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Not-So-Final Confession

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Sarge: Did you want to finish your thought there, Simmons?
Simmons: Well, this is awkward.

When death is upon you, sometimes you have a burning need to get something off your chest. Something that embarrassment or social stigma has prevented you from saying. Perhaps you want to share a particularity cringeworthy secret, come out of the closet, or admit your undying love to the person you can never have, or rant about how stupid everyone around you is. Well, now is definitely the chance, you think; it is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ruffle all the feathers you'd ever want without having to sit through the fallout. Who cares what your friends and family would think? Certainly not you, seeing how you soon won't care about anything ever again. Regardless, no sooner do you make it known than you find out that, no, you're not going to die today.

Often, but not always, a comedy trope. When Played for Laughs, the more embarrassing the secret, the higher the probability that you'll survive.

Subtrope of Un-Confession. If someone is instead admitting something they've wanted to admit but couldn't and would rather survive the upcoming danger, it's If We Get Through This…. Can be a subversion of many of the Death Tropes. Compare Crossing the Burnt Bridge. Contrast False Start and Poorly Timed Confession. See also Aborted Declaration of Love.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fairy Tail. Gajeel gives a tearful love confession to Levy as he's being dragged through a portal to the underworld. However, elsewhere someone casts a spell that scrambles the locations of everyone and everything in the kingdom, inadvertently saving him from death. He blushes madly when he realizes he's still alive and will have to face Levy again.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, William seemed to think he would get out of dealing with any consequences of writing a letter to Sherlock to tell him how much he has always liked Sherlock and wishes to they could be reborn to be friends properly, but unfortunately Sherlock read it before William could fall off a bridge.
  • Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl: In the episode "Mutiny in the Bounty!", when Ash and Team Rocket are on an airship that's about to crash, Meowth confesses that he was the one who ate Jessie's donut the previous day. Jessie angrily starts shaking him and demanding that he give the donut back.

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority has two firemen about to die, one of them confesses to the other that he was the one responsible for all his little miseries at work (stealing food/equipment/money...), the other guy responds that it doesn't matter since he fell in love with him the day he saw him. Then Swyft arrives to fly them to safety.
  • A story in Green Lantern 80th Anniversary special entitled "Last Will" has Hal Jordan crash in a desert on an unknown planet, with just enough ring charge to send three messages. He sends one to the Corps saying how proud he is to have served, one to Batman saying that he's secretly always envied him, and one to Carol Ferris with a Dying Declaration of Love. Then the ring charge gives out, and his life support stops ... which is the point at which he realises he's actually on Earth, in the Nevada desert. He then desperately asks his unresponsive ring if there's any way of recalling the messages.
  • Halo: Helljumper: As the two squadmates are about to get consumed by an explosion, Dutch admits to his partner Romeo that he put in for a transfer. He expected Romeo to be angry about it and so wouldn't have to face any consequences if he died... except they don't die and Dutch thus has to deal with his very upset teammate.
  • In the Dutch comic series Sjors en Sjimmie, one story the 2 protagonists and several important people (including a general) are on a plane that becomes the target of a terrorist attack. As the plane crashes down, everyone on board begins to confess embarrassing or even outright illegal things they have done. Due to a Deus ex Machina, the plane still manages to land safely and all on board survive, but their reputations are damaged beyond repair due to the confessions they made in what they believed to be their final moments, thus the terrorists still consider it a huge succes.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Lord Guru thinks he's about to die, so he confesses that he drank enough water to send the planet into a drought, and blamed it on the albino Namekians, which led to global genocide. Then he doesn't die, so the rest of the (now enraged) Namekians eat him.
  • An Entry with a Bang! has a man confessing his love and proposing to a girl while they expect a nuke to hit their Dropship. She accepts... then it turns out Earth only had time to put warheads on half the missiles. Oh, and he proposed in front of the entire bridge crew.
  • In Living The Dream Lance and Frederic have this exchange while backed up against the edge of a cliff.
    Lance: I used swords to dig a ditch... and I used your toothbrush for a sex toy one night when Twilight was feeling a little extra horny...
    Frederic: You used my swords to dig a freaking ditch? Wait... you did what with my toothbrush?
    Lance: Well Twilight wanted a little extra stimulation on her marehood, so I used it there. She also tied me up and stuck it in my... you get the picture... we had a lot of fun with that little toothbrush that night... We sure do miss it.
  • In Olive's Last Partner, both Olive and Oscar address the strife surrounding the latter avoiding the former just before they drown in orange juice. Olive hits her Rage Breaking Point and snaps at Oscar that she wishes he had never left her to solve cases solo and that he was never her partner just before she describes how painful him gradually leaving her side to work in the Lab was and how Oprah never did anything about it. Oscar, on the other hand, tries to atone for what he did by justifying his actions and then apologizing for them. This is what causes the pair to make up and become best friends and lovers again, as they are saved from drowning by Otto.
  • In Pawprints, Blake and Weiss deliver an Anguished Declaration of Love to one another while Weiss is bleeding out from a wolf attack. Weiss survives her attack through Intimate Healing (namely, Blake using her aura combined with Blake extracting the blood from Weiss' mouth with kisses).
  • In The Royal Protector (sniperct), Cassandra comes to see a deathly ill Rapunzel and ends up confessing to her. Rapunzel already knew (as did practically everyone else) and she later survives her poisoning.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, as the main characters are in a plane falling, Alex confesses that he was the one who broke Marty's iPod, which Marty doesn't take well. Melman confesses his love for Gloria, who isn't listening because she's fast asleep. Marty and Alex stop fighting to exchange wry glances as he chuckles embarrassedly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Almost Famous: A plane apparently is about to crash and passengers deliver many not-so-final confessions, including Ed's only line ("Fuck it! I'm... I'm gay!") just before the plane decides not to crash.
  • In Attack of the Clones, Anakin and Padme have been keeping their feelings for each other under wraps because of their duties to the Jedi Order and their government, respectively. However, when they're set to die in the Gladiator Games, they confess their feelings for each other and share a kiss...and then eventually escape the arena. They later end up in a Secret Relationship, which plays a role in Anakin's descent into the dark side of the Force.
  • In Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy seduces Robin in her lair and finally manages to kiss him after she gains his trust by telling him what she and Freeze were planning. Immediately after the kiss, she reveals her true colors, saying goodbye to “her love” in mock sadness by telling him it is time to die. But Robin reveals he was wearing rubber lips that protected him from her poison, thus learning her plan, discovering she was lying about loving him, and managing to steal one kiss from his crush.
  • Die Hard: In a tense scene, John McClane tells Al Powell that he doesn't expect to make it through the terrorist situation (and considering he's pulling glass out of his feet, it's shown to be a pretty bleak situation). He then proceeds to apologize to his wife and tells Al to pass the message on. Al simply tells him that he will get through it (which of course, he does).
  • In Kind Hearts and Coronets, Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini has been sentenced to death for the one murder that he didn't commit. While awaiting execution, he writes his memoirs in which he confesses to all of the murders that he did commit (every D'Ascoyne ahead of him in the line of succession to a duchy). Just before his hanging, exonerating evidence is discovered and he is pardoned. However, his realization that he has left the manuscript of his memoirs with the confessions to the murders of his family in his prison cell may make this example a subversion...
  • Night of the Creeps: A drunk Detective Cameron tells Sparky what he did to a serial killer late one night on a deserted highway. Later we see Cameron inside his house with the gas running and the cracks sealed up. Sparky comes by and convinces him to help save the town from the slugs.
  • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the kids and Happy are trapped in a vault with a killer-drone trying to break in. In desperation, they each confess things they never got the chance to say including regrets, personal failings, and a secret love confession, before being saved just before the drone can attack them.

  • In the Belgariad, Adara is shot with an arrow and believes herself to be dying. When Hettar appears by her bedside, she confesses her love for him, only to be told soon afterward that she's fine.
  • This is how the plot of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novel The Confession of Brother Haluin begins. After being horribly injured in an accident the eponymous Haluin makes his confession to Abbot Radulfus and Cadfael. After he makes a miraculous recovery, Haluin decides that his 'deathbed' confession is no longer sufficient and insists on doing penance as soon as he is fit enough to walk (or rather hobble).
  • In The Gods Are Bastards, a schoolmate of the protagonists is attacked by a rare and powerful demon and calls Trissiny to her bedside to reveal her true feelings. Only afterward is she informed that she'll be fine in the long run. Since Triss is straight, this leads to a certain amount of awkwardness.
  • In the fourth Gone book, Plague, Dekka confesses her love for Brianna while thinking that she is about to die, but Sam manages to save her by an impromptu surgery with Lana's help.
  • In the book The Last Threshold in the The Neverwinter Saga, archnemesis Entreri tells Drizzt that he always envied him for his life and his friends right before Drizzt throws Claw into the forge of Gauntlgrym. Everybody thought destroying the sword would kill him, but it turns out it doesn't. After an awkward pause, everyone just goes on as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.
  • Played for Drama in The Machineries of Empire. When it looks like they've been abandoned on the battlefield, Shuos Jedao admits to a fellow soldier who's received a fatal injury that he had been planning to overthrow the Hexarchate. Then it turns out they're going to be rescued, after all, so Jedao has to murder his colleague on the spot so he can't tell anyone.
  • In the Relativity story "Pressure Cooker," Sara and her brother Michael have been trapped in a coal mine by Phanthro, and the temperature is rising. Fearing that they'll die before they're rescued, Sara admits to Michael her last remaining dark secrets (finally!). After they're rescued, Michael tells Ravenswood that he now wants to kill her ex-boyfriend.
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito and Asuna, after dying in SAO believe they will be Killed Off for Real, and thus reveal their real-world names and ages. Kirito wakes up realizing that while he "died" in-game, the Nerve Gear did not kill him. He eventually finds Asuna in the real world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Babylon 5, Delenn and Lennier are together on a ship when they are about to be hit by Centaur missiles. Lennier confesses, "I love you," to which Delenn responds, "I know." Cue Big Damn Hero moment from Sheriden. Later, she simply states that in stressful times, sometimes it's hard to hear things.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Xander share a passionate kiss when they think they're going to be killed by Spike — only to be interrupted by their rescuers who happen to be their respective significant others.
  • Chuck: After spending the first half of season 1 completely shutting down any suggestion of romance between her and Chuck, Sarah finally admits she feels something for him by giving him a Now or Never Kiss when they can't stop a ticking timer, which immediately afterward turns out NOT to be a bomb. She chalks it up to the panic of the moment for a good while longer.
  • The Closer: A man involved in a serious car crash is administered last rites by a priest and confesses murdering his wife, only to survive. Even though the priest keeps the man's secret, the man murders the priest a few months later in fear that the priest will talk.
  • In an episode of Father Ted, a group of priests are aboard a plane that seems set to crash. One priest makes a confession of love to the priest sitting next to him. After the plane is saved, the episode ends with a long, silent shot of the awkward looks on both their faces.
  • The The Flash (2014) episode "Out of Time" features a couple of odd examples:
    • Barry and Iris have this moment just before a supervillain inundates Central City with a tidal wave. Not only does he reveal his secret identity to her, but they also confess their feelings to each other and share The Big Damn Kiss. Another is given by Dr. Wells to Cisco, right when Cisco discovers Dr. Wells' identity as the Reverse-Flash. He tells Cisco that he's Like a Son to Me, and then that it's Nothing Personal—and then puts a vibrating hand clean through his heart. These seem like game-changing reveals, and they're treated as such In-Universe. The only thing that makes them this trope? Barry accidentally travels back in time and undoes both of them.
  • In Get Smart as they're in an unwinnable situation, Max tells 99 he loves her and if they get out he'll marry her. Cue 99 going medieval on the asses of the KAOS agents who have them surrounded.
  • I Love Lucy: While vacationing in the Alps, the gang gets trapped in a cabin by an avalanche. Thinking this is the end, everyone starts making comedic confessions... except Ricky who says, "I'm no fool, we might be saved!"
  • At least two cases from Lois & Clark. One is during the pilot when Lois has earlier said she'd never sleep with a colleague, and later, when they are tied to an exploding bomb, tell of a case when she did. In a later episode, Lois and Jimmy are tied to a mast when a Doomsday Device is about to be activated, and Jimmy tells Lois about a wet dream he had of her.
  • The Nanny: When Fran & Mr. Sheffield are in an airplane that's about to crash, Mr. Sheffield tells Fran that he loves her. Then after they survive, he takes it back. (He eventually un-takes it back and they get married.)
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Rimmer creates a copy of himself and, following an extreme case of Other Me Annoys Me, everyone agrees that one of the Rimmers has got to go. Lister persuades the unlucky Rimmer to tell him his embarrassing secret about gazpacho soup before the procedure - then reveals that he's already erased the other Rimmer.
    • In "Quarantine", the crew find a potential hologram in an abandoned outpost. The Dwarf can only generate one hologram at once however, and they do little to hide their eagerness at the prospect of deactivating Rimmer for more pleasant company, adding that Space Corps Directive overrules any objections he makes. Naturally the rescue goes pear shaped, and the crew are left to return to a very vengeful Rimmer, who has now researched Space Corps Directives enough to become a torturous Rules Lawyer.
  • Seinfeld: In the first part of the two-part finale, as the plane crashes, several secrets come out; most importantly, George cheated in The Contest.
  • Star Trek: Voyager"
    • The episode "The 37s" has the crew find a group of humans who vanished from Earth long ago, including Amelia Earheart and her co-pilot. The co-pilot gets shot and whilst being treated by the Doctor, tells Amelia he loves her. He then finds the Doctor has cured him and tells Amelia to forget everything she heard.
    • In the episode "Renaissance Man", the Doctor starts making a list of confessions believing he is about to go offline (including telling Seven of Nine he loves her and that he compared Harry's saxophone playing to a wounded targ). After finding he will not go offline, he hides in sickbay for a week out of embarrassment.
    • Something similar happens in "Projections". Fortunately, the Doctor is in a Dream Within a Dream and is spared the embarrassment at that time.
    • Only their imminent death through oxygen deprivation in "Day of Honor" gives B'Elanna Torres the courage to tell Tom Paris she loves him. Next moment they're beamed to safety. Tom gives her the chance to back off from her confession in a later episode, but she runs with it and they become an Official Couple.
  • Taggart. In "Forbidden Fruit" a doctor decides to drown himself after being exposed as a fraud. His wife sees the overturned boat and rushes into the house to call for help, only to find him inside dripping wet. Things probably would have worked out if he hadn't forgotten about the written confession he left behind, in which he confessed to murdering the Victim of the Week.
  • A less lighthearted example: an episode of Torchwood has Tosh tell Owen that she loves him, thinking that he has only a few minutes left. Tosh then tells Owen she didn't mean it (though we see contrary to this later in the season).


    Web Animation 
  • Minilife TV: In "Trouble Ian Paradise", when it seems like Chris and Ian are about to fall to their death off a mountain of ice in their freezer, Ian confesses to Chris that he's actually the mayor of Minilife City, something he's previously tried to hide from him. He also confesses that he really has to pee, which Ian does to melt some of the ice to create a cave to rescue themselves with.
  • Red vs. Blue
    • Season 9 features Simmons calling his teammates idiots as they stand around in an open field while a bomb counts down from 30. Thankfully it was a dud.
      Sarge: Did you want to finish your thought there, Simmons?
      Simmons: Well, this is awkward.
    • In Season Six, when Grif and Simmons are about to be executed by their own men:
      Simmons: Grif, this looks like it's it. Listen, there's something I always wanted to tell you.
      Grif: I have something I wanna say to you too, buddy.
      Simmons: You first.
      Firing Squad Leader: Ready!
      Grif: It was me that stole your identity and ran up all those credit card charges at the pawnshops and peep shows. Sorry.
      Firing Squad Leader: Aim!
      Grif: Whew! I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest! So what do you wanna say to me?
      Simmons: (through gritted teeth) I seem to have forgotten.


    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond has a variation in the episode "Sneak Peek." Terry, knowing his secret identity is about to be revealed on a tabloid-y news show, confesses to his mother and brother, wanting them to hear it from him. They laugh at him. The broadcast ends up being canceled.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "A Perfect World", Wheeler and Linka are trapped in a room with Deadly Gas, and Linka decides to make a Dying Declaration of Love. She can't finish thanks to coughing, and then the others arrive and get the door open. Linka immediately tries to refocus attention on the mission, but it's clear Wheeler understands what she was about to say.
  • In an episode of CatDog, the titular duo see an omen in the sky that signifies the end of the world. They and a bunch of other characters try and build an ark, but fail. While awaiting the impending doom, Mervis and Dunglap admit that they destroyed each other's favorite possessions, Cliff and Lube confess to each other their Embarrassing First Name, Shriek confesses to Dog that she loves him and kisses him, and Cat confesses that he loves Shriek and kisses her. When Winslow reveals that the omen they saw was really a peanut shell in the telescope, everyone proceeds to fight over all the secrets that were revealed.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Teacher of the Year", Danny and Tucker are playing an online game and fighting against another player called Chaos. After Chaos throws a bomb at their feet, Tucker takes a moment to confess that he accidentally killed Danny's gerbil in the third grade, despite the fact that they aren't really gonna die. Danny reacts in shock just before the bomb blows.
  • Played With in the Gravity Falls episode "Society of the Blind Eye," as the characters are about to have their memories erased when they make their confessions.
    Soos: Guys, if we’re gonna die today I got some stuff I wanna get off my chest. Mabel, for half the summer I thought your name was "Maple," like the syrup. No one corrected me!
    Mabel: I only love some of my stuffed animals and the guilt is killing me!
    Dipper: Sometimes I use big words and don’t actually know what they mean. I mean, I’m supposed to be The Smart Guy! If I’m not the smart guy, then who am I?
    Wendy: I’m not actually laid back! I’m stressed like 24/7. HAVE YOU MET MY FAMILY?!
  • In the Family Guy episode where everybody thinks the Earth will get crushed in a black hole (but it turns out to be an April Fools' Plot by the local news), Peter admits that he hates the kids. They settle their differences when he buys them a new Xbox.
  • King of the Hill had Hank and his friends do this when it looked like they would drown. Probably the highlight:
    Bill: I have a confession too Hank. In a moment of weakness on a dark rainy night, I slept with Peggy.
    Hank: No, you didn't, Bill.
    Bill: (disappointed) I know.
  • The Loud House: In "Snow Way Down", while flying through the air after sledding off the Ramp of Insanity, and convinced they won’t survive the landing, Harold confesses to Howard he doesn’t really like his beef bourguignon, and Howard confesses he secretly goes to the donut shop when he’s supposed to go to the gym. After they land safely, they jokingly call each other out about their confessions.
  • On one episode of Milo Murphy's Law Cavendish attempts to do this when he and Dakota drive off a cliff:
    Cavendish: "Since we're going to die anyway I'd like to air some grievances...!"
  • Subverted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of My Excess". After Spike goes back to being a baby dragon, he tries to admit to Rarity, who's falling to what could be her death with him, that he has a crush on her, but she just shuts him up because she already knew, before being saved by Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One episode features Smithers, thinking that an Apocalypse of some kind is coming, getting the nerve to kiss Mr. Burns. They exchange a very awkward "see you in the office" after the Apocalypse turned out to be just a promotional gimmick by a Shopping Mall.
    • In another episode, where there's about to be a nuclear meltdown:
      Smithers: There may never be another chance to say: I love you, sir.
      Mr. Burns: Oh, hot dog. Thanks for making my last moments on Earth socially awkward.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Graveyard Shift" has SpongeBob and Squidward doing this as the Hash Slinging Slasher approaches them.
    Squidward: SpongeBob, no matter what I've said, I've always sorta liked you.
    SpongeBob: Squidward, I used your clarinet to unclog my toilet.
    Squidward: Huh?
  • Used in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Voyage Of Temptation, when the Duchess Satine is being held at gunpoint by a traitorous member of her court and confesses her undying love to Obi-wan Kenobi. He admits his own, although not without some reluctance.
  • The Wild Thornberrys: In "Thornberry Island", when the family is trapped in a flooding cave, Nigel takes the opportunity to confess that he is not always fearless when it comes to standing next to a wild animal, Marianne admits that she is actually nervous when she acts like she is on top of things, and Debbie admits to Eliza that she thinks there are sisters geekier than her out there. When Eliza is about to reveal that she can talk to animals, the water reaches all the way above their heads and they manage to swim out of the cave. At the end of the episode, Marianne asks Eliza what she was saying about animals.

    Real Life 
  • Thomas Paine wrote The Age of Reason while imprisoned during the French Revolution. He fully expected to be executed, and thus felt free to write down his controversial opinions about religion. As it turned out, he was eventually released.