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Financial planner: You haven't set aside anything for the future.
Wiggum: Well, you know how it is with cops. I'll get shot three days before retirement. In the business, we call it "retirony".
Planner: Well, what if you don't get shot?
Wiggum: What a terrible thing to say! Now look, you made my wife cry!

AKA: "Died with X days left until retirement".

Retirony is a portmanteau of retirement and Irony, though how much of the latter it has is up for debate. Retirony is a way to make the audience feel sorry for a character's death without having to actually give him more than ten minutes of screen time. Anybody in a dangerous job who's only a few days away from retirement or flying one last mission before going home to marry their childhood sweetheart is absolutely doomed to death by Retirony, whether that takes the form of a cold-blooded criminal, an ace German fighter pilot or a great big robotic monster.

Just alluding to the existence of a character's family or showing a photo of them is enough for the audience to get the idea: the guy has a life outside of being a Red Shirt.

In the rare case that an exception is made, it is usually because the character is "going home to" a child, especially one his wife gave birth to after he shipped out — perhaps Improbable Infant Survival has a proxy effect? If enough of this happens, they essentially get "promoted" up to Mauve Shirt, or leave for good, alive.

Retirony is rarely played straight anymore since it has become such a well-known and joked about trope.

Probably not intentional on part of the authors, but one way to interpret Retirony is to think of how fitting it is, as a fate for the Cosmic Plaything. Suppose that God or Fate is a jerk who nevertheless cares a lot about whatever cause the "retiree" character is working for. In that case, it fits the purposes of fate perfectly to let him survive until it's time to retire, but as soon as he's got no more victories to win, then he's outlived his usefulness and there's no reason not to let him suffer if that's more fun to watch.

Compare Died on Their Birthday, where death ironically coincides with another life milestone.

See also Tempting Fate, Fatal Family Photo, If We Get Through This…, Nothing Can Stop Us Now!, Nothing Can Save Us Now and Resignations Not Accepted. Related to Yank the Dog's Chain. Contrast Crusading Widow, where the one to die is the cop's family. Also contrast First Day from Hell, where someone's new career starts on a very bad note instead of ending on one. For the equivalent in material goods, see some variants of Action Insurance Gag.

Not to be confused with retroactive Irony.

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


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    Advertising and Public Service Announcements 
  • Workplace Insurance Safety Board (WSIB): The Toronto, Ontario-based group produced a series of PSAs in 2006 and 2007 detailing the consequences of neglecting safety in the workplace. At least two of them feature a form of Retirony:
    • A young sous chef who takes the brunt of an accident involving her slipping on a patch of grease while carrying a pot of boiling hot water. One second, she is talking about her engagement and dream wedding, and plans to become head chef at the upscale restaurant she is working; the next second, she is screaming in pain, having had the water spilled on her.
    • A construction worker who falls to his death after being blown off a tall building when his torch ignites several liquid gas tanks near where he is working. One second, he is detailing plans to take his family on an extended vacation (and also sharing other family accomplishments); an instant later, he lands so hard on the roof of a passing truck his body bounces to the pavement.
  • An insurance company one: two friends are in a food court; one is a thin active cyclist who is berating the other, a large overweight slob gorging on a cheeseburger and fries. The skinny fellow is telling his friend that his diet and lifestyle will kill him, whereas the fit friend will live for years. Then the fast-food sign falls from the ceiling, crushing the skinny guy.
  • The Days of Our Years, a safety PSA produced by Union Pacific, tells three stories of rail workers whose happily-ever-afters never came to pass because of the unnecessary risks they took with their safety. The straightest example in the film is the story of George and Fred, two lifelong best friends who are looking forward to retiring together and spending time with their families. Unfortunately, George (who had been feeling unwell and decided to come to work instead of seeing a doctor) had a heart attack while operating heavy machinery, causing an accident and killing Fred. Naturally, Mike and the Bots can't help but crack wise.
    Narrator: If (George) could only hold out until retirement time.
    Crow T. Robot: It's at five o'clock today.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In an early chapter of 20th Century Boys, a legendary police detective collapses in the street and dies when he is just one week away from retirement (While on his way to his grandson's birthday party, no less). In this case, there is a reason for the timing. He had just passed on a case he had been working on to a trusted colleague. Unfortunately for him, the colleague was actually working for the enemy and decided He Knows Too Much.
  • Tony from Baccano! probably sets a new record for this: he survives all of thirty seconds after the retirement announcement before one of Russo's lackeys kills him and steals his uniform. This winds up actually being relevant to the plot.
  • Aberline in Black Butler and his fiance were expecting a baby. He dies when he jumps in front of Ciel when Lau lunges at him with his sword. Ciel later sends gifts for the baby to Aberline's fiance.
  • In Black Cat, Sven's old partner Lloyd is revealed to have died shortly after buying his daughter a present.
  • In Bomberman Jetters, Shirobon's older brother Mighty was becoming increasingly frustrated with his obsession in mastering the Bomberman fighting style as he served the Jetters team. He eventually reached his breaking point when his best friend and partner Birdy was wounded in an earlier mission and Shiro was abducted by Mujoe, and before that had learned of how much Shiro missed him during his time away. The stress of it all eventually drove him to the point that he admitted that was wasn't cut out for this heroic business and pledged to his brother before departing again that the next mission would be his final. Naturally, He is killed in a trap just as he was about to finish the mission by MechaDoc and his newly made android MA-0/Zero.
  • In Code Geass, Euphie tells Lelouch that during the launch of the SAZ, she will abdicate her position as a princess of Britannia, allowing her to spend time with him and Nunnally without fear of their father finding them. Not even a few minutes, and Lelouch's Geass flares up when he jokes about ordering her to kill the Japanese, which forces him to kill her.
  • In episode 8 of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Despair, Yukizome reassures a concerned Ryota that she will definitely be victorious against Junko, that everything will be fine, and that when Yukizome returns they can chill out and watch anime together. Junko doesn't kill Yukizome, but she might as well have.
  • A very strange subversion and something of a Tear Jerker in retrospect: Huang's griping during the end of the first season of Darker than Black. He complains about having to schlep people around and says he's going to retire and spend the rest of his life fishing, and shortly afterwards Hei somewhat jokingly tells him to quit smoking since it'll shorten his life. He dies shortly afterward after luring the Syndicate agents following him into a car chase, but it's shown at the last minute that ''he'd already been shot''. He knew he was dying during his talk about retiring, and in all likelihood, Hei did as well.
  • Death Note, episode 5: FBI agent Ray Penbar is talking to his fiancée about the family they're going to have, right before Light takes control of him and kills him. Though, in this case, the fact that he ignored his former FBI agent fiancee's advice and reminded her she wouldn't need to think after they get married undermines the sympathy. The wife, on the other hand, is definitely sympathetic (though is still subjected to misogyny).
  • Fire Force: Played for some dark laughs in the chapters where the army and the Fire Force members are exploring the nether. There's a sequence where, whenever a soldier is confronted by an infernal, it abruptly cuts to a flashback of what the soldier's life was, with typical applications of the trope, followed by their unceremonious death. It's even Double Subverted when one soldier appears to survive because his only happy memories were promising himself to buy a sneaker, just to get killed immediately after. And then, just to stick it to this trope even further, it's averted completely when the one new character we had gotten to know is killed just as suddenly, without a happy flashback to go along with it.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the first important character to die is Maes Hughes, who was one of the few characters in the series with a still-living family. A running gag in the series was that he would constantly talk about his daughter or wife. This is also lampshaded when during a flashback to the Ishvalan war, Hughes gets a letter from his then-girlfriend and immediately worries that other men might be taking advantage of his absence. Mustang is quick to point out that in movies and novels such talks are a sure-fire way to get the bullet.
  • The Galaxy Railways II, episode 10. A plague is accidentally released on a planet. Two people there are going to get married. You can guess what happens.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam: In the midst of a protracted Zanscare assault on Earth, Zanscare's Lt. Duker Iq proposes to his subordinate, Renda, after learning of her own plans to live peacefully on Earth after the war. True to the form of this trope, both Iq's carrier flagship and Renda's mobile suit are destroyed in the battle that takes place immediately afterwards.
    • Gundam 0083 combines Retirony with His Name Is... to make it blindingly obvious that the character in question is gonna bite it. South Burning opens an episode with his annual physical, where the doctor comments that he should consider retiring soon. Later in the episode Burning muses on getting in touch with his estranged wife after the Zeon remnants are defeated. Then he decides to take a look at the Zeon battle plans he managed to liberate from a destroyed ship in the midst of the most recent battle.
  • Subverted in Higurashi: When They Cry, when Ooishi, who is putting off his retirement for one last case, dies in a few arcs. Also subverted with Akasaka, an almost father: Rika tells Akasaka something terrible will happen if he does not go back to his family. Since the series has many innocent-turned-murderers running around, one would expect Akasaka to be the one to die, but instead, his wife does, all the way back in the city. His daughter lives. In other arcs, the wife and child both die or are both fine.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency: Mark, a German soldier, shows up to assist Joseph, and within his introduction says that he and his girlfriend are getting married once he gets to leave. Several minutes later, he's dead.
    • Golden Wind: Right before Narancia dies he begins talking about everything the team is going to do once The Boss is defeated. Wanting to get through high school, being there for Trish, seeing Fugo again, eating some piping hot pizza and getting his life together. He dies a few seconds afterward.
  • Played to the hilt in episode 4 of Katanagatari, where the show goes far, far out of its way to build up viewer sympathy when a ninja mook goes on for several minutes about his plans to go home and get married after this one last mission, only to have one of the protagonists brutally kill him.
  • Lampshaded and parodied in Kidō Senshi Gundam-san. The original TV series and movie have one of Char's comrades killed off during atmospheric entry. In the parody version, just before they launch, the same soldier shows Char a picture of his sweetheart and tells him they're planning to get married once the war is over. Char attempts to stop him, to no avail. Cut to the unfortunate victim plunging to earth, and Char going "I knew it."
    • In the original series, there's a retroactive case: Lt. Matilda and Lt. Woody were planning to get married after Operation Odessa. Matilda performs a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the Black Tri-Stars from destroying Gundam during that operation. The viewer (and White Base crew) only learn about her fiance and engagement several episodes later.
  • Subverted in Last Exile: a soldier mentions that he only needs two more battle survival medals to retire, right before a hopeless battle in which it's clear that everyone is going to die. The battle is then cancelled, and the soldier survives. Subverted even more when that same soldier develops a relationship with a former enemy and makes a promise with her that they would both survive; later he appears to die after having saved the day, complete with all the trappings you would normally expect from this sort of death scene...and then, at the end of the last episode, he is shown to still be alive and living with that former enemy.
  • One episode of Madlax featured an assassin going on one last job before retiring — to kill Carrossea Doon. He fails and is killed by Limelda.
  • The Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro anime has a policeman obsessed with Cop Shows who attempts to invoke this trope on himself through a complicated plot involving killing cops which he frames a criminal for. It doesn't work.
  • Happens several times in Monster. In an early episode, Tenma meets a disgruntled journalist with whom he eventually becomes friends with. The poor guy tells Tenma about his family that left him and eventually promises to quit smoking on the doctor's advice. He never gets the chance.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, Iwamoto and Furuya fall into this trope not long after their boss reveals that they, two wardens at the Arcanum prison, are engaged. Furuya falsely accuses Imai of being the shape-shifting ghost, Face-Ripper Sophie, prompting Iwamoto to take Furuya and try to leave the island. As Iwamoto talks about his plans to live with Furuya in the mountains, it turns out that Sophie had killed and impersonated Furuya. Sophie then reveals herself and proceeds to kill Iwamoto.
  • Naruto:
    • One person in the only Official Couple (Asuma/Kurenai), with a kid on the way.
    • Earlier in the series, Hayate Gekkou. While investigating his death, one of the ANBU mentions the fact that he was engaged... to the woman currently staring at his broken sword. Ouch.
  • One Piece: Mother Carmel posed as a pious nun taking care of orphans in the House of Lambs but in reality she was a child trafficker who used the the orphanage as a front to both acquire children and sell them to the highest bidder. She took care of a 5 years old Charlotte Linlin and raised her. Eventually, Carmel grown tired of running her business and dealing with kids and decided that selling Charlotte and the rest of the children to the Marines would be her One Last Job. Unfortunately, Carmel and the other orphans mysteriously disappeared on Linlin's sixth birthday.
  • The third episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Mami being happy about having finally made true friends and no longer having to suffer about being a Magical Girl on her own anymore, making her talk about having a party with her new friends after they kill the Monster of the Week. Chomp. Interestingly, in this case it was actually unpredictable, even to many Genre Savvy viewers, since it was three episodes in and the Deconstructor Fleet nature of the show hadn't revealed itself yet.
  • The Record of Lodoss War OVA includes a random unnamed soldier of the Holy Kingdom of Valis in the episode "The War of Heroes". At the beginning of the episode, Parn notices a pendant on his neck, and the soldier says it was a gift from his son for good luck. At the end of the episode, when the battle is over, amongst the dead, the pendant is found on a soldier's corpse, presumably the Red Shirt from the beginning.
  • In the second-to-last episode of the first season of Sailor Moon, the girls decide not to say any "just in case" goodbyes before fighting the final battle, instead choosing to think about where their lives will take them afterward. By the end of the episode, all but Usagi are dead. On the other hand, Usagi's wish revives them.
  • Subverted in Samurai 7 by Shichiroji. He has a fiance, and fully intends to marry her when he returns from his One Last Job. He is one of the three Samurai who survives the series.
  • Suitengu in Speed Grapher has a case of this, despite not actually dying. As an enslaved child soldier he's in his last mission before being set free when everything, of course, goes wrong, and he ends up the only survivor, experimented on and imbued with strange new powers that reshape the rest of his life.
  • In the first episode of Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry, the Grabera students are preparing to graduate and become glorious Humongous Mecha pilots just like Sara's brother. Guess who swoops in and kills everyone but Sara.
  • Sent up (like many cliches) in The Tower of Druaga.
    • In the first episode, as they face the Crimson Knight, Black Knight (), poor, faceless armoured Utu completely out of the blue says he will go home and get married "just after they finish the battle with Crimson Knight, Black Knight." This despite having gone through many battles before this, without saying anything. He then charges straight at the Black/Crimson Knight by himself and gets skewered. Then, to show there is no possibility that he could have survived, there's a Say My Name moment (UTUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!) as well as an on-screen text which says "Utu has died".
    • And again, later in the episode, after the earlier-defeated Crimson Knight, Black Knight saves the protagonist because he's The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, the Crimson Knight, Black Knight makes the mistake of saying the exact same thing. The caption "taboo words" flashes on the screen, and he is killed the next moment by dragonfire. Finally, in the protagonist's final confrontation with the Big Bad, the Big Bad says it too.
    • It's referenced again in the very last episode of the last season, a sort of lampshading of the previous lampshading. Right before the big final battle, at a point where we could legitimately expect a main character to die in a non-joke scene (this being the final episode, and after some have already died earlier), Utu actually proposes to Fatina.
      • Notably, she turns him down immediately, which is probably directly responsible for the fact that everyone survived that battle. Smart move.
  • Rinne seems prone to causing this in ViVid Strike!. Two of her opponents note how it'll be their last tournament (in Miura's case it's more that she'll be too old to be in the U-15 bracket), only to be curb-stomped by her. Subverted for Lyra, as her defeat actually convinced her to keep going even if only at a local level.
  • In Voltes V, General Oka dies in the same episode when he decides to retire.
  • The finale of the "Springdale Five-YO" sketches in Yo-kai Watch lampshades this to hell and back. Komasan announces that he's turning in his badge after their next case, and Whisper proceeds to go on a tangent about how every time a character on a cop show says that, it always ends badly for them. In the end, as always, Komasan remains unharmed and Whisper is the one who gets "killed" instead.

    Comic Books 
  • Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in Scott Snyder's Batman. Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock are discussing whether or not Jim has what it takes to be the new Batman, but after seeing that one of the other candidates is a young cop whose wife just gave birth to a baby, Bullock immediately concludes that it has to be Jim.
  • Subverted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, in which Commissioner Jim Gordon, mere days away from forced retirement, is accosted by gang members on his way home from work. Via narration, he says that he's thinking of his wife, and... Cut to a newscast, as the newscaster says that Commissioner Gordon was shot dead... before correcting herself and saying that he shot the gang members dead.
  • In Civil War II #0, Barack Obama suggests that War Machine retire and enter a career in politics, arguing that he's not getting any younger and won't be able to be an Avenger forever. War Machine is then killed by Thanos a short time later, which kicks off the main conflict of the series. Something of an odd case due to Comic-Book Time in that James Rhodes debuted as a character in 1979 and was portrayed as a Vietnam vet at the time and has been an Avenger on and off for over 30 years (became Iron Man in 1983) without having aged a day.
  • Crossed: One + 100 story has some East Coast hunters sent to clean out some tunnels of the last known Crossed enclave in the state. Veteran hunter Bloom comments that the stress of the job has been getting to him and that if he never sees another Crossed face again after this, then he'll be as happy as if he were at a family reunion. A couple of pages later, he's killed in a surprise attack.
  • The opening arc of Detective Comics (Rebirth) has Tim Drake deciding that he wants to retire from crime fighting so he can attend college and try to live a normal life. He ends up performing a Heroic Sacrifice to save hundreds of people, and the story ends with Bruce breaking down after finding Tim's acceptance letter. Subverted when it later turns out that Tim survived, but is now being held captive by Mr. Oz.
  • Marvel Comics 2 Played straight. When Captain America concedes that he is past his prime but won't retire until after the current crisis is resolved you know that he's a dead man. Since it was a side continuity it was a death that would stick.
  • In the Garth Ennis World War II story Happy Valley, an Australian bomber crew are terrified that this trope will apply when their Ace Pilot receives a Career-Ending Injury and they are assigned an Ensign Newbie replacement when they only have three missions to go before their bombing tours end. All of the veterans survive, but their young pilot has to make a Heroic Sacrifice to get the damaged plane home during their last mission.
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe: In Mickey Mouse and Friends #303, some of the cop cars get broken after a run-in with Mickey's new spy-car that had only a day until retirement.
  • A Pegasus guard invokes this trope in My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic when Twilight Sparkle makes him unlock the door of the cell where Queen Chrysalis and her Changelings are locked in order to give a book to the Queen.
  • Parodied in Nextwave, where we open up one issue meeting Officer Mangel at the start of his last week on the job. Turns out he takes cuts from drug dealers in the neighbourhood, robs a guy — who's been nearly blinded by other muggers — because they took his wallet but missed his billfoldnote  and takes a cut from the local flophouse. By the time something evil burrows into his chest, the reader is happy to see him get his comeuppance. He survives, whereupon his "friends" come to take him off Nextwave's hands after Aaron and Tabitha have kicked him around a bit.
  • In The Punisher MAX miniseries Born, Stevie is down to "thirty-nine days and a wake-up" before he can leave Vietnam behind for good. You can guess what happens to him by the story's end.
  • There's a scene in Scion where a Raven Red Shirt goes off to fight the Herons after a reference to his wife and daughter has been established. He dies (pretty quickly, too) and the "camera" even lingers on his corpse for awhile as the battle rages on.
  • The "Secret Invasion" arc of Black Panther opens with the Skrull villain narrating that after completing this mission to conquer Wakanda, he will have enough money to retire. He dies.
  • Sin City. Detective John Hartigan was on his last hour of his last day before retirement, as soon as he rescued skinny little Nancy Callahan. Too bad he lives in Sin City. He ended up being shot in the back by his partner, framed for raping the child he saved from an actual child rapist, then thrown into jail where he was resuscitated so that he could be beaten up some more, and then forced to confess to the accusations.
  • Lampshaded in Spider-Island:
    Iron Fist: Focus, Gravity! No one is dying today!
    Luke Cage: Well, not me! I've got a brand new baby girl to come home to!
    Iron Fist: Why'd you have to say that, Luke? Now you've jinxed it.
  • In Spider-Man/Deadpool #28, in Spidey's flashback, one of the civilians who nearly gets killed says she's only two weeks from retirement. Subverted since Spidey manages to save them all. Inverted in Wade's version, which replaces the civilians with a superhero team that the book's writer, Robbie Thompson really wants to exist. The recently restored from Comic-Book Limbo Crystar says he was only two weeks out of retirement.
  • Star Wars Tales: Jedi Padawan Obs Kaj develops I Just Want to Be Normal feelings during the Clone Wars and decides to leaves the order after one last mission. That mission turns out to be a trap set to collect Jedi bounties, and Obs dies.
  • In the Suicide Squad and Doom Patrol Special, all of the members of Rick Flag's team have one mission left before they are legally pardoned. This includes the Thinker, who plans to abandon his life of crime in favor of a peaceful civilian existence once the mission is over. Unsurprisingly, he's the first one to die when the shit hits the fan.
  • Supergirl story "Supergirl's Big Brother": Before being killed in action, soldier Jan Danvers tells he intends to use his grandfather's inheritance to go into his father's engineering business when the war ends.
  • In an Ultimate Marvel example, a middle-aged ex-assassin is seen playing with his grandchildren before being called out of retirement to kill Nick Fury. It's a trap (by Fury) and he gets killed.
  • In the last issue of X-Statix, the team decides to go on one final mission before going their separate ways. None of them survive the mission. Even Dead Girl appears to die for good.

    Fan Works 
  • Bobbies On Bicylces, Two by Two: In this fanfic, Arabella Figg's husband Lieutenant Adam Figg died "two weeks before he had been scheduled to retire".
  • Falling Stars: Poor Misao is unfortunate enough to meet this fate, going out with a smile.
  • Ferris: During Arc 3, Schmidt declares that she wants to spend more time with her kids after their mission is completed. This spurs Tony to remark on his relationship with Pepper, setting him up to be the one that doesn't make it back.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Taylor, PRT Sergeant Rodrigez is only a few days away from retirement before getting assigned to the Slasher Mist case. Fortunately for him, Starfall's intervention saves his life.
  • Book 5: Legends: Lin Beifong hasn't quite set their retirement date yet; however, the fact that they were thinking about and preparing to eventually do so hints that they aren't long for this world... and intend, their abrupt demise is used to establish one of the villains as a Hero Killer.
  • In Released From Fate's Games, the Muggleborn head of security at Azkaban is close to graduating from Oxford and leaving his crappy job forever when he dies while fighting a corrupt co-worker.
  • Played with in Sluagh, as Neville is on his last case with the Aurors. Needless to say, he dies then comes back to life.
  • A Piece of Rebellion: Bad Cop honestly believes that after Taco Tuesday, President Business will let them retire and return home to live happily with their beloved parents. Good Cop doesn't quite share his confidence.
  • A New World (Iced Fairy): Hitomi Hakurei is set to retire and pass her duties down to her daughter, but winds up dying shortly before she can do so peacefully.

    Films — Animated 
  • Héctor in Coco had decided to give up the life of a traveling musician and return home to his family, but then died from eating some bad chorizo. Or so he thought. He was actually murdered by his partner who then stole all his unpublished lyrics, making it more a case of Resignations Not Accepted.
  • In Epic (2013) Queen Tara is on her last day of being in charge. When she's picking her replacement, the villains show up, and well...
  • In The LEGO Ninjago Movie, a Shark Army General announces he has one day until retirement before he's blasted by one of Lloyd's Dragon Mech's missiles. Subverted when it's revealed he survived and he appears in later scenes, but it doesn't stop him from being fired by Garmadon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1986 movie Aliens, after the initial battle with the titular creatures goes to hell in a handbasket and it becomes clear to the survivors that they are trapped without assistance, PFC Hudson (played by Bill Paxton) rants "Aww man, I was getting short, too, four more weeks and out, now I'm gonna buy it on this rock!"note  Hudson eventually does buy it on that rock, but at least he overcomes his Heroic BSoD before it. "YOU WANT SOME OF THIS?! FUCK YOU!"
  • Angel (1984): Before falling victim to the Serial Killer, Lana expresses a desire to move to Tahiti.
  • Played with in Apollo 13. In an interview, James Lovell remarks that Apollo 13 will be his third and final mission, planning to close an impressive career with finally walking on the Moon. Instead, his spacecraft blows up halfway to the Moon. Miraculously, he and his crew survive and return to Earth safely, though sadly, he never gets to walk on the Moon. Not clear if it was planned ahead of time, but neither of his crewmates, LM pilot Fred Haise, or CM pilot Jack Swigert ever flew another space mission either.
  • Assault On Precinct 13: In both versions of the film (1976 and 2005) the events of the plot occur during the eponymous police precinct's final night of operations. The Siege tears the place apart.
  • Battle: Los Angeles: Nantz is two days from retiring from the Marines when the movie starts. Subverted, in that he survives the events of the movie and goes right back into the war without hesitation at the end. In fact, it's precisely because he's about to retire that he is able to cope with the deaths of others and adapt quickly, whereas the younger troops aren't ready for so gruesome a battle.
  • Agent Morris in Big Game is supposed to retire after the film's flight to Finland. Too bad he opts for a Bodyguard Betrayal instead... predictably, he dies.
  • Big Tits Zombie features a stripper who's days away from retiring, only to turn into a zombie.
  • Spoofed like so much else in Black Dynamite, where upon entering Fiendish Dr. Wu's headquarters one character starts talking, for no apparent reason, about how this is his last day in the posse and how he's going to start a family. He's then immediately impaled by a spear. The trope is then lampshaded when Black Dynamite 'flubs' his line by saying, "Who saw that comi- Who saw where that came from?"
  • The Blue Lamp is often remembered as this, but is an Unbuilt Trope example — PC Dixon has just decided not to retire, but to agree to work for another five years, when he is shot dead by a juvenile delinquent.
  • In The Bourne Supremacy, Abbott was planning to retire within the year before he committed suicide.
  • In Brooklyn's Finest, Officer Eddie Dugan has only two weeks till retirement. Subverted, as he survives, just barely.
    • In the theatrical version. When the film originally premiered at Sundance, Eddie killed himself in the last scene of the film: he shot himself through the mouth while on a boat fishing, but the ending was already depressing enough without it. His death scene is a deleted scene on the DVD.
  • The guardian of the scroll in the opening of Bulletproof Monk hands over the responsibility, declares that after sixty years he is finally going to take a vacation, and is promptly gunned down by Nazis.
  • The Cannonball Run plays this in retrospect. J.J. is telling Pamela about all the things his father was going to do when he retired, then adds "He died two days before he was supposed to retire."
  • The end of Carlito's Way. Carlito is on his way to escaping his life of crime for good when he's killed over an earlier slight. Shamelessly ripped off by Layer Cake and London Boulevard.
  • Subverted in Cellular. The cop Mooney was on his last day on the job, but he managed to survive through the end of the film.
  • One of the earliest examples is 1932 film Central Park. Charlie, a Central Park cop, is suffering from badly deteriorating vision, but he's hiding this because his pension vests in a week, after which he can retire. Naturally he's shot and killed by an armed robber at the end of the film.
  • In Death Ship, Capt. Ashland's last voyage does indeed end up becoming his last — just not in the way he intended.
  • Deewaar: Vijay decides to quit the criminal life when he finds out that Anita is pregnant. They're both killed before that can happen.
  • One of the guards at the checkpoint outside the villa raided by The Dirty Dozen comments that he's going on leave in another week or so. He and his compatriot are the first casualties.
  • Drugstore Cowboy. Bob is killed just as he was getting over his drug addiction and going clean.
  • Eight Below actually had this happen with a dog. Old Jack was introduced at the beginning of the movie as having "just turned ten and getting ready for retirement." Naturally, he is one of the two dogs that does not survive.
  • The RiffTrax for The Empire Strikes Back, which has Chad Vader as a guest riffer, has Chad joking about Darth Vader's You Have Failed Me moment with Captain Needa.
    Chad: [as Darth Vader] Alright, we Needa new captain. Heh heh. Are any of you three days from retirement?
  • In Executive Decision, one of the flight attendants can't stop gushing about her recent engagement/wedding, while the rest of the crew congratulates her. Three guesses who dies first when the hijackers take over the plane.
  • In Exiled, Sergeant Shan keeps on ignoring mobster activity while he can, and when he finds himself getting the tiniest chance of coming close to getting even tangentially involved in mobster activity, phones up their boss and pleads that he only has a few days left before he retired. Subverted; his final shift is up by the time the credits roll.
  • Billy the Kid in The Expendables 2 planned to retire from the team and reunite with his girl in Paris after the upcoming mission that the movie revolves around. Ross, in a somewhat Genre Savvy moment, tries to get Billy to take his earnings so far and head off to Paris right away, but Billy insists on tagging along anyhow. The poor Kid doesn't make it.
  • Face/Off has an example of retirony where the character retiring doesn't actually die but is about to be put in a bad situation. FBI Agent Sean Archer is about to perform one final task to put an end to the reign of a terrorist (Castor Troy) he had been pursuing for years for killing his son. Once this case was closed he would request a desk job and be away from the action. It doesn't quite work out as planned.
  • In Falling Down, Martin Prendergast, the cop who is investigating Bill Foster's violent breakdown is retiring that very day (and the other detectives joke that he's bound to be killed today) but it's subverted; not only does he survive (Foster cranks up the suspense but ultimately commits Suicide by Cop when he brings what turns out to be a squirtgun to his final showdown with Prendergast), but at the end of the movie his encounter with Foster has made him decide not to retire after all.
  • The Cop in Faster was only a few weeks away from retirement with full benefits before the main character killed him. Though that's because it turns out that he was actually the Big Bad who started everything.
  • Fear Clinic: Dr. Andover's employees, Gage and Bauer, have been saving up and plan to leave for Florida soon, but Gage gets killed in the final act.
  • In Fort Apache, Captain Sam Collingwood is trying to get moved from Fort Apache to an instructing position at West Point. When his wife finally gets the letter saying that his transfer went through, he is riding off with the regiment to confront the Apaches. Someone tells her to go, to run and tell him that he should come back, but she says "Sam isn't a coward", and then twists the knife by handing the letter back to the message-boy, saying "Keep it. For the captain's return."
  • An odd inversion of sorts in the "compilation" movie Fugitive Alien (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000). Captain Joe was on his last trip on the shuttle Bacchus 3 when the Star Wolf Raiders attacked Japan. His wife and daughter ended up dead instead.
  • The space mission in Gravity was supposed to be Commander Matt Kowalski's last mission before retiring.
  • At the end of The Guardian (2006), Senior Chief Randall has finally accepted a desk job, but then he gets called out for one more mission...
  • Subverted in Hell or High Water: Marcus is about to be forced into retirement as a Texas Ranger when he finishes his current case hunting down robbers, and he jokes about how he'd rather die in a shoot-out with the criminals than being alone and bored for the rest of his life. Instead, when they finally track down Tanner Howard, it's Marcus's younger partner Alberto who is killed.
  • Taken to ridiculous heights to lampoon the idea in Hot Shots!. One character, appropriately named "Dead Meat" Thompson receives a visit from his wife as he's preparing to fly a training mission, and what follows is an enormous list of things he has to live for, including his beautiful wife, that he's carrying his (unsigned) life insurance papers with him, and that he's figured out the real culprits in the Kennedy assassination but hasn't told anyone and has the evidence on him.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, the instant the Russian sub officer says he plans to live in Montana, marry an American woman, and raise rabbits once they defect, it's only a question of how he's going to die.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: Two extras (a man and a woman) are talking, with the man holding the woman's hands. A minor villain opens fire with a machine gun, killing the man. Later the woman pulls a box (with a ring inside) out of his pocket and puts the ring on her finger, saying "I waited 12 years for this!". He had been proposing marriage to her: the ring was an engagement ring.
  • In Bruges: Harry leaves his loving family near Christmas to hunt down Ray; Ray has struck up a beautiful romance with a beautiful Belgian drug dealer. Their numbers are up, safe to say.
  • In the Line of Fire manages to play this multiple ways, when Secret Service agent Al mentions his wife and kid in his first scene (played straight), expresses doubt about his ability to be a good agent (implying that he's a rookie, which would invert the trope), then later in the film declares his intent to resign because he can't handle the stress (back to played straight), which his partner Frank talks him out of—shortly before Al is killed by the very assassin they've been pursuing throughout the film. This is averted with Frank, who doesn't retire until the end of the film.
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: A non-fatal but still cruel version for Captain Culpeper, whose last day as a police officer seems like it will be the perfect ending to his career as he finally tracks down the stolen loot of a notorious criminal who evaded him for years, before retiring on a generous pension to spend the rest of his days with his wife and daughter. Better yet, an ever-growing group of treasure hunters is doing all the work for him in finding the loot. Unfortunately, he learns that his pension has been cut down to a pittance, and, seeing no other choice, absconds with the briefcase full of cash himself. One madcap chase later, Culpeper ends up publicly humiliated, grievously injured, scorned by his wife and daughter, and facing substantial jail time. The brutal kicker is that while Culpeper was absconding with the cash, his boss was successfully negotiating his pension back, making every one of his illegal actions unnecessary.
  • The Italian Job (2003) has John Bridger mention that the opening heist will be his last. He survives the job and gets murdered at his retirement party.
  • The 2013 CBC movie Jack, about Canadian politician Jack Layton, emphasizes this aspect of Jack's political career. He never got to spend much time as opposition leader, nor officially declare his political career finished before stepping down from his position as opposition leader, before dying.
  • At the end of Layer Cake, the character decides to leave the drug business with a nice nest egg only to get shot by his new girlfriend's jealous ex. Whether or not he survives in the film is open to interpretation.
  • Parodied in Last Action Hero; a cop mortally wounded in an explosion (which leaves Jack Slater untouched) gasps out with his last breath that he was "two days to retirement". Musical stinger. Danny sees this coming from a mile away, and calls it as the smoke fades.
  • In The Last Of The Good Guys, a policeman dies (of a heart attack!) on his last day of work, and the plot is his co-worker friends trying to cover it up so he retires with full benefits.
  • The Last Voyage: Captain Adams is on his last sailing voyage before being promoted to commodore of the line, and the trope is played straight when he dies at the end of the movie.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, 36th Dolan dies the same night he retires from service. The very improbability of that makes Kaulder suspect that something isn't right about it, and indeed, his death turns out to be less than natural. Subverted in that he's not really dead, but cursed.
  • Defied in Lethal Weapon 3. Just before going into a building with a bomb, Sgt. Murtaugh says that he only has 8 days to retirement. He survives the subsequent bomb explosion. Later, his Genre Savvy wife insists that he wear a bulletproof vest at all times for the last six days before he retires. Not only does he survive the film, but he decides not to retire in the end.
    Murtaugh: She loves me.
  • In Letters from Iwo Jima, the one named Japanese soldier who survives is the one who was forced to leave his pregnant wife behind when he was called up and has never seen his daughter.
  • To Live and Die in L.A.: Richard Chance's partner, Jimmy Hart, is about to retire. But before he goes, he decides to try and bust Rick Masters and his henchman, Jack, at their counterfeiter warehouse. Bad move. He is shot and thrown into a dumpster for his troubles.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Subverted in Memphis Belle. The entire crew is on their last mission. They make it back in one piece.
  • The 2009 movie Moon has an original and heart-wrenching subversion to it. Sam Bell has two more weeks of his three-year contract on the Moon until he gets to go home to his wife and baby daughter. Then there's a rover crash, which leads to him learning he's actually a clone with implanted memories, "his" wife is dead while "his" daughter is now a teenager who's being raised by the original version of himself, and several of his predecessors did "retire" by being cremated. He doesn't get to go home, but another clone of him does.
  • German parody movie Neues vom WiXXer had a police officer coming into a room where a gunfight was taking place, announcing that his doctor told him he didn't have cancer after all. Guess what happens to him...
  • No Country for Old Men averts this trope with Sheriff Bell, who is close to retirement throughout the movie. In the end, he retires and is one of only two characters to survive.
  • Nurse Betty: Hitman with a Heart Charlie keeps going on about how this is his last job and Betty will be his last victim. He ends up shooting himself instead of Betty after his son/partner dies.
  • Throughout Oblivion (2013), both Jack and Victoria mention that they had two weeks remaining on their mission before being sent to the Tet, where they would go with the rest of the human survivors to their new home in the moon of Titan. It's all a lie anyway. It's unclear what the Tet would actually do to them when that time comes, but considering the movie doesn't holds back in showing its monstrosity...
  • Only the Brave: As they're heading to Yarnell, Eric tells Jesse this will be his last fire season. Then he's one of those caught in the fire that claims nineteen of his crew in the biggest loss of firefighters since 9/11.
  • Subverted in Operation: Dumbo Drop with Cahill and H.A., who both talk about their upcoming retirement and survive every battle with the NVA.
  • Paris in Pitch Black, to the extent that he was "supposed to die in France". He "never even saw France".
  • Subverted in Platoon. After announcing that he's going home in a chopper in ten minutes with the final battle approaching, King (Keith David) actually does make it out alive.
  • Detective Jerry Black is all set to retire before he makes...The Pledge. He doesn't die, technically speaking, but it is still a tragedy.
  • Michael Mann's film Public Enemies, turns the death of John Dillinger into one of these.
  • Purgatory: The Sheriff, who is a few days from going home when Blackjack shows up. Inverted in that "retiring" means dying, and subverted in that he gets to go to heaven anyway.
  • In Red River Harry Carey's character talks about what he's going to do with the money he gets when the cattle drive is over. He talks about buying a home and getting his wife a pair of fancy red shoes. He's dead five minutes later.
  • Red Tails features Lightning, the only main character to die in the film who is shot down just days before he's going to marry his fiancee.
  • The Sender sees the main character's father get killed right before the end of his tour of duty. He got better.
  • Subverted in Se7en, in which one of a pair of police partners is set to retire within the next few weeks and is on his last case, but the other guy...well, doesn't die.
  • Turned on its head in Short Time where the main character is deliberately trying to get himself killed while a few days from retirement: mixed up physical results have caused him to believe he is terminally ill and he's trying to die in the line of duty so that his family can get the police insurance money.
  • In Sin City, John Hartigan is framed for the abduction of the girl he actually saved on the last day before his (forced) retirement, for which he spends eight years in prison. And then he dies. But not before saving the girl again and taking the Yellow Bastard with him.
  • When the older flight attendant in Snakes on a Plane says that she decided to make one last flight before retirement, you know she's a goner. It's averted with the other female flight attendant, though. It's her last flight before leaving to study law. However, the combined force of the two having their "one last flight" at the same time is probably what really unleashed thousands of snakes on the plane.
  • So Close: Lynn decides to retire from being an assassin to marry her Love Interest. Naturally, she's killed shortly after.
  • In Spawn (1997), Al Simmons goes on one last mission before retiring with his wife to start a family. Take a wild guess what happens to him.
  • Special Female Force: In the prologue, we learn Macy is planning to retire from the Special Female Force so she can raise her newborn daughter Fan. Naturally, she's killed in the mission not long after and her daughter will seek revenge for her death 20 years later.
  • Star Trek:
    • Subverted in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where all of the crew are on their last mission, due to retire in a matter of months. None of them die.
    • Star Trek: Generations really played with this one. The film's prologue begins with an already retired Captain Kirk aboard the maiden voyage of the brand new Enterprise-B. The voyage is a nondescript quick lap around the solar system; it and Kirk's presence (along with Scotty and Chekhov) are solely for the sake of the news crews. Naturally, the underequipped Enterprise has to respond to an emergency crisis, and Kirk "dies" repairing critical damage to the deflectors.
    • This was kind of the fate of the starship Enterprise herself in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. After completing two historic five-year missions and being upgraded into the Federation's flagship, the Enterprise was removed from active duty and instead made a training vessel. On a routine training cruise, the ship is blasted nearly to scrap by a vengeful madman and is destroyed outright in the sequel.
  • Star Wars:
    • In a variation, towards the end of The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn intends to train Anakin Skywalker, believing Obi-Wan Kenobi is ready to graduate to Jedi Knight status. Qui-Gon doesn't make it to the end of the movie, and Obi-Wan ends up being Anakin's trainer instead.
    • Played straight in Legends sources for one of the pilots in A New Hope. TIE Fighter pilot DS-61-4, better known by his nickname "Dark Curse", was planning on retiring after his next combat. Said next battle was the Battle of Yavin, where he was shot down by Wedge Antilles.
  • The Sting. Con artist Luther Coleman and his apprentice Johnny Hooker pull off a big score. Later we see Luther's wife and children, and he tells Hooker that he's going to use his share of the money to retire. That very night he's thrown out of a window to his death by thugs — because of the scam that provided the money to retire on.
  • Against all odds, the exception comes through for SFC. Troy Barlow in Three Kings. During his little adventure in post-Gulf War Iraq, Barlow is shot (while wearing a kevlar vest), exposed to tear gas, captured by Iraqis, brutally tortured, shot again (sans the vest), and still survives to go home to his wife and daughter (who are brought up frequently). As for his Southern-accented friend who, self-admittedly, has no family to go home to? Not so fortunate.
  • Swelter has Stillman, the most mellowed-out of the Caper Crew, who seems ready to forget about the lost $10 million, settle down, and move on with his life. Of course, since the thing he's retiring from is crime, he gets hit with a one-two punch of this and Redemption Equals Death.
  • The Docudrama Thirteen Lives features the tragic real-world case of Thai Navy diver Saman Gunan, who died in the course of the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue. Pedantically this is a borderline case in that he was already retired and came back as a volunteer to help with the rescue work, but the film does rather play into the trope.
  • In Top Gun: Maverick, Maverick is at the end of his career, with the brass making it clear that he will be forced out of the Navy due to his refusal to accept promotion. The mission is highly dangerous and it's expected that someone won't be coming back from it. However, it's ultimately subverted as Maverick survives.
  • In Unstoppable, Frank was being forced into early retirement by the train company, having received his 90-day warning notice 72 days ago. He survives, however.
  • In We Were Soldiers, a soldier gleefully announces that his wife is due to give birth that day. Shortly thereafter, he is mortally wounded by napalm.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League has a villainous one. Steppenwolf finally negotiates his sentence ending early on account of finding the Anti-Life Equation and promising to deliver it to Darkseid. The Justice League deliver his headless corpse back to Apokolips before he can do that.

  • In the Alex Rider book Scorpia, an elderly assassin in the SCORPIA organization decides to retire from the organization to spend more time with his grandchildren, but not before the Big Bad Julia Rothman gives him a suitcase containing something as a parting gift. When he opens it on the gondola, it turns out to be...full of poisonous scorpions!
  • A variant occurs in the Angel novel Haunted. Phil Baxter is already retired, but he declines an invitation to come out of retirement permanently and join Angel Investigations (preferring to return to his retiree hobbies) right before the climactic fight which he doesn't walk away from.
  • In Angels in Iron, it happens before a mission that a Mauve Shirt knows ahead of time is going to be fatal. It does, indeed, kill him.
  • Battle Ground: During the Fomor attack on Chicago, Harry runs into a cop who'd featured prominently in some of the early novels but who he hadn't seen in years. The officer says that he's two weeks from retirement, then looks at the present situation and says he's going to die of "cliche poisoning".
  • The Black Arrow: Variant. Old soldier Nick Appleyard gets killed off shortly after retiring, right when Bennet is talking him into going back to the castle to lead a garrison.
  • Catch-22:
    • Inverted. Nately has actually completed all the missions he needs to get sent home to the U.S., but volunteers to fly more because he needs to stay near the Italian girl he has fallen in love with. He is doomed from the moment he agrees to go on even one more mission.
    • The whole Catch-22 is one big example itself. Most pilots are being just one mission away from being sent home, then during the mission, almost all of them survive, but upon returning to base they find out that the number of missions they need to complete had gone up again. Repeat until almost no one is left alive.
  • Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain novel The Black Cauldron. Adaon speaks several times of Arianllyn, the woman to whom he is betrothed. Guess what happens to him not too much later?
  • In the superhero pastiche "Coastal City" by Kim Newman, Commissioner Gordon expy Francis Riordon is due to retire in a few months, and has been since the 1940s. He suspects that if his retirement ever got any closer, he'd be killed ironically.
  • In The Commander's Daughter by Y. Jakovlev, the heroine at one point chatters with an army baker who tells her that his conscription time will be over in a week and he is going home. The next day, the Germans attack, and the soldier is among the killed.
  • Admiral Helaw in Death Star. To be fair, his impending retirement wasn't given nearly as much attention as his caution, since he was telling his protege, Admiral Motti, that even the best-laid plans can go awry and Motti mustn't think that even the Death Star couldn't have a fatal flaw.
  • Lampshaded in Descent: Stealing Thunder, when protagonist Ben St. John is shown worrying about this trope:
    St. John: Megan, the irony is, I'm a good pilot. I think I can survive another 26 days... But on the twenty-fifth day, the day I'm coming home for good, I'll catch a missile because short-timers are the most vulnerable... I got two words: screw that!
  • Discworld:
    • Played with in Feet of Clay: Sergeant Colon makes a lot of noise about how he's six weeks away from retirement and wants to go live in the country and "buy a farm". This being Discworld, he doesn't actually "buy the farm", and after some far too up-close-and-personal experiences with animals, decides he wants nothing to do with rural life after all.
    • Played straight in Jingo, in the scene where a Morporkian patrol surprises Vimes and Ahmed. Ahmed kills a pair of the soldiers before Vimes can clear up the misunderstanding. While disposing of the corpses, their sergeant mentions that one of them had just been showing the squad a picture of the girl he left behind the previous night.
  • In the novelisation of the Doctor Who story "Spearhead From Space", a policeman who is shot dead by Autons is going to retire the following day.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Subverted - in the lead-up to the Battle of Nar Shaddaa, Roa announces that he's ready to retire and settle down with the woman he loves, and intends to do so after the battle. And indeed, despite getting shot down and narrowly escaping the wreckage before his fighter explodes, he recovers from his injuries, marries Lwyll and gets an honest job running Lando's used spaceship lot. Given that he'd already appeared in the later story Han Solo's Revenge though, it was kind of a given.
  • Matt Howard, the first person to die in the Honor Harrington series, is an officer in the Native Protection Agency on the planet Medusa. The only things we are told about him is his name and that he was due to retire from his service in two years.
  • The novelization of Jason X mentions that Private Johnson, the soldier guarding the captive Jason at the beginning, only has a few weeks of service left.
  • Subverted in The King's Buccaneer: Admiral Amos Trask agrees to one final voyage before he retires, just a simple trip to deliver Prince Nicholas to Crydee. During a stop at Sorcerer's Island we get a prophecy that nine shall depart, and some shall not return. The easy out-and-back voyage turns out to be somewhat harder than expected, and during the next-to-last battle of the story, Amos gets stabbed in the gut, the sort of wound that it was established earlier is beyond the ability of the ship's magician to treat. He gets better.
  • Sergeant Jack Vincennes from L.A. Confidential manages to more or less fix the mess he's turned his life into, patch up his differences with his wife and is looking forward to retiring in a couple of weeks... so, naturally, he catches a bullet in the face.
  • In Siegfried Lenz's The Lightship, the titular ship (essentially an off-shore lighthouse, permanently anchored to a reef) gets captured by armed pirates during its last watch before being decommissioned. The captain's determination to avoid this trope for all his men then becomes the driving plot.
  • Heavily lampshaded in One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre, in which character Ali McQuade reflects that he has the "all to play for, baby on the way" backstory that would absolutely doom him in fiction, and is silently glad that he didn't tell anyone, lest he instantly attract a bullet.
  • Orkneyinga Saga: Jarl Harald asks Svein Asleifarson to stop his raiding trips and Svein promises to do so, more so as he is "getting on in years" anyways; he only wants to go on one last raiding voyage he has already planned for autumn. On this voyage, Svein is killed in an ambush.
  • Rain of the Ghosts: After V-E Day in 1945, the crew of the B-17 bomber the Island Belle had finished their tours of duty and were eager to return home. However, their captain, Sebastian Bohique, wanted to give them all a little fanfare before they went their separate ways, and organized one last mission: a tour of the States to sell war bonds, stopping at each crew member's hometown to give them all the hero treatment. They had almost reached their final stop - 'Bastian's home on the Caribbean Ghost Keys - when a freak hurricane (actually a malicious supernatural force) brought down the Belle, killing her entire crew save for 'Bastian and one other crewman who had had to sit out the tour due to catching pneumonia. 'Bastian would blame himself for his crew's deaths for the rest of his life.
  • In Redshirts, one of the ensigns who dies on a mission was going to be transferred off the Intrepid when Lieutenant Kerensky forced him into going on one more away mission. He was about to get married as well. Kerensky had intended it to be one last adventure before his departure and meant it as a gift; to the other characters who have realized that people always die on away missions, it comes across as an extraordinarily sadistic and cruel move and they have to restrain themselves from killing Kerensky afterwards.
  • Teased in Sharpe's Waterloo, in which d'Alembord postpones his retirement — and marriage — for the titular battle, and becomes convinced that he's therefore going to die. He loses a leg but survives.
  • Used straight in "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" by David Sedaris. The trope is so undead that the author doesn't even bother to lampshade it, the tragic fate is just noted en passant.
  • Star Trek: New Frontier, "Missing In Action": A Romulan on a stealth ship desperately wants to get home to his pregnant wife. He dies by being blown out the airlock by Soleta, along with every other Romulan on the ship except the Subcommander, who saw his commander's treachery coming.note 
  • Lampshaded in Tanya Huff's Valor's Choice. One of the squad members is looking lovingly at a picture of his daughter, and another squad member snatches it out of his hands, rips it up and starts ranting about how anyone who starts making references to family or retirement is the next person to die. The first squad member, confused, starts to talk about his upcoming retirement and is summarily gagged.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Aral Vorkosigan mentioned at one point that he was going to duck this trope by never retiring. And when last seen was still in active service, as planetary viceroy of Sergyar. He died of a stroke, still unretired.
  • The Witcher: This is the final fate of Geralt in The Lady of the Lake. Just a second after proclaiming his retirement from Chronic Hero Syndrome an anti-nonhuman riot starts in Rivia. He decides to protect them one last time. It does not end well for him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the pilot of 21 Jump Street, Charlie Donagan is six months from retirement and trying very hard to defy this trope. His hot-headed young partner Tom Hanson really isn't helping.
  • Parodied on 30 Rock's 100th episode, when a gas repairman repeatedly tells people it's his last day while showing people the picture of the girl he's going to marry. At the end of the episode, he remarks that he made it through his last day, and then realizes he's been shot.
  • Played straight and then subverted in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. episode "Bye Bly", where Lord Bowler talks of retiring to become a wine grower in Napa. Needless to say he's shot and killed by Big Bad Bly. So naturally Brisco has to use the Orb to go back in time (again!) to save him.
  • Horst "Hotte" Herzberger in the 2011-2012 season of the German action series Alarm für Cobra 11. The idea of his retirement came up as early as 2002, but the character pushed through to be Killed Off for Real a decade later.
  • Andromeda: In "All Great Neptune's Ocean", the President of Castalia is assassinated just three days before he is due to retire. It turns out that he was planning, as part of his resignation speech, to admit his government's culpability for a past atrocity which his second-in-command feared would spark a civil war; he killed him in an attempt to prevent this.
  • Arrowverse:
    • In the Arrow episode "11:59", Laurel considers giving up being a vigilante to become the DA, and decides to go on "one last mission" to stop Damian Darhk from escaping prison. She's stabbed by Darhk in the riot, and and dies in the hospital shortly after. Played with, in that while she's in the hospital she decides she can't give up being the Black Canary as it "makes her feel alive inside".
    • During the Crisis on Earth-X crossover, Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson consider breaking up Firestorm so that Stein can leave the Legends to be with his family after the birth of his grandson. However, he gets shot during their escape from Earth-X and accepts his death to save Jax's life.
    • Legends of Tomorrow: Hinted at in the episode "Romeo v Juliet: Dawn of Justness", given that Ray is doing "one last mission" before he leaves to marry Nora, as it would tie into the episode's title and central theme. Thankfully averted, and Ray and Nora survive.
  • In the Beginning, the first Babylon 5 movie, gives us Captain Sterns (Sheridan's CO) who is said to be shortly before retirement. Then the Earth-Minbari war begins, and Sterns is killed in the Black Star attack (the same in which Sheridan finally destroys the supercruiser).
  • Inverted in Battlestar Galactica (2003). Commander Adama is a few days from retirement in the miniseries and is one of the few humans who doesn't die. He doesn't retire, either.
  • Inverted in The Bill when Probationary Constable Billy Rowan was stabbed to death in his first episode.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • DEA Agent Hank Schrader finally succeeds in nailing his brother-in-law, Walter White, as a drug kingpin; turning Walt in will result in his own career being over (on a count of him having such a close relationship with a notorious criminal), making this his final case before forcible retirement. After arresting Walt, he makes a phone call to his wife to tell her it's all over, and is then killed in a shootout by Walt's traitorous former underlings.
    • Mike decides he's finally out of the drug trade business after selling off his share of the methylamine to another distributor, using a portion of it to pay off his guys, and the rest as a nest egg for his granddaughter, and retiring from his criminal past to a mundane life for good. Unfortunately, only a few days later, his lawyer gets arrested while depositing his dirty money and agrees to rat out Mike, forcing him to go on the run. Right as he's about to skip town, he rips into Walt for his selfish and egotistical choices causing all this, infuriating Walt, who shoots Mike dead in an impulsive fit of rage.
  • Subverted by the Genre Savvy Xander in the season 3 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    Xander: I've been lucky too many times. My number's coming up. And now we're short! One more rotation and I'm shipping state-side, you know what I mean?
  • Castle does this with Captain Montgomery. Having announced his intention to retire at the end of the 3rd season's next to last episode (an announcement that's waved off by Beckett), he turns out to be a part of the conspiracy that led to Beckett's mother's murder in the 3rd season's last episode. He was only a rookie at the time and has spent the rest of his career atoning for it, and he's only lying to Beckett to protect his family. He dies killing Hal Lockwood, the man who would kill his family and Beckett, but it's after he was fatally shot by Lockwood.
  • Chicago Fire ended one season with Mouch telling Herrmann that he's retiring after fighting the fire they've been called to. After entering the building, he suffers a heart attack and collapses. Subverted in the following season's premiere when it's revealed he survived and changed his mind about retiring.
  • In the season final of Cops: L.A.C., Graeme is killed while responding to an armed robbery while on the verge of retirement. In his case, a somewhat Karmic Death, due to his involvement in a hit and run at the start of the series, which he'd stated that he had no intention of turning himself in for
  • CSI: Miami
    • In one episode, Horatio is talking to Speedle about his bike, saying Speedle might need something with a door one day. Speedle says he has plenty of time for that. Two minutes later, Speedle is dead.
    • Another episode inverts the trope by having a new medical examiner show up, cheerful about starting her first day at work. Seconds later she is shot to death. Thus, making her an example of...(puts on sunglasses)…hirony. note 
  • Deadliest Catch: In "Stay Focused or Die", the Katmai sinks, and the ten survivors are forced into two life rafts (holding four and six). In the one with the six, one of the crew members stripped to the waist in order to try to close the raft's flap and save everyone's lives. The captain gets choked up as he talks about how the man turned to him, grinned, and said they were gonna see their kids again minutes before being swept overboard.
  • Desperate Housewives: The season 5 episode "The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" sees local handyman Eli Scruggs preparing to retire after one last job (repairing a loose shingle on Susan's roof). He then proceeds to suffer a fatal heart attack while he's on said job.
  • The first episode of Detroit 1-8-7 has both a veteran cop about to retire and fulfill his dream of living in Italy as well as a rookie detective whose wife is about to give birth. Neither can shut up about it and it annoys their partners throughout the episode. The veteran is never in any danger while the rookie is shot in the final scene right before his phone rings with the news that his wife has gone into labour. The veteran was still on the force when the show was cancelled. He had filed for retirement but changed his mind.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Zig-Zagged in "The Wheel in Space". A character named Flannigan is attacked almost immediately declaring he's expecting a long leave on Earth after he gets back. He's able to fight off one of the attackers but ends up mind controlled by the Cybermen. Ultimately subverted as he's also released from Cyberman control and helps the Doctor and Jamie save the day.
    • Inverted in "Terror of the Vervoids": instead of being killed on his last voyage, Rudge threatens people with a gun and allies with the Vervoids.
    • Subverted by The Brigadier in "Battlefield". While the early scenes showing the Brig enjoying a cozy retirement with his wife before answering the call of duty once more are designed to set up a tragic end, he miraculously survives the climatic face off with the Destroyer.
    • Mercilessly lampshaded in "The Impossible Planet". ("'No turning back'? That's almost as bad as 'nothing can possibly go wrong', or 'This is gonna be the best Christmas Walford's ever had!'")
    • "Smith and Jones": Dr. Stoker seals his fate when he mentions that he was planning to retire to Florida in two years and that he has a daughter still attending university. He is then killed by the plasmavore.
  • ER:
    • Done to Gallant in Iraq. The instant he starts to say he has a wife at home he can't wait to get back to, the truck he's in blows up.
    • After Pratt died, it was revealed that he was planning to propose to his girlfriend (played straight) and was about to be named ER Chief (inverted).
  • In Farscape, two bounty hunters gets a quick mention at the start of the episode that this is going to be their last mission. And do they survive it...?
    • It happens again to Chiana's friend in "Home on the Remains" — she strikes it rich and gets mauled to death before she can collect her riches and retire.
  • In an invoking of this trope, a character is brought out of retirement in The Grid and killed shortly after.
  • Parodied in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger. The heroes were in fear that if the final enemy is defeated the show would end. Thus, the final enemy started spouting lines usually said before someone bites the dust, including 'visiting his fiancée when it's all over' — this very trope.
  • The Hogan Family once had a teacher collapse from a heart attack with David saving him with CPR. Afterwards, he's pretty proud of himself for saving the man's life. He later visits the teacher in the hospital and discusses the things the man planned to do when he retired which he's now considering. The conversation is cut short when the teacher has a second heart attack. This time, he doesn't survive.
  • Played straight on Home and Away, when Charlie was shot by Jake on her last day as a cop shortly after making plans to move to Sydney with her daughter and their respective boyfriends. She died in hospital after her life support was switched off. Though what with her previous three and a half years on the show, this doesn't quite tick all the boxes.
  • In Jessica Jones, Detective Oscar Clemmons mentions that he's two years away from mandatory retirement with a full pension. He's killed by Will Simpson near the end of season 1.
  • Law & Order: Claire Kincaid debates leaving the DA's office (and possibly the legal profession altogether) shortly before she's killed in a car accident.
  • Subverted on Law & Order: UK (while simultaneously playing Birth-Death Juxtaposition straight). DS Ronnie Brooks gushes to his partner about the birth of his grandson and the possibility of reconciling with his estranged daughter. Sure enough, minutes later... his partner is shot and killed.
  • The pilot episode of Lewis has a non-lethal variation on this trope, as the Detective Inspector who Hathaway is originally assigned to ends up being fired after getting caught drunk driving on the job, a few weeks before he was due to retire anyway. As a result, Lewis, who was originally earmarked for a training position at the local police academy, gets to take over his position.
  • In a flashback on Lost, Hurley planned to use his lottery winnings to give his grandpa a fantastic retirement, after he had worked three jobs nonstop for over 50 years. Grandpa died of a heart attack right after Hurley said this.
  • One MADtv sketch features a cop one day from retirement and his partner encountering a pair of armed robbers. They exchange shots, and every bullet fired hits the near-retiree. Even the ones fired after the fleeing robbers ricochet back just to hit the retiring cop.
  • In the second episode of Maou, a friend of the protagonist's details his plans to quit being a loan shark and open up a restaurant. Before the end of the episode, he's died of an asthma attack while being threatened by an angry client who thinks he kidnapped her daughter because she couldn't pay back her loan.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Col. Henry Blake, is sent home from the Korean War by plane. The rest of the cast later finds out that his plane went down and that there were no survivors.
    • Another episode deals with a wounded soldier who reacts poorly to a blood transfusion because the blood on the dog tags isn't his blood type. Father Mulcahey learns that the wounded man had switched his dog tags with a friend who just gotten his discharge papers so that he could go home, but had died in the same battle, and spends the rest of the episode trying to figure out what if anything he can do about it.
    • In the first season finale, the camp dentist gets an attack of paranoia to go with his travel papers. He refuses to go anywhere or touch anything until he goes home, not even a salt shaker. His jeep crashes as it's pulling out of the camp. The dentist ends up recovering in traction in post-op. The other person involved in the accident is New Meat who, to quote the dentist, "Didn't even pop a pimple!"
  • Mayday:
    • The pilots of Partnair Flight 394 were both a few months from retirement.
    • Subverted with David Cronin of United Airlines Flight 811, who's also close to retirement, but survives.
  • Dwight's father, a detective with the MPD, died just days before hanging it up in Memphis Beat. Dwight was never really the same after that incident, and it's implied this is part of the reason he joined the police force in the first place. Dwight recently discovered evidence that his dad was dirty, and has since developed even more confused feelings about him and the incident.
  • Million Yen Women: Inverted. Nanaka got killed a few days after making plans to end a year-long sabbatical on her job.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Parodied in "The Incredibly Strange Creatures" when a very young looking cop is killed in the line of duty and Crow quips "Oh, watch this. He's 50 years from retirement, too."
    • Again in Future War, the heroes kill one dinosaur and the film immediately cuts to another one roaring, prompting Mike to have the dinosaur lament that his dead buddy was just two days from retirement.
    • In the first episode of The Return, "Reptilicus", the shot of a dead cow's skull prompts Jonah to riff "The cow had a month to go before retirement, too."
  • NCIS:
    • Played with at Kate's death at the end of season two.
      Tony: You did good.
      Gibbs: For once, DiNozzo's right.
      Kate: [stands up] Wow, I thought I'd die before I ever heard*BANG*
    • Subverted in "A Man Walks Into A Bar", when a Navy commander is found dead from a gunshot wound not long before he is due to retire. It turns out that he shot himself because his retirement was nearing; with no family, his career was the most important thing in his life.
    • The Season 11 episode "Under the Radar" features a Genre Savvy guest character on the verge of retirement and not at all enthusiastic about going into the field with Tony, who has a reputation for nearly getting killed on a frequent basis. After she is nearly run over by a suspect, with Tony giving her a sprained ankle by performing a Diving Save on her, the HR department wisely decides to let her retire with immediate effect.
  • On Person of Interest this forms the backstory of one of the "persons of interest". A soldier in Afghanistan finds out that he is going to be a father and shortly afterward switches seats with his best buddy while on a mission. A bomb goes off and kills the soldier which causes the buddy to feel enormous guilt. When the buddy gets home he tries to help the dead soldier's wife and gets involved with some very shady characters.
  • Played with in the first episode of Pie in the Sky: a group of police officers, led by a Detective Inspector who's counting down the hours to his retirement, close in on a criminal mastermind. The ensuing confrontation ends with the mastermind shooting the DI — in the leg, because he's the kind of person who prefers his opponents to be alive and know they've been beaten. The DI is actually the protagonist of the series, and survives all the way to and beyond the final episode.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in Powers: Detective Adlard, said to be getting close to retirement, survives the massacre at The Shaft and he winds up as the butt of some jokes that hang a lampshade on it at the fallen officers' wake in the episode "Raconteur of the Funeral Circuit".
  • Psych:
    • A bounty hunter mentions that the Case of the Week is his last before retirement. Shawn instinctively ducks, then brings up this trope. He does this repeatedly throughout the episode, to the bounty hunter's increasing frustration.
    • Played completely straight at the very end of season 6 with Henry. He lived, but the trope is in play.
  • Reacher: Stevenson and his wife are murdered right after talking about quitting their jobs and moving out of Margrave in favor of a better town.
  • Inverted with Lister from Red Dwarf. He tells Rimmer about his plan to save up all of his money, take only a few more trips on the ship, and then retire to Fiji with his cat. He is then forced to go into stasis, which means that he survives while everyone else on the ship dies, leaving him stranded in a ship that's been adrift for 3 million years.
  • Subverted in Rescue Me. The Chief is rotated out of the firehouse for a desk job. Instead of living and enjoying his income 'til a peaceful end...he has his one "perfect day" and then shoots himself.
  • Double example in "Assignment 2" of Sapphire and Steel, in which the aggrieved ghosts include a World War II fighter pilot who died on his very last mission before he'd have earned demobilization, and a World War I infantryman who got killed after the armistice because somebody on the other side hadn't gotten the news in time.
  • In the Japanese drama Shōkōjo Seira, based on A Little Princess, Seira pleads with her father to not go anywhere dangerous before he left. He promised, but eventually, he would come to break that promise as he goes into the mines. That day, there was an accident that cost him his life.
  • Inverted in the Season 2 finale of Sons of Anarchy, where Half-Sack, a SAMCRO Prospect, is unexpectedly killed just as he's about to be admitted to the club as a full-fledged member.
  • The Sopranos: Tony points out to Christopher a man enjoying his retirement party in the nearby restaurant as being the Corrupt Cop who murdered his father. When an understandably incensed Christopher asks him why he's only just now being told this, Tony explains the man has been useful. Until tonight, of course.
  • Star Trek:
    • An early episode of Star Trek opens with Kirk presiding over the wedding of two ensigns. Just before he can pronounce them man and wife, a red alert sounds, forcing them to abort the ceremony. The rest of the episode deals with the Enterprise battling a Romulan ship. At the end of the episode, Kirk asks if any of the crew were killed. It turns out that everyone on the ship survived — except the guy who was about to get married.
    • In "Relics" from Star Trek: The Next Generation, it turns out that this was Scotty's fate. He was on his way to a retirement colony when his ship crashed on a Dyson Sphere. Scotty ended up surviving by suspending himself in a transporter beam for nearly seventy years until he was rescued by the Enterprise-D.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, O'Brien is brought to trial by the Cardassians, who are framing him and trying to tie him to the Maquis. His lawyer later tells Odo that he is only a year to retirement and does not want this trial screwed up. In the end, he actually wins the trial and fearfully says "They'll kill me..."
      • Nine episodes before the end of Deep Space Nine, Sisko begins talking about what he'll do when he retires—buying land on Bajor to build a house there. In the finale, he would Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence so he never gets to enjoy it.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, Joe Carey (the engineer who was shuffled aside in favor of B'Elanna Torres) would disappear for episodes — and seasons — at a time, only making appearances in flashback or alternate-reality episodes. In the late-seventh season episode "Friendship One", he shows up again, lamenting that he's one nacelle away from completing a model of Voyager, as well as discussing his family. He is then killed on an away mission by the alien-of-the-week. Interestingly, Carey is the final on-screen casualty from Voyager in the series — the crew makes it back home just a couple of episodes later.
    • In Star Trek: Discovery, Saru is on one last mission as part of the Discovery crew before he retires from Starfleet to become an Ambassador for the Federation as well as marry Ni'Var President T'Rina. He's only shot in the shoulder, so he gets to live out his life happily.
  • S.W.A.T. (2017): Discussed and narrowly averted as Chris is saved while on a mission just after announching she'll be leaving SWAT. She talks about the idea later.
  • Played very, very straight on T.J. Hooker whenever a cop is killed. But in a show like this, it's to be expected.
  • Tour of Duty, which followed a platoon of soldiers fighting the Vietnam War, had an odd tendency of killing off anyone who was 'getting short' (ie: Was about to complete their mandatory one-year Tour and be sent home). Even the main characters weren't always immune to this.
    • Played with when one character was only grievously wounded when he found out he was 'getting short'. In a much later episode, we find out that said character later recovered in hospital, re-enlisted, got promoted, and returned to combat...only to be Killed Off for Real this time.
  • The West Wing:
    • Played straight in the first season. President Bartlet asks his friend the happily married army doctor about his wife and kids... he's dead by the end of the episode.
    • A variation occurs at the end of season 5: recurring character Percy Fitzwallace was called out of retirement to help on a diplomatic mission to Israel and was killed during a car bombing.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? parodies this trope as used in Saving Private Ryan.
    Waiter: Here, have some wine. This is my last table before I go home and see the wife and [mimics being shot] kkkkghh!
  • In the pilot episode of Wiseguy, Vinnie's mentor Stan Dermott announces that he will be retiring to Florida after finishing one last investigation. Dave Steelgrave, the target of that investigation, murders Stan.

  • "I Was Only Nineteen" by Redgum, a song about The Vietnam War, contains the line:
    And Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon
    God help me... he was going home in June.note 
  • The pilot in Kim Wilde's song "Cambodia" goes missing in action just when his wife is expecting him to return home.
  • The protagonist in Cold Chisel's "When The War Is Over" fears becoming this. He also mentions that if he makes it back alive, he won't be the same man.
  • The cowboy in Michael Martin Murphey's "When the Work's All Done This Fall" hasn't seen his home "since very long ago" and is planning to return as soon as this cattle-herding season ends.
    Charlie died at daybreak; he died from a fall.
    He'll not see his mother when the work's all done this fall.
  • "El Bandito" in "Cross the Brazos at Waco" is planning on giving up the outlaw life to be with his sweetheart. He's caught and shot dead by the posse one stanza after discarding "the guns she hated."
  • An aversion happens in "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" by Kathy Mattea. The song is about a truck driver named Charlie who is on his last haul before retiring to go be with his wife. The song seems like a setup for him to crash and never make it home, but amazingly (especially since it was a Country Music song), he does.
  • The narrator of Iron Maiden's "Ghost of the Navigator" starts the song with "I have sailed to many lands
    Now I make my final journey"... and in his final journey he meets either actual ghost ships or is haunted by the idea of retiring.
  • Dave Dudley's "Last Day in the Mines" (1964). A miner decides to quit and start a new life with his beloved Ginny. Then with minutes left to go on his final shift, the mine caves in.
  • One interpretation of Warren Zevon's "Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)" sees the central character die during his intended final match (although both aspects are kept ambiguous).
  • In the folk ballad Will Watch, the Bold Smuggler Will promises his sweetheart that this will be his last run: with the money he'll have made, he'll be able to settle down and live honestly. It proves to be his last run, because he meets a Revenue man's bullet coming the wrong way.

  • Parodied in a The Now Show routine about increasing the retirement age, which imagines an action movie where a cop gets killed two days before retirement, and rather than swearing revenge for this waste of a life, his partner just says "Well, he was 87. He had a good run."

  • Dino Attack RPG has what might be not only a subversion but an inversion with Montoya. He was a former small-time crook involved with a big heist on a multi-million dollar corporation and the one member of the crew who had been planning to go clean when he was done. The heist was a disaster as a result of interference from one Silencia Venemosa and Montoya was one of only two men to escape from the massacre with their lives. Fast forward a few years later to the actual Dino Attack, and not only has Montoya successfully gone clean but his only surviving partner and Silencia herself are killed in the final battle, making him the last surviving participant of the heist.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • The D&D campaign setting Masque of the Red Death has the adventure "Red Tide". A sailor writes in his journal that he's about to propose marriage to his girlfriend as soon as he gets home. He's murdered by a vampire a short time later.
  • The Shadowrun supplement "Cutting Black" features a National Guard Sergeant First Class who is "six days and a wake-up" from retiring when he's sent in to find a UCAS Army Corps that mysteriously vanished. His last recorded transmission is about fourteen hours later.

  • Notably subverted in The History Boys: Hector is being forced to retire early because the headmaster has discovered that he had been groping his students. At the end of the show, he is allowed to come back next year, only to be killed on his way home when his motorbike crashes.
  • In The Rose Tattoo, when Assunta tells Serafina that her husband's job smuggling dope under bananas in his 10-ton truck could lead him to get killed, Serafina protests that tonight is his last run for the Brothers Romano and that he can start making his own living tomorrow. Serafina waits in vain for the return of the truck and its driver, which meet a fiery end together before the next morning.

    Video Games 
  • Used in one case of Ace Attorney Investigations. Detective Badd mentions that this is his last day before retirement, even officially announcing his retirement at midnight, right before he's arrested for being part of the Yatagarasu. So that actually makes this an aversion.
  • Ace Combat seems to have a lot of this.
    • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, PJ announces that he's going to propose to his girlfriend after the last mission — he even bought flowers. Guess who happens to brake right into the path of the final boss's laser as he tried to move back into combat flight formation.
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has an occurrence right after your squad rolls over the "impregnable" enemy fortress, where they would have been a mere two missions away from finishing the game if it wasn't for a third-enemy spy organization convincing their (now-usurped) government that they're traitors.
    • Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation has it up the wazoo with Shamrock. During the Liberation of Gracemeria (the endgame), he talks about how he's going to introduce you to his family, going so far as reminding you to bring flowers for his daughter. When it's revealed that his family was killed during the operation, in the final mission, he goes all suicidal and flies right into a Death Star trench run-style alley to get important mission data. He gets hit several times and isn't seen to bail out. Subverted in that he doesn't die, but is now stuck in a wheelchair.
    • When it comes to Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, we continue the long tradition with Strider 3 Jaeger, who mentions telling his son about your wacky adventures across the Usean continent so often that he doesn't so much put up death flags as build a bunker out of them, nearly to the point of invoking the trope. Somehow, Jaeger actually survives the entire story, despite the final boss fight - and the post-Lighthouse intermission leading up to it - being lethal for a very high number of friendlies, including a few named ones, and this is not a game that has shied away from killing off allies you're attached to. Apparently, that bunker was tough enough to survive his blatant tempting of fate. Then again, his son, according to Word of Kono, is none other than fairly major character Erich Jaeger of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere fame, so perhaps his survival is justified.
  • In Captain Waylon's final mission of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, he proudly declares that this is his final mission before retiring to his burned-out mansion. In something of a subversion you don't actually see him die, he just sort of vanishes from the story and is never heard from again.
  • Lampshaded in Advance Wars Dual Strike by Eagle and Sami in the final mission. If the player sends them out together, the following dialogue will happen.
    Eagle: I want you to promise me something, Sami. Promise that if we both return from this battle alive...
    Sami: Oh no you don't! Stop it right there! If two people make a promise like that, one of them is going to end up dead! You might as well tell me that you're two days away from retirement! Save the promises for later, OK? We'll talk when we get back in one piece.
  • Exaggerated in Alien: Isolation. The main reason Sevastopol is so decrepit is because it's on the tail end of being decommissioned, essentially putting the station itself (as well as everyone on it) a few weeks from retirement when the Xenomorph gets loose.
  • In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Blackbeard is killed in the middle of his retirement party, sending Edward into a Heroic BSoD.
  • The Joker claims that this happened to his father when he was young in a taped interview you can find in Batman: Arkham Asylum, but Doctor Young comments that she's seen that movie, and tells him to move on.
  • Subverted in the Battlefield: Bad Company games. Your squadmates spend the whole game commenting that this is Sgt. Redford's last mission before he can retire. He survives, despite often Tempting Fate, being black, and being the senior figure in the group. It is also sort of a Double Subversion in that his retirement keeps getting postponed because he's not dying — particularly amusing considering that service in the eponymous "Bad Company" is supposed to count faster towards your discharge.
  • BioShock Infinite gives us the doubly-ironic case of Scofield Sansmark, head of security for Jeremiah Fink. You first find his corpse strung up in the lobby of the Good Times Club, having been killed for failing his boss. After some dimension-hopping, you emerge into an alternate version of the club, now decorated for his retirement party. He is indeed alive and well...until he and his men attack you on Fink's orders, at which point you naturally have to kill him yourself.
  • In Borderlands 2, Hyperion Engineers tend to say stuff to this effect when killed, or when seeing their buddies get killed. "Almost paid off... the house..." "Nearly finished my comic collection..."
  • The American characters in Call of Duty: World at War in the mission "Breaking Point": in the opening narration sequence, Sgt. Roebuck explains that "once we take Shuri Castle, we go home. All of us." By the end of the mission, either he or Polonsky is dead. The player hears the earlier statement repeated in his head as Polonsky/Roebuck hands him the fallen Marine's dog tags as if to further drive the point home.
  • One tip mission in City of Heroes references this trope. Alongside the regular enemies is a "Retiring Detective" who is ten levels lower than the rest of the enemies, guaranteeing he'll get defeated by accident.
  • The Code Geass game for Nintendo DS parodies this. In one stage, the player sees two Mooks talking, one saying that when everything is done, he plans on returning to his hometown and getting married. Immediately afterwards, Zero enters and kills him.
  • In Corpse Party, we have Mayu Suzumoto, who has just finished her last day at her current school before she transfers. Out of all the deaths in this game, hers is probably the worst.
  • Sephiroth in Crisis Core essentially was considering abandoning Shinra and SOLDIER after their mission in Nibelheim depending on the results of the mission, namely because of growing distrust of the organization. He abandons it, all right, and wipes out Nibelheim as well.
  • In The Darkside Detective, one chapter takes place around a retirement party for a police officer who's retiring in three days. When he asks why they're not having the party on his last day, another officer explains that they didn't want to risk missing out on a party if he got killed two days before retirement. (He survives, and reappears alive and well as one of the Christmas shoppers in the Christmas Episode.)
  • Dead Space: In the first game you're on the USG Ishimura, a ship that was the first of its kind and is scheduled for decommissioning the following year. All the actual crew except one survivor, who dies in the second game's first big DLC die horrible, sometimes self-inflicted deaths. The ship is left abandoned before finally being brought to another place, the Sprawl, the main location of Dead Space 2.
  • In Deep Fear, Plucky Comic Relief character Mooky specifically asks to be put on early leave once he realizes things are going very very wrong at the underwater base, and soon after he's approved for it. Given how much of a Cliché Storm the game is, it's not hard to see his inevitable death coming a mile away.
  • Dragon Age: Origins features as a fellow Grey Warden recruit, Ser Jory, who is awfully keen to tell you of his lovely wife back home (pregnant with their first child), and how much he can't wait to get back to his family when the war is over. Guess what happens? He freaks out after Daveth dies in the Joining, pulls a knife on the far-more-experienced Duncan, and gets killed in self-defense. And you later learn that Wardens don't get to live long enough to retire anyway.
  • Dragon Quest V: Before traveling to Coburg, where a series of unfortunate events will lead to him getting killed, Pankraz mentions that once his business there is finished, he plans on settling down for a bit to let his son enjoy his childhood.
  • Played with and lampshaded in Dungeons & Dragons Online: The quest Assault on Summerfield gives you an optional sidequest to protect an NPC, Captain Markus, during waves of attack. If he survives, and you talk to him after completing the rest of the mission, he mentions that he's retiring in two days and didn't really expect to survive the battle.
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, one of the randomly generated Enemy Chatter lines is "one more adventurer and I can retire"note . Unfortunately for it (or, perhaps, fortunately — this IS a roguelike), that adventurer would be you.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Oblivion has a humorous example of this trope seen from the other side in one of the Dark Brotherhood quests. The player character is tasked with assassinating a notorious Legion commander who has spent the majority of his career being a thorn in the Dark Brotherhood's side but has just retired and is now on some kind of holiday. The Dark Brotherhood will not let him have this victory over them, so you go and catch up with him even after he is retired.
    • Variation in Skyrim: Kodlak Whitemane wants to cure himself of his lycanthropy before he dies so he can go to Sovngarde. He sends the player on a quest to help prepare the ritual. While (s)he's away, the Silver Hand assaults Jorrvaskr, and, naturally, Kodlak is the only casualty. (Luckily, it turns out that the ritual can still be done and Kodlak can be cured posthumously and be able to go to Sovngarde anyway.)
  • Enter the Gungeon features an item called the Badge, which gives you a police officer companion. He shoots at enemies rather slowly, and can take a lot of damage (and refills his health every floor) but is mortal. His description mentions that he's close to retirement, and talking to him enough will confirm that he's three weeks away. Even if you manage to make him survive, he will keel over and die at the door of the High Dragun.
  • Fallout 4 applies this to the villains: some Raiders will randomly talk about how they're going to hit one more caravan before giving it up.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy X, where Auron was killed at the very end of his first pilgrimage with Braska. He's not the sort to let a little thing like death bother him.
  • Inversion in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. We don't find out until after Leila, Matthew's love interest is killed that he had intended to quit and marry her after this last mission.
  • Five Nights At Freddys:
  • In Fracture the hero Jet drops down into a spacious tunnel and stops to receive a message while two redshirts drop down and proceed ahead of him. Before they get taken out in a blast from an unseen source this exchange occurs.
    Redshirt 1: Is it bad luck to mention I'm getting out in two weeks?
    Redshirt 2: Shut up and keep moving.
  • God of War III's Hercules tells Kratos that he considers killing him to be his thirteenth and final labor. Killing Kratos, however, is very hazardous to your health, and... well...
  • At one point in Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Cooper kills an Imp dressed like a Pirate who is beating up Fiddlesworth. As soon as he does, a Zombie Pirate appears and angrily states the Imp only had two days left until his retirement and promptly sends more Ghoulies to avenge his death.
  • Lampshaded by Grand Theft Auto IV in the mission "To Live and Die in Alderney". Your partner for the mission reveals that he's just married the love of his life, and has also been busy caring for his aging mother and putting his sister through college. Can be averted in that he doesn't have to die during the mission if you watch out for him.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has the utility truck driver in the "Construction Accident" random event who, after mentioning he's a day from retirement, gets trapped in his truck when some pipes dropped by a crane fall onto it and block the doors. It's possible to rescue him before the truck explodes and avert this trope.
  • The Jackbox Party Pack has multiple cases of this, particularly related to bombs.
    • Bomb Corp from the Jackbox Party Pack 2: Day 14 is known as Retirement Day, in which Old Man is having his retirement party, however, he suffers a heart attack resulting in him missing Day 15, however, he gets better.
    • Trivia Murder Party 2 from The Jackbox Party Pack 6: If you escape with the Bomb, you are greeted by Officer Trevor who is one day away from retirement, and you have to cut the right wire to defuse the bomb you escaped with. Cut a wrong wire or let the bomb run out of time, and you blow up, killing him, you and many others.
  • Invoked in Kingdom of Loathing, in the fight against the Space Marine.
    Anyway, this particular Space Marine just showed the rest of his platoon a picture of his sweetheart, who just found out she's pregnant, and who he can't wait to see again as soon as he does one last mission. So, y'know, don't feel bad about taking him out; he's doomed.
  • In LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, a Battle Droid is being thrown a retirement party in the hangar of the Invisible Hand. Unfortunately for the poor droid, he and the rest of the partygoers are crushed by Anakin's starfighter.
  • Mass Effect 2 seems to lampshade this with Captain Bailey of C-Sec, who makes note of his fondness for Earth and his plans to retire to "the foothills" before making it clear that he doesn't plan on retiring any time soon, hinting at this trope.
    • In the first game, a scientist in Peak 15 — a research facility beset by acid-spitting bug-like aliens — bemoans the fact that her contract was up just when the bugs attacked.
    • And then there's the crewman in the Crew Quarters of the ship talking to a friend for the first few missions about his newborn daughter and his wife living on a Terminus colony called New Canton before it's hit by the Collectors. However, it turns out the crewman was able to arrange his family to be moved to the safety of Earth, so it seems to be subverted. And then the entire crew's abducted, and it's up to the player whether or not they'll let this man see his family...
    • In Mass Effect 3, Mordin muses about retiring, relaxing on a beach, and maybe collecting seashells. When Shepard replies that he'd go crazy from boredom within five minutes, he quips back that maybe he'll run tests on the seashells. Needless to say, unless you followed a particular chain of events in the two previous games, he's not going to get a chance to run those tests on the seashells — more likely, he either dies curing the krogan genophage, or trying to after Shepard shoots him in the back to stop him. Even if you did convince him to not follow up on the Genophage, he is forced to spend the rest of his days trying to undo the sabotage he did on the cure.
    • Even Shepard isn't immune to this one. At the end of 3, Shepard may indicate in several conversations that s/he's getting pretty burnt out by having to save the galaxy, and is thinking of packing it in, and settling down with their love interest. And in four out of five endings, they die to stop the Reapers.
  • Double Subverted in TPS game El Matador, the Final Boss is the police chief, who tried to hijack the cartel's cargo ship and use the loot to start his own criminal empire, all because he was nearing retirement and would receive a pittance.
  • After a dozen missions or so in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, as the player character and his squad are escaping from the events of the previous mission, Staff Sergeant Griggs and Captain Price begin talking about how to serve a beer (cold or warm?). Griggs mentions that he'll have to "school y'all when we get back to the States," and Gaz mentions stopping in London first, where "I'm buying". Thanks, thanks a lot.
  • In Motherload, when you first pass a depth of 2,000 feet you get a transmission from another miner saying that next week he's planning to retire to the moons of Jupiter with his wife and three daughters. Guess what happens to him shortly thereafter.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, there is Amie, who, if spoken to before the end of the Harvest Festival, mentions her plans for the future, which include, but are not limited to, "Adventuring, finding some artifacts with you and Bevil, then eventually settling down and retiring to Candlekeep where she'll tell stories to children into old age." Sure enough, the very night after the Harvest Festival ended, she was blasted by a bunch of fireballs.
  • Nuclear Throne has Fish, who was a cop. He literally had one day before retirement when the Big Badda Boom happened.
  • Paper Mario
    • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, at the Glitz Pit, King K says that after one more match he is going to retire. Later you find him and Bandy Andy under a block, because they know too much about Grubba's energy-sucking machine that uses the Crystal Star's power. They ultimately survive and return to the Glitz Pit.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King has King Olly punish two of his folded soldiers for failing to stop Mario from entering the Origami Castle by feeding them to the fortune tellers. As they're being eaten to death, the folded Goomba gloomily says that he was going to retire the next day.
  • Some of the evil mooks in 2005's The Punisher claim they were about to retire/are married/have kids/whatever. It's possible to leave them alive (but not as much fun).
  • Parodied towards the beginning of The Reconstruction—the character saying this is onboard a ship that's about to be rammed and is narrowly missed by the ramming ship's frontal spike. He decides to stay away from the action.
  • Subverted in Resident Evil 6. Chris is jaded, tired of fighting, and decides he's going to retire when the mission is over. Then his partner Piers Nivans dies in the final battle, and Chris decides to continue serving in honor of his fallen friend.
  • Saints Row:
    • Lampshaded in Saints Row 2, as one of the lines a cop will say in a standoff with the player is something along the lines of having one week left before retirement.
    • In Saints Row: The Third, if you take the "happy ending" route, during the "Gangstas in Space" mission, Pierce's character is killed, and just before he dies, says that he only had two days until retirement.
    • In Asha's rescue mission in Saints Row IV, one of the guards the player kills mentions that he's two weeks from retirement.
  • Scribblenauts: In Scribblenauts Unmasked, if you kill one of the cops in the tutorial, the death screen will say "... Just two days away."
  • In Starbound in the prologue, there is a Protectorate janitor working his last day before retirement. Moments after the player speaks to him, all of Earth is destroyed.
  • In the Star Trek Online mission "Skirmish" the chief engineer on the True Way Galor-class destroyer Axon wrote a log entry saying he was considering leaving the terrorist group and returning to his wife and children on Cardassia Prime. The poor bastard takes a double dose of this trope: assuming he isn't one of the mooks the Federation Player Character kills when s/he boards the ship, he was killed by the non-corporeal aliens attacking the ship from the inside.
  • Downplayed in Star Wars: Republic Commando. Sev ends up MIA in the final mission shortly after Scorch says that he's going to arrange to get him some R&R.
  • In Episode 4 of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, it's frequently mentioned that Coach Z's character Renaldo has two weeks until retirement. There are a number of close calls, and far more lampshaded references, but what eventually gets Renaldo is being left behind on a space station that's about to crash into the sun. (Or rather, the fact that Strong Bad deleted the scene where he would have been rescued).
  • The only good playable character in the Super Robot Wars: Original Generation series to die? The brave Captain who had one last campaign to go on before he retires to train soldiers.
  • Discussed in the Touhou Project Universe Compendium Symposium of Post-mysticism as an example of one of Murphy's Youkai, malicious spirits brought into existence by people's belief in tropes. Yes, seriously.
  • If you lose to Nasty Ned in The Town with No Name, the player character laments that he had one more page before he finished his novel and falls over dead.
  • Spoofed in Umineko: When They Cry's infamous Krauss vs. Goat-Butler scene, which teaches us that it's always good to make sure your Elite Mook isn't ten days away from retirement before sicking him on the Puny Humans.
    Goat-butler: That's right, I'd actually planned on washing my hands of this business when this job was over, and returning to my hometown. Sorry, my little goat sister, Onii-chan...I was only ever a nuisance. And I ...a-actually had a childhood friend, and was going to marry her when I got home!
    Virgilia: Nooooooo! Don't trip so many loser flags!
  • In Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga, Elizabeth "Shadow" Norwood is close to retirement when the Kilrathi kill her. Indeed, as soon as she mentions that she's retiring next month a Genre Savvy player knows exactly what's coming.
    • If Paladin dies in the first game, Shotglass laments that he was a month away from retirement. Canonically averted; he takes up a non-combat position in Special Ops in WCII and survives the war with the Kilrathi.
    • In the first game's Secret Missions 2 expansion, Bossman starts to repeatedly talk about wanting to see his family again. He dies soon after.
  • In one World of Warcraft quest, one NPC is greatly saddened by the death of his wife, as he had planned on retiring with her after his mission was over. In another example in Cataclysm, a Horde negotiator to the Dragonmaw plans on retiring afterward. and wonders if he is expendable because of his red shirt.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Before the rest of the main cast is introduced, Noah, Lanz, and Eunie are accompanied by Mwamba, who's one month away from the end of his service and accompanying them for one last mission before transferring away from the frontlines. Naturally, he gets taken out by the Warm-Up Boss.
  • Yakuza 5 has a non-lethal (and criminal) variation with Heihachiro. After successfully pulling off the heist that was meant to be his last before retiring, he came home to find that his wife had been cheating on him. He then chose to confess to his crimes, spending the rest of his days in the Abashiri Penitentiary instead of retirement.

  • In Beatriz Overseer, one particular young mouse woman was forced into becoming an assassin to pay off her father's debts. Taking out a certain Overseer was supposed to be her very last job...and it was. Note that all of this is mentioned only in Word of God; in the comic proper she's a nameless mook who gets brutally cut down by our protagonist. (At least she canonically also goes to Heaven.)
  • Cirque Royale: Charles Sr. and Claudette, Kingston's parents, died in a terrorist attack while attending a Peace Gala in Mimeopolis. A side comic shows they were going to pack up and leave the kingdom the day after, in fear of changes after the new Empress took control and worried for Kingston's safety.
  • Parodied in the "Henchman Retirement" arc of Evil, Inc... The company has to find a way to off the soon-to-be-retired oldest living henchman, Abe Vitale, otherwise they'll go bankrupt from his $28,000,000.00-a-year pension. "No one ever expected a henchman to retire" and the investment funds were misused due to a misprint and lost. And he ends up killed by the cork on the champagne at his party.
    • Done again when elderly supervillain Mister Shiver goes on one last heist, and while running from Captain Heroic he has a heart attack.
  • Girl Genius:
    • A Genre Savvy overseer stops a prisoner just before she can declare that she's nearly earned her freedom. "Fool! Never total your points out loud!" This one is justified by the fact that they are all prisoners in a giant, sentient, psychopathic castle which thinks it has a sense of humor; it is entirely possible that announcing how close you are to freedom there could directly get you killed, and the other prisoners aren't much better; there's no need to give them a new reason to kill you.
    • Carson von Mekkhan inverts the trope: he retired three days before his place of work was attacked and blown up. His replacement — who was, tragically, his son — died instead.
  • In the Magellan side story, "Families/Cемьи", Soviet heroes Red Vlad and Comrade Katya had discovered that the missions they thought were great patriotic victories over evil Western Capitalism were staged propaganda events and the threats their superiors used to keep them in line were bluffs. They started to make plans to go grab their son (whom they'd hidden away from their superiors) and defect, when the Q'Arth invasion began. Vlad and Katya agreed that stopping these strange monsters would be their last great mission for the motherland. Long time readers knew that Vlad and Katya were among the first to fall to the Q'Arth.
  • Occurs in this strip of Nuzlocke. Loudred notes that while he may currently have the lowest stats on the team, he'll evolve in one level and be back on top again. Naturally, he was the one who died. It was even lampshaded in the comments, with a direct reference to this trope.
  • Lampshaded by the Genre Savvy Elan in this The Order of the Stick.
    • Played straight in another strip where a police chief announces he's getting too old for thi-
    • Also played with in the Adventure Game, where one of the illustrations of Haley's Sneak Attack is a goblin who says it's his last day before retirement, not realizing Haley's hiding behind the door, weapon ready.
  • Played with in The Strongest Suit. Seven of Hearts is killed on what would have been the last patrol into the Dark Lands… by his fellow soldier Five who doesn't want the patrols to end for as-yet-unknown reasons.
  • xkcd: This strip shows an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to defy the trope, with an officer dying the day before his last day on the job, when the department locks retiring officers into a heavily protected room for that day.

    Web Original 
  • Coker from Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome was just waiting through the final weeks of his time in the service when the "milk run" on which he was sent with Bill Adama (whose own survival was a Foregone Conclusion) turned into a fight for his life. Near the end, he is seriously wounded with multiple gunshot wounds and he seems to accept his fate by handing a Fatal Family Photo to Bill before his eyes close. Then we see him alive and in recovery.
  • In C0DA, during the Videoverse segment, Alandro Sul mentions being two weeks away from retirement when he is pulled into the battle between the "Pseudo-6th-House" (a superhero team of Physical Gods) and the forces of "The Intellective", "a bionic despot of a parallel reality". The action cuts away before we see the end result, and it is unknown if Sul survives. (His distant descendant, Jubal-lun-Sul, is the main character of C0DA.)
  • Exaggerated in Critical Role, as the Chroma Conclave attacks Emon during Sovereign Uriel's retirement speech.
  • The Dorkly article, "These Eight Characters are Definitely Going to Die", includes in the list, "The Two-Week-Till Retiree".
    How They’re Going to Die: Ironically.
    Why: Because now It's Personal. Before it was just about stopping a murderous crime spree, but NOW you give a shit because they killed your older-cop-buddy-guy.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged has Zarbon wanting to call his girlfriend to see where they were going to spend their one-year anniversary together. Vegeta blows his load all over his insides.
    "No homo."
  • Gaia Online: Labtech 062 was killed (...sort of) during his retirement party.
  • Played for Laughs with the cabbie in Hero Club's It Never Sleeps. As he drives the main characters to a potential crime scene, he announces they are his last fare after 25 years. He then says he wants to make up for lost time with his wife and 6 kids, and shows a photo. He then mentions he'll need to get his will notarized, as his family gets nothing otherwise. He spends his time parked outside thinking aloud of ways to make the world better, like how to keep plastics out of the ocean and use wind power over coal. When the team chases the monster they find outside, it attacks the cabbie, and his last words are him failing to say his full name and social security number.
  • This scene from How It Should Have Ended's take on The Avengers has one Chitauri planning to retire right before the end scene.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • Referenced repeatedly in the review of Alone in the Dark (2005)
      Linkara: And it probably doesn't help that the security guard has just two days left before retirement.
      Spoony: And it's probably a bad thing to mention that every single one of these soldiers has just two days left before retirement.
      Later still...
      Spoony: And you know, what makes it really tragic is that everyone in the city had just two days left till retirement!
      Linkara and NC: Shut up!
    • And the review of Hook just after Peter Pan slices the world's slowest moving coconut thrown towards him.
      NC: That coconut had just two days left until retirement. You bastard!
  • Parodied in this article at The Onion. And this one, coming in from the other direction.
  • Pokémon Ralphie:
    • The cop at the end of the third episode goes on about how his wife is pregnant with their eighth child and how he's about to retire, just before he and his partner are crushed by the Machamp being ridden by Ralphie and Red's son.
    • The four cops in the S.S. Anne barricade were having a group retirement party that night, and Detective Squirtle took them because he "thought it would be an easy bust." They all die when Ralphie rams his car into the barricade.
  • In The Unlucky Tug's Gag Dub of the TUGS episode "Munitions", Kraka-toa screams that he was planning to retire next week as he capsizes while on fire.
  • Invoked in a Tweet responding to a comment by Gail Simone about wearing a white shirt to a pasta place.
    YOU'RE A LOOSE CANNON, SIMONE! That shirt is 2 days from retirement!
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series spin-off, Marik Plays: Bloodlines, there's a bit where Marik is lamenting the fact that he killed a hooker and mentions that "She only had a few days left until hooker retirement".
  • In the Internet novel Spliced, Alex and his siblings make their escape while there's a retirement party going on downstairs. They blow up the lab.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • During a mini-series of Roger's Golden Turd, a police lieutenant who's a week away from retirement finds and keeps the gold turd from the suicide victim for himself, taking it home to show his wife that they can pay for a great retirement. Then he feels guilty and attempts to return it, resulting in an argument between the two; his wife accepts his decision, but secretly adds rat poison to his cup of tea.
    • Also parodied in episode "Con Heir", with an aged museum security guard who gets beaten up by Stan. As it's happening he flashes back to a conversation with a loved one who urged him to retire, to which he refused because he considered his job to be his life. Said guard actually lives and reconsiders.
  • In a Cutaway Gag in The Cleveland Show, a job-hunting Cleveland becomes a cop two days away from retirement. Subverted in that he refuses to draw fire, resulting in his younger partner getting killed instead.
  • Parodied in the Family Guy "Blue Harvest" episode, where one of the rebels killed by Stormtroopers says "Damn, I was two days from retirement!" as he collapses.
  • Futurama also got in on the action:
    • In the second segment of "Anthology of Interest II", General Pac-Man is leading Earth's defenses against an invading horde of aliens. He mentions his retirement plans and immediately gets shot.
    • Spoofed in "Law and Oracle", where Fry becomes a cop and is partnered with recurring robot cop URL:
      URL: And Smitty just had a few days until retirement.
      Fry: What happened to him?
      URL: He took early retirement. Damn.
  • In The Legend of Vox Machina, the first season ends with Sovereign Uriel announcing his decision to abdicate the throne and hand the reigns over to the Council of Tal'Dorei. The Chroma Conclave attacks Emon in the middle of his speech, and Uriel is one of many killed by Raishan's poison breath.
  • In Moonbeam City, one cop retires in the middle of a stakeout, beelines for the nearest bar, then is murdered right in front of it.
    Dazzle: He was zero days from retirement.
  • In the Regular Show episode "The Last Laserdisc Player", one of the four guardians of the eponymous device gets killed two weeks from retirement.
  • Rick and Morty: In The Stinger of "The Whirly-Dirly Conspiracy", one of the tiny technicians barely has time to take a breath after saying he's retired before a bird swoops down and carries him off.
  • The Simpsons has done this quite a few times (enough to list on a webpage):
    • The first example is the Trope Naming exchange in the page quote from "Homer vs. Dignity". Police chief Clancy Wiggum doesn't have a retirement fund because he and his wife expect this to happen to him. The couple gets upset at a financial planner raising the scenario that Clancy lives to retirement.
    • Parodied in a McBain movie seen in "Saturdays of Thunder", where McBain's sidekick Scoie talks of his retirement and shows a picture of his boat (christened "Live-4-Ever") seconds before he interrupts an assassination attempt on McBain.
    • In "Homer to the Max", Wiggum's police car gets crushed by a tree at a protest rally, one day before the car would be retired.
    • In "Natural Born Kissers", a police dog one day from retirement takes a sniff of Homer's clothing and bolts in fear. A Spinning Paper that shows up later in the episode mentions as a sidenote that the dog is "barely clinging to life".
    • In "Homer and Apu", Homer accidentally smashes a giant novelty hat containing a hidden camera; the hat was one day from retirement. A technical subversion as, despite being thrown to the floor, the camera still functions enough to implicate Apu for selling expired foods.
    • In "Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"", the prisoners that Marge frees when she accidentally runs her car into the prison walls are one day away from total rehabilitation.
    • "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons" opens with a man setting up a sign outside the Springfield Civic Center that reads "Tonight: CHARITY BACHELOR AUCTION // Tomorrow: I RETIRE, YA BASTARDS!". As soon as the man has finished adjusting the exclamation point, he loses his footing and falls off the ladder, landing with a loud thud.
  • In the South Park episode "Black Friday", Old Cap says that he promised his wife this would be the last Black Friday he worked mall security. He doesn't even make it until Thanksgiving before a crazed shopper kills him.
  • One episode of SpongeBob SquarePants had a police officer shout "I was supposed to retire this week" as he's getting mauled by his own K9 unit.
  • Inverted in the Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi episode "The Sith Lord", in which Yaddle is killed by Count Dooku after she catches him collaborating with Darth Sidious shortly after she steps down from the Jedi Council.
  • Spoofed in Ultimate Spider-Man: a Doombot sliced up by White Tiger sputters out "Three days til retirement" before falling apart.
  • In the Season 2 finale of Young Justice, Wally West announces plans to retire after the current crisis is over, and offers his Kid Flash title to Bart before he kicks the bucket. Also played with—his girlfriend, Artemis, had been planning to retire with him but chooses to rejoin the heroes after his death.

    Real Life 
  • Capt. Edward Smith of the RMS Titanic had announced his intention to retire after the ship had completed its maiden voyage. A ship widely promoted as "unsinkable" and a captain on his last voyage; honestly, they just didn't stand a chance. A common misconception is that he was going to be retired when they arrived in New York. It would have taken effect once the Titanic had returned to England. However, there is some debate amongst historians as to whether Smith would have actually retired when the Titanic returned to England. He made some comments saying that he looked forward to commanding the Britannic when she was completed. That said, a retirement party was held for Captain Smith by some of the First Class passengers only a few hours before the sinking.
  • Relating to Titanic, Ned Parfett was a London newspaper boy who was photographed holding the headline "TITANIC DISASTER: GREAT LOSS OF LIFE," which became an iconic image of the tragedy. He went on to serve in World War I, and was killed less than two weeks before the armistice. Adding onto this, he was actually about to go home on leave, and the German shell that killed him landed while he was in the quartermaster's stores looking for a clean uniform to travel in.
  • A 60-year-old Japanese man was accidentally killed by his coworkers at his retirement party.
  • Michael Jackson planned to retire from music after his This Is It residency ended, only to die before the residency even began.
  • The Red Baron Manfred von Richthofen was finally shot down two days before he was due to go home on leave. For added irony, his last words were to a fan begging for an autograph: "What's your hurry? Are you afraid I won't come back?"
  • Henry Gunther was killed literally one minute before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.
  • A police dog was killed chasing a criminal a week before he was going to retire. This seems to be a not uncommon trope for police dogs.
  • The US military will practice troop rotation for overseas deployments. The period in which a soldier is on the tail end of deployment is often considered the most dangerous, as the soldier is likely to be thinking about going home to safety and getting out of the war, possibly letting down his or her guard.
  • The Fukushima I - 1 nuclear reactor was badly damaged in the days following the 2011 Sendai earthquake. The earthquake occurred just over two weeks before the reactor was scheduled to be shut down.
  • Shigeru Yokosawa, a sixty-year-old hospital admin in Iwate Prefecture's coastal Rikuzen-Takata, would have retired at the end of March 2011, had he not given his life by, in the face of an approaching ten-meter tsunami, rushing to the first floor of the building to retrieve the hospital's satellite phone. The phone he saved became his colleagues' only lifeline to the outside world right after the disaster and was later decorated with a legend reading "Yokosawa's phone. Our chief is helping us from heaven."
  • The captain of Continental Airlines Flight 603, which overran the runway and was destroyed by fire after several tires blew during the takeoff roll, was reportedly about to retire. He survived, but two of his passengers didn't.
  • Charles M. Schulz died just hours before the last Peanuts comic strip was published. That being said, Schulz technically already had retired. He drew the final strip several weeks before it was printed. Still, his retirement was exceedingly short-lived.
  • 70-year-old aid worker Warren Weinstein was kidnapped in Pakistan two days before his scheduled completion of work and return to the US.
  • Three people experienced this during the events of 9/11:
    • There's at least one story of someone cleaning out his office on one of the Towers the morning of 9/11 (although in this case, it was due to switching to a better job rather than retiring).
    • Police officer John Perry was filing his retirement papers that very morning at 1 Police Plaza (located a few blocks from the World Trade Center), when he learned of the attack. He rushed down to the Trade Center…and disappeared, killed when the South Tower collapsed. The only off-duty officer to die that day, Perry's remains were never found.
    • Mike Warchola, a lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, had handed in his retirement papers and was scheduled to work his last shift on 9/11. He made it up to the 40th floor before the towers collapsed.
  • Dermot Morgan died of a heart attack just 24 hours after finishing filming the last series of Father Ted.
  • Bryan Moseley played Alf Roberts in Coronation Street from 1961 to 1998, when his health began to fail. After being absent for six months he returned in July 1998, but was forced by the writers to retire shortly afterwards. He was unhappy, noting that "I feel like a new man, the best I have felt for three years, and I kept telling the producers I was getting better all the time." His character died on New Years Day 1999; he died 9 February 1999.
  • Andy Rooney passed away on November 4, 2011, one month after his final regular segment on 60 Minutes. "Y'know, I always wondered ... why do some celebrities die shortly after their retirement? I remember, when I was a kid, WE never did stuff like that."
  • In Canadian Politics, Jack Layton had been campaigning as federal NDP leader for the job of Prime Minister several elections in a row, and almost every time was dismissed in popular opinion as the candidate who didn't have a chance. In the 2011 election, he managed to make it at least to official opposition leader statusnote  ... but died just a couple months afterwards (he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer months before the election, though).
  • The police chief of Greenland, New Hampshire was killed in a drug bust gone bad on April 12, 2012. He was two weeks from retirement.
  • Captain Dezső Szentgyörgyi, highest-scoring World War II ace of the Hungarian air force: survived 220 sorties and shot down 29 enemy planes without ever crashing or being shot down, then went on to log more than 12,000 hours of civilian flight. Died three weeks from retirement when his Ilyushin IL-18 crashed due to a freak storm.
  • Jim Croce, with a young child at home and little money coming in due to poor management, meant to get off the road and settle down with his family. Because a concert in Sherman, Texas was canceled, he opted to take one last "makeup gig" at the venue before the end of the tour. His plane crashed into a pecan tree, the only one seen for miles in an otherwise clear area, during a dense fog one hour after he played a show in Louisiana, instantly killing Croce, his backing guitarist, and four others.
  • John Ingle, who played Edward Quartermaine on General Hospital, died just five days after the last scenes that he'd filmed were aired (and about three weeks after they were filmed). He'd decided to retire only a few months earlier.
  • Thomas Klestil, who had served almost twelve years as President of Austria, died from multiple organ failure just two days before he was set to retire.
  • Mary Sherlach, a school psychologist who tried to stop Adam Lanza during the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. This article about her even name drops this trope.
  • Chris Benoit was on the eve of his final title run before being phased out of regular competition into being a trainer and road agent — semi-retirement for pro wrestlers. Then … you know.
  • In a comedic sense of this trope, Item 107 in the 2008 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt List read: "A cop with three days left until retirement. That same cop, three days later, alive and well."
  • Roger Ebert got hit with this. His final blog post, on April 2, 2013, has him announcing his retirement from the Chicago Sun-Times and plans he had in store for his soon-to-launch personal website. He had also changed his mind about denying himself cancer treatment. Two days later, he died.
  • In August 2012, Country Music legend George Jones announced plans to retire after going on one final tour in 2013. On April 26, 2013, he died after having been hospitalized for over a week for a fever and irregular blood pressure.
  • A more infamous example would be Joe Paterno, who was forced out of Penn State for his role in the Sandusky abuse scandal, before dying of his illness in absolute disgrace. A statue of him on campus, built in his honor (before the revelations came to light), was demolished in the aftermath of the scandal.
  • In this story, a security guard due to retire in one year after 36 years of service was gunned down in a highway robbery. The article notes the example of Retirony in the first paragraph.
  • Alabama football coach Bear Bryant retired after coaching the Crimson Tide to a win in the Liberty Bowl on December 29, 1982. When he was asked what he planned to do since he was retired, Bryant replied, "Probably croak in a week." He died of a heart attack less than a month after making that statement, on January 26, 1983.
  • One of the world's most famous bullfighters, Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez better known as Manolete, was killed in 1947 by the bull Islero on what was planned to be his last performance.
  • Tim Treadwell and Amie Huguenard were supposed to leave Katmai National Park the morning after the night they were killed. They would have left the week before, had Tim not decided to extend camping in the last moment. Amie was also going to start a new job in another week, and her last journal entries indicate that she was terrified of the bears and wanted to be away from Katmai.
  • A New York City cop who never took a sick day in 42 years died of a heart attack a few weeks before his mandatory retirement.
  • The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro-electric power plant's number 2 turbine had a rated life of 30 years. It had been running 29 years and 10 months when freak vibrations broke the restraints, causing the whole turbine assembly to lift inside the main building and wreck the whole place.
  • In early 2015 in England, a female teacher was stabbed by a student in front of her class and died. She was two days from retirement.
  • Narrowly averted by Formula One driver Romain Grosjean at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. It had already been announced that he would be leaving the Haas team at the end of the season, and it was widely believed that he would be leaving the sport as well, leaving him two races from retirement excluding Bahrain. On Lap 1, a collision with Danill Kvyat sent his car into and through the trackside barrier, causing it to tear in half and explode into flames. Miraculously, he climbed Out of the Inferno and survived with nothing more than minor burns to his hands. Had the same crash happened just a few years earlier, the trope would almost certainly have been played straight.
  • Ernest M. McSorley was 63 years old and planned to retire two years early at the end of the 1975 shipping season, as his wife didn't like him being away from her for ten months out of the year. On 10 November 1975, steering the SS Edmund Fitzgerald through the worst Lake Superior gale seen in decades, his boat (all vessels on the Great Lakes are boats, regardless of tonnage) sank suddenly, taking all hands down with her. His last words were "We are holding our own."
  • A subversion: in September 2015, a Boeing 777-200 with one wing on fire safely landed in Las Vegas, saving all 170 on board. The pilot, Chris Henkey, was a week from retirement.
  • Subverted by Captain David Cronin of United Airlines. When a cargo door opened in flight over the Pacific, causing an explosive decompression, he was nonetheless able to land the crippled jet at Honolulu safely, despite it being overloaded, two engines destroyed and damage to the wing flaps meaning he had to land much faster than normal. The only casualties were nine passengers who had the misfortune to be seated where the door failed. Captain Cronin was on his second-to-last flight before retirement. He passed away in October 2010, 21 years after the incident.
  • A store clerk in Florida was killed on the night of his final shift. He had been convinced to retire after being injured during a robbery the month before.
  • The case of Q from the James Bond movies is irregular. In The World Is Not Enough, the last time Q is seen onscreen in this film, Bond comments on his appointing an assistant (R, played by John Cleese) and asking if he was planning to retire. Q's final lines are two words of advice. The actor who played Q for nearly four decades, Desmond Llewelyn, was sadly killed in a car accident after the film opened, forcing the filmmakers to retire the character outright. Cleese's R was promoted to Q for Die Another Day. After Die Another Day, the franchise was rebooted for the Daniel Craig films, so beginning with Skyfall, the much younger Ben Whishaw was cast as Q.
  • In early October 2016, three Palm Springs, California police officers were shot, two fatally, while responding to a domestic dispute involving a career felon. One of the officers killed was two months from retirement.
  • The founder of Toys "R" Us, Charles Lazarus, died just one week after his business announced they were going into liquidation. Lazarus is still dead, but the Toys R Us brand was bought by Tru Kids Brands, and revived the store in 2019.
  • Among the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting in 2018 was Sgt. Ron Helus, a sheriff's deputy who was set to retire the next year.
  • In 1945, General George S. Patton was severely injured in a car accident two days before he was due to go home on Christmas leave, dying twelve days later. On top of that, he had grown dissatisfied with his command of the 15th Army, which had been tasked with compiling a complete history of the war, and he had intended to not return to Europe at the end of his leave, either seeking a command stateside or retiring from the army.
  • Amelia Earhart planned to retire as a pilot after her fateful trip around the world. She never made it past the Pacific Ocean.
  • One of the men in the infamous Flight 19 that disappeared over The Bermuda Triangle in 1945 was due to end his military service the next day.
  • Caroll Spinney died just a few weeks into the broadcast of what he had planned to be his final season of Sesame Street.
  • In a mechanical variation, rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd decided to terminate the lease on their aging Convair CV-240 after a nerve-wracking engine fire, planning to acquire a better plane when they reached Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a few days later. On the flight to Baton Rouge, the plane ran out of fuel due to an error by the pilots. (This also marked the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd as it had been, as the band's lead vocalist and figurehead was killed in the crash.)
  • In 1984, Bradford City were repeatedly informed that the main stand at their Valley Parade stadium was an unacceptable fire hazard, due to its wooden construction and the large amount of litter that had accumulated beneath it. Bradford agreed to tear it down and rebuild it out of steel, and demolition was scheduled to begin two days after their final match of the 1984/85 season, against Lincoln City. Shortly before half time, a discarded cigarette ignited the litter beneath the stand, and in a matter of minutes the entire stand was ablaze, killing 56 people.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt would have been the first president to resign, albeit for reasons of declining health, if he hadn't suffered that "terrific pain in the back of [his] head" before the end of World War II. He is to this day the only American President to succumb to this trope.
  • Takarazuka Revue Moon Troupe actress Hiromi Kazuki was planning to announce her graduation/retirement from the troupe, feeling that she couldn't advance any further up the ranks. On April 1, 1958, she was called into a performance of Flower Troupe's Yodogimi/We Children in the Flowers as a replacement for Yuri Hinatsu, who was out sick with a cold. Hiromi's costume was caught in the mechanics of the lift following the end of a scene and an upcoming quick change for the next scene. She was wearing an underskirt with a metal band about the waist, and when her costume became stuck she was unable to free herself. Her feet were dragged into the moving mechanism and the metal band cut into her torso, killing her right in front of her scene-mate, Minako Matsushima.
  • Admiral John S. McCain Sr., the grandfather and namesake of Senator McCain, died only four days after Japan surrendered in 1945.
  • Jack Barry wrapped up the 1983–84 season of The Joker's Wild with the intention of naming Jim Peck as his successor on the next season's premiere. Weeks after the previous season stopped taping, Barry went into fatal cardiac arrest while jogging in Central Park.
  • Florida Governor Lawton Chiles died unexpectedly of a heart attack three weeks before his retirement after term limits mandated him to leave. Ironically, this caused Buddy MacKay, the Lieutenant Governor who just lost the gubernatorial election to Jeb Bush, to become governor for 24 days during the lame duck period.
  • In 1918, a railroad engineer on the Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad was operating the inbound train #1 for Nashville, Tennessee, as his last run before retirement. He never got the chance, as the outbound train #4 that was supposed to wait for his train to arrive (since the section was a single track line without signals) mistook a passing switcher for that train and left seven minutes behind schedule. They met on a blind curve at a combined speed of 100 miles an hour and crashed into each other head on, causing the deadliest train wreck on American soil to date.
  • The Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico—which had been the largest radio telescope for over 50 years—was having a problem with its cables failing. After one snapped in November 2020, it was determined that it was too dangerous to repair, and the National Science Foundation decided to demolish it. On December 1, more cables snapped, and the whole instrument platform crashed into the dish.
  • A 54-year-old sheriff's deputy from Florida was killed in a vehicular ramming attack one day before his retirement in 2021.
  • Coal baron Robert Murray, who got some publicity in his late years for his feud with John Oliver (Oliver criticized him harshly in a 2017 episode of Last Week Tonight and Murray filed a Frivolous Lawsuit in retaliation, recounted in 2019), announced his retirement from his eponymous company on October 19, 2020, and died six days later.
  • In 1920, Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman indicated that he might retire from professional baseball after that season. On August 16, he was fatally injured in a freak batting accident.
  • Non-human example: on May 21st, 1946, physicist Louis Slotin's hand slipped while demonstrating an experiment with the so-called "Demon Core" causing a criticality accident that killed him and exposed several others to large doses of radiation note . That day's demonstration was scheduled to be the last before the core was integrated into an atomic bomb.
  • The Pink Panther franchise would have reached a more fitting conclusion had Peter Sellers (who played Inspector Clouseau) not perished just before the planned final installment, Romance of the Pink Panther, was to enter production.
  • NASCAR driver Fireball Roberts died in a crash during the 1964 World 600 on May 24th, 1964, from severe burns. The race would have supposedly been one of his last before retirement.
  • On March 6, 2022, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) experienced a major power failure. This was due to an issue with half-century old power cabling which had been scheduled to be replaced on March 10, 2022. It worked for fifty years and failed less than a week before it was due to be retired.
  • In June 2022, a man who was cycling the length of the UK for charity suffered a fatal heart attack only 28 miles from the finish line.
  • When Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, construction had not even started on "The Florida Project," his vision of a future city anchored by a larger version of his Disneyland park. His older brother Roy O. Disney, who had long handled the business side of their partnership, came out of retirement to ensure that Walt's final dream would come true. With the company hesitant to build an entire city from scratch, he choose to focus on a theme park resort that he would dedicate to his late brother, ultimately becoming known as Walt Disney World. The herculean efforts to build the new park took a tremendous toll on Roy's health, and he died two months after the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. While he never made any formal plans to retire due to his focus on "The Florida Project," Walt also died just over three months before Pirates of the Caribbean, the final attraction that he personally envisioned and led the development of, opened at Disneyland in March 1967. While Walt had a hand in designing The Haunted Mansion, it actually opened nearly three years after his death due to its long development troubles.
  • It's technically a borderline case in that he was already retired, but Thai Navy diver Saman Gunan came back as a volunteer to help with the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, went to work with his old unit, and was the only person to die in the caves during the rescue. His story features in the Docudrama Thirteen Lives, which does rather play into the trope.
  • The Sullivan brothers were five brothers who joined the US Navy during World War II on the condition that they'd serve together. (The Navy had an official policy of separating siblings but it was not strictly enforced.) Their ship, the Juneau, participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, and had they reached port, two of the brothers would have been transferred to other ships. The Juneau was torpedoed, and all five of the brothers perished.
  • US Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away on September 28th, 2023 at the age of 90. Earlier that year, she took an extended leave of absence due to health issues, and announced that she would not seek reelection in 2024 largely because of them. At the time of her death, she was the longest ever tenured female Senator, and the longest-serving Senator in office at the time.


Video Example(s):


"It's my last day on the job"

A soldier who was on his last day on the job and has 16 children, accidentally kills himself with a grenade while trying to rescue Ben.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / Retirony

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