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Never Got to Say Goodbye

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"'I love you.'" I didn't say it. I wanted to. We wanted to. It's wrong that these moments pass you by, with no warning. There should be a feeling at the time... some kind of sign. Something that stops you... that makes you realize you'll never get the chance again."
Wedge Antilles, Star Wars Tales #23

Alice has been Killed Off for Real or spirited away. Normally, this would be cause enough for Bob to stress, but the angst level is upped when he remembers that he forgot to give Alice that one last "Goodbye" or "I love you" just before she disappeared for good.

This guilt can be understandable if the hero and the victim had a strained relationship and he never came around to telling him how he really felt about them. More often than not, however, they had a healthy, long-lasting relationship, and the hero's grief over that one phrase he forgot to say on that one day comes off as just a stubborn refusal to quit blaming himself and move on past the guilt phase. In other words, when the hero says "I never got to say goodbye," it's usually set up as an excuse for him to continue brooding even when it's clear that it's just one small thing in context of the happy times they shared together.

In shows with a more paranormal bent, this is often the precursor to the departed person returning briefly as a ghost or apparition, to give the angstee chance to say goodbye and gain closure.

Compare Parting-Words Regret where Bob and Alice parted on bad terms the last time they saw each other, and Bob wanted to apologize, but now knows he will never get the chance. An even darker version is I Wished You Were Dead.

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


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The dub of Attack on Titan makes this more apparent, but Eren was pretty angry with himself that his last moments with his mom before Shiganshina fell were spent arguing with her.
  • Subverted in the first Black Jack OVA, where Crossword, a mortally ill man, just before going down to his laboratory for an experiment during the disease attack he knows to be final, remembers that he forgot to say "Good morning" to his wife. He then notably dismisses this as unimportant, as "Upsetting myself would only dull your scalpel". He just says "Good morning, Sayuri" out loud instead of coming back up to talk to her.
  • Bleach:
    • Orihime is regretful that the last time she spoke to her brother Sora before he died, they fought, and she let him go off to work without saying goodbye. In fact, when she finally gets a chance to see Sora's spirit one last time, at the proper moment of goodbye she tells him "Have a nice day," like she always did except for that day. Cue the Tear Jerker.
    • At some point, Yoruichi Shihouin ran away from Soul Society after her best friend, Mad Scientist Kisuke Urahara, was exiled. That did NOT suit Yoruichi's Lancer and pupil, Soi Fon, who grew embittered and cold after her idol left. When they finally met again and Yoruichi defeated Soi Fon, the normally stoic Soi Fon broke down in tears, hysterically begging her mentor to explain why she abandoned her without asking her to come along or even saying goodbye.
  • Narrowly averted with Yoshiko Fujisawa and Hikaru Matsuyama in Captain Tsubasa. She didn't want to either distract him from the Furano v/s Nankatsu match and cry in front of him, so she left to the airport without a word when the match was barely over... but Matsuyama learnt about it and raced against the clock to catch her before her flight to the USA took off. He succeeded.
    • A non-romantic example is played straight in the first part, with Roberto and a 12-year-old Tsubasa. Roberto left without saying a word to not separate Tsubasa from his friends and family and to not stunt his growth as a player. Cue to a Tear Jerker as Tsubasa has a Heroic BSoD.
    • Also played straight in the manga, with Hyuga recalling how he was not being able to say goodbye to his dad since Hyuga Sr. died in a road accident in his way home when Hyuga himself was 10. The kicker? He recalls it when his mom is has an accident at work and ends up in a coma, and he fears she might be on the verge of death. Sob!
  • The ending of Doraemon: Nobita's the Legend of the Sun King, which changes an otherwise happy conclusion to a Bittersweet Ending. The villains are defeated and Prince Tio had found new friends with Nobita and gang, who helped him regain his right as the true King of Mayana. But the portal connecting Nobita's world with Mayana had started drifting and will be sealed within a few minutes. Doraemon tells everyone that is their last chance to return home, and so the heroes stepped through the closing portal, Nobita being the last who gave the Kingdom of Mayana a Long Last Look as the portal closes permanently just as Prince Tio finished his coronation. Tio was sad, but then decides to be a good king for his people because he knew Nobita and his friends from the other world would want him to be strong no matter what.
  • In the original series of Dragon Ball, after hearing that Master Roshi died fighting King Piccolo while he was gone, Goku becomes depressed that he didn't get to say goodbye.
  • Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger: Shogo laments that he never really got to talk to Yuko about how thankful he is for supporting him and how much he loved her before she was killed by the Mist Dragon. Her memory gets Shugo to ask Sara to talk things out with her father while she has the chance, as she never knows when something might happen. This is what inspires Sara to confront her father and halt the party's execution at the hands of Mysidia's corrupt and decadent court.
  • This is a major theme in the second Fragment's Note.
    • Depending on the route, either Yukitsuki or Tsukasa give Kyoichi a scathing lecture about how, knowing that he's terminally ill, he needs to provide more happy memories to Shizuku before his death, or else she will succumb to despair due to not having such a chance.
    • It's implied that in the original, unaltered timeline, Yukitsuki experienced this when she tried to interact with Kyoichi. It's also the core reason why Kazuha went back in time in the first place.
  • In Fruits Basket:
    • Tohru explains to Shigure that while her mother Kyoko was alive, she would always tell her "Goodbye, be safe!" But the one morning when Tohru wasn't awake at the time her mother left, Kyoko died.
      Tohru: I... I had a test. I studied almost the whole night. And when it was time for Mom to go to work, I didn't wake up. I couldn't tell her "Bye! Be safe!" And she...never came home.
    • Ren Sohma was not there to see her husband, Akira's last moments. No one was there, except for Akito, her hated daughter, who got to hear his last words. The irony is that the words are actually about Ren: Akira felt that Akito being the God of the Zodiac is a proof that his love for Ren was special. Had she heard about them, a lot of issues around the Sohma family could have been prevented (then again, considering Ren, they might have not).
  • In Full Metal Panic! during TSR, this is pretty much the thing that Gauron takes drastic measures and an incredible amount of planning to prevent from happening to himself with Sousuke. It wouldn't be too far off to assume that the only thing that probably was sustaining him and keeping him alive was his desire to see Sousuke for one last time, and he even goes so far as to order the complete destruction of a city just so he could lure Sousuke and have some last words with him. Sousuke, on the other hand, could have done without seeing him again...
  • In Gankutsuou, Franz not only didn't say goodbye to his father who had to leave on business during his birthday, he also told his father that he hopes he never comes back. Oops when his father dies in a car accident...
  • In Girls und Panzer, Saori tells Miho that the last time Mako saw her mother before her parents died in an accident, Mako and her mother had an argument, and Mako has always regretted not being able to apologize.
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Rain had to immediately leave her university when her dad called her back to Neo-Japan due to the incident involving Domon's family. She was getting ready for a meeting with Saette, a classmate of hers who had something important to tell her. (He had feelings for her but the full nature of their relationship is never stated.) Regardless, he mistook this as a sign of rejection. She never returned due to getting caught up with Domon and his situation and when they met each other again, Saette was the Gundam Fighter for Neo Turkey. It got worse.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, this is how Flay felt about Kira after his supposed death. It isn't until the final episode when Flay dies and her spirit "tells" Kira all the things she could never say in life; however, Word of God is that this scene was entirely symbolic, and no actual communication took place.
  • Non-lethal, but no less heart-wrenching example in Hyperdimension Neptunia the Animation. Peashy is kidnapped after a fight with her surrogate mother Neptune, and when they next meet, is brainwashed to the point she doesn't remember her. Even when she's rescued, Peashy's memory is gone, leaving Neptune unable to apologize before Peashy is taken to her home dimension permanently. Just to pour salt into the wound, Peashy DOES remember Neptune... at literally the last second before she vanishes forever.
  • In Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato, Lakshu says this word by word when she's told that Ryuu-oh Ryoma died in battle.
    "Ryoma... he died... and I didn't get to say goodbye to him..."
  • In Muhyo and Roji, Nana's father got angry with her after she got a photo of a bank robbery, putting herself in danger in the process. She then called him "gutless" for anonymously selling fake photos of ghosts, and said she was trying to help. As she stormed off, he suffered a heart attack and died. Similar to the Bleach example, he comes back as a haunt and they end up reconciling.
  • In Summer Time Rendering, Shinpei left the island to attend a cooking school in Tokyo, but he and Ushio never bade each other goodbye out of spite over a heated argument they had earlier that year. Both of them come to deeply regret it, as Ushio spent her final moments wanting to see him one last time while Shinpei lives with the fact that he never set things right before her passing. Ushio doesn't die in the timeline where the shadows don't exist, so Shinpei is able to see her again and finally make amends with her.
  • Kamina and Yoko in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Kamina died in battle with an unfulfilled promise to Yoko. They did get to meet again though, in a Lotus-Eater Machine. By the word of the creators, their meeting was arranged "to reunite two people in the place that has separated them".
  • A big part of the reason why Rinne had a change of personality in ViVid Strike! was because she couldn't be there when her adoptive grandfather died due to a group of bullies knocking her unconscious when her mother was trying to call her. Needless to say, the bullies would come to regret it.
  • The Your Name side novel Another Side: Earthbound reveals that Toshiki had been Distracted from Death, having been out trying to find other doctors to cure Futaba, and therefore had to settle for hearing her last words secondhand from a nurse, as opposed to getting to bid her farewell in person. This presumably contributed to his present-day issues.

    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Superman: Jonathan Kent dies of a heart attack, much to young Clark Kent's horror. His father dying on the cusp of his entry into adulthood by moving to Metropolis, Clark is hit with nihilistic dread about his purpose in life and cries that he never got to tell his Pa goodbye. Thankfully, his future self got to finally tell him at the very least.
  • In Star Wars Tales #23, Wedge Antilles thinks back to the girlfriend he had before he joined the Rebellion. She was killed while he was out. He did say goodbye, so he doesn't have to regret that, but instead he wishes that he'd told her he loved her.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: The last time Peter saw Uncle Ben, he was angry about everything and ran away. While out, he decides to go back home, apologize, and reveal his new powers. He never got the chance: a thief goes into the house and killed him.
    • All-New Ultimates: Poey is dead, and Bombshell is depressed because she never told him that she loved him.
    • The Ultimates
      • Captain America never got to say goodbye to his parents Joseph and Sarah and his brother Douglas, for obvious reasons. One of the first things he did after his awakening was to visit the cemetery and be informed about their ultimate fates.
      • Defied by Hawkeye: he calls his wife and children before every mission, in case he dies.
  • Touch (2004): Larissa gets Cooper to take her to say goodbye to her Alzheimers-ridden mother who she hasn't seen in six years but they arrive minutes too late, setting off her Larissa's powers again.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Peanuts, Schroeder says this verbatim about Lucy when Lucy and Linus (temporarily) move away: when she had tried to tell him that her family was moving, he had assumed it was hypothetical, more of her usual attempts to pester him into saying he likes her. Although Schroeder is genuinely upset, Charlie Brown criticizes him for whining since he never seemed to like her anyway.
  • Subverted in the MAD parody of ER, in which a boy cries after hearing that his father died of a heart attack because he never said he loved him, but then finds out that the man who died was not his father.
  • In one strip of The Boondocks, Huey tells Caesar that a friend from back home died, and he never got to say goodbye, shedding a tear as he mentions this trope.

    Fan Works 
  • In this crossover of Steven Universe and Nightmare On Elm Street, this is the reason for Freddy Krueger's descent into villainy.
  • In the Gravity Falls Alternate Universe Fic The Author of the Journal, Stanley Pines, Stanley Pines is horrified and ashamed when he learns his brother Stanford apparently died in a plane crash, when Stanley was too depressed about him leaving for college to get out of bed and see him off at the airport.
  • The 1983: Doomsday Stories for Hetalia: Axis Powers has this happening to Austria, who's initially found still waiting for Hungary, hoping that she made it out of the nuclear war alive. By that point, however, she's been dead for over 20 years. It's eventually revealed that he never really had a chance to even say goodbye before the bombs fell.
  • The Elements of Harmony and the Savior of Worlds: Megan never got to say goodbye to her friends before the Rainbow Bridge collapsed. 20 years later, when a new portal is opened, she finds that time in the two worlds fell out of sync when the bridge was lost. For the world where Equestria lies, it has been 1500 years. She eventually was able to say goodbye to them while briefly in the afterlife after defeating Tirac for good.
  • Love Covers All Sins: In thinking over his orders to Watson, Holmes realizes how agonizing it would have been for the doctor to cram himself behind Holmes' bed to serve as a witness to Smith's gloating and to believe Holmes would die of the poison before he had a chance to say goodbye.
  • In the Katawa Shoujo fanfic Reconciliation, which takes place after Hanako's bad ending Hanako regrets her actions, only to find out that Hisao has died of a heart attack. The trope name is used more literally when Lilly talks about how Hisao died before she could reach the hospital.
  • A regular thing in post-To Boldly Flee fanfic, as The Nostalgia Critic went off to kill himself while everyone else was distracted and the only person he said goodbye to was Film Brain. And even that's only because Film Brain found him and forced him to talk.
  • Shadow of the Dragon: Part of the reason Sakura uses the Time Card in chapter 7 is that Syaoran and Chiharu never got the chance to say good-bye to his sister and her father, respectively before they died.
  • Common in Miraculous Ladybug future fics, which often involve Ladybug and Chat Noir being forced to give up their Miraculous immediately after defeating Hawkmoth/Papillon and leaving them with no way to contact their partner unless they'd revealed themselves already. Such stories will usually result in Marinette and Adrien being reunited years later, and depending on the circumstances, will either lead to a fluffy happy ending or a lot of pain and angst due to one of them feeling abandoned.
    • Fermeture is a standout example of the former category, which opens several years after Hawkmoth's defeat with Marinette living a good life by any standard, but occasionally consumed by regret over never revealing her identity to Chat Noir or letting him do the same when they had the chance - it's stated that she'd tried and failed to find him in the brief window after Tikki told her why she and Plagg would have to leave but before they actually did. She decides to try to set up a reunion with him through the Ladyblog, hoping for some kind of closure. She ultimately succeeds when Adrien shows up, (no doubt having had the exact same regrets) though she comes very close to leaving without either of them making the connection.
    • Something in the Night takes a different approach by not having the characters stripped of their Miraculouses. In this case, the heroes tried to set up a meeting the day after Hawkmoth's defeat, but due to some poor planning and a lot of bad luck, Marinette ends up stuck in traffic on the other side of Paris and is unable to get to the park later due to a flight to New York scheduled that afternoon (she held off on telling Chat Noir about her study plans so as not to add pressure on him in their efforts to capture Hawkmoth). Adrien, who did make it to the park, feels abandoned, and when Ladybug does reappear in Paris seven years later, he's not exactly willing to hear her out.
    • A much more painful variant appears in Bring Me Home, in which Adrien is stubbornly refusing to say goodbye, or anything else, despite Ladybug persistently showing up at their former meeting place five years after Chat disappeared. His reason for this is out of shame that his father was Hawkmoth, as he believes that Ladybug would reject him if she learned his identity, for failing to figure out his father. When Marinette does find out, she's appropriately pissed at the fact that he apparently trusted his partner so little. "Even when Hawkmoth was strangling me, even as I was losing consciousness, I wasn’t afraid. I knew — I thought — that you’d always come for me, or die trying. You, on the other hand, didn’t even have enough faith in me to believe I’d stay by your side when things got difficult. What kind of a crappy partner have I been to you if you honestly believed I’d jump the ship at the first bump?”
    • Ruined With You is another case of the heroes being forced to give up the Miraculous to the Guardian to allow their kwamis to hibernate, but here Adrien gives it up at the first opportunity instead of waiting for Ladybug, again out of shame about his father. As such, Marinette doesn't have quite as much trouble moving on with her life, since she knows for sure that she won't be seeing Chat again. That said, when she does find out who he is, she's pretty furious that he never tried to contact her through the Guardian in two years. She later feels guilty about lashing out at him, after she has time to process the implications about his father.
    • Back To Us has Adrien being forced to leave the country shortly after Gabriel/Hawkmoth's death, ending up in the custody of his aunt and uncle in Milan, and he has no opportunity to tell Ladybug any of this. While Ladybug certainly misses him, she doesn't dwell on it quite as much as some of the above examples. And when he does return, she's less focused on feeling abandoned than his personality change over the last seven years.
  • Although nobody actually dies in this case, William Laurence's Start of Darkness in Black Wings, Black Sails is kicked off by the fact that he wasn't permitted to say goodbye to Temeraire, or give him any of the books they'd read together before the Aerial Corps' admiralty took Temeraire away from him. Not that this is softened any once the two actually reunite in-story- if anything, the things they wind up doing for each other out of affection make the situation worse.
  • In Harry Potter fanfic The Peace Not Promised, Lily thinks that she missed her chance to say goodbye before the Grey Lady passed on. The truth is that they had a tearful farewell, but then her memory of it was erased.
  • Universe Falls: The Author is disheartened to learn that Rose passed away while he was stuck between dimensions and never got to tell her how sorry he was about the portal.
    • Mabel has similar qualms when it looks like the Cluster is about to emerge and destroy the planet, she nearly cries when it seems like she'll never see her brother or Stan or Waddles again.
  • In Ma Fille, Louise seriously regrets letting her husband manipulate her into cutting Heather out of their lives, as Heather ended up dying and leaving behind a daughter without Louise knowing until many years later, and she never got to tell her she loved her. This, coupled with a lot of other drama, is what led Louise to divorce her husband and cut her other daughter out.

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm: The ending and the end credits song.
  • In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, when Belle agrees to stay as the Beast's prisoner in her father's stead, the Beast drags Maurice off as Belle shouts "Wait, wait!" When he returns to the tower where she's being kept prisoner, he finds Belle sobbing. "You didn't even let me say goodbye! I'll never see him again, and I didn't get to say goodbye!"
  • Played straight and for laughs, interestingly enough, in Pixar's Cars, where Mater is upset that he never got to say goodbye to his new friend Lightning McQueen after he is suddenly whisked away to a big race. The next time they meet, Mater greets McQueen by saying "goodbye."
  • In Onward, Barley and Ian are on a quest to speak to their resurrected father. Ian wants to meet him because he died before he was born, but Barley eventually reveals that he was so scared seeing him hooked up to the life-support machines that he ran away and lost his final moments with him. When it becomes clear that only one of them will have a chance to speak with their dad, Ian gives up the chance so that Barley can say goodbye.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo with Bombur, as Bilbo ran away before the battle started in this version of the battle. Bombur went in with energy and a smile...and then we next see him in the montage, looking very afraid. And then we see him stumbling up the hill. Bilbo realizes he's hurt, but Bombur won't tell him anything (maybe not wanting to worry his friend?) and dies before Bilbo can understand what's happening. The last frame before it cuts to Gandalf learning that Bombur is "gone" is Bilbo rushing with a look of shock, and distress, implying he truly didn't understand that the wounds Bombur had sustained over the course of the battle were fatal (until Bombur's death made it clear) or was in denial about it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the recurring phrases in the film Left Luggage is "Never leave without saying 'I love you'". This phrase was even used on the Spanish title.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes: Evelyn (Kathy Bates) comes to visit Ninny (Jessica Tandy) in the nursing home, and is informed that the occupant of Ninny's room passed away that morning. Evelyn bursts into tears, thinking the nurse means Ninny is dead and laments that she never got to say goodbye. The nurse then clarifies that it was Ninny's roommate who passed away and that Ninny has been released from the nursing home, and Evelyn dashes off to find her.
  • Lampshaded in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "Five minutes would have been enough." The subversion comes when Indy comes climbing up the other side of the cliff from where his father, Marcus, and Sallah are standing, looking like death warmed over. When Henry Sr. finally notices him, those "five minutes" go flying out the window and he insists on chasing after the Grail again.
    • He does grab Indy into a fierce hug - probably the first ever shared by those two - and practically sobs, "I thought I'd lost you, boy..." I think that was actually enough for Indy at that moment.
  • Iron Man: "I never got to say goodbye to my father." Incidentally, Tony really wasn't angsting over that, just moving into how he wished his dad was still alive, so he would have advice on the ethics of his business.
  • Sarah Jane in Imitation of Life (1959) to her mother, Annie. In her attempt to pass for white, she spends most of her life shunning her mother and trying to get away from her to prevent the truth from being discovered (since Annie, unlike Sarah Jane, is very clearly black). After a tear-filled conversation, Annie agrees to stop chasing Sarah Jane so that Sarah Jane can live the life she wants, but the stress takes its toll on Annie, whose health is already failing, and she dies shortly thereafter. Too late, Sarah Jane realizes that she missed her last chance to say goodbye to her mother. At Annie's funeral, she throws herself on the coffin, crying that she's sorry.
  • Madea's grandniece Kimberly in Madea's Big Happy Family spent the entire movie antagonizing and belittling her family, especially her Secretly Dying mother due to her never properly recovering from the trauma of being raped by an uncle and holding it against the rest of them. As a result, she arrives at the hospital too late to make amends and emotionally breaks down.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Gillian is furious when the director of the Cetacean Institute sends George and Gracie away without giving her a chance to say goodbye. He thought it would be better for her. It wasn't.
  • In Bumblebee, Charlie was never able to say goodbye to her beloved biological father before he suffered a heart attack and died.
  • The catalyst for Anne's suicide in What Dreams May Come as she not only lost her husband and children but because they were all killed in freak accidents, she never got a chance to say goodbye to any of them.
  • In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, despite the rift between Tim and his father and not seeing his father for ten years, Tim believed his father was still alive. It was after Tim watched the video footage of Harry's car accident that killed him that he realized how unfairly he had treated his father after his mother's sudden death and how he refused to live with his father in Ryme City despite Harry wanting them to be a family again. Tim now regretted never taking that chance to reconcile with his father.
    Tim: I should have gotten on that train.

  • In Barber Black Sheep, the protagonist Oliver Winslow is tormented by the fact that wasn't around when his mother died due to being in prison.
  • The best-known example; in East Lynne, when a child dies, his nanny (who in reality is his mother; it's complicated) says, "Dead! Dead! And never once called me 'Mother!'".
  • In White Gold Wielder, Linden Avery bemoans the fact she never got to say goodbye to Tom or her father after Tom's Heroic Sacrifice. Tom does return briefly as a ghost.
  • EVERY SINGLE BOOK of the Sword of Truth series (except for the first one) includes an example of this.
  • Tahiri in the latter half of the New Jedi Order series regrets holding off on a last kiss for Anakin, telling him he could have it after they won. Anakin, of course, doesn't make it back. Subverted in an internal monologue (dialogue?) sequence, when an implanted personality tells her that her guilt is actually because she's moved on with her life. In the Legacy of the Force novels, she and Jacen "flow-walk" back to the time of the mission and Tahiri literally physically forces her past self and Anakin together. She has to leave before she can see what, if anything, happened, and since this Verse doesn't usually have time travel nobody's quite sure what did.
  • Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead has Zak Arranda, a child from Alderaan who lost his parents very suddenly, dwelling on this trope. His slightly older sister Tash doesn't know what to say. Zak becomes interested in the Necropolis legends about a witch who could raise the dead, which gets him into a lot of trouble. By the end of this book, he's reluctantly concluded this.
    "I kept wishing we could have said goodbye to Mom and Dad, but I don't think it would have made the pain go away."
  • Maximum Ride has this from Jeb Batchelder to his son Ari when Ari dies at seven. Jeb is about two minutes too late to apologize to his son for all the bad things that have happened to him. Cue Jeb cradling his son in his arms and repeating "I'm so sorry" until Max, as usual, interrupts...
  • Catarina from My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! very rarely dwells on her past life or the people she left behind; the one exception to this rule is her best friend Atsuko. When the two are briefly reunited while Catarina's in a magic-induced coma, she takes the chance to give her a proper goodbye (unaware that she is already also in the world of Fortune Lover as Sophia).
  • The book No Time For Goodbye (obviously) features this. Cynthia, the narrator's wife, never got to say goodbye to her family when they disappeared without a trace.
  • In the World of Warcraft novel The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, Thrall and Cairne Bloodhoof part ways for the last time after an argument over the decision to make Garrosh Warchief. At Cairne's funeral, Thrall regrets having parted with him like this.
  • Played straight in The Tomorrow Series, when Ellie finds Corrie's grave and realizes that she never got to say goodbye.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Severus Snape to Lily Evans. He broke down when he found out what'd happened, especially because he has a big responsibility in her death. And it's even worse in the film because of the added scene to his memories that shows him cradling Lily's dead body whilst crying in anguish.
    • Harry never got the chance to say goodbye to Sirius. It got worse when he realised he could have talked to Sirius the whole time and prevented his death.
    • Subverted in Goblet of Fire - when Molly Weasley reads about the Dark Mark being cast at the Quidditch World Cup, she goes into hysterics, not just out of fear for her family, but because the last thing she had said to Fred and George before they left was that they hadn't gotten enough OWLs. So when they return unharmed alongside the rest, the first thing Molly does is to yell at the twins and then sob on them.
    • This is part of why Harry's Aunt Petunia resents him so much. A part of her will never forgive herself for not patching up things with her sister before she was murdered.
    • Dumbledore never got to say goodbye to his sister who died in his late teens. In fact, he gets the curse that ends up killing him because he touched the resurrection stone trying to talk to her one last time to apologize for causing her death.
    • There's a justified one in the seventh book. While he does say goodbye to Ron and Hermione before marching to Voldemort alone, Harry pointedly does not say goodbye to Ginny, as he knows that if he does so, he will lose all courage to do it. Still, Ginny is the last thing he thinks about when the Killing Curse hits him.
  • Haunting Christmas Tales: In short story The Weeping Maid, housemaid Alice, obliged to help prepare a farewell party for her employers' enlisted son, is denied a chance to say her own farewell to enlisted boyfriend Bertie; later killed in action.
  • In Devon Monk's Magic to the Bone, Allie sees her father for the first time in years and tells him she hates him just before his death. Well, she does hate him, for reason, but it still unnerves her.
  • In The Elenium, when Kurik is killed in battle, none of the other members of the team, including his son, are able to get to him before he passes (they are involved in their own fights at the time). It was especially heartbreaking as Kurik had spent most of his son's life ignoring/denying him (as the boy was the product of a brief affair) and he had only recently publicly acknowledged the boy as his son.
  • In Stone Heart, George feels extreme guilt that he fought with his father the last time he saw him, before his father died in a car crash. George never got the chance to apologize. Ever.
  • Everyone dies unexpectedly in The Underland Chronicles.
  • In the poem Goodbye the narrator's lover dies of a terminal illness in her sleep.
    ...and i don’t know if i’ll ever stop crying because
    your mouth was pursed as if
    you had tried to say goodbye but
    God was dead set on fucking us over,
    one last time
  • In Twig, Sy and Jamie's friendship is shaken when Jamie admits that he's in love with Sy. Sy thinks about it, and comes to the conclusion that he needs to greet Jamie the next time he sees him with a genuine smile, to reinforce that some things were still sacrosanct between them. Unfortunately, Jamie, a human data bank, suffers a critical memory failure that night and undergoes a Death of Personality which means that Sy never gets to try to fix things.
  • Heather and Veronica almost put Doggett through this in The Wizard, The Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey, planning to sneak away rather than admit Heather isn't Princess Arabelle. Doggett finds out everything and is more upset about their willingness to leave and not say goodbye than Heather's true identity.
  • This happens occasionally in Warrior Cats. In Hawkwing's Journey, Hawkwing and his father grew distant after his brother Duskpaw's death, and part of why his father's death hurt so much was because Hawkwing would never get to speak to him again and make things right. In Pebbleshine's Kits, we see from the dead cat's point of view when Pebbleshine realizes that now she'll never grow old with her mate.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Upon realizing that Urano, the modern-day Japanese young woman she remembers being in a past life, is dead, Myne regrets not having been able to tell her mother goodbye.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrow, none of Laurel's family got to say goodbye, or were even present when she died. Her mother, a character who only occasionally appears anyway, was in another city and might not have even heard she was injured, her sister was traveling through time missing her death and funeral, and her father, despite rushing to the hospital as soon as he heard she was injured, arrived literally seconds after her death.
    • Played with for Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and Thea who while present, had just been told by the doctors she would be fine making it more a case of "didn't know we needed to say goodbye". Oliver, in particular, was the last one to talk to Laurel, receiving a Dying Declaration of Love, but didn't get a chance to respond to her, which leaves him a lot of baggage in Season Five in regards to her death. He does get to say goodbye to an apparition of her in the Dominators' Lotus-Eater Machine, telling this "Laurel" all the things he couldn't say to his Laurel (the most important being that he loved her too), which finally allows him to move on from her death.
    • In Season 8, it's revealed Earth-2!Laurel was carrying a weight of conscience for never saying goodbye to Quentin when he died protecting her in the Season 6 finale. The Monitor has her undergo a Secret Test of Character in the advent of the incoming Crisis on Infinite Earths, and when she passes, he rewards her with a chance to finally say goodbye to Quentin and make peace with it.
  • Babylon 5:
    • John Sheridan has a monologue where he laments the fact that he was rushed the day of the last phone call with his wife Anna, and forgot to say "I love you" before she headed out on the expedition that claimed her life. Of course, the real reason he couldn't let go is that he blamed himself for her joining the expedition in the first place. His sister Lizzie eventually gives him Anna's last communication to her, which reveals that Anna was going to go on the expedition anyway, and also shows Anna expressing her love of John in the ways he wished he'd expressed for her. It's somewhat painful for him to watch, but it helps him to move on.
    • Ivanova has similar regrets regarding Marcus. Marcus, however, did get to say "I love you" to a dying Ivanova, leading to the touching yet funny line, "I thought: God really does have an English accent, just like in those old movies."
  • Defied by the cast in the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    Buffy: Dawn -
    Dawn: No. Anything you say is going to sound like "goodbye." [walks off without another word]
  • Criminal Minds:
    • While she was shot and dying by the UnSub of that episode and hallucinating that her dead father was visiting her, Elle in Criminal Minds revealed that the last words she said to her father was "I hate you!"
    • Done again later on in the series. Spencer said the trope exactly when he and the rest of the team discovered that Emily Prentiss had died after she was stabbed in the torso. It turns out that she faked her death and left the country.
  • Daredevil (2015): In the season 3 finale, as Wilson Fisk is being taken back into custody by Brett Mahoney, he begs to say goodbye to Vanessa one last time. Too bad for Fisk, his crimes up to that point have been so atrocious that Brett refuses to grant him that request, even reminding him of how he never let Ray Nadeem's family get that chance.
  • Lampshaded in Dead Like Me: The main (female) character George is reluctant to start her new job, and complains that the clothes her mother has picked out for her look like funeral clothes. Her mother responds with "There's going to be a funeral if you don't get your ass out of bed!" The audience suddenly hears a voiceover from George: "Those are the last words my mother will ever say to me. Boy, is she gonna be sorry." George is later killed by a space toilet seat re-entering Earth's orbit that very same day.
  • It both appears and is averted Doctor Who. Rose and the Doctor are separated, each stuck in a different parallel world. The Doctor manages to use the power of a supernova to get a goodbye message to Rose. She tells him that she loves him... he starts to respond, only able to say "Rose Tyler - " before the connection is severed forever Or so they think... and the scene cuts to a weeping Doctor. Also, Sarah Jane Smith calls him on never properly saying goodbye to her face, something the Doctor was notorious for doing in regards to his companions, but when she leaves in "School Reunion", she makes him say goodbye so that she can have closure.
    • This also arguably applied to Donna at the end of season 4. Since all her memories of her time with the Doctor were wiped, when he turns and says a final goodbye to her, she says a very perfunctory 'Yeah, see ya' to the man she thinks she has just met.
    • Averted in the case of River Song - just before her Heroic Sacrifice, she recalls the last time she met the Doctor and realizes he was saying goodbye to her because he knew she was going to her death, even if he couldn't tell her directly.
      River: The last time I saw you, the real you, the future you, I mean, you turned up on my doorstep, with a new haircut and a suit. You took me to Darillium to see the singing towers. Oh, what a night that was! The towers sang, and you cried. You wouldn't tell me why, but I suppose you knew it was time. My time.
  • In an ER storyline that had Doug supposedly helping a woman euthanize her terminally ill son,note  the boy's father blasts him for this, quoting this trope. The fact that he cowardly abandoned his family because he couldn't deal with the boy's illness somehow slips his mind. Doug himself had a similar moment when his father died, though it was more that he regretted not getting to tell him off over how he'd abused him and his mother before finally walking out on them.
  • Family Ties: The Season 3 finale, "Remembrances of Things Past," sees Steven summoned home to handle the final affairs surrounding his father's sudden death several months earlier. It is strongly implied throughout the show that Jake Keaton had died of a terminal illness (referring back to a Season 1 episode), but more importantly, the trope kicks into effect in that Steven – who had quarreled with his father – never had a true chance to make peace with him before his death.
  • Forever: From "Diamonds Are Forever" — Part of what's made losing her husband hard for Jo is that they'd had a fight the night before he left for the trip he died on, so she left early that morning to avoid having to apologize. She never said goodbye, and the last words she said to him were in anger. Henry reassures her that they were in love, and her husband would have known she didn't mean it.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hilary's long-term boyfriend Trevor dies in a bungee accident and she laments the fact that she never got to say goodbye, with Will telling her that it's never too late to say goodbye and that Trevor is still there in her heart. After Will leaves, Hilary stops for a moment to say to the stars "Goodbye, Trevor." After that, she's rarely seen with other men for the remainder of the series.
  • A non-lethal version in Full House episode "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night". Michelle, DJ, and Stephanie return to their summer camp site to return a rabbit Michelle originally stowed away in her bag home back to the forest, but they find out the rabbit escaped, making Michelle say the trope word-for-word. Later subverted, when their father Danny arrives and reveals the rabbit escaped even before the girls left house, so Michelle is able to properly say goodbye.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Those from House Stark who have died did so with only a few of their family present. Lord Rickard and Brandon were executed in King's Landing while Ned was on the Eyrie, Benjen at Winterfell, and Lyanna captive at Dorne. Only Ned was present at Lyanna's deathbed in Dorne, though it is later revealed that a baby Jon Snow was also present as his mother Lyanna had just given birth to him and Ned holds Jon in his arms at Lyanna's bedside. Ned is executed with only his daughters present. The others are either at Winterfell (Bran and Rickon), at Castle Black (Jon), beyond the Wall (Benjen), or marching towards King's Landing (Robb and Catelyn). The Red Wedding happens with Jon, Bran, and Rickon somewhere near the Wall, Sansa at King's Landing, Benjen missing beyond the Wall, and Arya just outside the venue while the event is taking place. Jon is murdered in a mutiny at Castle Black, obviously without any of his family. Interestingly, Jon reunites with Sansa two episodes after his resurrection. Only Jon is present when Rickon is killed by Ramsay. By the time Sansa arrives, she only sees Rickon's corpse.
    • Like the Starks, the direwolves find themselves dying separately from each other.
  • Blanche Devereaux gets this big time in The Golden Girls episode "Ebb Tide". Her father, Big Daddy, calls her and asks her to come and visit, and she declines because she's been made the Belle of the Citrus Festival Ball. The next call Blanche gets is from her sister, Virginia, telling her that Big Daddy has passed away. Initially, in denial, Blanche is finally forced to face the fact that her father is dead and that she didn't come when he wanted her, but then lets her pride get in the way again when Virginia calls her out for her selfishness and Blanche angrily refuses to attend the funeral. She finally has to settle for a quick, but heartfelt and regretful, farewell at Big Daddy's gravesite.
    • Blanche gets hit with this again in "Mrs. George Devereaux." Her latest secret admirer turns out to be none other than her presumably deceased husband George, who admits to faking his own death to escape his business partner framing him for fraud. Reeling from the news, Blanche reveals this trope twofold. First, she says that she's always regretted her last thoughts about him: when she went to answer a phone call, she inadvertently tripped over his shoes and snapped "Damn it, George, I just hate you!"—only to discover the call was from a police officer telling her there'd been a fatal accident. She further tells the Girls that her pain at this has manifested in a series of recurring dreams where she gets to see George again, apologize, and tell him that she loves him, only to wake up just before she can hug him one last time. Towards the end of the episode, Blanche finally comes to terms with the fact that George is back, tells him how much she's missed him, and rushes into his arms for a hug—and we cut to her waking up alone in her bed, because the entire episode was an example of Blanche's recurring dream. Surprisingly, though, Blanche realizes that she did get to hug George this time, and hopes that this means she has at long last made peace with his death and can begin to move on.
    • Subverted in the series finale, when Dorothy marries Blanche's uncle Lucas. As she heads to the church, the limousine she's in suddenly takes a detour, and the driver reveals himself as Stan, her ex-husband. He reveals that though he cheated throughout their marriage and has had two wives since leaving her, she'll always be the true love of his life, and he couldn't let her walk down the aisle without giving her a proper confession and goodbye. Dorothy is deeply moved, and he proceeds to take her to the chapel with pride.
  • In Last of the Summer Wine: After Compo dies, poor Clegg is left heartbroken, with his biggest regret having not said "goodbye". After many attempts that feel inadequate, Truly helps him by arranging for hundreds of people to stand on a hill in painter's white overalls, spelling out a message: "SEE YA, COMPO". Clegg is touched.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Played With in the 3rd season finale, "Abyssinia, Henry". All the characters do have the opportunity to say goodbye to Henry, who has gotten his orders to be transferred stateside. However, Henry is killed on his way home - the characters said goodbye, but they thought they were saying goodbye to someone who was leaving Korea, not leaving life.
    • Trapper John was Put on a Bus in the break after season 3. In the Season 4 premiere, Hawkeye returns from R&R to discover he had left for the airport only a few hours prior. Despite racing to follow him, Trapper departs for the States before Hawkeye can catch him to say goodbye.
    • Down Played when Frank Burns was Put on a Bus, as most of the characters didn't say goodbye (Hawkeye did say it, over the phone) before Frank was transferred and promoted, but given that they all hated him, they weren't especially broken up about it.
    • When Radar left, he and Hawkeye had several false-starts at their Goodbye conversation, with Hawkeye saying he couldn't do it until he was drunk enough that he wouldn't care about the emotion he'd been displaying. Just before the Farewell party, the camp gets a fresh supply of wounded, and Hawkeye is unable to say goodbye in person. Instead, he gives Radar a rare salute through the operating room doors.
    • Subverted in the finale, when BJ also gets his orders to leave while Hawkeye is away, but returns to camp shortly thereafter. In a rare Continuity Nod to the first three seasons, Hawkeye mentions that Trapper also left without saying goodbye.
      • Ultimately averted entirely in the finale, as every remaining character on the series, had a final conversation and goodbye with everyone else.
  • Parodied in a Mr. Show sketch. Two friends leaving a night out end up constantly running into each other and saying goodbye again and again. When one of them dies the next day, at his funeral, a woman tearfully says, "I never got to say goodbye", to which the other man replies, "I did".
  • In the first episode of Queen Sugar Charley flies home from L.A. after hearing that her father is seriously ill and might not make it through the night. She arrives at the hospital just after he passes away. When she sees the rest of the family walking out the hospital room dejected, she realizes that she was too late and breaks down in tears.
  • Sense8's resident Broken Bird Riley, in the aptly titled episode "Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye", is revealed to have lost her mother as a child as well as her husband Magnus and baby daughter Luna, and couldn't bring herself to attend the funerals of the latter two.
  • In Sherlock, after John describes the events of The Reichenbach Fall to his therapist, she asks him to tell her everything he wishes he'd said to Sherlock before he died. John admits to there being things he'd left unsaid that he can't bring himself to tell her, though his later spiel at Sherlock's grave is likely an indication of his getting this particular load off his chest and starting to move towards (relative) normalcy.
  • In That '70s Show, Red's mother dies as Eric is driving her home. Because she was being a heartless crow (like usual), no one had anything good to say about her but were still heartbroken when she was gone.
    Red: I didn't say "I love you," or even "See you later." No, the last thing I said to her was "Show me tail lights."
    Eric: ...Dad, the last thing I said to Grandma was "It wouldn't kill you to be nice once in a while." But I guess it did because then she died.
    Red: [laughs] That could only happen to you, son.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, Ianto dies in Jack's arms, having already told him that he loves him. Jack has plenty of time to say it back, but he's in such denial about it that he can't.
    • Jack (and the fans) finally get closure over Ianto's death in the Torchwood: The Lost Files radio play "The House of the Dead", when Jack gets to tell Ghost!Ianto that he loves him.
  • In one episode of Touched by an Angel, the only request an old restaurant owner makes of the woman who shot his son - and has just been released from prison - is that she always tells her daughter she loves her before they separate. The last thing he ever said to his son was about paper plates.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty", Gus Rosenthal visits his old hometown and finds himself in the past. During that time, he meets his father Lou. Not telling him who he is, he says that his father was always angry and he never got the chance to tell him that he loved him.
  • In a short-lived sitcom about friends from preschool, one girl lost her parents at a young age. In a conscious effort to avert this trope, she insists on ending every phone call with "I love you," so that if one of the participants dies, those will be the last words they said to each other. Her husband finds this creepy.

  • "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a record 16 weeks in 1995-96.
    Sorry I never told you/All I wanted to say
    And now it's too late to hold you/'Cause you've flown away, so far away...
  • The narrator of "The Living Years", a U.S. number-one single in 1989 for Mike + the Mechanics with Paul Carrack singing lead, regrets not being able to repair his strained relationship with his father before the latter's death.
    I wasn't there that morning when my father passed away
    I didn't get to tell him all the things I longed to say
    I think I caught his spirit later that same year
    I'm sure I heard his echo in my baby's newborn tears
    I just wish I could have told him, in the living years
  • One of the songs on Songs to Wear Pants To, Never, says this verbatim. "I never got to say goodbye, baby, goodbye/ I've never moved on..."
  • "Youth of the Nation" by P.O.D. has this from the dead person's point of view.
    Last day of the rest of my life
    Wish I would have known 'cause I didn't kiss my momma goodbye
    Never told her that I loved her, how much I cared
    Or thank my pops for all the talks and the wisdom he shared
  • The ending of Blake Shelton's ''The Baby'' quotes the trope name.
    She looked like she was sleepin', and my family had been weepin',
    by the time that I got to her side, and I knew that she'd been taken,
    My heart it was achin', I never got to say goodbye
  • Lou Reed's album Magic And Loss, about losing several close friends to cancer, features "No Chance."
    Your optimism made me think you really had it beat/So I didn't get a chance to say goodbye
  • The narrator of Jimmy Eat World's "Hear You Me" is regretting not showing gratitude.
    There's no one in town I know
    You gave us some place to go.
    I never said 'thank you' for that...
  • "Everything I Own," a Top 10 US hit in 1972 for the group Bread and later remade into a UK number-one single for Boy George in 1987, features this advice in its final verse:
    Is there someone you know, you're loving them so
    But taking them all for granted?
    You may lose them one day, someone takes them away
    And they don't hear the words you long to say
  • From "I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes," by The Oak Ridge Boys:
    You're always in my heart and you're often on my mind
    I will never let it die just as long as I'm alive
    Sometimes it makes me sad that we never said goodbye
    Well I guess it never hurts to hurt sometimes
  • "Gone Too Soon" by Simple Plan has the exact line in the song.
    In the blink of an eye...
    I never got to say goodbye!
  • "Bobby Jean," a Bruce Springsteen song, subverts the trope. The narrator goes to visit the title character, only to be told that Bobby Jean "went away" for reasons unspecified. The narrator repeatedly laments the lack of closure—"Man, I wish I coulda known, I wish I coulda talked to you—just to say goodbye"—but eventually finds a way to send the message after all: he imagines Bobby Jean hearing him singing this very song on the radio in the future, and with it the narrator's final words:
    And I'm just callin', one last time—
    Not to change your mind...
    But just to say that I'll miss you, baby,
    Good luck, goodbye...
    Bobby Jean...

  • Adventures in Odyssey invokes this when Eugene and Bernard come back from a six-episode road trip just in time to learn that, just after they left, Whit packed his bags for the Middle East. Eugene is heartbroken to realize he never got to say goodbye... and then learns that Whit's plane hasn't taken off yet. He actually makes it onto the tarmac and gets Whit's attention before security catches him.

  • A meta version occurs in The Ballad of Edgardo. Edgardo launches an attack that will surely kill Big Bad Xer0. However, Xer0 is such a Sore Loser that he and his friends riot about it in the out-of-character section of the forum. The next morning, Edgardo tries to log on, only to find that the forum has been entirely shut down, presented as Xer0's just desserts for godmodding his way to the top. It's still a Bittersweet Ending because Edgardo never exchanged any contact information with A Guy Called Squid, his closest ally in defeating Xer0. As a result, Edgardo sadly muses at the end of his story that it's likely that he and A Guy Called Squid will never see each other again.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: This is essentially what torments Angron in the short story "After Desh'ea". That he couldn't keep his oath to his fellow gladiators, doesn't know how they died and can't even commemorate them properly. Of course, being Angron, he kills seven of his captains before Kharn manages to convince him he is not alone.

  • In the play Liliom and its musical adaptation Carousel, Julie Cannot Spit It Out that she loves Liliom/Billy, though she does become pregnant with his child. She finally gathers enough courage to say "I love you" to his corpse.
  • During the song "Turn It Off" in The Book of Mormon, Elder Thomas mentions that his sister died of cancer while he was on line at the Apple Store to buy a new iPhone, her last words being "Where is my brother?". Like most things in the play, it's played for Black Comedy.
  • Emma from The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals always yearned to make it out of her Hated Hometown of Hatchetfield, and out from under the shadow of her perfect older sister, Jane. After finishing high school, she spent the next decade or so Walking the Earth, going on adventures all over the globe, and whenever Jane would call her to invite her home to some important event (her wedding, her baby shower, etc.), Emma would always blow her off and say she'd get to the next one. Eventually, the next one was Jane's funeral following a horrible car crash. Emma came home for the service and realized the best way to honor her sister's memory would be to get her life together, and, having no roots anywhere except Hatchetfield, settled down there to get a degree and start a real career. The way she and Jane left things clearly pains her greatly, but she refuses to mope about it, since she knows she only has herself to blame.

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it's rather ironic that both Eva and Ocelot never managed to see Big Boss one last time before dying, despite their whole purpose and plan being to revive him.
    • Eva does hallucinate that Snake is Big Boss after the motorbike crashes. That sort of counts.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team, the player character is taken away before many of the Pokemon can give him/her a proper thank you or goodbye (the partner and Shiftry, for example).
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers, the only other Pokemon besides Grovyle that says goodbye to the player character is their partner.
    • Invoked in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, when the hero thinks it would be for the better to not say goodbye to everyone and sneak away, having been led to believe that they'd all forget about them once they return to their world anyways, and reasoning it would just make them sad. It ends up being subverted when Hydreigon decides he's not going to have any of that and records the goodbyes in a Frism without the hero's knowledge, then gives it to them as a gift before their departure.
  • Fate/stay night example, Shirou for Saber in the Unlimited Blade Works True End because both were avoiding the conversation. The Good End he also gets a bit depressed about it but then he happens to find Saber, who is apparently baffled by how surprised he is to see her. The anime adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works expands on the True End, having Rin take Shirou on a day trip to Glastonbury Abbey where Saber/King Arthur is supposedly buried so he can properly say goodbye.
    • Back in 'Fate', Saber doesn't let Shirou have a chance to say goodbye, instead revealing that she did indeed love him in return and not letting him have the chance to reply before she vanished to the past and died. Shirou comments that that was "Just like her."
  • Discussed by Garlot and Siskier in one route of Blaze Union when they're trying to find Jenon, who pulled a You Shall Not Pass! resulting in him being swept away in a river, and Siskier is breaking down because the last words she said to Jenon were an insult. it got worse after this — a lot worse — but at least, in the end, they're able to say goodbye to him properly.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, Diego Armando is in a coma when Mia Fey is killed. When he wakes up, he blames Phoenix for not being able to save Mia, but in reality, Diego was just blaming Phoenix because he couldn't admit that he blamed himself for her death.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale) has this happen several times over it's four seasons:
    • First invoked by Lee in Episode 1, Season 1; the Macon drug store the survivors hide in was owned by his estranged family, and Lee's zombified brother is found right outside. What happened to their parents is never revealed, but there's blood and signs of fighting in the backroom. While putting down his undead brother, Lee can deeply regret that he wasn't there for them.
    • During the climax of Episode 2, Lily's father Larry has a heart attack while the survivors are trapped inside a meat locker by the cannibalistic St. John family, and never regains consciousness. Whether or not Lee agrees with Kenny to crush Larry's skull before he can turn into a Walker, Lily furiously brings this up after Larry's death.
    • If he's still alive by Episode 5, Ben brings this up when he finally has had enough of Kenny's abuse; while Ben was indirectly somewhat part of the events that led to the death of Kenny's wife and son, at least they were still together until the end. Kenny got to say goodbye, Ben never made it home from his high school when the Zombie Apocalypse broke out. He doesn't know, and never will, if his parents and little sisters are alive, or dead, or zombified, or something even worse.
  • Just in case the tragic scene in chapter one of Mother 3 wasn't depressing enough, a knocked out Flint dreams of the last time he saw his wife: As she's dragged out of the house by their children to go for a trip, there's not much interaction between them. Flint then goes back home, clueless of what would follow...
  • Discussed and defied in Fable II. If you have a family when you leave for the Spire, Hammer will insist that you see them before you go. She then says that she doesn't remember if she said goodbye to her father on the day that he died.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can meet a mad vagrant named Narfi who laments that, unlike the rest of his deceased family, he never got to say goodbye to his sister before she disappeared. If you investigate, you will learn that she is dead, and you will have the option of giving him the bad news or lying to give him hope.
  • If you play the good path of The Suffering, Torque's family will understand that he never killed them. His older son, Cory says that although he understands his father couldn't save him... well, you see where this is going. It is one of the most heartbreaking examples.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • In Princess Zelda's last journal entry - which is written on the same day that Calamity Ganon returned - she mentions that she hasn't seen her father since their last argument. Unfortunately, she never sees her father again because King Rhoam is killed by Calamity Ganon.
    • King Rhoam's last journal entry shows that he regretted treating his child harshly and resolves to treat her kindly from then on. He never gets that chance. He passes on as a ghost before Zelda is rescued.
    • Also, while Link actually got to speak to them one last time while in their spirit forms, Zelda never got to see or speak with the four Champions after they died. Especially sad when it comes to Urbosa, as Zelda clearly saw her as a Cool Big Sis and the two were very close before The Calamity hit. Along with Rhoam, their spirits passed without meeting with Zelda after her rescue. Fortunately, they at least appear to feel fulfilled and able to move on, now that they have accomplished their missions against the Calamity Ganon.
  • Persona:
    • In Tatsuya's Scenario, a sub-story added in the PSP remake of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, Shiori Miyashiro never gets to say goodbye to Tatsuya, as he's already gone to the Other Side by the time she regains consciousness at the end of the story.
    • In Persona 3: The Answer, Yukari Takeba's grief over not being able to be at the Protagonist's side when he died really, really puts a damper on her emotional state. It gets to the point where she tries to distract herself by burying herself in cram school and ignoring the rest of her friends. Not helping is her jealousy towards Aigis for actually being there for the Protagonist's side during his last moments.
    • In Persona 4, Kanji never got the chance to say goodbye to his father, as he suddenly died while Kanji wasn't home.
  • In Celeste, the final post-game chapter "Farewell" involves Madeline suffering a relapse of her depression after Granny passes away and she isn't able to say goodbye to her. This causes her to miss Granny's funeral and become a shut-in while she has obsessive dreams and visions about chasing Granny's bird and bringing her back to life. At the end of the chapter, Madeline manages to reach the top of her dream and get the chance to say goodbye to Granny, with the magical nature of Celeste mountain it's implied that it's actually her as well, allowing Madeline to finally move past her baggage and guilt.

    Web Animation 
  • Horribly, HORRIBLY subverted in Red vs. Blue. Agent Texas whispers goodbye during her Heroic Sacrifice but no one can hear her say it.
    • An incredibly depressing example when with vicious satisfaction, Temple brutally forces Caboose to accept that despite Church coming back before, he's won't be this time. Caboose realizes that he'll never have the chance now to say "good-bye" or thank Church for being his friend.

  • Nimmel in Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire had constantly pushed away a girl who was trying to befriend him because he didn't think she was attractive enough. The day he was finally ready to apologize for his behavior and accept her friendship was the day the Infernomancer attacked the academy; she was among the dead.
    • It's a mistake he gets to correct later.
  • Discussed in this Get Medieval strip.
  • xkcd: Discussed and denied in "Leaving". Cueball says "you are in my heart always" to someone as the latter person leaves, in case the other person dies.
  • In this Homestuck flash, Equius explains to Nepeta how sad he is that Aradia didn't even say goodbye to him before she exploded. He then defies this trope by making a point of saying goodbye to Nepeta before going to face Gamzee. And good thing, too, since not only does Gamzee kill Equius, but Nepeta witnesses his death, tries to avenge him... and gets killed herself.
  • Averted in Something*Positive with Fred over Faye's death. Likely the only thing he never got to tell her was that he had Alzheimer's.
  • On page 20 of the Meta-Man Special in Flying Sparks, after Meta-Man rescues Richard Nixon and returns to the hospital, he discovers that, while he was gone, his wife, Betty, died right after giving birth to a boy.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Lalli in regards to Tuuri. After finding out she has come down with a deadly disease while alone, she ran off to commit Suicide by Sea without anybody noticing before it was too late. At least, the nature of the afterlife and the way magic works in that universe let Tuuri say goodbye to a comatose Onni.

    Western Animation 
  • Done brutally by Megabyte in ReBoot. Megabyte is going to dissect Frisket to get a MacGuffin in his stomach and tells his henchmen to take Enzo away so he doesn't see it. Then we get this exchange:
    Enzo: (On the verge of tears) Can't I at least say good-bye?
    Megabyte: Well... no.
  • Subverted and Deconstructed in the South Park episode "Tweek vs. Craig", in which the shop teacher constantly says this about his dead fiancée. When her ghost appears to him and he finally gets to say it, he realizes it didn't make him feel better at all. That one single action is overall meaningless and the fact that Mr. Adler is focusing on her death rather than the memories they shared is the real problem.
    Fiancée: Saying good-bye doesn't mean anything. It's the time that we spent together that really matters, not how we left it.
  • Jem was angry at her mother Jacqui for spending time away from her family to go on her music tour, and wouldn't say, "I love you" back when she left. Jacqui died days afterward when her plane went down.
  • Teen Titans, "Cyborg The Barbarian": Cyborg is summoned back in time to help fight a war against monsters and grows close to a warrior named Sarasim, only for his friends to pull him back to the present during the final battle. He demands that they send him back, but Raven admits her spell was a one-way deal. With no idea what happened to Sarasim and her people, all Cyborg can manage is "I didn't even get to say goodbye." To his relief, Raven finds a history book showing the tribe's victory.
  • Played with in an episode of Doug. At the beginning of the episode, he learns that his best friend Skeeter is moving. Upset at his first friend in Bluffington moving away, he vows to be there when he finally leaves. On the day of the move, he arrives too late and sees the Valentine family driving away. As he sits at their steps, someone asks him why he was upset. He tells them, "I didn't get to say goodbye to my friend... *gasp* Skeeter?!" Turns out he DID move... to the basement because his dad was tired of his loud music.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Old Money", Grandpa Abe gets mad at Homer when he learns his new girlfriend Beatrice died while Abe was being dragged along on a disappointing family trip. What makes it worse is that she died of a broken heart from thinking Abe didn't keep his promise to spend her birthday with her.
  • In the Futurama episode "Game of Tones," Fry realizes that although his life in the 20th century was pretty crappy, he convinced himself it was way worse than it actually was because that was easier than coping with the fact he never got to tell his loved ones goodbye before being sent to the future. He gets his opportunity to at the end of the episode. Another example comes from the episode, “The Late Phillip J. Fry,” where Fry gets stuck around 7000 years in the future when Professor Farnsworth has him and Bender help test his new time machine that can only travel forwards. This leaves Leela alone on a date, believing that Fry stood her up to go to a bachelor party where he had died due to a robot hooker having a nuclear meltdown. Years later, she finds out the truth about the time travel incident, so she finds a way to leave Fry a message he’ll be able to see in the future. The message reads ”Dear Fry, our time together was short, but it was the best time of my life.”
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang never got to bid farewell to his people before they were killed by the Fire Nation since he ran away.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Yellowjacket" has Wasp lament at Hank Pym's funeral that she didn't say "I love you" to him before he disappeared. Instead, the last thing she said to him involved agreeing with Iron Man that Hank's efforts to create a miniature prison could prove dangerous, and failing again to convince him to resume interaction with the other Avengers. Wasp later finds out that Hank faked his death.
  • In the X-Men: The Animated Series episode "Bloodlines," just as Mystique is ending her explanation for discarding Nightcrawler at birth, her other son Graydon Creed appears and tries to shoot them both; Mystique takes both bullets (the only unselfish thing she has ever done in her life before now), gasps "I don't deserve your prayers" and throws herself off the bridge into the river below, and presumably drowns; the episode ends with Rogue comforting Nightcrawler while he laments that he wishes he had had a chance to say goodbye, and hoping Mystique has finally found peace; unaware that Mystique is watching from the opposite bank, crying silently.
  • Rugrats episode "I Remember Melville" Chuckie is sad when his pet bug Melville dies. A few days later it seems he's come to terms with what happened, but later ends up crying when eating chocolate pudding reminds him of Melville. However, he explains he doesn't want to forget about Melville despite it making him sad, and says this trope word-for-word when he realizes that's why. The babies decide to do the next best thing by giving Melville a funeral.
  • In the South Park episode “Kenny Dies” when Kenny is temporarily Killed Off for Real, Stan is too sad to go visit Kenny in the hospital while he is dying from muscular dystrophy, at the end he finally works up the courage to go visit him and give him a present, but by the time he arrives Kenny has passed away, he asks Kyle if he said anything before he died and he replies that he said “where’s Stan?”, Stan then says that he never got to say goodbye to him.

    Real Life 
  • A real-life example can be found in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul 2 volume, the story called "Good Night Dad", in which the author had considered telling his father that he loved him, but did not, and the next day, found out that his father had fallen to his death.
  • The story of the Columbine survivor who used, of all things, the King of the Hill episode "Wings of the Dope" (when Buckley's Angel appears) to help grieve. She was hiding in the school when the shooting went on and wrote a note to a friend she was in love with, but never gave it to him. His name was Dylan Klebold.
  • In a Truth in Television example, shortly after the death of Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan said that they had only recently buried the hatchet after years of feuding, and expressed regret that they spent so long hating each other when all along they should have been good friends.
  • When King George VI died at 56, young Princess Elizabeth had been touring the Commonwealth countries for weeks when she was unexpectedly informed that she was the new queen.
    • Similarly, Prince Harry was on a plane trying to make his way to see his grandmother on her deathbed when he found out, through looking at the news, that she'd died. note  Because he had a similar experience with his mother's death, he recalled in his memoir Spare that he essentially forced himself to sit by her body so that he could somewhat avert this trope.
  • Pretty common for the victims of Police States. As an example, Christoph Probst, a member of the White Rose German resistance movement against the Nazis, was arrested, tried, and executed in February 1943. His family was not informed until after the proceedings. Not only did he never get to say goodbye to his wife and children, he Never Got to Say Hello to his newborn daughter.
  • On the Internet, thanks to social networks, online forums, online games, and things like Skype. You always will meet people from around the world who are from different countries and different cultures. Many people will talk to each other on Skype and become really close, yet they never meet each other (even if many of them tell each other they'll meet each other in real life one day). But with having online friends, the one thing that is terrible is that online friends may one day leave without notice forever. And sometimes it can be heartbreaking for you, especially if that person became close to you.
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic caused a ton of grief for many friends and families who weren't allowed to be with their loved ones in their final moments due to them having to be in quarantine. Some were able to talk to their loved ones though video chat before they passed, but for most, it just didn't feel the same compared to seeing them in person.