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Planning for the Future Before the End

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"And as always happens when a soldier dies, we discussed business ideas."
Peter Griffin, reenacting Forrest Gump, "Oscars Guy"

Sometimes, people give one Final Speech before they die. Other times, they'll tell their comrades that It Has Been an Honor, or to their loved one that they're Sorry That I'm Dying or give a Pre-Sacrifice Final Goodbye. In this scenario, however, they completely avoid the subject. Rather than discuss their impending doom (or their loved one's), they'll have a casual conversation about something completely unrelated. Maybe they'll make plans for a date, or talk about how lovely their home is this time of year and that they should visit soon. Of course, they (and the audience) are well aware that those plans will never be.

This is usually used as a means to either comfort the one that is dying or comfort the one left alive who is witnessing their loved one's death. Sometimes, a character isn't dying at all and is just being Put on a Bus, and the two are just avoiding any overt showing of emotion. Sadly, in the case of a character actually dying, one will usually die while it's their turn to talk, leaving the anguished survivor desperately trying to continue the conversation. An especially tragic bit can be if one person dies unnoticed (at least at first) in the middle of such a conversation.

Although this is, for the most part, a Death Trope (and thus spoileriffic), this one has far more exceptions than most. As mentioned above, there are times when one character is just saying goodbye. Other times, the characters end up getting out just fine in the end. Compare My Death Is Only The Beginning, where a character (usually a villain) makes a detailed plan for after they die. Contrast Retirony, where the plans are made, but the character(s) have no sense of their impending doom.

Compare If We Get Through This…


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Angel Beats! contains an obvious example of this trope, when the main character Otonashi promises to his dying little sister that he is going to make this Christmas night the best possible. For more tearjerking, she dies on his back, without him noticing, after thanking him.
  • A particularly heart-wrenching example occurs in CLANNAD: as his wife, Nagisa, dies during childbirth, Tomoya goes on talking to her optimistically about all of the fun they're going to have as a family whilst holding their newborn baby.
  • In Code Geass, as Euphemia dies after being mortally wounded by Lelouch, Suzaku tearfully begs her to join him and his friends at Ashford Academy. Euphie gently rejects the idea, having already accepted that her time is up, and tells Suzaku to continue on in school for both of them.
  • In Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, Tai and Matt spend the end of the movie with Agumon and Gabumon separately, during their final moments before the latter two vanish. Agumon and Gabumon each ask Tai and Matt what they plan on doing the next day, and before the two can answer, they have already disappeared.
  • In the animated adaptation of Hakuouki, Chizuru tries to encourage the grievously wounded Yamazaki that he must get better soon because there'll be lots of injured in the war, and as the Shinsengumi's primary medic he'll be needed to tend the wounded. It doesn't help.
  • In Hell Teacher Nube, this happens when Nuubee, after his Love Epiphany, rescues an already badly injured Yukime from her father's Battle Butler. As he carries her away while talking about what they'll do now that they're together, poor Yukime whispers "I... I'll love you... always..." and passes on. He doesn't notice until he reaches for his students and Ritsuko, and then Yukime's body starts disappearing and melting into snowflakes... (Don't worry, she gets better, but it takes quite the effort and time.)
  • Macross Delta: In Absolute Live, Hayate and Freyja engage in this when the latter is near death due to crystallisation, making plans to live their lives out together on an apple farm on Windermere. Hayate manages to fulfil half the plan; while Freyja dies before they can do so, Hayate is seen tending an apple farm with his adopted daughter in The Stinger.
  • PandoraHearts has a more stealthy example. While approaching the series' Final Dungeon, Oz suggests having a tea party after the Grand Finale and everyone gets excited. Within a few hours of that conversation, though, over half their group is dead including him. While at first it seemed like cruel irony, flashbacks reveal that Oz had been aware he was going to die, making his tea party conversation a fridge example of this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • In Justice League Beyond, we learn in Warhawk's A Day in the Limelight flashback story that after the events of Justice League Unlimited, his father Green Lantern/John Stewart was going to propose to Vixen. However, Shadow Thief kills her right as he proposes. As John rushes her to the Watchtower med bay, she uses her final breath to say yes. For the record, John ends up marrying Shayera afterwards.

    Films — Animated 
  • Subverted in Monsters vs. Aliens. After The Missing Link and Dr. Cockroach are telling each other It Has Been an Honor, B.O.B. tells them he'll see them tomorrow for lunch. Both agree, adding details that make the oblivious B.O.B. incredibly excited at the prospect:
    The Missing Link: It's been an honor knowing you, Doc.
    Dr. Cockroach: The feeling's mutual, my friend.
    B.O.B.: I'll see you guys tomorrow... for lunch.
    The Missing Link: That's right, Bob.
    Dr. Cockroach: There'll be candy and cake... balloons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Alexander, the title character does this as his best friend/lover Hephaistion lies dying. As he describes the lands they'll conquer in the future, he wanders to the window to gaze toward those lands, and as he does so, Hephaistion dies unnoticed behind his back.
  • In Camille (1936), Armand tries to assure the dying Marguerite that a Happily Ever After life lies in wait for them as he cradles her in his arms. She dies without him noticing as he describes his vision of their future.
  • A big Tear Jerker part of Finding Neverland. It counts as Peter's Berserk Button, as he hates grown-ups lying to him and sees adults planning for the future when it's obvious that they're going to die as lying to act like everything will be alright. Before his father died he and his mother were making plans for a family fishing trip. Peter's mother, even as she's dying herself, continues to do housework because no one but her can take care of her three sons.
  • The obscure late-90's film Last Night is about an unspecified, but unpreventable, cosmic disaster that's going to destroy the planet. The whole movie is about the last few hours of life on Earth, with a special focus on a man and a woman (who are total strangers to each other) planning on committing suicide. Instead, just as the destruction begins, they kiss and listen to music.
  • Related: In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, when Frodo's lost all hope of even reaching Mordor, Sam perks him up by planning out loud how to ration their food for the trip back home. All Frodo can do in response is look at him.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Planet Terror, just before the dying Hague brothers detonate the explosives that ultimately kill them, they plan to open up a new barbecue restaurant together, with JT revealing his secret recipe.
    JT Hague: You just remember: you gotta take this recipe to your grave.
    Sheriff Hague: I think I can damn near guarantee that.
  • At the end of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Dodge and Penny lay down in his bed and share small talk about her childhood to distract themselves from the impact of the giant asteroid that is about to decimate the planet and destroy all life on it. It turns into a variation of Dying Declaration of Love when they confess their love for one another—neither of them is in any pain, but they're both about to die.
  • In Star Trek (2009), George Kirk has a conversation with his wife on what to name their son. All the while, he's being totally awesome and securing the escape of his wife and crew.

  • One of the most famous and touching scenes in The Iliad is Hector visiting with his family. His wife Andromache knows that Troy will fall and begs him not to go. Hector then goes to his son Astyanax and accidentally scares him with his helmet. After taking it off, he holds his son and prays to Zeus, blessing his son to be a greater warrior and leader than himself. Therefore this is Older Than Feudalism.
  • One of the greatest moments of this is in Of Mice and Men where George talks to Lennie about their plans for the farm and the rabbits to distract Lennie before George shoots him in the back of the head out of kindness, before Curley kills him instead. It is such a heartbreaking moment...
  • A lot of this happens in Nevil Shute's On the Beach, as everyone tries to face the end with peace and dignity. People continue tending their gardens as if there will be a next season, that sort of thing.
  • In the third installment of A Song of Ice and Fire, Jon has something of a one-sided version of this with his Love Interest, the dying Ygritte. As Jon holds Ygritte, he tells her that she'll be fixed up, that she'll see a hundred castles, and that they'll return to their cave together. Her response is simply, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
  • In Star Wars: Vision of the Future, Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade share a hilariously deadpan Dying Declaration of Love when it looks like they're done for.
    Luke: Mara... will you marry me?
    Mara: You mean if we get out of here alive?
    Luke: I mean regardless.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy, Xander, and Willow discuss going to the mall the next day while preparing for the Final Battle. Unsurprisingly, all three of them survive (though the mall is destroyed, leading Dawn to comment that she fought on the wrong side).
    • Two seasons earlier, Xander proposed to Anya just as they go off to stop the Apocalypse (again).
  • Game of Thrones: Jon Snow tells Ygritte that they will go back to their secret cave together. Her response is simply, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
    • Also Grey Worm and Missandei planning for a future in her homeland...right before the castle they're in comes under siege from an undead army 100,000 strong.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In the prelude before the battle against the Orcs, Arondir and Bronwyn share several moments alone. Arondir gifts Bronwyn his alfirin seeds and asks her to plant one as do the Elves when a battle is about to occur. Arondir explains her that Elves believe that some of the Valar watches over all the growing things than leads her hand to a trunk of a nearby tree. He promises they will live to plant the other one together with Theo in a new garden.
  • The Office invokes this trope in "Goodbye, Michael," when Jim finds out Michael is leaving a day earlier than he claimed. The two make plans for lunch the next day, even though Michael will be gone, and Jim tells him all the things he "plans" to tell him. A tearful Michael tells him that he can't wait.
  • Quantico: Simon asks Raina if she wants to grab a tea with him some time as he's driving to his death.

  • "A Little Fall of Rain" from Les MisĂ©rables is this trope for Marius and Eponine. While Eponine insists that she's at peace with the prospect of dying, Marius attempts to assure her that she'll survive somehow. Later, in the show's final scene, Cosette does the same thing as Jean Valjean is dying.
  • In the last act of La Traviata, the duet "Parigi, o cara" has Violetta and Alfredo imagining a Happily Ever After future in the country, just a few minutes before Violetta succumbs to her Incurable Cough of Death.
  • West Side Story: As Tony lies dying in Maria's arms, the two discuss how they're going to get away because no one will let them be. She starts to sing a reprise of a song about how they will leave. He dies before she can finish.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy X had this as a major and very well developed plot point for the first 3/4 of the game where Tidus and Yuna talked about what they were going to do after defeating Sin with the Final Aeon; they did this all the way up to just before entering Zanarkand. When Tidus learns that Yuna's death would be a part of the summoning, it crushes him as he thinks about how much time they spent talking about the future beyond Sin's death. Towards the end of the game, it actually switches around as Tidus keeps secret that he will disappear when they stop Yu Yevon.
    • It also acts as a subversion. With Tidus and Rikku hell-bent on finding another way and Auron quietly (but awesomely) backing the idea, Yuna eventually rejects the whole idea that she has to die and twist a loved one into the next Sin, culminating in Final Fantasy X-2 where she tells someone who plans a Heroic Sacrifice "your plan sucks!"
  • KanColle: Shoukaku's marriage line has her telling the Admiral to wait until after the Mariana campaign. Her historical counterpart never made it.
  • In each of the Mass Effect games, Shepard and their crew have every reason to believe that they're not going to survive the final confrontation against Saren (Mass Effect)/the Suicide Mission (Mass Effect 2)/the final push against the Reapers (Mass Effect 3). That doesn't stop them from making plans.
    • Mass Effect: Ashley refuses to tell Shepard that she loves him until after they defeat Saren.
    • Mass Effect 2: During their romance path, Shepard and Thane can make plans to visit a desert. This one's especially tragic because, even in the off chance that both Shepard and Thane survive the suicide mission, Thane has roughly nine months to live (and eventually gets killed by Kai Leng in 3).
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • If Shepard romanced Garrus, their final conversation in London consists of them calmly discussing whether to start a family after the war is over. Romanced Liara will also lament how disappointed their "little blue children" will be that she didn't have a speech ready.
      • And if Shepard romanced Samantha, she promises to take her to Vancouver after the Reapers are defeated. Sam is not impressed. ("Not Paris. Not Venice. Vancouver." "It's a lovely city!" "You never take me anywhere nice.")
  • In Persona 3, the members of SEES make a plan to meet on Graduation Day, even though they have every reason to believe that the world will end before that day ever arrives.
    • Along the same lines, during the Christmas Eve date with Akihiko in the female protagonist's route in Persona 3 Portable, he gives her a music box and promises to give her something to put in it every year.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck: The last thing uranianUmbra does before taking her (possibly final) nap is to call Roxy and confide in her: her true name, her real species, her species' nature, and the relationship between herself and her brother. The first and last ones are most important to this trope: if somebody says her name to her brother, he will fall asleep and she will wake up, and vice versa. She leaves Roxy with her name so that if she never wakes up on her own, Roxy can contact her brother and do it herself.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in The Simpsons "Lisa the Skeptic": Edna suggests she and Skinner have sex one last time before the end. Skinner agrees, but true to form, asks her to wait a little so he can finish signing some tardy slips. Not even a possible apocalypse can keep Skinner from upholding the school rules.


Video Example(s):


Cap Crashes the Valkyrie

In order to save New York, Captain America crashes the Valkyrie into the Arctic. On the way down, Steve and Peggy discuss their upcoming date.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeroicSacrifice

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