling through one (Deputy Andy loses an arm, but, luckily, he's an android and can be fixed). In order to close the wormholes, someone has to jump through one with a device designed to collapse them. Of course, Jack chooses to go. As he's flying through it, he sees images from past episodes in the tunnel. However, he comes out the other end just fine. This may also explain his feeling of deja vu when Allison tells him she's pregnant, as this experience may have jogged some memories from an alternate future erased by Henry, in which he and Allison are married and have a family.
  • Doctor Who.
    • In "Time Heist", cyborg Psi lampshades the trope just before his Heroic Sacrifice, only all his memories have been wiped including those of any loved ones, so he has no life to remember.
    • Played with in "Oxygen". As she's dying of oxygen deprivation, Bill remembers putting up a picture of her mother on the wall, the only memory she has of her.
  • This is how entry into Heaven works in Supernatural. After someone dies, they must follow the Axis Mundi (the road through Heaven) to reach the Garden in the center before entering their own personal Heaven. Along the way, they will relive their best memories from life. The road and Garden will also appear how the person expects them to, or as images from their memory, such as a two-lane highway and a botanical garden.
  • Quark. Jean/Gene the transmute describes this happening to him/her after catching a fatal virus. As s/he has both male and female characteristics, the memories are...somewhat conflicting.
    "My life's flashing before my eyes: beating up my first Grobulite... buying my first dress... joining the cadets... dating a cadet... killing my first Gorgon... nursing the wounded..."
  • One game of "Weird Newscasters" on Whose Line Is It Anyway? has Ryan about to die, and his life is flashing before his eyes. He remembers being born, taking his first steps, going to the prom, fighting in Grenada, and singing his final hoedown.
  • Blake's 7. Scorpio slams into an asteroid with possibly fatal damage. Villa's response is to get drunk and start rambling on about this trope. One of the life events he relates gives Avon and Tarrant a "Eureka!" Moment on how to repair the ship. After they've left the bridge, Villa reveals he was only Playing Drunk so he could suggest a solution without being 'volunteered' to carry it out.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls Rose mentions this trope and exclaims the Nuderflaken Twins were a bigger part of her life than she realized. And then Rose admits she's really confused about this because she doesn't know any Nuderflaken Twins.
  • This is discussed in Episode 13 of Crash Landing on You, where Se-ri says that one's best moments flashes before their eyes as they die. Later in the episode, this is explored as she lays dying of a gunshot wound.
  • Downplayed twice on CSI: NY:
    • Sheldon gets trapped underwater while he and Danny are scuba diving for evidence in "The Deep." After helping rescue him, Danny asks Sheldon if his life had flashed before his eyes. He replies that the only thing he saw was the Medical Examiner, "Sid Hammerback standing over me firing up the rib spreader."
    • Adam and Stella have a similar conversation in "Green Piece" after Adam is injured when a car bomb goes off near him while he and his buddies are playing street hockey. He tells her all he could think about was the little girl with whom he'd shared his first kiss in middle school.

  • Mentioned in the opening verse of "Time of Dying" by Three Days Grace.
    On the ground I lay, motionless in pain
    I can see my life flashing before my eyes

  • Old Harry's Game: Thomas when he's about to be taken off life support.
    Thomas: My whole life is flashing before my eyes! Hold on... that's not my life! I don't recognise any of these people! They're all talking Swedish! YOU'VE GIVEN ME THE WRONG LIFE! Bloody NHS!
  • Every episode of The Very World of Milton Jones is built around this since they all begin with him about to die.

  • In Survival of the Fittest, this happens for Beth Vanallen when someone charges at her and she's unable to defend herself but stops when the attacker is shot with an arrow by one of her allies.

  • In Jasper in Deadland, anyone who dies or has a near-death experience sees key moments from their life before they reach Deadland.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect 3: Shepard flashes back to fallen friends before his/her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • At the start of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, the titular thief ends up in the crushing grip of the Big Bad's monster. The entire game after this point up until the final part is really his life flashing before his eyes as a way to show How We Got Here.
  • Played 100% straight in Star Fox 64 every time you finish a mission with Peppy's ship barely holding.
  • Featured in the opening cinematic of Sam and Max: Night of the Raving Dead
    Sam: "Well, this is it, little buddy. My whole life is flashing before my eyes... I wondered where I left my wallet!"
  • Discussed in Chrono Trigger. The heroes pose the idea that some "entity" note  is guiding them on their adventure in order to relive the key moments in history. Ayla compares this theory to the trope.
  • Incorporated into the Game Over sequence for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The screen flashes scenes from previous cutscenes as Snake collapses before "Mission Failed" is displayed.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man X5: Zero's ending has him witnessing a flashback of his own memories, including a image of his creator, before deciding his end would be the only way to erase the Maverick Virus.
    • The short Japanese commercial for Mega Man Zero 4 begins with a bunch of gameplay videos scattered around the screen, accompanied by sad music. Suddenly, all of them are thrown away as Zero, surrounded by light, dissolves.
  • In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII during Zack's final battle, the DMW lines up three times as Zack recalls important memories of his closest friends.

    Web Animation 
  • A short cartoon made by Steve Cutts, "In The Fall", has a middle-aged man slip on a Banana Peel and fall off an 18 story building. The man literally watches his life flash by (with film, screen, and music conveniently carried by crows), showing his life full of happiness and wonder as a child and young adult, then replaced dullness and depression in the workplace afterwards. Seeing how much his life sucked since then, he happily lights a cigarette and waits contently for the fall to kill him followed by a Black Screen of Death and screams of passersby.
  • In the Red vs. Blue episode "Crash Site Crashers", a mook holds a knife to Caboose's throat. After Carolina saves him, he exclaims, "My life just flashed before my eyes! It was awesome!"
  • In Xionic Madness, Kary-08 sees moments of her life before things went to hell as her body shuts down due to stabbing herself rather than die at an XV-infected Omega's hands.

    Web Comics 
  • Happened in Zebra Girl, only it was Sandra's life flashing before Sam's eyes.
  • This DMFA strip.
  • Irregular Webcomic! has one where Monty is going to get executed, which he flashed a parody of the early sequence of The Last Crusade, and another one with Lambert, who's seeing a fireball (and might die of one, again).
  • In Concerned, we find out that your life in fact doesn't flash before your eyes. Your death does, however.
  • Freefall:
    Dvorak: My whole life just flashed before my eyes.
    Qwerty: Mine's still flashing. I've got to buy some faster memory.
  • Sleipnir: Equine Invader from Jupiter: After Clint blows up at Fred and Akash, the latter mutters that his life flashed before his eyes... and was surprisingly boring, lamenting that he didn't take more risks in high-school.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball claims this is happening to him while a car is backing very slowly towards him.
    Gumball: My life is flashing before my eyes...and it's boring!
  • In the American Dad! episode "You Debt Your Life" has Roger's life flashing before his eyes when he's about to be hit by an oncoming bus. He flashes back to protesting the integration of the University of Alabama in 1963, getting a ship captain drunk and causing the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and creating Jar-Jar Binks for George Lucas in the late 1990s. Roger then remarks "I did it perfectly" and gets ready to be hit before Stan saves him.
  • Big City Greens: In "Chill Bill" after Cricket and Remy were rescued from drowning in a whirlpool, Remy tells Tilly his life flashed before his eyes as he is helped up.
  • Bobby's World: After Derek Saves Bobby from drowning, Bobby says he saw his life before his eyes but, because of his youth, he still had time to come up with a song to show how much he appreciates Derek for saving him.
  • In the first episode Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, while being trapped by a predator, Whiskers cries this. It then shows a bunch of nonsense clips and Whiskers comments that wasn't his life after all.
  • Parodied when Toot from Drawn Together is forced by seniors who faked having Alzheimer's so they can be waited on hand and foot to walk the plank into the disgusting nursing home's pool It Makes Sense in Context (or not). As her life flashes before her eyes, we're treated to a happy sounded montage of various foods interspersed with random grim photographs of the Vietnam War.
  • DuckTales (1987): In "A Case of Mistaken Secret Identity", Scrooge says "My life passed before my eyes . . . backwards." Launchpad had just flown Scrooge cross-country, and crashed, flying backwards. The front landing gear was stuck.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, "Pop Goes the Ed":
    Ed: My life is flashing before my eyes!
    Eddy: What life?
  • Family Guy:
    • In "And the Weiner Is...", Peter gets cornered by a grizzly bear while on a hunting trip and starts to see his before before him. Images of him constantly being held back in the fourth grade appear, with the last one showing him passing hours before going on the trip.
    • In "Stand by Meg", Meg tied up in an abandoned warehouse and, feeling she's doing to die, starts to see her life flash. What she sees is a montage of clips from earlier episodes, and she's not in any of them.
      Meg: Oh, come on! I was in the Kingsman fight! That could have been in there!
  • In an episode of the 1996 Flash Gordon cartoon, Flash claims to have gone through this after his latest round of death-defiance. Dale quips "Knowing you, it was probably a rerun!"
  • The Flying Sailor: A sailor named Charlie is blown into the air when a ship in the harbor, that was carrying a cargo of TNT, erupts in a massive explosion. As Charlie goes flying through the air, his life flashes before his eyes in a series of clips: memories of his mom, memories of him as a boy playing in a field, memories of Charlie as sailor getting into a fight with another sailor, and more.
  • In Garfield and Friends, when Jon takes up skydiving: "My life is flashing before my eyes, and I'm not even in it!" Indeed, everything he sees is Garfield and Odie.
  • Get Ace: When Ace is about to be crushed by a trash compactor, his life flashes back before his eyes. The flashback consists of Ace as a baby, buying his first "Humongous Man" comic and that comic being taken away in a garbage truck (the latter happened in that very episode).
    Ace: Huh. That was it? Man, I really should have done more.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "The Stanchurian Candidate", Soos experiences this when Mabel tests a mind-controlling tie on him.
  • The Loud House: In the episode "Two Boys and a Baby", Lincoln and Clyde experience this when they take a whiff of Lily's stinky diaper. In the case of Clyde, he sees Lincoln's.
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears): Mega Man goes through this in the pilot episode after he is badly damaged fighting Wily's robots and is near death.
  • Recess: Overachiever Gretchen claims this when she gets an A- on her paper.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Thanksploitation Spectacular", The President has such a moment after performing his Dive Under the Explosion. Played for laughs as most of what he remembers is the release of every new Playstation console, and he's still proud of it. Rick lampshades it after the fact, making sure to only yank him out of the water after he was finished reminiscing.
  • In The '80s, there was a cartoon featuring Martin Short's Saturday Night Live character Ed Grimley. One episode had him fall out of a plane and this trope was played. However, he seems to remember only embarrassing or unpleasant things. After the flashback, he looks up and yells "You call that a life?!"
  • In the Sheep in the Big City episode "Agony of De-bleat", the narrator mentions Sheep's life flashing before his eyes while captured by the top-secret military organization. We're only shown a brief scene of Sheep grazing, the narrator explaining that since Sheep is a sheep, his life being uneventful is to be expected.
  • The Simpsons: This happened to Homer twice, in two episodes, "Homer's Triple Bypass" and "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Kind", and to Mr. Burns in the episode, "Burns' Heir".
  • An episode of Timon & Pumbaa managed to turn this concept into a Clip Show as they were falling off a very deep cliff.
  • Total Drama: As Owen is about to fall onto Lindsay in one episode, she reveals in a confesssional that this happened to her. Apparently it kinda looked like Owen's butt.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: In Season 3, Shiro sees this as he remembers his time with the paladins and the Voltron Lions while his oxygen begins to slowly deplete.
  • Wacky Races (2017): In "Yes, We Canyon", the Wacky Racers fall down the Grand Canyon and I.Q. Ickley says he saw his life before his eyes and should go outside more often.
  • Wakfu: In episode 12, when Kriss' mega kick launches a Gobbowl toward Amalia at high velocity, her life flashes before her eyes.

    Real Life 
  • As stated earlier, this is a feature of Near Death Experiences in real life. According to how people who've experienced them describe them, it seems to be a non-judgemental (for most cases, some do feel judged) process during which the experiencer reviews their own life and often describes feeling any pain or happiness they brought others.
  • It can also happen if someone believes their death is imminent and inevitable, so called "Fear-death experience".


Video Example(s):


Chad Matt and Rob - Life Flash

In "The Birthday Party", selecting to cut the white wire has everyone in the car experience a relapse as they move in to disarm the bomb.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MyLifeFlashedBeforeMyEyes

Media sources: